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The ideal drive train for bikes...

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The ideal drive train for bikes...

Old 03-13-19, 08:53 AM
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SamSpade1941 
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The ideal drive train for bikes...

Letís start off with the disclaimer that Iíve not been riding bikes as long as many here have. However I am more than ok with sacrificing period correct originality to get functionality. As such I have come to the belief that 3x7 is accceptable for the riding I like to do and 3x9 is perfect.

So I rarely keep the original 10-18 speed drive trains on bikes unless they are special bikes I want to preserve .

Having said that I do not see any benefit to 1x11, 2x11 or 2x10 when 3x9 seems to cover everything from a gear range/ ratio perspective.
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Old 03-13-19, 09:13 AM
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Everything has its purpose.

You don't see a benefit to 1x11, but when was the last time you rode a technical mountain bike trail or even rough singletrack? FD shifting on rough terrain has never been great, so having a narrow-wide single chainring up front with a clutched rear derailleur and a large wide-range cassette is great for mountain biking or even riding a drop bar bike on rough terrain often. 11 speed allows smaller jumps on this set up so you can find the right gear while climbing.

That's just an example of how it doesn't make sense to attack any one drivetrain set up, as there are many purposes out there and many people.

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Old 03-13-19, 09:29 AM
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The ideal drive train is really determined by the rider. Some folks only need one gear to meet their needs, others need more.
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Old 03-13-19, 09:35 AM
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It is definitely a case of horses for courses, and the drive train you select will be dependent on the riding you do and your local terrain. Most of my riding is commuting, Sunday runs, and sportives locally with the occasional foray into the Welsh mountains. It's very rare to encounter a gradient of more than 1 in 5, and that sort of gradient isn't sustained for more than a few yards so I find a 2x7 or 2x9 setup with a 52/42 or 53/39 on the front with a freewheel or cassette of 11 or 14-28 works very well for me. I don't ride on gravel / off road so there's no need for a 1x set up or low gears.

Conversely my son uses his road bike purely for college and work, and there's not a single hill on either route, unless you count a couple of railway bridges, so his 1x5 is Peufect for him.
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Old 03-13-19, 09:56 AM
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I like em all. I have a 3x9 that meets about any needs.

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Old 03-13-19, 10:01 AM
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Having too many gears is like having too much money. Not usually a problem. 😀
$5 is nice, 5 speeds will work.
$10 is better, 10 gears, even better.
$30 is nicer, are 30 gears too many? Not for these old legs.

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Old 03-13-19, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by SamSpade1941 View Post
As such I have come to the belief that 3x7 is accceptable for the riding I like to do and 3x9 is perfect...

Having said that I do not see any benefit to 1x11, 2x11 or 2x10 when 3x9 seems to cover everything from a gear range/ ratio perspective.
Good observations and conclusions. I have ridden, owned, and fixed everything. Recently I picked up a $250 KHS Road bike with a 3 x 9 drivetrain. It rides and shifts as well as anything in my fleet, which includes 11-speed gear from Shimano and Campagnolo. Tiagra triple front shifting is brilliant. The 9-speed cassette that starts with a 14-tooth cog eliminates useless cogs, particularly the 11 and 12. If I'm doing 40mph - I'll coast.

1 x drivetrain: what can I say... the bike industry needs to add another cog to the cassette every 7 years for the sake of 'progress' (planned obsolescence). At 11 cogs, it was clear to even the greenest and most gullible buyer, that the arms-race of additional cogs was absurd.

But now, with the elimination of chainrings, you do gain some marginal (tiny) value from more than 11 cogs in the rear, to cover gear ranges missing when you had 2 and 3 chainrings.

So once again, the proliferation of cassette cogs can proceed to 12, 13 and infinity and beyond. And importantly render those ancient 11-speed drivetrains 'obsolete' and useless.

Last edited by Dave Mayer; 03-13-19 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 03-13-19, 10:58 AM
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I stopped at 8 speed cassettes.

Chains are cheaper.
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Old 03-13-19, 11:50 AM
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With brifters I don't mind the added complexity of a triple crank - but I'm not a fan of the 50-39-30 road triple I previously had - just replaced it with a 42-32-24 and I like this triple much better even though there is a lot of gear combo overlap. The 42-32-24 just seems to have more of a sweet spot.

For downtube-shifted road bikes I prefer double to triple crank because I just reach down and push/pull the lever all the way up or down - no trimming. 2x10 with indexed DT shifters is very nice.

For full off-road I think the 1x11 drivetrain provides simplicity and low gearing - big jumps between combos isn't as much of an issue as it is with road riding.
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Old 03-13-19, 11:52 AM
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2x5 works for most of my needs and desires; a couple of my old go-fast bikes have 2x6 gears

(this is, after all, the "Classic & Vintage" forum)

If the factory-stock drive train on a C&V bicycle is insufficient for me, I am most likely to desire a less than 42T smaller chainring to obtain lower gears.

On a modern (1980s) mountain bike I _never_ use the smallest chainring in its 3x7 setup
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Old 03-13-19, 11:56 AM
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I just laced up the spokes on the rear wheel that will be my 3 x 9 x 3 light cruiser. In 5 weeks I will have a report on it.

I have a 2 x 10 and a couple 3 x 9's and a 2 x 9 (in addition to more traditional "vintage" geared options). Each of them is right for some sort of riding that I enjoy. I guess if I had to pick some option for every single bike I own, I might go with 2 x 10 - just because not all bikes should have triples up front.
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Old 03-13-19, 12:17 PM
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OK, the most complex I've owned so far is a 2x9 road bike, and I recently picked up a 3x9 Trek 6500 mountain bike that'll hopefully get broken in before the end of the month. Over the years I've developed something of a philosophy about drivetrains. First off, a triple chainwheel is good, but on a road bike I regard that triple as a (2+1) x whatever. The low chainwheel is invariably 'tree climbing gear' and I'll normally only work on the two larger chainwheels unless I seriously have to climb with a loaded bike. No matter how many cogs on the freewheel. Not sure how the Trek is going to affect this, as I only periodically bounce in and out of mountain biking.

As to the rear: 5 is good, 6 is way better because my freewheels are normally set up splitting that 5 speed middle cog (where I usually ride on the flats using the big chainwheel) into two because it gives me a subtle choice depending on terrain. Seven speed, I guess, is slightly better, but we're starting to venture into diminished results compared to the increased complexity. Eight speed rears is definitely advancing that diminished expectations problem, and nine speeds is the furthest along I ever went because, at that point, I could see absolutely no improvement over eight other than another click on the brifters.

Given that realization with nine (plus we're not talking different, more expensive chains), it should be pretty obvious why I never bothered building up anything with a 10 speed rear. Also, at this point, I wasn't exactly crazy where the looks of modern bicycles were going.

Now, from my experience, the one thing that kept this all workable is that (for Shimano anyway, which is mostly what I ride), at least with a 5 thru 9 (and, from what I understand, 10) speed rear, it's all a matter of pick your rear, pick your indexed shifter/brifter, and you can stick just about any derailleur in between and it'll work. I've always loved Shimano for that interchangeability. My understanding from the 11 speed front (and I've never messed with them, just read a few early reports when they were introduced) is that Shimano has given up that interchangeability in favor of an 80's/90's Campagnolo attitude of "you buy the complete set or else". No thank you. By this point, bicycle technology has reached the point that it no longer makes any sense to me.

Electric shifting? Why? It doesn't make any sense to me (unless you're racing professionally, of course), and, if anything, it goes totally against the inherent simplicity that is a bicycle. Ditto for hydraulic disc brakes. These are bicycles, not motorcycles.

Curmudgeon? Outside of bicycles, I long ago decided that God ordained that automobiles were supposed to have three pedals on the floor, and motorcycles have two levers on the handlebars. I detest automatics.

Finally, what do I ride most of the time? The classic Sturmei-Archer AW equipped British roadster. Which, for distances of 10 miles or under, is the most sufficient bike of all.
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Old 03-13-19, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
i stopped at 8 speed cassettes.

Chains are cheaper. :d
+100
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Old 03-13-19, 01:48 PM
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My hub on my bob jackson can take 8-10 speed cassettes as well as a 7 with a spacer. Since i use friction suntour barends, ive tried em all. I have settled on 8 but my real issue is the unwanted ratios that 11 or even 10 tooth cogs give u at the expense of efficiency. Ive gone to micro drive cranks be cause 50/12 or 50/11 does nothing for me. Currently using 12-30 8 speed cassette with 20-29-40 rings. Im happy.
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Old 03-13-19, 01:51 PM
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My best bike has 3 x 9 and DT shifters. I love it. (Favorite all-time gear ratios: 53-42-28 x 12,14-19, 21, 23. I also have 13 and 14 outer cogs and 25 and 28 inners.)

My other geared bike has 52-42-28 x 14-28 7-speed. Better gravel gears. The rest of my bikes are fix gears.

Most unusual gearing: My Mooney. Triple chainline. 46-44-36 x 13,17, 21 1/8: fix gear where each combo is a distinct chainline so only three gears of 96", 70" and 46". A true mountain road fix gear.

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Old 03-13-19, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
I like em all. I have a 3x9 that meets about any needs.
Same here.

I have a Racing Triple on my Bilenky. Just fantastic for all road riding/touring.

I have a full XT groupset for the Bilenky and I just don't have the heart to pull the Campy just yet.

It's set and forget.
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Old 03-13-19, 02:54 PM
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There is no ideal drivetrain for bikes; there is only an ideal drivetrain for a particular rider and use.
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Old 03-13-19, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post

Most unusual gearing: My Mooney. Triple chainline. 46-44-36 x 13,17, 21 1/8: fix gear where each combo is a distinct chainline so only three gears of 96", 70" and 46". A true mountain road fix gear.

Ben
How do you get three fixed cogs on a hub?
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Old 03-13-19, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
I stopped at 8 speed cassettes.

Chains are cheaper.
Don't these chains have the theoretical capability of being more durable, or last longer, than skinnier chains? I've not seen any studies, but I'd be curious to know. Anybody know?
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Old 03-13-19, 03:51 PM
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I approach the world of C&V as a non-traditionalist. i.e. I love old vintage road bikes, but am much happier running more ergonomic handlebars and levers.

As such, my current favorite right now is a 1x5 on a PX-10. It is simple, it shifts very confidently, and while the ratios are wide, it does what I need it to do, albeit perhaps not as efficiently as more closely spaced gears. I'll take the hit.

I've really been on a '1 x 7/8/etc' kick, for the riding I do (Colorado, mixed roads and hills) I am getting my needs met with 1 chainring up front. It is a simpler setup and I also lose the weight of a FD and extra chainring. I'm thinking of converting all my bikes to a 1 chainring setup. Yes, I've had chain drops, but that can be mitigated by a more proper setup (which I've neglected at times, in my experimentation phase) and eliminated with a fabricated chain guide, similar to what I've seen on vintage technical trials bikes.

I currently do have a 2x9 bike, and I find the ratios a little frustrating. Having a more closely spaced cassette means that when I need to go lower or higher than the rear will allow, I need to jump to a different front chainring, which means I need to completely reset my brain on where I'm going to land on the next gear and re-shift on the cassette as well. It's probably more me than the bike, but my preference lies elsewhere. It's just a different way of doing things but I prefer the beauty in simplicity of the 1x5 setup I've been riding.
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Old 03-13-19, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by due ruote View Post

how do you get three fixed cogs on a hub?
s3x
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Old 03-13-19, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post


s3x
But he said he is using a triple and has 3 chain lines.
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Old 03-13-19, 08:13 PM
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I find that a 3x7, 3x8, 3x9 or even 3x10 are good choices on vintage bikes, depending on the crankset and rear wheel. If I have a bike-boom era bike from the seventies or eighties, I'll use a 3x7 since its compatible with the older cranksets and wheelsets. If it's a retro-roadie with a modern rear wheel and an 8 or 9 speed crankset, I'll use a 3x8, 3x9, or even 3x10 depending on the details of the crankset.

Triples have the advantage of providing a versatile set of rings for any terrain. The middle ring is ideal on flat sections, the big ring for downhill sections or paceline efforts. The small ring is the bail-out for very steep climbs. It's also easy to build a triple with friction shifters and any long arm rear derailleur. This combination avoids most compatibility issues.

I also like Campagnolo 2x9 and 2x10. These manage to look retro, something that's difficult to accomplish with Shimano 2x9 and 2x10. However, doubles place a premium on rider fitness. Double are best done with Ergo levers if performance is a important goal.

This is a 3x7 with a Campagnolo high flange hubs and a 7 speed freewheel. It has a Shimano Deore derailleurs and Suntour Barcons. I also used the same shifters,derailleurs and crankset with a 13-29 Campagnolo cassette on Chorus hubs to create a 3x9.



Same bike, but with a Campagnolo Chorus hubs 2x10 drivetrain with a 50 & 34 chaining set and a 13-29 cassette.
​​​

Campagnolo 9 speed and 10 speed drivetrains can really look vintage, something Shimano really has a difficulty achieving. Below are 10 speed Veloce derailleur s and Ergo shifters with a 53 & 39 Chorus square taper crankset and a 13-29 cassette.



Or the same Pinarello with a 3x10 Campagnolo Chorus drivetrain.


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Old 03-13-19, 08:18 PM
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The following photo is of a restomod 1x10 build on a 2011 Waterford ST-22. I'm gonna finish tinkering on my '78 Kvale soon, the drivetrain doesn't look much different.

I'm thinking about doing a full-on vintage build on something, first time in a long time. I'm not sure if I'll go 1x or 2x. 1x7 wouldn't be too bad, wide-range time trial gearing?

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Old 03-14-19, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Most unusual gearing: My Mooney. Triple chainline. 46-44-36 x 13,17, 21 1/8: fix gear where each combo is a distinct chainline so only three gears of 96", 70" and 46". A true mountain road fix gear.

Ben
So do you have to stop and loosen the rear wheel to move the chain between different cogs?
I've seen 3-cog rear freewheels, but have often wondered what the application is.
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