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Any experience with lighter square taper cranks?

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Any experience with lighter square taper cranks?

Old 03-08-24, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon
Another, perhaps simpler way to add reach is use a riser bar rotated forwards.
I also think that is a simpler approach, and provides more knee clearance when climbing out of the saddle. But I may be looking for a riser bar (what I called above a stempost, made up just to distinguish from the "top" stem) that is more in-line with the steering axis (more tilted aft, closer to parallel with the seatpost), so I can mount a suspension stem at the same reach. There are several different brands of what is the same stem, one review said it's noisy in function, not enough travel, though may be enough for road. Fits 1-1/8" riser and 1-1/4" handlebar center. Have you used this type?


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Old 03-08-24, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
I also think that is a simpler approach, and provides more knee clearance when climbing out of the saddle. But I may be looking for a riser bar (what I called above a stempost, made up just to distinguish from the "top" stem) that is more in-line with the steering axis (more tilted aft, closer to parallel with the seatpost), so I can mount a suspension stem at the same reach. There are several different brands of what is the same stem, one review said it's noisy in function, not enough travel, though may be enough for road. Fits 1-1/8" riser and 1-1/4" handlebar center. Have you used this type?


No, I have not, sorry.
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Old 03-08-24, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon
No, I have not, sorry.
Looks like a good design, does not rotate the bar with suspension travel like some designs. Comes with 4 springs, but as they get stiffer, the flat spring wire gets thicker, so I wonder if travel is reduced with the strongest spring. I don't know if the travel bottoms out on the spring, or some other part of the linkage. EDIT: I think the spring; specs say travel 15-20mm, my guess is the stronger the spring the lower the travel. Review said they needed the strongest spring. 15mm isn't much travel:



Last edited by Duragrouch; 03-08-24 at 05:35 AM.
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Old 03-08-24, 05:00 PM
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It's adds about 2 lb. to your bike though.
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Old 03-08-24, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by cat0020
It's adds about 2 lb. to your bike though.
The difference in weight between that suspension stem and a conventional stem is likely considerably less than the difference between a suspension fork and a rigid one, though.
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Old 03-08-24, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
I also think that is a simpler approach, and provides more knee clearance when climbing out of the saddle. But I may be looking for a riser bar (what I called above a stempost, made up just to distinguish from the "top" stem) that is more in-line with the steering axis (more tilted aft, closer to parallel with the seatpost), so I can mount a suspension stem at the same reach. There are several different brands of what is the same stem, one review said it's noisy in function, not enough travel, though may be enough for road. Fits 1-1/8" riser and 1-1/4" handlebar center. Have you used this type?


I equipped one of my first, cobbled-together hybrids with the first (I think) parallelogram stem to be marketed in the modern era, the Softride stem. I think it was Softride's first product, before the Softride bike with the Fiberglas saddle suspension rail.

About the reported lack of travel: with parallelogram stems, the available travel increases with stem length. Newer off-road bikes tend to have stubby little stems, but older bikes would likely use a longer stem. Softride made stems up to 140 mm in length, as I recall.

On the general topic of suspension stems for off-road use: the first year that Softride sponsored a team, in the early '90's, the riders used conventional hard-tail bikes equipped with the Softride suspension stem. People scoffed at them, of course.

Then the race results started accumulating. One Softride team member won the off-road World Championships (all the other riders were on bikes with suspension forks, naturally) one year; the same year, another rider won the World Cup - i.e., accumulated the most points for high finishes over the course of the season.

Softride eventually gave up on the stem. Even though the race results showed that the stem was at least as effective as a fork in competition, people didn't take it seriously. After all, who wouldn't prefer a bike that looked like a motorcycle?

(Photo is from an eBay posting, but the stem looks pretty beat up. There might be some listings for 1 1/8" new old stock Softride stems, if anyone's interested.)


Last edited by Trakhak; 03-08-24 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 03-08-24, 05:32 PM
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(above) Yeah I know it'll add weight, it doesn't look light, it has to take a lot of stress, and it's a critical component so needs to have some safety margin, but thanks for the warning. My bigger concern is that with the stiffest spring (based on reviews, most likely to be used), the travel is only 15mm, that's something, but not a bunch. This would be for road only. There is a section view in one of the offerings, I think the travel is limited, not from the parallel links bottoming against each other, but to limit lateral distortion of the coil spring as it compresses, stiff coils can tolerate only so much of that, especially when compressed. That's one way in which a rubber spring can be superior, in some designs, as it compresses, shear displacement and forces increase, which also increases the spring rate. I think this is the setup on Thudbuster seatposts. Or you have a rubber cylinder that rolls with increasing compression. However steel springs tend to be more durable. Some of the designs with no parallel links, just a swing arm, I think may have greater travel, but the handlebar rotates with displacement and I don't want that. I also wonder how much the parallel link bushings loosen with time, they need to stay tight, but it appears they have put bronze bushings at the pivots, that may help. On-road only, mine would stay clean, and I'd probably fabricate a fabric/rubber/plastic-bag cover to keep out dirt, as air venting for cooling is not necessary in that design. I'll keep looking, hopefully a better design comes out, but I'll also keep looking at reviews. Oh yeah, one review said it's really noisy, hitting the hard stops; One would think that could be solved just with some rubber part as the final stop, like they do in car suspensions with steel springs, you have a "jounce bumper" to take that last bit of travel and prevent a hard slam with the chassis, plus it's quieter.

EDIT, JUST SAW LATER POST: Softride: Steel or rubber spring in it? Yes, longer links equals greater travel, but I can only go so long before reach is too long. As it is, to preserve current reach, I need to find a long stem riser (folding bike) that is straight with the steering tube, and not canted forward as current, to use a suspension stem.

A suspension stem makes so much more sense than a fork for a road or touring bike; Lighter, and easier rack mounting. Cannondale had the Headshok, simple and light, but I don't know the travel and durability of the setup.

Last edited by Duragrouch; 03-08-24 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 03-08-24, 08:20 PM
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I don't know that a suspension stem is a replacement or alternative to a suspension fork. Complements rather than substitutes, methinks.
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Old 03-08-24, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon
I don't know that a suspension stem is a replacement or alternative to a suspension fork. Complements rather than substitutes, methinks.
Oh I think if you have a suspension fork, there would be zero need for a suspension stem, the fork will have more travel, plus damping. I'm trying to think if a suspension stem could respond better to certain displacements and frequencies, but it would still be acting via forces transmitted through the fork. So like two springs in series, the softer one will always collapse first. The fork suspension will also have less unsprung mass, just the wheel and the lower part of the fork, whereas the unsprung mass for a suspension stem is the wheel, the complete fork, the fixed part of the stem, and the portion of the frame weight and rider/cargo weight measured at the fixed stem, so a lot more unsprung mass, thus the suspension fork should respond better. I wish that were not so.

The killer app of a suspension stem is where you need lighter weight and better aerodynamics, versus a suspension fork; The Paris-Roubaix road race is infamously harsh in ride on both riders and bikes, containing paving of cobblestones and Belgian blocks, the latter of which is now duplicated in every automotive durability test in the world; After WWII, it was discovered that vehicles operating on those just fell apart, so it's the gold standard for automotive tests. The same on a bicycle with no suspension? Yikes, even worse. I would be surprised if no team in the PR used a suspension stem, now that they exist, even though a couple pounds on a road race bike is a lot. A carbon fork and frame, even with optimization to allow some longitudinal bending without compromising torsional stiffness, I think can't come near the displacement of a suspension stem.

Last edited by Duragrouch; 03-08-24 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 03-08-24, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
Oh I think if you have a suspension fork, there would be zero need for a suspension stem, the fork will have more travel, plus damping. I'm trying to think if a suspension stem could respond better to certain displacements and frequencies, but it would still be acting via forces transmitted through the fork. So like two springs in series, the softer one will always collapse first. The fork suspension will also have less unsprung mass, just the wheel and the lower part of the fork, whereas the unsprung mass for a suspension stem is the wheel, the complete fork, the fixed part of the stem, and the portion of the frame weight and rider/cargo weight measured at the fixed stem, so a lot more unsprung mass, thus the suspension fork should respond better. I wish that were not so.

The killer app of a suspension stem is where you need lighter weight and better aerodynamics, versus a suspension fork; The Paris-Roubaix road race is infamously harsh in ride on both riders and bikes, containing paving of cobblestones and Belgian blocks, the latter of which is now duplicated in every automotive durability test in the world; After WWII, it was discovered that vehicles operating on those just fell apart, so it's the gold standard for automotive tests. The same on a bicycle with no suspension? Yikes, even worse. I would be surprised if no team in the PR used a suspension stem, now that they exist, even though a couple pounds on a road race bike is a lot. A carbon fork and frame, even with optimization to allow some longitudinal bending without compromising torsional stiffness, I think can't come near the displacement of a suspension stem.
Or 29 x 2.5" meat.
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Old 03-09-24, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon
Or 29 x 2.5" meat.
That too. I'm wondering about that. I read a report in Bicycle Quarterly (expensive! I read for free at my library) that fatter tires are not necessarily slower, depending on surface, however they didn't measure that wide, just typical 700c touring tires). I think I have room for at least 2" on my Dahon Speed frame and fork, however I had to remove the fenders just to fit 1.75" (treaded, they were on sale very cheap, but those are long gone and I'm back to semi-smoothies) from the 1.5" that came with the bike, and on a tour, I'd want fenders. Around town, I only bike in the dry, and it's a lot easier to periodically inspect the top tire surface for glass shards and such, without fenders.

So yeah, a lot more tire options these days. Big tires would also cushion my butt, Thudbuster quit making a suspension seatpost in Dahon diameter and size (33.9 x 580-600mm length). I have taken notice of your bikes on 305s and superfats.

On cars, the tendency has been away from cushy tires and toward low-profile rubber (to a fault, it bangs the heck out of the rims over potholes), but it does offer the advantage of suspension travel being damped ("shock absorbers"), not rebounding as fast, whereas tire flex is undamped. But with a bike suspension stem, that's also undamped.
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Old 03-09-24, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Barchettaman
Iíve gone with a Litepro 47t square taper crankset, for Ä33,50 it seemed like a decent deal.
Iíve just switched out the stock 52T Tern crankset for that same Lifepro setup today, canít say it felt much lighter in the hand than the original one did but at least itís possible to switch the rings over accordingly. Only the frame, vee brakes, handle post, seat post and wheels left from the original Link D8 nowÖ
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Old 03-09-24, 02:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Reddleman
Iíve just switched out the stock 52T Tern crankset for that same Lifepro setup today, canít say it felt much lighter in the hand than the original one did but at least itís possible to switch the rings over accordingly. Only the frame, vee brakes, handle post, seat post and wheels left from the original Link D8 nowÖ
The crank is by far the worst quality part on the lower-end Dahons and Terns, steel ring permanently swaged onto the right arm. Mine is old enough to have cone-and-cup bottom bracket bearings, not even a cartridge. Fantastic difference with a generic hollowtech II style replacement, but I also changed the gearing.

The Dahon rims come a close second, single wall, although from comments on here, I think they are more durable than the fancier aero rims on their mid-priced bikes, double wall, but weak at the spoke nipple holes.
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Old 03-09-24, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon
Another, perhaps simpler way to add reach is use a riser bar rotated forwards.

An advantage of this approach is that whereas stem of the sort above are kinda limited in size, riser handlebars come in a myriad of rises. You need 9cm of additional reach, no problem. Ridiculous, yes, but you can simply get a 9cm riser bar.
I looked at using a riser bar rotated 90degrees forward, I had a nice one in the parts bin.

Mine would have Ďsplayedí the ends of the bar forward if I rotated it; I ended up getting the stem extender from AliExpress and the riser bar is still in the parts bin!
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Old 03-09-24, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Barchettaman
...

Mine would have Ďsplayedí the ends of the bar forward if I rotated it; I ended up getting the stem extender from AliExpress and the riser bar is still in the parts bin!
If install it backwards, then when you rotate it, the end of the bar point backwards.
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Old 03-09-24, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
EDIT, JUST SAW LATER POST: Softride: Steel or rubber spring in it? Yes, longer links equals greater travel, but I can only go so long before reach is too long. As it is, to preserve current reach, I need to find a long stem riser (folding bike) that is straight with the steering tube, and not canted forward as current, to use a suspension stem.

A suspension stem makes so much more sense than a fork for a road or touring bike; Lighter, and easier rack mounting. Cannondale had the Headshok, simple and light, but I don't know the travel and durability of the setup.
(1) The Softride stem used a steel spring. Incidentally, there's no damping control per se, but the manufacturer recommended snugging the pivot bolts to the point where the pivot bushngs had some preload.

The downside of the Softride stem, in my experience, was that the bushings would wear over months of hard off-road use, resulting in a certain amount of wobbly play in the stem. Replacing them was a fairly easy job, but replacement bushings haven't been available from Softride for years. Come to think of it, Softride might have designed the stem around stock bushings that would still be available from industrial suppliers.

(2) Yes, a stem can be too long for a given rider and bike; that's why I mentioned that earlier MTBs generally used longer stems than modern MTBs.

(3) Never thought about the advantage of a suspension stem versus a suspension fork for accommodating racks and bags. That's a great point!

(4) The Cannondale HeadShok reputedly is not easy to work on and is full of proprietary parts that can be difficult to obtain. Travel was apparently 80 mm for all or most models.

Last edited by Trakhak; 03-09-24 at 07:00 AM.
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Old 03-09-24, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
Oh I think if you have a suspension fork, there would be zero need for a suspension stem, the fork will have more travel, plus damping. I'm trying to think if a suspension stem could respond better to certain displacements and frequencies, but it would still be acting via forces transmitted through the fork. So like two springs in series, the softer one will always collapse first. The fork suspension will also have less unsprung mass, just the wheel and the lower part of the fork, whereas the unsprung mass for a suspension stem is the wheel, the complete fork, the fixed part of the stem, and the portion of the frame weight and rider/cargo weight measured at the fixed stem, so a lot more unsprung mass, thus the suspension fork should respond better. I wish that were not so.

The killer app of a suspension stem is where you need lighter weight and better aerodynamics, versus a suspension fork; The Paris-Roubaix road race is infamously harsh in ride on both riders and bikes, containing paving of cobblestones and Belgian blocks, the latter of which is now duplicated in every automotive durability test in the world; After WWII, it was discovered that vehicles operating on those just fell apart, so it's the gold standard for automotive tests. The same on a bicycle with no suspension? Yikes, even worse. I would be surprised if no team in the PR used a suspension stem, now that they exist, even though a couple pounds on a road race bike is a lot. A carbon fork and frame, even with optimization to allow some longitudinal bending without compromising torsional stiffness, I think can't come near the displacement of a suspension stem.
About claims that the Softride stem would be inferior to a suspension fork for this or that technical reason (e.g., differences in the amounts of suspended mass): again, racers on Softride stem-equipped bikes won the off-road cross-country Worlds and off-road World Cup against a sea of shock-fork-equipped bikes. That was in 1996, I believe. So, at least back in the 1990s, suspension stems were demonstrably equal to or better than the shock forks that were used at the time.

I know it's difficult to accept the idea. I've presented those racing stats to experienced off-road guys I know a few times over the years, and in each case, it was clear that they were incapable of taking on board even the possibility that suspension forks might not be vastly superior to suspension stems.

Although in just one case, I persuaded a guy to switch bikes with me at the top of a long, rough single-track trail. We rode down that trail together and then went back to the top and switched bikes again. He said he thought the stem was maybe a bit better on that trail than the fork, but he'd stick with his fork.

A racer with a Softride stem took second at Paris-Roubaix one year, behind a bike with a RockShox fork. (Note that they beat all the riders on unsuspended bikes.) Quoting from this page:

"In 1993, with the new team sponsor Gan, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle again raced another conventional frame, fashioned from French Excell tubing and branded as a Lemond. Supposedly, he had the very same 25mm travel Rock Shox fork he had used the year before fitted to the newer frame. Instead of a solo win, a crash-battered Duclos followed on the heels of MG-Technogym’s Franco Ballerini.

"Ballerini was riding with an Allsop Softride suspension stem, derived from the company’s popular mtb stem. The Softride stem was a sprung/hinged parallelogram with a lockout, but because the stem had a taller stack than a traditional forged quill stem, frame sponsor Bianchi built the steel bike with a top tube that sloped down to reduce the length of the head tube.

"Fresher and possessing presumably superior sprinting prowess, Ballerini looked good for the win, but the cagey Duclos came round him on the right and held the Italian off by less than the length of that Softride stem. As a side note, Duclos became the oldest winner of the race on record, as well as the last winner to use down tube shifters."

Edit to add photo of Ballerini's bike, found on Bianchi's website:



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Old 03-09-24, 07:52 AM
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(above) Good to know!

That bike gearing looks like half-step without granny.
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Old 03-11-24, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon
If install it backwards, then when you rotate it, the end of the bar point backwards.
Honestly, with the bars I have, it wouldnít work.

Anyway I am happy with the stem extender from AliExpress. Itís from 2019Sporting Store. You need one of the longer ones or else the Tern stem clamp wonít open.

The 47t Litepro crankset is on its way and should arrive this week. Iíll use the opportunity to strip
diwn and clean the drivetrain which needs a bit of attention after two hard months pedalling around London.
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Old 03-11-24, 04:49 PM
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Everyone is doing Litepro these days. Not long ago, I remember the days when the channel gurus here just scoffed at the brand. A few weeks back, one of the gurus told me the 47T Litepro chainring I've been using sans problems since 2016 was flawed. 😂

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Old 03-11-24, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron Damon
Everyone is doing Litepro these days. Not long ago, I remember the days when folks just scoffed at the brand. A few weeks back, one of the forum gurus told me the 47T Litepro chainring I've been using since 2016 was flawed. 😂
From what I've seen (only in pics), the quality looks good, if I recall, CNC-machined from 7075-T6. From a design standpoint, if it was significantly lighter than say the top road-race cranks (same size and chainring setup) from Shimano, SRAM, Campy, I'd have some doubts with regard to fatigue under the strongest riders, but then again, I'm not that strong. But I put a lot of miles on my bike. At the very least, Litepro is extremely cost competitive for the quality. I hope they are doing FEA in design and not just by "styling", for the rings especially.
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Old 03-11-24, 11:42 PM
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Making an aluminum lightweight crankset is very easy.

The challenge is to make a lightweight crankset that is still rigid enough!

There are nowadays many copies of the old, now discontinued, very elegant Tune Big Foot square taper lightweight crankset, some weight less than the original design, but most of them aren't as rigid as the original design.
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Old 03-21-24, 08:31 AM
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Just to gently nudge this thread back on topic, Iíve fitted the 47-tooth Litepro crankset.

One chainring nut needed to be re tapped.

The 114mm cup and cone BB was dry as a bone, rather than repack and replace I swapped in a Shimano 113 cartridge BB that was lurking in the parts bin.

It rides well and the 1x9 gear range is more useable.




edited to point out that at this stage I had reinstalled the cleaned cassette incorrectly, I couldnít get it to index nicely. It turned out that I had left a sprocket in the parts cleaner. Blame fatigue and haste.

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Old 03-21-24, 04:51 PM
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Seems a few of us are now sporting that same 47T Litepro ring.


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Old 03-22-24, 03:28 AM
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Just to add, as I donít have a tap and die set, I retapped / cleaned up the threading on the recalcitrant nut by running a longer chainring bolt in through the back of the bolt and working it back and forth with a squirt of wd40. Worked like a charm.

Iíve dropped the gear range by 10% by going from 52 to 47 on the front, which should be helpful. It gets hilly in Austria.
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