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Gears 'n sprockets 'n what not

Old 01-05-19, 06:30 PM
  #1  
spelger
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Gears 'n sprockets 'n what not

ok, don't beat me up too much on this...i want to know what the deal is with two sprockets (gears) in the front vs three in the front. my bike is apparently a bit older than the newer generation (10ish years), i have three and they all serve me well. most newer models i see have two in the front. advantage? can't possibly be weight, can it? is it is just fewer to shift through? i presume that the ratio with the back cassette compensates somehow but what is the real cost/trade off?

and it is sprockets or gears or metal circles with pointy things around?
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Old 01-05-19, 06:47 PM
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Triple cranksets have fallen out of favor. This is as good a forum as any to put forward opinions as to why this is so.

I think that they were phased out a bit prematurely. The current 11/12 speed rear cassette trend allows wider ranging gear ratios so I suppose a triple could potentially have a lot of redundant (duplicate) gears. Another issue is that of indexed triple front integrated shifters take more skill for the mechanic to set up correctly.

But to me there is a lot to like with a “3 by —“ set up. For one - I find that the chainline is a bit less extreme. I mean there is a bit less cross chaining needed. It helps cassettes and chainrings to last longer in my mind. It also allows you to select a tighter ratio cassette which permits more spirited group riding.

I’m not sure if there are still any good mountain bike groups that are available with triple cranks but in the road domain, the choices are slim. I believe Shimano has some lower end “trekking” components that sport 3x drivetrains and I should be more open to these.
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Old 01-05-19, 06:51 PM
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Typically, 3 chainrings (a triple) is for touring use. That’s usually what they’re called. A touring triple. To help give the widest possible set of ratios. In the earliest days of multispeed derailleur drivetrains you only had a single chainring. The double was invented to give wider choice of ratios for racing. The standard 52 outer and 42 inner chainrings were the most common for a long time because it was what worked best I suppose with 5 and 6 speed freewheels. That was replaced, most commonly, with a 53 outer and 38 or 39 inner for doubles, with the move to 7-8-9-10 speed casettes. 1x or single chainring drivetrains have recently come back into popularity with the introduction of 11 and 12 speed cassettes, along with derailleurs that can handle large (up to 40 teeth) sprockets. These are usually paired with much smaller, single outer chainrings (often 38 or fewer teeth) because you can obtain the same range of ratios, with a mechanically simplified drivetrain. (A lot of people dislike front derailleurs) these are popular for modern touring, mtb, cyclocross and the latest “all-road” “adventure” ans “gravel” bikes.

in short, the number of chainrings you have, has nothing to do with what’s ‘better’ or what’s newer or older. Different drivetrains have been developed for different uses at different times. Triples are still used, they’re just much less common today, again mostly because of 1x11 and 1x12 drivetrains. And it all down to ratios and ease of use. If you have, let’s say an 11-40t 12 speed cassette and a single chainring, you only need to shift one derailleur. well most people consider that a better drivetrain than say a 14-28 8 speed with three chainrings and having to shift two derailleurs.

if you like your triple, then keep using it. You’re not missing anything.

Last edited by seamuis; 01-05-19 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 01-05-19, 07:09 PM
  #4  
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While they are both circles with 'teeth' Sprockets are intended to be connected by a chain or toothed belt; Gears mesh directly with other gears.
Some people may disagree, but if we're talking about bikes, the little ones on the back are usually refered to as 'cogs' or 'sprockets' The big ones on the front are 'chainrings' or 'chainwheels'

You see less 'Triple' (3-ring) cranks these days, since 10- and 11-speed rear cassettes are more and more prevalent. You can have a wider range of ratios to choose from with a x10 in the back, than with say, an x8, and with smaller steps between the ratios. On any bike's drivetrain you will have 'duplicate gears' where more than one combination of front and rear 'gears' produces the same ratio, with the smaller steps of a x10 or x11 cassette, there's even more overlap, so having 3 rings in the front usually provides a lot more overlap in the ranges, while only a few more 'extra low' ratios. (2x 'double' cranks are also easier to set up)
My last road bike with a triple was a 3x8, and the granny gear only gave me 2 more steps from the lowest ratio covered by the middle ring.

Triples, though, are still popluar with touring and trekking riders, for the ability to have some super-low ratios for climbing, especially with a loaded bike.
A lot of these guys, especially who do a lot of loaded touring, run MTB wide-range cassettes for a huge spread of gear ratios to choose from.
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Old 01-05-19, 07:15 PM
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^^ the only correct name is sprocket. The teeth on said sprocket can be called teeth or cogs.
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Old 01-05-19, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
While they are both circles with 'teeth' Sprockets are intended to be connected by a chain or toothed belt; Gears mesh directly with other gears.
Some people may disagree, but if we're talking about bikes, the little ones on the back are usually refered to as 'cogs' or 'sprockets' The big ones on the front are 'chainrings' or 'chainwheels'

You see less 'Triple' (3-ring) cranks these days, since 10- and 11-speed rear cassettes are more and more prevalent. You can have a wider range of ratios to choose from with a x10 in the back, than with say, an x8, and with smaller steps between the ratios. On any bike's drivetrain you will have 'duplicate gears' where more than one combination of front and rear 'gears' produces the same ratio, with the smaller steps of a x10 or x11 cassette, there's even more overlap, so having 3 rings in the front usually provides a lot more overlap in the ranges, while only a few more 'extra low' ratios. (2x 'double' cranks are also easier to set up)
My last road bike with a triple was a 3x8, and the granny gear only gave me 2 more steps from the lowest ratio covered by the middle ring.

Triples, though, are still popluar with touring and trekking riders, for the ability to have some super-low ratios for climbing, especially with a loaded bike.
A lot of these guys, especially who do a lot of loaded touring, run MTB wide-range cassettes for a huge spread of gear ratios to choose from.
I'm not completely new to the bike world but this was a super nice read..... Thank you Ironfish
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Old 01-05-19, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
ok, don't beat me up too much on this...i want to know what the deal is with two sprockets (gears) in the front vs three in the front. my bike is apparently a bit older than the newer generation (10ish years), i have three and they all serve me well.
In my experience triples are nicer than doubles because the center ring (usually 42 tooth on road bikes) is perfect for covering almost all situations. Only when riding extreme uphill/downhill sections did I find I needed to shift down/up in the front.

With a double I find my most used ratios put me near the bottom of the cassette when in the small ring, and near the top when in the large ring, so lots of unnecessary front shifts. This effect is amplified for me, since I prefer cassettes with tight gaps. If you run a wide cassette, the need to shift the front is lessened, but then you're stuck with wide gaps between many of the shifts! I hate that.

This is why I now favor ONE front chainring, and zero front shifters/cables/derailleurs.

But mostly, gearing choice is personal. Experiment and you'll find what works best for you.
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Old 01-06-19, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
In my experience triples are nicer than doubles because the center ring (usually 42 tooth on road bikes) is perfect for covering almost all situations. Only when riding extreme uphill/downhill sections did I find I needed to shift down/up in the front.

With a double I find my most used ratios put me near the bottom of the cassette when in the small ring, and near the top when in the large ring, so lots of unnecessary front shifts. This effect is amplified for me, since I prefer cassettes with tight gaps. If you run a wide cassette, the need to shift the front is lessened, but then you're stuck with wide gaps between many of the shifts! I hate that.

This is why I now favor ONE front chainring, and zero front shifters/cables/derailleurs.

But mostly, gearing choice is personal. Experiment and you'll find what works best for you.
+1 If you ride real hills. triples. once set up, are a real blessing. I love running fronts like 53-42-28 and the narrowest cassette I can get away wit because the choices are so good on both the flats and climbing with very few front shifts because a hill leveled out for a stretch or I went up a slight rise. I only run 9-speed but adding a cog or two just makes it better. Bike manufacturers and marketers don't like triples. Profit margins are better with doubles. (Manufacturers.) Plus racers use doubles so the bike like those the racers use must also. (Marketers.)

Ben
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Old 01-06-19, 12:52 AM
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A good friend of mine when I lived in north London, is what I call a ‘super commuter’ and his biggest boast is ‘I can tackle any hill you set me on, without ever getting out of the saddle.’ He loves his triple chainrings. BUT he also has a sturmey-archer 3spd cassette hub with an 11-40 11spd cassette. So he has 99 speeds. That my friends, is how you do a proper triple³
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Old 01-06-19, 03:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
Some people may disagree, but if we're talking about bikes, the little ones on the back are usually refered to as 'cogs' or 'sprockets' The big ones on the front are 'chainrings' or 'chainwheels'.
... unless you’re talking BMX.
The BMX crowd - for to me unknown reasons - often refer to the chainring as ”sprocket” and the sprocket as ”driver”.
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Old 01-06-19, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by seamuis View Post
A good friend of mine when I lived in north London, is what I call a ‘super commuter’ and his biggest boast is ‘I can tackle any hill you set me on, without ever getting out of the saddle.’ He loves his triple chainrings. BUT he also has a sturmey-archer 3spd cassette hub with an 11-40 11spd cassette. So he has 99 speeds. That my friends, is how you do a proper triple³
I wonder if you can still do this today? I believe the Sram dual drive is no longer available. However, if you use an 11 speed hub in conjunction with a 3 speed internal, that's only 33 gears?
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Old 01-06-19, 05:56 AM
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They change everything to make the old stuff obsolete, which in turn makes new technology attractive, whilst promoting the scrapping of perfectly serviceable existing property.
Or money, for short.

To be fair, it was thanks to those who supported new development for creating our last-generation technology in the first place.
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Old 01-06-19, 06:32 AM
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On MTBs, 2x is slightly easier to keep adjusted and affords more tire clearance. On many bikes, going bigger than 2.1 will result in the knobbies buzzing on the tail of the FD cage. Problem increased with 27.5 and 29" tires.

1x is becoming more and more prevalent also.

They're only lighter with the more expensive cassettes. $75-100 cassettes with 46t+ big cogs pretty much outwegh a front shifter and derailleur.

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Old 01-06-19, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post


... unless you’re talking BMX.
The BMX crowd - for to me unknown reasons - often refer to the chainring as ”sprocket” and the sprocket as ”driver”.
Drivers are typically the equivalent of a freehub body and cog, replaced as a unit. Still often called cassette hubs even though not many people still run separate freehub body, cog, spacer, lockring.
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Old 01-06-19, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
I wonder if you can still do this today? I believe the Sram dual drive is no longer available. However, if you use an 11 speed hub in conjunction with a 3 speed internal, that's only 33 gears?
If you had a single chainring. But if you have a triple chainring, it’s 99. I don’t know anything about a sram dual drive. His bike has a modified sturmey-archer cs-rk3 disc compatible 3spd cassette hub. It’s a pretty cool bit of kit, that he modified with a freehub body swap, to accept an 11spd cassette. (I think they are designed to work with 8-10spd cassettes) He’s an actual mechanical engineer, and an amateur bicycle frame builder, who actually built his own frame for his daily commuter. Pretty impressive stuff.
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Old 01-06-19, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
On MTBs, 2x is slightly easier to keep adjusted and affords more tire clearance. On many bikes, going bigger than 2.1 will result in the knobbies buzzing on the tail of the FD cage. Problem increased with 27.5 and 29" tires.
I'm trying to remember what the industry's motivation was at the time. I agree w/everything you say above about ease of adjustment and clearance. Wasn't there a market segment at the time that wasn't using the third ring much anyway? The all mountain segment? That's sort of what I recall, and I remember two rings and a bash guard being a common configuration for a while. And didn't XC racers hold on to that third ring a little while longer for the added top end?
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Old 01-06-19, 08:45 AM
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Colors change year to year too.

Ultimately, it has to do with gear ratios. If your bike has the gears to go as fast as you ever ride and the gears that you need to get up the steepest hills that you ever ride on, you really have nothing to gain by changing them.

One other thing: It's the motor. If you put a Ferrari transmission into a Yugo do you think it would suddenly go 150 MPH? Changing your bike's gears probably isn't going to suddenly make you a lot faster either.
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Old 01-06-19, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeyMK View Post
They change everything to make the old stuff obsolete, which in turn makes new technology attractive, whilst promoting the scrapping of perfectly serviceable existing property.
Or money, for short.

To be fair, it was thanks to those who supported new development for creating our last-generation technology in the first place.
i think that’s nonsense. And so do you, which is why your last sentence proves your first one as nonsense. The major companies like shimano, sram, campagnolo do most of their R&D around racing. Pro racing affects product development and product development affects pro racing. For the most part, everything else is just trickle down and consumer adaptation. We the consumer, ultimately decide what becomes obsolete. Since no manufacturer can force you to purchase anything, they have no incentive to purposely make things obsolete. But if they see trends moving away from certain things it’s in their interest to respond with the products that are being desired.Triples came into fashion because they were at the time, the best way to get the widest possible set of ratios. They fell out of favour with 10-11 and now 12 spd cassettes. Both drivetrains types have positives and negatives, but simply put: most people find a 1x11 with 40+ largest sprocket drivetrain a better option than a 3x drivetrain. The modern 1x systems were essentially created by people adapting road and mtb systems together to create new drivetrains for gravel, cx, touring, adventure and ‘all-road’ cycling. I.e. taking road bikes to new places. This also created the demand for frames with more clearence and the resurgence of 650b (27.5) wheels on road bikes. manufacturers like sram responded with its xx1 and eagle. Shimano responded by mixing their mtb and road component designs to make them more versatile. Now we have a dura ace derailleur near identical to XTR and an XTR 12 spd. Where in any of this can you point to purposeful obsoletion? Or wanting you to scrap your triple? They aren’t obligated to continue providing you specifically what you want forevermore, simply because you don’t feel the need to upgrade. But if the demand is there, you can bet they’ll make it, example: dura ace 7600 track hubs.
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Old 01-06-19, 10:58 AM
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Math is hard

This :
Ultimately, it has to do with gear ratios.
can you calculate a ratio?

teeth count, a division of the circumference on a bike is the way you connect via a chain with 2 circles of different or same (1:1 ratio) .... diameters

on your car on engine they use a V belt , there the friction does the pulling one around by the other connected by that belt..

then the ratio difference is the differences in diameter/radius,


I like The rationale of boat payments designers have to design new things so they can afford to keep their boat. for vaykay & weekends..





...

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Old 01-06-19, 11:16 AM
  #20  
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Most of their research has to do with "selling"! The bottom line is all they are racing to!

All the speeds over the years have been selling points. When all this started it was all
about "three speed English racers" then "Ten speeds"!
$$$$$$
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Old 01-06-19, 11:39 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by seamuis View Post


i think that’s nonsense. And so do you, which is why your last sentence proves your first one as nonsense. The major companies like shimano, sram, campagnolo do most of their R&D around racing. Pro racing affects product development and product development affects pro racing. For the most part, everything else is just trickle down and consumer adaptation. We the consumer, ultimately decide what becomes obsolete. Since no manufacturer can force you to purchase anything, they have no incentive to purposely make things obsolete. But if they see trends moving away from certain things it’s in their interest to respond with the products that are being desired.Triples came into fashion because they were at the time, the best way to get the widest possible set of ratios. They fell out of favour with 10-11 and now 12 spd cassettes. Both drivetrains types have positives and negatives, but simply put: most people find a 1x11 with 40+ largest sprocket drivetrain a better option than a 3x drivetrain. The modern 1x systems were essentially created by people adapting road and mtb systems together to create new drivetrains for gravel, cx, touring, adventure and ‘all-road’ cycling. I.e. taking road bikes to new places. This also created the demand for frames with more clearence and the resurgence of 650b (27.5) wheels on road bikes. manufacturers like sram responded with its xx1 and eagle. Shimano responded by mixing their mtb and road component designs to make them more versatile. Now we have a dura ace derailleur near identical to XTR and an XTR 12 spd. Where in any of this can you point to purposeful obsoletion? Or wanting you to scrap your triple? They aren’t obligated to continue providing you specifically what you want forevermore, simply because you don’t feel the need to upgrade. But if the demand is there, you can bet they’ll make it, example: dura ace 7600 track hubs.
Most product matter is designed to have as fashion-based shelf life, so that products continue to sell on desire.
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Old 01-06-19, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Colors change year to year too.

Ultimately, it has to do with gear ratios. If your bike has the gears to go as fast as you ever ride and the gears that you need to get up the steepest hills that you ever ride on, you really have nothing to gain by changing them.

One other thing: It's the motor. If you put a Ferrari transmission into a Yugo do you think it would suddenly go 150 MPH? Changing your bike's gears probably isn't going to suddenly make you a lot faster either.

^^^^^ Absolutely true here. ^^^^ But what I haven't seen anyone post (I may have missed it). Is that more gears help the motor be more efficient.. Six thousand horsepower funny cars only need one gear and there's only one reason ... the motor.
Me? My motor isn't real powerful, I need the triple chain ring up front. On a steep sand hill I need the smallest gear I can get. On the other end I need a tail wind and a steep grade to use the biggest... My motor threw a rod and spun a bearing a couple years ago. Cardiologist fixed it like new now I'm trying to get as much horsepower out of it as possible I need all the gears/sprockets/cogs the manufacturer has given me.
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Old 01-06-19, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeyMK View Post
Most product matter is designed to have as fashion-based shelf life, so that products continue to sell on desire.
that opinion doesn’t prove your statements, nor does it refute mine. But obviously, you’re welcome to it.
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Old 01-06-19, 01:33 PM
  #24  
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I think bike companies and component manufacturers try to induce the desire for new things but i also think some great products get made. For my purposes, long distance touring and commuting, the good stuff was developed quite a few years ago. This is actually terrific because i can get 7-8 speed cassettes for a song and triple cranks are still out there. Life is good when you can replace a chain and cassette for under 30.00.
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Old 01-06-19, 03:27 PM
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CliffordK
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There are a number of reasons the "triples" have fallen out of favor.
  • With the new cassettes, the freewheels have shrunken, so for vintage bikes, 13-x or 14-x freewheels have been replaced with 11-x cassettes.

    This change causes a couple of things to happen. A 11/33 cassette would have the same 3:1 reduction as a 14/42 freewheel

    This, in turn has allowed the use of smaller cranksets. So, say a 50/34 is a very common size today while the vintage bikes might have a 52/42 crankset.

    And the 50/34 crankset competes favorably with the 50/40/30 triple.
  • More sprockets on the rear. So, a vintage 10-speed would have 2x5 gearing, or for an 18-speed, 3x6 gearing.

    Now one might have 2x11 gearing or 22 speeds with a double.

    This allows tighter steps between rear sprockets, but also wider range cassettes (coupled with longer rear derailleurs).
  • Keep in mind that it is all about gear reduction. So, say a 50/40 front gives one about a 20% gearing reduction. An 11/12 on the rear gives about a 10% reduction in gearing. Skip two (11/13), and one gets close to the same 20% gearing reduction as the front.

    Thus, add a couple extra sprockets, and one can get essentially the same gearing as one had with the triple.

    Say one's vintage bike had: 50/40/30 up front, and 11/30 in the rear.
    One's new bike has 50/34 up front, and 11/34 in the rear. The overall gear ratios are IDENTICAL. Toss on an 11/42 in the rear, and one now has lower gearing with the double than one had with the triple.

Front shifting can be a bit of a pain, and there is a lot of gearing overlap. That is one reason why SRAM (and others) are pushing a single front chainring (1x) with 11 or 12 rear sprockets.

It is best if the rear derailleur is long enough to wrap enough chain for the big/big and small/small sprocket combinations. And, one doesn't really gain much by having the extra front sprockets.

I still like triples for loaded touring and hauling cargo (I think). At least they are worth experimenting with. But, the double is fine for most ordinary riding including typical hill climbing. Probably for those wild days of lots of 20% climbs, I'd be better off simply installing a larger cassette.
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