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Building a New Bike; Drivetrain, etc?

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Building a New Bike; Drivetrain, etc?

Old 05-03-19, 09:04 PM
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ADAP7IVE
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Building a New Bike; Drivetrain, etc?

I'm building a new bike over the next few months, and I want a bike that feels more comfortable than my 13 kg (~29 lbs) hardtail for distance and bikepacking in wet/humid climate. I rode 5000+ kms last year on the MTB, but discomfort due to fit, geometry, and loaded weight really held me back. The MTB is 1x11, which worked well in my hilly area; frequent steep hills and mountains in Japan. If derailleur, I'll do a 1x MTB drivetrain again. Thinking a bike with clearance for 40-50mm tires, because while paved roads are almost everywhere, they're not well-maintained. I'm also considering a Pinion/Gates drive. Below I've written out what I'm seeing as the pro/con for them. I'd appreciate any thoughts you have on bikes generally, or on the drivetrain pro/con. Looking at it all written out, I'd say the big debate is over whether I want to deal with frequent-but-doable maintenance, or infrequent but potentially bothersome maintenance.

Pinion/Gates
+ If all goes as advertised, no maintenance for years and 10,000+ km even in rainy Japan.
+ Minimal chance of damage from a crash or bump, compared to derailleur.
+ Gear range. Huge gear range (636% on the 18 speed) with even jumps.
+ No chain grime or oil. No nasty trouser legs or risk of getting anything caught in the chain/ring.
+ No chance of ankle cuts from the chainring. Only happened once and not in the last several years, but not pleasant.
+ Stronger rear wheel/no dishing. This is theoretical to me, because I've not had any major strength issues on rear wheels yet.
+ Cost versus derailleur over its life? Replacing, cleaning, greasing a couple chains/rings/cogs over a few years could be ~$600 USD versus maybe ~$100 for a new Gates belt.
- Availability of parts/ease of field maintenance. If something does go wrong, I'm shipping the frame to Germany or the US to get worked on.
- Pedaling gaps due to rear freehub and few BB pawls.
- Weight. up to 3 lbs heavier than a derailleur. Not sure I'd notice, going from an MTB to a road bike with a dialed fit.
- Relatively young/unproven system. Great if everything works as advertised, but only been on the market since 2011 and few reviews or analyses of performance.
- Untested longevity? There are a few reviews online touting longevity, but we really don't know yet. It's warrantied to 5 years, though.
- Crank issues. Reports of the Pinion cranks creaking or clicking, but not enough data to know how widespread, or if they've corrected the issue. Annoying on a high-priced system.
- Requires a purpose-built frame, no possibility to change drivetrains later.
- Initial cost centralized on the drivetrain, leaves less $ to spend elsewhere.

1x Shimano (or SRAM, or Rotor, or...)
+ Ease of maintenance. I can pop the bike on a stand at home and do much myself even in the field, or take it to the shop where mechanics will have the parts and know-how to service it.
+ Modular interchangeability/availability of parts. I can swap parts as needed, or even the entire drivetrain, and can be sure they're widely available. In Japan, Shimano is the king.
+ Electronic drivetrains are a possibility. Raises the cost vs. mechanical, but compared to Pinion they're not so expensive. Di2 Left-hand shifting is a plus for me with a disability.
+ Greater longevity of the bike overall, due to availability of parts. No risk of derailleur tech or company disappearing or becoming impractical to service or replace in 5 or 10 years.
+ Reliable data on derailleur service life. Easy to expect 5 or 10 years on a mechanical RD, with many lasting 20+.
+ Initial cost. More $ to spread around on a nice frame and finishing kit.
+ Resale. If one ends up selling a frame/bike later, a derailleur bike with a nice frame and kit seems more marketable.
- Requires maintenance and cleaning. Cleaning and maintenance aren't hard, but it takes time and money.
- Risk of damage from a crash or bump. I haven't had any issues with the XT derailleur on my MTB, but I have to think about it any time I put the bike somewhere. It only takes one time...
- Gear range just over 400%, with inconsistent jumps.
- Cost over the life of the bike? Replacing parts adds up.

Last edited by ADAP7IVE; 05-03-19 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 05-03-19, 10:48 PM
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jade408
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Why not Rohloff? It's proven. You are already looking at a high end drivetrain. You can get a belt drive if you want.

In my book Rohloff is a safer bet since it is available for almost any frame vs. Pinion frames are Pinion only.

Are you looking at a custom or stock frame?
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Old 05-03-19, 10:57 PM
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jade408
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Also, why not Shimano Alfine 11? You can get the internal hub with Di2, it's cheaper than pinion, less maintenance than a 1x drivetrain. Also has a 400%+ gear range.
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Old 05-03-19, 11:06 PM
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ADAP7IVE
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Why not Rohloff? It's proven. You are already looking at a high end drivetrain. You can get a belt drive if you want.

In my book Rohloff is a safer bet since it is available for almost any frame vs. Pinion frames are Pinion only.

Are you looking at a custom or stock frame?
Rohloff and Alfine are an option too. Like you said, it's proven and low-maintenance. Only real downsides are interchangeability of wheels and maintenance if it does need to be done.

I'm looking at stock and custom in Steel and Ti. On another thread I got some recommendations for Japanese frame builders, and I've reached out, but we're in a national 10-day holiday period and I don't expect to hear back until next week at the earliest.

Other ones I'm looking at are Co-Motion (~$7500 USD to get a complete build to Japan), Moots (about $4400 for frame and fork which I'd build up), and Reilly Cycles (~$5900 complete). Other stock options were Salsa, Lynskey and Litespeed. The downside to getting a foreign frame without a distributor in-country is that an extra shipping+insurance cost is tacked on, and the inability to go through a shop with all the usual support. Moots has a distributor, so I can go through a shop.

Last edited by ADAP7IVE; 05-03-19 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 05-03-19, 11:10 PM
  #5  
ADAP7IVE
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Oh! and building a Soma Wolverine came up. Belt/hub gear compatibility in an inexpensive frame.
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Old 05-04-19, 12:11 AM
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jade408
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Originally Posted by ADAP7IVE View Post
Oh! and building a Soma Wolverine came up. Belt/hub gear compatibility in an inexpensive frame.
Yes! Somas are great, definitely worth a look. You can do what I did and get it powdercoated (or painted).
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