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Abiding hatred for bicycle derailleur drive trains

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Abiding hatred for bicycle derailleur drive trains

Old 11-10-19, 04:01 PM
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Abiding hatred for bicycle derailleur drive trains

Derailleur drive trains are putrid piles of pus. They are promulgated by the industry for two reasons: 1. To make your cycling life at some point in the not too distant future dysfunctional, filthy with grease, out of adjustment, worn out and miserable which then sends you to number 2. A bicycle shop or mail order house for new freewheels, chainwheels, cables and housings, and chain. My hatred for this lousy dirty exposed to the elements high maintenance system goes back to the 70's when I first got into bike racing. I've been stuck dealing with this crap system ever since.


I've wanted a drive shaft system with an infinitely variable ratio from say 20inches to 110 inches, with the only adjustment knob on your handlebars being selector of pedal rpms you want to maintain which the infinite ratio adjuster adjusts so that your pedal rpms stay within that general ballpark setting. There would be no visible parts with all the drive train hidden behind protective shrouding in an oil bath.



Ahh! just think about it - no maintenance, you just grab your bike and go, no more roadside filthy greasy hands anymore when the chain pops off, no more cable adjustment of new or stiff cables, no more derailleur screws to finagle with etc.etc.

I've wanted this for the last 4 decades. We could put a man on the moon with the computing power of a modern smart phone but we can't come up with my desired drive train. Why? Because the industry is not willing to put in the R&D to design and tool this because they know they will be shooting themselves in the financial foot. They don't want a bunch of happy cyclists simply doing what they want to do which is just go for a ride and not have to deal with the grief and expense of the derailleur system.


Imagine my excitement about the new Pinion 12 speed 637% gearbox and totally greaseless Gates Carbon Belt Drive. It's not my dream system but it's a huge leap forward. I recently purchased the Priority 600 and am setting it up now. I live on a dirt road and am pretty excited about it.


On my other old primary bike the derailleur drive train is worn out now and slipping under torque when hauling groceries. I'm thinking the next best thing is to have a Nexus multispeed hub on the rear with the perfect chain alignment that a single rear cog gives you, along with no god awful rear derailleur.

They don't call'em derailleurs for nothing - they derail your cycling happiness when they irritate your cycling life.
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Old 11-10-19, 04:06 PM
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I’m sure it makes sense for you. Pinion easily adds a pound or more to the bike. I have had no F or R derailer issues in 30 years and other than chain, cassette, the occasional chainring and cables needed, the systems work fine. My Di2 system is 2 years old and I’ve never adjusted it.
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Old 11-10-19, 04:37 PM
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Shaft drive has been tried and failed, both 20 and 120 years ago. The angle bevel gears just don't work unless they can be really tight, sealed and lubed. NOT possible on a bicycle because of weight and the wheel has to be taken off often.
Variable transmission has been largely a fail with POOR GI range and huge weight and pathetic inefficiency.
Yup, I call them deFaileurs too. Fine for weight weenies but load them up and the lopsided tension spokes start going pling pling. LOL
Rohloff14 with disc for the WIN for me. Dirty chain and all.
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Old 11-10-19, 04:43 PM
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I am totally all for technological advancements when they add value, but just in my cycling life, my derailleurs have been pretty silent partners. I'm no kind of racer or bicycle guru, but I have ridden quite a bit. I am about to buy a bike with electronic shifting, but for me, other than that, the biggest technological advancement I personally would like to see is a road tire that is virtually entirely puncture resistant but still has awesome rolling resistance. I would be in heaven. I didn't say it could be done or that I even thought it could be done. And even if it could be done, it might put some tire makers out of business, so the company that developed it might just put it in a corner on a shelf--forever. But it is a dream.
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Old 11-10-19, 04:51 PM
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I've often wondered if the derailleur wasn't an accidental discovery. It is, after all, a broken chain drive. It's a kluge, and people have been refining it for over a century (I think). And I'm not a fan of them either.

Still, it has a lot of advantages (mostly low cost and light weight), and even 20 years ago, when I last rode derailleur bikes, they (usually) performed very well (I learned to equip them with Third Eye Chainwatchers.).

Sadly, I don't see internal-gear drives ever competing with derailleurs in cost or weight, both of which limit market appeal and thereby cancel economy-of-scale advantages.

To me, shaft drives are a non-starter. Chains just work, and if you don't like the grease, put a chain guard on the bike.
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Old 11-10-19, 05:18 PM
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II find rear derailleur drivetrains brilliantly simple, work nearly flawlessly, easy to adjust, light, and efficient.

Road, gravel, MTB, commuting... they just work. Like someone else said, a silent partner.

I gather you do not share my thoughts on the matter

Last edited by Kapusta; 11-10-19 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 11-10-19, 05:33 PM
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Old 11-10-19, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
II find rear derailleur drivetrains brilliantly simple, work nearly flawlessly, easy to adjust, light, and efficient.

Road, gravel, MTB, commuting... they just work. Like someone else said, a silent partner.

I gather you do not share my thoughts on the matter
Yep. Pretty simple, imo. I have three derailleur drivetrains, on my three bicycles: 3x9; 2x10; and now 1x11.

They all work, flawlessly, and have done so over the years that I have had them. Light, efficient, and requiring only a modicum of maintenance: wipe off/lube the chains; change the chain when worn; change the cassette when worn; change the chainring(s) when worn, and keep the cables (inner and outer) in decent condition.

I'm sure that at some point someone will develop an internal gearbox system that is as light, reliable, and efficient as a derailleur system. If and when that day comes, I'll welcome it, but until then I'm perfectly happy with what works and has done so for decades.
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Old 11-10-19, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Old ABLA Member
Derailleur drive trains are putrid piles of pus. They are promulgated by the industry for two reasons: 1. To make your cycling life at some point in the not too distant future dysfunctional, filthy with grease, out of adjustment, worn out and miserable which then sends you to number 2. A bicycle shop or mail order house for new freewheels, chainwheels, cables and housings, and chain. My hatred for this lousy dirty exposed to the elements high maintenance system goes back to the 70's when I first got into bike racing. I've been stuck dealing with this crap system ever since.


I've wanted a drive shaft system with an infinitely variable ratio from say 20inches to 110 inches, with the only adjustment knob on your handlebars being selector of pedal rpms you want to maintain which the infinite ratio adjuster adjusts so that your pedal rpms stay within that general ballpark setting. There would be no visible parts with all the drive train hidden behind protective shrouding in an oil bath.



Ahh! just think about it - no maintenance, you just grab your bike and go, no more roadside filthy greasy hands anymore when the chain pops off, no more cable adjustment of new or stiff cables, no more derailleur screws to finagle with etc.etc.

I've wanted this for the last 4 decades. We could put a man on the moon with the computing power of a modern smart phone but we can't come up with my desired drive train. Why? Because the industry is not willing to put in the R&D to design and tool this because they know they will be shooting themselves in the financial foot. They don't want a bunch of happy cyclists simply doing what they want to do which is just go for a ride and not have to deal with the grief and expense of the derailleur system.


Imagine my excitement about the new Pinion 12 speed 637% gearbox and totally greaseless Gates Carbon Belt Drive. It's not my dream system but it's a huge leap forward. I recently purchased the Priority 600 and am setting it up now. I live on a dirt road and am pretty excited about it.


On my other old primary bike the derailleur drive train is worn out now and slipping under torque when hauling groceries. I'm thinking the next best thing is to have a Nexus multispeed hub on the rear with the perfect chain alignment that a single rear cog gives you, along with no god awful rear derailleur.

They don't call'em derailleurs for nothing - they derail your cycling happiness when they irritate your cycling life.
Your post reads like a guerilla marketing campaign. Not too direct, but pretty much a marketing-driven post. Front and rear derailleurs on my bikes work fine. Every mechanical system needs periodic maintenance, and I find the exposed gears and shifting mechanisms easy to maintain and fix (when they need it, which is infrequent). IGH hubs are interesting, but I don't see a need to change when what I have works great.

And continuously variable shifting? Ask mechanics about the CVTs on newer automobiles - still a lot of problems with them creating maintenance issues and short lifespans. No thank you. .
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Old 11-10-19, 07:07 PM
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Somebody didn't read Park Tool and Sheldon Brown.

I've maintained my bikes for 20 years and the derailleurs are rarely a problem.

I guess some people just don't understand rocket science! I have adjusted derailleurs on during several road side repairs for strangers. Once I show them the basics, they see it's not a big deal. Pretty easy. Keep em clean, not much hassle.
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Old 11-10-19, 07:14 PM
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Either you have mechanical aptitude or you don’t. Someone clearly doesn’t!
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Old 11-10-19, 07:51 PM
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This is good bikeforums.

You know what I hate? Round tires. We can put a man on the moon (50 years ago) so why can't we get dodecahedron tires?

It's all a conspiracy by Big Circle, I'm telling you.
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Old 11-10-19, 07:56 PM
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I guess I was able to figure out derailleurs w/o too much drama and haven't had OP's issues. However, that Priority is an interesting bike and I look forward to a report when OP has some miles on it.
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Old 11-10-19, 07:57 PM
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Between the Rohloff Speedhub, Nuvinci CVT, and Pinion gearboxes (combined with belt drive), you have plenty of much cleaner, more self-contained options at your disposal.


Mass-market bicycle design is more focused on light weight, speed, and efficiency, not necessarily convenience and longevity of wear components.
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Old 11-10-19, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Old ABLA Member
Derailleur drive trains are putrid piles of pus. They are promulgated by the industry for two reasons: 1. To make your cycling life at some point in the not too distant future dysfunctional, filthy with grease, out of adjustment, worn out and miserable which then sends you to number 2. A bicycle shop or mail order house for new freewheels, chainwheels, cables and housings, and chain. My hatred for this lousy dirty exposed to the elements high maintenance system goes back to the 70's when I first got into bike racing. I've been stuck dealing with this crap system ever since.
No, they arenít. Not really. I find them simple to understand and easy to maintain. They do their job with a lot less weight and complexity than other systems Iíve seen. Iíve got derailers that have 20,000+ miles on them and I got them used to begin with. I can usually make even cheap HelMart derailers purr with simple cable adjustment.

Originally Posted by Old ABLA Member
Imagine my excitement about the new Pinion 12 speed 637% gearbox and totally greaseless Gates Carbon Belt Drive. It's not my dream system but it's a huge leap forward. I recently purchased the Priority 600 and am setting it up now. I live on a dirt road and am pretty excited about it.

Thatís not really all that impressive for range. A ďnormalĒ 44/34/22 11-34 derailer drivetrain has a 618% range. A bit of file work and a change to a 20 tooth inner and a 36 tooth cassette extends that to 720%. My touring bike uses a 48/34/20 crank and an 11-36 cassette for a whopping 785% range.

And both do that for about 1200 grams less.

Originally Posted by Old ABLA Member
On my other old primary bike the derailleur drive train is worn out now and slipping under torque when hauling groceries. I'm thinking the next best thing is to have a Nexus multispeed hub on the rear with the perfect chain alignment that a single rear cog gives you, along with no god awful rear derailleur.

They don't call'em derailleurs for nothing - they derail your cycling happiness when they irritate your cycling life.
If your drivetrain is slipping under torque, you should have maintained it better. Donít blame the tools, blame the mechanic.


Originally Posted by rollagain
Chains just work, and if you don't like the grease, put a chain guard on the bike.



Or donít use grease...or more specifically, oil... on the chain. I havenít used oil on my chains in more then 25 years. I donít deal with dirty drivetrains because my drivetrains donít get dirty.
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Old 11-10-19, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Old ABLA Member
I've wanted this for the last 4 decades. We could put a man on the moon with the computing power of a modern smart phone but we can't come up with my desired drive train. Why? Because the industry is not willing to put in the R&D to design and tool this because they know they will be shooting themselves in the financial foot. They don't want a bunch of happy cyclists simply doing what they want to do which is just go for a ride and not have to deal with the grief and expense of the derailleur system.
You're certainly welcome to put in the R&D and find financial backers. You've had 40 years to do it.
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Old 11-10-19, 08:44 PM
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Or don’t use grease...or more specifically, oil... on the chain. I haven’t used oil on my chains in more then 25 years. I don’t deal with dirty drivetrains because my drivetrains don’t get dirty.
Sorry, I plumb forgot about wax, and I used to use it myself back then, plain old kitchen paraffin. It also gives you an opportunity to measure the chain for stretch, which is probably why the OP's transmission is skipping.
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Old 11-10-19, 10:08 PM
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I'm not a fan of derailleurs, but it's the only way to get the range I like.

I'm struggling with the tandem. The extra long gear cable and 10 speeds have proven impossible to get right. I have no choice because I use a rear hub motor, but I'll go back to the more forgiving 8-speed on the next full rebuild.
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Old 11-11-19, 03:54 AM
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Derailleurs are a simple but crude way of shifting gears. Bend the chain until it has to go to the other sprocket. They work pretty well in nice weather with friction shifters and 5 or less sprockets on the rear. They make sense in niche applications like racing and mountain biking where weight is believed to be a factor.

For normal everyday riding, commuting etc. IGHs are more suitable. But only Rohloff and SA-AW.
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Old 11-11-19, 06:30 AM
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Winter has come early to the northern hemisphere.
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Old 11-11-19, 07:48 AM
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https://www.evelo.com/evelo-differen...-transmission/
Continuously variable, automatic bicycle transmissions are already on the street.
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Old 11-11-19, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Winter has come early to the northern hemisphere.
It's snowing now but will be 65 and sunny on Wednesday.
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Old 11-11-19, 08:02 AM
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Old ALBA, thank you for the entertaining rant. Turned out being a good read for me this morning.

I too want to hear how your Priority Pinion 600 works for you now and over time.
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Old 11-11-19, 08:03 AM
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I wonder if there is a correlation between those insisting that derailleur shifting is garbage and those insisting they donít need a hangar alignment gauge.
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Old 11-11-19, 08:38 AM
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It's too bad you have such a problem with maintenance and your first post at that! Bummer. I enjoy maintaining the gear train on my vintage bicycles. I still ride the ones I raced. I do maintenance often enough that nothing ever, or hardly ever, needs replacing and they aren't that grimey. They are so clean, shiney and quiet! This gives more incentive to ride, too! It gives me a chance to use my Campagnolo tools of which I have almost every one. If I could only find a nice Campagnolo wooden chest for them all.
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