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  1. #1
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    Drivetrain issue is driving me bonkers - road integrated shifter w/MTB crankset/FD

    I have a 2012 Salsa Fargo 3 which is an absolute monster of a bike. It's beyond fun on all types of terrain and I love it, but it has one extremely glaring flaw that I am at a loss as to how to get it fixed.

    I am trying to get road shifters (Sora) to work with the stock drivetrain. The bike originally had bar-end shifters, which drove me nuts, so the bike shop switched them out to road integrated shifters (because I wasn't buying the bike if it had the bar end shifters).

    My rear derailleur: Shimano Deore, 9-Speed, Long Cage
    My rear cassette: Shimano HG-50 9 speed 11-34T

    these seem to work flawlessly. I never seem to have problems shifting with my right hand. In fact, I sometimes have to shift with my right hand in order to get the shifting on my left hand to work.

    with my left hand, it's been a constant nightmare.

    my front crankset: FSA Alpha Drive Trekking, MD = 175mm
    my front chainring: FSA 26-36-48T
    my front derailleur: Shimano Deore, Low Clamp, Triple

    My front triple is almost like buying bike components. You can have 2, but you can't have all 3. "Lightweight, inexpensive, durable" - pick 2 of 3. "Granny, middle, bigring" - pick 2 of 3.

    If I have ideal shifting with granny and middle, then shifting into the big chainring is a 50/50 proposition. If I have ideal shifting with big and middle chainrings, then shifting into granny becomes problematic. I got a JTek adapter, and have had 3 different mechanics work with it at 2 different shops, and in all cases, downshifting from big chainring into middle chainring is a 50/50 proposition. Another mechanic removed the adapter, did some tuning to it, and now shifting into big chainring from the middle is a 50/50 proposition.

    When I say "50/50 proposition", what I mean is that if I shift into *gear*, I continue to pedal and after 3 full revolutions, it hasn't shifted, and I end up having to putz around with it (i.e. shift left hand into different chainring, then shift back, or continue to hold left hand shift lever while shifting the right hand - this sometimes does the trick)

    Shifting never works consistently with my left hand and I am at a complete loss and frustrated as hell to the point where I just want to punch a wall. Rear shifting is great...never had any problems back there with the road shifters, even though it's a Deore rear derailleur and cassette

    If ANYBODY has anything specific they can recommend, please do, and please use specifics as I don't necessarily know what the heck some of these items are.

    I have read that apparently there is no possible way to work a set of indexed road shifters with a MTB front triple crankset/derailleur. At the same time, I've read on a few different places, vague references to "using a 10-speed whosie with a 9-speed whatsis" but have no idea how that applies to the left hand shifters and derailleurs since they're only dealing with a 3-speed crank/chainring.

    I'd really appreciate any help. The bike, when I don't have to deal with shifting that front chainring, is so fun and so fantastic, but I don't know what to do and I don't have the $$$ to just buy an entire new drivetrain, and even if i did, what do I buy?

    SRAM 42/28 w/11-36t? That's great for flat ground, but if I want to load up with some weight and climb a serious gravel mountain pass, I'm outta luck. Similarly, if I want to go for a fast road ride, 42/11 is going to run out of oomph down a hill pretty quickly.

    Run a road crankset? 50/39/30? Well I can't use a MTB cassette, so I'm stuck with a road cassette, maybe an 11-32t, with a "granny" ratio of, what, 30/32 at best?

    Any help greatly appreciated. Honestly, if it works, I'll ship you a 6-pack of your favorite, I'm so frustrated right now.
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  2. #2
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    Did the front derailure come stock on the bike and did you change out bottom brackets? I've had problems in the past with not getting the front derailure to work when my chainline was too far out. I could shift between the two small gears, but just not enough arm swing to get through all 3.

  3. #3
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    everything is stock except for a compressionaless jagwire system, and the sora shifters
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  4. #4
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    It sounds like it's a case of running mountain derailures with road shifters. I know it's a problem with rear derailures, but not sure about front. If the LBS didn't get this, something doesn't sound right with the LBS.

  5. #5
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    Some Shimano compatibility notes to start.

    For the rear,
    8/9/10 speed road (I'm not sure about 11) is entirely compatible (shifter, derailleur, cassette) with 8/9 speed mountain. The exception is that road rear derailleurs can't handle large cogs; usually their max is 28-32 teeth.
    10 speed cassettes (road vs mountain) are interchangeable, but you either need to use a road derailleur and road shifter or both need to be mountain.

    On the front, things are not so nice. You need to pair derailleur and shifter together. Getting a mountain crank to play well with a road shifter and derailleur is possible (I have a 105 shifter and triple derailleur working with a mountain crank on my wife's bike), but things can easily get off by a bit, and then you are down to two chainrings again.

    In short, your options are
    1) Replace your front derailleur with a road derailleur. With some coaxing, this will likely work.
    2) Replace your front shifter with a bar-end shifter. This is likely what I would do (in fact, I plan to do it this spring to my 2012 Fargo that I have bar ends on), especially since you aren't constantly shifting between chainrings. But, I am accustomed to bar ends, so...
    3) Replace your front derailleur and crankset. This will work the best from a shifting perspective, but will limit how low of gear you can run, since the inner chainring BCD dictates the lowest number of teeth that chainring can have, plus you can't have too severe of jump in teeth between your chainrings.

  6. #6
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    First, be happy the rear stuff works, that is much harder to deal with. I think your problem is the road shifters with mountain bike derailer. Since Shimano's mountain and road shifters pull different amounts of cable I can see where that wouldn't work. You should just get a Sora front derailer. They make a 3x version that covers a 20 tooth range. Since you are running a 22 tooth range that could be a problem, but I would go ahead and try it first. If it is a problem you would probably have to go to a 46T big chainring.

    I'm assuming that you have a 3x front shifter, but they do make a 2x Sora front shifter.

    If you did have to run a road crankset, you could run whatever you wanted to in the rear. The only affect the front components have on the back is the derailer needs to be able to handle the combined range of the cassette and the chainrings.

  7. #7
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    I skimmed the thread so forgive me if this has been covered but I think your problem is two fold. First, Shimano road road shifters are incompatible with their MTB front derailers. Second, your allowing someone who is ignorant of this fact to work on your bike.

    My suggestion would be to purchase a Jtek ShiftMate Straight model #7S (Jtek ShiftMate Straight) and find a competent mechanic to install it.

  8. #8
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    Ok so if I understand, I can

    * change front derailleur to a Sora
    * find a front triple MTB crankset with a range of 20 (do these exist? Send they all have a range of 22)

    If I go with abar-end shifter for the front triple and keep everything else as-is, would I need to change out the shift lever on my left hand or can the shifting be disabled there while the brakes still works?
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_papa_nuts View Post
    My suggestion would be to purchase a Jtek ShiftMate Straight model #7S (Jtek ShiftMate Straight) and find a competent mechanic to install it.
    I tried. 3 mechanics in 2 different shops. Same problem each time.... Downshifting from big ring to middle was wonky
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Welnic View Post
    If you did have to run a road crankset, you could run whatever you wanted to in the rear. The only affect the front components have on the back is the derailer needs to be able to handle the combined range of the cassette and the chainrings.
    How does one determine this?
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  11. #11
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    Couldn't this silliness be solved if someone would just make a 46-26 front crank set? Or 44-24? Why 42-28???
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  12. #12
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    I've happily run 9 speed mtb front mechs with road shifters and both mtb and road cranksets. I don't know what's wrong with your shifting but it shouldn't be a big deal or require any shiftmates.

    Adding the barend shifter will definitely work too.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpfeif View Post
    I've happily run 9 speed mtb front mechs with road shifters and both mtb and road cranksets. I don't know what's wrong with your shifting but it shouldn't be a big deal.
    Your experience runs contrary to what I've been reading all over the internet. Please share your EXACT setup
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  14. #14
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    If you change to a bar ends then the shifter in the brake lever wouldn't have a cable going to it so it wouldn't do anything.

    You wouldn't have to find a whole crankset. You would just need to find a 46 tooth big chainring. And I would definitely just try it first.

    Drivetrain issue is driving me bonkers - road integrated shifter w/MTB crankset/FD-drivetrain.png

    The front derailer has to go high enough that it clears the big chainring. Then when you shift into the smallest chainring, the chain has to stay high enough that it doesn't drag on the bottom of the cage. If you run a derailer that doesn't have enough range, then when you put the chain on the small chainring and the smallest rear sprocket it will contact the bottom of the cage. So when you try the Sora front derailer if it doesn't work with your current setup you won't be able to run on the smaller half of your cassette when you are in the small chainring. So try it and maybe you would have to live with not being able to use all of your cassette when you are in the small chainring, or you could get a 46T chainring which would allow you to lower the derailer enough.

    I'd bet the Sora front derailer would just work.

  15. #15
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    the only one i have currently up is a deore 9 speed front mech, tiagra 3x9 shifters, and a sugino xd crank.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpfeif View Post
    the only one i have currently up is a deore 9 speed front mech, tiagra 3x9 shifters, and a sugino xd crank.
    What is the "tooth-out" of your crankset please?
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  17. #17
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    It's 26/36/48

  18. #18
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    Making triples work well can be a pain in the ass, though. Are the limits set properly? Is the cage of the derailleur just barely clearing the outer chainring? Is the derailleur cage oriented parallel to the chainrings? Those are the first things I'd check.

  19. #19
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    Kpf, you're speaking Greek to me right now

    Apparently your setup is identical except it has a Tiagra instead of a Sora
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  20. #20
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    Googling around the internet I see, as you did, that people have had your problem before and solved it with a road derailleur. A sora front mech is like 10 bucks so might be worth a try.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpfeif View Post
    Googling around the internet I see, as you did, that people have had your problem before and solved it with a road derailleur. A sora front mech is like 10 bucks so might be worth a try.
    yeah, that's what i'm going to try next
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  22. #22
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    what kind of Sora front derailleur would I need? I have read that there are multiple kinds, some are direct mount, some are long pull or whatever, some are 9-speed, some 10-speed (I really don't understand this concept at all...it's a 3-speed front crankset, why does the 9 or 10-speed in the back matter?) I know nothing of what this means. Which should I try?
    a day on a bike is a good day

    - 2012 Salsa Fargo 3
    - 2014 Spec Stumpjumper FSR Comp

  23. #23
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    Direct mount means that the bike has a special tab sticking out from the seat tube that the front derailer bolts onto. If the frame doesn't have one of those then it needs to attach with a clamp that goes around the seat tube. The difference between a 9 and a 10 speed would be that the two plates that push the chain around are slightly narrower on the 10 speed since it is a narrower chain.

    So you want a Sora 3x 28.6mm clamp front derailer. It looks to me like Sora is 9 speed only, so you don't have to worry about that. 28.6mm is the size of the clamp that fits your seat tube, and that might be something that you have to look for.

    Amazon.com : Shimano Front Derailleur, Sora, Fd-3503 Band-Type 31.8Mm, W/28.6Mm Adapter For Triple Chainwheel, Ind.Pack : Front Bike Derailleurs : Sports & Outdoors

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgtrobo View Post
    what kind of Sora front derailleur would I need? I have read that there are multiple kinds, some are direct mount, some are long pull or whatever, some are 9-speed, some 10-speed (I really don't understand this concept at all...it's a 3-speed front crankset, why does the 9 or 10-speed in the back matter?) I know nothing of what this means. Which should I try?
    Direct mount refers to how the derailleur mounts, either with a clamp or directly to a hanger on the frame. There are no 10-speed Sora front derailleurs, Sora is still 9-speeds. Ideally, you would match the derailleur series to your shifters, ie ST-3503 shifter with FD-3503 derailuer.

  25. #25
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    Drivetrain issue is driving me bonkers - road integrated shifter w/MTB crankset/FD

    Road front derailleurs are still pretty easy. Looking at SKUs, it can seem like there are a lot of choices, but if you attack it systematically, no big deal.

    First, the mounting style. You need to match what you've got. Probably a band around your seat tube - am I right? Match the diameter. You can get that by measuring, but it's usually also printed on the band if you don't have calipers.

    It's probably down swing. That means the band is above the mechanism. And it's probably bottom pull. That means the shifter cable goes under the bottom bracket and pulls from below.

    Can you post a pic of the current front derailleur?

    For number of speeds, that's about matching the chain width. Since your chain is 9-speed, and a bit wider, you might get marginally better performance from a 9-speed front derailleur. I don't think Sora has gone 10-speed yet, so nothing to worry about there. If you do have to go 10-speed to match the other stuff, don't sweat it. The pull ratios didn't change for road. At worst, you're looking at some noise when you're cross-chained a little less than what causes noise now. Going to a 10-speed chain would help if it bothers you. I find I don't care enough to spend the extra on my mixed-drivetrain bike. (Sora 9-speed shifters, SRAM Rival double front derailleur and crank.)

    Just to be explicit, you must use a triple front derailleur.

    As far as alternate chain ring tooth counts, you can have them if you want them. You just have to piece a crank set together from aftermarket components. The smallest possible chain ring is 20t without getting into really exotic or custom stuff. But your BCDs (Bolt Circle Diameter) are most likely either 110 and 74 or 104 and 64. Post that pic.

    Like the other poster, I think if you drop a triple front derailleur for a 20t chain ring range into your existing drivetrain, it will work fine. But if you're unhappy with your current chain ring selection, this is a good time to think about it.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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