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  1. #1
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    My 5 Speed Hack Job

    [This is not about shedding weight. That is just incidental.]
    I've always thought 27 speeds are too many. When I started mountain biking 7 years ago, I used a 2x9. Three years ago I decided I don't need a front shifter. I actually used the 22 tooth ring in front.

    This year I wanted to expand the range so I ordered a 26 tooth ring for the front and a 12-36 tooth cassette. I kept the old 11 tooth ring so the range was 11-36.

    With the front ring on the inside position, the ring is quite athwart when in the higher gears. I sawed off the nubs, leaving just enough threads to hold the ring on, so that moved it maybe a quarter inch out.

    I then determined that 9 speeds are too many. I realized I usually shifted two gears at a time for it to make a real difference, and what's the point of that? I figured I could take some ring out of the cassette and get three benefits:

    1. The chain would be much straighter in the highest gear
    2. I would need to shift only one gear to get a significant difference
    3. Save weight

    The cassette is 12-18-24-30-36 (the 30 is front my old cassette and the 11 only works at the end). It's quite a hack job, but I think it's awesome. It really is geared too low, though. I want a 28 or 30 tooth in front now. So here it is.

    Nothing keeps a chain on like a front derailleur. No need for a cable - the limiter screw keeps it in in the place.
    My 5 Speed Hack Job-dt.jpg

    Any ideas on what to put in place of all those spacers?
    My 5 Speed Hack Job-back.jpg

    Yes, I cut the eyelets off the crank. I watched the grams shave away! If your bike is too heavy, just hack some crap off.
    My 5 Speed Hack Job-front.jpg

    My 2005 Cannondale Prophet. I love it. I think the stock bike would weigh 32 pounds. This is is right around 29.
    My 5 Speed Hack Job-full.jpg
    Last edited by Timpanogos; 07-16-2013 at 08:21 AM.

  2. #2
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    Wow, very creative! I'm sure someone will chime in with an idea to replace the spacers.

  3. #3
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    Hey, it would be perfect if headset spacers fit.

  4. #4
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    Your cassette. 12-18-24-30-36

    12 to 18 is a 50% change
    18 to 24 is a 33% change
    24 to 30 is a 25% change
    30 to 36 is a 20% change

    to get even "gear inch" changes then the gaps between cogs needs to be closer when they are small and bigger gaps the larger the cog.

    12-16-21-28-36 would give you more even gaps
    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

  5. #5
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    Any ideas on what to put in place of all those spacers?
    For a neater look then a single speed hub. There is a thread on it.
    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

  6. #6
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    Re: My 5 Speed Hack Job

    Very creative, but, i don't get the goals:

    As far as lightening . . . seems like lot of work to get to 29 lbs, there is much more low hanging fruit there. You still have the heavy shifter, cable, and derailleur.

    As far as chainline being straighter in high gear, what benefit does this bring?

    As far as larger jumps between gears, i find as my fitness and climbing get better, I want more (granular) gears . . . because you are running those long high intensity climbs at the exact peak output, fine tuning your gear as the trail gets steeper and flatter. You want to push the cadence, shift up to a slightly harder gear and maintain that cadence. If your shifts are not granular enough it ruins the rhythm. Also, standard trigger shifters offer two steps down shift, sometimes three. Xt and xtr shifters offer two steps upshift too.


    Agree that 27 speeds is too many, with unnecessary redundancies, but, almost everyone embraces this now, that's why most folks run 2x10 or 1x10, and 1x11 will get more affordable too.


    Sent from your phone, which i hacked into

  7. #7
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    mitzikatzi, that is some awesome information. I will be switching out some cogs. I'll check out a single speed hub, but I'm not buying anything at this time.

    ddprocter, I removed the front shifter, cable, and housing to take off some weight and because I just didn't want them. However, taking cogs out of the cassette was not to save weight (if I want to save weight, there really isn't lower hanging fruit for me because I'm not spending any more money now). I listed that as a benefit, but the first two are really what I was concerned with - the chain is much straighter in high gears and I need to shift only one gear to get a significant difference. The more angle the chainline has from the front ring to the back, the less efficient it is due to friction loss. Check this out: All About Bicycle Chainline. Yes, the difference is usually minor, but I really dig efficiency and simplicity. I say forks are redundant - pikes (Lefty) do the trick .

    I see what you are saying about maintaining cadence, etc., but that stuff just doesn't matter much to me. I was actually shifting two cogs with one press of the trigger, but it just seemed pointless to have that many gears. Heck, some guys get all over the mountain on a single-speed, so I figure I can get along fine with 5. I like tinkering and this is somewhat of an experiment.

    As more and more people adopt a single front-ring setup, I think more will realize they don't need an 11 speed cassette. Maybe Sram or some other company will release a 1x7 setup someday.

  8. #8
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    My 5 Speed Hack Job

    I recently switched to a 1x10 set up, and like it alot. Definetly see going the long haul with it.

    But I disagree with op about going down to 7 or five in the rear. Ten spd works great and has alot of support. It's very unlikely most people will give up rear gears as opposed to front gears. There are huge benifits to closer range shifting in the rear that almost everyone likes alot.
    Again I'll agree with another poster, lots of other places to save weight.
    And I'm not sold on 11 spd either

    Bill

  9. #9
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    Crossracer, I didn't remove cogs from the cassette to shed weight. A little weight savings is just a perk.

    I was just having fun when I wrote "Yes, I cut the eyelets off the crank. I watched the grams shave away! If your bike is too heavy, just hack some crap off." Well, I was half joking. I really cut off the eyelets for looks, though.

    If I had money to spend, I would buy a new wheelset, probably 650b.
    Last edited by Timpanogos; 07-16-2013 at 08:24 AM.

  10. #10
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    Re: My 5 Speed Hack Job

    Tim, i hear you. How about shifting performance? Can you still shift under power?

    Sent from your phone, which i hacked into

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddprocter View Post
    Tim, i hear you. How about shifting performance? Can you still shift under power?
    That's a good question, actually. I confess I have only tested this setup on the streets so far. I will let you know.

  12. #12
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    My 5 Speed Hack Job

    Quote Originally Posted by Timpanogos View Post
    I then determined that 9 speeds are too many. I realized I usually shifted two gears at a time for it to make a real difference, and what's the point of that? I figured I could take some ring out of the cassette and get three benefits:

    1. The chain would be much straighter in the highest gear
    2. I would need to shift only one gear to get a significant difference
    I run a 34/24 x 12-34 2x5 for the same reasons. I increased the space between cogs for better shifting and debris tolerance.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    I run a 34/24 x 12-34 2x5 for the same reasons. I increased the space between cogs for better shifting and debris tolerance.
    That's interesting. I thought the standard distance between cogs would have to be maintained to shift properly.

  14. #14
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    My 5 Speed Hack Job

    Quote Originally Posted by Timpanogos View Post
    That's interesting. I thought the standard distance between cogs would have to be maintained to shift properly.
    With big tooth jumps between cog sizes the chain can skip the next cog when shifting to the smaller size.

    I use a SRAM 10-sp trigger shifter with a Shimano 9-sp rear derailleur and a 6-sp chain. I can turn the barrel adjuster 3 clicks either way from "perfect" and it still indexes fine.

    I also use the wide spacing/wide range on another bike with a friction shifter.
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  15. #15
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    Well, my 5 speed setup failed on the trail. The shifting is a bit more choppy compared to when I had 9 speeds, but that wasn't very smooth because I have the original shifter and derailleur fromm 2005.

    The bigger issue is the gaps. I believed what mitzikatzi wrote up there, but I wanted to experience it. I was surprised at how little difference it made to shift between the 30 and 36 tooth rings, especially when compared to the 12 and 18.

    I am going try six speeds. Using Sheldon Brown's calculator, I decided to try:
    ----------Gear: 12 - 15 - 18 - 23 - 28 - 36
    Percent Change: 25.0-20.0-27.8-21.7-28.6

    I will switch the rings out tonight.

  16. #16
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    Timpanogos - How did it go with the new setup?

    I am thinking of giving 5 speeds a go - reduced 10 speed cassette. I like single speed but some of the hills are too big for my current fitness level and leg strength therefore was thinking 5 speed with the middle cog based on my current single speed setup would work well. As you note you get a better chainline and less wear as a result. 10 is good but I think you could get away with less.

    Plus going to single speed from 10 you lose about 700g from the bike overall.

  17. #17
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    I like the idea. I agree there are more gears than needed.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by fartymarty View Post
    Timpanogos - How did it go with the new setup?

    I am thinking of giving 5 speeds a go - reduced 10 speed cassette. I like single speed but some of the hills are too big for my current fitness level and leg strength therefore was thinking 5 speed with the middle cog based on my current single speed setup would work well. As you note you get a better chainline and less wear as a result. 10 is good but I think you could get away with less.

    Plus going to single speed from 10 you lose about 700g from the bike overall.
    New set up? That was 5 years ago!
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    New set up? That was 5 years ago!
    Chaz or anyone else: any tips on taking apart cassettes for this sort of thing? I have a low to mid-powered drill and dremel tools for scraping off the edges of the rivets in back; will that be enough to take apart the whole cassette? Do I need to drill out the front at all? I tried and failed, that steel is really strong. In other words does the cassette simply come off its inside guide ring once the two back rivets are loosened? Or is it a real pain to do?
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  20. #20
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    Hey Rich. I've taken apart many of these for my custom drivetrains, it's been a while though. I used a die grinder to remove the little flats on the ends of the pins on the back-side of the cassette. Once those are ground off, persuasion is still needed IIRC. A punch to knock out the pin makes it easier. You can also use a screwdriver between cogs (gently).

    I think at some point in the future, the industry will discover this. In the meantime you have to make your own. I really don't have a choice as close ratios, especially combined with inconsistent % gear changes, drive me bonkers! Not only was I shifting 2 and 3 gears at a time, but I still seemed to not find the right gear at times. There is probably a medication for this sort of problem...

    My friends are happier too - they would never mess with any of this stuff, but said they were glad I got it worked out, as they were tired of "hearing you bitch about your drivetrain." No joke.

    Anyway, I have done several of these. 20% changes feel very natural to me. 30% is fine for the lower gears, espectially if I'm in shape. I'm sure anyone that has done much singlespeeding would be very comfortable with 35% changes in cadence.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    New set up? That was 5 years ago!
    damn I've been fooled again!

  22. #22
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    I could be wrong, but I believe my sunrace cassette was entirely loose cogs. No drilling required.

    This doesnt make much sense if you're keeping the stock full size freehub. Its usually done on a single speed hub.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by JACKL View Post
    Hey Rich. I've taken apart many of these for my custom drivetrains, it's been a while though. I used a die grinder to remove the little flats on the ends of the pins on the back-side of the cassette. Once those are ground off, persuasion is still needed IIRC. A punch to knock out the pin makes it easier. You can also use a screwdriver between cogs (gently).

    I think at some point in the future, the industry will discover this. In the meantime you have to make your own. I really don't have a choice as close ratios, especially combined with inconsistent % gear changes, drive me bonkers! Not only was I shifting 2 and 3 gears at a time, but I still seemed to not find the right gear at times. There is probably a medication for this sort of problem...

    My friends are happier too - they would never mess with any of this stuff, but said they were glad I got it worked out, as they were tired of "hearing you bitch about your drivetrain." No joke.

    Anyway, I have done several of these. 20% changes feel very natural to me. 30% is fine for the lower gears, espectially if I'm in shape. I'm sure anyone that has done much singlespeeding would be very comfortable with 35% changes in cadence.

    Thanks for the info. I don't think my $85 drill is up to the task, but I'll try later. Aluminum oxide dremel may work, no? I'll bookmark the die grinders. I'd love to go 1x7 with something like 26-28t in front and 40-32-26-22-18-14-11. Mostly to fit a larger tire in back and move the chain over to the middle in front. A lot of back tire clearance issues in a small-framed 26".
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