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  1. #1
    the catalan connection
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    Bike history topic, I guess: Why is the drivetrain on the right side?

    Anyone knows why is this so? Who decided that ? Any special reason?
    I canīt find any, I tend to think it could have been the other way around and now we would be riding with the drivetrain on the left...
    Just curious
    "Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordly evidence of the fact." George Elliot

  2. #2
    suck it trebeK
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    A chicken & egg question? I thought about this, and reasoned that it must have something to do with right-handedness prevails, so a right side drivetrain? Hell I'm just grasping at straws here

  3. #3
    Life is Noise
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    I was just talking too someone about this too recently because it seems like I always crash on the right side which often means crunched deraillieur, which is also a handedness thing I expect.

    Apparently there are some BMX bikes that have left side drive.

  4. #4
    paintbucket
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    Dollars to donuts

    its a thread issue derived from before there were freewheels. Probably easier to machine threads righty tighty the way everyone else machined threads, and pedalling will tighten those rather than loosen them on a right side drive train.
    When the going gets weird its bedtime.

  5. #5
    all hail der Fuhrer Bush
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    yes

    Quote Originally Posted by wooglin
    its a thread issue derived from before there were freewheels. Probably easier to machine threads righty tighty the way everyone else machined threads, and pedalling will tighten those rather than loosen them on a right side drive train.
    I believe you speaketh the truth.

  6. #6
    XCdude
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    Ok a little off topic, but close enough, why is the

    Quote Originally Posted by What&son
    Anyone knows why is this so? Who decided that ? Any special reason?
    I canīt find any, I tend to think it could have been the other way around and now we would be riding with the drivetrain on the left...
    Just curious
    rear brake, the right brake lever. I do have a guess but is just that, a guess it makes sense to me . My guess is that since all the drivetrain is on the right side, it makes it easy to stop the rear wheel after you spin it to work on it, assuming that the bike is hanging off the ground.

  7. #7
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    Euro standard is rear brake lever on the left....

    It is only in the States that this predominant orientation became the standard. Moto brakes, as you well know, are right=front, rear is pedal actuated.

  8. #8
    The Ancient One
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    Quote Originally Posted by moab63
    rear brake, the right brake lever. I do have a guess but is just that, a guess it makes sense to me . My guess is that since all the drivetrain is on the right side, it makes it easy to stop the rear wheel after you spin it to work on it, assuming that the bike is hanging off the ground.
    The explanation I've heard has to do with driving on the right hand side of the road and using the left hand for signaling turns. Apparently in countries where they drive on the left, the rear brake has customarily been on the left.

  9. #9
    Gravity Rides Everything
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    hmm as far as the signaling wiht your right hand on the brake thing... the rear brake doesn't really do jack to stop your bike... but i guess you don't want to have tons of brake force with one hand on the bars either... yeah i just answered my own question.

  10. #10
    XCdude
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    I think is a omelette answer, because we

    Quote Originally Posted by sstaurus
    A chicken & egg question? I thought about this, and reasoned that it must have something to do with right-handedness prevails, so a right side drivetrain? Hell I'm just grasping at straws here
    have no clue

  11. #11
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    horse mounting

    I can't believe no one mentioned this, but I think it's because the standard way to mount a horse was on the left side. That way your pantaloons don't get greasy from the drivetrain. Bikes back in 1880 probably didn't have thread on cogs on their wooden hubs, so I don't know about the unthreading thing, but that makes sense for nowadays. I think with some ingenuity and knowhow you could set up a left-sided drivetrain bike, singlespeed would be much easier because you wouldn't have to manufacture your own derailleurs.

  12. #12
    Get your freak on!
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    Well I run my brakes left lever=back brake. But I'm an Aussie, so your saying you all run yours the other way?! Damn, how am Igoing to be able to rent a bike like that
    I remember seeing some BMX bikes with the drive on the left, but can't remember where or why. My guess is either for grinds to be done or possible something to do with taking the left line in a race?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike_freak
    I remember seeing some BMX bikes with the drive on the left, but can't remember where or why. My guess is either for grinds to be done or possible something to do with taking the left line in a race?
    Left side drive is most common on street or park BMX bikes, not race bikes.

    Just like most people have a favorite foot to put forward while coasting, most street / park riders have a favorite side to grind on. (Grinding is usually done on the pegs; those pieces of steel or ti that stick out from the axles) If your sprocket (chainring) is on the same side as you grind on you will break a lot of chains and bend a lot of sprockets when your grinds go wrong....hence the movement to left side drive for people who predominantly grind on the right.

    Happy to answer any BMX questions

    Just for your interest, bmx bikes are getting lighter and lighter. Titanium pegs, intergrated seats and seatposts, and gearing as small as a 25t front, 9 tooth rear (with a titanium driver that engages a cassette-style hub)

  14. #14
    Get your freak on!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lab Worker
    Left side drive is most common on street or park BMX bikes, not race bikes.

    Just like most people have a favorite foot to put forward while coasting, most street / park riders have a favorite side to grind on. (Grinding is usually done on the pegs; those pieces of steel or ti that stick out from the axles) If your sprocket (chainring) is on the same side as you grind on you will break a lot of chains and bend a lot of sprockets when your grinds go wrong....hence the movement to left side drive for people who predominantly grind on the right.

    Happy to answer any BMX questions

    Just for your interest, bmx bikes are getting lighter and lighter. Titanium pegs, intergrated seats and seatposts, and gearing as small as a 25t front, 9 tooth rear (with a titanium driver that engages a cassette-style hub)
    Ye I knew it was one of those. Could it also have something to do with tricks like tailwhips or simiar?

  15. #15
    The Ancient One
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    People used to be afraid of using the front brake. I'm an old guy and I had a small motorcycle back in the fifties. You could get a license at age 13. Well, nobody used their front brakes much back then and people used to signal with their left hands. There weren't even many turn signals then on cars and none on motorcycles. Of course the front brake on the motorcycles was on the right--but the rear was operated by foot. On bicycles, logically they thought then, the rear hand brake should be on the right.

  16. #16
    XCdude
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    Hey downunder man, thats how I run mine to but

    Quote Originally Posted by bike_freak
    Well I run my brakes left lever=back brake. But I'm an Aussie, so your saying you all run yours the other way?! Damn, how am Igoing to be able to rent a bike like that
    I remember seeing some BMX bikes with the drive on the left, but can't remember where or why. My guess is either for grinds to be done or possible something to do with taking the left line in a race?
    I been riding and racing motorcycles for 20 years so it makes perfect sense to me. I set my sons bike like that too. Is funny people thing is the wierdest thing in the world, I usually reply, is one hand smarter than the other or what

  17. #17
    the catalan connection
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    Listen! No left brake on the left in Europe...

    Quote Originally Posted by rideit
    It is only in the States that this predominant orientation became the standard. Moto brakes, as you well know, are right=front, rear is pedal actuated.
    As far as I know the only Euros with left lever rear brake are the English.
    "Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordly evidence of the fact." George Elliot

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by wooglin
    its a thread issue derived from before there were freewheels. Probably easier to machine threads righty tighty the way everyone else machined threads, and pedalling will tighten those rather than loosen them on a right side drive train.
    If you inspect your bike, you'll find that both the pedal & BB cups LOOSEN when you pedal. This was by design, as they use to use bushings, which would often seized, so they would simply unscrew instead of wrecking your ankle.

    I think the right side drive train was due to left side mounting (equestrian), to avoid grease marks on your clothing.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike_freak
    Ye I knew it was one of those. Could it also have something to do with tricks like tailwhips or simiar?
    Its mainly flatland riders who stand on the pegs, and these riders will usually have all four pegs on the bike. The current trend with street / park is to only run two pegs, both on the same side of the bike. I doubt that there would be any advantage to having or not having pegs while doing tailwhips.

  20. #20
    wawe member
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    Quote Originally Posted by moab63
    I been riding and racing motorcycles for 20 years so it makes perfect sense to me. I set my sons bike like that too. Is funny people thing is the wierdest thing in the world, I usually reply, is one hand smarter than the other or what
    Yeah, your not alone on that. Hans Rey has his setup left rear too, hasn't seemed to impaire his skills to much.

  21. #21
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    cyclocross

    duh. so you can shoulder your bike properly (in right arm) in a cyclocross race and not get grubby. unless your pat schott, in which case you carry it in the left arm and get grubby, but he was a pretty fast rider last time i was racing seriously, so i guess the grub didn't slow him down much.
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