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  1. #1
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    Explain to me why vertical dropouts were invented. Were they really needed?

    The earliest mountain bikes had horizontal or semi horizontal dropouts, since that is what was available from road bike frame parts suppliers. That was changed because the rear axle mounting bolts supposedly could not handle the extreme torque of off road riding. Vertical dropouts were introduced to solve the problem. Now, decades later, it seems that single speeders and internal gear hub users have no problems with horizontal or semi horizontal rear dropouts.

    So why did vertical dropouts become accepted as the only solution to a problem that, in retrospect, was never really a problem?
    Last edited by eccentricbottombracket; 09-21-2008 at 09:33 PM.

  2. #2
    one chain loop
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    i think the vertical dropouts boomed with the advent of quick release skewers.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  3. #3
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    Yah....another 'solution' to a nonexistent problem (aka:'planned obsolescence).

  4. #4
    faster than walking
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    It's like the ratcheting crank arms, so your dérailleur could shift while you coast.
    Although, I actually think that's really cool.

  5. #5
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    Horizontal dropouts were rubbish. Typically it was only higher end bikes that came with any adjusters. Vertical dropouts solved wheel location issues at a stroke. They became popular at a similar sort of period to the introduction of indexed gears, where alignment between the wheel and the derailleur became more critical.

    I also suspect that aluminium frame production lent itself to having the dropouts finished after the frame had been welded, allowing for improved alignment and coping with the distortions from TIG welding as opposed to brazed construction.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishcreek
    i think the vertical dropouts boomed with the advent of quick release skewers.
    The quick release was invented in 1930.
    mtbtires.com
    The trouble with common sense is it is no longer common

  7. #7
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by eccentricbottombracket
    The earliest mountain bikes had horizontal or semi horizontal dropouts, since that is what was available from road bike frame parts suppliers. That was changed because the rear axle mounting bolts supposedly could not handle the extreme torque of off road riding. Vertical dropouts were introduced to solve the problem. Now, decades later, it seems that single speeders and internal gear hub users have no problems with horizontal or semi horizontal rear dropouts.

    So why did vertical dropouts become accepted as the only solution to a problem that, in retrospect, was never really a problem?
    Several reasons, none of which are directly related to the wheel slipping. I rarely had a wheel slip on a mtb with horizontal drops, but it was not uncommon on a couple of my road bikes.
    1. Faster wheel changes. Open the QR and the wheel drops out. Replace the wheel and it is centered in the frame. Just close the QR and go. Great for road racing and easier for the masses.
    2. Easy to get the wheel in and out with short stays where the tire may hit the seat tube with horizontal dropouts.
    3. Lighter weight. Not only is the dropout lighter but you can use lighter skewers that have less clamping force.
    4. Stronger. On the steel mtbs of the '80s I saw many horizontal dropouts bend open, to the point of not holding the axle, when the derailleur caught on something.
    5. Indexed shifting. The axle to derailleur position is more critical than with friction shifting.
    mtbtires.com
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  8. #8
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    Eno

  9. #9
    one chain loop
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    The quick release was invented in 1930.
    and so is campagnolo drops?
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by petercarm
    Horizontal dropouts were rubbish. Typically it was only higher end bikes that came with any adjusters. Vertical dropouts solved wheel location issues at a stroke. They became popular at a similar sort of period to the introduction of indexed gears, where alignment between the wheel and the derailleur became more critical.

    I also suspect that aluminium frame production lent itself to having the dropouts finished after the frame had been welded, allowing for improved alignment and coping with the distortions from TIG welding as opposed to brazed construction.
    My old school road bike has semi horizontal dropouts. It came with Campagnolo Athena friction shifters. I later upgraded to Campagnolo Chorus index shifters. I did not notice any issues with the new indexed shifters. The fact that I had a semi horizontal dropout did not seem to matter. The rear wheel has never slipped. The shifting is absolutely flawless.
    Last edited by eccentricbottombracket; 09-22-2008 at 07:57 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    Several reasons, none of which are directly related to the wheel slipping. I rarely had a wheel slip on a mtb with horizontal drops, but it was not uncommon on a couple of my road bikes.
    1. Faster wheel changes. Open the QR and the wheel drops out. Replace the wheel and it is centered in the frame. Just close the QR and go. Great for road racing and easier for the masses.
    2. Easy to get the wheel in and out with short stays where the tire may hit the seat tube with horizontal dropouts.
    3. Lighter weight. Not only is the dropout lighter but you can use lighter skewers that have less clamping force.
    4. Stronger. On the steel mtbs of the '80s I saw many horizontal dropouts bend open, to the point of not holding the axle, when the derailleur caught on something.
    5. Indexed shifting. The axle to derailleur position is more critical than with friction shifting.
    I agree with points 1, 2, 4 and 5. Point 3 I wonder about. Have today's singlespeeds with horizontal dropouts gone back to stronger, heavier quick releases?

    I wonder why the vertical dropout was not adopted much earlier since it seems so advantageous.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by eccentricbottombracket

    I wonder why the vertical dropout was not adopted much earlier since it seems so advantageous.
    Too much earlier there were only single speed...methinks.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cody Broken
    It's like the ratcheting crank arms, so your dérailleur could shift while you coast.
    Although, I actually think that's really cool.

    Did they used to do that? I think its a cool idea too. almost makes more sense in this day and age too, reducing unsprung weight on fullys and all that jazz.

  14. #14
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    My Raleigh takes about 2 seconds to take the wheel off.

    5 seconds back on if the rotor goes in nicely.

    The MC29 takes the removal of 2 tugs, and using a 15mm wrench, as well as scooting the wheel forwards. Putting it back on is equally long.

    EBBs are a thing of beauty.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by eccentricbottombracket
    My old school road bike has semi horizontal dropouts. It came with Campagnolo Athena friction shifters. I later upgraded to Campagnolo Chorus index shifters. I did not notice any issues with the new indexed shifetrs. The fact that I had a semi horizontal dropout did not seem to matter. The rear wheel has never slipped. The shifting is absolutely flawless.
    Curious that you agree with point 5 in shiggy's list but questioned my contribution. Shiggy nailed it though. Short chainstays and getting wheel location with no error at the first attempt.

    So why did vertical dropouts become accepted as the only solution to a problem that, in retrospect, was never really a problem?
    So, going back to your original question: vertical dropouts were adopted for a host of reasons, all of them good, but not particularly the one you picked out in raising the question.

  16. #16
    is buachail foighneach me
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    Quote Originally Posted by eccentricbottombracket
    I agree with points 1, 2, 4 and 5. Point 3 I wonder about. Have today's singlespeeds with horizontal dropouts gone back to stronger, heavier quick releases?

    I wonder why the vertical dropout was not adopted much earlier since it seems so advantageous.

    sarcasm aside, aren't you an inventor? one would think you would recognize the possibility of an idea being either new or finally accepted....

  17. #17
    organically fed
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    I <3 my vertical dropouts and tensioner.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach
    sarcasm aside, aren't you an inventor? one would think you would recognize the possibility of an idea being either new or finally accepted....
    I could spend a lot of time trying to second guess the decisions of the people who brought in vertical dropouts, and probably discover some of the answers myself. But I do not presume to be able to discover everything on my own. There are many experienced people here who probably already know the answer to my question. I wanted to know what these knowledgable riders believed to be the original reasons.

    I do not necessarily agree with an idea just because it is new. Some inventions have more merit than others. Some so called improvements are introduced just for reasons of manufacturing economy or marketing perposes, and not because they improve functionalty or value to the consumer.

    I always understood that the fundamental reason vertical dropouts were invented was to prevent wheel slippage. I did not realize that there were so many other secondary factors behind the decision.

    Thank you for setting your sarcasm aside.

  19. #19
    one chain loop
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    Quote Originally Posted by eccentricbottombracket
    There are many experienced people here who probably already know the answer to my question. I wanted to know what these knowledgable riders believed to be the original reasons.
    you can x-post this to VRC forum, i think they are more knowledgeable on the topic than SS'ers. no pun.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  20. #20
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    Yeah, and why don't all beer bottles come with twist-off caps? Do you realize how many seconds of precious beer drinking time I waste looking for some form of bottle opener??? Don't the beer makers see this as a problem?

    Someday there's going to be something better than any form of dropout out there today.

    Oooo. Horizontal dropouts on Paragon sliders that don't slide but rather rotate eccentrically. That'd be awesome.

    Caz
    I am a Mountain Biker therefore I am late

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingCrimson
    ...EBBs are a thing of beauty.
    I know.

  22. #22
    one chain loop
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    Quote Originally Posted by cazloco
    Oooo. Horizontal dropouts on Paragon sliders that don't slide but rather rotate eccentrically. That'd be awesome.

    Caz
    or an eccentric cassette hub.
    Last edited by fishcreek; 09-22-2008 at 10:23 AM.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  23. #23
    (not that fast)
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    hey EBB,
    Weren't you working on an eccentric BB to fit into a standard sized BB shell, whatever happened to that?

    Thanks

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastale
    hey EBB,
    Weren't you working on an eccentric BB to fit into a standard sized BB shell, whatever happened to that?

    Thanks
    I posted a thread some weeks ago on this forum answering that question. The EBB works perfectly, but is effectively dead as a business proposal. The one and only existing prototype is on my internally geared hub bike, where it sees regular trail use.

    The idea just did not work as a business plan. The price would be too high, and would likely result in a low volume of sales. The Trickstuff Exzentriker is the only comparable alternative. I suspect that they do not sell very many, especially given the high cost. I have never seen a retailer carry one, and I have heard of very few people using them. I do not want to sell a boutique product that everybody talks about but nobody actually uses.

  25. #25
    (not that fast)
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    Quote Originally Posted by eccentricbottombracket
    I posted a thread some weeks ago on this forum answering that question. The EBB works perfectly, but is effectively dead as a business proposal. The one and only existing prototype is on my internally geared hub bike, where it sees regular trail use.

    The idea just did not work as a business plan. The price would be too high, and would likely result in a low volume of sales. The Trickstuff Exzentriker is the only comparable alternative. I suspect that they do not sell very many, especially given the high cost. I have never seen a retailer carry one, and I have heard of very few people using them. I do not want to sell a boutique product that everybody talks about but nobody actually uses.
    That's too bad. Just found the thread, I was cheering for ya.
    Keep playing.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by petercarm
    Curious that you agree with point 5 in shiggy's list but questioned my contribution. Shiggy nailed it though. Short chainstays and getting wheel location with no error at the first attempt.



    So, going back to your original question: vertical dropouts were adopted for a host of reasons, all of them good, but not particularly the one you picked out in raising the question.
    but then, ENO came about, solving the headaches endured by billions of people...

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastale
    That's too bad. Just found the thread, I was cheering for ya.
    Keep playing.
    Much appreciated.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by eccentricbottombracket
    I agree with points 1, 2, 4 and 5. Point 3 I wonder about. Have today's singlespeeds with horizontal dropouts gone back to stronger, heavier quick releases?

    I wonder why the vertical dropout was not adopted much earlier since it seems so advantageous.

    Shiggy nailed the answer to the question "why did vertical drops replace horizontal ones?"

    As you your question about answer #3, as a fixed gear rider I can tell you about newer/lighter QR's on fixed gear...not so good. Old-school Campy QR's on an aluminum frame...maybe. Old-school Campy QR's on a chromed dropout...back to not so good. Heavier/stronger riders have more problems than lighters ones. I used a Campy SR quick-release on a chromed steel dropout and could never get it tight enough to prevent the wheel from creeping forward in the dropout...not a lot, but enough that I had to readjust the rear wheel after every ride.

    About your second question ("why weren't vertical dropouts adopted earlier?"), I think that horizontal dropouts were solving some manufacturing/quality problems. Steel frames could be bent into alignment after brazing (or bent back into alignment after a crash). The horizontal dropout was forgiving of alignment problems, because you had a chance to get the rear wheel to track straight even if the frame was a bit tweaked.

    I also remember hearing that you could adjust the wheelbase of the bike to change its handling characteristics. My steel bike has Campy dropouts with almost 1" of adjustment...that is a whole lot of change to a bike's wheelbase. I never messed around with changing it when I rode that bike geared however, so I don't know how dramatic the change in handling would have been.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishcreek
    or an eccentric cassette hub.
    Too logical.

  30. #30
    one chain loop
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingCrimson
    Too logical.
    old ti frame with vertical drops, ti cogs, there is a missing link = eccentric cassette hub. unless they start making ti freewheels without looking like generic bmx.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  31. #31
    is buachail foighneach me
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    Quote Originally Posted by eccentricbottombracket
    .....

    Thank you for setting your sarcasm aside.

    actually, i thought you were being sarcastic in the last sentance of the post i had quoted. no bad intentions.

    i would really think that is simply facilitated quick wheel changes and made for a stronger, while being lighter dropout. modern ss ends are beefy, but quite a bit heavier than vertical dropouts i would imagine. there's also less room for error on the end-user's part. if the builder did a good job lining everything up, a true wheel will always be centered in the stays. that was always a problem, from the get-go. modern day ss-ers with beefy horizontal dropouts and bolt on hubs or beefy quick releases still occassionally get wheel slip, and still have to mess with making sure the wheel is lined up in the dropout.

  32. #32
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    Here is a nice pic for people that still believe in horizontal dropouts.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishcreek
    old ti frame with vertical drops, ti cogs, there is a missing link = eccentric cassette hub. unless they start making ti freewheels without looking like generic bmx.
    Exactly, it makes too much sense.

    We have to use freewheels instead of cassettes.

  34. #34
    Mark
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    Seems that the Paragon sliders
    (http://www.paragonmachineworks.com/i...cts/DS1001.jpg)
    solve all the issues. Rotor moves with the wheel
    ===============

    Mark

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoovermd
    Seems that the Paragon sliders
    (http://www.paragonmachineworks.com/i...cts/DS1001.jpg)
    solve all the issues. Rotor moves with the wheel
    The rotor always moves with the wheel, due to it being bolted to the hub.

  36. #36
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoovermd
    Seems that the Paragon sliders
    (http://www.paragonmachineworks.com/i...cts/DS1001.jpg)
    solve all the issues....
    Unless you mind the increase in parts count. Looks like it takes a little care to get everything aligned with adjustable dropouts too.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by ButchNZ
    Did they used to do that? I think its a cool idea too. almost makes more sense in this day and age too, reducing unsprung weight on fullys and all that jazz.
    Oh yes, the Shimano Front Freewheel System. I have one of these silly things on an 80's Nishiki road bike; <a href="http://onespeedbiker.blogspot.com/2008/09/10-speed-nishiki-with-ffs.html"> check it out </a>. As I said in my blog, "It was a solution looking for a problem". Also, here's a pic..
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