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  1. #1
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    2010 and Still Triple Ring?

    I'm surprised. $4,000+ race bikes still have three rings. I predicted (incorrectly) that by now, everything north of $2,500 would be 2x9 and 2x10. I mean really, when was the last time anyone used that little granny ring? For the most part I've been riding/racing a 2x9 (ignoring the granny) and that's not "optimized".

    I'm looking at 2010 bikes (Scott Spark 20, Trek Fuel EX 9.8) and am bummed that I'll have to go through the expense of swapping out parts on a new $4,000 bike.

    So what do ya think - 2011?

  2. #2
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    Some people still use the three rings, I'm thinking heavy riders not in shape but also those who race long distance events featuring looooooonnnnng steep climbs. In XC though, yes it is surprising. I think it will become more mainstream though with XX and the rumored double XTR crankset option for 2011. Before, I think Cannondale was the only company specing 2x9 on their XC bikes, now there are a lot more...

    I have been a big fan, user and pusher of 2x9 for a while now (29/42 with 11-34) but I still think it's not for everyone. For 2010, I'm taking it one step further, I'll be going with a single chainring a la Craig, Kabush and Absalon...
    Last edited by Dan Gerous; 11-19-2009 at 12:41 PM.

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  3. #3
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    Some people live in places where the hills are steep and long and no matter what the fitness level the granny gear is used.

  4. #4
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    Short answer: I bet in 2011, you'll see quite a few XX double ring type of setups on high-end bikes that are clearly built for XC racing.

    Long Answer:
    Although most Sport class and better racers on most XC race courses can ignore the granny, not every recreational rider has the fitness to ignore the granny, people will use different cadences if they have the choice, and even the pros need it sometimes for extreme courses. Story to illustrate: When I wrenched for Jeremiah Bishop last year at a race, he had me reinstall the granny ring for a multi-stage XC race where the course had a couple of long, steep climbs. He said he could do the climbs without the granny (albeit at extremely low cadence), but he wanted the granny on there for the few moments he would need/want it. Another story to illustrate: The other day I was riding with a recreational rider and on an extended climb, he was running his smallest 22/32, while I was still running my middle ring. He was spinning very fast cadence (around 95-100, I'm guessing) and my cadence was slower.

    That said, I'm considering moving to a 2x10 setup when I upgarde next. Here's why: If you look at the Gear Inch range for the new SRAM XX setup (using 26/39 cranks and 11/36 cassette--which is what most XC pros are using based on my info) your easist gear is 18.8 gear inches (i.e. one full crank revolution moves you 18.8 inches) and your hardest gear is 92.2 gear inches. (Go to http://www.bikeschool.com for a Gear Inch Calculator.)

    On the Shimano standard 22/32/44 crank with 11/34 cassette, your easiest is 16.8 and hardest is 104 gear inches.

    I know that, for me on my standard 3x9 setup, I rarely (if ever) use my 22/34 combo and only on the road downhill do I ever use my 44/11 combo. So, if I eliminate those gears as unnecessary for me, then the gears I'm actually using on my standard Shimano 3x9 setup give me a 19.1 to 95.3 gear inch range--which is very close to what you get using SRAM's 2x10 setup with 26/39 cranks and 11/36 cassette.
    Last edited by millennium; 11-19-2009 at 12:44 PM.
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  5. #5
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    I like a 24-32-44 for all around training and racing. 24 is good for steep and technical, and there definitely is more to the 24 than just using it as a bailout gear. I think the 22 is maybe too small.

    The 32 is a great all around climbing gear. Any smaller and the changes between gears would be smaller, I like how the 32 works. Its small enough to climb, and big enough to motor through slower ST and getting up to speed after a climb.

    The 44 is more than necessary for most racing, but when training gets out on the road, the 44 is a good choice. For racing I'd probably prefer a 42.

    Now, for many courses a double would be good.. but if I train on a triple and know how to use it well, I'd probably stick with it for racing (at least at the races that matter most).

  6. #6
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    I am weak and live in the mountains , pretty much need a granny ring to get anywhere .

  7. #7
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    Hah

    I use 46 11 going down some hills, and I use 22 34 going up some hills....although mostly I use 32 34 or 32 32 going up...

    I am looking for a 48 front ring next time I replace it.

  8. #8
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    Ideal gearing for XC- Horses for Courses etc. I suspect, however, that if Shimano would bring out a 2x9, 29/42 they'd pretty effectively kill the XX revolution for racers. Better chainlines, slightly reduced weight is all most racers require, and wouldn't cost the earth when upgrading.

  9. #9
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    I have thought about goin 2X9 for a few years. But i was just going to take off the large chainring. The older I get(41 now) the more I spin and the less I mash. So I find myself using the small chainring (22 tooth) more and more, But using the big ring less and less.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 23mjm
    I have thought about goin 2X9 for a few years. But i was just going to take off the large chainring. The older I get(41 now) the more I spin and the less I mash. So I find myself using the small chainring (22 tooth) more and more, But using the big ring less and less.
    Come on 23mjm! I'm 41 also and getting faster each year!

    My frustration with 27 gears stems from riding a single speed for the past 18 months - clearing the technical uphill switchbacks that I used to "think" I needed some tiny front ring to help me up the hill. Sure there are times that a few gears either side of my 2:1 would be beneficial... but 27?

  11. #11
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    There are

    not enough production two ring cranksets for them to get a lot of OE spec yet. If you spec Shimano XT-XTR there is no two ring option, and SRAM only has (very expensive) XX. We will see more XC bikes stock with 2 x 9, 10 when there are plenty of 2 ring cranksets available.
    I do endurance racing, in Colorado, and I like to spin, but 2 x 9 still works for me with 26-40 rings and a 11-34 cassette. With 26 tooth inner rings, and the availability of 11-36 cassettes, I think almost every racing situation could be covered by a 2 x 9, 10 set up.
    Everyone's gearing needs differ, according to fitness, and courses, but pretty soon there will be enough gearing options to suit every racer with a 2 ring front set up. Right now though one has to be a little creative to get a 2 x 9 set up that will suit them (excepting XX) and result in the best possible chainline and front shifting.

  12. #12
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    I'd be interested to hear more about the advantages of a 2x setup (just moving into xc racing from the road). I'm guessing the main advantage would be able to avoid front (mis)shifts during races (already read lots of accounts of races lost due to misshifts to the inner chainring). Otherwise, the weight savings seems not that much. The SRAM XX crank looks to be only about 30 grams lighter than a triple XTR (the weight of an inner ring). Going from a 32 to 34 cassette gains most of that back. Can you run a road front derailleur with a 2x setup (if you have bottom pull).

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar
    Come on 23mjm! I'm 41 also and getting faster each year!

    My frustration with 27 gears stems from riding a single speed for the past 18 months - clearing the technical uphill switchbacks that I used to "think" I needed some tiny front ring to help me up the hill. Sure there are times that a few gears either side of my 2:1 would be beneficial... but 27?
    My ancestors didn't fight their way to the top of the food chain so I could only ride only one gear But I find I am faster spinning. As far as those who talk about miss shifts, here is a news flash you can and will have miss shifts on a double too. With a 26 or 27 tooth small ring you might be shifting onto the large ring more than if you had a standard 34 tooth. The double might be great for racing and might work well is some geographical areas, but some of the trails in Nor Cal, Nevada, and Oregon I have ridden I really liked the 22 tooth. My bike is a XC CC, & Trail bike.
    We ride and never worry about the fall
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  14. #14
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    To me, the advantages of only two rings are that you can set it to have the rings closer to the frame and spend more time on the big ring and use the whole cassette, then you drop on the smaller ring only for very steep, very long or very steep and long climbs. Overall, you shift much less on the front and more on the rear where shifts are much quicker, much smoother, no risk of chainsucks and deal much better with the occasional accidental shift under load...

    Plus, this might not be true for everyone as the geography allows it or not but on shorter and medium climbs, having no super low gears kind of forces you to go faster as you don't want to pedal at a too low cadence.

    Weight isn't such an advantage, the difference is not enough to be the reason to switch.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar
    I'm surprised. $4,000+ race bikes still have three rings. I predicted (incorrectly) that by now, everything north of $2,500 would be 2x9 and 2x10. I mean really, when was the last time anyone used that little granny ring? For the most part I've been riding/racing a 2x9 (ignoring the granny) and that's not "optimized".

    I'm looking at 2010 bikes (Scott Spark 20, Trek Fuel EX 9.8) and am bummed that I'll have to go through the expense of swapping out parts on a new $4,000 bike.

    So what do ya think - 2011?
    Just because you are such a strong rider that doesn't need a granny gear, it doesn't mean the rest of us mortals don't.

    Granny gears don't necessarily mean that something is too steep to be climbed in the middle one, it can also mean burned out legs from going up that same section several times before.

    Also, if you're getting a 4k bike, I doubt a new crankset will be a hassle. You can also swap it at the store in which you are buying the bike for the difference in price.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar
    I'm surprised. $4,000+ race bikes still have three rings. I predicted (incorrectly) that by now, everything north of $2,500 would be 2x9 and 2x10. I mean really, when was the last time anyone used that little granny ring? For the most part I've been riding/racing a 2x9 (ignoring the granny) and that's not "optimized".

    I'm looking at 2010 bikes (Scott Spark 20, Trek Fuel EX 9.8) and am bummed that I'll have to go through the expense of swapping out parts on a new $4,000 bike.

    So what do ya think - 2011?
    maybe you just don't ride long steep hills

  17. #17
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    I say granny is here to stay as standard spec. Production bikes are built for the masses, and the majority that buy them are not pro racers.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar
    Sure there are times that a few gears either side of my 2:1 would be beneficial... but 27?
    Thats my feeling on it. 1x5 would be about ideal, but i guess I'll make do with 1x8 for now.

    On the other hand, the difference between 2 and 3 chainrings isn't that much IMO.

  19. #19
    CB2
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    Some courses, like ski resorts favor a granny (steep long climbs).
    There is a rider I usually beat on most courses, but on ski resort courses, he sits and spins a little gear and soundly beats me.

  20. #20
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    I'd be interested in trying a 2x setup - what's the smallest ring that will fit on a 104 BCD crank? Is it 30?

  21. #21
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    I don't see the big drawback of having a granny ring. When you want it, it's there.

    It's so small, I don't think changing to a double would allow you to shorten your BB spindle much if at all.

  22. #22
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    Big fan of the granny here, despite living in The Netherlands.

    This is one of my playgrounds: Zoetermeer

    To compensate the lack of height, the climbs are made very steep. These hills are not natural btw, it's an old garbage dump.

  23. #23
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    Lol

  24. #24
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    Since 2007, I have raced either SS or 1x9 and have no reason to change that anytime soon.

    Not sure what other areas have for climbing in a race, but I've done a 9,000 ft 50 miler, and a 4,500 ft 21 miler.

  25. #25
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    I've thought about going to a 2x9. You increase your chainring clearance. Drop a little weight. For trail riding, it would work for sure. For racing, I have used my big ring. I don't know if it is a myth or real but it feels more efficient to be in the same gear inches with a bigger ring; so, I will ride a long flat section in the big ring.

    I think the question for me is if a 28 or 30 small ring would leave me mostly in the middle of the cogs or if I would end up using the edges of the cogs and not shift to avoid a front shift. I mostly ride in the lower (larger) half of my cogs in middle ring (32) and don't think I have used my 22 ring in a race.
    Oh sh!+ just force upgraded to cat1. Now what?
    Best thing about an ultra marathon? I just get to ride my bike for X hours!

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar
    I mean really, when was the last time anyone used that little granny ring?So what do ya think - 2011?
    I think a couple of decent riders used them at Leadville

  27. #27
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    i like a close ratio triple 24,32,38 with a full size 12or11 -34 cluster,quick shifts, i can bail to the 24 for real steep,i'm generelly not a power guy but i'm still working on it. I do use the 38 quite a bit,with a long cage i can climb a lot of stuff in 38-30 or fully cross shifted for a bit.I think a lot of my low gear bail outs have to do with riding a fairly heavy 6 inch travel bike,by the 3rd hour or so , i just have to spin a bit. Leadville means nothing to me.

  28. #28
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    I don't know about you but I live in a place where 15-20%+ multi thousand foot vertical climbs are the norm. Even in my prime - and I'm a long way from that these days - I had to use my granny a lot.

    I also like having the top end of my 44-12 for those occasional super fast buff single or double track. It's nice to not spin out.

  29. #29
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    Many of us go through a time in the season when we don't exactly have top form.

    Take myself. A bit less riding in the fall, just coming off the flu equals using my granny gear a lot.

  30. #30
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    I see tons of guys on full suspension bikes that can't climb, can't descend and panic every time there's an obstacle on the trail. I also see guys that click into their granny every time they approach any sort of hill. Most people aren't in shape. Most "racers' aren't even in shape.
    I don't see 2xwhatever taking over any time soon. I wish it would because it's what I want but most people would freak out if you took away their granny gear.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by herbn
    Leadville means nothing to me.
    Doesn't mean much to me either. I just used it as an example of the fact that it is the terrain, and not the level of a rider's fitness, that determines the need for a small chainring.

  32. #32
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    I rarely use the granny in races, but it's nice to know it's there if you you start to blow late in a race. I use it all the time in training, in between intervals or on recovery days.

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    I...

    think that this discussion may be missing something by not considering all the possible options. While I agree that just dropping the granny off of a 22-32-44 crankset and running a 32-44 double may not provide low enough gearing for many situations, there are other 2 ring options. I am running 26-40 on a Rotor double crankset, and with an 11-34 cassette I have plenty of range for just about every situation imaginable (I am not super fit all the time, and I ride in Colorado with plenty of long steep climbs at altitude). A 26-34 low gear is pretty low, and one could go even lower with a 36 tooth cog on the cassette. I find no need for a faster gear than the 40-11, with the possible exception of on the road, but this is a MTB forum, I have a road bike for the road.
    For XC riding and racing the 2 x 9 (10) makes perfect sense to me: better chainline, less front shifting, simpler set up of the front shifter for more reliability, less chainsuck, a little weight savings, less chain slap, better Q-factor. After riding the two ring setup for a year I cannot imagine going back to a triple for any reason.

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    i was the other way around. when i raced XC(only a few, just for fun) i NEVER used the big ring(middle ring with the smallest cog was more than fast enough). and i rarely used the granny (i found it much faster and easier to grind.)

    now i'm a singlespeeder (and i ride DH, but still enjoy XC)

    An i ain nevah goin bak!

  35. #35
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    I think it is funny when a guy has a 1x9 set up and claims that he doesn't need that little granny ring and then you pass him during a race while he is pushing his bike up a big steep hill that you are riding "albeit in your granny ring". Wait a second, that is what happened to me "more than once" this year. There were a few times "especially late in races" where my legs were cooked and that granny ring would have been really nice and actually a lot faster in those instances. I've heard people say, "well if I'm in the granny then I'm going slow enough that I'd be better off walking". Not always true.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Gerous
    To me, the advantages of only two rings are that you can set it to have the rings closer to the frame and spend more time on the big ring and use the whole cassette, then you drop on the smaller ring only for very steep, very long or very steep and long climbs. Overall, you shift much less on the front and more on the rear where shifts are much quicker, much smoother, no risk of chainsucks and deal much better with the occasional accidental shift under load...

    Plus, this might not be true for everyone as the geography allows it or not but on shorter and medium climbs, having no super low gears kind of forces you to go faster as you don't want to pedal at a too low cadence.

    Weight isn't such an advantage, the difference is not enough to be the reason to switch.


  37. #37
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    Triples ....don't like'em. The big ring is too big and the small ring is too small. Last season I settled on 26/36 with 11-32 on the rear. I tried 1x9 and I found myself wanting that "recovery" while climbing on occasion. Also helped saved a little for later in the race.

    Next season I'll be 26/39 on XX front and 11-32 rear (9speed). I really really like the 26, and it has saved my butt enough times to warrant a permanent spot on my bike.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flat Ark
    I've heard people say, "well if I'm in the granny then I'm going slow enough that I'd be better off walking". Not always true.
    Also if you walk/run up the hill your legs feel like crap when you hop back on the bike. Try that at the end of a hard day and I can almost guarantee your legs will cramp.
    I don't need a granny gear for my local trails but there's definitely places where you would be screwed without it.

  39. #39
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    There is no right or wrong in this debate. It's like tire choices, I could say the best tires are _________ and it could be true for me and for where I ride but they could be the worst for someone else, somewhere else. No steup can work for everyone everywhere.

    DAN.GEROUS.NET : MOUNTAIN BIKING : CYCLOCROSS : ROAD :

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Gerous
    There is no right or wrong in this debate. It's like tire choices, I could say the best tires are _________ and it could be true for me and for where I ride but they could be the worst for someone else, somewhere else. No steup can work for everyone everywhere.
    And that to me is why the triple will remain. You don't have to use them all, but if you need them they are there.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by 88 rex
    Triples ....don't like'em. The big ring is too big and the small ring is too small. Last season I settled on 26/36 with 11-32 on the rear. I tried 1x9 and I found myself wanting that "recovery" while climbing on occasion. Also helped saved a little for later in the race.

    Next season I'll be 26/39 on XX front and 11-32 rear (9speed). I really really like the 26, and it has saved my butt enough times to warrant a permanent spot on my bike.
    I can definately see my self going with a 26/39 or 26/38 combo in the future. I have tried it in the past but only with sh!tty chain rings and had issues.

    It will be a bit before I switch though. I certainly am not going to take perfectly good XTR chain rings off my bike.

  42. #42
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    I was thinking of rocking the 26 inner ring that would leave me pretty symetrical 26 32 38,six tooth gaps, they shift much better than trying to spread it out into one shift,kind of like a "front cluster". I also just bolted up an xt 32 middle with the "carbon" plastic shift ramps,really really fast. I use the 11 34 xt cluster and can still fully cross shift even with the triple ,it's not a big deal but i kind of avoid it on principle.

  43. #43
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    Yes...

    I agree that the triple will remain. I would suggest that the gearing exists now to make a 2 x 9 (or 10) valid for just about every race situation. There are many advantages. Anyone interested in maximizing the performance of their race/xc set up should give it a try.
    It is also interesting to note why mountain bikes have a triple in the first place. My first MTB was the original Fisher Hoo Koo e Koo, as I recall the bike had a 12-28 tooth cassette (either 6 or 7 speed). To get a reasonable gear range with a cassette like this one had to have a triple crankset. Now we have 11-32, 11-34, and even 11-36 tooth cassettes, and we have much lighter bikes. With these nine and ten speed cassettes, with their wide range, a two ring crankset makes a lot of sense to me.

  44. #44
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    i race sport and im decent at it. i like to have the granny gear and though i never go to the lowest combo, the little ring is a lifesaver sometimes. on some steep east coast trails with lots of singletrack obstacles you just have to stay seated and spin and the granny gear helps me do that. my friend effectively rides a 2x9 (doesnt use granny ring) but i usually beat him on techy uphills if i just spin in a low gear while he uses a but more force. i might try a 1x9 though this coming season.

  45. #45
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    Just used my granny a little bit today. I'm early on in base and really trying to take it easy, but today I wanted to ride the mountain bike and there are parts of climbs where I need it to stay in Z2.

    I've finally learned that to be at your best on race day you need to be fit and fresh. That means building up a good base, gradually, and really taking it easy on easy days, so you can give it best on hard days. I no longer listen to the voice inside my head saying, " stay in the big ring", or "chase that guy down", if it means pushing to hard on an easy day.

  46. #46
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    SRAM XX cassettee = $300
    SRAM 990 Cassettee = $60

    I considered the XX series until I rode it (finally). No different than just dropping the granny ring. More bling than performance. I rode 2x9 for a long time but then put the granny on during 6 hour event and never took it off. It's minimal weight savings going 2x9.



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    2x9 is what i use, middle and granny. 95% of the time in the middle ring. The large ring is just in the way and gets bent when you are crossing a lot of logs, which we have alot of in the races around here. I have looked at alot of the the other riders and they have similar set-ups also alot of 1x9's, middle ring only.

    I would say the train you are racing is a big factor in gearing set-up.

  48. #48
    No longer 26
    Reputation: G-Live's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 23mjm
    I have thought about goin 2X9 for a few years. But i was just going to take off the large chainring. The older I get(41 now) the more I spin and the less I mash. So I find myself using the small chainring (22 tooth) more and more, But using the big ring less and less.
    Same for me. I chose a 22/36 combo up front. My knees do not like low cadence anymore. And I have sprinted for podium spots (in sport class) a few times where I had enough gear to get me the position (if my legs were there.) I might even back off to 22/34 (riding 29ers). I do not think I have seen the 36/11 in a race yet.

    G
    You can't depend on honest answers from dependant hands...

  49. #49
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
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    In the canyon behind my house

    some climbs exceed 30% in places though mid-teens for 2 miles is more the norm. I could manage a 1x9 in the Canyon but would have to walk some places for sure. I don't like to walk my bike.

    A friend and bike designer from Colorado was struck when he came here; even the paved roads were steeper here because there is no snow.

    When I was in my best shape in my late 40's,( mid-pack sport) the 3 mile road climb of 9% in my Campy 42/24 put me to task but I could manage. I might be able to pull it off today but it is iffy and why should I do that to myself?

    Climbing is also not just about leverage but tempo and how it matches up with the rhythm of surfaces. Such match-ups require a lot of course knowledge but that is a skill in itself.

    My Roubaix and my Bontager Racelite both have triples and I have no plans to change that.

  50. #50
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    Racing in the NE, I prefer simplicity of 1x9. 36 front ring except Mt Snow where I used a 32. Another option is 36 with a 26 "granny". Works great on my 29er and Rize.

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