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  1. #1
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    MTB with full-range gearing: extinct species?

    Currently have an old Trek 830 that I was riding sporadically.

    But, I've been upping my riding since I sold my car . Doing mostly road miles, but like being able to run off the road for safety, and occasionally do some rough trails where I really need low gear.

    Was looking at hybrids, especially the carbon Trek FX Sport series. They look like great bikes, but what I'd really like is a hardtail MTB. After checking out every manufacturer I could find, I discovered that MTBs have become much more specialized gear-wise, and no one seems to make a full-range, 3-chainring bike anymore.

    So it seems I have to:
    - settile for a hybrid
    - go 'retro' and find a vintage MTB bike
    - by 2 (or more) bikes

    Since my budget is limited, I'd prefer to put the cash into one decent bike, rather than 2 mediocre bikes.

    Anyone have any specific bike suggestions given my needs

  2. #2
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    2x drivetrains exist and are still current, search for '2x hardtails' or similar
    "Put your seatbelt back on or get out and sit in the middle of that circle of death." - Johnny Scoot

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbonhoppy View Post
    Currently have an old Trek 830 that I was riding sporadically.

    But, I've been upping my riding since I sold my car . Doing mostly road miles, but like being able to run off the road for safety, and occasionally do some rough trails where I really need low gear.

    Was looking at hybrids, especially the carbon Trek FX Sport series. They look like great bikes, but what I'd really like is a hardtail MTB. After checking out every manufacturer I could find, I discovered that MTBs have become much more specialized gear-wise, and no one seems to make a full-range, 3-chainring bike anymore.

    So it seems I have to:
    - settile for a hybrid
    - go 'retro' and find a vintage MTB bike
    - by 2 (or more) bikes

    Since my budget is limited, I'd prefer to put the cash into one decent bike, rather than 2 mediocre bikes.

    Anyone have any specific bike suggestions given my needs
    Don't give up on single ring. An eagle drivetrain (or equivalent) has hella range. With a little front chainring adjustment, it covers a lot of territory.

    I run a 30 or 28 tooth front, can climb most things (slowly) and it spins out faster than I can go most of the time.

  4. #4
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    Sounds like you need a MTB and a CX bike. Those would take care of everything you posted on doing.
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  5. #5
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    In the races I've done, you don't run out of gears, you get slower as time goes on and you use the hardest gears less and less. I've done several gravel grinders on my fat-bike with a road cassette in the rear and 32t chainring. I'm not limited by my gearing, it's wind-resistance, so having ridiculous tall gears like 42t chainrings is a waste IME. Sure, we could turn them, but we really weren't going any faster, we weren't turning them fast enough to actually go faster than we could with the middle ring. You just don't use it, but it's hard to give up something you are used to. Having the low end makes sense, that too has gotten easier over the years, it used to be you had a 22t front cog and an 11-32t rear cassette, before that the gears were even larger (harder), so modern stuff like Eagle cassettes are EASIER than a few years back, maybe not right before we switched to 1x, but the 11-36 cassettes were fairly short lived in the big scheme of things.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  6. #6
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    My commuter is a singlespeed with 70 gear inches. It tops out at ~22mph, but i rarely touch that cuz i don't wanna get all sweaty commuting.

    I say this only to say that for commuting any bike with a derailleur will have adequate gearing.



    Props on selling your car. I drive mine less than once a week, but i still can't imagine going without.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TantrumCycles View Post
    Don't give up on single ring. An eagle drivetrain (or equivalent) has hella range. With a little front chainring adjustment, it covers a lot of territory.
    This Trek I was looking at has the Eagle.

    Procaliber

    So, you think this would be sufficient for road riding?

    Is there some gauge of RPM/MPH per wheel size used for determining max speed in top gear?
    Last edited by carbonhoppy; 2 Weeks Ago at 11:25 AM. Reason: format fix

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg View Post
    My commuter is a singlespeed with 70 gear inches. It tops out at ~22mph,
    But hey...wait...the Tour de France dudes average 25mph....

    Well, 22mph for a MTB seems like plenty (though the 'el cheapo' speedo I first had on my 830 told me I was maxing out at 26mph; using GPS-based apps nowadays I can't seem to get it above 20mph on the flats. Then again, I'm 20 years older )

    Props on selling your car. I drive mine less than once a week, but i still can't imagine going without.
    I needed to get rid of it before future repairs exceeded the book value. Amazingly reliable Toyota...but still...
    Last edited by carbonhoppy; 2 Weeks Ago at 11:31 AM. Reason: lacking in humor

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the feedback everyone. On to more research...


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbonhoppy View Post
    no one seems to make a full-range, 3-chainring bike anymore.
    They do, but they're more or less restricted to cheap bikes and touring bikes. The reason being that 3 chainring drivetrains have an obscene amount of redundancy that most people don't want or need.

    double chainrings replaced this at the high end a LONG time ago, because you can get the same range with less overlap with just a slightly wider range cassette.

    Even now, with modern 1x options, you can get the SAME range as an old triple with a single chainring. And a modern high end 2x can give you far more range even still.

    When it's all done, I don't use all the available range on my 1x drivetrain, anyway. And I certainly never came close to using everything available on old 3x options, either.

  11. #11
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    A 2x crank with 11-42 cassette is all the range you'll probably need on a mtb, even when using it on the road.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbonhoppy View Post
    This Trek I was looking at has the Eagle.

    Procaliber

    So, you think this would be sufficient for road riding?

    Is there some gauge of RPM/MPH per wheel size used for determining max speed in top gear?
    The Procaliber has plenty of gearing for road riding. Mine is running SRAM GX Eagle. I put 100 miles or so on it a week commuting and I live in a very hilly area (the foot of the Italian Dolomites). I never want for gearing. I also take this thing in the mountains on the weekend sometimes. I can't recall ever needing more gear there either. When I am out riding for fitness, I only average about 3-5k an hour slower on the Procaliber vs my Domane road bike. The Procaliber is an exceptional all around bike. The only time I finding it lacking is in fast, steep and chunky downhill sections but, I have a Fuel EX for that.

  13. #13
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    I do about 50/50 road and trail riding on my bike.

    I use two wheelsets to do so. My 34x11 high gear on the 1x tops out at 25 mph or so. That's pretty good, it's a 29x2.0 tire.

    The mtb wheels have a 34x42 low gear on a 29x2.3 tire, and that gets me up everything I need it to.

    Ideally, I'd move to a 36 up front, but I'd have to upgrade to a drivetrain with a 46 rear. This isn't really an option due to Max chainring sizes for 1x on many bikes being 32, some being 34, and I don't know that I have found one at 36.


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  14. #14
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    If you're running Eagle with a 36t chainring, you'll have plenty of high and low range.
    On my Turner RFX, I'm limited to a 32t chainring, so I don't run Eagle because it would be a waste to have a 50t cog with my 32t chainring. I wish Sram would have other options for their 12 speed cassettes like 10-42, 10-46.
    EXODUX Jeff

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    If you're running Eagle with a 36t chainring, you'll have plenty of high and low range.
    On my Turner RFX, I'm limited to a 32t chainring, so I don't run Eagle because it would be a waste to have a 50t cog with my 32t chainring. I wish Sram would have other options for their 12 speed cassettes like 10-42, 10-46.
    Plenty is relative...I use the Eagle's 32/50 combo a few times a week on a loop we do in the mountains. It's not a fitness thing either. It's just that steep...

  16. #16
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    You don't need to go nuts with eagle.

    A 30t ring and a simple and cheap 11-42 (not even 46) cassette out back will hold 20mph on the road, but thats pushing it. Its similar to old 9 speed triple gearing, and lower than what 8 speed generally was.

    All in all, we ditched triples because actually using a 44t chainring is an inhuman feat. Even the large ring in a double isnt really utilized fully for most people.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by yarbrough462 View Post
    Plenty is relative...I use the Eagle's 32/50 combo a few times a week on a loop we do in the mountains. It's not a fitness thing either. It's just that steep...
    I hear you. I live high in the mountains ( Big Bear Lake, Ca) we have lots of long, steep climbs. I have a 32t chainring and a 11-46 cassette, I rarely use the 46. I guess it comes down to traction, we also have a lot of loose soil( decomposed granite) making it where regardless of how low your gearing is, you wouldn't have the traction.
    EXODUX Jeff

  18. #18
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    If you are talking about running out of gearing on a road bike keep in mind that higher end road bikes have been using double chainrings for decades with triples resigned to touring bikes or entry level road bikes. The issue with wanting to use gearing for mountain and road riding is your road riding gearing will be higher than your mountain bike gearing. Like the guy above said, you can just get two wheelsets with different cassettes on each if you don't want two bikes. It really depends on what sort of terrain you are riding though.

  19. #19
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    If you are worried use one of those online gearing calculators to do the math. When I went from a 3x8 to a 1x12 I kept the same low gear, but lost the top 2 gears (which I never used).
    If you find a bike you like, compare the range to your existing bike. If you do lose a gear or two, try pretending those gears doesn't exist on your next commute and see if you are ok with that. If it's fine then you will be fine on your new bike too.

  20. #20
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    I'd prefer a 2x on a bike that's going to be used mostly on the roads. I'm more efficient at certain gearings and cadences. Not being able to hit those doesn't bug me so much when I'm mountain biking, but if I'm putting down serious mileage on the roads I want them.

    Regarding range, I don't think I'd be happy with a bike that had a top gear of less than 36x11 (90-ish gear inches.) As a dedicated mountain bike, lower than that would be fine for me but not for road use. Sure, it's possible to go fast with low gears and very high cadence, but that's not how I like to ride for extended periods.

    I could get the high gear on a 1x with a 32t chain ring and a cassette with a 10t cog(and still have enough low on the other end of the cassette.) I'd have to do more research to know if I could live with the jumps between gears of a 1x for road use.

  21. #21
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    I understand the OP's dilemma. I live in an area with very steep climbs. The only way I can get a similar 2by range with a 1by system is with a 12 speed drivetrain. However, a big problem for me is that a 12 speed drivetrain requires a derailleur that virtually drags the ground (I also live in an area with tons of sticks and rocks).

    Now that manufacturers are making most of their bikes without front dérailleur capabilities, I'm seriously considering an internal drivetrain system (most likely a Rohloff). However, problems with Rohloff are expense, bike frame compatibility, and the industry's schizophrenic approach to hub widths.

    Basically right now, I'm not upgrading bikes. I'm not boost, but I have a FD and am happy.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    I hear you. I live high in the mountains ( Big Bear Lake, Ca) we have lots of long, steep climbs. I have a 32t chainring and a 11-46 cassette, I rarely use the 46. I guess it comes down to traction, we also have a lot of loose soil( decomposed granite) making it where regardless of how low your gearing is, you wouldn't have the traction.

    Exactly. I'm in San Diego, otherwise known as loose dirt deluxe, and the rear tire will almost always spin before the granny gear slows down to nothing. If there is sufficient traction, you can climb steeper stuff, if not, you can't.

    2x up front can give you over 7x range, and the typical 3x 7-10 speed with stock gearing has less than that, usually 5.9x to 6.6x. So if you get the right cassette and something like 22/36 or 24/38, you'll have even more range than the original 3x setup!
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    You don't need to go nuts with eagle.

    A 30t ring and a simple and cheap 11-42 (not even 46) cassette out back will hold 20mph on the road, but thats pushing it. Its similar to old 9 speed triple gearing, and lower than what 8 speed generally was.

    All in all, we ditched triples because actually using a 44t chainring is an inhuman feat. Even the large ring in a double isnt really utilized fully for most people.

    I don't know what it is but I'm running out of range a lot more quickly now in the 2nd chainring. I have 22/32/42 and 11-34t 8-sp, and maybe this is just psychological or something, but I'm going to top gear in the 2nd chainring in like 5 seconds after I start out. And that's fine, I don't need the 3rd chainring to go faster, I don't mind keeping it in the 2nd chainring, but I'm topping out way faster now than several months ago. This has coincided with an e-bike conversion that also has a 3x chainring, so could it be muscle memory? I get up to speed super fast on the e-bike and it's somehow translated over to the analog bike. Not that my loops are faster, just the acceleration to cruising speed. Weird.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    I don't know what it is but I'm running out of range a lot more quickly now in the 2nd chainring. I have 22/32/42 and 11-34t 8-sp, and maybe this is just psychological or something, but I'm going to top gear in the 2nd chainring in like 5 seconds after I start out. And that's fine, I don't need the 3rd chainring to go faster, I don't mind keeping it in the 2nd chainring, but I'm topping out way faster now than several months ago. This has coincided with an e-bike conversion that also has a 3x chainring, so could it be muscle memory? I get up to speed super fast on the e-bike and it's somehow translated over to the analog bike. Not that my loops are faster, just the acceleration to cruising speed. Weird.
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