2009/11/05

Ditching chainrings



I'm not a fan of front shifting. They are much slower than rear shifts, they dont deal well with shifting under power (we all know we shouldn't do it but in races, it happens) and they are more risky to drop chains or suffer chainsucks. Triple cranks are already dead in my book and the idea looks to become more mainstream with SRAM's XX and the availability of a double XTR crankset option next year (of course Cannondale has offered double cranks for many years already).



But can we improve doubles? Last year people looked at Adam Craig's bikes running a single chainring and thought he was weird (which he is but not for that) but the idea has caught on a lot this year and hit the front under the legs of none other than Julien Absalon and Geoff Kabush, the Canadian champ of course winning the Bromont World Cup with a 1x9 setup showcased that the concept isn't a bad idea after all. The possibility to save a bunch of weight by dropping one shifter, one cable and it's housing, the front derailleur and keep only one chainring is appealing but avoiding the front shifting risks and issues (especially in muddy conditions) and the slow shifts is even more interesting to me.



Then I saw a funny press release from e*thirteen a few days ago. They released their XCX chainguide for the growing numbers of XC riders opting for 1x9 or 1x10 gearing setups after apparently 5 years of testing, only to come out with a product almost identical to the year old MRP 1.X guide. Same pricing, about the same weight, both available in black or white as BB mounted guides and they look almost identical. Hummm...

Unfortunatly, both were just available in BB mounted version that are not compatible with the BB30 standard I have on both my Scalpel and my CAAD9 cross bike. I had inquired about a seat tube mounted version from MRP (as e*thirteen didn't have it's model annouced back then) and their product manager told me one was in the works and should be annouced around November.

So today, MRP released three new versions of their 1.X guides, two seat tube mounted, one for mountain bikes, one specifically designed for cyclocross gear sizes and chainline and one for direct mounts like on the new Cannondale Flash... So I think that, once I get a road bike, I will finally be able to dedicate my cross bike to cross and set it with a 1x10 and go 1x10 on my Scalpel with a 11-36 XX cassette, rear derailleur and shifter... On the Scalpel, a 32T ring with the 11-36 cassette would have about the same low end gear as my current 29T small ring with a 11-34 cassette and I would sacrifice the two highest gears of the typical 44x11, gears I used very rarely when mountain biking. Thanks MRP.

5 comments:

Tim Bateman said...

Dan, when the Champery XC WC was on Thomas Frischknecht was on freecaster.tv and he commented on exactly this ... he felt that because Absalon was running 1x9 was visibly grinding more on the climbs than Schurter and Vogel, it made the tactical battle even harder and thus deadened his legs.

I run 1x9 too so I'm a believer from practicality reasons but for racing still maybe 2x9 is best ?

Dan Gerous said...

You must mean the World Championships in Canberra, Julien used a double at Champery. But a few things about Julien Absalon:

He's fighting for World Cup wins, I'm not.

He has been riding a 2x9 for years with his smallest chainring being a 32 and it never seemed to stop him from winning. I'm thinking that if he was beaten, he was just not as fresh/strong that day. Racing alone against two in a race where wind was a major factor might have hurt him more than his gearing...

When I saw his bike setup with a single ring (Canberra Worlds), it was a 40T with a XX 11-36 cassette. I'll use a 32T ring, with a 11-36 cassette, it makes the same lowest gear as I already have with 29x34 and that's just fine. With a 32T ring and my current 11-34, it's like If I lost my biggest cog and had a 31T biggest cog... I can always change the ring for my 29 or a 30 for courses with very long and steep climbs but then I'd lose too much top end though.

I think a single ring is very racable. Of course it depends on the course and the legs... The only place I think it could be a negative is if there are long straight, smooth flat sections or descents... Or in a sprint finish. But I tend to ride big gears to begin with. I'll have some speed skills training to be able to crank faster cadences for the few times when I'm maxed out on 32x11.

We'll see but I think I'll be okay, I do race for fun more than to win or get top results so I can experiment.

carstenj said...

Where did you find the new MRP 1.X guides? I don't see them on the MRP website.

Dan Gerous said...

They are not available just yet, they should start shipping around mid-december. The press release can be found here...

Forfatter said...

Great news! Got the BB mounted on on my Anthem, but I might try the other on out.

I just 1x10neded my cross bike: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/vA2iUAb7fg9o_EJwPADOXw?feat=embedwebsite

Love it! Racing with it first time on saturday!