Should I even bother with front gears?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Should I even bother with front gears?

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  • #117448

    I typically find myself staying in the middle gear all the time, I don’t ever really switch out of it….is this normal?

  • #117449

    Maybe not "normal" but it means you’re a badass! OR it means you aren’t riding any climbs steep enough to necessitate granny gear. When I had my hardtail, I ditched the triple and went with a 1×9 setup. Lots of people do it. My stumpy came with a 2×10 and I forgot how nice it was to have those extra granny gears so I’ve kept it that way to date…often thinking about reducing it to a 1×10.

  • #117450

    Part of it depends on where you’re riding, but Jeff, for instance, runs a 1×9 on his hardtail wherever he rides.

  • #117451
    "sk8fux" wrote

    I typically find myself staying in the middle gear all the time, I don’t ever really switch out of it….is this normal?

    Perfectly normal!

    When I got in better riding shape near the end of last season, I was also only using my middle gear for single track trails. The granny gear is good if I am doing some super steep long climbs, and the big gear is good for when I am doing fast and long fire road XC runs on my top gears. The extra sprockets on the front, gives me the wider gear selection ranges so that my bike can do a wider variety of things.

    Some people love specializing in only riding XC, or only single track, or only downhill. Because most of the newer bikes often come with 9, 10, and even sometimes 11 speeds in the back on; some folks like to get rid of some of their front sprockets. I have seen some going from 3 sprockets in the front down to 2, or even 1. Ditching the front derailleur all together can save on weight, or just makes it simply more reliable. Some even love the super simplicity of getting rid of all of their gear changes and change over to a single speed on their bike. If that is what makes them happy, then "To each their own".

    Some of the new super short chain stay 29er hard tail bikes (Kona Taro, Kona Honzo, Canfield Yelli Screamy, Canfield Nimble 9) do not have much room for the normal 3 front sprockets. Their super short chain stay geometry makes them extremely lively and nimble, but sacrifices their ability to have the big gear and still clear the rear tire. These 2 Konas don’t even have a front derailleur.

  • #117452
    "jtorlando25" wrote

    Maybe not "normal" but it means you’re a badass! OR it means you aren’t riding any climbs steep enough to necessitate granny gear. When I had my hardtail, I ditched the triple and went with a 1×9 setup. Lots of people do it. My stumpy came with a 2×10 and I forgot how nice it was to have those extra granny gears so I’ve kept it that way to date…often thinking about reducing it to a 1×10.

    I would go with the second one, not enough steep climbs. That airborne has a "megarange" gear on it that climbs pretty well on smaller stuff, I guess I’ll just have to go out and find some steeper stuff to ride. Also, I need to get the bike tuned because it isn’t that smooth shifting the front gears. But I’m learning a lot tinkering with it myself.

  • #117453

    The front gears are always more difficult to shift compared to the rear.

  • #117454

    I found i was staying on the middle chainring as well so i converted to a 1×7. I asked a couple of questions on here and at my lbs and it turned out to be a pretty simple task. Really cleaned up the look of my bike too.

  • #117455

    I only use the middle and biggest gears on mine, but I don’t have any real big climbs my riding buddy is constantly shifting his front it’s a matter of preference I think

  • #117456

    The trend has always been more gears, wider ranges, and lighter weight. I have seen over the years 1 speed, 3, then 2×5, 3×7, 3×8, 3×9, and 3×10.

    The latest SRAM XX1 has a 11 gear (10t to 42t) rear cassette and usually runs with 28t or 38t front chain rings <corrected>. It has a huge range, it is extremely light, and very expensive. I think that eventually, front derailleurs will completely disappear.

  • #117457
    "blundar" wrote

    The trend has always been more gears, wider ranges, and lighter weight. I have seen over the years 1 speed, 3, then 2×5, 3×7, 3×8, 3×9, and 3×10.

    If you exclude singlespeeders, and then only up until a few years back. Now, there’s a lot more variety: 2×10 drivetrains are gaining massive grounds in popularity and many bikes are specing them stock now.

    The latest SRAM XX1 has a 11 gear (10t to 42t) rear cassette and usually runs with 28t & 38t front chain rings. It has a huge range, it is extremely light, and very expensive. It can easily be run as a 1×11. I think that eventually, front derailleurs will completely disappear.

    Also, SRAM’s XX1 is yet another step away from the rule of more gears and wider ranges. It is designed to be ONLY used as a 1×11… not with BOTH 28t and 38t front chain rings. You don’t have the option to run more than one chain ring and/or a front derailleur on an XX1 drivetrain. As a result, while the massive cassette does provide a pretty huge range on it’s own, the range on an XX1 isn’t as wide as, say, some 3×10 drivetrains. However, it covers enough ground that for many riders (especially strong ones) it will be enough gear range. More info on SRAM XX1 here:

    http://www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb-ge … in-reveal/
    http://www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb-ge … rivetrain/
    http://www.sram.com/sram/mountain/1×11

  • #117458

    Personally, I would prefer the Canfield Brothers 9t Microdrive setup. It allows you to do a 1×10 with a 9t-36t cassette, and a 28t front ring. Much cheaper…

  • #117459

    No way I get rid of my 3×10 😮
    On climbs I use the middle or smal ring, on trails the middle and in the flat the big one

  • #117460

    MTITrailblazer

    I am with ollysj. I have a 3×10 and and I use all of my chainrings. With that said I did a short 12 mile ride at Tsali the other day and intentionally stayed in my middle chainring for the entire ride. It was mostly singletrack with 1,200 ft elevation gain. However yesterday I took a 30 mile ride on all fireroads with over 4,100 feet of elevation with wicked steep climbs and long downhills and some flattish areas and I used the whole spectrum.

    I can see the appeal of doing away with the front. I am a horrible shifter on singletrack so I am working on simply using the middle chainring where the terrain permits.

  • #117461
    "blundar" wrote

    Personally, I would prefer the Canfield Brothers 9t Microdrive setup. It allows you to do a 1×10 with a 9t-36t cassette, and a 28t front ring. Much cheaper…

    Let me clarify my statement… If I had a super short chain stay 29er hard tail that does not allow me to mount a front derailleur, I would rather put on the Canfield 9t Microdrive with a 28t front ring (instead of upgrading to an SRAM XX1).

    My current bike has a 3×9 setup (22t,32,44 x 11-34t). My only complaint is that I find that my 22t granny gear is often too small. On the steepest climbs I end up over-spinning too much and not going hardly anywhere because of the extreme gear ratio. All it does is gas me out really quick. That is why I always try to avoid using the lowest gear combination (22tx34t).

    Otherwise, I use all my other gears too.

  • #117462
    "blundar" wrote

    My current bike has a 3×9 setup (22t,32,44 x 11-34t). My only complaint is that I find that my 22t granny gear is often too small. On the steepest climbs I end up over-spinning too much and not going hardly anywhere because of the extreme gear ratio. All it does is gas me out really quick. That is why I always try to avoid using the lowest gear combination (22tx34t).

    I know what you mean about the granny gear on my 3×9, especially after putting in a lot of hours on my 2×9 road bike. Seems to me the easy gears on the 9 & 10 drive trains are just too free spinning.

  • #117463

    Depends on where u ride and riding style. I am running a 1 x 9 sram x9 setup with short cage derailleur and mrp chainguide. 38t chainring up front with 11-34 cassette in the back. I don’t have a huge bike budget and I did the work myself (easy). In a word, liberating. Super quick shifts and responsive pedaling (no slack in the chain). If you go to a single chainring consider a 34 to 38t instead of the 32t ring you likely have on your 3 x ? setup now. Also, the short cage derailleur is the way to go if you switch to a single ring. Shifts are like "click click boom"! Alas, I ride singletrack in the SE (mostly GA) so others may not appreciate this setup.

  • #117464
    "blundar" wrote

    Personally, I would prefer the Canfield Brothers 9t Microdrive setup. It allows you to do a 1×10 with a 9t-36t cassette, and a 28t front ring. Much cheaper…

    I just spotted another similar modification that replaces the biggest 4 sprockets to 25-29-34-40. I don’t like this solution as much. I’d rather do the 9t-36t.
    [url:3n5xxp0x]http://www.pinkbike.com/news/General-Lee-Wide-range-Cassette-Adapter-First-Look-2013.html[/url:3n5xxp0x]

  • #117465

    I think this is normal . My first MTB was 1×8 and I upgraded it to 3×9 .
    It sucked and now I have 1×9. With a cassette 11-34 or 1×10 with 11-36 I think the gear ratio can be for everyone. 3×9 is just looking so ugly with all those chainrings.

  • #117466
    "Furks" wrote

    With a cassette 11-34 or 1×10 with 11-36 I think the gear ratio can be for everyone.

    I must fall outside of "Everyone". There are times that I’m not getting up the hill without my little ring. I would love the simplicity and weight savings of a 1xsomething, but I would be walking a lot more on the trails around me.

    How about "Everyone that doesn’t have legs like limp spaghetti"?

  • #117467
    "schwim" wrote

    [quote="Furks":23p6g9t8]With a cassette 11-34 or 1×10 with 11-36 I think the gear ratio can be for everyone.

    I must fall outside of "Everyone". There are times that I’m not getting up the hill without my little ring. I would love the simplicity and weight savings of a 1xsomething, but I would be walking a lot more on the trails around me.

    How about "Everyone that doesn’t have legs like limp spaghetti"?[/quote:23p6g9t8]

    2×9 should be fine. Or 32 front and this 42t cassette ?

    If I had all those climbing , I wish I had ! I would still try my best to have a proper chainguide.
    If it is a long climb first maybe SS up and roll down 😀 Or just change chainring on the top.

  • #117468

    Wow, a 42t cassette? I never knew such a monster existed! 1x just got very appealing to me. I will need to do the calculations and see what I would lose on the top and bottom end with some different front chainrings but I’m super excited 😀

  • #117469

    Or maybe not. 350-500 bucks for a cassette? Im gonna need to pick up a sponsorship from Little Debby before I can swing one of those.

  • #117470
    "schwim" wrote

    Or maybe not. 350-500 bucks for a cassette? Im gonna need to pick up a sponsorship from Little Debby before I can swing one of those.

    I like your choice in sponsors 😆

  • #117471

    It’s expensive now because it’s new .
    The design of that looks very innovative.
    In a few years something else will be the latest .
    why not calculate on 32t chainring with 11-36 cassette ?

  • #117472

    I too like the simplicity of a 1X11. Currently running 2X10, do occasionally miss the top gears, but keeping the top speed down a little might save a tree someday, or maybe a broken bone. And if my lowest gear isn’t low enough for the hill, I walk. Same speed I’d be going anyway.

  • #117473
    "sk8fux" wrote

    I typically find myself staying in the middle gear all the time, I don’t ever really switch out of it….is this normal?

    If so , then why not leave the other chainrings at home 😀
    Keep the front derailleur until you get a chainguide .
    Guess you will be happy with it.

  • #117474
    "sk8fux" wrote

    I typically find myself staying in the middle gear all the time, I don’t ever really switch out of it….is this normal?

    I converted my Gary Fisher to a 1 x 8 with a new lightweight crank. Takes a lot of weight out and for the trails I ride it works just fine.

    Bill

  • #117475

    What is this "Granny Gear" you speak of???

    I have a 3×10 myself, but I’m too embarrassed to go in granny gear. One time I did and sent myself home to sit in the corner and think about how sorry I was. 😢

    Really though, as others have said, this depends on where you ride. As for me, I love to keep momentum and I have a personal, DO NOT GO IN GRANNY GEAR FEAR!!! There are days that I have because I never rested and refused to stop. Apparently, your legs need rest or something like that?!?!? 😕

    As long as it suits you and you’re having fun, why not?

  • #117476

    I have grown very fond of my Single Speed and will continue to ride only that for as long as I can. However if I was to go back to a geared bike some day then I will most likely do 1×11 or 2×10. In the end it all depends on what the rider is comfortable with and the terrain that you’re riding.

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