Monday, June 17, 2013

Parts on my bike (a.k.a. In praise of the triple)...

I get asked occasionally about the parts I have on my cross bike.  I also have been meaning to write something praising the triple chainring crankset since it has seemed to fall out of favor in recent years.  You see, I like my triple crankset.  The triple also serves as something of a gauge for your fitness.  Everyone has certain climbs on your regular routes that you call middle-ring climbs.  These are climbs where you can stay in the middle ring and make the climb without resorting to the granny gear.  Then there are also hills that are a little bit steeper and when you can make it in the middle ring, you know you are on top of your fitness.  Doesn't matter what gear range you have in back - the middle ring is your wireless fitness meter.  

I do understand the appeal of simplifying the front gearing on your bike.  As the number of cogs in back has gone to 10 and 11 and their range has expanded up to 10-42, yes, the triple crankset's days are numbered.  However, I'm still running an 8-speed with a spread of 13-30.  An 8-speed cassette with a range from 10-42 would have way too big of jumps between gears.  For some people, the triple combined with the lowest range possible in back is still the only way to get the range (mainly low range) they need and it's getting harder to realistically get low gears for some riders at a reasonable price.  

All of this is mainly from my point of view of bikes that I ride and build.  The majority of those are not mountain bikes, but cross or road bikes.  So, yes, there are low gearing options up front for mountain bikes, but those cranks are not necessarily compatible with a cross bike when used with road shifters.  For one, the width of the pedals is overly wide.  The chainline is also too wide for a 130 spaced rear. 

So, for know, I'll keep my triple because it works and I like it.  Now, on to the parts on my cross bike.

My cross bike
My cross bike as it sits today.  Size 62cm.  First prototype of the my cross frames.  I think I've been riding this for 4 years now.

My cross bike
I run Paul Components Mini-Moto brakes.  Love these things.  The fender is a PDW Soda Pop mountain model with the nose cut off for clearance due to the brake.  I used to run a Planet Bike clip on fender, but after breaking two of their steel mounting brackets due to riding on dirt roads, I gave the PDW a try and have to say it works way better than the Planet Bike model.  I also run the Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road tires.

My cross bike
I recently changed up the cockpit with new bar tape and new Cane Creek SCR-5 brake levers.  This is by far the most comfortable control area I've had on the bike.  I really like the shape of the Salsa Bell Lap bars (46cm) on the bike.  The drop position is super comfortable and I can ride for very long stretches in the drops.  An old Salsa Cro-Moto stem holds the 26.0 bars.  The bar tape is PRO Digital Carbon Smart Silicon.  That's too long of a name for bar tape, but it has just the right cush and tacky feel when wet.  I used cloth tape for years, but this tape is one thing that helped keep me comfortable on last weeks 5 hour ride.  Shifters are Shimano 8-speed bar-cons (although, I think the left shifter is from a 9-speed set).  I installed the brake levers a few weeks ago and have to say the combination of bar shape, brake hood shape, and where they are positioned relative to the bend is supremely comfortable.  My only complaint is when I ride downhill and I have the levers pulled, but not so far that the brakes are "on," there is some rattle inside the levers.  I think it's the QR pins.  Easy to ignore.

My cross bike
Paul Mini-Moto brake in back with a Planet Bike clip-on fender modified to fit the brake.  Keeps the crud off my backside. 

My cross bike
My front wheel is an old Mavic SUP rim with a Shimano M900 XTR hub, 32h, from about 1995.  The rim is starting to wear to the point it will need replacing, which I'll do with a Velocity Dyad to match the back.

My cross bike
XTR M900 rear hub respaced to 130mm in back laced to a Velocity Dyad rim.  Some of the parts on this bike go back to my days at Haro when I would get parts comped to me either directly from the manufacturer or through our race team.  I think the hubs, front rim, headset, seat, seat post, and derailleurs are all from that era.

My cross bike
XTR M900 rear derailleur with an Avid Roll-A-Majig and that 8-speed Shimano 13-30 cassette.  This is one of the prototype frames which didn't have dropout adjusters.  Shimano quick release keeps the wheel from in place.  

My cross bike
There's that triple crankset.  In this case, it's a 1980s era Specialized Touring triple with 24/34/46 rings.  Yes, that is a Shimano 600 road double front derailleur moving that chain across 3 rings.  Works perfect.  It all rolls smoothly on a long-lasting Shimano UN51 bottom bracket.

My cross bike
WTB Shadow V seat with ti rails; Easton EC-70 carbon post with generous offset; trusty Jandd Mini Mtn Wedge bag holds two tubes, tire lever, Crank Bros. CB-17 tool, and now a patch kit.  The seat bag has an added toe strap to secure it.  There is also a Planet Bike Super Flash blinky light.

(What's playing:  Release Me on KWMR)


Anonymous said...

I had the same rattle in my brake levers and it drove me batty. I found a simple solution, though it renders the QR"s inoperable, which was OK because I never used them anyway. Take a small dab of clear silicone sealant. Place it on the top of the QR pin on the side where it is pushed in to be flush with the face of the lever. Take a putty knife and "smush" as much as you can into the space around the pin. Let it dry. You can cut/peel away the stuff on the outside after it dries if you want or just not worry about it. This is reversible if you really want to use the QR, but you probably will have to repeat the treatment afterwards.

Oli said...

Lovely rig, Mike - super-sano spec all around. Thanks for sharing the details with us.

Exhausted_Auk said...

I run a triple on my rando bike, with a narrow range 12-23 cassette. With 30-39-48 rings it has all the gear range (35-105") I need, and even allows me to run a short arm rear derailleur. The middle ring can be used most of the time, unlike a compact double, where you are always switching between the small-small and large-large combinations to find the right gear.

james said...

Hi Mike,
I'm sure you have set up a few bikes with TRP 8.4/9.0's. How does the Paul's compare? Do they give any additional rim to pad clearance? How do they function with brifters?
I currently run the 8.4's with newer 105 10S levers. I chose these over the 9.0 for the slight additional clearance they provide between rim & pad This set up works really well. I couldn't really see any advantage using discs over this set-up. What do you think?
James B

raoul said...

Hey, nice to see your bike!

I have a question for you : do you know what spindle length you use for this touring crankset and the resulting chainline?
I picked up one of these and would love not to have to buy several BB to try it out :-)

Thanks for the blog btw, I really enjoy it.

blackmountaincycles said...

Anonymous - thanks for the tip on eliminating the rattle.

james - probably no clear benefit using the Paul brakes vs. the TRP. They all work well. I say stick with what you got and enjoy.

raoul - I think the bb is a 118mm, but it was so long ago when I installed it that I can't recall with 100% certainty.

Rob @ Ocean Air Cycles said...

Well done as always. I love the fact that you are running a mix of new, old and really old on your Proto No.1. I have been doing the same with No. 1 on this end, and am just now giving into upgrading some stuff to "modern" so that I do not have to explain "why that part looks old"

raoul said...

Thanks a bunch. 118mm sounds about right according to the info I could find.

I appreciate the answer!
All the best with the shop & bikes.

Ol' Danny Boy said...

Lovely rig. I'm very fond of those old "Flag" triples, too.

Jie Ke said...

I'm in the process of collecting parts for my new Monstercross build and I've got a couple of questions.
Right now I've got a "Taichung's Finest" 110bcd double which uses a GXP bottom bracket. SRAM techs say I should use a 36 ring with the 46t big ring. Will 36 clear the crankarm?
Could you suggest some 110-74 BCD triples which will fit the new run of frames? Would any of the 2-piece road tiples from Truvativ or FSA fit the bill?
Thanks Mike, thanks everybody.

blackmountaincycles said...

Any road triples, as far as I know, will fit no problem - two piece or 3 piece. No problem with Shimano, Truvativ, or FSA.