Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
roubaixtuesday
Posts: 3426
Joined: 18 Aug 2015, 7:05pm

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby roubaixtuesday » 5 Sep 2020, 10:08am

I've always found with triples you end up spending almost all the time either in the big or the little chainring. For most needs, a double suffices and the extra complication of a triple isn't needed, particularly as modern cassettes have such wide ranges.

Where a triple comes into its own is when a bike is used for multiple diverse activities eg day rides to heavy touring. Then the extra gear range is IMO essential.

For me, the only bike I have in this category is the tandem. I definitely will always want a triple on that.

Some figures: the tandem with 24/36/46 11-36 has 18-113 inch range.

Road bike with 34/50 11-32 has 28-120, which is more than adequate for any unladen day ride (and for light touring).

Very few new bikes seem to come with triples these days.

1x set ups seem to me to be the work of the devil.
I can see the attraction in principle, at least for MTBs, but expensive to get the same range as a double and with wider steps between shifts. Can't be much weight difference given the size of the dinner plate cogs at the rear.

thelawnet
Posts: 2612
Joined: 27 Aug 2010, 12:56am

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby thelawnet » 5 Sep 2020, 10:18am

Brucey wrote:
cycle tramp wrote:...it could be fashion, but equally from a novice rider's point of view the triple chainset is a complication and may make the bicycle harder to use....


three rings, one each for uphill, flat and downhill-ish conditions.... is that really so complicated?

The gear ranges always overlap so you don't have to shift at one specific point, you just let your legs tell you what gear you need....

cheers


Hmm
Ime
most people are very bad at maths. And at physics.

Single rings make sense for people who like to consider it all as a mysterious black box, rather than a simple machine.

Also selling bikes has been dominated by the number of gears for decades.

In the past bicycles would boast of having 21 speeds, even if this wasn't particularly meaningful in the sense of a car having 4, 5, 6 gears as not all were useful.

Now that we have 1x systems we don't bother any more with saying '33 gears' the only thing that matters is the number of cogs at the back.

The effective range of the gears is not ever promoted.

For example a given range of MTBs might once have had

40/30/22 x 11-34 3x9 speed
40/30/22 x 11-36 3x10 speed offering not really any advantage but only a bit more expensive.

Then they had a problem that this was old hat and needed to distinguish new from old.

So they came out with

36/22 with 11-36 first 10 then 9 speed

This was worse than the old since you lost a bit of top end without gaining any bottom, and because the 22t chainring was probably not used much - the 40t and 30t chainrings would provide for 99% of riding time.

But the gap between 36t and 22t is much bigger so you'd have to make double shifts and use the small ring more often.

At the same time they also came out with a

32t x 11-42t 10 speed.

This was rubbish because you'd lost a large amount of top speed AND bottom end.

But that's what they had to sell so people bought it and it won awards from dutiful magazines.

Eventually Shimano decided that there wasn't really a difference between 10 and 11 speed and now they have

36/22t x 11-42t 10/11 speed
32t x 11-51t 11 speed
32t x 10-51t 12 speed

So they've improved compared to the first rubbish iteration which was dutifully promoted as better than the old hat 3x10.

The high price of cassettes in all cases might be considered a feature rather than a bug....

Shimano have actually got a

36/26 10-45t 2 x 12 option

Which equals the 40/30/32 11-36t setup in top and bottom end.

But I'm not sure if anyone is speccing it.

These sales don't seem to be about relative merit, but shininess. The new direct mount 1x12 bikes look very shiny and new with a 'clean' front end. A 2x12 doesn't so much.

Of course if Shimano had been planning to sell many 10-45t cassettes they'd likely have done something other than duplicate the first eight sprockets from the 10-51t to save cost, resulting in the same huge 10t to 12t jump.

Presumably a wider selection of cassettes will follow when they release the road 12 speed.

slowster
Posts: 1722
Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby slowster » 5 Sep 2020, 11:24am

One of the key reasons for the switch from 3x to 2x and 1x drivechains on MTBs has been the change from 26" to 27.5" and 29" wheels combined with much wider tyres, e.g. 2.6" or more. That has reduced the clearances between chainstays and chainrings. The inner ring of an MTB triple chainset would probably foul on the chainstay of a lot of modern MTB frames.

Cyckelgalen
Posts: 99
Joined: 21 Sep 2018, 11:29am

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby Cyckelgalen » 5 Sep 2020, 11:33am

I think X1 systems make sense for mountain biking, for cycling off road in highly variable terrain and gradients where quick reaction and rapid shifting is crucial. For non-competitive road cycling I cannot see any benefits apart from the simplicity of the set up.

I run 3x9 and 3x10 systems in two touring bikes and would never give up the huge range (and straight chain line) they provide for the sake of simplicity. I even prefer the 3x9 with its bar end shifters and friction chainring shifting. I never had to adjust the front mech since I got the bike, years ago. Indexed shifting at the front creates more problems than it solves and that is one of the reasons many people are happy to get rid of the front mech.

If 3x setups disappear it won't be because they are inferior or obsolete for all applications, but rather because the touring market is neglected by manufacturers and we are left in a no man's land trying to mismatch road and MTB hardware that is not designed or well suited our needs. In my view, nothing, except a Rohloff possibly, beats a triple setup for loaded touring.

Triple systems are still offered but only in lower ranges, Alivio, Sora...I just wonder if that necessarily implies a drop in quality or if it is a simple model name rearrangement and today's Alivio and Sora are just as good as the previous generation Deore and Tiagra.

rogerzilla
Posts: 1540
Joined: 9 Jun 2008, 8:06pm

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby rogerzilla » 5 Sep 2020, 11:52am

My Moulton TSR was happy as a 1 x 9 with a (10 speed) 105 rear mech, but kept dropping the chain with a 9 speed Dura-Ace rear mech. Spring tension and cage length seem to be very important. Anyway, you may not need a clutched rear mech or NW chainring for a 1x setup - it's quite finely-balanced as to whether chain drop is a problem or not.

roubaixtuesday
Posts: 3426
Joined: 18 Aug 2015, 7:05pm

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby roubaixtuesday » 5 Sep 2020, 11:56am

Cyckelgalen wrote:Triple systems are still offered but only in lower ranges, Alivio, Sora...I just wonder if that necessarily implies a drop in quality or if it is a simple model name rearrangement and today's Alivio and Sora are just as good as the previous generation Deore and Tiagra.


Current Sora is excellent, more than good enough for touring. Anything more expensive is purely nice to have, not any significant functional improvement IMO.

DevonDamo
Posts: 442
Joined: 24 May 2011, 1:42am

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby DevonDamo » 5 Sep 2020, 12:17pm

Apologies for posting a video from a YouTuber who is a bit of a marmite character, but I just noticed a section of this video (between 6.15 and 7.00) perfectly illustrates what I was saying earlier about one of the reasons 1x chain sets became popular in mountain biking, i.e. clearance problems with 3x set-ups:


cycle tramp
Posts: 955
Joined: 5 Aug 2009, 7:22pm

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby cycle tramp » 5 Sep 2020, 12:56pm

Brucey wrote:
cycle tramp wrote:...it could be fashion, but equally from a novice rider's point of view the triple chainset is a complication and may make the bicycle harder to use....


three rings, one each for uphill, flat and downhill-ish conditions.... is that really so complicated?

cheers


Which sounds like a fine sales slogan for the 3 speed hub, and how I remember my Dad telling me how to use my first triple

..However, Brucey you are many things that people should be but sadly aren't. You're a cycle enthusiast, you are mechanically sympathetic as well as as being mechanically competent and mechanically curious and you are also a sportsman.

Many people who ride bicycles aren't you. Even if they were told how to use the triple chainset, how many actually need all 3 different rings cycling to the shops or work and back?*.. and even if they did need the range how many of these people are content to freewheel down the hills or get off the bike and push it up the hill**
With this in mind, all the front deraileur is doing is getting covered in road water, rain and crud from the front wheel - possibly to the point when the rider who suddenly remembers this additional gear box and attempts to use it, finds that after months of neglect the front deraileur has lost its index ability, and over shoots, dropping the chain between chainring and crank arm/frame. There by causing such bother to the rider that they vow never to use the front changer again.

* I live in somerset - its flat, I have to cycle fifteen miles to find a hill that I can't climb on my 5 speed
** Its now my preferred method of touring, walk up any step hill, freewheel down all the slopes. It sounds very slow, but walking up the hill makes me less sweaty and keeps my heart rate down, and my bone density up and I can still cover some 50 to 60 miles in a day using this method

thelawnet
Posts: 2612
Joined: 27 Aug 2010, 12:56am

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby thelawnet » 5 Sep 2020, 1:20pm

slowster wrote:One of the key reasons for the switch from 3x to 2x and 1x drivechains on MTBs has been the change from 26" to 27.5" and 29" wheels combined with much wider tyres, e.g. 2.6" or more. That has reduced the clearances between chainstays and chainrings. The inner ring of an MTB triple chainset would probably foul on the chainstay of a lot of modern MTB frames.



Latest 29" hard tail MTBs are on 2.25" tyres this season

Wide tyres have dropped away.

My 3x10 MTBs 29" and 27.5" came with 2.15" tyres.

I think trail bikes with full sus have slightly wider tyres and there the 1x makes more sense with a dropper remote on the LHS

But most bikes are hardtails so.....

mumbojumbo
Posts: 663
Joined: 1 Aug 2018, 8:18pm

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby mumbojumbo » 5 Sep 2020, 7:39pm

There is nothing wrong with triples.Seems manufacturers are permamenently introducing needless innovations to make cyclists feel their bikes are inadequate.The dinner plate rear cassettes look hideous,and require chains long enough to go round PMs waist.I expected mountain bike riders to be suckered but feel the tourist is a bit shrewder.

gregoryoftours
Posts: 1343
Joined: 22 May 2011, 7:14pm

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby gregoryoftours » 5 Sep 2020, 11:58pm

rogerzilla wrote:Are the big sprockets steel? They are getting so huge at the back now (42T!) that aluminium would be quite strong and durable enough.

42? 52 more like! Bleaugh.
IMG_20200827_100346.jpg

thelawnet
Posts: 2612
Joined: 27 Aug 2010, 12:56am

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby thelawnet » 6 Sep 2020, 6:48am

gregoryoftours wrote:
rogerzilla wrote:Are the big sprockets steel? They are getting so huge at the back now (42T!) that aluminium would be quite strong and durable enough.

42? 52 more like! Bleaugh.IMG_20200827_100346.jpg


It's ok though because you can spend £5,000 on a pair of ultra-light wheels to make up for it.

Yay!

De Sisti
Posts: 1021
Joined: 17 Jun 2007, 6:03pm

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby De Sisti » 6 Sep 2020, 7:32am

roubaixtuesday wrote:I've always found with triples I end up spending almost all the time either in the big or the little chainring. For my needs, a double suffices and the extra versitility of a triple isn't needed,

FTFY :)

Greystoke
Posts: 351
Joined: 8 May 2018, 7:41am
Location: Lincolnshire

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby Greystoke » 6 Sep 2020, 8:16am

We've had this same discussion many times and each to their own but the photo shown above looks like the chainwheels formally on the front are now on the back and vice-verca.
Weight wise I'd be surprised if that huge array of sprockets weighed less than a nice tripple chainset.....anyone weighed one?

Brucey
Posts: 41460
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Gears: are 3x setups extinct?

Postby Brucey » 6 Sep 2020, 9:19am

a triple is often about 100g heavier than a double.

Manufacturers have worked hard to make 'big cassettes' light, but these are expensive. The less expensive 'big' cassettes are indeed pretty heavy.

All derailleur gearing systems have uneven intervals and with multiple chainrings there is overlap between the ranges but also a requirement for double-shifts; it is never a 'like for like' comparison.

If it is a question of comparing systems with a similar range then you perhaps ought to compare a 3x9 (say) with a 2x11. So the weight of one extra chainring vs the weight of two extra sprockets...? Depending on the usage one will work better than the other and will last longer too.

If you wear cassettes out, buying lightweight cassettes is an additional cost you pay over and over again over the life of the bike. In some cases it works out that you have a choice between a £200 cassette of reasonable weight and a £60 boat anchor.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~