This drivetrain is bound for glory

The Rivendell Sam Hillborne with its 45/35/24T triple, 11-32 cassette, and long-reach, dual-pivot brakes.

The Church of the Rotating Mass comprises a multitude of sects and specs. There are many components in my Product Manager’s shop. Each of us hews to our favored commandments and catechisms.

And of course we persecute the heretics, which is always fun.

I’m an ecumenical sort myself. When I first set my cleatless foot upon the Path back in the Eighties, I rode a steel bike with two chainrings and six cogs. Rim brakes, because of course rim brakes. Did I mention it was the Eighties?

But I’ve broadened my outlook since then. Today in the garage you will find bikes with single, double and triple cranks, cassettes of seven to 10 cogs, one Rohloff/Gates belt setup, tubed tires from 28mm all the way up to 2.4 inches, and a variety of brakes, from dual-pivot road stoppers (long reach and short) to cantilevers, V-brakes and mechanically actuated discs. There’s even a carbon fork in there, because every religion needs a devil.

Which bike is best? The one I have with me, just like with cameras.

That being said, I have it on good authority that God rides a steel frameset with rack and fender eyelets, a nine-speed drivetrain, bar-end or thumbshifters, rim brakes, 32-spoke wheels, 38mm clinchers, and a Selle Italia saddle of some sort.

However, it’s not clear from the ancient texts whether He favors a 1x, compact double, or triple crank. What’s the Aramaic for “granny gear?”


27 Responses to “This drivetrain is bound for glory”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    I guess I better light some incense and put the Holy Chain Lube on the Holy Chain. What’s the right chant for that?

  2. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Selle Italia? Really? I tried a few of those on my way to ending up with SMP. A decade later I’m still (along with my ancient undercarriage) very happy. Same for triple cranksets (30-42-52) with 9 or 10 cogs in the back (as long as there’s one that is at least a 28!) and rim brakes squeezing aluminum rims. I’ve ridden a few of the newest-latest, but they do nothing for me whether they’re carbon, disc, compact, aero or any of the other categories invented by the bike biz to convince you what whatever you’re riding now is painfully obsolete and must be replaced…NOW!

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    First Commandment in the “Church of the Rotating Mass.”

    Steel is real.

    Second anyone?

    Starting from scratch, I would spec a 2×11 SLX and TRP Spyre to start with.

    • Herb from Michigan Says:

      The Second Commandment is Thou Shall Not Covet Bicycle Bling That Will Also Breaketh Thou Bank Account. Although debated hotly by Church scholars, I interpret this to mean things like STI brake/shift levers that cost more than some bikes. Also $80 bike tires.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Boy howdy. You checked the MSRP on Dura-Ace STI levers lately? Hijo, madre. I like friction bar-cons better ever’ day.

  4. khal spencer Says:

    I liked the gear ratios on that Co-Motion Deschutes that O’G road tested a short while ago. A 2×11 with proper chainrings covers a ton of gear ratios. One of these days I have to get down to Albuquerque to Two Wheel Drive and test one. We’ve been positively giddy with the Co-Mo Primera frameset on our tandem.

    Back when I started riding, a half step plus granny in front (48-44-24 for example) and a 5x in back, typically 13-28 or 13-34 or something, was normal for a touring rig. With the advent of more and more cogs in back, the triples are nice but so many ratio duplications on 3×9 or 3×10. I wouldn’t go out and buy a new bike just to get 11 cogs out back. I just got off my 14 year old Six-Thirteen and its still a better bike than I am a rider.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      I had a triple 9 speed drivetrain (SRAM X9) on my Niner. 22x32x42 front and 11×32. I upgraded it to an 11 speed SLX with a 24/34 front and 11×42 rear. I will never go back to a triple. Simpler, easy shifting front and rear, and all the ratios I need on a mountain bike. Granny gear spins out, for me, around 4 mph, and top gear around 21 mph. That covers all my dirt riding bases. I also upgraded the brakes to TRP Spykes. So, for $700 I got essentially a new bike.

      • khal spencer Says:

        So the SLX 11 speed will fit on a standard 135 mm rear dropout?

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        MTB gearing is a whole ‘nother thang. I don’t have the leg speed to go very fast with a 34 – 11 top gear on the road, not to mention on the bike I’m riding now that would be horribly cross-chained!

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I’m more of a grinder than a spinner myself. But I do like to have a 20-inch low in reserve for those moments when I seem to be wearing Olive Oyl’s pins instead of Popeye’s.

        It’s like owning a firearm. You hope you’ll never need it, but it’s oddly comforting to have one within reach.

        That said, I’ve used my old Steelman Eurocross to good effect on road and off. Very versatile, despite its lack of eyelets for fenders and racks. Reynolds 853 with a Race Face crank (48/36), Ultegra derailleurs and bar-cons, eight-speed 11-28 cassette, and Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis. Goes about 22 pounds.

        Slap some 32mm road rubber on it and it’s a decent steed for a not-too-hilly ride. On singletrack it could really use a 46/34, and since the chain is due for replacement I may go that route, if I don’t wuss out entirely and do some subcompact dealie-whompus.

  5. SteveP Says:

    I must only be riding an archangel’s rig. Pretty close – except tubeless 650B on disc rims and the bar-ends are *not* located where god intended 🙂 Soma DCD

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      Mornin’ Steve. I also have a Soma DCD. It’s a 10 speed 105 drivetrain with a compact crank, 105 brifters, and TRP Spyre brakes. Ever since I saw Patrick’s IRD compact crank, I have thought about getting one. If my motor keeps losing power, I might need it soon.

      • canamsteve Says:

        Mine’s a 9 spd X3 (typical MTB triple) with bar ends on Paul’s Thumbies. Brakes are BB7s. It started out as a 29er but I decided it needed wider rubber.

        I have Spyres on a newre, “cooler” Rohloff belt-drive S&S coupled Ti bike and I do prefer the feel. I also have Paul Klampers on yet another bike. Spyre’s the best of that lot but full hydraulic is even better – but a bit cumbersome on the coupled bike.

        Someone has been promising inline QR’s for brake hoses for years but I’ve never seen one you could purchase?Oddly, they exist for motorcycles

        As to saddles, I have to like SMPs (my initials) and I have a few which ride fine. Selle Italia is a bit round for my nether regions and I find the resulting numbness off-putting for some reason. It’s a personal choice. Best out of the box for me are the Brooks Cambiums. Not that long-lived, but I like they extra friction that plants you in the saddle. New leather saddles are too slippery with Lycra until broken in, IMO

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’m still coveting a Soma Pescadero. But I need to listen to that still, small voice in my head that whispers, “Are you fuckin’ nuts? You need to divest, not acquire, dipshit.”

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Trade in some of those bikes for guitars. I am expecting delivery of one of these today. First guitar I ever bought on line, and I am little nervous about it. I only did it because there is not a single Godin dealer south of Phoenix. Rainbow Guitars used to be, but they dropped Godin because they ran out of showroom space.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Now that’s purty. Shimano or Campagnolo tuners?

        Those Canadians know their guitars. I play my Art & Lutherie more than the Seagull, but they’re both plenty of git-box for the thumbfingered likes of me. The cats run for cover when they see me pull one out of a case.

        “At least he’s not playing the flute as much,” sez Turk.

        “Word,” sez Mia. “But if he ever gets a violin, you and me are outa here.”

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Reminds me a bit of the old LeMond Poprad I sold before we escaped the USA. Campagnolo canti-brakes (Actually Tektro’s in a Campy box) worked just fine with the rest of the Campy triple 9 speed drivetrain. Worked just fine on road or dirt road, even on a trail now and then + had room for fenders for it’s main use as winter/wet road ride.
        Kinda hated to sell it but we already had enough stuff to fly over here so it + the wife’s fixie + the MTB’s got the fleabay treatment last fall.

  6. canamsteve Says:

    I met this guy but he moved even further out of the limelight a while ago

  7. Steve O Says:

    I don’t for a second think God rides one of these, but lots of folks riding these saw God during this trip.

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