Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Lowly Triple

Modern refinements and materials technology have raised the bar here.
Down with front derailleurs! Or not.......

It would seem that with what is going on with drive trains for mountain bikes and even cyclo cross bikes, the front derailleur is in danger of being eliminated from consideration as a component. SRAM is pushing the "1X" concept with its wide ranging 11 speed cassette. Others have eliminated the triple and now have wide range double cranks. Bigger low gear cogs are common place now. It used to  be that a 32T rear cog was as big as it got. Now were dealing with 36 and 42 tooth rear cogs!

Well, I have to admit that the 1 X 11 stuff does work great for me and it almost has enough range. You miss some on the low end. But that said, it is not too bad. Actually, the doubles are where I find the switching to one front ring or the other compromises your cadence. It seems that if you dump the front down to the smaller ring you're switching rear cogs in a hurry to get closer to the cadence you were at. By the time all this happens you lose momentum and you end up shifting again to compensate.

Yeah, it doesn't always go that way, but more often than not, it does. I was reminded how that dramatic cadence shift is prevalent with 2X set ups when I rode a bike with a tight ranging triple the other day. I shifted out of the middle ring and it was such a subtle difference, I was not sure I had shifted at all! I was so used to going from a comfortable cadence to a spinning like mad cadence that the subtle difference with the triple was shocking, really.

Then shifting back up out of the "granny" to the middle ring was seamless. Silent and smooth! And this is on a mid-range component group. Finally, I was hitting the pavement back home when I realized I had a "big" ring again! Bingo! Super smooth shift up and I was off on a flyer. I couldn't have done it without a triple crank set. In one in section, all I did was shift the front rings to get my self in comfortable, good cadence range pedaling. Try that with your double crank.

So, should the triple go "bye-bye" or should we "rediscover it"? I think with the refinements in technology, the lowly triple deserves another look.

4 comments:

Eric Fussenegger said...

I'with you , Ted. I just ordered parts to convert my Pugsley to a 7 speed rear, so hopefully I can convert my MR.Whirly to a triple. It seems that 190mm fat bikes should be able to run a triple, but nobody specs one. To me , the move away from 3x drivetrains is just another cost saving that manufacturers are calling a feature, and we are buying it. BRING BACK THE TRIPLE!

Exhausted_Auk said...

My brevet bike uses a tight triple (30/39/48), and I can spend most of my time in the middle ring. I would love to do the same on gravel, but I would need smaller rings, and nobody currently makes an external BB 110/74mm PCD triple with a 172.5mm crank. (Are you listening, Surly?! - Mr. Whirly would fill this need but for the lack of this very common road crank length.)

ritchie said...

I recently passed on a new bike purchase because they did not offer the triple any longer.. I live in NC and ride in the mountain quit a bit... I love my triple.....

Julian Cole said...

I just converted my Cannondale Quick CX4 from it's Shimano triple to an FSA Afterburner double that we had sitting around the shop and immediately noticed that "all... or nothing" sensation. I'm currently building a Moonlander and had planned on a 1x setup....but the lure of the familiar triple is still in the back of my mind.