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Drivetrain

  • Shimano, SRAM or Campy? The Great Groupset Question


    Bikewagon - BWCC

    SRAM Campy Shimano

    Campagnolo, Shimano and SRAM are the primary drivetrain manufacturers in the cycling industry. They also produce other parts, but the drivetrain components are what cause the most questions and what we're here to discuss.

    First things first: All three are fantastic groups and make top-notch products. You aren't getting a lesser product by going with a different brand among the three, generally speaking. They all have pluses and minuses -- most of which are subjective. Many people would be happy using any of the three component groups, but shifter ergonomics are usually the deciding factor for people. The next deciding factor is the feel of the shifting action.

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  • Compact vs. Standard Cranksets


    Bikewagon - BWCC

    Compact or standard? That is the question.

    The difference between these two types of road cranksets comes down to gearing. There are advantages and disadvantages to both along with obvious reasons why you should consider one or the other.

    The basics

    Standard cranks are often called racing cranksets because they offer the fastest common gearing (bigger chainrings are available but must be bought separately). Standard cranks have 53/39 gearing, meaning they have a 39-tooth small ring and a 53-tooth big ring. Ring is short for chainring, which is what the front gears are called that are bolted to the cranks. The bolt circle diameter (BCD) of standard cranksets is 130mm.

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    Compact cranks have a smaller BCD, 110mm, which allows for smaller chainrings. Compacts have a 50/34 gearing, so losing three teeth on the big ring and five teeth on the little ring compared to a standard. Compact cranksets are preferred for climbing races or for people who like to ride fast but not race. There are many people that race compacts, but for most people it's not the preferred crankset for flatter races or any with limited climbing.

    Combined with a wide-range rear cassette, like an 11-28, compact cranksets offer a wider range of gearing and -- as mentioned earlier -- are really designed to maximize one's efficiency to climb or travel at lower speeds. More recently, long-caged rear derailleurs have been more common in use with compact cranksets and 11-32 cassettes, such as SRAM's WiFLi system. This wide range of gearing means a wider range of comfortable speeds and decreases the gearing overlap (when different combinations of front gearing and rear gearing have the same gearing ratio such as a 50/25 and 34/17, both of which are 2:1 gear ratios).

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  • Cranksets 101


    Bikewagon - BWCC

    Today, lets learn about the crankset: one of the more important component systems on your bicycle. Cranksets are made up of one or more gears, called chainrings, and the cranks or crankarms -- the arm-like parts that the pedals attach to.

    Your crankset is attached to the bike frame via the bottom bracket, and connected by the chain to the rear cassette to provide the driving force that moves your bike forward.

    Like most other bicycle components, there is a wide variety of cranksets on the market that cater to different riding styles and different needs. This article will go over some of the basic crankset choices that a rider has to make, whether they are upgrading or purchasing a whole new bike.

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  • Bike Chains 101


    Bikewagon - BWCC

    The chain is one of the most critical components on your bicycle. It is responsible for transferring the power generated by your pedaling feet to the rear wheel, and from there to the ground to give you your forward momentum. Without a chain, you ain’t goin nowhere -- unless it is downhill.

    bike chain

    The earliest bicycles didn't have chains. The pedals connected directly to the wheels, so one turn of the pedals would turn the wheel one revolution. Though simple, this setup required massive drive wheels (we've all seen pictures of the old Penny-farthing style cycles with a huge front wheel) and only had one gear, making hills a problem. Luckily, the development of the chain and the geared bicycle in the 1880’s made riding much safer and more efficient.

    Modern bicycle chains generally are usually constructed of plain steel, although some lightweight -- and expensive -- titanium models can be found. Chains are designed in a loop that wraps around your crankset (which is the forward set of sprockets - also called chainrings) and the rear sprocket or sprockets (often called a cassette or cogset).

    Let’s dive into some of the basic information about chains.

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  • Pedals 101

    Bikewagon - BWCC

    Pedals are a very important part of the bicycle. As a rider, they are your main connection to your bike. The specific design of pedal installed on your bicycle can have a dramatic effect on the riding feel. Unlike in the past, there are now dozens and dozens of pedal designs available for all sorts of different riders.

    Whether you are buying a new bike and want to make sure you get the right pedals, or you are considering an upgrade for your current pedals, this guide will explain the pros and cons of various types of bike pedals, how they work, and the important decisions you have to make in order to get the right version for you.

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  • Bicycle Drivetrains 101


    Bikewagon - BWCC

    Your bicycle's drivetrain is comprised of all of the parts that power the bicycle and make it go. Bike pedals move the cranks, which turn the bottom bracket and the chainrings, which drive the chain that spins the rear sprockets, turning the rear hub, which moves the wheel and propels the bicycle forward. The crisp movement of these parts and the ability to minimize effort while maximizing speed is the heart of cycling. It is essential that your drivetrain be clean, true and well-maintained in order to more fully enjoy riding your bike. When one of these parts gets out of whack, the rest soon follow.

    Bicycle drivetrain

    It is also important to get individual components that are compatible within the system (e.g. typically Campagnolo and Shimano parts are not inter-compatible). Many times the difference between 9- and 10-speed parts is enough to make them incompatible as well. The collective term for a complete bike drivetrain kit is "group" or "gruppo." Multi-speed drivetrains are classified by the number of cogs in the rear cassette. A modern day 10-speed bicycle can have as many as 30 "possible gears," with 10 in the rear and three in the front, but still have a 10-speed drivetrain.

    Pedals

    Clipless pedal for mountain bike

    Your pedals are the power transfer points between you and your bike. As you pump your legs and turn your feet, you cause the cranks to turn. Proper pedal choice is important for comfort, control and safety on the bike. Many recreational and enthusiast cyclists prefer the adaptability that platform pedals offer. They allow you to ride in any type of shoe and give a sense of security to a novice rider who is cautious of locking the feet into clipless pedals. Many platform pedals can be adapted with a toe cage to give more control and power while retaining the sense of security associated with platforms.

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