Have derailleurs had their day?

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  • Have derailleurs had their day?
  • Premier Icon kimbers
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    Interesting to see what happens with this

    Pinkbike Article says another big manufacturer (SRAM?) have one on the way too.

    I’m assuming that as the shimano patent is quite advanced bike manufacturers must be involved (eg trek always like a new standard)

    Once bikes are redesigned around gearbox-especialy suspension- deraliers will disappear pretty quickly from top end bikes (Assuming that the gearbox is actually better & pro racers switch over)

    Premier Icon chakaping
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    Even if the derailleur could be improved on (by no means certain) in terms of shifting performance and drivetrain efficiency, there’s still big question marks over weight & price.

    So is the real question: “Is it worth improving on the derailleur?”

    I pay around £300 or less for my MTB transmission set-up, then have to spend on average…

    £80 every 18 months to two years on a new 11sp GX cassette (they are tough!)
    £20 every six months on a chain
    £25 each year on a chainring
    £45 every three years on a new mech

    So around £165 per year to keep it all running nicely, and despite not-infrequent crashing it tends to just keep working fine.

    If it ain’t broke.

    tjagain
    Member

    So every year or two more than the cost of an alfline extra ? 7 or so years to pay the extra initial cost of a rohloff. ( chains, chainrings and sprockets last longer and are cheaper)

    Premier Icon chakaping
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    Not sure an Alfine is suitable for enduro MTB kind-of riding though?

    Fancy gearboxes like Pinion seem the only real-life alternative to shifter & mech on high-end MTBs?

    trail_rat
    Member

    Its a fair price to pay for a bike that doesn’t become a dog turd to ride.

    Premier Icon argee
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    At a time when we’re pushing the designs of ebikes, is gearboxing really required, with the push towards ebikes and motors wouldn’t it be simpler utilising this type of approach with some type of clutching in the motor?

    Gearboxes to me just adds weight to one area, and bring a whole new maintenance headache, over the years things like rohloffs, gearboxes, etc have failed because there just isn’t much real estate on bikes to put additional weight without causing issues to the ride characteristics, we didn’t even really push moving to band driven drivetrains, so still using the tech we had 100 years ago as the drivetrain on push bikes!

    get going again on the trailside; something you can’t do with a hub-gear

    How do you get going again at the trailside? Pinion and Rohloff, IME just don’t break in same way. They don’t NEED to be trailside repairable, and they’re still likely rideable. I’ve seen enough mechs, hangers and chains completely mangled at the trailside – pretty sure the Basque MTB guides have a spare mech with them when they’re in the backcountry for this reason.

    I don’t think Alfine are up to trail use personally (others may differ) but they’ve certainly got enough range for steep hills. Even the wide range 3 speed fitted to the 6 speed Brompton has enough range for steep hills (Katie rides hers over Crystal Palace towing a trailer). Hubs definitely aren’t flat terrain only on city bikes.

    -Pivots get sloppy and never work perfectly even if you don’t smack them on something.
    That’s not derailleurs, that’s you 🙂 I can run them just fine slop-free. And tbh even when they get sloppy

    I had them and I don’t think they’re the best answer at the moment – I’m happy replacing my XT mech every 18 months or so at c£50 – but there are definitely times I wish I was riding my Pinion.

    It’s obvious that the demands people place on their kit changes and not everyones riding is the same. Yes, there was someone on here who repeatedly rode their Rohloff through rivers and had issues. The same guy had to replace the bearings in his Hope hubs every few months (!) – thats not typical UK riding by any means. I ride all year but hub bearings aren’t a consumable for me.

    I’m not doubting the claims but it seems inconceivable to me that you could ride for any length of time and not bend or break a mech. Obviously you can but rocky trails I ride in Cumbria, Monmouth, Dartmoor and out in Spain* regularly see mechs scraped or bent and I’ve seen them ripped off by sticks in the Surrey Hills.

    (at some point this year I saw a Shimano mech where the main linkage plate was in bits)

    Premier Icon ajantom
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    Not sure an Alfine is suitable for enduro MTB kind-of riding though?

    Tough as old boots is Alfine 8.

    Now I may have been lucky, but mine’s been over Dartmoor, Exmoor, Quantocks, BPW, Afan, etc. General summer and winter XC around Devon, and lots of winch and plummet type riding.

    Plenty of PRs and Koms on Strava on that bike, so it’s not holding me back.

    I was just thinking last weekend that I need to do my yearly Auto fluid dip, and that’s all the maintenance it needs.
    2 year old sprocket and chain still going strong. I’ll probably replace them in the spring.

    OTOH, 2×10 Deore setup on my gravelish bike is great, and is now on its 3rd year (and about 3000km). That’s great too 😉

    Still prefer single speed though if it really comes down to it. Which I suppose is why I like the Alfine so much. All the benefits of SS, but with sone gears too.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
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    TBH if you want a gearbox that shimano patent is encouraging in the same vein as the Honda and petespeed concepts (both well over 15 years in the past now) it’s a practical solution that could be made at an affordable price basically using existing technologies.

    The simple point being Derailleurs/cassettes work and do so with the best possible mechanical efficiency, a Derailleur in a box will of course have the extra advantage of being sealed away from the elements (possibly with its own oil bath?) to keep it running even sweeter for longer. The patent suggests the system will be electronically controlled modular and of course it will require a specific frame mounting so all new standards and parts (no backwards compatability) to help drive customers into a new bike purchase…

    As already pointed out the two big S’s won’t lift a finger unless it helps their major OEM customers either maintain or create new market demand. E-Bikes have certainly done that in recent years, once 1x is “bottomed out” as a technology I’d expect to see gear box bikes pushed hard (maybe starting in 3-5 years or so?) the question is will there be a common mounting standard or will customers be push into making a shimano vs SRAM decision again…

    I still think derailleurs are plenty good enough as a solution for 95% of MTB applications so expect the marketing to be laid on extra thick in MBR… 😉

    Premier Icon epicyclo
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    ajantom

    …Still prefer single speed though if it really comes down to it. Which I suppose is why I like the Alfine so much. All the benefits of SS, but with some gears too.

    Pretty much my position.

    I amazed at how few here have had derailleur problems. The trailside evidence on any trail frequented by mtbs suggests that someone is, and on any lap of the StrathPuffer there’s usually someone with a dead derailleur cunningly mingling with the spokes.*

    I don’t see racers changing anytime soon. Current derailleurs are light and efficient, and the riders are skilful. Perhaps DH may be the first because just about every event there’s some unfortunate whose run ends in a chainless descent.

    *Less so since clutches came in.

    tjagain
    Member

    I took my alfine equipped bike to solo the strathpuffer. Now i ain’t no racer but I made a decent job of it and one of the things it gave me was a bombproof bike even tho I undergeared it to a ridiculous amount. It was the year of the deep snow and I had zero mechanical issues of any sort.

    Hub gears done properly simply are tough.

    Again I think a part of this is how you see your bike. to me its like a landrover – a tool to take me to out of the way places with minimal hassle. To others its like a lancia stratos – a machine to go as fast as possible offroad.

    trail_rat
    Member

    Aye there’s more chance of racers adopting singlespeed than the current crop of hub options.

    Premier Icon nickc
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    but it seems inconceivable to me that you could ride for any length of time and not bend or break a mech

    In 30 odd years of riding off road, in all conditions and in locations all over the world, I’ve never bent or broken a mech. The worst I’ve ever managed is a few scraps on the body. I’ve replaced more jockey wheels than mechs, and I would say my experience is in no way unique amongst the folk I’ve ridden with either. IME they aren’t fragile in a way that makes me want to look for an alternative.

    Premier Icon simondbarnes
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    In 30 odd years of riding off road, in all conditions and in locations all over the world, I’ve never bent or broken a mech. The worst I’ve ever managed is a few scraps on the body. I’ve replaced more jockey wheels than mechs, and I would say my experience is in no way unique amongst the folk I’ve ridden with either. IME they aren’t fragile in a way that makes me want to look for an alternative.

    That pretty much sums up my experience too. I did bend a mech hanger once on a road bike that got blown over in the wind.

    trail_rat
    Member

    it seems inconceivable to me that you could ride for any length of time and not bend or break a mech

    Says more about your riding style and finesse than of the mech tbh.

    Which is why you are willing to live with the losses in a epicyclic gearbox.

    Like wise tj. All the losses are lost (march) in the noise of the tandem.

    Om a striped back race bike it’s there –its 100% noticeable and it’s piss annoying. More so than 1 rear mech every 10 years that my current tally of busted mechs lies at.

    Swirly
    Member

    I’ll watch with interest whether gearboxes become common place.

    I found this which looks like a good solution though not sure it’s rated for offroading.

    https://road.cc/content/review/227796-efneo-gtro-3-speed-front-gearbox

    I had a Nexus before Alfine came out and it was good but didn’t like the extra weight in the back wheel. I the weight is centralised in the BB area I think this would be ideal if they can improve efficiency.

    whitestone
    Member

    I’ve bent a hanger precisely once and have yet to break a derailleur, that’s with around 6000km of off-road riding a year. A stick or stone being thrown up and messing things up is just one of those things and is simply chance.

    I’ve known (i.e. not “heard of”) two Alfine hubs break, one was mine, so they aren’t invincible.

    The “new” Shimano gearbox looks like it’s meant to be compatible with the motor mounting on e-bikes but Alfines aren’t huge and a simple threaded shell of the appropriate diameter could be used for something with similar workings. A bit like an extra large EBB.

    scotroutes
    Member

    I’ve been out riding with someone who broke an Alfine. Luckily it was on a Pugsley so it was possible to swap the wheels around and single-speed it.

    I’ve only been riding once and had to bypass a broken rear mech – and it wasn’t mine.

    Premier Icon chakaping
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    In just over 30 years of MTBing I have killed one rear mech mid-ride and had to replace one mech hanger mid ride (after it did it’s job at the very start of a near-2,000m descent in the Alps).

    Also, I have three MTBs on 11sp and the same hub standards, and it’s really handy to switch wheels between them as required.

    Premier Icon maxtorque
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    nedrapier wrote:

    Obvious solution to the vulnerability of position is for everyone to learn to pedal backwards. Derailleur position is now above the dropout

    That’s actually not such a stupid idea! Hows about a first stage eicyclic gear that sits in the crank through tube, as the BB is big these days for stiffness that ought to be possible, driving the crank ring backwards with respect to the crank itself?

    That would allow the high mount derailleur, and help it stay clear/clean as the chain line would be going backwards up high

    Premier Icon Jordan
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    maxtorque

    Subscriber
    nedrapier wrote:

    Obvious solution to the vulnerability of position is for everyone to learn to pedal backwards. Derailleur position is now above the dropout

    That’s actually not such a stupid idea! Hows about a first stage eicyclic gear that sits in the crank through tube, as the BB is big these days for stiffness that ought to be possible, driving the crank ring backwards with respect to the crank itself?

    That would allow the high mount derailleur, and help it stay clear/clean as the chain line would be going backwards up high

    I would think that one through a bit more 🙂

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    Again I think a part of this is how you see your bike. to me its like a landrover – a tool to take me to out of the way places with minimal hassle. To others its like a lancia stratos – a machine to go as fast as possible offroad.

    It’s how you see biking. MTBing isn’t really one sport, it’s three or four all using fat tyred bikes. That’s why we argue about it so much 🙂

    tjagain
    Member

    Most MTBing is a pastime not a sport 😉

    Edit – I guess you are the second type moley?

    Premier Icon swanny853
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    Surely to most people it’s a mix of both, depending on the day?

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    I treat it like a sport. I make myself go out and train to get faster and better.

    I also treat it as an outdoor pursuit by getting me out into the hills – but when I do that, I treat it like a sporting/training occasion also. You can do more than one of the categories at a time, but not everyone does 🙂 That’s why in the garage I have a long travel bike, a rigid MTB, an XC racey bike and a road bike. And a commuter. And a track bike…

    Says more about your riding style and finesse than of the mech tbh.

    Which is why you are willing to live with the losses in a epicyclic gearbox.

    Apart from a Pinion not being epicyclic, I don’t – both my mountain bikes currently run 1×11 though I’d have another Pinion (they’re now a bit smaller and lighter and I think they’ve reduced the Q factor)

    Style and lack of finesse may be true but tough to avoid smacking mechs riding through rock trails with gaps barely wider (and sometimes narrower) than the back end of the bike.

    A riding buddy had his mech wrap into the spokes yesterday and I’ve seen a few other mechs and hangers this year on people I’ve been riding with (though my own has got away with a few scrapes and a manual realignment…).

    This piece puts the efficiency losses into perspective –
    Less impact than running a dynohub. Less impact than running higher rolling resistance tyres. About the same as carrying 5kg extra weight over 100km. What I did think was interesting is that the noisiest Rohloff gear isn’t the least efficient.

    What’s The Difference In Speed Between Gearbox Systems? Rohloff, Pinion, Shimano

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    Style and lack of finesse may be true but tough to avoid smacking mechs riding through rock trails with gaps barely wider (and sometimes narrower) than the back end of the bike.

    Go over the rocks then 🙂 I tend to see gaps and think ‘if I put my wheel in there it’ll hit my mech/disc’ so I avoid them.

    Less impact than running higher rolling resistance tyres.

    That’s also draggy and annoying on an XC ride.

    What I did think was interesting is that the noisiest Rohloff gear isn’t the least efficient.

    You are right there though that is interesting. *reads article*

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    Read it, that is quite interesting. A 7% difference between singlespeed and a Pinion gearbox. For perspective, if you are producing 300W on a long climb that would be a 21W loss. Going from 300W to 320W takes a season’s worth of focused training, it’s quite a lot of work. Just to offset the losses of a Pinion gearbox.

    Although that’s comparing SS. It’s also very interesting to see that the derailleur test is pretty close to the Rohloff – closer than in other tests I’ve read IIRC.

    I’ve also read that a dirty chain reduces efficiency, so add to that the theoretical idea that you can fully enclose a chain e.g. with a Heebie Chainglider when using Rohloff, which (if it works) would keep it clean, this might end up without much to choose.

    Premier Icon nickc
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    So basically in order to support your argument, you’re using an article that essentially says: “No, wait, they are noisy, and less efficient…but not nearly as bad as you think..”

    well, that’s me convinced 😉

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    It’s horses for courses, as usual. If you keep smacking mechs, hub gears might be worth a look. If you love a nice efficient bike, they may not be.

    Plenty of space for both in the world. The question is wether or not this new Shimano job can give the best of both worlds – it might.

    Although that’s comparing SS. It’s also very interesting to see that the derailleur test is pretty close to the Rohloff – closer than in other tests I’ve read IIRC.
    I’ve also read that a dirty chain reduces efficiency

    I noticed that as well. Comparisons between Rohloff used to be with 3×9 (which this still appears to be). Chainline is arguably far worse with 1x in many gears which is interesting given “a derailleur gear with a bad chain line …. may actually be quite a bit less efficient than the Rohloff”

    Also “A slightly worn chain tensioner was fitted to the above testing rig and it was determined it lost 2-3 watts using a gear with a straight chain line”

    It was filthy out yesterday and my SRAM 1×11 was anything but quiet and smooth.

    Premier Icon Rubber_Buccaneer
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    I’d have another Pinion (they’re now a bit smaller and lighter and I think they’ve reduced the Q factor)

    Don’t want to derail this lovely thread but I have one of the newer C.12 gearboxes.  It is lighter with reduced Q factor but mine has chunks missing from the surface of the magnesium casing.  I can only guess stones from the rear wheel have done this but I don’t really know.  My P.12 hasn’t had this problem

    Premier Icon nickc
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    It was filthy out yesterday and my SRAM 1×11 was anything but quiet and smooth.

    whereas my SRAM 1×12 was perfectly quiet and perfectly smooth (it’s only got a 1000 miles on it though, so it should be really)

    I can buy the argument that if you keep breaking mechs you’d look for an alternate drivetrain solution, or if you premium utility over everything else. I’d even look at them if you’re doing huge annual mileages. Whichever way you frame it though, they (hubs and gearboxes) are all heavier, less efficient, generally noisier, and I  think for most folk, 1. they don’t regularly break mechs, and 2, mechs are “good enough” for 99% of applications, 3. aren’t doing the long long distances that make the return on investment bearable.

    With the additional benefits that derailleurs are; easy to look after, (mostly) quiet, cheap, efficient to a point they don’t need an article to demonstrate it, and lighter.

    I think after 4 pages, with respect to the OP’s question, the answer is probably; for most folk, still no.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
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    I think after 4 pages, with respect to the OP’s question, the answer is probably; for most folk, still no.

    This basically…

    Premier Icon oikeith
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    Just had to spend another £90 on another GX 11 speed mech which has bent, in 3 years I have bent and mangled 6 of these and bent 3 mech hangers from riding off road, cant wait for something different.

    Crashes, rocks and sticks to go with a rider that enjoys riding more and more technical/chunky terrain and has the occasional crash when he hits a double but forget it hips left and goes straight…

    Premier Icon chakaping
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    Just had to spend another £90 on another GX 11 speed mech which has bent, in 3 years I have bent and mangled 6 of these

    Swap to SLX or XT 11sp shifter and mech next time, that’s all you need to change and I’ve found it’s much more tolerant of the odd knock or slight misalignment than Sram GX was.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
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    For those who’ve never broken a rear mech……

    Maybe you haven’t, but I’d be careful about trying to extrapolate that experience to others.

    Shortly after things went 10s I trashed 3 SRAM mechs in a summer’s riding as I liked the shifters and they no longer did the shimano compatible ones, I didn’t even ride that much that year, they were just really fragile CNC’d things that bent as soon as you passed a tree stump. Can’t recall breaking a shimano mech, but I’m sure a few have died on my bikes in 20 years, just at a more acceptable/forgettable rate than SRAM did! I’ve just fitted the zee that replaced the last SRAM mech onto a new bike it’s still going!

    So yea, if you’ve never trashed a rear mech, get one of the older SRAM ones and go ride Stainburn, it was almost a guarantee! For comparison

    It also misses the point. A singlespeed chain is cheap and lasts a good few years, at least double the time of a geared chain, and even then it can be used 2-3x longer again just impossible to swap sprockets or it’ll slip. That shimano gearbox, running in a sealed box with an oil bath is probably going to be designed to last years. Given Shimano’s reputation for not releasing anything that wasn’t upto their standards (even to their detriment when it meant SRAM was releasing stuff that had more appeal on the shop floor). I’d be surprised if they didn’t make it last the lifetime of the frame (well, say 4 years of average use before the sort of person who buy expensive frames moves onto the next best thing I’m sure someone will fit it to a hard tail in the Peak district and kill it within a winter).

    thisisnotaspoon

    Shortly after things went 10s I trashed 3 SRAM mechs

    Yeah – the early 10s SRAM mechs were woeful, I went through a few also, they were just crap. And there was a batch of Zees that were crap too, i broke one of those too

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
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    Yeah – the early 10s SRAM mechs were woeful, I went through a few also, they were just crap. And there was a batch of Zees that were crap too, i broke one of those too

    Thing is SRAM are always simultaneously much better than the previous version, and at the same time utter junk.

    It’s like their engineers spend 4 years of absolute dedication making a great bit of kit, but do it from scratch and forget every lesson they learnt last time. Either they bend as soon as you look at them, the pivots go sloppy, the jockey wheel seizes, or something else is wrong.

    Shimano just quietly keep coming out with slightly refined versions of the last groupset. there are the occasional howlers, which are usually solved with a ….01 version of the component. But how many years have people moaned about SRAM jockey wheels for? I don’t care that they’re now narrow/wide, just fix the effin’ bearing. I don’t care that you can machine the entire cassette from a billet of steel, how about steel pins in the pivots so they last more than a few months?

    Premier Icon oikeith
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    Swap to SLX or XT 11sp shifter and mech next time, that’s all you need to change and I’ve found it’s much more tolerant of the odd knock or slight misalignment than Sram GX was.

    I was going to pull the trigger on switching to Shimano, the mech and shifter were the same price as the GX mech, I didnt because the adopters so that i can mount the Shimano shifter to the SRAM MMX weren’t available, next time though, it is happening!

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