Modern bicycle equipment woes


Staff member
To depict the "problem," I'll share my drop-bar bicycle story:
(somewhat inspired by the Tiagra-related problem thread)

I found a cheap aluminium frame that fits my needs (as I couldn't find a decent steel one). That frame can't take normal down-tube shifters, Gevenalle were outrageously expensive to source in Serbia, so I went with bar-end friction shifters. Not ideal for technical trails, but works OK.

For cranks, I went with a 50-34 double. The simplicity of having only one shift at the front (either up or down) has its pros. However, for loaded touring, when long climbs come, I had to get a bit lower gearing (not getting any younger :) ).

The frame's water bottle mounts are placed so that I can't use any 46-30 cranks (not without having the FD sit way too high).

Of course, I could have went with the good-old triple cranks. For durability, I love cranks that use steel chainrings (don't mind the few extra grams). However, those are available only for square taper bottom brackets. Those bottom brackets can break without any warning (the square taper BB problem). Hollowtech II BB triple cranks come only with high price (the new Tiagra 4703 or old 105 5703), and aluminium, short-lasting chainrings.

So, I got a cheap 11-36 9-speed cassette, punched out its pins, and took the 36 T largest sprocket. Mounted it on my hub, placed one spacer from an 8-speed cassette, and then slid a cheap 7-speed cassette on top of that. Paired with an MTB Deore RD, it allows me to have "normal" gears, with a good climbing gear for when I get stuck.

As the largest cassette sprocket doesn't get worn that quickly, I can mount the rest of the 9-speed cassette on a friend's bike, and just keep his old largest sprocket (instead of the one I took). :)

For longevity, I also resort to hacking the sprockets so I can mount them flipped (doubling their life). I don't bother with every cassette, but it's worth it for the largest sprocket that I "stole" from the 9-speed cassette. :)

Maybe, after a while, I'll just have to risk it with the square-taper triple cranks, but for now this works OK.

What I'd love to see more widely (and cheaply) available are the drop-bar levers that work with V-brakes, reasonably designed steel frames (with threadless 1 1/8" steerer tubes and 45 cm long chainstays for comfort, climbing, and high-speed stability). Those are getting obsolete for well over a decade now.

Anyway, that's a bit of my thinking out loud - if it's helpful, informative, or at least funny for anyone. :)

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