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Decisions, decisions

Road Bike 26 377

That is NOT where the lower jockey wheel should be

It is almost Thanksgiving, and I am busy this afternoon trying to wrap up a few projects at work so I can spend the rest of the week with my family. I don’t really feel like doing a design related post today, so bear with me while I “think out loud” a bit and ask you all for a bit of feedback.

Thanksgiving this week means that it is also the middle of cyclocross season, and you can see from the attached photos that my cross bike is not exactly running smoothly after a mechanical mishap in a race a couple of weeks ago.  I have another derailleur in place at the moment, and the bike is temporarily rideable again, but the shifting is far from ideal. The old 9-speed Ultegra that has been on that bike for a while has served me well, but the levers are now missing shifts occasionally and it is time for a drivetrain upgrade. I have been considering a few options, so allow me to outline them for you.

Time for a new cassette as well

Option 1- Buy another 9 speed Ultegra rear derailleur on eBay. That is an easy and cheap option and would work fine until the Ultegra brifters finally stop working altogether. I’d rather try something new though, and this option doesn’t provide that.

Option 2- Use the old 9 speed Dura-Ace 7700 group that I already have on a different bike. I was planning to sell an old Cannondale frame that I have with those components, but it would be easy to just switch them over to the cross bike. This was my first thought, but I am not really sure that I want to go that route. It might be better just to sell that bike as planned and try something different on the cross bike.

Option 3- Replace the components on my road bike with SRAM Force or Red and pass down the Ultegra 10 drivetrain to the cross bike. I could also build up the cross bike with new SRAM parts (option 4), but either way I would face the same dilemma…mixing STI and Double Tap on the various bikes that I ride.

Currently, my wife has a SRAM equipped road bike and for quite some time I have been thinking about trying a SRAM grouppo on one of my bikes. I haven’t done it yet though, mainly because I currently have three bikes set up with Dura-Ace and Ultegra components.  I don’t want to “make the leap” with my road bike, commuter bike, and cross bike all at once, so I guess that brings me to my question. How many of you have multiple bikes with different shifting systems? The few times that I have ridden bikes with SRAM double tap levers, it has taken a little while to train my brain not to instinctively shift with the brake lever. I wonder if I would ever get used to having a road bike with SRAM shifters and two other bikes with STI. Would I start missing shifts on the cyclocross bike as I try to double tap a Shimano lever? I don’t know, but I would love to hear from any of you are currently riding both. If you switch back and forth on a regular basis, let me know how it works for you.

…and in case I don’t get a chance to post again this week, I want to wish all of my US readers a happy Thanksgiving. Make sure that you get out and ride after the big meal on Thursday.



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  1. Jon Vick November 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm -  Reply

    I run SRAM and Shimano on different bikes (Rival on my old Madone, Force on my CX bike, 7900 on my new Madone, and 6800 on an occasional loaner), and have no issues making the jump back and forth between them. The only time I occasionally miss a shift is when I ride one bike exclusively for a long time and then jump back, but it comes back around quickly. You should have no issues making the leap one bike at a time. That said, if you’re thinking about fixing up with more 6500, hit me up, I might be able to help you out on the cheap.

    • James Thomas November 22, 2011 at 4:33 pm -  Reply

      Jon, Thanks for the input about your experience riding both. As for the 6500 stuff, I am more likely to just use the 7700 derailleur that I have, but I’ll let you know.

    • dan p November 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm -  Reply

      +1 on Jon’s post. I was riding both (Rival on the ‘cross/commuter and Ultegra on the road bike) for a while and never had any problems…though I did also find that if I went a long time without riding one bike, then got back on, I would miss a couple of shifts as I re-taught myself.

  2. Andy November 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm -  Reply

    I was in a similar situation with 3 bikes, and just moved around all the parts to put the new gear on the best bike, and hand me down to the other bikes, with the lowest parts going on the bike I’ll sell for a few hundred.

    If you are just trying to make this bike hold over for the season, there are cheap options. Most people chuck cassettes when they wear out the 11/12t, so you might have luck finding your cogs for free. I just got a used Ult-9 RD for $25, so that will save a chunk of change too. If you’re not using other bikes at the same time, steal some parts from those bikes and buy new parts when their season comes up later.

    • James Thomas November 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm -  Reply

      Thanks Andy, I actually already replaced the 26 tooth cog with one from an older cassette and it seems to be fine. The derailleur I put on temporarily to test my straightening of the hanger is an 8 speed though, so it doesn’t shift into the biggest cog very well. I probably will end up moving a rear derailleur from another bike to keep this one going through the rest of cross season, but long term I think I am ready for something different.

  3. Andraz November 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm -  Reply

    I would go for the cheapest option (#1). I love write off components that still work since you do not feel bad bashing and smashing them when trying something new or even hazardous. I have an old BMX bike that is scratched, dented, chain is worn, brakes gone… I smash it against every obstacle, sometimes failing and bike gets it… only when confident I try to neatly repeat it on my shiny MTB.

  4. Andraz November 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm -  Reply

    Oh, about different gear styles… the change betwen Shimano upside down and regular is the hardest to get used to, I need few months to change between one or other with less than 3 mistakes per tour/run…

  5. Deltaentropy November 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm -  Reply

    My winter bike uses 11spd Campy ergolevers with a shimano 9spd drivetrain, and it works perfectly. The limit screws prevent any extraneous “clicks” on the levers, and I get the benefits of Campy ergonomics, durability and serviceability. In the meantime, when my chain or cassette wears out, I can replace it quite cheaply. Shimergo FTW.

    • James Thomas November 22, 2011 at 4:49 pm -  Reply

      I definitely don’t mind mixing components, and I have used SRAM cassettes with my Shimano derailleurs before. In this case though, it is not the part compatibility, but the different user interface that gives me some hesitation.

  6. Hollowgram November 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm -  Reply

    My disc cross bike runs 9s DuraAce, while my nice Cdale roadie runs Campy Record 10s. I have been toying with the idea of running a a SRAM bike as well, but haven’t invested the money as my other two groups were very cheap. An old steel Raleigh I run currently has Suntour friction downtubes and 9s 105, but it would probably end up with the DuraAce once I go SRAM on my cross bike. I have the benefit of working at a shop so I have gotten the opportunity to ride just about everything, It just boils down to money for me, and not wanting to spend it right now. I have no issues swapping back and forth between bikes, just takes mileage on each of them. Shimano is what I’ve ridden the longest, its ingrained in my fine motor skills. I put about 500 miles when I took the plunge into Campy, and I got it figured out. Just my thoughts/experiences.

  7. James Thomas November 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm -  Reply

    “Shimano is what I’ve ridden the longest, its ingrained in my fine motor skills.” That is exactly how I feel, but I also like the idea of trying something different for a while. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Bryan Willman November 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm -  Reply

    My road bikes (3 of them) are all campy record 10 speed (deliberately all the same so wheels interchange, etc.)

    My brand new cross bike is SRAM. Switching doesn’t bother me at all, but I find that the campy works better than the SRAM, especially for going to larger (lower ratio) cogs.

    Your cross bike is probably set up a little bit differently anyway, it’s probably a good candidate for being the “odd bike out” – and with sram/shimano, the cassettes interchange, right?

  9. Tyler Rourke November 22, 2011 at 8:12 pm -  Reply

    I’m just now setting up a cross bike, and I’m thinking of running a single chainring up front with on old RD-7401 rear derailer and bar-end friction shifter for the 9 speed rear. I was also considering DA 7700 9 speed shifters, but I think the simplicity of friction shifting is drawing me in that direction. It should be bomb-proof. If I find that I’m losing races because I can’t shift quickly enough, then maybe I’ll upgrade to STI. When the limiting factor is determined by either “body/skill” or “equipment”, I’ll probably find that it’s my body that needs the upgrade, not the bike!

    • James Thomas November 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm -  Reply

      Tyler, I just saw these Retroshift levers at BikeRumor. With all of the shifting that you will do in a cross race, something like this could be worth looking into as an alternative to bar end shifters.

      • Andy November 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm -  Reply

        James! This is real bicycle design with a purpose!

        Post this stuff instead of those crummy CAD designs that come up every week!

        • James Thomas November 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm -  Reply

          Yeah, it is a cool idea, and definitely worthy of a post (even though Bike Rumor found it first)

          …and you know that what can be considered a “crummy CAD design” is subjective. Besides, if I only posted stuff you like, what would you have left to critique?

          • Andy November 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm -  Reply

            Just picking on the blog James. 😀

            There’s functional design that people try/make in the real world, and there’s CAD drawings up the wazoo from completely infeasible designs (a floating bike with a windshield and propeller?!). Sure, those designs /might/ bring up some new concepts, but real life prototypes that actually provide a new function are what really interests people. Judging by the lack of “OMG I love CAD designs!” comments, I’d guess it’s not just me.

  10. Timo November 22, 2011 at 9:22 pm -  Reply

    I have 4 bikes. Two SRAM and two Shimano. I change between them all the time without even having to think about it. I find my hands sit quite differently between SRAM and Shimano levers and as such my brain knows which muscle memory to use automatically. Don’t underestimate your brain.

    I tend to prefer Shimano down shifting, something about the weight of moving the whole lever makes it feel better. I love SRAM up shifting though, it’s crazy fast and feel s great.

  11. Ross Nicholson November 23, 2011 at 12:47 am -  Reply

    I’m sorry, but given your celebrity, your options presented may be problematic. Perhaps you should walk the walk to talk the talk. I recommend that you replace all of your bikes with brand new ones simultaneously and standardize shifting by specifying SRAM components for them all. Then consider adding a velomobile, too. Consider soliciting discounts from manufacturers in exchange for favorable mention on your blog. That would be considered unethical, except that if you choose well, everyone will be happier.
    Sell your ‘old’ bikes simultaneously on EBay and let poorer people part them out or have a chance to ride your great bikes at a discount. Of course, I’m not married, eh?

  12. michael November 23, 2011 at 4:14 am -  Reply

    I have 2 roadbikes, one with a 10speed Ultra-Shift Campy (witch i love because of the ergonomics) and the other one with an old Dura-Ace 7700. I´m thinking of a crossbike with SRAM. just because to know them all, and its good for your brain;))

  13. Alex November 24, 2011 at 2:29 am -  Reply

    Try the Sram. It may shine some light on your ride style, preference and performance.. I’m not going to argue for one vs. the other; I’m of the opinion that variation is good stimulation and you should experience the long term difference.

  14. Ernesto November 25, 2011 at 9:41 am -  Reply

    I’m with Michael, as a designer you know that when you change your routine your mind benefits incredibly. So why not up the ante at work and at the same time try something that you’ve always wanted to do!

  15. Bromptonero November 26, 2011 at 2:32 am -  Reply

    How about a Rolhoff Speedhub and a Gates Carbon Drive Belt? Now that’s something new and different!

    • Ross Nicholson November 26, 2011 at 1:18 pm -  Reply

      I concur.

    • James Thomas November 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm -  Reply

      I would love to have that set-up on my commuter bike. Money is the only thing holding me back.

  16. James Thomas November 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm -  Reply

    Thanks to all of you for the input so far. I was not on the web at all during the Thanksgiving holiday, but it is great to come back to so many interesting responses. Cost is still a factor, but I am definitely interested in giving SRAM a longer term try than I have in the past.

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