More than a double, better than a triple?

Create your own theeverydaycyclist approved ‘Double/Triple Everyday Chainset’

Here’s my dilemma. I don’t need the duplication and complication of a triple chainset. However, the range of an MTB or touring triple makes for super-versatility. However, I also want the plug and play, wear-your-normal-trouserage compatibility of a chainguard, without suffering the aesthetic indignity of an afterthought plastic chainguard disc. They look ugly when brand new and get even uglier once they get beaten up with daily use.

After years of using compromised chainsets I decided to make my own killer chainset for everyday all round riding. And here’s how to do it:

  • Take one used road triple chainset (with 130mm bolt circle diameter – BCD) – it doesn’t matter what state the rings are in, because you’re going to lose them.
  • Remove the existing rings and dispose of ethically
  • Buy a 42t and a 24t ring (yes, believe it – a 24t ring will fit on the 74BCD small spider of a road triple!)
  • Also buy a 130BCD aluminium chainring guard, available, amongst other places, here (link to SJS cycles)
  • The chainring guard replaces the outer (52t ring) and the other rings slot into place.
  • Operate the front rings with an MTB front derailleur

The result? When teamed with an appropriate cassette, you get practically the same gear range as an MTB, with all the high and all the low that you need.

What you don’t get is the overlap and duplication of gears that comes as standard with most triple setups. Old school soldiers with scorn the lack of ‘crossover gearing’ found on closely spaced front chainring setups. But, we’re not racing here and today’s 8 and 9 speed cassettes have ratios spaced closely enough to render crossover setups (eg 38/44) obsolete.

Worried about the big jump between the 24 and 42 tooth rings? Don’t be, it works just fine (with a ‘trimmable’ front shifter – like a downtube or bar end lever. (Sorry folks I can’t vouch for STIs triggers/Gripshift etc).

Think of it as an extension of the compact chainset idea, but with more appropriate gears for everyday riding, and the unbridled luxury of a trouser guard.

What kind of riding is this for? Commuting, loaded touring, recreational cyclo cross, trail riding, real world road riding (I’ve ridden sportives on this setup and never missed the dinner plate ring once). Anyone who isn’t racing who thinks that a 52/11 top gear combination is necessary is living in dreamland. I use an 11-32t nine speed cassette – the 11 is rarely used but useful for fast, tailwind-enhanced flat roads. Another fringe benefit of this setup is that your big ring is effectively in the ‘middle ring position’, which means you can use the full range of rear gears in the 42t without chain crossover problems, saving your 24t crawler for the really steep or heavily laden stuff.

FOOTNOTE: You can also achieve a similar setup with a 110 BCD triple chainset (e.g. the Sugino XD/Stronglight Impact/Spa Cycles own brand)

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6 thoughts on “More than a double, better than a triple?

  1. dexey

    It all depends on your wheel size; all my bikes are either 20″ or 16″ nowadays.
    What about a Schlumpf and dispense with front shifter cable and second cog entirely?

    1. theeverydaycyclist

      To be honest, for 99 percent of my riding I could live with a 42t on the front and an 11-32 cassette on the rear – There’s only one street in Manchester that has me submitting to the 24t – Manchester’s Kapelmuur – the cobbled climb of Jutland St! However, when I used to run singlespeed (39 x16) I could get up without stalling (with a little luck and momentum on my side). Like the idea of the Schlumpf. I’d like a 5 speed Sturmey archer with bar end shifter even more though!

  2. dexey

    My Trice isn’t much different to that at 44 by 9 and 20″ wheel. You must have reached that certain age where having a stonking a high gear is less pleasure than maintaing an awareness of your surroundings :0)

  3. Aiki

    I’ve enjoyed your blogs. Thanks!

    I am rebuilding an early 90’s Trek 400 into a 9 speed hill climber.
    I have bought a triple 52/42/30 and have a 9 speed 11-34 cassette.

    I have considered converting it to a double like you suggest only with 26t instead of a 24t.
    The other consideration is to make the triple a 46/42/26 as this would make a half step plus granny setup.

    Have you ever ridden a half step plus granny setup?

    1. theeverydaycyclist

      Never ridden a half step plus granny setup. With an eight or nine speed freewheel I’ve never felt the need for those ‘in between’ ratios. A lot of cyclo cross riders run doubles just a few teeth apart. I suppose racing off road being in exactly the right gear can make a big difference.

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