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Last Post 08/16/2013 11:14 AM by Kenny Gonzales. 23 Replies.
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Red Tornado


08/14/2013 10:41 AM

Something I've noticed for a long time now but never mentioned to anyone other than a few of my close cycling friends is what I call "cross-chaining".  Basically a rider using the big-big or little-little combo (i.e. riding in the 39-11 or 53-23, 53-25, whatever).
I've always avoided this practice, as advised by the guys who mentored me in my early cycling years.  In the old MTB days of the late 80's/early-mid 90's cross-chaining those 3x7, 3x8 drivetrains resulted in a pretty extreme chain angle.
I've watched a lot of people in my club do this on their road bikes.  A good number of them being seasoned riders; many who were dedicated racers back in the day.  Granted, the chain angle probably isn't that severe on a road drivetrain and I know some replace their chains at regular intervals, but just seems a needless way to increase wear and/or weakening of the chain when they could (in most cases) pedal the same cadence in a different gear combination.
I'm sort of nit picky about my own equipment in areas like this, but also realize how another rider selects gears is really none of my busines.  Just curious what ya'll think about this.



08/14/2013 10:56 AM
i've got 3x9 on my road bike and my commuter. i'm always looking down at my cassette to make sure i'm not cross chained. it looks painful for my chain when i'm in the big ring and past the middle of the cassette.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.


08/14/2013 11:15 AM
It seems a lot more common with compact cranks. I find myself rarely using the small ring except for steep climbs.


08/14/2013 11:41 AM
When I was riding a 39/53, I seldom if ever cross chained, but since going to a compact system it's much more frequent especially when I'm in the 50.
Red Tornado


08/14/2013 12:28 PM
Now that I think about it, some of the "cross-chainers" do have compact cranks.  If you are not inclined to shift the front derailleur, I guess I could see them preferring to ride it like a theoretical 1x9 or 1x10.  I can also understand not wanting to look down/back at the cassette if in a large group - saftey issue.
I typically will stay off the smallest two sprockets when on the 39 and off the largest two sprockets when on the 53.
A related occurence is when someone rides cross-chained but doesn't trim the front derailleur.  That chain rub gets irritating.
Not trying to be an elitist but IMHO a lot of riders don't know the nuances of smart riding/setup/etc.  Stuff that goes beyond pack etiquette.
Orange Crush


08/14/2013 02:35 PM
People too afraid to pull an Andy, that leads to crossed chains. Its a valid fear, whenever I ride in a group setting I always cringe how many guys on expensive rigs manage to drop their chain for no apparent reason at all.


08/14/2013 02:45 PM
A regular boasted for years on the old VN forum that he could get away with a shorter chain because he was always so aware of his shifts that he would never run big-big. Then he stopped bragging. Probably a bent derailleur and dropout in there somewhere.
Keith Richards


08/14/2013 03:19 PM
I don't think it is as much as an issue with the modern narrow chains as they are so flexible.
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
Sweet Milk


08/14/2013 05:05 PM
+1 KR



08/14/2013 05:41 PM
I avoid it for two reasons - one, I am riding a 53/39 and two, I weigh 200 pounds. While in all honesty I don't think it would be likely that I would snap a chain, the physics make it a possibility. Additionally, when I'm on the high or low end of the cassette, it just seems more natural to me to run with the 'appropriate' chainring.


08/14/2013 06:53 PM
The only time I did it intentionally was on a climb, when I'd hear the guys drop to the inner ring I would attack near the top and they couldn't get it back in the big ring in time.... c 'ya later!

But to address the point-- loads of new guys lack the basic skills that were drilled into us when we were pups. Seems club rides no longer exist-- you know, the kind where you would practice pace lines, echelons, bumping elbows. Strava and excess testosterone made the learning curve flat
Orange Crush


08/14/2013 08:48 PM
Posted By Keith Jackson on 08/14/2013 03:19 PM
I don't think it is as much as an issue with the modern narrow chains as they are so flexible.

But it looks silly


08/14/2013 10:51 PM
I do it occasionally, usually for times for example when a hill levels out for a while, then goes up again. I'll keep it on the small ring to keep the next shift simple. (Modern rings make this tougher than it used to be. I've had the chain picked up by the larger ring when I did not intend it. And I regularly have to listen to the chain hitting the pins.)

I rode a race once where I miscalculated the gearing and over-geared by a lot (54-44 X 13-17). Spent most of the race on the small ring. At the last turn a mile before the finish I cross-chained to the big-big. Then it was a quiet two cog shift to the 54-15 and I was gone. It worked.



08/15/2013 12:12 AM
A bit of a myth really. Perhaps 25 years ago with the old crappy drive trains we had. Today? If the chain isn't too loose in small small or rubbing the inside of the big ring, why not? My XC race bike now has 1 X 11. 30 tooth chainring is often 'cross chained' when I'm rocking the 42 out back. Or ten out back. Works fine. I was always taught not to cross chain due the reasons mentioned. But more recently I will use more gears to not shift off the 50 on the road bike. Works well for me.


08/15/2013 09:41 AM
I do it regularly on short climbs. So as you crest you can downshift and hammer.
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