Where have all the gear inches gone? They seem to be floating around the bike mysteriously, rearranging themselves. And as a follow on question, is the front derailleur becoming vestigial? You show up for a group ride, and your friends glance furtively downward, chuckle softly to themselves, and then look away.
I still own a bike with a triple crank on it. I can’t tell you the last time it saw the big ring and largest cog at the same time. It wasn’t likely in this millennium. I talk to folks who still insist they want triples on their bikes. They sound like deranged zealots, clinging their holy books, lacing up their Nikes, and waiting for the mothership to deliver them from Modernia.
The compact double thought it was here to stay. So cute. It had arrived to save us from the big, cruel standard crank. And then someone said the word sub-compact. Someone said 1x, and the earth shuddered beneath the compact double’s teeth. Sure, wide range cassettes came to make the 34t ring seem relevant again, but our hunger for smaller and smaller gears knows no limits.
I wonder how the weight of a 46t cog compares to that of a front derailleur (and clamp). Someone with a scale should put some numbers to it for us. The parts should be group matching. Or not. It probably doesn’t matter. This isn’t about weight anyway.
This week’s Group Ride asks, is 1x the future? Even on the road? Even for climbers? How big will cassettes get? Will rear derailleurs get even more complicated, with clutches and abstract shapes beyond the fabled parallelogram? Will it one day float, untethered, at the rear of the bike, wirelessly shifting from cog to cog, based on the mental triggers of our neural implants?