Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

05 February 2011

Cranking (and Gearing) Up Arielle

So...How do you spend another dreary winter day on which the streets are still full of ice?  I know, ride a trainer or rollers.  I may just go out and get one or the other.  I used to ride rollers, back when I raced and when I told myself I was "going to get back into racing."  I know it helped to keep me in shape and improved my bike handling skills.  But it was boring, boring, boring!

So I spent today--part of it, anyway--modifying Arielle a bit. 

There was nothing wrong with her;  as I mentioned a while back, I didn't feel I needed the triple I had given her.  So I swapped the crankset for a "compact" double and changed the cassette (and chain, which needed it).  The gearing change allowed me to switch from a long- to short-cage rear derailleur and from a triple to a double front derailleur.

Arielle's drivetrain now consists of:
  • Sugino "Alpina" 170mm cranks with Specialites TA "Syrius" chainrings, 50 and 36T
  • Phil Wood bottom bracket with 108mm stainless steel spindle and rings
  • Shimano "Dura Ace 7700" (9-speed) rear derailleur
  • Shimano "Dura Ace 7402" front derailleur
  • SRAM 850 8-speed cassette
  • SRAM 890 chain
  • White Industries Platform Pedals with MKS steel toe clips, Velo Orange leather toe clip covers and Velo Orange Straps
  • DiaCompe "Silver" downtube levers.
I had been using the levers before the switch.  I like them very much:  They have a smooth action and feel good on my fingers.  I like the simplicity of downtube friction shifters:  After riding with Shimano STI and Campagnolo Ergo brifters for about a decade and a half, I came back to them about two years ago.

Interestingly enough, the same size bottom bracket worked with both the triple and the double.  Of course, that does not mean that you can get away with using the same bottom bracket when switching from one crank to another:  That depends on which model you're switching from and switching to, and on various dimensions of your frame.

I had been using the 50T chainring on my triple.  I decided to keep it because it gives me some gears that I really like.

Now all I need is some decent riding conditions.  I'm not fussy about temperatures, can stand some wind and don't even mind light precipitation.  But I'm not about to ride when there's ice everywhere.  Arielle deserves better than that!


  1. In all of the above, you don't mention how many gears the rear cassette contains. Is there any difference between the way an 8,9, or 10 speed Simano derailleur acts in response to a given amount of cable pull?

  2. Steve: In my list, I mention that the cassette is an 8-speed.

    I'm not sure that the way the derailleur acts in response to do with cable pull has anything to do with whether the derailleur is an 8, 9 or 10 speed. On the stand, the derailleur seemed to shift a little bit more quickly. But I think that it has more to do with the fact that it's a short-cage derailleur rather than the long-cage model I had been using.

  3. Somehow, despite reading the post twice, I completely missed the "SRAM 850 8-speed cassette" item! I think the speed designation of derailleurs and of brakes has more to do with marketing than anything else. Right now, I'm using a 10 speed derailleur on my 8 speed road bike with nothing other than offended marketing sensibilities due to my heartless attitude. OTOH, I DO plan to change out my 10 speed Shimano for a 10 speed SRAM derailleur so I can use my SRAM shifters; recently acquired.

    I assume the "890" chain is designed for Shimano/SRAM 8 speed cassettes?

  4. Steve: You can tell what the intended use is for any SRAM cassette or chain by its model number. Numbers that begin with "8" (e.g., 850) is used for 8-speed; "9" is for 9-speed, etc. And all of the SRAM stuff works with Shimano systems. As I'm using friction shifters, that's not an issue for me.

  5. Actually, SRAM and Shimano derailleurs depend on a different amount of cable pull from each other, though they move the same amount for a given cassette spacing. You have to either get a "problem solver" or match your derailleur to the brand of shifter.

    Now that I've bought a SRAM 10-speed shifter for my road bike, I have to look for a SRAM derailleur. I'm not sure if the story is the same on the front derailleur, but it certainly is on the back. Cassettes do interchange between the two brands and some Campy combos work, but I don't recall which ones.

  6. Steve: I've never used a SRAM derailleur or shifter, so that is news to me. But I take your word on it.

    However, I sidestepped that whole issue by using friction shifters!

  7. The magic of that frame colour just continues to amaze me. Dark silver now, with a purple shimmer to the edges...