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I recently converted my 2002 Trek Fuel 98 into a 1x9 but I have a few questions before I finish it.

First, my middle chainring (the one I kept) is a 32 tooth. I would like to fine tune the gearing. Can I change to a 31 or 30 tooth chainring and not have to buy new cranks? I'm thinking this is unlikely because the chainring bolts are already very close to the teeth of the chainring. Am I better off just buying a larger set of cogs. It would obviously be more weight efficient if I could simply get a smaller chainring.

Second, I'm having issues with my chain jumping to the outside of the chainring. I'm looking for a "roller" to guide the chain but can't seem to figure out where to get one. I think a simple roller guide will do the trick but all I can find are crazy guards and tensioners geared towards downhill riding.

Thanks
 

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I would keep the 32-tooth chainring for now and see if you require something smaller. I ride a 32 and it's not difficult once you get used to it. And there's maybe 3 grams difference between a 30 and 32 tooth ring (of the same brand) so I certainly wouldn't change ring sizes based on weight.

I use the Blackspire Blackguard and Lite God plates to keep the chain in place. They weigh maybe 150g together and are a simpler setup than you're thinking. I like the plates better than the rollers myself. Check out the Blackspire, e13 and MRP sites for lots of options as well as the "show your 1x9 setups" thread in this forum.
 

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The supremely inelegant solution to keeping the chain on the ring is to use the front derailleur. Remove the cable and use the set screws to adjust the cage over the chain. Make sure you drop the der. down so that the cage is hovering above the ring, as well. This is essentially what a guard and jump stop do, and assuming you are coming to this 1x9 thing from the realm of 3x9, you should already have the part.

But...when my current chain ring wears out, I may use a better looking system. Purely aesthetic, mind you.
 

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I use a Rohloff Chainguide and it works perfectly to keep the chain on.

If you just started 1x9ing and you think the front ring may be to large, keep it for a bit as your legs will quickly get stronger.
 
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