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My main goal at the beginning of this season's training was that I wanted to stop using my granny gear. I found that only after a week of training, I no longer needed my granny gear on any climbs. I've tested myself on all of the hard climbs around where I live (If you're in South San Jose: Metcalf, Mine, Hidden Springs etc). I'm looking to upgrade to a double soon.

My only problem is that a few people I've talked to tell me that it's not a horrible thing to use your granny gear. They said that most people aren't "mashers" but rather, are "spinners." They said that someone with my build would benefit more from spinning because I would waste a lot more energy (while going slightly faster) if I used a double. Is this true?

Just some background info- I'm 17, 5'7, ~125 lbs in the off-season and ~116 during the season. I race XC and run XC, and long distance Track and Field.
 

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Just a flesh wound
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From the other side

I'm 47 and weigh 175. I live in Massachusetts with lots of rocks and roots. I lost the big ring! It's a great log grabber now (never got the bash guard). So do what you know is right. If you don't use Granny, then ditch the ***** and go faster! Get a mid or short cage rear d and shorten the chain. Maximize the chainline efficiency and go faster.

Peace from the East (coast)
 

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i've always been under the impression that with a double you ditch the big ring, not the little ring. albeit typically people will have a few extra teeth on.
 

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What type of gearing you use is a function of the terrain on which you are riding. Obviously, those who are super strong will do well anywhere. But, by and large, if you are riding in an area where the singletrack climbs are shallow, you can get away with a middle and large. On the other hand, where I ride, the singletracks are steep and technical and most need a small ring. . . that is if you want to clean/clear the climb.
 

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You can do whatever you want with a "double"... all it means is you have two chainrings. Many double setups for XC racing have rings that are larger than the granny and middle on a traditional triple, but many doubles by normal riders are just a triple with one ring removed.

There are also lots and lots of riders who ditch the granny and big ring so they can get rid of the front shifter and derailleur as well. If you still want more top end speed in a setup like that you can run a 36t single ring.

Whatever setup you choose, I don't thing you will be wasting energy. It still takes the same amount of work to move you and your bike up the hill in a granny gear as it does in a higher gear (laws of physics). The extra effort per pedal stroke is proportional to the extra speed and distance per stroke. The difference is how your body is trained and where your strengths are. Your buddies obviously don't think you have strong legs, but when you weigh that little you don't need massive legs to be a strong climber (see note below). if you start pushing yourself even more in this direction and building more fitness in that specific riding style you will only get better at it. If you enjoy this style of climbing then by all means do it:thumbsup: Everyone does have genetic traits that will give them more potential in certain areas of fitness, and maybe spinning is one of those things for you, but if you don't enjoy riding like that then you probably wouldn't end up too good at it

(note) As a related encouragement for you, power does not scale proportionately to body size, so no matter what climbing style you choose you will always have some advantage over bigger and "stronger" riders.
 

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Some of it depends on the strength of the rider, but it will ALWAYS come back to the terrain you will be riding. Keep the ratios you use, ditch those that you don't. It really is that simple.
 

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Young, light, and fit rider like you

have strength-to-weight ratios and quick recovery times that older and more heavily muscled racers do not. As such you may not find yourself in the granny very often but avoiding the granny gear just to avoid it in terms of your whole cycling experience may not achieve what you hope.

From your profile photo I am guessing you were at Sea Otter in Cat 3 and ran into some pretty stiff competition. You are relatively new to the sport in its racing form and it has inspired you to improve. Welcome to the game!

I am hoping, as you are an athlete in 2 demanding endurance sports, that you are getting some coaching somewhere and not just appealing for guidance in a site like this. While this site has extraordinary value it is poorly suited for athletes of your age and skill level. Further, I am hoping that you are getting coaching specific to each sport and not just some advice once in a while or from someone who seems to know a bit about mtb.

I do not want to cross any direct coaching advice you are getting but will give my opinion as a High School coach. A coach skilled in training teen racers at your level would not have you pushing hard gears for the sake of pushing them. This year, just as with every new season, I get new athletes who think pushing a hard gear is a good thing. It takes 2 months to train them out of it, getting them into easier gears and increasing their cadence. This more completely develops all the muscles around the knee and all the different muscle groups which can be used at different times. This creates all around well developed legs which are healthier and less prone to damage and injury.

A goal of not wanting to use the granny gear is worrisome as a coach. That you wish to improve is one thing but to simply eliminate the granny, if you are simply just using harder gears for harder gears sake, is pretty hard on a young body and a mistaken notion. I think that given your past threads on knee pain you might want to take note of this. Further you eliminate a lot of very useful gear ratios in combination with the middle of your rear cog set and the subsequent convenient shift to proximate ratios with a quick shift from there to the middle chainrings. That may be a bit advanced for you but if it is any consolation adults make this same mistake too.:D

I encourage you to get coaching. I also encourage you, if you have not done so already, to join up with your local NorCal High School Racing League Team. The benefits of skilled coaching, sensible development programs, camaraderie, and a great race scene are tops in the nation. There is a NorCal Camp coming up on February 20 and 21 which would be of great benefit and I know you would be welcome and have a great time.

To make contact go to:

www.norcalmtb.org

You are also welcome to visit my team's site:

http://www.ahscougars.com

If you want to contact me directly just look for coach Michael.

Ride well today to ride better tomorrow.
 

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Still don't get the double vs triple rings....

For me it is all aboout range....

I ride lots of fast downhills way up in 46 teeth and 11 on the back....

I ride and clean most of the mountains in 32 teeth and 34 on the back...

On the long steep climbs 24 and 34 is a nice resting pace....

I couldn't care less how many chain rings I have as long as I have the range...

BTW I will probably go up to a 48 tooth big ring next time it wears out...

That will probably mean I will loss more of the little little rings, I never use them unless I am not paying attention to my shifting.
 

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jeffscott said:
Still don't get the double vs triple rings....

For me it is all aboout range....

I ride lots of fast downhills way up in 46 teeth and 11 on the back....

I ride and clean most of the mountains in 32 teeth and 34 on the back...

On the long steep climbs 24 and 34 is a nice resting pace....

I couldn't care less how many chain rings I have as long as I have the range...

BTW I will probably go up to a 48 tooth big ring next time it wears out...

That will probably mean I will loss more of the little little rings, I never use them unless I am not paying attention to my shifting.
all you have to know is that many people don't need or want anything close to that full range; then the doubles and 1x9's start to make sense:thumbsup:
 

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boomn said:
all you have to know is that many people don't need or want anything close to that full range; then then the doubles and 1x9's start to make sense:thumbsup:
Nope point was I don't care how many rings I have until one eliminates the FD, the weight of the bike is not massively impacted.

I would suggest 1X9 would only account for guessing less than 5% of all riders???

Nope I don't car how many chain rings I have, I just want the range I need or want...

That range is the limit of a 2 X 9 for most people 99% plus.

Yeah single speed is done and sure 1 X 9 is done, if you want go for it, I don't care.

Again point is number, of chainrings doesn't matter range does, and to a lesser extent close gear in high range.
 

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I've actually been thinking about getting rid of my big ring as I never quite use it except on a rare basis.
 

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Can't feel my legs
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Too simple

jeffscott said:
Nope point was I don't care how many rings I have until one eliminates the FD, the weight of the bike is not massively impacted.

I would suggest 1X9 would only account for guessing less than 5% of all riders???

Nope I don't car how many chain rings I have, I just want the range I need or want...

That range is the limit of a 2 X 9 for most people 99% plus.

Yeah single speed is done and sure 1 X 9 is done, if you want go for it, I don't care.

Again point is number, of chainrings doesn't matter range does, and to a lesser extent close gear in high range.
Even for me(I prefer simple answers).
It's about more than just range. Cadence is a huge factor in efficiency. Proper cadence is only possible with a complete choice of gearing to suit the terrain.
This may be what you are trying to say, but you are not quite clear with your meaning.
If it is as simple as range, then a 1x2, with the highest, and lowest possible gear ratios would suffice.
 

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jeffscott said:
Nope point was I don't care how many rings I have until one eliminates the FD, the weight of the bike is not massively impacted.

I would suggest 1X9 would only account for guessing less than 5% of all riders???

Nope I don't car how many chain rings I have, I just want the range I need or want...

That range is the limit of a 2 X 9 for most people 99% plus.

Yeah single speed is done and sure 1 X 9 is done, if you want go for it, I don't care.

Again point is number, of chainrings doesn't matter range does, and to a lesser extent close gear in high range.
fully understood, but you missed my point. Your personal preferences are not universal facts. Just like other people have their own preference for gearing range, they are also allowed to have their own preferences and reasons to remove whatever rings they want. The number of people riding 1x9's doesn't matter, its just one example of people making a choice about their bike

When I used gears I ditched just the big ring for a long time because I never needed it and they tend to perforate my legs. I think more beginning riders would do the same if they knew they easily could.
 

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JPark said:
Even for me(I prefer simple answers).
It's about more than just range. Cadence is a huge factor in efficiency. Proper cadence is only possible with a complete choice of gearing to suit the terrain.
This may be what you are trying to say, but you are not quite clear with your meaning.
If it is as simple as range, then a 1x2, with the highest, and lowest possible gear ratios would suffice.
Yes, although I con't think a 1 X 2 or even 2 X 1 could actually work for the typical ranges...

And yes has I said close ratio's in the higher gears to a lesser extent.

Really though when I use granny it is granny, there are one or two places I need granny and the three lowest to clean.

In second chain ring I like low gear and a three up, then I just go to big ring....
 

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boomn said:
fully understood, but you missed my point. Your personal preferences are not universal facts. Just like other people have their own preference for gearing range, they are also allowed to have their own preferences and reasons to remove whatever rings they want. The number of people riding 1x9's doesn't matter, its just one example of people making a choice about their bike

When I used gears I ditched just the big ring for a long time because I never needed it and they tend to perforate my legs. I think more beginning riders would do the same if they knew they easily could.
Yes dear, if anyone wants to remove a big ring they certainly have my permission.

Yes number of people matter when developing new systems like SRAM XX, a two ring system 2 x 10.

I would suggest with the large overlap typical on a three ring system you could easily use the big gear....you probably don't have to, but you could...

Why would you use big over middle, well it can easily extend the life of your drive train...in two ways, firstly you spread the work over two rings, and second the bigger ring has more teeth, to bear the load.

On the rear you would also spread the load over more teeth.....even considering cross chaining the over lap is still allows for that type of operation....

Oh and guess what if your riding in middle ring and want a gear just slightly higher then you go to big ring and drop two on the rear, and guess what that is the next highest ratio....

So maybe if all those people really understood the ins and outs they might choose to use three instead of two rings....
 

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Originally Posted by jeffscott
So maybe if all those people really understood the ins and outs they might choose to use three instead of two rings....
This thread started with a sincere question from a young racer and was producing some great feedback until it got hijacked. Riders have different agendas, preferences and needs. If your preferences don't match someone elses, that shouldn't be a problem, should it? I love the give and take on these forums, but I could do without the pi$$ing matches.

I swapped my third ring for a bash guard. I ride hilly, technical trails in CT, and never used the big ring, except to catch logs and then fall down. That works for me, but not for you. You like and use all three rings. That's good too. For you, not me. So relax. It's okay for people to have other opinions.

And to Berkeley Mike, nice post and great advice.
 

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Berkeley Mike said:
have strength-to-weight ratios and quick recovery times that older and more heavily muscled racers do not. As such you may not find yourself in the granny very often but avoiding the granny gear just to avoid it in terms of your whole cycling experience may not achieve what you hope.

From your profile photo I am guessing you were at Sea Otter in Cat 3 and ran into some pretty stiff competition. You are relatively new to the sport in its racing form and it has inspired you to improve. Welcome to the game!

I am hoping, as you are an athlete in 2 demanding endurance sports, that you are getting some coaching somewhere and not just appealing for guidance in a site like this. While this site has extraordinary value it is poorly suited for athletes of your age and skill level. Further, I am hoping that you are getting coaching specific to each sport and not just some advice once in a while or from someone who seems to know a bit about mtb.

I do not want to cross any direct coaching advice you are getting but will give my opinion as a High School coach. A coach skilled in training teen racers at your level would not have you pushing hard gears for the sake of pushing them. This year, just as with every new season, I get new athletes who think pushing a hard gear is a good thing. It takes 2 months to train them out of it, getting them into easier gears and increasing their cadence. This more completely develops all the muscles around the knee and all the different muscle groups which can be used at different times. This creates all around well developed legs which are healthier and less prone to damage and injury.

A goal of not wanting to use the granny gear is worrisome as a coach. That you wish to improve is one thing but to simply eliminate the granny, if you are simply just using harder gears for harder gears sake, is pretty hard on a young body and a mistaken notion. I think that given your past threads on knee pain you might want to take note of this. Further you eliminate a lot of very useful gear ratios in combination with the middle of your rear cog set and the subsequent convenient shift to proximate ratios with a quick shift from there to the middle chainrings. That may be a bit advanced for you but if it is any consolation adults make this same mistake too.:D

I encourage you to get coaching. I also encourage you, if you have not done so already, to join up with your local NorCal High School Racing League Team. The benefits of skilled coaching, sensible development programs, camaraderie, and a great race scene are tops in the nation. There is a NorCal Camp coming up on February 20 and 21 which would be of great benefit and I know you would be welcome and have a great time.

To make contact go to:

www.norcalmtb.org

You are also welcome to visit my team's site:

http://www.ahscougars.com

If you want to contact me directly just look for coach Michael.

Ride well today to ride better tomorrow.
For what it's worth, I also took a look at the OP's questions about knee pain. It's concerning that at 17, he's looked into and has been using joint supplements. It's also concerning that he admits that he's overtrained and doesn't let his body recover adequately. At this point, for him to drop his granny and "mash", especially uphill, is putting him at a lot of risk for major knee problems. The extra pressure exerted over the patella-femeral joint by mashing like that, especially on his 17 year old still-developing knees could de-rail his bike racing goals.

Be very careful continuing on this path. It sounds like you have a very promising running and biking career. Don't jeopardize it now.

Marcia (a physical therapist)
 

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Gasp4Air said:
Originally Posted by jeffscott

This thread started with a sincere question from a young racer and was producing some great feedback until it got hijacked. Riders have different agendas, preferences and needs. If your preferences don't match someone elses, that shouldn't be a problem, should it? I love the give and take on these forums, but I could do without the pi$$ing matches.

I swapped my third ring for a bash guard. I ride hilly, technical trails in CT, and never used the big ring, except to catch logs and then fall down. That works for me, but not for you. You like and use all three rings. That's good too. For you, not me. So relax. It's okay for people to have other opinions.

And to Berkeley Mike, nice post and great advice.
Really, well than you have my permission to remove your big ring....

Think that young rider knows how to use a three ring set up properly??? maybe..maybe not.
 

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I'm not sure why geared riders try so hard not to use the granny gear. I usually ride single speed, but when I ride with gears I take advantage of the lower gear ratios to spin at a higher RPM. It is much easier on the knees when you are seated and it also helps to prevent stalling or spinning out when climbing technical uphills.

If you can maintain a high RPM without using the granny gear, then it makes sense to drop it and run a double. But if you are sitting and spinning at low RPM, then you're just asking for knee problems and probably wearing yourself out faster than you need to.
 
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