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Cross-Chaining

Old 07-28-21, 06:16 AM
  #1  
taylorgeo
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Cross-Chaining

Is cross-chaining really a bad thing? If so, is it worse on a 3x versus a 2x drivetrain?
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Old 07-28-21, 06:18 AM
  #2  
Bald Paul
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Yes, and yes.
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Old 07-28-21, 06:34 AM
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No, and yes.

It’s all about chainline…and you’ll hear if your bike doesn’t have a good one for cross chaining.

That said, while I do it typically and without concern— I’m gonna get up that damn hill!— I’m assuming we’re talking about occasional use here, and not running in the big/big or small/small as go-to gears. I can’t really imagine how that could happen…

Anyway, while there may be technical issue and sub-optimum performance parameters while cross chained, for modern drivetrains it’s totally not something to be concerned about for a properly sorted drivetrain.
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Old 07-28-21, 06:38 AM
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It's not the horror show that people keep perpetuating on here. It could cause some more wear than without cross chaining, but you will probably never notice it. I use the big/big combo all the time on my doubles, because it saves me from double shifting to get one gear lower on a climb. I don't use the small/small combo, because the chain drags on the large chainring when I get down to the 3rd smallest cog on the cassette.

With a 3x setup, the physical limitations of the chain dragging on the next larger chainring may prevent you from using the smallest cogs in the small and middle chainring. Otherwise, chains are designed to be able to handle the extreme angles of going from one side of the cassette to the other.
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Old 07-28-21, 06:48 AM
  #5  
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Cross chaining in 1921: horrible.

Cross chaining in 2021: no big deal.

A look at the chains side by side explains why.
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Old 07-28-21, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
Is cross-chaining really a bad thing? If so, is it worse on a 3x versus a 2x drivetrain?
Maybe, and no.

You'll know if cross-chaining is a problem when it results in noise even on a well-adjusted bike. Even then, it's not a huge problem...Your bike will not explode.

With more chainrings (2 vs 1, 3 vs 2) you can choose the chainring that results in a straighter chainline. e.g., if you are on the upper end of the cassette, choose a smaller chainring for a straighter chainline.

Last edited by Koyote; 07-28-21 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 07-28-21, 06:57 AM
  #7  
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I avoid it, but I spend most of my time in the center chain ring, anyway. If I need power to get up a big hill, I'm going to shift the front derailleur to the small cog, then get into the granny gear if needed.
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Old 07-28-21, 07:38 AM
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Provided your chain length is appropriate, cross-chaining is not the end of the world. If you spend a lot of time in a cross-chained gear, your drivetrain will wear more quickly. Best to avoid cross-chaining for that reason if nothing else.
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Old 07-28-21, 09:21 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Milton Keynes View Post
I avoid it, but I spend most of my time in the center chain ring, anyway. If I need power to get up a big hill, I'm going to shift the front derailleur to the small cog, then get into the granny gear if needed.
Front = chainrings
Rear = cogs
Granny gear = front, small ring
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Old 07-28-21, 09:45 AM
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I’ve seen Sheldon Brown’s lateral stiffness chart, but I haven’t seen lateral stiffness of different chain widths; that is 7/8 speed vs. 11 speed.

I suspect narrower chains flex more, but have never done, or seen, a comparison of the minimum lateral radius of new chains by width (speed).

That said, I don’t think cross chaining is as bad as once professed. With the industry promoting 1x wide range drivetrains, it will not cause an issue. But, as people have pointed out, most riders are not at the extremes for extended periods of time.

The one piece of data that I’ve never seen published, is the max chain angle. I roughly calculated that a cross chain is a little more than 2 degrees to a little less than 3 degrees based on 1x and 2x speed setups and cassette width.

The industry basically tells one person with a 2x, “Don’t do that” and another person with a 1x, “Do that.” But neither has provided any support for why those recommendations are made.

John
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Old 07-28-21, 09:47 AM
  #11  
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I crosschain all the time, don’t care lol I do 50-28, but I’m also on Claris and the cost of replacing parts is low
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Old 07-28-21, 10:08 AM
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For most bikes, it might cause a little noise and extra wear on the chain. If you changed the gears too far outside of the max chain wrap, however, it can be a spectacular failure.
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Old 07-28-21, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
Cross chaining in 1921: horrible.

Cross chaining in 2021: no big deal.

A look at the chains side by side explains why.
11spd and up chains are narrower and cross is not as big a deal as in the past but I save it for low torque pedaling.
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Old 07-28-21, 10:09 AM
  #14  
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Triples are much more noticeable than doubles on this. My experience is that on my 2x8 set up cross chaining was very obvious in the last two gears on the opposite side of the cassette from the chainring. With 10 speed the difference was still there but less obvious in the second to last cog and only really noticeable in the last cog. With 12 speed I can run the full cassette with no evident noise and I never shift out of the large ring for road riding. Since the cassette doesn't take up any more space I attribute most of it to the level of flexibility inherent in the thinner chains and that while the space in the chainrings has gotten narrower it hasn't been significant enough that compared the the narrower chain the chain is able to glide by. With 8sp there is obvious chainring rub as well when cross chaining, only when in the smallest cog when on the 10sp and no chainring rub with 12. Does make for a quiet setup overall.
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Old 07-28-21, 10:26 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
Is cross-chaining really a bad thing? If so, is it worse on a 3x versus a 2x drivetrain?
I bet in practice, cross-chaining is least frequent in 3x systems.
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Old 07-28-21, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I bet in practice, cross-chaining is least frequent in 3x systems.
This. Someone would have to be pretty oblivious to spend much time cross chained on a triple.
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Old 07-28-21, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I bet in practice, cross-chaining is least frequent in 3x systems.
Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
This. Someone would have to be pretty oblivious to spend much time cross chained on a triple.
There was a recent thread on this very subject, and quite a few posters argued the opposite rather vehemently. They argued that cross-chaining is nonexistent on a 1X system - that it always maintains a perfect chain line - and that it would be worst on a triple. (Of course, that is entirely backwards. But it shows you that some people have no ability to visualize such things — hence the semi-regular questions like the OP‘s.)
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Old 07-28-21, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
There was a recent thread on this very subject, and quite a few posters argued the opposite rather vehemently. They argued that cross-chaining is nonexistent on a 1X system - that it always maintains a perfect chain line - and that it would be worst on a triple. (Of course, that is entirely backwards. But it shows you that some people have no ability to visualize such things — hence the semi-regular questions like the OP‘s.)
Yeah I think some people define "cross-chaining" as the chain crossing some imaginary drivetrain centerline, ignoring the real issue which is the angle of the chain in relation to the sprockets. We should have named the issue "angle-chaining" or "skew-chaining".
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Old 07-28-21, 02:59 PM
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I cross chain on every ride.

56x32 on short steep hills
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Old 07-28-21, 03:28 PM
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I think I saw big-big by someone in the TdF this year. The camera gave us a quick look, so I'm not sure, but it looked like bib-big to me....
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Old 07-28-21, 03:30 PM
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It's only a bad thing if that is the gear ratio that you ride the most or for a significant part of your ride, IMO.
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