Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

How bad is cross-chaining?

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

How bad is cross-chaining?

Old 06-14-22, 09:01 AM
  #1  
alexk_il
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Posts: 82
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 55 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
How bad is cross-chaining?

I know that cross-chaining is a big no for cyclist however I do it quite a lot. Main reason - my shifters don't have a display to show the current gear, and I am not aware I am I cross-chaining till I try to select the next unavailable ring. No issues whatsoever, even though I use a 10 year old entry level 2x10 derailleurs (microShift FD and Shimano RD). Same on my son's cheap MTB with 3x7 or 8, he is not even aware of what cross-chaining is.

Point is, there is absolutely no chain rubbing or catching, all is smooth, maybe because I don't take my bike to a bike shop (most of them are useless in my area) and I service my bikes myself.

Then again I see plenty of videos on youtube where higher end drive systems often have chain rubs in small-to-small or large-to-large position. So how bad is the cross-chaining? Is anyone else is doing it without worrying too much?

Asking because I'm planning to invest in a new groupset with a custom build ratios, and I wonder if I must get shifters with displays.
alexk_il is offline  
Old 06-14-22, 09:10 AM
  #2  
prj71
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: North Central Wisconsin
Posts: 3,773
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2265 Post(s)
Liked 738 Times in 492 Posts
Nobody uses gear indicator displays anymore. I didn't even use them on my bikes in the past that had them.
prj71 is offline  
Old 06-14-22, 09:28 AM
  #3  
alexk_il
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Posts: 82
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 55 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Nobody uses gear indicator displays anymore. I didn't even use them on my bikes in the past that had them.
So, how do you avoid cross-chaining if you do?
alexk_il is offline  
Old 06-14-22, 09:30 AM
  #4  
Atlas Shrugged
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 764
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 473 Post(s)
Liked 546 Times in 268 Posts
Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Nobody uses gear indicator displays anymore. I didn't even use them on my bikes in the past that had them.
Actually most users of electronic shifting systems have displays on their bike computers.
Atlas Shrugged is offline  
Likes For Atlas Shrugged:
Old 06-14-22, 09:34 AM
  #5  
Crankycrank
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 3,040
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 644 Post(s)
Liked 610 Times in 464 Posts
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
Then again I see plenty of videos on youtube where higher end drive systems often have chain rubs in small-to-small or large-to-large position. So how bad is the cross-chaining? Is anyone else is doing it without worrying too much?
There can be some extra wear, mostly in the chainrings with the softer aluminum vs. steel cogs. It depends on your setup, weight, leg strength, how well you keep the chain lubed, short chainstays are worse than longer and some setups will be noisy from chain rub, etc. I do big/big often when riding through areas of frequent stopping to avoid double shifting constantly when pulling out from stops. I weigh around 210lbs and it does put some extra wear on the big chainring but have not noticed any on my cassettes largest cog at 25t or chain. I also don't spend much time in the big/big as I'll shift to another gear as soon as possible. Big/big is a luxury that is worth the small extra cost of wear to me but maybe not in everyones case.
Crankycrank is offline  
Likes For Crankycrank:
Old 06-14-22, 09:37 AM
  #6  
prj71
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: North Central Wisconsin
Posts: 3,773
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2265 Post(s)
Liked 738 Times in 492 Posts
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
So, how do you avoid cross-chaining if you do?
Not really a thing. I have one bike with 2 x 11 and the rest are 1 x 12 or 1 x 11. The bike with 2 x 11 has a trim function on the front derailleur so I can eliminate the chain rub on the derailleur.

I'm not really sure how you are not aware. Either you can hear the chain rubbing on the front derailleur or there is a distinct noise that the chain makes when more friction is exerted on it.
prj71 is offline  
Old 06-14-22, 09:38 AM
  #7  
veganbikes
Clark W. Griswold
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: ,location, location
Posts: 10,045

Bikes: Foundry Chilkoot Ti W/Ultegra Di2, Salsa Timberjack Ti, Cinelli Mash Work RandoCross Fun Time Machine, 1x9 XT Parts Hybrid, Co-Motion Cascadia, Specialized Langster, Phil Wood Apple VeloXS Frame (w/DA 7400), R+M Supercharger2 Rohloff, Habanero Ti 26

Mentioned: 42 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2913 Post(s)
Liked 2,111 Times in 1,398 Posts
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
So, how do you avoid cross-chaining if you do?
You just know it is pretty easy if I am in the biggest ring and find myself needing easier and easier gears it is a good sign I need to move to a smaller ring. If I am in my smaller ring and find myself needing harder and harder gears I know it is time to move to my larger ring. Obviously if you are in a race you may not think about it but a more casual ride you can. Having noise or not having noise doesn't matter so much but in the end everything is stretched out to the limits so in the end you are causing more wear for no real sensible reason. You will know at least where you are at on your front chainring and if not then learn which feels harder and which feels easier and you will be able to shift better very quickly.

I think the only bike I own with gear indication is my Rohloff E-14 equipped bike but that has a display and would automatically show it anyway. A lot of gear indicators I see tend to be broken or not very functional and even so it still won't warn me if I am cross chaining it will just move a little indicator one way or the other.
veganbikes is offline  
Likes For veganbikes:
Old 06-14-22, 09:40 AM
  #8  
hayden52
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 90
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 24 Times in 12 Posts
Don't worry, just ride. If you're chain is rubbing or making noises, change chain rings.
hayden52 is offline  
Likes For hayden52:
Old 06-14-22, 09:55 AM
  #9  
pdlamb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 7,641

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1939 Post(s)
Liked 1,198 Times in 760 Posts
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
So, how do you avoid cross-chaining if you do?
Old school, look down and see where the chain is on the cassette and the crank.
pdlamb is offline  
Old 06-14-22, 09:57 AM
  #10  
ThermionicScott 
working on my sandal tan
 
ThermionicScott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: CID
Posts: 22,050

Bikes: 1991 Bianchi Eros, 1964 Armstrong, 1988 Diamondback Ascent, 1988 Bianchi Premio, 1987 Bianchi Sport SX, 1980s Raleigh mixte (hers), All-City Space Horse (hers)

Mentioned: 95 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3628 Post(s)
Liked 2,061 Times in 1,309 Posts
Cross-chaining is only a sin in some religions.
__________________
Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
People in this forum are not typical.
RUSA #7498
ThermionicScott is offline  
Likes For ThermionicScott:
Old 06-14-22, 10:01 AM
  #11  
70sSanO
Senior Member
 
70sSanO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Mission Viejo
Posts: 5,048

Bikes: 1986 Cannondale SR400 (Flat bar commuter), 1988 Cannondale Criterium XTR, 1992 Serotta T-Max, 1995 Trek 970

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1652 Post(s)
Liked 1,686 Times in 1,056 Posts
I’ve posted this before and there is never a response, so I tend to view cross chaining in the eye of the beholder.

The industry has never published any guidance on the maximum chain angle, off centerline, from chain to cog. Meaning, if the angle of the chain on a 1x11 is greater than a big-big or small-small of a 2x7, why is there excessive wear on one and not the other?

My rough calcs put these angles between 2* and 3*.

In a lot of ways cross chaining is little more than being a bit lazy to not shift to another chainring for a short duration. It is funny looking back 40 years when freewheels were 5 and 6 speed, some people would run a half-step setup and constantly shift both the chainrings and cogs to mitigate gaps in gearing. And 1x systems eliminate the FD entirely to get “similar” half-step gaps.

John
70sSanO is offline  
Likes For 70sSanO:
Old 06-14-22, 10:04 AM
  #12  
cxwrench
Senior Member
 
cxwrench's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Nor-Cal
Posts: 3,304

Bikes: lots

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1647 Post(s)
Liked 2,435 Times in 1,259 Posts
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
So, how do you avoid cross-chaining if you do?
You either remember where your chain is or...wait for it...you look.
cxwrench is offline  
Likes For cxwrench:
Old 06-14-22, 10:12 AM
  #13  
joeruge
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 207
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 77 Post(s)
Liked 72 Times in 40 Posts
I notice a lot of people I ride with 'cross chaining.' I tend to avoid it like the plague. Most systems today can handle it well with perhaps a little more wear on components and slight loss of efficiency.

I started riding road bikes in the early '70's when chains were a lot less flexible side to side. Even on a 5 cog block it was a little dicey going big-big. Nowadays, chains are a lot more flexible and can easily handle big-big. I still don't like to do it, but it's mostly out of habit.
joeruge is offline  
Likes For joeruge:
Old 06-14-22, 10:52 AM
  #14  
79pmooney
A Roadie Forever
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 10,607

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3494 Post(s)
Liked 2,277 Times in 1,482 Posts
Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
You either remember where your chain is or...wait for it...you look.
You beat me to it. That looking bit. (I'm glad I still can. I have to use a mirror because I cannot look back over either shoulder - too many collarbone and shoulder injuries - but looking down still works. I do cheat. I only have to look as far as my DT shifters! (Fun concept - DT shifters = cheating.)
79pmooney is offline  
Likes For 79pmooney:
Old 06-14-22, 11:05 AM
  #15  
HillRider
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 33,352

Bikes: '96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '20 Surly Midnight Special, All are 3x10. It is hilly around here!

Mentioned: 39 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1870 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 824 Times in 589 Posts
Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
I do cheat. I only have to look as far as my DT shifters! (Fun concept - DT shifters = cheating.)
Gevenalle's shifters have even better ease of determining gear position since they don't return-to-center like brifters and are right under your hands on the hoods. Just touch the shift levers and you know exactly where you are.
HillRider is offline  
Likes For HillRider:
Old 06-14-22, 11:06 AM
  #16  
Polaris OBark
Dirt Roadie
 
Polaris OBark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2022
Posts: 1,220
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 639 Post(s)
Liked 816 Times in 493 Posts
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
so, how do you avoid cross-chaining if you do?
1x
Polaris OBark is offline  
Likes For Polaris OBark:
Old 06-14-22, 11:23 AM
  #17  
alexk_il
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Posts: 82
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 55 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
I'm not really sure how you are not aware. Either you can hear the chain rubbing on the front derailleur or there is a distinct noise that the chain makes when more friction is exerted on it.
Used to hear noises and rubbings every time the bike was serviced by professional bike shops. It's all smooth and quiet since I learned how to do it myself. Though it took me quite a long time to figure the proper way to set up my gear.

Not sure what the trim function you mentioned is, pretty sure I don't have it. Will google.

Last edited by alexk_il; 06-14-22 at 11:27 AM.
alexk_il is offline  
Old 06-14-22, 11:30 AM
  #18  
alexk_il
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Posts: 82
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 55 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Old school, look down and see where the chain is on the cassette and the crank.
I do occasionally look down, but don't like it on my hybrid. It's actually down and back between my legs, feels quite unsafe on public roads with cars and pedestrians around me, but I still sometimes do.
alexk_il is offline  
Old 06-14-22, 11:37 AM
  #19  
Polaris OBark
Dirt Roadie
 
Polaris OBark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2022
Posts: 1,220
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 639 Post(s)
Liked 816 Times in 493 Posts
SRAM officially endorses cross-chaining. Shimano doesn't, but their drivetrains appear to tolerate it, at least in my experience. Recent iterations of Di2 prevent you from doing it.

SRAM has been the main proponent of 1X gearing (probably because they can't seem to make a functional front derailleur). I got curious about this, because the same arguments that apply to cross-chaining should apply to 1X, at least for the lowest gear, so I checked their website, and found that out, so at least they get points for consistency.
Polaris OBark is offline  
Likes For Polaris OBark:
Old 06-14-22, 11:38 AM
  #20  
tyrion
Senior Member
 
tyrion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 3,753

Bikes: Breezer Radar

Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2010 Post(s)
Liked 1,542 Times in 747 Posts
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
I know that cross-chaining is a big no for cyclist however I do it quite a lot. Main reason - my shifters don't have a display to show the current gear, and I am not aware I am I cross-chaining till I try to select the next unavailable ring. No issues whatsoever, even though I use a 10 year old entry level 2x10 derailleurs (microShift FD and Shimano RD). Same on my son's cheap MTB with 3x7 or 8, he is not even aware of what cross-chaining is.

Point is, there is absolutely no chain rubbing or catching, all is smooth, maybe because I don't take my bike to a bike shop (most of them are useless in my area) and I service my bikes myself.

Then again I see plenty of videos on youtube where higher end drive systems often have chain rubs in small-to-small or large-to-large position. So how bad is the cross-chaining? Is anyone else is doing it without worrying too much?

Asking because I'm planning to invest in a new groupset with a custom build ratios, and I wonder if I must get shifters with displays.
I can feel/hear it when I'm in the extreme cross-chain gears and then I fix it (shift). I don't think it's that big of a deal - you're wasting a few watts, but it's the vibration that bugs me most.
tyrion is offline  
Old 06-14-22, 11:48 AM
  #21  
zandoval 
Senior Member
 
zandoval's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bastrop Texas
Posts: 3,243

Bikes: Univega, Peu P6, Peu PR-10, Ted Williams, Peu UO-8, Peu UO-18 Mixte, Peu Dolomites

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 494 Post(s)
Liked 736 Times in 484 Posts
How bad is cross-chaining? It causes increased wear and tear on your bicycle components. It's especially bad with older bicycle components. If the bike is adjusted well there may not be any perceptible damage during cross chaining but eventually the parts do wear down.

The old rule is: Big Teeth Up Front = Little Teeth In Back and Little Teeth Up Front = Big Teeth In Back.

I think on modern bikes there is still the issue of Cross Chaining Wear but it would appear that the "Use It Then Replace It" trend prevails.

Instead of preserve it if you can...
__________________
No matter where your at... There you are... Δf:=f(1/2)-f(-1/2)
zandoval is online now  
Old 06-14-22, 11:56 AM
  #22  
tyrion
Senior Member
 
tyrion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 3,753

Bikes: Breezer Radar

Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2010 Post(s)
Liked 1,542 Times in 747 Posts
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
...
Not sure what the trim function you mentioned is, pretty sure I don't have it. Will google.
Trim in this context refers to the front derailleur - there will be 3 or 4 click stops on the FD to deal with the changing chain angle when you shift the RD.
tyrion is offline  
Old 06-14-22, 11:57 AM
  #23  
xroadcharlie
Full Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Windsor Ontario, Canada
Posts: 457

Bikes: 2018 Giant Sedona

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Liked 94 Times in 80 Posts
"How bad is cross chaining"

In your case, as with many folks it is no problem. It no doubt varies between bikes and drivetrains. That said even if cross chaining works as smoothly as the other gears, I would suggest avoiding the practice for long rides.

When I bought my comfort bike 4 years ago I never gave cross chaining a 2'nd thought for short runs. Even Shimano's budget Altus 3 x 7 speed drivetrain with a Suntour XCC crankset performed flawlessly in every gear. But I think I messed up the chain alignment a bit and now It sometimes slips cross chaining, So I avoid it. The other gears seem fine and I'm good with that. I have detent twist grip shifters with gear indicators so I always know what gear I'm in.
xroadcharlie is offline  
Old 06-14-22, 12:32 PM
  #24  
GhostRider62
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 2,717
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1598 Post(s)
Liked 1,318 Times in 828 Posts
I cross chain all the time and have no wear issues. The only time I look back to see what cog I am in? On a steep hill when I push the button and nothing happens; otherwise, if I need an easier gear I push the left button and if I need an harder gear, I push the right button.
GhostRider62 is offline  
Likes For GhostRider62:
Old 06-14-22, 12:51 PM
  #25  
prj71
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: North Central Wisconsin
Posts: 3,773
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2265 Post(s)
Liked 738 Times in 492 Posts
Cross chaining, much like hookless rims, is not as scary as some people make it out to be. And if you are cross chained, it's not usually for a long enough duration that you have to worry about excess wear and tear on the drivetrain.
prj71 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.