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Garmin-Cervélo rider uses SRAM's mountain bike kit

Britain’s David Millar used a SRAM hybrid drivetrain to tackle the Dolomites in the Giro d’Italia last week – a mix of road bike and mountain bike components.

The Team Garmin-Cervélo rider wanted to use 52 and 42 tooth chainrings on his Cervélo S3. Other riders running SRAM, including race leader Alberto Contador, used a wide-ranging (11-32T) SRAM WiFLi cassette to get low ratios for the climbs.

In order for Millar to get similarly low ratios with a 42 tooth chainring, he needed to use a cassette with even larger sprockets. He went for an 11 to… wait for it… 36 tooth SRAM XX cassette. That inner sprocket is huge. He had to have an XX rear mech cope with the size of it.

SRAM’s XX groupset is 10-speed but rather than the usual mountain biking triple chainset, it’s designed for a double.

 

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

23 comments

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Chuffy [201 posts] 5 years ago
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Most touring bikes don't have a sprocket that big!  13 Whatever happened to gurning up mountains with a 23-11 on a 42t ring eh? Modern pros, honestly...

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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Do it for 3 weeks straight  4

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BigDummy [314 posts] 5 years ago
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I haven't been following particularly. I presume this isn't a particularly hilly Giro? We're just seeing something of a shift in attitude about the right/acceptable gearing to use, no?

That or we're all about to be sold new groupsets...  3

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Decster [246 posts] 5 years ago
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whatever works.  26

Bet old pros look at the new equipment wishing they had half of it on their bikes back then.  3

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dave atkinson [6251 posts] 5 years ago
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Quote:

I presume this isn't a particularly hilly Giro?

It *is* a particularly hilly Giro, but there's nothing especially new about the hills themselves, the gradients and lengths haven't changed. So yes, a bit of a shift in attitude. There's no kudos in running a straight-through cassette if Contador is kicking your ass with his 11-32  39

Unless you really do think that a 12-21 is somehow more manly. In which case, why do you have gears at all? do it on a track bike.

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Shiny Flu [84 posts] 5 years ago
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If you can turn the pedals faster and actually be faster (i.e. win/finish high) - why not?

If you can grind a gear and be faster - good for you.

There's many different ways to skin a cat.

I'm guessing that Millar wanted or likes having the option of powering along the slightly flatter parts of yesterday's stage with his 'normal' high gearing (as opposed to employing a compact), however like many, also wanted those super low gears for the maximum 14% grade.

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simonmb [353 posts] 5 years ago
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Ok. But did he actually *use* it? I suspect, as BigDummy does too, that we're being primed ready for the 'next big thing' which means we'll feel obliged to go out and buy new kit, or new rear mechs and cassettes at least. Cynical? Not me  33

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dave atkinson [6251 posts] 5 years ago
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Quote:

we're being primed ready for the 'next big thing' which means we'll feel obliged to go out and buy new kit, or new rear mechs and cassettes at least.

That's what happens anyway. But SRAM don't have much to gain by showing you an mix-and-match MTB rear mech and cassette – or a low end mech, in Contador's case – over a top-end road one. I'd suggest it's more likely that Millar's picked that setup because that's what suits.

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trailstar [1 post] 5 years ago
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im pretty sure millar would have done this to save his legs for some of the later stages.

i know he wants to give it everything in the final TT.. i can imagine spinning at a high cadence in the hills is easier rather than grinding a big gear and will help save his legs.

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dave atkinson [6251 posts] 5 years ago
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He's certainly hiding today, much to tony's chagrin - he transferred him in this morning, 36T sprocket and all.

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Chris James [400 posts] 5 years ago
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Millar's a wuss. I run a 52/42 with a 12-25 cassette in the Peak district....

Mind you, I do have a 30 tooth granny chain ring to go with it!

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andybwhite [250 posts] 5 years ago
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Chris James wrote:

Millar's a wuss. I run a 52/42 with a 12-25 cassette in the Peak district....

Mind you, I do have a 30 tooth granny chain ring to go with it!

Wuss you! Winnats pass on 65" fixed with a saddlebag ... and teeth marks all along the handlebars.

Full respect to the pros. They never fail to amaze me, whatever gears they are riding.

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yenrod [106 posts] 5 years ago
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Obiously, Chuff'meister general - the Pro Pelican wouldve took another route had you joined it ????  3

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pmr [198 posts] 5 years ago
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I did the same thing for the Wimbleball half Ironman, cant beat the granny ring!
Pain in the arse changing the rear cassette to something like a 12-32 tho, as I needed a MTB deraileir.

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Chuffy [201 posts] 5 years ago
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yenrod wrote:

Obiously, Chuff'meister general - the Pro Pelican wouldve took another route had you joined it ????  3

Indeed it would YennDodd, my dear old chum. The Pro-Pelican would all have Carradice saddlebags, Brooks saddles and they'd frequently test positive for rum and real ale. We'll not mention the musettes full of bacon butties and bread pudding....  4

Slightly surprised to see the pros packing 30+ sprockets - I'd always read/believed that anything above 25t was frowned upon as inadequately heroic. Nice to see they've seen sense, although in this Giro a small engine would be considered reasonable.  13 16

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msw [113 posts] 5 years ago
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Is there another shift in attitude too, i.e. away from the idea that one-tooth jumps and straight through blocks are really necessary? If you have ten (or 11) sprockets, why not go from 11 to 36 rather than 12-23?

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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dave_atkinson wrote:
Quote:

we're being primed ready for the 'next big thing' which means we'll feel obliged to go out and buy new kit, or new rear mechs and cassettes at least.

That's what happens anyway. But SRAM don't have much to gain by showing you an mix-and-match MTB rear mech and cassette – or a low end mech, in Contador's case – over a top-end road one. I'd suggest it's more likely that Millar's picked that setup because that's what suits.

That's something i've always found odd, the PP get the demo new gear as such before it's sent to market, ie Campy have a new Di2-esque group which some of the teams are using. Seems odd that they are the guinea pigs as it were, as opposed to us lot. Great for us of course, but what a knife edge to be essentially road testing gear

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 5 years ago
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The reason he wanted to keep the 52/42 on the front is because he uses those daft oval Rotor rings and he can't get them in anything smaller than a 42. Apparently, I heard a mechanic say that they're a nightmare to set up at the best of times with the distance the front mech needs to cover.

Is it a case of modern rear mechs just being better at shifting over longer gaps - hence no need to rely on blocks with closer ratios?  39

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bencolem [49 posts] 5 years ago
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Biggest surprise for me to see the Pro's using this cassette is the spread of gears - the shift from one sprocket to another will feel massive and must make it much harder to fine-tune cadence with gear shifts surely? Still, makes us mere mortals feel slightly less inadequate I suppose!

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Mat Brett [626 posts] 5 years ago
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arrieredupeleton wrote:

The reason he wanted to keep the 52/42 on the front is because he uses those daft oval Rotor rings and he can't get them in anything smaller than a 42. Apparently, I heard a mechanic say that they're a nightmare to set up at the best of times with the distance the front mech needs to cover.

Correct, he does use a Rotor setup at the front. I've added an extra pic at the bottom of the piece (kindly supplied by Mr Rich Mardle).

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PJ McNally [591 posts] 5 years ago
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So with 11-32 (8-speed) on my Trek hybrid, I've been doing it right all along. If it's good enough for Contador...

Ok, so it has a triple. What can I say, I like spinning up hills "effortlessly", who doesn't?

I'm convinced that a (rigid frame) hybrid, with a few tweaks, is the best value bike you can buy.

Just add trekking bars for that round-the-world look.

The mudguards, springy seatpost, and rack seem to come for free, compared with road bikes specced similarly. If you can put up with MTB-derived groupsets (Shimano Alivio etc), you get a good ride at a great price. Is this just economies of scale, or something else at work?

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PJ McNally [591 posts] 5 years ago
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Oval chainrings? I've always wanted to try them.

But I'm put off by Sheldon Brown's comments that manufacturers have tried both possible orientations (vertical, horizontal to the crank), which suggests to me they don't know what they're doing.

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DrBike [3 posts] 5 years ago
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I'd be interested to know if it was Millar himself or his mechanic who came up with the idea - just to satisfy my curiosity.