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Thread: chain retention and 1x8, 1x9, etc.

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    Default chain retention and 1x8, 1x9, etc.

    I've got a new frame on the way and am collecting parts for it. I've got a couple of bikes with triple cranksets, and a fixed gear, so this one is going to be a 1x something, because it's new to me. So, some questions are in order.

    I don't wanna futz with an uncabled front derailleur or some other chain retention device, so my tentative plan is to polish up an old 110 bcd square taper Sugino crankset from my parts bin and put a wide-narrow chainring on there to avoid dropping the chain. I've no real desire for a 9-11 speed cassette, but I gather that all of these wide-narrow rings from Wolftooth or Raceface require 9 or even 10 speed chains, so maybe its time to "upgrade."

    If I get a wide narrow chainring, do I NEED a clutch rear derailleur? The towpath and downtown potholes are the the biggest bumps this bike will see, for now. If a clutch isn't required for mostly casual/road riding, I've got a nice old Suntour mountain derailleur I'd like to use.

    What narrow-wide chainring would you suggest for a 1x9 or 1x10 setup?

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    I wouldn't say you need a clutch rear derailleur. I guess it depends a little on how much chain slack you're running (and also if you're on a small cog when you hit a bump). But I can only comment from my limited experiences. I've used both clutched (M786) and unclutched (M781) 10-speed XT with narrow wide chainrings now - one is an Absolute Black (currently on a 26" beater bike) and the other is a road 110 bcd RaceFace. Neither has had a drop yet but it's early days, and I am keeping an uncabled front derailleur on the bike with the unclutched XT RD so perhaps not a fair comparison. (I also upgraded from 7/8 speed to 10 speed at the same time.)

    Generally when I've dropped a chain on 1x bikes (this is pre narrow-wide chainings), I've been in a taller gear and/or on a very bumpy surface.

    tl;dr If I was mountain biking I'd definitely use a clutched RD but otherwise with a narrow wide I'd be okay trying a regular RD.

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    Thanks. Sounds like I've nothing to lose by trying the old Suntour rear derailleur ... and a plain old chainring from the parts bin, for that matter.

    Is anyone on this forum successfully running a 1x7 or a 1x8 without any sort of chain retention device?

    I think I'll give it a shot. I'm not really looking for wide gearing right now anyway. A 38t or 40t chainring with an 11x28 cassette would be fine (and 28t is all the old Suntour RD can handle anyway). If I end up liking the 1x setup, I think I'd spring for a 10 speed cassette, chain, clutch RD, and narrow wide chainring.

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    I had a 1x7 (13-34 cassette) but it dropped when it was bumpy. Also had a 1x9 (9-26 Capreo), same thing.

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    Shoot. I think I'll skip the trial and error phase, then.

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    I would try running what you have in the parts bin and see what the results are. Nothing to lose. If chain drops are an issue then you could try a chain catcher or go full on clutch rear derailleur or back to a front derailleur.

    This makes me think though, on my commuter bikes (both road triples which is ridiculous overkill for my routes and as slow as I ride) I use my middle chain ring 99.9% of the time. My chain never accidentally shifts up front? Does my front derailleur do more chain watch dogging than I give it credit for?

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    I have a SRAM X9 10sp (road/MTB) or 11sp. road rear derailleur (clutch) that is pretty well used but functional. Short-cage, so max 36t cassette. I am gonna swap it out for a longer cage so I have option to use 11-40t cassette if I want. Anyway, I was gonna put it up in classifieds for $20, if that helps your cause.

    I rode around trails with a narrow-wide and 11-28 with a regular Rival RD for a bit; I don't think I dropped chain, but it was not aggressive riding. I have dropped my chain a few times even with my clutch RD. Usually in smaller cogs, so wondering if I could lose a link or two. I haven't dropped chain on my MTB, which is also SRAM 1x10.

    Even with the rare chain drop, the system is great. For one thing putting the chain back on is super easy.

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    Thanks to you both. This thread has made me rethink not using a chain retention device in place of a front derailleur. I think I'll give the Paul Components chain keeper a go, with a 1x8 drivetrain fom the parts bin.

    Sooner or later, I think I'd drop a chain without a wide-narrow chainring and/or clutch RD. Those things seem to require 9-11 speed setups, or at least chains, but I'd like to stay with 8 speeds. It's cheaper, but what's more important to me is that I like friction shifting, and once you get past 8 speeds it can be a little tricky to "find" the gear you want using a friction shifter.

    The Paul device looks nice and costs about the same as a wide-narrow ring. I'm putting Paul touring cantis on this bike so there's that, too.

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    BLUF: IME, rear clutch derailleurs work better at stopping the chain from dropping better than narrow wide chainrings and front chain retention devices

    I too am a tinkerer (not Tinker), and when I had to choose either narrow-wide ring or clutch derailleur, I've had better luck with the latter. I bounce around a bit while riding the road and mountain, and I have never dropped a chain with a clutch derailleur when properly set up. I have dropped the chain when I coupled a narrow-wide chainring with a non-clutch derailleur.

    Here's my current set up on one of my main bikes, and I have never dropped a chain over rumbly roads and rock fields:

    Hope singlespeed/trials hub, which has a narrower freehub body that only allows up to 6 cogs.
    Shimano XT Shadow+ 10 speed derailleur
    Shimano XT 10 speed cassette, using only 6 of the cogs
    SRAM PC-1031 chain
    Salsa 42 tooth singlespeed chainring
    Shimano Dura-Ace bar end shifter (front) on Paul shifter mounts (no indexing)

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    I agree with trying to run what you brung first if you are trying to save money. If you don't bounce around much then you might be fine.

    PS - I've used the Paul Chain retention device. It's not as effective as a clutch derailleur. It was more effective than a NGear Jump Stop though.
    Last edited by drevil; 03-12-2017 at 09:08 AM.

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    Thanks, appreciate it. I'll go with the Paul keeper for now and if I have any trouble a new clutch derailleur should solve it. Nothing to stop me from using 8 speed friction shifting with a modern clutch RD, right?

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