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New Drive Train

New Drive Train

More than a year ago, I was warned that my drive train was on it's last legs. And over the last couple of months, it's become nearly unusable.

I had new rings, chain, and cassette priced out at about $120, which made sense until I waited too long and discovered that it now requires some kind of witchcraft to get your hands on a 9-speed cassette.

And then I spotted a new Deore 2x10 complete drive train on sale for $175. Sold. (Plus, I had a new ZTR freehub waiting to go on. Sweet!)

I spent much of the weekend setting it up.

Here's the procedure:

  • Take reference pics of all cable routing and mech. setup.
  • Test-fit everything.
  • Remove old stuff.
  • Mount new stuff:
    1. freehub
    2. cassette
    3. crank
    4. pedals
    5. front mech.
    6. rear mech
    7. shifters
    8. cables (fit the housing sections, then string the cables)
    9. chain
  • Adjust high/low limit screws, fiddle with cable tension, etc.
  • Now cut & cap the cable ends.

As with all things technical, it takes forever the first time you do it. I'm sure I'll finish in half the time if I ever need to do it again.

Now, when you're fitting the chain, do not screw up Shimano's little "master pin" thing. I managed to somehow get the angle wrong in my chain tool, and it broke before actually going into the chain.

So, I just popped apart the next link, and then joined the chain ends using that pin. The join was a little stiff, but a few spins of the cranks seemed to show that everything was in order.

And then this morning, I learned why that was a bad idea. (Or, at least, I learned that I don't yet have the skill to pull off that little maneuver.) Luckily, the chain broke relatively close to the trailhead. But now I know: don't screw up that master pin.

I've replaced the shimano chain (which I had to assume was beyond repair) with a KMC. We'll see how that goes.

Other than that, though (which is 100% my own fault), the new drive train is badass. It was a snap to set up, the action on the levers is super-light, and it shifts beautifully every time. It feels incredibly solid. Deore really has come a long way in the last few years. (My old drive train came stock on my bike 4 years ago.)

At this point, the only components on my bike that I haven't swapped out myself are the cockpit, the fork, and the bottom bracket. Everything else is new. I'm accumulating enough components that it's reasonable to pick up a $100 garage sale bike and be able to set it up as a jalopy.

Gear Notes

Freehub: The new ZTR freehub is awesome. Steel, same weight as the old aluminum one (90g), with a spline pattern that matches the shimano cassette pattern. Should last a lot longer than the last.

Front Derailleur: The groupset I ordered included the M615 (topswing) derailleur. I need the M616 (downswing). But I got lucky-- the chainring spacing is the same as on my old tripple (or close enough anyway), so I can make due with my old derailleur until the correct one arrives next week.

ESI Grips: I replaced my thin "racer's edge" ESI grips with "Chunky" ones, and I like it. I'm still getting used to the difference, but I think I'm going to like it.

Chain: I decided that my chain was beyond saving, and headed for the bike shop for a new one. I ended up spending $50 on a KMC X10 10-speed chain. I don't yet know how it performs, but the "missing link" tool-free installation already puts it way ahead of Shimano on the mechanical front.

Multitool: When my chain broke, I wouldn't have had to walk half an hour back to the trailhead if my multitool had included a chainbreaker. I even had a spare missing link with me that I could have used. So, I'm going to find a small multitool with a chain tool. Another lesson learned.

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