29"er Specific Crank Set? That's Soooo 90's!

Campy Record OR crank set with the rare 20T granny

One of the maxims about cycling you can almost always count on is, “It’s been done before“. With that said, here is an example of what that means in the case of the elusive quest for the “29”er Specific Crank Set”.

So many times this subject gets raised on forums and in e-mails sent to me. Well, here is what you are looking for, only it was done in 1992 and has long since been out of production. Campagnolos ill fated Record OR group was a last stab at mountain bike credibility for the famed Italian road component company. Unfortunately, the group suffered from a very poorly designed shifter at a time when Rapid Fire was being introduced by Shimano. Regardless of the fine finish and functionality of the rest of the Record OR parts, this lack of a good shifter, (and a bit of weight over a Shimano XT group) was the nail in the coffin for Record OR.

Interestingly, this crankset was available in a configuration that included a 20T granny and a 30T middle ring: exactly what 29″er freaks are asking for now days. Another feature of this crankset was the “cassette” mounting of the rings, an idea Shimano would take and refine for some of its late 90’s cranksets.

So when you think about having some of those lower gears for your next assault on that five mile climb to the clouds, think about this neat little design that deserves to be updated. Too bad these are super rare. They would be a great solution to a lot of folks desires for “29”er specific” gearing.


No Responses to “29"er Specific Crank Set? That's Soooo 90's!”

  1. Sean Says:

    The way I see it, if you cant ride the standard gearing…get stronger.

  2. Oderus Says:

    Who’s asking for those gears? I haven’t seen or heard anyone looking for anything like this on the Front Range. Tons of climbing here and I haven’t taken one request for lower gearing. I’m with Sean, eat your Wheaties, drink some muscle milk and ride your bike.

  3. AC Says:

    I see this topic often on MTBR, but I’m good with my 32fx20r. If I can’t climb somthing I’m ok just walking it….. 😉

  4. mac (aka farley) Says:

    This wasn’t unique to the Campy crank by any means. During the days when the compact 5 bolt crankarm (58/94 BCD) reigned supreme, it wasn’t uncommon at all to see people running 20/30/42 chainring combos. And while I ran those gears just as low as anyone in those days, I do remember at one point looking at my 20/32 granny combo, thinking back to my ’85 Mongoose ATB with it’s 28/28 low gear and thinking: “when did we all start needing such low gears?”

    My Dad often says “However much money you make, that’s what it takes to live on.” I’ve found the same thing with gears. I’ve used every last gear inch in a 20/30/42 x 11-34 drivetrain, and I’ve slogged a through hundred milers on a 34/20 singlespeed, and basically whatever gears I had, I got by with.

  5. Fort James Says:

    Weight be darned, those of us lucky enough to own a set of these cranks know that with Campy quality, the rings have not even worn out yet!

  6. Desert9r Says:

    20t chainring Motha of Gawd, I live in the Sierra foothills and single 32t is fine, where do these people live? Everest? or are they riding a KM with lead shot in the tires?

    I still wouldn’t pay Campy price for the crankset.

  7. gnat Says:

    I’m one of those folks that agrees with Mark. Some may need it. Some prefer to walk while others prefer to ride. Some may just want it. Some may just want to talk about it. To each there own.

    Personally, I rode a 20-30-42 for quite some time on my Dos Niner. What I found was that in my midwest terrain, the 30 was too small and I found my self in the 42 too often. I’m considering going a different direction with my gearing on my 29er. I’m going to try a 24×36 with a Ring Dinger. This gives me low gearing, a little more gear for some faster downhills, and gives me the ground clearance I want.

    Salsa Cycles

  8. Mr. X Says:

    The 20T granny is nice when hauling a loaded Pugsley up a steep incline. I go mountain biking, not hiking and the 20T keeps me on the bike. I don’t care if it’s slower than walking, part of the challenge is to clear a section without putting a foot down.

  9. Cloxxki Says:

    Great way to offset the large wheel’s better rolling by reduced drivetrain efficiency and increased chainsuck.

    If we’d mate a 29″ specific crankset to a 29″ specific cassette, are we left with a 32″ specific drivetrain?

  10. Sevo Says:

    This is such a lame idea. What’s next…29er specific seatpost, saddles, and pedals? I run here in Colorado Springs a 2×9 with 42/29 front and 11-34 rear. Nothing I can’t climb here that I couldn’t climb before with my 26″ with a 42/32/22 11-34.

    If you can’t push the available gearing then it’s time to get in shape…which I by no means am in yet I live with what I ride (i’m 6’2″ and 240lbs). If I can do it so can you. 🙂

  11. SteveV Says:

    Tell the “Freaks to ride single and shut their pie hole.

  12. shiggy Says:

    “29-specific” or not, I want 5-arm, 94/58 cranks for the security of 5 bolts (4-bolt spiders just do not cut it) and the flexibility of gearing choices. I have no desire or need for a 20×34 low. I do use a 30×34 low on a 2×9 29er w/ a 94BCD spider.

    I have matched 26″ and 29″ bikes in the works with planned 38/24×11-32 and 36/24×11-34 gearing, probably on 110/74 spiders.

  13. Dirt McGirt Says:

    I’ve heard rumor from a very reliable source that FSA is working on a 10X2 MTB setup that isn’t necessarily a 29er specific, but very cool nonetheless. Word.

  14. jeremy Uk Says:

    29er shoes apparently Sevo

  15. kilowahn Says:

    if you liked to cross the alps on your 9er, youl’d be glad for a 20t granny ring some times – especially when youre on a 5 mile fireroad uphill…

  16. Anonymous Says:

    If people want to experiment let ’em. I agree that most folks can/should adapt to what they already have, but at the same time experimenting to find ideal gearing should be up to the individual. In my experience we are highly adaptable machines, capable of making most anything work (barring any physical issues) when it comes to crank length and gearing issues. But hey, everyone is different and if people want to fiddle with gearing what’s so bad about that?

    Aren’t we really only talking about switching up chainrings? If new 29ers start arriving with lower gearing is it really that big of a deal? Switching a ring out costs ~ $30 (Salsa) so it’s not like it’s excessively cost prohibitive to change it if you don’t like the stock setup. Was there this much griping over the move to the new compact ‘cross/road chainrings?

  17. Brendan Says:

    Whoops – Didn’t mean to leave the anonymous post above – nothing shady going I promise!

  18. Sevo Says:

    I agree a compact 5arm standard should be brought back. I don’t like the 4 arm stuff. Makes it hard to run 2×9. Plus for the weenies that just HAVE to have a 20 they can have it and we don’t have to see this “29er crank” topic keep popping up on the forums over and over.

    Oh and 5 mile climb in the alps? I live in Colorado and if I can do a 2+ hour climb at my size (and with my beer intake) with a 29×34 combo I think most people can live with a 22×34 combo low.

    Oh and check out my new site: twentyninersucker.com. You’ll be able to get 29er specific shoes, saddles, pedals, spokes, grips, and more at wholesale prices. Cranks coming soon. 😉

    Anyway nuff said. Time to go back to looking out the window looking for that big brown truck to deliver my new 29er frame. :–)

  19. jeremy Uk Says:

    Middleburn already do 5 arm with inner ring down to 20. They also guarantee their cranks for any usage including downhill for life.
    They are considered the best in the world by quite a few UK testers but you can only get them square taper or isis

  20. mac (aka farley) Says:

    It strikes me that the forthcoming Surly crank is slated to be available in 94/58 bcd. I also vaguely recall Sugino still having a crank or two available in that config. So these things are out there, it just may not be in huge numbers. . .

  21. Guitar Ted Says:

    To answer a few other posters here, the 20T granny does not fit on current 4 arm crank set BCD’s without modification, a special chain ring, or at all. And has been said, a 29T middle ring or a 30T for that matter, won’t fit most of these cranks either.

    Yes, 94/58 BCD cranks are out there, and yes- the upcoming Mr. Whirly cranks promise to be a hot seller. My take is that most of the choices offered here are either square taper, which has its drawbacks, or as in the case of the Surly crank, are do-it-all cranks that are going to be very spendy.

    I think what lots of folks would love to see is a two piece crank from Shimano that recieves wide OEM spec, is supported by the vast majority of IBD’s and online shops, and has a 94/58 BCD. Also adding in the availability of chainring sizes to suit any riders needs. If Shimano, Truvativ, FSA, or another manufacturer would step up to the plate here with a reasonably priced and widely available unit like this, I think we’d hear the end of this.

  22. kilowahn Says:

    20/4 Stambecco – 20t granny for CompactDrive as Shimano XTR FC-M960 and 970 ,Shimano XT and LX, FSA, RaceFace, Truvativ etc.


    sorry – shop is in german – but i’m shure theres a shop in your country too 😉

  23. professed Says:

    Sevo – no need to bring ‘back’ the 5 arm, there are still plenty of FSA afterburners with 94mmPCD around and I’ll hang onto mine until i can get afford a set of Middleburns !

    Jeremy UK – it is a shame that Middleburn only make their beautifull SS integrated crankset/ring as a 32T when a 30T is what a lot of twentyninersinglespeederophiles want – if this is wrong please let me know and the saving plan will be ramped up !

    Some of us SS riders also like to spin – in an attempt to emulate the efficiency of Contador on a climb – when you run anything bigger than a 1.9 on the back a 30T:17T is just so much more efficient and effective to ride when racing 2+hrs on a hilly course… The great ‘out of the saddle on every incline mash’ is ego boosting but not the quickest way for most mere mortals in the end.

    And smaller rings are stiffer too (but as Cloxxki says – less efficient – true but who notices that when you have a gritty chain !)

  24. jeremy Uk Says:

    Well Prof you’re right but…
    Whilst [according to their excellent website http://www.middleburn.co.uk ] they do only make a 32 uno ring they make a 29 inner spider and ring which you then bolt a 42 outer to.
    Voila! Take off the outer and you have just the 29.
    Seeing as they have already done this I think they would look kindly on a 29er specific smaller Uno, or just arrange for the Duo to be sold sans big ring.
    Ask them!

  25. PROFESSED Says:

    Thanks J UK.
    Your suggestion is an option and is what I currently do with my Afterburners. Its a bit ugly but since I dont have Boone Ti rear cogs ( just good and strong Surley Steel) the looks don’t matter that much.

    So if its going to be Middleburn it has to be the sexy UNO or nothing !

    Time to get really strong like the big lads posting earlier on….

  26. mg Says:

    hopefully someday the mr. whirly will actually materialize, because to-date, i’ve never actually seen a crank in person.

    c’mon surly — give us mr. whirly!! we want mr. whirly!! we need mr. whirly!!

    …MR. WHIRLY, paging MR. WHIRLY, to MG’s Dos Niner, STAT.

  27. Vic Says:

    I, as a fat 29er cyclist could really use a couple fewer teeth every once in a while and I am not ashamed to admit it. It may be the case that I rarely if ever run out of gears with my 29er on steep climbs, but occasionally I feel like I am experiencing unnecessary fatigue while gaining no speed advantage. Why mash like Jan, when you can spin like Lance? (I can do neither but thought it would be good to illustrate a point.) I am sure many others feel the same way but have been shamed by the “get stronger” crowd.


    I grew up on the front range and lived there most of my adult life, I have ridden most trails there since Manitou bikes were handmade in Green Mountain Falls and get back to the Springs to ride 2 or 3 times a year and while the climbing makes anything I have done in Michigan, Illinois or Wisconsin seem dainty, it is by and large, as you know, middle ring riding for a reasonably strong rider. I am not sure where near the Springs a two hour climb is, but I have definitely ridden other parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Old Mexico Utah and Arizona that are much, much steeper than what the southern front range has to offer. If you hit the epics of Central and Western Colorado, you will see very few SSer’s and just as few setups without a small ring. It does not take a weenie to spin a 22 on a 26er let alone a 29er and many riders much much stronger than myself (and I suspect you as well)have done it.

    Calling riders who ride three rings and want more spin out of their niners weenies and suckers makes me raise my eyebrow more than a little.

  28. NR Says:

    Kilowahn – Do you have experience with this 20/4 stambecco? I have a Shimano LX crankset. Any problems with bolts interefering with chain? I’m hoping shop will ship to USA.

  29. dan cuaron Says:

    hi fellow riders i lived in abq nm all my life. owned bikes for 4 decades. rode lots of nm mtns so here goes my opion on 29 gearing. i currently own a salsa mamasita and a raleigh xxix. with my weight 200 lbs. and fairly fit rider. ive’d enjoyed running lower gearing. on the raleigh a 4 bolt stylo crank. 20-30 -38 and on the salsa 5 bolt suntour pro. 20-30-42. for me the gearing feels exactly like a 26 inch bike. the taller big gear i never use on the salsa. and climbing out of climb’s a snap. its cheaper to built a 5 bolt crank than haviing limited seletion for 4 bolt. can’t wait for the next round of tech. 2×11 sounds great. to me the big companies would bebefit selling29ers with this gearing to ofset the neg feedback on slow accelarating 29ers. happy trails.

  30. SCSS29 Says:

    I never knew I had a gearing problem. I just rode the bike and shifted the gears and rode the bike some more. Boy what a dope I was. Thank you twentynineinches for helping discover the depth of my denile. I honestly had no idea that my gear inches were so screwed up. Now I can’t even look at my bike without feeling like a complete idiot! Are there meetings I can attend to help me come to grips with this issue. Or are my grips out to get me too. Please help. I miss riding.

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