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How To Make Your Drivetrain More Efficient | Maintenance Monday

How To Make Your Drivetrain More Efficient | Maintenance Monday

– A well-tuned and smooth
drivetrain is mechanically really efficient. Which is good to know if
you are turning yourself inside out going up a climb. But nevertheless, the amount of power that you could potentially
save from just this area is really surprising. And if you don’t believe me, well, a company based in
Boulder called Friction Facts has been actually lab-testing all sorts of different drivetrain
components, lubricants, and even gear ratios to
find out just how efficient they really are. So how do you make your
drivetrain more efficient? Well, coming up, we’ve
got some tips based on Friction Fact data. And we’re gonna start with
one that’s completely free. Number one, clean your drivetrain. It is common sense, isn’t it? But have you ever thought that
actually having a dirty chain could be costing you 3
watts at the 250 watt testing benchmark? Serious. That is because dirt creates friction, and friction is the enemy of efficiency. So if you needed any,
that is added incentive as to why you should clean your bike. We’ll come back to other
free adjustments later on. But for now, once you’ve got
a scrupulously clean chain, let’s talk lubricant. Because you can actually
save in excess of 4 watts just by choosing the right lubricant. Now, I’m not gonna delve into Friction Facts’ actual test results here because that’s their
proprietary information, and that’s how they
actually make their money. But nevertheless, there
are some interesting things to be learned. Firstly, dry lube, actually on the whole, generates more friction
than wet lubricant. Although that is in the
laboratory environment and not after a long ride where you might expect dry lube to actually attract less
dirt than a wet lubricant. But then, amusingly perhaps, one of the most efficient
lubricants tested was extra virgin olive oil. Now no word on real world performance, but it’s probably worth remembering next time you have a dry chain, and you sat out having lunch somewhere. While we’re on the subject of chains, how interesting is this? You might expect that a
worn-out chain is less efficient than a new chain, and you’d be right. It is by about two watts. But, did you know that a brand new chain is actually one watt less efficient than a chain that has
already been broken in by riding 50 to 100 kilometres? I know, I told you. Interesting, isn’t it? Now, the lesson from
that is you should always replace your chain when it gets worn out, but you should never race
or do an important event on a brand new chain. Where else then, if we’re
actually spending money? Well, there are small gains
to be made on your pedals. Not on your pedals. And also your bottom bracket. But perhaps some of the
most significant savings can be found in your
choice of rear derailleur, or more specifically, the jockey wheels. It would seem that
generally a more expensive rear derailleur is more efficient than a cheaper rear derailleur,
and that is often a result of having slightly
larger jockey wheels. And then if you really wanna upgrade, you can get oversized jockey wheels, and they can save you nearly 3 watts. And that increase in
efficiency is actually because they stop the chain from
turning too tightly. And it is a point linked to
this that actually leads us to our last, and perhaps most intriguing, free, energy-saving tip. Gear selection. That’s right, one gear choice
can be up to 3 watts less efficient than another one. Partly due to the alignment of the chain, and then partly, like we
just said, about how tightly the chain needs to turn. So effectively, the cog size. First of all, for those
of you that are appalled by cross chaining, here is
the data to back you up. You do indeed lose drivetrain efficiency from cross chaining. Between 1 1/2 and 2 watts. And so that is when you run
either the small chainring and the smallest cog, or the big chainring and the biggest cog, like I’ve done here. Of the two, this one here, big and big, is actually the least costly. So, the more efficient of the two. And that in part is because
the chain line actually isn’t that bad, but then also because of those cog sizes. That’s right. Your big chainring is
almost always more efficient than your little chainring. So, how cool is that? Not only do you get to
ride around looking good, but you also get to know that it is mechanically more efficient. Now, at what point do
you, though, change from your big ring to your little ring. Well, it’s when you get to
cog number eight at the back. So that’s four down from the top, or eight up from the bottom. And when you get to that point, you shift into a little ring, then knock it down two
sprockets at the back. And then use six to 11
with your little one. Now theoretically, I’m
afraid to say, that does mean that compact chain sets are
mechanically less efficient than standard versions with
large cassettes on the back. And potentially, if you
became really obsessed by it, you may wanna consider running
55-42 tooth chainrings, and they’re like 12 to
30 cassette at the back. Like world time trial champion, in fact, Tony Martin, who may well already
know something about this. Does this change anything
that I would do though? Well, not really. I think I’m already on
record as saying that 39-11 is my least favourite gear ratio. Although in fact, I think
I hate 34-11 even more. And then while I do really
like riding in the big ring and two and three down on the cassette, I am prepared to sacrifice one watt in order to keep doing that. And actually, on SRAM-equipped
bikes like this one of Lasty’s, I’m actually still happy cross chaining. Because I can. And they say that I can. Friction Facts, as I
said near the beginning, do all of these tests at 250 watts. So, if you put out more
power or less power then your savings will be
more or less correspondingly. Although, the difference is
linear and not exponential. So do bear that in mind. Or in fact actually, don’t bear in mind. It may be that these efficiency savings are
of absolutely no interest to you whatsoever, and they
have nothing to do with why you like cycling. And is that is absolutely fine. But then, it is also fine to
become slightly obsessional about your equipment. That’s cool. It’s whatever floats your boat. Whichever way you look at it, if you add up all of
these possible drivetrain efficiency savings, then you get to a number that’s
really quite significant. If someone came to you and
offered you a 5% improvement at 250 watts from training, you would definitely take it. And while I do understand
that you may not want spend a load of money on expensive bearings or oversized jockey wheels, the fact that cleaning
your chain and using your gear selection intelligently
are also part of those drivetrain efficiencies. There are some thing that all of us can be doing for free. All right, there we go then. That is how to make your
drivetrain more efficient. For more videos like this, make sure subscribe to GCN. Because that way, you’re
always in the right place, particularly on a Monday when we do these maintenance videos. And, if you want more content, then how about knowing how to
clean your chain scrupulously. That video is just up there. Or to see how to index your gears, something that will also have a bearing on your drivetrain efficiency, click just over there. Oh, and give a thumbs up for
drivetrain efficiency savings.

100 comments on “How To Make Your Drivetrain More Efficient | Maintenance Monday

  1. #Torqueback What is the best drivetrain if you are limited for junior racing for criteriums and or classics?

  2. So if you have want to get the ultimate efficiency then it's a single speed, perfect chain line and no jockey wheels.

  3. Worth mentioning that lube doesn't just have to lubricate the chain, it's corrosion prevention too, so olive oil probably isn't a good idea

  4. Using a sponge to clean ur chain isn't effecient u need brushes to get into the links park tools chain cleaner works the best hands down and a KMC lightweight chain is best chain period in all ways. 🤙🏼🚴🏼💨

  5. You state that you best use the big ring until cog 8, and then, use the small ring with cog 6 to 11. That might be exact with some crankset and cassette combo's, but with most, you have to back up 4 cogs. On a 50 – 36 crankset and 11 speed 12-25 cassette, gong from 50-19 to 36-15 , the logical next step, that's 5 cogs. With a 50-34 and 11-28 combo, going from 50-21 to 34-14 is also 4 cogs. On both, you start lower than cog 6 for sure. As a rule of thumb, I would avoid the smallest 3 cogs when in the inner ring and the largest 3 cogs when in the big ring. But thx for the great video anyway!! Keep up the good work!

  6. #torquwBack Is it better when climbing to gain spedd on the flatter bits and try to hold it or just ride an even effort?

  7. My mate was too tight to buy chainlube so he used turkey basting fat from the Sunday roast. Don't know how efficient it was but it smelt good following him.

  8. Tom's project one bike looks sad. "Look at me, I've been lied to, they told me. I was going to Alta Badia not the shed. Anything but the shed PLEASE. I put on my best wheels too!"

  9. Interesting that no discussion of paraffin wax. But then as it's so cheap to be almost free, it's never going to pay the sponsorship. Since discovering wax lube i'm never going back.

  10. #TORQUEBACK It is said that wider road bike tires are faster, but where is the limit? I've test ridden trek domane with 32 mm tires and it was surprisingly fast on flat road and comfy on cobbles.

  11. By far, the single biggest drivetrain efficiency gain that can be made to the bike in the video is to add pedals — any pedals!!!

  12. Where do Sram say you can cross chain? I couldn't find anything on it. And does that include lower level gear (Apex & Rival)?

  13. That's interesting about the cog and chain ring sizes. Although I'd say running compact would outweigh the one or two watt savings due to better cadences on climbs.

  14. I used olive oil once in a long rainy cycling weekend holiday. It works fine. Now I try to remember to take the proper stuff with me.

  15. SIMON! Thanks for all the great advice! I really appreciate how you back it up with figures rather than just say "do this, it's better". I also appreciate your personal touch. I just discovered the Trim feature that permits me to cross-chain on occasion and have used it to great effect (IMO). I really appreciate your endorsement of cross-chaining in the appropriate scenarios, while still recommending that we should probably drop down regardless. You've made me a more confident cyclist. Thank you!

  16. Cool! Never expected olive oil to be a winner on the efficient lube I maybe give that a go during the rainy season when I clean and lube my chain after every ride! Thats very environmentally non toxic too so a big plus in my books. I also did just get a Shimano chain after hearing they not only shift smoother than others but save a proven 1.5 watts

  17. If I do everything that Si recommends here, I'll gain something like, uhh, 54 watts. Sweet! Now all I have to figure out is whether to use Italian or Spanish olive oil.

  18. Attended a county sponsored bike maintenance class recently and one gent said he never cleaned his MTB in 3 years and wondered why his bike was shifting on its own. Well, 2 flat tires, all the cables and derailleaur were packed in sand/mud, chain extremely stretched, and cogs chewed up. He'll be cleaning after every ride.

  19. question:
    new chain always covered with lub out of the box.should i clean it off and reapply before i ride or just leave it there?

  20. Other ways to save a handful of watts for free:

    1. Don't drink beer.
    2. Don't eat doughnuts.
    3. Don't have sex.
    4. Don't go to work.
    5. Don't do drugs.
    6. Don't cut the grass.
    7. Don't wash the car.
    8. Don't take the kids out.
    9. Don't go shopping.
    10. Don't walk up stairs.
    11. Don't stand in the shower.
    12. Don't slow down for road junctions.

  21. Saving power = A worse workout. That bike costs more than most of these people's cars. I want my bike less efficient for a better workout. 99% of these people aren't in training for anything.

  22. I use olive oil and it works well, but I have to say picks up quite a lot of crap, needs to be washed every two weeks if you ride regularly.

  23. Great video. I don't know if i waste watts, all I know Is that my Venge VÍAS feels faster when I put down an hour to clean it, particularly my drive train. It feels smother, quieter and faster.

  24. Paraffin is crap. Here's a Golden tip LPS molybdenum Disulphide, never have to degrease again. Quiet and clean. Watch for overspray, goes on like paint. remove with alcohol…your'e welcome.

  25. so if I Have a 10gear… it would be okay to be in gear 8 (3rd down from biggest) with the big chainring up front?

  26. "Dirt" in your chain forms a grinding paste. It not only wastes watts, it gnaws on your cassette, chainrings and chain.
    Paraffin thinned with paraffin oil, is the way to go. Not just the lowest friction coefficient, it’s not sticky, and doesn’t collect all the gunk. It’s also more resistant to washing out in wet weather.

    Si: everyone is always saying "save this man watts" … over what time/ distance. Saving two watts over 100 km is different than two watts / km.

  27. Could GCN do a Road test comparing Elliptical versus Circular front chainrings? It seems like two Tour de France winners have used them with success but would Really like to see some results from a GCN test

  28. Would this 'bigger ring, more efficient' idea count towards the reason why despite oval/non round chain rings making sense on paper, there is no proven benefit from them as when it's easier on a dead spot and it saves you a few watts, the chain is making a sharper turn round a cog that is in effect smaller and thus you're loosing these watts back here?

  29. One of the best maintenance videos in a while, kudos to Si. But you didn't mention even once who "custom designed" the bike. Till date, the most awesome awesome GCN gift that keeps on giving…more smiles 😂

  30. This chain lube graph says it all. All you need is Wax mixed with oil.

  31. Ok…so how come I can only get 3 or 4 gears up my block in the big ring before the chain starts rubbing on the derailleur? If I adjust the derailleur further in then it rubs at the bottom of the block instead. Campag Athena 11sp chainset.

  32. Like I always say: Use the big chainring!!! Anytime!!! You will go faster!!! #chainthefuckuporsomething #CTFUOS

  33. I wonder how many watts I'm saving by running a fixed-gear over a derailleur bike…?

    Probably not enough to overcome the ridiculously-non-aero position.

  34. Paraffin wax. Never going back to any other lube. Revelation doesn't cover it. Smoother, quieter, cleaner and easier. You'd be certifiably mad to use any other lube. Some great videos on youtube from ozcyle covering this. (no affiliation)

  35. I am new to cycling and always learn something from your videos, you are even hilarious on top of being informative.

    Thanks for your videos

  36. My last bike was a 2×10 friction shift one and although modern indexed ones are far lovelier I'm sure, I was looking for a hint/rule-of-thumb on managing the move between the 2 front chainrings. It was easy with the levers on the downtube, just move one up, one down, and adjust until the clicking stopped 🙂 Thanks for the tip Si, I'll try and use that cog 8 and cog 6 idea as a starting point. (so, 2 notches on right when changing on the left).

  37. I have actually used EVOO as a lubricant in many machines, including my bicycle as a chain lube. I didn't know that it was the best at the job, I was just out of "real" chain lube and I wanted something more eco-friendly than any petroleum-based product. I still use the old standby WD-40 for a quick clean-and-lube job, but when I do a proper servicing, I'll reach for the salad dressing.

  38. The last time I tried to clean my drivetrain, I somehow managed to get dirt into the rear hub which resulted in having to take it down to my LBS for a hub overhaul. I'd rather just take the 3 watt penalty next time.

  39. GCN is missing a trick. They could get a bucket sponsor, a sponge sponsor and a hosepipe sponsor. Maybe they could even get their local Water Company to sponsor them.

  40. My 14.5 kg alloy road bike is tweeted to the max, custom derailleur with different sized wheels, MG chemicals white Lithium on hubs, loose ceramic ball bearings on the wheel hubs, caged bottom bracket ceramic bearing balls. It's keeping up with $5000 bikes with experienced riders. But this bike was $250, with $100 addons.

  41. Does the rear wheel naturally spin less on a free spin ? My front wheel spins for like forever but rear would stop in 6-7secs (slow hand spin) . My discs aren't rubbing either

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