Today's post comes from Tim Krueger, Salsa product manager. -Kid
A double on the Vaya? What the $#&@?
It has been asked what we were thinking when we decided to use a double crankset as a spec on a bike intended for recreational riding and touring.
To put it simply, we were thinking! Double cranksets and modern drivetrains have come a long way since the triple was the standard for those pursuits.
Triple front cranks were intended to create a larger gear range when cassettes (or freewheels!) could only reasonably have a range of 12-28 without large jumps in ratios, or making for poor shifting. Over time, technology and engineering have allowed more gears to be placed in the same space, allowing smoother shifting over a greater range of gears. As this technology plods forward, we will eventually see less of a need for additional front chainrings.
For example, the triple used to be the standard for mountain bikes. Now we are seeing compact doubles take their place on high-end mountain bikes with the advent of SRAM XX and FSA 386 technology, when paired with large range cassettes such as SRAM's 11-36 XX cassette. These drivetrains still yield an equivalent range to a standard triple drivetrain, yet are lighter and simpler.
This is the idea with the Vaya. We took a close look at the overall ratios involved with a road-based triple drivetrain. Take our Casseroll Triple for example. With a 30-39-50 front combination, and a 12-25 rear, it has a low gear inch measurement of 32.4. For those unfamiliar with this measurement, it means that in this lowest gear, the bike will travel 32.4 inches forward with every revolution of the pedals.
On the Vaya, this measurement in the lowest gear is 29.0 inches. So while on the surface, the Vaya's double appears to have less of a climbing gear than a road triple, in practice, it actually has a slightly lower gear than a standard road triple drivetrain. Even the traditional road triple with a 12-27 on the back still only has a 30.4 inch low gear.
Now, one could argue that even though this is true, the Vaya is still not as low as a touring setup such as a Sugino XD600 crankset paired with an 11-34 rear cassette, which yields a 20.9 inch low gear. And to that, you would be correct. However, we didn't design the Vaya to be a bike solely for touring. We designed the Vaya to be more of an 'all around' bike, one good for a variety of purposes. The Vaya is our road adventure bike. If you truly want that low of gearing, consider basing your build on a Vaya frameset and choose the gearing that you prefer, or start with a Vaya complete bike and change out your crankset.
Keep your eyes open, because in the near future you will begin to see a trend in cycling towards double cranksets. Because the Vaya may be among the first, but definitely not the last to be sporting the 34-50 and 11-32 combo to give the recreational cyclist the greatest all-around experience.
Thanks to SheldonBrown.com for the gear calculations.