I would like to go touring using my narrowide chainring, but I would like as well to put a smaller chainring (the infamous Grannie) so that I could have it as a last resort in case of really hard climbs (considering that I will carry a lot of gear while touring for several months).

Do you think I will be able to shift gears on the crankset with a front derailler, considering the narrowide chainring?

  • 1
    For manual gear changing (as in your comments under Grigory's answer) it might just be worth a shot, because you can seat the chain nicely by hand rather than relying on the FD. You still need the rear derailleur capacity (sort of - don't use the granny ring and little cogs), and your chain line in the main ring would need some care. But it would need a good test before committing – Chris H Mar 4 '18 at 19:06
  • totally agree, I really doubt that the shifting will be smooth, but you never know until you try. Best option I think it is not front derailleur, but let's see. Definitely chain length and angles are important. – Paolo Goatspeed Mar 4 '18 at 20:04

I would like to thank all you who helped me during this research. I have now cycled around 7.000 km and I can tell you that as soon as you get to the big mountains in Slovenia and the Alps changing the font chain-ring "by hand" is not anymore a viable solution. It is as well very impractical to get off while you climb a big mountain, as well as holding a touring bike while changing the ring... As soon as I reached Slovenia I started looking for a normal chain-ring and a front mech (since I had already Shimano drop bars shifters). I have now cycled several months using the double on the front and being able to shift from my bars. Much better :)

  • And I bet you have dropped your chain zero times despite not running narrow wide rings! Appreciated your follow up post. Was considering the same – Dexos Aug 27 '20 at 2:33
  • I have learnt so much testing these set ups during my trip. I can now confirm that a normal double was the right solution with a Dérailleur. I went with a NW and no dérailleur and after a while it was hard. Thanks a lot to you all, this group really knows its stuff! – Paolo Goatspeed Aug 28 '20 at 7:10

There would be a 50% chance for a narrow chain link to sit onto a wide tooth during a transition from the small ring to the big ring. This would result in chain misplacement and imminent failure under load [thanks to @mattnz for figuring that out].

Narrow-wide is all about chain retention, while what one needs in a front double by definition is chain derailing easily and reliably.

My suggestion is to have a proper double chainrings. Given that you'll be touring, you'll need to consider possibility of repairs, and finding a new regular chainring would be much easier than a fancy narrow-wide one.

You can also have two front chainrings but no front derailleur. In this case, gear switching happens by hand: stop, throw the chain from one ring to another, and move on. Provided that you do not plan to use the granny gear often, it may turn out to be a viable option.

  • Hey Grigory, that was precisely what I was thinking of. Having the grannie just to be there and in case needed change by hand :) – Paolo Goatspeed Mar 4 '18 at 18:21
  • I'll give it a try and see what happens with the derailleur; as you said, narrowide is all about retention and I could actually have problems and snap the chain! – Paolo Goatspeed Mar 4 '18 at 18:22
  • To be clear it will not work with a derailleur as there would be nothing to stop the narrow chain link going onto the wide tooth. It does not take much imagination to work out how long the chain will last. Shift by hand with no derailleur will work. – mattnz Mar 4 '18 at 19:26
  • @mattnz indeed, shifting to a narrow-wide ring would require impossibly-extremely-super-precise timing to catch on a proper type of a tooth. I will change my answer to reflect that. Thanks! – Grigory Rechistov Mar 4 '18 at 20:20
  • A narrow link on a wide chain tooth could get stuck giving you a bad case of chainsuck. If you're stomping down then that may be so wedged on the wide tooth that its hard to dislodge. I'd do the hand change, but only when stopped and off the bike... no doing it while rolling! – Criggie Mar 5 '18 at 1:02

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