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I am doing a small project on my secondary bike. It's 28"/700c steel 1990's rigid mountain bike frame and I am converting it to a dropbar bike. The theme is to make a "gravel" bike with 1990's tech. It's an 8 speed system with a mountain bike rear derailleur (RD-M737, from 1994 like the frame) and a 12-32 cassette. It has cantilever brakes. The cockpit has a short road bike quill stem, a dropbar and I am intending to set it up with old series 2x8 Claris STI shifters.

What I would like, to keep it within the theme, is to use a crankset with gearing that would have been available at the time (so preferably not a 50/34). I had assumed cyclocross specific chainrings would be a good candidate. However I can't find much information on what kind of chainrings they used a the time, and then I even wondered if they maybe always ran 3x at the time (I hope not)...

Q: Does anyone know what kind of cranksets/chainrings were being used on (mid) 1990's cyclocross bikes?

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Crank Set Types
Lots of different crank sets and chain rings were being used on cyclocross bikes in the mid 1990s. Some factors that influenced the parts selection process:

  • Price
  • Availability
  • Performance characteristics
  • Personal preference

I don't know of any cyclocross specific crank sets.
To aid you in finding period appropriate parts and using Shimano as an example of one maker here is a link to a Shimano parts timeline.
Here is a link to a collection of Shimano catalogues from 1984 to 1997.

Number of Chain Rings
People used single, double, and triple chainrings
Here's a 1988 (it's a little older than the 90s but it's an example) Alan bike posted on bikeforums.net with a single chain ring:
enter image description here

Here's a Cicli B Cyclocross from the early 1990s that was sold on steel-vintage.com with a triple.
enter image description here

Gearing
According to Wikipedia

Gearing is typically lower, with most common setups using a 46-36 (110mm BCD) or 48-38 (130mm BCD) chainring combination with a 12-25 to 12-30 cassette. Some riders opt to use a single chainring in the front (typically a 40-42 tooth chainring) while retaining multiple sprockets in the rear cassette.

Since cyclocross is such an open ended sport it might be best to go with the gearing that fits your riding style.

  • Nothing says "I have people to clean my bike" like a cyclocross bike with white bar tape. – David Richerby Jun 20 at 16:20
  • Thanks! Do you think that Alan bike really authentic with the 1x? Cause it looks like it needs a modern derailleur to keep the chain on. The forum post doesn't mention much about it. – Superman.Lopez Jun 21 at 1:54
  • Also, thanks for the link to the old catalogues. Those I did find before and only include MTB components. I did find this website where there are some complete catalogues, but not for every year. charlie-taylor.net/bikes/library/shimano/shimano.htm – Superman.Lopez Jun 21 at 2:00

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