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Nov. 23, 2022, 11:10 a.m. -  AndrewR

The chain ring thing is a matter of OE parts delivery. Builders get them in bulk boxes rather than the fancy retail presentation that the after market retail buyer is presented with. XO1 is considered "trail" so one gets a 32T chainring on the crank set. XX1 is considered "race" so one gets 34T chainring etc etc. On the one GX level bike I have, my fat bike, came with a -4 mm offset 32T, so I guess that GX gets the trail designation also. Remember that a lot of the drive train input comes from people who live in Chicago and other flatter locations, designed for the 80% that live and ride in relatively gentle undulating terrain (by S2S/ Rockies and Alps standards). And they are supplying to brands that have frame designers that design rear suspension based on the kinematics that are delivered by a 32T or 34T chainring. Even worse, some brands (one might even be a brand that rimes with 'Loner') decide to use all that bottom bracket space to make the chain stays as wide as possible so in some cases you cannot even choose to use a non-boost chainring (unless you want to saw your chain stay in half) to improve your drive train situation. I encountered this recently whilst trying to improve the ride experience (ie a better chain line and more use of the 42T over the 50T) for an older rider. He is fit for his age but not going to produce the kind of power that pushes a 34-42 combo up a 15º gradient on a loose technical climb trail. There is also the ridiculous obsession with top speed in the 10T at 90 rpm (riding downhill/ flat to the shop/ pub type 'mountain biking') as part of the process. The requirements of racers (12 and 10T) wide gear range and chain line also dictate this design and spec compromise. The racers and test riders are generally at a level of fitness and producing power that the general public cannot even begin to achieve and that skews product spec choices. Sure a shop might feel like swapping out the chain ring for you as part of the "shop buying experience", now that stock to sale levels are more normal than they were for the last two years, but then, especially in the Sea to Sky/ North Shore, what do they do with their mountain of 32T chain rings? Build wind chimes? Let the mechanics use them as throwing stars or horse shoes on their 'smoke'  breaks? Use them for their sponsored race team? Because the North Shore and Sea to Sky can easily seem like the centre of the mountain biking universe is is easy to forget that a lot of the design and spec decisions are made by people, and for people, that see the region as an occasional bucket list destination rather their every day ride. I feel for them (except for the designer from 'Loner" they deserve to ride somewhere gentle and undulating with their 34T chainring).

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