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Pros & Cons of High Pivot or Idler Equipped Bikes

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5/20/2022 10:59 AM

I figure this is a hot topic, and may as well have a little thread of it's own.

Personally I own a Range and love it, but for the broader market I could see brands going to a sort of mid-pivot design, with an idler being used mainly to get rid of pedal kick back.

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5/21/2022 6:48 PM

great post, stoked to see the replies. all i have to contribute is connor fearon qualifying 32nd today at ft bill on his forbidden "enduro bike" with flat pedals : )

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5/21/2022 9:03 PM

I don’t own a high pivot bike but I’m very interested. Main draw back I see is the extra chain drag. Anyone that has a high pivot and “regular” bike care to explain if they notice a major difference on longer rides?

I have also heard they don’t jump as well. I could see this being a major draw back for some people but personally don’t see this as an issue. I like bikes that have a stuck to the ground feel. Anyone have feed back on that?

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5/21/2022 10:10 PM

I've owned a Druid for the last six months. Terrain here in QT NZ is steep and there is a lot of climbing.

The idler doesn't present any drag that I've noticed while riding, unless its not maintained. More maintenance is required, but once you get your head around that and keep everything clean and greased it's no problem at all. Upper pully does look like it's wearing out pretty quickly so it'll be interesting to see how long it lasts.

I've not noticed any issues with getting the bike airborne, it's playful and it eats rough terrain a lot better than my previous ride (Sentinel with a Cascade link).

High pivots are an interesting concept, and the Druid in my opinion proves it's a valid configuration for shorter travel bikes.

Photo

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5/22/2022 12:07 AM

I rode a bunch of old high pivot back in the days (without idler and often single pivot) and there was a specific feel I lost. I don't really have any scientific theory there, it's more like just a gut feeling, I feel like the higher the pivot, the better you have a feel for the traction. I remember standing and pushing on the pedals and having a really precise feel for the pressure of my wheels on the terrain. Obviously, linear kinematics and single pivot would help with that, since you have a more direct feel for the spring/damping. the negative is that these bikes had a poor pedaling platform and were bobbing quite a lot. I felt like I lost this feel when I went to ride a buch of vpp or other short link low pivot. They all feel quite numb and like I ride over the terrain instead of "in" the terrain. (FSR and switch are maybe not as bad but nothing like an Orange 224 or similar), Does is it make any sense? Do you feel something similar with modern hpp , something like "riding more in the bike"...?

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Love anything with wheels on dirt!
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5/22/2022 2:02 AM

thejake wrote:

I don’t own a high pivot bike but I’m very interested. Main draw back I see is the extra chain drag. Anyone that has a high ...more

They jump just fine. I have no trouble switching between my modern Meta AM 29 with a low pivot and my older Zerode G2 with a quite high pivot and hitting jumps. That's whether I'm switching bikes between runs on the same day, or if I haven't ridden the high pivot in months. It might feel a tiny little bit different, but any rider with a modicum of ability will be able to adapt, and its a minor, minor adaption required at most.
If high pivots had been the norm for years and all of a sudden low pivots came about, people would be saying the low pivots "didn't jump as well". People are just set in their ways and don't like to change what they've been doing.

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5/22/2022 5:48 AM

I've been riding a dreadnought now for around a month, while it is a radical departure from my previous bike (process 153 cr dl 29") geometry wise and suspension design wise, I've been pleasantly surprised! Rear suspension travel is similar (153mm vs. 154mm) but the way the suspension works is radically different. The bike pedals incredibly well for such a big/aggressive bike and the rear seems to be always in traction mode (compared to the kona with the really slack seat angle and super short chainstays), the biggest difference I find is the really steep seat angle (you feel more centered in the bike than perched above it) and the chainstays which make the bike a more steady than lively climber. The drag from the idler is barely noticeable, you can hear the chain passing on it but nothing that saps energy. I've been pleasantly surprised at the bottomless feeling of the suspension, it just tends to eat bumps and square-edged hits or cases don't make the bike feel like it's slowing down which is a pleasant experience. I've never had a bike that carried as much speed but remains lively on trails.

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5/22/2022 6:44 AM

Pros- Bro points for now
Cons- Same Bro's are all about the 6-bar next.Keep up luddite.

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5/22/2022 11:26 AM

Brake jack. That’s the only reason I couldn’t get along with my commencal.

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5/22/2022 1:22 PM

I’ll start by saying that never ridden a bike with an idler.

I typically ride all mountain/enduro-lite bikes in the 150-ish travel realm. I like long rides with gnar and there is often some heinous climbing involved.

The benefits of a high-pivot bike are well-documented in the DH realm and are obviously catching on for a enduro bikes. I’m curious to see how far that technology trickles down from there. My guess is it would be reserved for gravity racing / riding.

The idea of an idler adding any drag, however minimal, on my all-mountain bike isn’t appealing no matter how good the suspension feels.

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5/22/2022 3:43 PM

I’ve been riding a Druid for two years. I have no complaints with how the bike rides, uphill or downhill. There is so much traction and carrying speed. It isn’t a cross country race bike, but it isn’t trying to be. It is sluggish while pedalling on roads and in some sprinting sections. I rarely notice the dreaded “drag effect”, but there are articles that smart people have written as to how much drag there actually is and how minimal it is in timed situations.
The benefit of the stability, corner speed and taking square edge hits (repeatedly) is well worth it for me. I am running an EXT Storia coil which makes this little bike a beast, maybe the most capable 130mm bike.

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5/22/2022 5:45 PM

Someone explain to me how gearing works on an idler bike? How come the gear ratio doesn’t think you got like a 100t front ring? And what role does idler size play in it anyway?

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5/22/2022 5:57 PM

I have a strange relationship with this topic, in that I have very limited experience on a non high pivot bike. Though never with an Idler. More specifically I've only briefly ridden a four bar Turner with a 180 era Boxxer for a year or two. Other than that all of my suspension bikes have been either Santa Cruz single pivot frames or home made frames based on Santa Cruz rear triangles. I loved the platform for a decade or so until I got a gen 2 Bullit swingarm from Willy at Santa Cruz and adapted it to my current home built frame. As part of the package I got the brake isolator thingy and that changed everything. I'd been used to the bump eating axle path and such, but always just put up with the brake jack. The brake bar made it all just butter. Magic Carpet status.

So I ended up with single high pivot about a centimeter or two above the chain line to put the power down to the ground and that sweet, sweet brake bar to stop the brake jack and make all of that well earned speed usable.

In summation... Yes high pivot, but brake jack is more important than pedal kick back.

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5/22/2022 7:04 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/22/2022 7:05 PM

smelly wrote:

Someone explain to me how gearing works on an idler bike? How come the gear ratio doesn’t think you got like a 100t front ...more

Because your cranks are connected to the chainring so for every rotation of the cranks your are rotating the chainring once. Your cranks do not directly rotate the idler.

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5/22/2022 7:47 PM

I rode a Druid for a few months and sold it due to my perceived pedaling inefficiency, specifically I felt that in 1st and 2nd gear the drag was very noticeable and was harder pedaling than in 4th or 3rd. The bike was super fun descending but I could not get over the drag, for me it was noticeable and really unpleasant. For comparison I ride a Geometron G1 with a Ohlins 38 and a BTR ranger all running shimano 12 sp drivetrain

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5/22/2022 7:53 PM

thomas.gehrig wrote:

I've been riding a dreadnought now for around a month, while it is a radical departure from my previous bike (process 153 cr ...more

is it radical?

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5/22/2022 10:31 PM

smelly wrote:

Someone explain to me how gearing works on an idler bike? How come the gear ratio doesn’t think you got like a 100t front ...more

Why would you have a 100T front ring?

The only effect of the idler size on everything is chain positioning for the antisquat (with the same mounting bolt a larger ring will move the chain higher) and for the losses (a larger idler ring will cause less chain articulation and cause less losses in the drivetrain).

The gear ratio is defined by the number of pedal rotations vs. the number of rear wheel rotations. And that is defined by the number of front chainring teeth vs. the number of teeth of the gear you are in on the cassette. The idler has no effect on that, just like the derailleur pulleys don't.

If you have a layshaft scenario (Cannondale Fulcrum, Starling's 5-speed proto), then you have to take into account all the branches of the drivetrain. WIth idlers you can just ignore said idler.

What idler bikes don't work with is oval chainrings, as the idler puts them out of time for the oval ring.

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5/23/2022 4:57 AM

smelly wrote:

Someone explain to me how gearing works on an idler bike? How come the gear ratio doesn’t think you got like a 100t front ...more

Ask on the other website, you won't be alone there.

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5/23/2022 5:11 AM

smelly wrote:

Someone explain to me how gearing works on an idler bike? How come the gear ratio doesn’t think you got like a 100t front ...more

Primoz wrote:

Why would you have a 100T front ring?

The only effect of the idler size on everything is chain positioning for the antisquat ...more

The one up guy (was in their monthly email blast) rides a Druid with oval ring. Race face cinch might offer the best flexibility in regards to clocking.

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5/23/2022 5:16 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/23/2022 5:18 AM

When it comes to mountainbike cranks, more or less yes. Rotor, cannondale and Specialized offer adjustability too I think, maybe hope does as well, but Shimano and Sram don't.

The main point though is that you need to take care of the clocking on your own as it depends on the position of the idler relative to the BB - if its directly above it, rotating it by 90° is a safe bet. If its further back (ala Supreme v5), it takes some more thought and care.

The don't work claim was a generalisation, mainly used to prevent people from blindly mounting oval rings on idler bikes without giving it a thought. People that know the catch will see through my claim anyway. QED, you.

EDIT: how long before we get high pivot or even bike model specific oval chainring that work with shimano and Sram cranks and a Re clocked correctly?

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5/23/2022 6:21 AM

Primoz wrote:

When it comes to mountainbike cranks, more or less yes. Rotor, cannondale and Specialized offer adjustability too I think, ...more

Actually the guys from Farside Components are working on an oval chainring that's espacially developed for the Forbidden bikes and potentailly the Norco Range.

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5/23/2022 9:12 AM

My son went from a Specialized Status to the new GT Force. Quite a difference in bikes.

He basically feels that the high pivot is way more planted (duh). At first he felt like he wasn't able to throw it around as well, but as he's gotten more accustomed to the bike (and he's also grown and gotten stronger), he's not really complaining about it not jumping as well or being as jibby as the Status. Some of that difference also likely comes from moving from the mullet to full 29er as well as a huge difference in geometry (rear chain stay) on the two bikes.

Climbing seems fine. Idler pulley definitely can add a bit of noise to the drivetrain when you get into wet/gritty conditions.


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5/23/2022 9:12 AM

Pros: Win DH races (lots of them recently)
Cons: Some Enduro Pro riders think they aren't "enduro" enough

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5/23/2022 9:16 AM

Seems to jump okay.

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5/23/2022 9:24 AM

I recently got an O-Chain to put on my trail bike (GG Megatrail). That frame has a relatively high amount of pedal kick (~12 degrees IIRC), so the O-Chain has been really noticeable at smoothing out chatter. I've noticed that it calms down the rear so much that I brake less often and carry more speed.

I wasn't very interested in idler bikes before this since my local trails aren't very rocky, but my experience with the O-Chain leads me to think that a mid-height idler design could be really incredible on a trail bike (~140-150mm). Not so high as to cause the rear end to grow a ton and make the bike feel like a barge in berms and tight corners, but still decoupling the pedal kick. A good idler design would still be key for me though - I hate noisy bikes, and if the idler sounded like it was grinding all the time it'd drive me nuts.

The inevitable update to the Druid (the geometry is quite dated at this point) should be really interesting.

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5/23/2022 12:38 PM

I have a Kavenz VHP16 with an EXT Storia and can share my thoughts on the bike and high pivot enduro trail bikes in general.

I rarely see chainline discussed with high pivot idler bikes. The bike's chainline is going to have an impact on how draggy and loud the idler is. On the Kavenz I'm running a 50.5mm chainline with the idler spaced accordingly and the idler is silent in the main climbing gears. There is no noticeable drag compared to traditional bikes. There is mild idler noise in the highest gears but I don't care about that since I only use them descending anyway.

If you're running a boost chainline which is about 53mm I can see why the idler may be be noisy or feel draggy.

I've noticed many high pivot bikes have fairly long chainstays. Then as the bike compresses they grow even longer. The Kavenz has a 425mm chainstay which grows to a max of 440mm. This is much shorter than the Range which is 442 in size L and the Dreadnaught at 450mm in size L. I don't know how much those two bikes grow but probably at least 15mm or more. This dramatic chainstay difference is probably one of the contributing factors for why the Kavenz feels like such a playful and maneuverable bike despite its high pivot. The Forbidden and Norco are probably going to feel more ground hugging in comparison.

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5/23/2022 1:07 PM

The Range and the Forbidden bikes have a pivot that is much higher than the Kavenz, therefore chainstay growth should be more substantial too.

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5/23/2022 1:19 PM

I have a Range, and also used to have Canfield Jedi back in 2015-ish. My take on the most common HP concerns:

-The idler drag is noticeable, but it isn't extreme. I've heard people say the idler reduces the efficiency of the drivetrain by around 2%, and I'd believe that. Years ago, I had some Hammerschmidt cranks (with the internal planetary gear), and supposedly those things added about 9% inefficiency. I couldn't deal with the Hammerschmidts - they were too draggy, but the idler doesn't bother me that much. I still wouldn't want an idler on a lighter weight bike that was more oriented towards climbing, but it's fine on an enduro sled.

-The high pivots jump just fine off of actual jumps. What they don't do as well is pop off of little roots or rocks. Jumping off of something that's at least as long as the bike's wheelbase feels essentially the same as jumping on a non-HP bike. But tagging a little bump with the rear wheel to get some pop doesn't work quite as well - the wheel moves backwards and out of the way (which is the whole point of the high pivot), and that robs you of some of your pop. It's not impossible or anything, but it's a little more work than on a non-HP bike.

-Manualing a high pivot bike is harder.

-My old Jedi cornered weird. As you pressed into a corner and the suspension compressed, the wheelbase stayed roughly the same (whereas on a non-HP bike, the wheelbase gets shorter; the front wheel moves backwards at the angle of the headtube, and the rear wheel moves forward-ish around the main pivot). If you were used to a "normal" bike, this made the Jedi feel long and cumbersome in corners, and it took some getting used to. I haven't had that same need for adjustment with the Norco - from my first ride on it, I actually felt like it cornered really nicely and very intuitively. I mostly chalk that up to the Norco having less rearward travel than the Jedi, and the Norco's geometry suiting my personal front / rear weight preferences.

-I haven't had any noteworthy maintenance issues with my idlers, but I know others that have. This probably depends on the specific bike, the specific bearings, and the weather you're riding in.

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5/23/2022 1:31 PM

Can the Jedi's feeling be connected to a steeper headtube angle too?

The potential issue is that pressing into the travel the weight distribution front-rear changes going through the travel. It doesn't change as much on a normal bike with a more forward axle path.

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5/23/2022 1:40 PM

The Range looks like the pivot is at least 10mm higher above the BB than the Devinci Spartan and Kavenz. I think the slightly lower pivot/idler may help mitigate some of the unusual handling characteristics of high pivot bikes while retaining most of the desirable traits.

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