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CX cable routing debate

So Miguel and I are having a debate over this topic. I am fairly strongly opinionated and as he is designing his new CX frame, this topic is rearing its head again. I figured I's reach out to y'alls: the officianados.

Q: How do you, crossers, prefer your cables for the front dérailleur to be routed?

A: Across the top of the top tube! (or so is my heavy opinion).

Where this gets into all kinds of hairy debate revolves around the need for a pulley as most (if not all) road dérailleurs are bottom-pull-actuated. So to circumvent this (unless you are using an MTB dérailleurs if it can provide enough clearance for your cross needs to the rear tire) frame designers have long worked up a system that routes the cable over the top tube, down the seat stay (a la MTB's) and around this pulley which is affixed to the seat tube sending the cable back up to the front dérailleur. Just like you see on this Sycip below:You can see this on the Ridley image I posted to the right as well. I think Sven's Colnago is the same but I have no solid pictures.

The problem is, you guessed it, mud.

The routing debate relates to lots of things but primarily is is rider feel believe it or not in addition to humping the geometry by needing to lengthen the wheelbase too much for that precious extra clearance if you need a pulley and need it to clear mud. I've ridden Felt's, Scott's and Kelly's with cable routing which sent the front dérailleur (and rear in some cases! (see Kona pic below) down the down tube and when grabbing the down tube (which is the style I use versus top tube unless its REALLY muddy) to shoulder/port, it always felt shitty. Often, you get your gloves caught between the cable and the frame and it just doesn't feel right.

When I switched a couple-a years ago to a single 42 or 44 up front, this all changed and I am cable-less on all my down tubes (so it moots the debate), but I have been considering going back to double rings because of the non technical/roadie courses out here. So I am stuck in this debate....and trying to help out my bro.

Thoughts on this? Any builders out there? Any photos of Sven's set up? Sacha goes down tube, Jeremy and Jay go top/pully.

Anywhoo, opinions would be great and help Mike out.

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Reader Comments (9)

Greg - I came across some images of Sven's Colnago. I posted them to BKW and can be found here:

It appears to be a stock C50 Cross set-up but the images do not focus on the FD.

July 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRadio Freddy

Dude NICE call on the pics! Thanks RF! I am uber jealous of your visit! That guy in the background is also a famous vet but I can't think of his name.

The pics do show a standard C50 and indeed it uses a pulley. Thanks man! Also, how unPRO is Sven's tape job?? White is nice but that black electrical tape looks like a 10 year old wrapped it! Bunk!

July 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

why do you guys need a front derailleur? isn't riding a simple machine more enjoyable?

July 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTim

We (Moots) and I favor the all on the top tube routing. Keeping the cables up and off the down tube makes for a clean place to grab when going to the shoulder with the bike. We run a pulley for the front der. and now even make our own CNC'd w/sealed bearing....very smooth. We use a threaded stop behind the seat tube for those fine adjustments. In my years as a cross dork I feel this is the best way to go. It runs smooth and allows a road front der to be used without hassle. I prefer the single ring on my rigs and a 9 speed cassette.

~Jon C.
Steamboat Springs,Co

July 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

i gots the downtube routing on my CX bike, and honestly kinda like only one cable on the top.

more than shouldering the bike ya liftin it over barriers (unless ya got them mad bunny hopping skilz)

and that's a top tube lift...

I route the cables on the down tube so they cross over (rear cable into the left side cable stop then crossing back to the rear). Yeah they overlap but shifting has never ever suffered and the cables crossing make the down tube grab and roll up the fore-arm no issue.

I do race with a long sleeve skinsuit so i ain't ever tried draggin the cables across me bare arms.

I dislike the pully crap and the hoopty garbage used to make a bottom pull road der work with top pull cable routing...

my two penny slugs worth...

July 6, 2007 | Unregistered Commentergewilli

toby at hot tubes only does DT routing. this was an issue for me coming from my old bike which routed via the pulley.

i went with his judgement and it's fine--and, frankly the front shifts better w/o the pulley. but then, i have little girlies hands and mashing the lever to the right to hit the big ring was always a bit rough.

July 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommentermegA

The Pulley on my Badger is mounted on the drive side of the seat tube under the front mech. Here is a pre-built picture, you can see the mount for the pulley. This set up worked flawlessly last season! No clearance issues with the tires or front mech.

July 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Holy, crap that is a rad idea. I've never seen that done! It's be great to get some photos of it when it's all built up to check out the tolerances/space with that pulley in there. So this is to tube cable route? The cable drops down from the right side of the seat tube?

July 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

that badger is pretty damn badass...

July 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commentergewilli

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