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Why is the bike crank / sprocket and gear cog always on the right side of a bik

This topic contains 17 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  bicycle heaven 9 mos.

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bicycle heaven

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Jul 25 2013 at 10:53pm #

I have a bike shop / museum and someone asked me today why does the crank / chain on the right side of the bike , I dident know why,,,anyone know ?.Ido have a 1890s bike that does have the drive on the other side,one out of maybe 3000 bikes we have.I cant belive I never thought about that before,,right handed people maybe


Drewbacca

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Jul 25 2013 at 11:17pm #

because I wear a sword on my left hip and my horse doesn’t have wheels. ;)


quizbot

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Jul 25 2013 at 11:19pm #

Drivetrains are on the right today because that’s what bicycle builders decided to do in the late 1800s. As to why they originally decided to put drivetrains on the right, it’s probably because rear cogs used to be screwed on (some still are). Standard threads dictate rear cogs be on the right, so that pedaling force tightens the cogs. (If they were on the left, pedaling force would likely loosen cogs.)

Interesting fact: the Wright Brothers invented the left-hand thread for the left-hand pedal.

From a discussion here.


Drewbacca

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Jul 25 2013 at 11:33pm #

Nice work Detective Quizbot… much better than what I’ve been able to find.


bicycle heaven

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Jul 25 2013 at 11:35pm #

ok Quizbot thank you,That makes sense about the threads i was thinking right handed for some reason.I had a chance to buy a Wright Brothers bike on ebay , i put a bid at 10 grand on it and I was the high bidder but did not win it ,I dident even have that kind of money to spend but if I would have won I would of got it someway lol,,,that was a bike I wish I could of got,,they said the tools used on the glider are the same they used on the bikes,thanks


stefb

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Jul 26 2013 at 12:58am #

I have wondered this as well. I also don’t like the rear shifting with the right hand.


myddrin

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Jul 26 2013 at 7:14am #

stefb wrote:I have wondered this as well. I also don’t like the rear shifting with the right hand.

Not sure if it was just the bike I was rented or a general thing, but when I was in Wales the sides were reversed. Both for braking and shifting.

Riding on the left hand side of the road was a much easier adjustment for me to make. Even after 300 miles of riding, I was still wasn’t used to it.


Marko82

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Jul 26 2013 at 7:17am #

@stef, if you switch to bar end shifters (or any non brifter really) you can put the rear-shifter-lever on what ever side you want.

In a similar manner, I wouldn’t mind putting my front brake to be controlled by my right hand. I think Sheldon Brown has something on this but I’m too lazy to look it up.


Benzo

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Jul 26 2013 at 7:24am #

From http://bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/5164/why-do-bikes-have-their-drivetrains-on-the-right

The safety bicycle was invented in england. It was designed for riding on the left with roads that did have pavements (sidewalks) and kerbs. Mounting and dismounting the bike from the kerb, pushing the bike and parking the bike with a pedal on the kerb works out a lot better with the chainset on the right (if you are in a country that ‘drives’ on the left-side of the road). Clothing gets to stay cleaner and that would have been a huge benefit in Victorian Britain when front-loading automatic washing machines weren’t exactly commonplace. These are lucky benefits and probably were not uppermost considerations in the design of ‘Safety Bicycle 1′.

Seems like a good theory.


jonawebb

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Jul 26 2013 at 7:40am #

@Marko, it’s easy to switch the brakes. I did it and it’s a slightly cleaner cable run.
BTW another reason (I found on the web) for the chain on the right hand side is that cogs screwed on with standard thread would tighten as you pedal.


stefb

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Jul 26 2013 at 7:59am #

On my fixie I like having the brake on my left hand, but on a bike with gears, I feel like I am living in a right handed person’s world (because most of the shifting is with the right hand), as I usually do. But yeah I guess if I really wanted to, the shifters could be switched.


salty

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Jul 26 2013 at 9:23am #

The bike I had in Holland had the brakes switched although I think the shifters were the same (they were twist shifters so they’d have to be a different version to switch them or they’d end up upside down). It makes a lot of sense to swap the brakes for consistency with motorcycles and scooters.


Kordite

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Jul 26 2013 at 11:19am #

I’m going to bet that Drewbacca has it closest. The tradition from as far back as classical times was to mount the horse from the left to keep the sword out of the way. when bicycles replaced horses, the motion remained and the gears were put on the far side to keep from being an issue.


Mick

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Jul 26 2013 at 11:24am #

What Benzo said.

I carry my bike down and back up about 15 stairs every day. I’m right-handed, so I’ve always felt it’s convenient for me and other righties to have the chain set up.

Just another sign of the oppression of left-handed folks.


reddan

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Jul 26 2013 at 11:42am #

Just another sign of the oppression of left-handed folks.

“Right privilege.”


Lee

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Jul 26 2013 at 12:10pm #

never even thought of how nice it is to have the chain out of the way when carrying my bike right-handed.


Benzo

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Jul 26 2013 at 3:27pm #

BMX riders have the luxury of having parts available to run Left or Right hand drive. This is due to having a favored side for grinds and such so that you don’t wreck your crank if you prefer to grind/slide on the right hand side.

Also they get some rad microdrive systems with tiny chainring / cog combinations.


bicycle heaven

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Jul 27 2013 at 9:58pm #

I have a few drive shaft bikes all on the right side the same,I think the reason why is right handed thread,if on the other side everything would come lose as quizbot says,,who did invent the thread / screw on anyways ,man that’s used on everything,,quizbot ?

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