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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I got back into cycling in 2013, I started by getting an hybrid bike (Giant Escape). It gave me a good summer of riding, but I never managed to get the fit right and it always hurt my knees a little.

The next year, I bought my Cannondale Synapse and the hybrid has pretty much been collecting dust since then. The Synapse is obviously more fun to ride and, as an added bonus, the 2cm narrower crank (same lenght) seems to magically solve my knee pain - and it's not something unique to this bike. My gym has two types of spinning bikes, one with wider cranks and the other with narrow cranks, closer to what I get on my road bike. I only use the narrow cranks, as the other always leave my knees pretty sore (with same shoes and saddle adjusment).

Long story short, I want to get my hybrid out of the basement and use it to commute and to haul my kid in a trailer. But I can't really do it with its current crank, as it kills my knees. Is there any triple crankset that I could have installed to narrow my stance by a good 2 cm? Or is there some type of 2x crank + front shifter that would work on an hybrid and give me the same results? Obviously I don't want to spend a lot on that.

As for the making it faster part: the stock wheels are AWFULL. Super heavy, super spongy, super bad. I recently upgraded my road bike wheels from Mavic Aksium to Shimano RS81. So now I have okay wheels collecting dust. The front wheel seems to fit pretty nice on the hybrid, so it as found a new home. As for the back wheel, it seems its not the same axle width (a bit narrower). Can this be altered in some way at the hub? And could this wheel accept a 9-speed cassette? If not, is there an okay-ish rear wheel that would fit on an hybrid? I plan on using 28mm tires. Pretty sure I'll have to settle for current wheel with 28mm tire and something to move from shrader valve/hole to presta.

I know it would be easier to sell hybrid and get a cheap alu road bike instead, but I'd prefer to try to use what I already have, as it would probably be a bit cheaper.
 

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If that's a square taper bottom bracket spindle you may be able to remove the inner ring and replace the bottom bracket with a narrower one. IRD make BB's from 103 through 115mm's and they are not the only ones out there. Someone who knows more about Shimano components than myself would have to confirm if this would work though.

Defiant Bottom Bracket — Interloc Racing Design / IRD

You should be able to get a presta to schrader adapter at any LBS.

https://www.biketiresdirect.com/product/wheels-mfg-presta-stem-savers
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If that's a square taper bottom bracket spindle you may be able to remove the inner ring and replace the bottom bracket with a narrower one. IRD make BB's from 103 through 115mm's and they are not the only ones out there. Someone who knows more about Shimano components than myself would have to confirm if this would work though.

Defiant Bottom Bracket — Interloc Racing Design / IRD

You should be able to get a presta to schrader adapter at any LBS.

https://www.biketiresdirect.com/product/wheels-mfg-presta-stem-savers
But the crank spindle would still be as wide, no?
 

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The dimension you are talking about is the "Q" factor, the dimension between the outside faces of the cranks at the pedal location.

Saying "hybrid" does not really tell us enough, but it sounds from your description that it may be more of a MTB frame.

Simply put, the cranks have to clear the chainstays by a few mm at least. That determines the minimum Q factor for that frame.

What is the clearance now, and what is the width of the BB shell? 68 mm or 73 mm?
 

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Toilet,

I don't really know the answer to whether you can make the pedal stance on your hybrid narrower. What I will do is ask you, are you absolutely sure that is what was causing your knee pain and not some other fit issue?

As far as making your hybrid faster, before you change wheels, change your tires. Narrow tires won't be any faster, what will make you faster are slicker tires with harder rubber. If your current tires have a tread, that will slow you down. I put a pair of Kenda Kwests on my hybrid and those babies fly! See below:

https://tinyurl.com/y8tmct4n

I am guessing this will make a much greater difference than wheels. And I believe your hybrid has mountain bike spacing in the rear stays which is 135mm. Road bikes are 130mm, so no-can-do. And my guess is that a narrow wheel like your Aksiums on the rear of your hybrid will feel even worse than what you already have.

If you really want new wheels for your hybrid, you will need them to have mountain bike hubs.

As far as cassette adaptability, that is not a problem. All 11-speed freehubs can fit an 8, 9, or 10 speed cassette with the correct adapter ring under the cassette.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Toilet,

I don't really know the answer to whether you can make the pedal stance on your hybrid narrower. What I will do is ask you, are you absolutely sure that is what was causing your knee pain and not some other fit issue?
Almost 100% positive. I have the same saddle height and fore-aft adjustment on both bikes. I use the same speedplay x-series pedals, with the same shoes. Crankarm length is the same. My position on my hybrid is similar to riding in the tops on my road bike. Width is the only different variable. The wide position just feels wrong to me. And the spinning bike experiment I described in my original post gave me some validation, as my fit on this bike is very approximative, but as long as I use the narrow version, nothing hurts.

I'll definitely try a road tire on the back wheel before buying anything new. I know it will make a good difference. I also know the wheel is super mushy and since I have a 10% hill on my commute, I'd like to have some kind of power efficiency when I stand up. But it's probably the last thing on my list, a smaller q-factor comes first.
 

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Just a thought and I may be way off, but have you ever tried to lower the saddle of the hybrid? if the saddle is the same height as the Synapse but the pedal is out 1 cm per side, wouldn't that change the length of your stroke ever so slightly?
 

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But the crank spindle would still be as wide, no?
When I said the IRD BB's went from 103 through 115mm's I should have said that it's the spindles that are the different lengths, so you can get an English BB(68mm) with spindles that are different lengths which would change the Q factor. And if you truly have 20mm clearance between crank arms and stays you very well may be able to drop in a BB with a narrower spindle. But Like I said someone better versed in Shimano than myself would need to help you with this.
 

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When I said the IRD BB's went from 103 through 115mm's I should have said that it's the spindles that are the different lengths, so you can get an English BB(68mm) with spindles that are different lengths which would change the Q factor. And if you truly have 20mm clearance between crank arms and stays you very well may be able to drop in a BB with a narrower spindle. But Like I said someone better versed in Shimano than myself would need to help you with this.
This all sounds well and good. The one problem I see is that it will change your chain line which could be detrimental to front shifting and may not work at all if the change is severe enough.

Here is a good primer on Q-factor:

What is 'Q Factor', and does it make a difference? - Cycling Weekly

As mentioned in the article, stance width can be manipulated somewhat by pedal choice and cleat placement.
 

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How much space currently between the inner chainring and the chainstay? That's the important measurement.

You can make your Q narrower by switching from a triple to a double. To get the narrower Q, you replace both the crankset and the BB. So it doesn't matter what kind you have now. The proviso is that if you have a 4-hole mountain bike set, and you replace with a road set with bigger chainrings, you'll want to change the front derailleur too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
How much space currently between the inner chainring and the chainstay? That's the important measurement.

You can make your Q narrower by switching from a triple to a double. To get the narrower Q, you replace both the crankset and the BB. So it doesn't matter what kind you have now. The proviso is that if you have a 4-hole mountain bike set, and you replace with a road set with bigger chainrings, you'll want to change the front derailleur too.
I think there is enough to fit a bigger ring, so a double would probably fit. I'm starting to think that my best bet would be a Sora crank, with a New sora front derailleur and flat bar front shifter.
 

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This all sounds well and good. The one problem I see is that it will change your chain line which could be detrimental to front shifting and may not work at all if the change is severe enough.

Here is a good primer on Q-factor:

What is 'Q Factor', and does it make a difference? - Cycling Weekly

As mentioned in the article, stance width can be manipulated somewhat by pedal choice and cleat placement.
If the granny could be removed to make clearance to use a narrower spindle I don't know that front shifting would be affected. With the right length spindle the large and middle ring could be placed where the middle and granny are now and the front derailer stops adjusted so it wouldn't overshift.

Might need a different frt. derailer, but I've made triple derailers work for doubles.
 
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