The Junior’s Solution
How many times have we heard it . . . “Isn’t there a better way?” Now, for thousands of Junior Road Cyclists competing in sanctioned events all over the globe, there is a different, arguably better, solution for junior gearing. This is The Junior’s Solution.
The WickWërks Junior’s Solution is a combination of products (optimal chainrings with a derailleur mounting adapter, Fit Link), that together, provide a wider available gear range with a more practical implementation — than any other available option. The essence is:
- Minimize change to meet race requirements; and
- Bias the system toward maximum performance.
In practical terms, that really means: Get rid of the “junior cassette”; Give kids ratios to better match their physiology; Provide superior shifting; Accommodate standard cycling equipment; etc..
Juniors are the future of the sport, so they should have equipment to learn good habits early.
Order the complete Junior’s Solution kit here.
Accurately Meets Junior Roll-out:
(Governing Body Regulation)
Meeting Junior Roll-out restrictions can be a hassle — for juniors, parents and coaches — and, deeper than just gears. Often it means replacing several components (rear cassette, shifters, front sprockets, etc.) on a bike before being able to race.
Compare the new WickWërks Solution for Junior Gearing. Matching a 41/33t chainring set in front with a very standard and available 11-?? in the rear, meets Junior Roll-out Rules in most 700c road race configurations. No need to find special junior cassettes, change shifters from 11 speed to 10 speed or any of the other hassles. Just change the front sprockets and remount the derailleur.
Roll-Out limit is 26 ft. The WickWërks 41t paired with an 11 at the rear gets close — to help the competitive advantage. Note: The 45-12t option gives a theoretical roll-out that is dangerously close. With a 23c tire, a 45-12t rolls out at 25.82 ft. — virtually the same as shown above for the 41-11 on a 25c, but without some of the other advantages listed below.
Uses Mainstream Cassettes:
(Not Junior Specific)
No longer will Juniors require special “Junior Cassettes” which are are typically a generation behind (10-speed instead of 11), and typically lower-end and heavy. With the WickWërks Junior’s Solution, more modern, lighter and better shifting cassettes, shifters and derailleurs can be used — giving Juniors the advantages of the latest technology.
Practical implications of using standard cassettes extend well beyond taking advantage of current cassette and rear derailleur technology. Wheel sharing, Wheel Swapping (like loaning nice wheels for a special race) and neutral support are the big ones.
4 Weight Advantages:
- Lighter Weight Chainrings – The smaller size means less weight. (Compare a 52t chainring with a 41t, and it’s easy to see the advantage.)
- Lighter Weight Cassette – Junior specific cassettes are notoriously heavy as they don’t get the latest technology and high-end materials. (No more low-end, heavy “junior cassettes”).
- With this system, juniors can run mainstream 11-?? cassettes (ex: 11-25, 11-28) which are more advanced, shift better, and are lighter (also easier to get).
- Lighter Weight Chain – Smaller gears require less chain. Less chain means less weight, and in this case, less rotating mass.
Total weight advantage has been seen to be as much as 320g, nearly 3/4 pound! (Actual measurements on one particular installation).
Greater Available Range:
Most “Junior Cassettes” have limited range like 14-25t. In comparison, the new WickWërks Solution allows juniors to use mainstream cassettes (like 11-28). The chart below compares these 2 options with their respective chainrings.
From the chart above we see much greater range in the small chainring both higher and lower than traditional. In the big chainring, we also see greater total range. Note: For the large chainring, the two bars on the graph align at the high range end because this is the roll-out limit. The very tiny difference in roll-out as noted above is not even seen on this chart.
With the WickWerks solution, total available range is improved — allowing better climbing gears and more overlap in ratios big ring to small.
Lower Gears For Younger Riders:
One value of greater range lies in access to lower overall ratios. The small front chainring at 33t offers a lower total gear than available by other manufacturers for road bikes. This can give a tremendous advantage in climbing for younger, smaller and newer riders.
A key principle in this point is having the right gearing for the physiology. We have proven again and again that over-gearing makes a racer slower. It also takes some of the fun away — which is very important when working with kids. The WickWërks Junior’s Solution addresses these important elements.
Adapts Derailleur Position:
(With Braze-On Mounts)
A new innovation with The Junior’s Solution is an adaptation for road bikes with a Braze-On derailleur mount to fit smaller front chainrings. The WickWërks Braze-On Adapter — called Fit Link — allows the front derailleur to be placed below the mount — effectively lowered for proper fitting and shifting with smaller chainrings. This bolt-on solution also allows the bike to be easily converted back to traditional gearing when the junior out-grows it.
Better shifting occurs with this system in 2 ways:
- First, and most important: WickWërks chainrings offer improved shifting over competitors with the patented Bridge Shift Technology that has become famous with riders like Katie Compton. This provides the fastest, most stable shifting for front chainrings available, and this technology is part of the WickWërks Junior’s Solution.
- Second: The new Junior’s Solution encourages the use of mainstream, and well developed rear cassettes for best available rear shifting too. Using better derailleurs and matched, higher-end cassettes, will improve shifting performance over traditional Junior Cassettes.
Better shifting at both ends (front and rear), will help juniors learn and advance in cycling.
Practical Race Situations:
The theoretical is one thing, the practical is another. Here are some situations where the new WickWërks Junior’s Solution truly shines:
- Wheel Commonality. Using traditional wheel sizes with standard cassettes, allows Juniors to also use Neutral Support for wheels in case of a flat. (Before, juniors had to wait for someone to come along with a wheel having a Junior cassette, or patch it on the side of the road while the race rode away.).
- Parts Availability. When on the road or at a race, if parts are needed, they are much easier to find because the only thing unique in the system are the chainrings and derailleur adapter. Everything else is the same thing adults are riding.
- Chainrings that Really Shift. One goal in juniors racing is teaching proper technique and habits. When the equipment does not work for them, they simply won’t use it. Shifting fits that category. WickWërks is known for fast shifting even in sub-optimal conditions. Having kids on great shifting rings that help compensate as they learn proper techniques is a powerful thing in their training. WickWërks chainrings bring that to the table.
Although touted above as the best thing since the invention of the wheel, alas, there are some limitations:
- Roll-out is not guaranteed. Tire sizes and other factors like air pressure can effect roll-out in ways not predicted. Test first. In some cases a smaller profile tire (23c instead of 25c) may be required. In most cases, a 28c and larger will not work.
- Cost is noted as a concern. For most Juniors, parents choose less expensive components for budget or equipment abuse / misuse reasons. Though acknowledged, WickWërks provides only a premium solution at this time. That being said, for most bikes, the WickWërks solution is less expensive overall than traditional conversions for Junior Gears. We invite you to compare cost as well as advantages and potential.
- The Braze-On Adapter is intended to fit most bikes. However, depending on how (and where) the braze-on tab is mounted to the bike, and depending in part on the actual geometry (shape) of the tab, there are some bikes for which the Adapter will not work. There are also some gears that cannot be accommodated. Unfortunately, it will be a process of trial-and-error to find those odd and/or incompatible situations. Please let us know if you run into one.
- Unfortunately, by nature of braze on tabs, there is a certain range of derailleur positions where the adapter will not work. It’s the location between the lowest position of traditional mounting, and the highest position for mounting with the adapter. So far, we have not figured out how to make a derailleur fixing bolt go through the bottom of the braze-on tab without damaging it. That is simply a limitation of the adapter.
- The Junior’s Solution assumes standard (modern) road bike cranks, attachments and chainline spacing. Though we have done our best to assure the system will work with a majority of bikes, we have not tested everything. If yours is one where the system just won’t work, we do accept returns of unused parts.
- Chainrings are designed for 10 and 11-speed bikes. 8 and 9-speed are not recommended, but may work.
- Chainrings are designed for specific families of cranks. If we don’t carry rings for your specific crank, we’re sorry. Limited resources impede universal availability.
Order Your Junior “The” Solution
So there you have it. Finally, there is a good solution for Junior’s road competition gearing including all the benefits listed above. Order the complete Junior’s Solution kit here and help your Junior perform to their best.