Or: Why Does the Bike Industry Make Life HARDER for Customers?
One recent purchaser of a Fuji Cross Comp cyclocross bike found the gearing a little stiff for the hill he lives on. It is one of the most notorious walls in the area. He asked if we could fit him out with a triple.
After exploring several options, he finally agreed to go to 9-speed on the bike and use barcon shifters. I could get him a 9-speed brifter, but he asked me what I would use and I told him. I even offered to let him ride my bike so he could try out the shifter position, but he said he could get used to anything if it was really mechanically better.
A couple of old stand-bys were out of stock at QBP, but lo and behold, obsolescence's little helpers at Far East had the barcons when QBP didn't. They don't even acknowledge the existence of 28.6 front derailleur clamps anymore, and had no Tiagra 9-speed triple front derailleurs anyway. But the Shimano R453 in stock at Quality will probably work just fine.
For a crank, I was going to get the LX 9-speed triple that comes with outboard bearing BB and 26-36-48 rings, but the 64-104, 4-bolt circle would cut him off from anything bigger than a 48 and would limit his options for other sizes in smaller rings. So it's back to the primitive but reliable Sugino XD600 (74-110), for which a vast array of ring sizes can be found.
To get him a 9-speed cassette that isn't either road-racing tight or suitable for climbing mountain trails in the mud, I got a Miche 13-26. I'll drop out the 14 and stick a 29 at the low gear end to give him a 13-29 with no jump larger than 3 teeth between gears.
It'll work this time, but the industry keeps closing off options. The next big sport will be walking barefoot if they don't start to wise up.