Swapped my chainring for a 36T on my Vado SL 4.0

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Swapped out my 38T RaceFace chainring for a cheap 36T Amazon special (Snail?) giving me a low gear of 36T x 46T on my Vado SL 4.0. No need to shorten the chain so I can easily change back if required. The result is I can get up 18-25% hills easier and I've noticed the motor is both quieter and I'm getting more assistance then before due to my increased & easier cadence. As the original motor got replaced under warranty after 2 years use because my bike shop recognised it was worn inside, I think this should help the replacement motor last longer. Puts it under less strain. Especially important as I'm now a year out of warranty and do not fancy paying $$$$ for another motor. The arrival of third party companies who recondition motors is a great development, so that will be my first port of call if/when I next have any motor issues.

As I'd hoped I haven't noticed any problems in spinning out on the top gear 36T x 11T, because I mostly ride the hilly twisty backroads around me here on Dartmoor and I could count on one hand any long straight roads. I worked out that of the 6 or so roads that lead out of town, on 5 of them you hit hills of 15 to 20% almost immediately. If I can be disciplined enough to increase my fitness by riding regularly as we (thankfully) come out of Winter and head into Spring & Summer and then I find I am spinning out too much or don't need the extra low gear on hills, its an easy swap back to the 38T chainring. The original bike had 44T x 42T lowest gear so it's taken me a while to get the gearing low enough to where I think it's really good for the landscape here.

So an easy job with immediate benefits. Plus I realise I can accelerate out of stops quicker on the 36T which is handy. Definitely makes the Vado SL feel more lively, more MTB-like. The back roads and byways around here although mostly tarmac by this stage of the winter are covered in mud & gravel with massive potholes and the remains of floods from all the rain so I think I're really 'Dartmoorized' my bike to be the perfect tough and capable steed to cope here. And after 3 years it remains a joy to ride as I continue to explore all the beautiful, if challenging, lanes of Dartmoor.


Thank you for the post @Rás Cnoic! It will help me making a decision for my upgraded 11s future drivetrain!

Besides, what drivetrain you are using has the 11-46T cassette?
10 speed cassette & derailleur. Cassettes the Deore M4100. Mech is the Deore M5120 I think.
Ras! Now you are talking! Thank you! Did the cassette fit the existing freeehub body?

Well, well, well... I was considering upgrade of my drivetrain to 11s M5100, 11-51T. Now, I can see it could be done by using the M4100/M5120 and a 32T chainring to get at 20 gear-inches, and that would be a way cheaper! What I would lose is the high end but I do not intend to ride any faster than 25 km/h on the flat anyway...
Anyway you can test that top end 32x11 first, on another bike maybe? If you are mostly on the flat I'd be concerned that that's pretty low & you will be going very slowly, especially if you are used to the faster speeds with a 44T & assistance. For me & mixed terrain here 36x11 seems to do the job & although I've never seen the need to use the motor to go extra fast I am aware that the 36 is slower then the 38 I had previously. In other words 32x46 will get you the low gears you need but just be careful you don't end up frustrated with the lack of high gears, especially if the terrain is flat.