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Thread: Gearing

  1. #1
    Senior Member sewupnut's Avatar
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    Gearing

    Hi all!

    I'm looking forward to my 22nd racing season.

    Having been old school up to this year, I am wondering why manufacturers don't offer a little more
    gearing variety - on the low (granny) end. For instance, I think an 11-23 would be more useful if
    the largest cog was a 24. A three cog drop to the 21 is not very radical. The common 21 to 19
    isn't bad and is about the same jump as 24 to 21 or 22 to 19. Had the bike not come with
    the 11-23, I would have gotten a 12-25 or 12-23 to start.

    Back in the old days, we had 6-speeds which meant that gearing had to be customized for
    different terrain. I had about 7 setups I used. A 12-14-16-18-21-24 for mountain stages and
    13-19 for flat RR's, TT's and crits. I especially liked a 12-13-15-17-19-22 for rolling hill RR's and
    the same only with a 14-13 instead of 12-13 for training.

    New cogsets are great because from 17 on down you have a straight block. Two cog jumps in
    this area are too radical. 21 down to 19 is fine, but 23 to 21 doesn't make sense (to me).
    The differnece between 23 and 24, assuming a 39 chain ring is enough to be the difference
    between spinning or flailing up a hill. Standing up for more than a 30 seconds or so at a time on
    a long grind isn't too efficient.

    Same could be said for a 25T, where the drop to 23 then to 21 makes even less sense.
    I think Shimano, finally at 27, drops to 24 and then 21 to preserve the 17 to 12 straight block.
    A great ratio would be 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-22-26 for 9 speeds and the addition of an 11 for 10's.
    That would cover just about every situation. I know, I know, why not get a triple? I don't (won't!)
    race with a triple and shouldn't have to. Not when just a few minor changes (single 26, 24, 22 cogs
    available?) is all it would take.

    sun

  2. #2
    Senior Member sewupnut's Avatar
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    Sorry for the choppy sentences - looked great in the edit window.

    sun

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    Mr. Shimano admitted in a recent interview that gearing, circa. 2005 is goofy. Bikes sold to fifty year old schoolteachers with a 130 inch gear. Merckx set the "one hour" record with a 97 inch gear.

    But, he said it is all about marketing. Road bikes are not sold to folks who want a bike that is a bit like what Lance rides...road bike customers want EXACTLY the gears Lance rides. Although I have doubts even Lance has much use for a 130 inch gear, unless it is coming down a mountain at about 50 mph.
    Last edited by alanbikehouston; 02-26-05 at 11:11 AM.

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    ^^ Yeah, its true - but for descents it is nice to have those gear inches, not to mention sprints. I have a 52/39 with a 12-25, which is a quite a bit shorter than what a lot of people are looking at these days.
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    sundy hopeful berny's Avatar
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    11/23 - 34/50 compact seems to give me all the ratios I need but I don't do a lot of hard climbs, nor do I want to. At 64 I think I've earned the right to prefer flatter rides.
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    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
    Mr. Shimano admitted in a recent interview that gearing, circa. 2005 is goofy. Bikes sold to fifty year old schoolteachers with a 130 inch gear. Merckx set the "one hour" record with a 79 inch gear.

    But, he said it is all about marketing. Road bikes are not sold to folks who want a bike that is a bit like what Lance rides...road bike customers want EXACTLY the gears Lance rides. Although I have doubts even Lance has used a 130 inch gear, unless it is coming down a mountain at about 60 mph.
    I think that's an example of "marketing survey" results coming back to bite someone on the butt. Sure, if Shimano comes right out and asks one of their test groups if they want Lance's gearing, they'll say yes, but if you just went ahead and put practical gears on all but the most technical bikes, nobody would complain. I always think it's funny when I see a road bike with flat handlebars, a fairly upright posture, a race wheelset with 4 spokes and Jan Ullrich's gearing preference! It's like "Which two marketing fads did you get caught between?" I'm not on a high horse, though, I did my time riding 26 inch knobbies on the pavement, just like every other gen-xer.
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  7. #7
    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewupnut
    Hi all!

    I'm looking forward to my 22nd racing season.

    Having been old school up to this year, I am wondering why manufacturers don't offer a little more
    gearing variety - on the low (granny) end. For instance, I think an 11-23 would be more useful if
    the largest cog was a 24. A three cog drop to the 21 is not very radical. The common 21 to 19
    isn't bad and is about the same jump as 24 to 21 or 22 to 19. Had the bike not come with
    the 11-23, I would have gotten a 12-25 or 12-23 to start.

    Back in the old days, we had 6-speeds which meant that gearing had to be customized for
    different terrain. I had about 7 setups I used. A 12-14-16-18-21-24 for mountain stages and
    13-19 for flat RR's, TT's and crits. I especially liked a 12-13-15-17-19-22 for rolling hill RR's and
    the same only with a 14-13 instead of 12-13 for training.

    New cogsets are great because from 17 on down you have a straight block. Two cog jumps in
    this area are too radical. 21 down to 19 is fine, but 23 to 21 doesn't make sense (to me).
    The differnece between 23 and 24, assuming a 39 chain ring is enough to be the difference
    between spinning or flailing up a hill. Standing up for more than a 30 seconds or so at a time on
    a long grind isn't too efficient.

    Same could be said for a 25T, where the drop to 23 then to 21 makes even less sense.
    I think Shimano, finally at 27, drops to 24 and then 21 to preserve the 17 to 12 straight block.
    A great ratio would be 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-22-26 for 9 speeds and the addition of an 11 for 10's.
    That would cover just about every situation. I know, I know, why not get a triple? I don't (won't!)
    race with a triple and shouldn't have to. Not when just a few minor changes (single 26, 24, 22 cogs
    available?) is all it would take.

    sun

    Wow 22nd season that is awesome!

    I agree with the ratio problems. Today they offer you 10 speeds in the back but no well rounded configuration. I use a 12-27 in the mountains 9-speed. What I really want is an 11-27. It just makes perfect sense. If you are in the mountains you need the gears to go up and the 27 does that just fine but why not give me the gears to go down? At 190lbs believe me I can fly down hills but I am always spinning out in the 12x53.

  8. #8
    Senior Member sewupnut's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies. My sentiments exactly. I use (with 6-speeds) a 54-12 in the mountains with a low end of 24 or 26. Spins out at about 55. Couldn't spin it well on the flats and 30+ mph was comfortable with a 54-14 and 13. On short criterium courses, top end was a 14 - rode 52-16 or 15 95% of the time in crits, 17 out of sharp corners, 14 for the final sprint. On an old Slocum wind trainer (double fans), I can push the 15 up to 35 mph (for about 10 seconds) during intervals - heart's jumping out of my chest.
    Still use a 53 - 17, 16, 15 almost all the time on the road.

    sun

  9. #9
    "Great One" 53-11_alltheway's Avatar
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    I have often wondered this...

    Why even use a 11-21 vs a 11-23?

    11-21: 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,21
    11-23: 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,19,21,23

    Basically they are the same from 11-17 (only the last three cogs differ)

    The only reason I can think of is if you are using the some of the Big-Big combos then the 11-21 makes more sense.

    I'd rather accelerate off a 53-19, 18,17 ( 1 tooth jumps) than a 53- 21,19, 17. (2 tooth jumps)


    But in the 39T ring you don't really need that close of gearing on the low end.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Sincitycycler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfmckenna
    Wow 22nd season that is awesome!

    I agree with the ratio problems. Today they offer you 10 speeds in the back but no well rounded configuration. I use a 12-27 in the mountains 9-speed. What I really want is an 11-27. It just makes perfect sense. If you are in the mountains you need the gears to go up and the 27 does that just fine but why not give me the gears to go down? At 190lbs believe me I can fly down hills but I am always spinning out in the 12x53.
    At 190lbs believe me I can fly down hills but I am always spinning out in the 12x53.
    I'm 200 lbs and I feel your pain . I fly down the hill, and grind up them I want a 11-30T maybe?
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    What I cannot understand is why nobody makes an 11-27 cassette like this:

    On the 10 speed cassettes with 11 teeth instead of going 17-19-21-23 why not go 18-20-23-27? The larger cogs can handle a bigger jump in the number of teeth because a single tooth is a smaller percentage of the total number of teeth. So to have the most efficient gearing the cross-section of the cassette should be exponential rather than (almost) linear. And a bike does not need a continuous variable transmission. Smaller teeth changes would be barely noticeable, and as the sprockets get bigger, bigger jumps in the number of teeth would be barely noticeable.

    I used to think 23 was big enough until I started climbing bigger hills. Now I want a 25 (and a 27 just to be safe). But why should I give up the 11? Maybe I want to risk my life going downhill. Why doesn't anybody make an 11-12-13-14-15-16-18-20-23-27 cassette to use with a 53-39 chain ring?

    Conspiracy theory: The manufacturers do this purposely to sell more. It makes people keep buying new cassettes in their struggle to find the best gearing for themselves. Selling many imperfect combos causes enough churning that they probably sell 3 times as many cassettes as they would if they just sold something ideal. Racers buy two or three different configurations depending on the course.

  12. #12
    sundy hopeful berny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berny
    11/23 - 34/50 compact seems to give me all the ratios I need but I don't do a lot of hard climbs, nor do I want to. At 64 I think I've earned the right to prefer flatter rides.
    It's funny that no one has commented on my post. A 34/50 compact crank set gives you your better climbing gear ratio with the 23/34. Granted it's not equal to a 27/39 but I find it most suitable for what I do. You loose a tad in top speed with the 11/50 but it's still more than I can spin in a sprint and the compact is lighter as is an 11/23 cassette.
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    And if you compare compact 50/11 with a 53/12 gearing, you actually gain top speed. Not much, but every little bit counts.

  14. #14
    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Trust me, Lance uses the 11. Many folks just don't get how fast those guys go on the flats, especially with the tailwinds. But when he first started, 52-53 x 12 was the top gear for most pro's and they went waayyy quicker than the average 11 cog owner these days.

    Your average club cyclist basically wastes having 53x11 and 12. I'm a 185 lb. cat 1 and my top gear is 53x12. In years past it has been even smaller, 50-51-52 x 12. When the heat is on your not looking for more gear, you are looking for more speed, so typically the rpms go up. I could race flat NRC crits or Belgium kermesses with basically two gears, 53 x 14-15.

    Now the sprint is different, but I still believe most sprints should be done on 53 x 12 or 13. The 11 will just get bogged down unless you are Boonen.

    Last point. If you take an 11 and don't really use it, then you are losing another more valuable gear, such as an 18 or 16. Gears like that will get used often and enable you to keep your cogsets tighter.

    My gear choice these days, 53 x 44 (12-23 ten spd)
    My wife, an average club rider 50 x 39 (13-25 nine speed)

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    Quote Originally Posted by YMCA
    Trust me, Lance uses the 11. Many folks just don't get how fast those guys go on the flats, especially with the tailwinds. But when he first started, 52-53 x 12 was the top gear for most pro's and they went waayyy quicker than the average 11 cog owner these days.

    Your average club cyclist basically wastes having 53x11 and 12. I'm a 185 lb. cat 1 and my top gear is 53x12. In years past it has been even smaller, 50-51-52 x 12. When the heat is on your not looking for more gear, you are looking for more speed, so typically the rpms go up. I could race flat NRC crits or Belgium kermesses with basically two gears, 53 x 14-15.

    Now the sprint is different, but I still believe most sprints should be done on 53 x 12 or 13. The 11 will just get bogged down unless you are Boonen.

    Last point. If you take an 11 and don't really use it, then you are losing another more valuable gear, such as an 18 or 16. Gears like that will get used often and enable you to keep your cogsets tighter.

    My gear choice these days, 53 x 44 (12-23 ten spd)
    My wife, an average club rider 50 x 39 (13-25 nine speed)
    Gears?

    In Florida?

    Getting ready for hurricane season?


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    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by divekrb
    Gears?

    In Florida?

    Getting ready for hurricane season?

    My house was pounded last year by 3 of them, so please hurricanes, stay away.

    No we don't need mountain gears here, but the point I was making, was that 53x11's are a waste of a gear for 95% of the people who own them. Better off having the 16 or 18 or whatever it is you are missing.

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    Senior Member zero's Avatar
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    What I like about 11 tooth cog cassettes for racing is that the chain is more centralized on the cassette when your in the 14,15, and 16. I used to have one until I got my 10 speed bike. Now I can't afford another cassette at $150 as opposed to 30 with ultegra 9. I run a 12-25 whether its a flat crit, or a 25% hill climb.

    one of my teammates once said, " If you have enough bal1s to throw on the 11, you better not pus$y out and go with the 11-23. 11-21 is where its at."

  18. #18
    Maglia Ciclamino gcasillo's Avatar
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    So what cassettes do you mate with a 50/34 compact crank? I'm considering this. A lot of rolling terrain here where I might benefit from a wider range of gearing. I definitely could use a little extra mojo on the hills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gcasillo
    So what cassettes do you mate with a 50/34 compact crank? I'm considering this. A lot of rolling terrain here where I might benefit from a wider range of gearing. I definitely could use a little extra mojo on the hills.
    Hi Greg,

    If you've got 10spd Campy an 11/25 or 11/26 gives a great selection. I put this cassette together for our road races and run a 33 on the small ring for the longer climbs over 10% (I normally climb at 95-100 RPM, we've got one hill that ramps over 16%). The 26 is mostly for training. The 11 gives you a good push on the fast descents.

    If your rollers aren't too long or steep you could probably do an 11/23.

    I agree that an 11 is wasted on a lot of folks, unless you've got longer descents. On one TT course with a one mile descent at 12% I spin out a 56/11. It's actually a 58 but I've got 650cc wheels on my TT bike.

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    Senior Member (Retired) gmason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcasillo
    So what cassettes do you mate with a 50/34 compact crank?
    I am also 64, but not a racer, and only on a bike about four years now. I live in the foothills of the French Alps. I also run a 50/34, and just put a Campa 10s cassette together that is the widest possible (see the Mechanics Forum if you care).

    I have hardly any flats here, but with Zondas I needed more top end for those I do have, as well as downhill, hence the hybrid. It works a treat, however. I still run a stock 13-29 on my Protons.

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    I'm tellin ya where I live the 11 gets used all the time. It just makes sense, you need a 25 or 27 to get up the mountain (comfortably) and then an 11 to come down. I was just looking at them again in my LBS yesterday. Funny how this thread got revived. But they make 11-34 mountain cassettes in 8-speed so why the hell not an 11 -27 for the road. I guess I will just have to deal with the 12x25 or 27. I like the idea of the compact crank but its cheaper to buy a cassette. Plus not knowing anything about them I wonder if they have any shifting problems and can handle the high stress shifting in racing. anyone?

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    If you want the 11-## so badly, why not just put an mtb cassette and derailleur with a 9 speed chain on? We do it here for endurance rides in the Sierras. If you don't want to change the cassette and der., then why not just put a 11 tooth chainring instead 12 tooth with it? That will give you a little bit of a bump going from 11-13-etc., but since you'll be using it on a downhill, it should work pretty well.

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    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcasillo
    So what cassettes do you mate with a 50/34 compact crank?
    When I went to a compact, I went from a 12-27 on the rear to 12-25, for smaller steps between gears. Biggest disadvantage is going from big to small ring... typically have to jump about 4 cogs. (Campy shifters would be nice for that.) For a ride w/lots of steep climbs, I put on the 12-27.

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    i'm frequently in the 11 cog while on the trainer over the winter. so, for a few months out of the year at least i'm using it. i like to use much harder gearing to work on jumps and strength exercises. may not be useful on a club ride, but for training purposes i do get some use out of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Landa
    If you want the 11-## so badly, why not just put an mtb cassette and derailleur with a 9 speed chain on? We do it here for endurance rides in the Sierras. If you don't want to change the cassette and der., then why not just put a 11 tooth chainring instead 12 tooth with it? That will give you a little bit of a bump going from 11-13-etc., but since you'll be using it on a downhill, it should work pretty well.
    Well the mountain cassettes I was looking at yesterday went from 11 to like 32 or 34. Thats just way too many teeth. Do they make mountain cassettes in 11x27? I've enquired about just putting the 11T cog on and my lbs mechanics said it may not work too well plus they don't just sell 11T cogs so I'd have to buy 2 cassettes to build up one

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