Originally Posted by brobert2
I have on older Trek 830. The crank is 48/38/28 with a 12-28 cassette. I need a lower end. What is the easiest way to get there without trashing everything. Can I install a smaller crank? Any ideas please as I am a newby at this.
You can replace either/or the cassette + rear derailleur or the crank set with ATB components. That allows you to get up to a 32 big cog on the rear. You may exceed the ATB long-cage derailleur official capacity, but it's of little consequence as it only causes chain rub when the small ring and the two small cogs are used. You shouldn't use those chain angles anyhow. If you inadvertently shift there, the noise will alert you and there's no damage to be done anyhow. Just don't get the chain too short.
The ATB crank will give you 22/34/44.
I've mixed and matched road and ATB components for years (decades?) to get the gearing I like. I've also gone to full ATB drive train on a touring bike. My wife uses that now. It all works well and easy to do if you have sufficient knowledge or have a bike shop that does. If you do it yourself, you can tinker and see what works best for you. It's also a great learning experience. There are plenty of books out there plus the web for info.
My present bike uses a cyclocross frame with a French TA crank set (big $'s), an XT long-cage rear derailleur with an Ultagra front. The gearing is 22/36/46 with a 12 to 28 ultegra cassette. I have used a 12 to 32 XT cassette by adding a few links of chain. I keep that as a kit for the mountains as I live where there are only rolling hills and I don't like to grind. I like to spin.