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  1. #1
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    Lower gears for Fuji Touring -- best solution?

    Hi everyone,
    my girlfriend bought a 2008 Fuji Touring with the stock set-up. It turned out that the combination of her strength, the gearing, and the hills around here are not exactly ideal, i.e. she wants lower gears.

    The current set-up is 52-42-30 with a Tiagra derailleur in front and a 11-32 cassette with Deore derailleur in the back.

    I have an unused 11-34 cassette lying around but obviously that alone wouldn't do too much good. So I suppose I'll have to do something with the front chainrings, too. Does anyone have good advice for a relatively inexpensive solution? I'll do the installation myself, so cost of labor is not part of the equation.

    Thanks for your advice!

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    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Why not tell your gf to ride more miles on the flat areas until she builds up her strength?
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Why not tell your gf to ride more miles on the flat areas until she builds up her strength?
    Hm, because there are no flat areas? In addition, as soon as we'll start loaded touring lower gears will be nice even with more strength.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Why not tell your gf to ride more miles on the flat areas until she builds up her strength?
    Ha ha ha! Worst answer EVERRR!

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    You can either change the chainrings (or maybe just the middle or small one).

    Swapping out the 42 for a 39 would give her easier cruising gears for rolling hills, but if she is using the small ring and still wants smaller than you can go as small as 24 teeth... couple that with your 11-34 cassette and she has gears about as small as gears can be.

    Otherwise, you could get a whole inexpensive mtb crankset... Mountin bikes usually have 44/32/22 or the like, and 22/34 is a very small gear indeed!

    A change in the chainrings might require that the front derailleur be adjusted. ANd a change in crankset requires that you consider the chainline, so a crankset with a separate bottom bracket might be a good idea.

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    For my wife I changed the Ultegra 9-speed triple chainrings to 49-39-28 TA Alize triple rings and now she does fine with a 13-28 cassette. I had tried her on a 13-34 mountain cassette, she did not like the big ratio jumps, said there was too many times it felt like she was "between gears".

    Al

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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
    You can either change the chainrings (or maybe just the middle or small one).

    Swapping out the 42 for a 39 would give her easier cruising gears for rolling hills, but if she is using the small ring and still wants smaller than you can go as small as 24 teeth... couple that with your 11-34 cassette and she has gears about as small as gears can be.

    Otherwise, you could get a whole inexpensive mtb crankset... Mountin bikes usually have 44/32/22 or the like, and 22/34 is a very small gear indeed!

    A change in the chainrings might require that the front derailleur be adjusted. ANd a change in crankset requires that you consider the chainline, so a crankset with a separate bottom bracket might be a good idea.
    Thanks for your reply. I'm aware that exchanging the chainrings in the front is the right solution but it's the details that I'm not sure about. Can I just put a 24 ring on the current crank without also exchanging the derailer? My (sketchy) knowledge of derailers tells me that there is a maximum difference of teeth a derailer can handle. And according to the Shimano website the Tiagra can only handle 20 T difference. Or can that safely be ignored? If I have to exchange all three chainrings it's probably better to just go for your MTB crankset solution.

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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Changing chainrings on a 52/42/30 is usually problematic. There are couple of ways to go. The "trekking" cranks, 48,38,28 will get you a little lower, and generally does not require changing the bottom bracket. I have done several of these, and when I went from a "road" crank to a mountain bike crank chainline was always an issue. However, not a big issue. Below are two examples of the way I set up a couple of my bikes. I used Sugino cranks because they are relatively inexpensive and are good quality. IMO Shimano is not as flexible. The Bianchi is my touring bike which came with a 48/38/28. I changed it to a mtn bike 44/32/22 with an 11-34 rear cassette. It required going from a 110mm bottom bracket axle to a 103mm to keep the same chainline. The Trek is my do-all bike. I changed it from a road 52/42/30 and an 11-26 to a 46/36/26 with an 11-34 rear cassette. I also have a 24 tooth chainring for this setup, but only used it for touring. I also live in a hilly area. I do keep one bike set up with the usual road setup (52/42/30and an 11-27), but only use it when I know there are no major climbs. If you want more information we can get into the nuts and bolts later.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    PS. The Tiagra front Derailleur is very versitle and works with all the combination that are mentioned above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    Changing chainrings on a 52/42/30 is usually problematic.
    It really isn't. I've substituted 26T chainrings for the stock 30T granny ring on numerous Shimano 7,8 and 9-speed cranks using 105 and Ultegra triple front derailleurs and they've all worked well. I even made the same 26T substitution on a Campy Chorus 10-speed 53/42/30 triple crank with a Chorus 10-speed triple fd. Campy "experts" insisted it wouldn't work but it does.

    There are two constraints:

    1. Generally a long cage road rear derailleur will have it's wrap capacity exceeded so you have to avoid using the granny ring with the smallet one or two cogs. This is no sacrifice at all. An MTB rear derailleur may not even have that limitation.

    2.The shift from the granny up to the middle ring isn't real fast. It goes, but not as crisply as the stock set-up. Again, not a real problem.

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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Hillrider,
    You are correct. I had trouble once and made a leap to a generalization from there. I do not have much experience messing with chainwheels for the 70-130 bolt pattern.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    I had tried her on a 13-34 mountain cassette, she did not like the big ratio jumps, said there was too many times it felt like she was "between gears".
    My touring bike came with an 11-32 with a 30/42/52 triple. Creating a gear chart indicated that there was a 6% difference between the gears for most of the range. You have to work a bit (eg, double shift) to get to some of those closer jumps but they are there. In my case, the rule is fairly simple.

    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    2.The shift from the granny up to the middle ring isn't real fast. It goes, but not as crisply as the stock set-up. Again, not a real problem.
    I suspect that this lack of "crispness" is often considered as "not working". If you know about it and plan for it, it not a real problem!
    Last edited by njkayaker; 08-14-09 at 08:11 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    My touring bike came with an 11-32 with a 30/42/52 triple. Creating a gear chart indicated that there was a 6% difference between the gears for most of the range. You have to work a bit (eg, double shift) to get to some of those closer jumps but they are there. In my case, the rule is fairly simple.
    The only "problem" I see with this gearing is the absurdly high top couple of gears for a touring bike, particularly for a rider of modest ability. The 52x11 is 128 gear-inches! That's a time trial gear for a Pro-level rider. So, the top two or so gears are wasted.

    Unfortunately 13 x XX cassettes are getting hard to find and are pretty much non-existant in MTB-range cassettes since most MTB's have 42 or 44T big chainrings and the 42 or 44 x 11 top gear is reasonable.

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    Thanks for all the helpful suggestions! I'll try the least expensive solution--substituting the 30 for a 26--first and we'll see how it goes.

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    And I would quit there, because I expect she'll build up some strength pretty soon. Her bottom gear is already extremely low, and you'll be giving her an even lower one. Handling a bike at that low speed is a skill unto itself. My wife has a lot of trouble keeping her bike upright in her bottom gear.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Is she planning on doing loaded touring eventually? If so, go for ultra-low. If not, I'd still recommend low, since it sounds like she wants to ease her burden on steep uphills.

    I'd swap out the crankset for something new. I'd focus on the granny, since hills are the issue. It's a bit of a pain to have a small large ring and run out of gears when you're flying along a flat section of road with a tailwind, but it's a worthwhile sacrifice to have a more pleasant experience when climbing hills.

    If she's going to do any loaded touring, I'd suggest a mountain crankset with a 22-tooth granny. If not, I'd still say go down to a 24-tooth granny. The 11-32 cassette sounds fine, but since you have an 11-34 sitting around, I don't see any reason not to install that.

  17. #17
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    I replaced the 30T small chainring on my 2008 Fuji Touring with a 26T and it works fine. As others have said, upshifting from the 26T to the 42T can be a little slow, but otherwise it's great. Combine that with your 11-34 cassette and you've lowered the low gear quite a bit.

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    Thanks Hernick. Good to have that kind of first-hand info. I'll hopefully make it to the bike shop this week and get a 26T chainring.

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