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  1. #1
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    Regearing my touring bike

    I have a Giant Escape R2 (Japanese market model) with an 8-speed 11~32 cassette on the back, 48/38/28 chain rings.

    The itch I'm trying to scratch: While I do put the high gear to a good use on mountain passes (around here 16% inclines are not uncommon), the gears are too far apart. I want to upgrade the drivetrain to a SRAM 9 speed, a custom 11~26 rear cassette, and two cranks, one 48/36/26 for everyday use and a 44/32/22 for those mountain days.

    The questions:

    Who can build me a custom cassette that is 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-26? I think this would be perfect for my mountainous corner of the world.

    The current wheels should have SRAM hubs. Am I correct to assume that a 9-speed cassette will fit?

    Does the above plan sounds like I'll get what I'm after?

  2. #2
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    Personally I would keep it 8 speeds and go to an 11-28 cassette which is 11,13,15,17,19,21,24,28. It would simply be a matter of buying a $30 cassette . Going to 9 speeds probably means a change of shifters which gets pricey. If I were to go that route I would just jump to 10 speed. 8,9,10 speed cassettes are all compatible with your hub.

    I have the above cassette on my Giant Rapid Flat bar road bike which has 30/42/52 road cranks up front and it is solid. On some really big hills i could use a 32 tooth in the back. I would think that with your MTB cranks up front the spacing of an 11/28 would be fine and cost you a whole lot less to impleement. At the very least try it out and then if you still want to go 9 or 10 speed you can do it and just sell that casette to someone.

    One last thing, Harris cyclery does custom casette configurations as well as stocks a ton of different standard configs and some of their own configs that they've created.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/k7.html#9
    Last edited by CPFITNESS; 07-22-10 at 07:31 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CPFITNESS View Post
    Personally I would keep it 8 speeds and go to an 11-28 cassette which is 11,13,15,17,19,21,24,28. It would simply be a matter of buying a $30 cassette . Going to 9 speeds probably means a change of shifters which gets pricey. If I were to go that route I would just jump to 10 speed. 8,9,10 speed cassettes are all compatible with your hub.
    The main thing I'm after is the close steps on the heavy side (11,12,13,14,15). When I'm riding I keep shifting between two gears, never finding a sweet spot.

    I have been pricing drivetrain components and even if I have to spend a good amount on a custom cassette, it should still be cheaper than a 10-speed drivetrain. If for whatever reason that's not the case, I'll happily do 10

  4. #4
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    11 13 15 18 21 24 28 32 is what you have now

    11 13 15 17 19 21 24 28
    would probably pleasantly surprise you. What kind of cadence are you maintaining? generally you are going to be more efficient and probably faster if you keep the gear a little lower and turn it over higher. I don't think the gearing you are looking at is a great idea when you consider what your bike is actually designed for. On one hand you want better high end gearing but on the other end your on a hybrid with MTB cranks. I have a vintage that I just put a 7 speed freewheel on that is 14/16/18/20/22/24/34 and the 2 tooth difference is a very smooth transition. I think if you were running road cranks up front maybe the 1 tooth difference on all those gears might make sense, but with MTB cranks it seems like your going to be shifting like a race car driver. the other problem is that even with a very small granny gear upfront, going from a 32 large tooth all the way down to a 26 just might give you trouble on some of the biggest of hills, plus, are you really going to swap out crank arms all the time?

    Are you familiar with the sheldon brown gear calculator? you can punch in different setups and see what it will give you. I like to set it up for MPH at 90RPM cadence because MPH is a tangible unit I can relate to, gear inches and some of the other options don't do it for me.

    www.sheldonbrown.com/gears

  5. #5
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    If you are dead set on 9 speed, there is a "High and Wide" std offering from shimano that is 11,12,13,14,16,18,21,24,28 that is very close to what you are looking for http://harriscyclery.net/itemdetails.cfm?ID=732

  6. #6
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    My lowest gear right now is 28/32, which is .875 ratio.

    With a 48/36/26 and 11/26, my lowest ratio would be 1, which would see me through just about anything.

    If I know I'm gonna be through mountain passes fully loaded with 16% inclines, swapping the crank for the 44/32/22 would give me a low ratio of .846 while sacrificing just a hair of my top end.

    I really miss the ability to do small adjustments based on incline and wind speeds. I'm thinking (therefore I could be wrong) that being able to do so would make me happy. I'm also more concerned with close spacing on the high end than on the low, hence the big jump at the end to serve as 'plan B'.

    Then again, that 11-28 is cheap enough that I'm gonna get one just to try Thanks a lot for pointing it out.

    The Sugino XD600 (48/36/26), is that a 9 speed crank that in the mean time should work fine with an 8 speed chain?
    Last edited by abdon; 07-22-10 at 08:28 AM.

  7. #7
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    I think we all like to tinker, that is half the fun, but it just seems like with the ability to have so many gears on the back of our bikes, going through swapping out cranks is a bit much. I just installed a so called "10 speed" crank and am using an sram 830 chain with no issues. shouldn't be a problem. If you go to a 9 or 10 speed setup then you'll need a chain. I realized that the bike in question is a flat bar, therefore upgrading to a 9 or 10 speed drive train isn't nearly as expenseive in terms of shifter cost as it would be if you had drop bars with STI shifters.

    48/11 comes out to 31.3mph at 90rpm cadence. on my bike with road cranks my 52/11 gets me 33.4 and 52/12 gets me 30.6. I can honestly say that i almost never get it into those gears except on some significant downhills. you could probably go with a 12 tooth as your smallest cog and still have plenty of top end speed with those cranks 48/12 would get you 28.7mph. My vintage has a small cog of 14 so my 52/14 is 26.2 and while i'm probably gonna look for a freewheel with a 13 tooth cog, the 14 tooth is actually good because going downhills i'm slightly outspinning it but as we know, all hills come to an end! If i'm going 30mph, i'm pretty content to coast and when that hill flattens out I'm able to spin and maintain that high speed on the flat for longer without downshifting so it works out well. from what i see on the gear charts, your 48/13 would still be faster than my 52/14.

    I guess what I'm saying is that if you really want closer gear spacing, you should probably look to give up a little bit of your top end, because you probably won't miss it at all and then you can still go between 28-32 for your big cog and not need to do crank swaps.

  8. #8
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    I can relate to your desire for closer gears. I use an 11-32 9spd cassette, and love the large cogs, but it seemed like I could not find just the right gear for cruising along in the middle ring, as conditions of wind/terrain changed. I did what you are looking to do: mix-n-matched cogs! Started out with 11-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32. Pulled the 14&16, and now have 11-12-13-15-18... Now I can fine-tune for conditions more easily. I did find that I don't use the 11 very much, so am thinking about trying a 12-13-14-16-18...

    If you get the 11-28, I kind of agree with CPFITNESS about using one crank. If you go with a 24/36/48, it might be good at both top and bottom. Remember Murphy's Law--there will undoubtedly come a day when time is short to prepare for a tour and having to swap out a crank will be the last thing you want to concern yourself with. I use a 22/35/48 on my tourer, but only for towing a trailer fully loaded (60lb bike/trailer, 40-50lb gear), and do NOT want to walk up any hills. More lightly loaded, I would still use my 24/34/52 setup. As always, YMMV

  9. #9
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    Thanks a lot for all the input. Right now I'm going to try the 11-28 and a Sugino 48/36/24. This will be the cheapest way to modify things, and if I still feel like going the 9 speed route I should be able to use this crank.

  10. #10
    djb
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    this seems like the best route, I second the no-crank-changing as from my experience from taking off a crank and putting it back on, invariabley after a certain amount of time, it needs a tiny tightening, and I would worry about that happening if one is far from tools, especially if loaded on a trip and really putting the torque on the thing climbing hills or whatever.

    Im more familiar with gear inches, and can relate to wanting to have a bit more fine tuning of gears, I rode a 7 speed triple touring bike a lot and am so happy with the 9 speed I have now just for that.

    I took a peek at the gear chart of the proposed 11-28 and the 48 36 24, and while the spread is good, there are a number of middlish, often used combos that repeat themselves, something I specifically wanted to remedy when I changed my chainrings on my old touring bike many years ago. Didnt like the "waste" of combos, and as you say, I specifically wanted to be able to find inbetween gears by being able to for example, come down from big ring in lets say 4th, go to middle front and 6th for an inbetween gear.

    I find that using gear inches is more intuitive for me to see how or if gears combos repeat themselves in a given crank-cassette combo. Try it out,,yes gear inches dont mean squat to me, but as numbers they are (tome) easier to see teh differences and how combos relate to each other.

    look up a "half step" gear set up, to see how this setup works well to give equalish changes , but requiring going from large to middle chainring for each "step"--btw, I chose not to go a halfstep route, but its a good example to show how to appreciate using the numbers, how a given setup will be in real life. having your existing gear inches that you are familiar with is always good so you can relate to what you know, for a given "gear inch"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by abdon View Post
    Thanks a lot for all the input. Right now I'm going to try the 11-28 and a Sugino 48/36/24. This will be the cheapest way to modify things, and if I still feel like going the 9 speed route I should be able to use this crank.
    That was going to be my suggestion. Changing the 28T granny for a 24T is a cheap and effective way to get a lower gear and the 11x28 cassette will give you the same low gear as the 28x32 low you now have.

  12. #12
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    I'm not that concerned about the overlapping; most of the time shifting combos to achieve some sort of linear shifting are too complicated to be practical.

    My desire to change boils down to a single fact; While cruising I keep shifting between two gears, never finding the sweet spot.

    This is what I have now, calculated for the 48 chain ring:

    Current 8 speed, 11/32
    11 - 4.36
    13 - 3.69 - 1.18
    15 - 3.20 - 1.15
    18 - 2.66 - 1.20
    21 - 2.28 - 1.16
    24 - 2.00 - 1.14
    28 - 1.71 - 1.16
    32 - 1.50 - 1.14
    First column are the cogs on the rear cassette, second column the ratio between them and the 48 chain ring, and the third the ratio between a given gear and the one before or after. For instance, the ratio for the 15 cog is 3.2, which is 20% higher than the 18 cog and 15% less than the 13 cog.

    Why do I want the 11-26? (11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-26) Because having 5 close gears at the top would let me dial in my gearing to account for slight amounts of inclination, slight changes in the wind, slight changes in load, and let's face it, slight changes in how tired I may be This close gearing would be accessible from both the big and the middle chain ring.

    this is what my dream cassette would look like, example given again for the 48 chain ring:

    9 speed, custom 11/26
    11 - 4.36
    12 - 4.00 - 1.09
    13 - 3.69 - 1.08
    14 - 3.43 - 1.08
    15 - 3.20 - 1.07
    17 - 2.82 - 1.13
    19 - 2.53 - 1.12
    21 - 2.29 - 1.11
    26 - 1.85 - 1.24
    Five close gears that are usable on both the big chain ring for flat riding, and on the middle chain ring for the mild rolling hills. Heck, the following three gears are still closer than on the original cassette. The last one jumping 24% is fine, as this would be the 'when all else fails' cog.

    Here is the recommended 8 speed 11/28:
    11 - 4.36
    13 - 3.69 - 1.18
    15 - 3.20 - 1.15
    17 - 2.82 - 1.13
    19 - 2.53 - 1.12
    21 - 2.29 - 1.11
    24 - 2.00 - 1.14
    28 - 1.71 - 1.17
    It will improve things somewhat, but not on the top-end where I want it. It also keeps the ratio between gears too high. that 18% difference between 11 and 13 is a royal pain.

    As stated I'm getting the stock 11/28 because it is a cheap upgrade, but eventually I would like to get the custom cassette made.

  13. #13
    djb
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    [QUOTE=abdon;11175819]I'm not that concerned about the overlapping; most of the time shifting combos to achieve some sort of linear shifting are too complicated to be practical.
    --agree completely, thats why I never wanted to go the half step, once in a while it doesnt bother me to "go down to middle, and up 2" to get an inbetween,but I know what you mean.

    My desire to change boils down to a single fact; While cruising I keep shifting between two gears, never finding the sweet spot.
    ---I hear you, I guess the main thing about this exercise is that its good to use and understand gearing charts to figure out what is best for your riding style. I know I am not a particularly strong rider, being slight, so the higher up gears dont get used that much, except of course with good tailwinds and downhills, so for me a tighter spread would be really more useful in the middle range of gearing.

    Its probably always a compromise somewhere, with a bigger jump going to always somewhere with larger range cassettes, but even seeing your calculations makes me think more about the ratios and diff in ratios on my new bike, will look more closely at it with your "percentage" diff from one to another in mind (good way actually, to see the % of jumps, and to think of where one personally would want more closley spaced gears--within the limitations of the number of gears, the derailleur, what total range you would like in your bike given the biking terrain, load on your bike etc etc.

    all the best getting the custom one done.
    cheers

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