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  1. #1
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    Re-gearing" a 2001 Trek 2300 w/Ultegra

    I'm a new forum member trying to get a bike set-up for my wife.
    (I'm an ex roadie - I raced as a USCF junior in 1993/1994. I still have my 1994 Trek 5500 OCLV with 600 components...and am just getting back into road riding. My wife got addicted to "spinning" a few months ago and has the bug to go road riding. We signed up for the MS Wisconsin Ride, 65 miles a day X 2 days)

    I was a bike mechanic/retail sales at our LBS (west bend, WI) back in the early '90s, so I'm comfortable working on bikes.


    I found a 2001 Trek 2300 from a friend that should fit her...(more on that in another post)
    Low mileage, everything is in working order.

    My biggest concern is the gearing - and I need help figuring it out.
    (this site is full of great information! I'm really glad I found it...)


    It has full Ultegra components.
    The front sprocket is a 53/39 and the rear is a 9speed with an 11x23 cassette.
    (The rear derailleur is a small/short cage)

    It currently has 175 crank arms (which I'm concerned might be a little long).

    I'm on a VERY tight budget...but want this "experience" to a positive one for my wife.


    Can I convert this bike to a triple?
    (I was given a "truvativ road triple 32/42/53 170 cranks" and bottom bracket (take off from a bike shop. But, I assume than I would need a new shifter, front derailleur, and longer cage for the rear derailleur?

    The bike has a St6500 shifter - which appears to be just a "double". Is that correct?
    I found conflicting information online…
    (Shimano doesn’t have the document for this online anymore, and IMO it only has "1 big click, and the 2 small "trim" clicks).

    I found these parts online - would these be an option?
    http://milwaukee.craigslist.org/bik/2772360641.html
    http://madison.craigslist.org/bik/2825261620.html


    My thought was I could change the front to a triple and have a much better "gear range" for her. (The charity ride route is VERY hilly)

    If I keep the rear cassette – can I keep the existing chain?


    I've been reading comments here about the "compact" crank arm (50/32 front)...

    It doesn’t appear that I have “room” to mount a smaller cog in the lower position of my current crank on the front – correct?

    If I find a compact crank and go that route, what's the max cog I can use in the back?

    Can I use the mountain bike set (11x32 or 11x34) with a longer cage on my current derailleur?

    And I’m a correct that the 12x27 is the “widest range” cassette I can use with my current set-up?


    Again - I'm on a very, very limited budget, but want to do this "right".

    Thank you in advance for your help! I really appreciate it!

  2. #2
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    If you don't change the crank I'm pretty sure the cheapest way to go would be an 11-34 cassette, new chain, and 'mountain' (LX, XT, XTR, etc.) rear derailer.

    Changing the crank will get expensive as you'll probably need a new FD for a triple, new left brifter (?), and a long cage RD to take up the slack unless you explain not to use the small-small combinations you might be able to get away with it.

    You might be able to get away without changing anything if you just put on a 'compact' 34/50 crank. You are correct that you cannot put a smaller ring on your current crank as it is almost certainly 130 BCD (smallest ring is 38T.)

    Quote Originally Posted by tbrodzeller View Post
    It currently has 175 crank arms (which I'm concerned might be a little long).
    How tall is she? I'm no expert on crank length but after reading Sheldon's article the thought in my mind is: too short is probably ok, but too long can be bad.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  3. #3
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    All 6500 shifters are double/triple compatible, they are all the same. There will be 4 main positions plus a trim position for the granny chainring. This allows for 2 positions for each of the three chainrings. My wife's bike is 6500 with a triple. I changed the rings to 49-39-28. I'm not familiar with the FSA triple but would assume you can replace the chainrings with smaller ones but you will need to check the BCD (Bolt Circle Diameters) to see how low you can go. If the front derailleur is a braze-on type, most upper end Trek's are, there is a limit to how low you can adjust the FD. On my wife's 5200 it was necessary to grind the derailleur's slot down a bit to get it low enough for the 49-39-28 rings, and the inside rail is still not quite low enough for the 28 granny.

    The 12-27 is the lowest road cassette offered by Shimano but you can go as low as 13-30 with a custom cassette with the road derailleur or 12-34 with a mountain type rear derailleur. Some have been able to run a 32 cog with a road RD by tweaking the "B" screw. But this doesn't work on some bikes depending on the hanger geometry.

    For the triple you will need a long cage RD and triple FD. A 9-speed triple FD will be best. A 10-speed triple FD may not work well. Triple FD's are designed with certain sized rings and chain width in mind. But there is a bit of wiggle room.
    Last edited by Al1943; 02-14-12 at 10:40 AM.

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    as there is an 11 t cog on the Cassette, I'd lose the 53t chainring,
    46:11 is going to be plenty high ,
    particularly after getting used to spinning in those classes .

    yea 175 is too long a crankarm , unless she is long legged and say 5'8" or so.
    contrary to spinning.. where a shorter arm on the crank is better ..

    what is on the Gym machines she is used to?
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-14-12 at 11:57 AM.

  5. #5
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    Fietsbob has good advice. I'd just remove the 53 ring from the triple and run it as a 42-32 double, adjusting the front derailleur down and in. Maybe find a 130 BCD bashguard to make it look more finished. Or make your own bashguard out of the 53 ring if you have access to a bench grinder to grind the teeth off - then you wouldn't even need new chainring bolts. Then change the 32-tooth granny to a 30, 28, 26 or even a 24. Or perhaps get a 12-27 cassette if the gearing is still too high. You won't even need a new chain. Those are the cheapest options. Going to a triple will require a new FD, chain and RD, which will start to add up. MTB cassettes require a new RD and chain.

  6. #6
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    Thank you ALL for the input. I'll look into these...and let you know!

    Please keep the replies coming!

  7. #7
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    You can also pick up that era of Tiagra/105 level stuff pretty reasonable. FD wouldn't need to be Ultegra.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/SHIMANO-105-...77568252072348

    http://www.jensonusa.com/!uiLxYp4daH...ont-Derailleur

    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=11832

    http://www.amazon.com/SHIMANO-TIAGRA.../dp/B0052U3N52

    If they still do the MS ride from WCTC to Madison it's really not all that bad. Coming from an old pack a day smoker who did it on a 42-52 & 14-24 vintage Raleigh. You'd be surprised the at some of the squeeky POS bikes you'll see on that ride. It was a very good time!
    Last edited by dedhed; 02-14-12 at 08:40 PM.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  8. #8
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    look at this link for the techdocs

    techdoc link

    it is for the st-6510 but should be the same for the 6500
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  9. #9
    Senior Member ljsense's Avatar
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    FastJake makes sense; other tips are going to lead you astray.

    Don't change the crankset and don't change the shifters. These are both big money items. Plus, it's hard to even find a compact crankset that will work with a Shimano Octalink bottom bracket, so you'll probably be buying a different bottom bracket. And if you change shifters, you'll be rewrapping your handlebars.

    No, what you want to do is this:

    9 speed Shimano cassettes with wide gear ranges are plentiful and cheap. Pick one up on eBay for $30 or less. Here is a "Buy it Now" option, but you'll be able to save if you wait out an actual auction for a used (or new) one.

    Next, get a long cage rear derailleur, like a Shimano LX or similar. Here's an example that you can buy now for $32 or you can be patient and bid for a discount.

    It's possible you might need a longer chain, and if so, drop by your local bike store and spend $30 or so.

    There: you're done. You've got a bike with a 39x34 gear. When that's too much, it's about the same difference to get off and walk; happens all the time on hills on rides like these. And you've solved your bike puzzle for less than $100.

    All Shimano 9 speed stuff indexes right and is compatible. A Shimano rear derailleur doesn't care if it's being used with an 8, 9 or 10 speed cassette.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ljsense's Avatar
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    One more note, if you change to a triple crankset, you will need a new front derailleur to make it work right. I don't have experience with ST-6500, but other similar Ultegra models, like the 6600, had a double and a triple version and I would be surprised if the existing double left shifter would work.

    A triple crankset will also require a different bottom bracket. And it will require a long cage rear derailleur.

    So here's your shopping list to switch to a triple:

    Triple Crankset ($100)
    Longer spindle Bottom bracket ($30)
    triple front derailleur ($25)
    left shifter ($85)
    handlebar tape ($15)
    long cage rear derailleur ($32)

    And after all that your low gear will 28/23 (1.28) which is actually a taller, harder gear than the 39x34 (1.15) you could get for under $100.

    Last point, the difference between a 175 crankset and a 172.5 is 2.5 mm or about the thickness of a sock.

  11. #11
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsense View Post
    FastJake makes sense; other tips are going to lead you astray.

    Don't change the crankset and don't change the shifters. These are both big money items. Plus, it's hard to even find a compact crankset that will work with a Shimano Octalink bottom bracket, so you'll probably be buying a different bottom bracket. And if you change shifters, you'll be rewrapping your handlebars.

    No, what you want to do is this:

    9 speed Shimano cassettes with wide gear ranges are plentiful and cheap. Pick one up on eBay for $30 or less. Here is a "Buy it Now" option, but you'll be able to save if you wait out an actual auction for a USED (or new) one.
    Thanks, but I have only one nit to pick. I'm cheap about a lot of things but I will not buy a used cassette because it's virtually impossible to tell how worn out it is. Especially when installing a new chain along with it. Worst case it will skip badly, but maybe just as bad it will wear out the new chain rapidly.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  12. #12
    Senior Member ljsense's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
    Thanks, but I have only one nit to pick. I'm cheap about a lot of things but I will not buy a used cassette because it's virtually impossible to tell how worn out it is. Especially when installing a new chain along with it. Worst case it will skip badly, but maybe just as bad it will wear out the new chain rapidly.
    The cassette I linked to was actually a new 11-34 9 speed Shimano cassette for about $30, including shipping. That's how cheap and readily available shimano 9 speed cassettes are.

    I could debate your view of used cassettes, but it's pointless when you can just get a new one that solves your problem for $30.

  13. #13
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    But...but... the OP already has a triple with 170 arms complete with bottom bracket. *All* of his existing equipment will work on the inner two chainrings of a triple (may want to shorten the chain). Total cost $0 to lower the ratio to 32:23. Another $30 to get a 12/28 cassette would change the lowest ratio to 32:28. Then swapping the 32 tooth inner chainring for a 26 http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=404597 would lower it to a cliff-climbing 26:28. That total would be about $60 with shipping, versus $100.

    Well, maybe Ebay-ing the old cassette and ultegra derailleur would bring it back to about the same $60. So it's a wash.

    Plus, keeping the existing crankset with 175 arms may not be the best thing for the longevity of his spouse's knees.

  14. #14
    Senior Member ljsense's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cycle_maven View Post
    But...but... the OP already has a triple with 170 arms complete with bottom bracket. *All* of his existing equipment will work on the inner two chainrings of a triple (may want to shorten the chain). Total cost $0 to lower the ratio to 32:23. Another $30 to get a 12/28 cassette would change the lowest ratio to 32:28. Then swapping the 32 tooth inner chainring for a 26 http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=404597 would lower it to a cliff-climbing 26:28. That total would be about $60 with shipping, versus $100.

    Well, maybe Ebay-ing the old cassette and ultegra derailleur would bring it back to about the same $60. So it's a wash.

    Plus, keeping the existing crankset with 175 arms may not be the best thing for the longevity of his spouse's knees.
    Yeah, that's a way to do it, too -- you've got a pragmatic solution. Somehow I missed the part about him already having a 170 mm triple and a BB for it (beer reading).

    Still, using the two inner rings of a triple doesn't seem like the most elegant thing in the world to me. The double front derailleur I'm assuming is on the bike is not designed to like chain rings that small, or having one so close to the down tube.

    Yet another solution is to use the triple 170 mm crankset with the front derailleur only as a chain watcher and run it as a 1 x 9 32:11-27. You could easily pay for the cassette with the 175 mm crankset.

    If she can spin at a 90 cadence, she's good for 20.5 mph, or 23 mph at 100, and she's a spin class enthusiast, so if the group she's riding with is doing 25, she just needs to wind it up to 110. (thanks, bikecalc.com). And a 32:27 climbing gear ought to be generous enough. I've ridden the roads on the MS Wisconsin route; we're not talking mountains here.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsense View Post
    I don't have experience with ST-6500, but other similar Ultegra models, like the 6600, had a double and a triple version and I would be surprised if the existing double left shifter would work.
    Once again, all 6500 front shifters (Ultegra 9-speed) are double/triple compatible. There are NO double only 6500 shifters, they are all the same. See post #3.

  16. #16
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    Thank you all again for the help...I really appreciate it!

    It sounds like I have several options.

    My plan is to install the triple front/BB I have and see how that works. I will try it as a double, or see if I can make my Ultegra Front Clamp on Derailleur (no part #) work with the triple.

    (I know I can get a front derailleur inexpensively if needed.)

    I really appreciate the suggestion about running the rear MTB parts...that's an affordable option. It’s nice to know I can swap out those parts and keep my existing shifters.

    It won't be spring here (WI) for a while, but I'll be positing more in the near future.

    Thank you again!

  17. #17
    Senior Member ljsense's Avatar
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    I just looked up the Shimano tech doc for the ST-6500 and lo and behold, that left lever is good for either a double or a triple.

    So, you're in great shape. Just buy that triple front derailleur for $25, sell your 175 mm double crankset and bottom bracket, and you're going to come out ahead on the deal.

  18. #18
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    I just posted this to ask about the front derailleur:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...8#post13859098

  19. #19
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    Thank you all again for your help! I really appreciate…

    I got the triple crank installed over the weekend, and it went fairly smooth.

    I have several more questions about this swap.

    1) The bottom bracket went in as expected, but the “O”ring on the left side was not “compressed” at all after torqueing down to the recommended30 lbs. Is this OK? (the instructions said it wouldn't bottom out, but I expected the o-ring to at least have "some" pressure on it...)

    Here a picture:




    And of the right side with the required spacer.




    2) The chain rings were clearly MTB rings. So, I swapped the rings from the crank that was on the bike…

    a. Not in this picture how the rings are “thicker” than the crank arm mounts. Is this an issue? There appears to be plenty of “metal”to bite into…but I wanted make sure. (sorry the pictures a little fuzzy)



    3) Since I swapped the middle/big ring, I’m concerned the inner wring has the “wrong” teeth for the chain I’m using...correct?

    a. Picture:



    b. What bolt circle do I need to order?







    c. Anything else I need to look for when ordering the inner?

    d. I know I can go with a smaller inner gear, but don’t want to make the shifting issue (see below) any worse by doing that…


    4) Rear Derailleur Cage Length

    a. With the current chain length, I can use the largest 4 cogs in the rear, and still have clearance from the cage to the cog. Since I view these as “emergency” granny gears…I think I’ll be OK teaching April just to use the inner sprocket with thetop 4 gears in the back…

    b. I forgot to the check the length of the chain when it’s in the big front ring and small rear. (Idon’t ever see her using that gear anyway…so I might be able to shorten thechain a little if needed.)

    c. *Side note: how do I measure the SG chain for “Stretch” or wear?


    5) Front Derailleur

    a. This worked out just fine…I have enough travel (after adjusting the screws) and the front shifter works fine for the triple front.


    6) Shifting “quality”

    a. Like several of you commented, the shifting quality onthe front is not good…I’m fine on the middle and outer ring (going up or down),and from the middle down to the inner is OK, but moving from the inner UP tothe middle is rough.

    b. I have to swing the derailleur almost all the way over (likeI’m going to the big ring) to get it to engage on the middle ring. Once it’s “on” the middle ring…I need to usethe trim buttons to bring the derailleur back for the middle ring.

    c. My assumption is that the rings I have don’t have any “ramps”or “aides” to help the chain up. (it’sclear on the MTB rings I removed that they have pins/ramps to help with that…)

    d. Is there an inner ring I can buy that’s the road (SG?)chain designed for the triple to help with this? Or, is it just something I’ll have to livewith? I don’t want to damage my existingchain…

    e. Do I need to consider a different front derailleur to help with this?

    f. Again, my goal is to make this bike enjoyable to ridefor my wife, and give her some “extra” climbing gear.


    g. Keeping my limited budget in mind…I’m just trying tomake this work. I assume I could put the MTB rings back on, swap the front derailleur/rear derailleur /rear cassette forMTB pieces, and get a MTB chain and I’d be all set…but I’d prefer not to haveto go that route if possible.



    THANK YOU again for all your help!
    Last edited by tbrodzeller; 02-21-12 at 09:05 AM.

  20. #20
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    Well done, but just a few comments-

    Mountain bike chainrings- not sure what you meant about the chainrings being of the MTB variety- typically mountain bikes have smaller chainrings on a 94 (?) mm BCD 4-arm, with 64 (?) mm BCD inner ring. Your crank looks like a 130 mm BCD 5-arm with 74 BCD inner ring, which is typical for a road crank. The original 3 chainrings were probably the best ones for shifting on this crank since they're matched.

    There is no difference between mountain bike chains and road chains- they just come in 6/7/8 speed, 9 speed and 10 speed (unless you're a campy fan, then you can mortgage your house and get a 11-speed). The way to measure the wear on chains is to get an accurate 12" ruler, lay the chain under tension along it and see where the pins on the chain line up. If they're within 1/16" at 12" then you're good to go, 1/16-1/8" and you need a new chain and maybe a new cassette, >1/8 and you need a new chain and a new cassette, maybe a new set of chainrings. My rule of thumb- replace the chain at 1/16", for every 5 chains replace the cassette, for every 5 cassettes replace the chainrings. I'm still on my first chainrings on nearly all of my bikes.

    MTB front derailleurs won't work with road front shifters and vice versa.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by cycle_maven View Post
    Well done, but just a few comments-

    Mountain bike chainrings- not sure what you meant about the chainrings being of the MTB variety- typically mountain bikes have smaller chainrings on a 94 (?) mm BCD 4-arm, with 64 (?) mm BCD inner ring. Your crank looks like a 130 mm BCD 5-arm with 74 BCD inner ring, which is typical for a road crank. The original 3 chainrings were probably the best ones for shifting on this crank since they're matched.
    Thank you for the reply.

    I'll take a picture - but the "teeth" looked drastically different. I didn't want to "hurt" the chain, so that's why I swaped the rings...

  22. #22
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    Here's a picture:



    The "teeth" look drastically different to me...that's why I swaped them out.

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