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  1. #1
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    Low Gear Salvation



    I'm in the 60+ group and interested in economical options that will make it easier to climb many of the long grade, and steep, hills where I live. I have used a Compact Ultegra drive train (50/34, 11/28) for years and am considering switching everything to an Ultegra triple to benefit from the realization that the engine ain't getting any stronger, I need that small ring salvation. On the other hand I would consider a MB rear derailleur (32 or 34) and keeping my Ultegra Compact intact. Has anyone found the latter option an effectiive solution over the Triple?

    I ride about 3-5 Centuries a year and am planning a one day 150 miler in about 4 months.

    Any help appreciated.

    kgk

  2. #2
    Kid A TurbineBlade's Avatar
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    Are you using a "road" cassette right now (max 28t cog)? If so, yeah - the 32 or 34t cog will definitely give you a noticeable difference in your low gearing. At least going from 28 to 34t does for me, anyway.

    I'd try that before going to a triple. That said, I prefer a triple crankset for just about any riding I do. You never know when you might load up with junk, or need to pull the trailer...it has to be a friction shifting triple though, I ****ing hate index front shifting.
    Cyclist, angler and aquarist

  3. #3
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    I know exactly what you're talking about. I'm 73 and slowly becoming a stronger cyclist despite being somewhat asthmatic. I have a triple chain ring that has been modified from stock to suit my abilities (or disabilities). Whether you choose a triple or stay with your double, there are quite a few choices these days. With a double chain ring, you could consider a different cassette in the back. Some of the mountain bike cassettes give you quite low gearing.

    My suggestion is to play around with a gear calculator to see how different options effect gearing. http://www.gear-calculator.com/# I like the linked gear calculator because it is very visual. You can drag chain rings into the active area and alter the cog set and immediately see the effects. You can see the effect on speed, gear inches, gaps in the gear inch spread and compare two alternate choices. For myself, 24 gear inches is my lowest gear. Good luck.

  4. #4
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    The least expensive change would be to an MTB cassette (32 or 34T big cog) and a low to middle line (Deore or LX) MTB rear derailleur and probably a new chain. Going to a triple would require the new crank, bottom bracket, front derailleur and possibly a new front brifter, and while you are at it, a 24 ot 26T granny ring to replace the OEM 30T.

    The advantage of the triple crank is you keep the closer spacing of the road cassette and have fewer big gaps in the gearing while getting a significantly lower low gear.

  5. #5
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    I love my triple for long, hilly rides! That said, I'd agree that a lower-geared cassette might be all you need, and cheaper.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
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  6. #6
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    I usually use a compact with a 28 largest sprocket on the casette. On exceptionally hilly brevets I replace my Ultegra rear deraileur with a MTB deraileur, change the casette with a MTB casette with 32 largest sprocket, and replace the chain with a longer one. Most of the Brevets are hilly in this area, but a few are really tough. Then I revert back to the original setup, and keep the parts for next time. The 32 largest rear sprocket makes a big difference when yr tired after a lot of climbing, but the biggest benefit is saving yr knees, especially older knees.

    YannisG

  7. #7
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    ... Going to a triple would require the new crank, bottom bracket, front derailleur and possibly a new front brifter, and while you are at it, a 24 ot 26T granny ring to replace the OEM 30T.....
    You will probably need a rear derailleur with a long cage, and while you are at it, a cassette with a 34 tooth big ring. At this point, change the chain and cables... and you have a whole new drivetrain.

    Hmm?!!! At this stage, how about a new bike. I'm thinking of touring bikes. Marinoni makes them from scratch to the riders specs but doesn't charge the "custom bike" price.

    It is only money, and I can't take it with me when I go.
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My road triple .. 50,40, 24, Campag 'race' triple, uses a 74bcd 3rd CR..
    chain slack take up needs a long cage RD ..

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by skilsaw View Post
    You will probably need a rear derailleur with a long cage,....
    Yes, he would benefit from a long cage road rear derailleur for use with the triple but it's not essential. He will just lose use of the granny with any but the largest few cogs if he keeps the short cage rd.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by yannisg View Post
    I usually use a compact with a 28 largest sprocket on the casette. On exceptionally hilly brevets I replace my Ultegra rear deraileur with a MTB deraileur, change the casette with a MTB casette with 32 largest sprocket, and replace the chain with a longer one. Most of the Brevets are hilly in this area, but a few are really tough. Then I revert back to the original setup, and keep the parts for next time. The 32 largest rear sprocket makes a big difference when yr tired after a lot of climbing, but the biggest benefit is saving yr knees, especially older knees.

    YannisG
    YannisG, what MTB derailleur and MTB cassette did you use on those hills?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I'm kind of curious about the 50-11 combination. Do you ever use that? That's some seriously high gearing!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    I'm kind of curious about the 50-11 combination. Do you ever use that? That's some seriously high gearing!
    It happens on rare occassions, often with a tailwind, days when I wish I had a 52 or 53 upfront... yet for the most part I need the lower gearing for the inevitable steep hills and mountains...

  13. #13
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    +1 Play around with a gearing calculator and see what each change would get you. 34T cassette + new RD and chain would be the cheapest, but going to a triple can possibly get you even lower gearing.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    I love my triple for long, hilly rides! That said, I'd agree that a lower-geared cassette might be all you need, and cheaper.
    this must be the first post i've ever read where the poster was broad-minded enough to recommend or at least recognize that a simpler and less expensive solution might be a better than one which he or she is familiar with. kudos.
    Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 02-17-12 at 11:58 PM.

  15. #15
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    Hi Kouletsi,
    I used a Deore LX rear deraileur with a 9 spd XT M770 11-32 casette.

    YannisG.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Johnny Rebel's Avatar
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    I replaced my 11x26 with 11x32. I haven't changed the original Tiagra rear derailleur, either, and that hasn't caused any real problems, though I have to avoid the two most extreme big/big combinations. I probably should change the RD, but I'm a cheapskate. The low 32 has certainly helped keep me fresher on long climbs. I suppose for hardcore touring/hauling purposes I would opt for a triple, though.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  17. #17
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    Another option is a super-compact crankset. Velo-orange and White Industries both have double cranks that allow an inner ring as small as 26t; Compass Bicycles has a crank coming soon that will let you run a 24t inner. Any of these should let you keep a 50t big ring if you want (or maybe go to a 48?). They all use a square taper bottom bracket which doesn't have to be expensive if you need to get a new one. Front deraillieur capacity might be an issue if you want to run something extreme like 50/24.

  18. #18
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    YannisG.... I'm curious about your shifters... 9 speed, 10 speed? Ultegra STI?? Thanks..

  19. #19
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    It depends on how much lower you need. If you live in Kansas and struggle to get over the freeway overpass and you are planning a self supported tour in the Alps then you should go with a triple and a bigger cassette. If you can already make it up all the hills you want to ride but it wears you out than either a triple or a larger cassette will work.

    Changing the cassette and rear derailleur is going to be easier than crank/FD/shifter change. To make the rear derailleur change you need a larger 10 speed Shimano or Sram cassette (assuming you have a 10 speed cassette and shifters now), and a 9-speed (non-Dyna-Sys) Shimano MTB rear derailleur. These parts will work with your Ultegra 10 speed shifters.

    You will likely need a new longer chain as well. You can keep your 11/28 cassette and old chain together for a backup if you are planning any mostly flat rides in the future.

    If changing the cassette does not quite change the gearing as much as you want you can always switch to a triple crank and derailleur in the future.
    Last edited by LarDasse74; 02-19-12 at 07:12 PM.

  20. #20
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    Unless you are getting younger and stronger I would go with a triple with a 24t small ring. The setup will shift fine and you will have a low gear when you need it.

  21. #21
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Hi kgk,

    I just performed the same mod on my compact. Im now running a 36T and the difference is huge!. The mod cost a total of $150 - well worth it in my opinion.

    See:
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-advice-please.

    HTH

  22. #22
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    For my money, a triple is a far better option than a wide double. It allows gearing optimized for 95% of your riding, with a granny for when it's needed.

    I always try to organize my gearing so flat riding is on the outer with the sweet spot of the cassette, the outer middle where the percentage steps are smallest, ie. if 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25. Gives me the most gears with the smallest steps where I do most of my riding. The middle is sized to give a similar array offset lower for climbing, and the granny, for some decent steps not too far apart for those long steep grades.

    While doubles are cooler, it's hard to find legitimate reasons to bypass the triple option. Grannys often tuck in nicely so the Q-factor doesn't change much if at all, and the added weight of a triple system is negligeable.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member pat5319's Avatar
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    Triples rock! BUT I do know some guys that have done the 34T gig with 10 cog cassettes and really liked them, and I've been thikin about it too for one of my bikes , 'tis a LOT cheaper and easier than switching to a triple crank
    Pat5319


  24. #24
    Member jtexfisher's Avatar
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    I'm in a similar sort of situation. Retired my old bike, '83 Trek 520. I 100% LOVE the gearing. 28/45/50 up front and 13-14-17-20-24-28 in the back. "New" bike is 30/42/52 and 12-26 8 speed. It just doesn't have the granny for those days when you really want to bail and, strangely, even with 8 vs 6 I can't find the small steps for cruising. I think I really got used to the 45/50 middle and outer rings which make a nice step on the flats. I went to the gear calculator page, very, very nice. I've printed it out and made a chart to see if I can find better steps on the 8 speed. But, like several have recommended I'll be swapping out the 12-26 for a xx-28 or xx-32 and see what gives.
    Last edited by jtexfisher; 02-20-12 at 10:10 AM. Reason: correct data
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  25. #25
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    50-45, & 48-44 half steps worked well when there were bigger gear gaps in 6 speed.

    packing 10 cogs with only 1 tooth difference between them eliminated that ..

    Touring triples, I like the middle drop to the granny to be 16t, it 1/2 the size of the big ring.
    then there are maybe 3 or 4 gears added to the range.
    below the middle CR, to big FW cog 52,42,26, ... 50,40,24..

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