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  1. #1
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    7 speed rear 11-23 confused noob

    Hey everyone. As you can see I'm new to road cycling and love it. My question is about the rear of the bike.

    Bike is a cannondale r500 2.8. 95 build year.
    December to be exact.
    Shimano rsx components all around.
    Ritchey clipless pedals.
    bike is all original build except pedals

    I'd rather save money for a newer bike in the next couple of years so I'd rather not spend too much money and upgrade too much. Got a great deal on the bike

    So here's my question.

    I counted the rear cogs and the rear cogs are 11-23 set up. Will changing the tooth count be beneficial to me. I tried researching and just confused myself. Will a different tooth count help on the climbs.

    Thanks for any who can clarify and any other advice to help keep upgrades small but beneficial would be greatly appreciated

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Larger cogs equals lower gearing.

    Are you sure you have 7 speed? bikepedia.com lists this bike as an 8 speed.

    I believe the largest cog it is rated for is 28T??
    Last edited by Bill Kapaun; 04-23-14 at 09:56 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    Larger cogs equals lower gearing.

    Are you sure you have 7 speed? bikepedia.com lists this bike as an 8 speed.
    If it's RSX from that period it's 7-speed.

    To the OP: yes a larger largest cog (say 25, 26 or 28 teeth) will make climbing easier but, in practical terms, the only way to get it is to buy a complete new cassette. And, also in practical terms, that means a new chain to cover the additional teeth plus work properly with the new cassette. We're not talking a lot of money for the changes but there will be a cost.

  4. #4
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    11-23 is a manly man's gearing... lesser men would want a wider range on the cassette so that there was a 26 or 28 tooth cog to make hill climbing a little easier and faster.

    You can buy an 11-28 7 speed cassette and should purchase a new chain to make sure it all meshes correctly... you can run 8 speed chain on a 7 and this often improves things nicely. You are looking at about $35.00 in parts and would need the special tools to remove the old cassette and a chain tool.

    My old Cooper road bike has a 13-21 (7 speed) mated to a 42/54 crank... if I know there is going to be more climbing I will swap out the racing block for one with a wider range as this will make you feel like a penitent if there are hard climbs or if you have to spend the day running into the wind.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    11-23 is a manly man's gearing... lesser men would want a wider range on the cassette so that there was a 26 or 28 tooth cog to make hill climbing a little easier and faster.

    You can buy an 11-28 7 speed cassette and should purchase a new chain to make sure it all meshes correctly... you can run 8 speed chain on a 7 and this often improves things nicely. You are looking at about $35.00 in parts and would need the special tools to remove the old cassette and a chain tool.

    My old Cooper road bike has a 13-21 (7 speed) mated to a 42/54 crank... if I know there is going to be more climbing I will swap out the racing block for one with a wider range as this will make you feel like a penitent if there are hard climbs or if you have to spend the day running into the wind.
    lol. Love the response. Made things perfectly clear thanks. And thank you to all those in responding I appreciate the help. And yes I'm dead sure it's a seven in the rear. New to road cycling but not bikes in general.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    11-23 is a manly man's gearing...
    Or a man (or woman) who rides in Florida. I had a bike I kept at a friend's house in Orlando and it had a 13-21 7-speed cassette with a 50/40 crank. However there is only one hill of any note in the whole state.

    I would NEVER use that gearing here in Pittsburgh.

  7. #7
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    If the chainrings are the original RSX they are probably pretty small, so the 11-23 cassette may make sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Or a man (or woman) who rides in Florida. I had a bike I kept at a friend's house in Orlando and it had a 13-21 7-speed cassette with a 50/40 crank. However there is only one hill of any note in the whole state.

    I would NEVER use that gearing here in Pittsburgh.
    Taking your Florida bike on the Pittsburgh Dirty Dozen would be my definition of a manly man.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    If the chainrings are the original RSX they are probably pretty small, so the 11-23 cassette may make sense.
    Yes, the doubles were 46/36 and the triples were 46/36/26 but even 36x23 isn't a real mountain climbing gear for most of us.

  10. #10
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    If the chainrings are the original RSX they are probably pretty small, so the 11-23 cassette may make sense.
    Yep. It was the original "compact road" gearing system.

    I agree with Sixty-Fiver: changing the cassette to a 11-28 will get you a 20% lower low gear without needing to change anything else except the chain.
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

  11. #11
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    How often do you find yourself riding in the 23t cog, and wishing you had a larger (easier) gear to shift to?

    If not, then you are good with what you have. Otherwise, and xx-28 (or 30?) may be a better fit.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hendo252 View Post
    How often do you find yourself riding in the 23t cog, and wishing you had a larger (easier) gear to shift to?

    If not, then you are good with what you have. Otherwise, and xx-28 (or 30?) may be a better fit.
    I live in NH and things can get steep quick. I would like a larger gear sometimes to keep the legs from overworking and keep a higher smoother cadence on climbs. After my first season my legs will be up to par and I could switch back if I wanted to but for now I don't want my legs to fail faster than they need to be. After the advice here for 30 bucks it sounds like it's worth a shot. Although for a chain can I just grab any 7/8 speed 116 link 3/32" chain or will I need one with different link count. Thanks again for all the help

  13. #13
    Senior Member zukahn1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    11-23 is a manly man's gearing... lesser men would want a wider range on the cassette so that there was a 26 or 28 tooth cog to make hill climbing a little easier and faster.

    You can buy an 11-28 7 speed cassette and should purchase a new chain to make sure it all meshes correctly... you can run 8 speed chain on a 7 and this often improves things nicely. You are looking at about $35.00 in parts and would need the special tools to remove the old cassette and a chain tool.

    My old Cooper road bike has a 13-21 (7 speed) mated to a 42/54 crank... if I know there is going to be more climbing I will swap out the racing block for one with a wider range as this will make you feel like a penitent if there are hard climbs or if you have to spend the day running into the wind.
    +1 The 11-23 is pretty brutal gearing basicaly intendend for old school racing. You can fairly easliy change to a different 7speed cassette with big gear less than 30 normal man11/12/13-28 7 speed cassetes with mataching SIS gearing are readily avaible for $25 or so.
    Last edited by zukahn1; 04-24-14 at 12:57 AM.

  14. #14
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    23 as the lowest is nasty. Even with a 36 up front. I'd be going for a 28 to allow some breathing room on steeper climbs. Knees don't enjoy 23 on hills!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by craze8tz View Post
    I live in NH and things can get steep quick. I would like a larger gear sometimes to keep the legs from overworking and keep a higher smoother cadence on climbs. After my first season my legs will be up to par and I could switch back if I wanted to but for now I don't want my legs to fail faster than they need to be. After the advice here for 30 bucks it sounds like it's worth a shot. Although for a chain can I just grab any 7/8 speed 116 link 3/32" chain or will I need one with different link count. Thanks again for all the help
    By all means go for at least a 28 and maybe a 30 if your RD can handle it.

    Also... consider updating your info to include your location... you will find it gets much better responses to many queries.

  16. #16
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zukahn1 View Post
    +1 The 11-23 is pretty brutal gearing basicaly intendend for old school racing. You can fairly easliy change to a different 7speed cassette with big gear less than 30 normal man11/12/13-28 7 speed cassettes with mataching SIS gearing are readily avaible for $25 or so.
    Old school freewheels never came with an 11 tooth, the smallest available cog was a 12 because of the limitations on freewheels and even then, 12 tooth drivers were pretty hard to come by... 13 tooth cogs were very common as were 53-55 tooth chainwheels.

    Professional racers could roll up some pretty severe (albeit shorter) hills at speed with a 42/21 which is 52 gear inches or with a 23 which is 48 gear inches... a 28 tooth cog is a climber's gear when it is mated to a standard double and you can climb much easier on those 39 gear inches.

    Modern bikes that use a compact and an 11-25 give you the same range as a standard double with an 11-28... many run an 11-27 for an even lower climbing gear or bite the bullet and rock a triple.

    My Cooper is built for flat out speed with it's gearing... the 54 tooth chainwheel compensates for the larger 13 tooth high cog and makes for a more efficient top gear and the close spacing makes maintaining a high cadence easier. The 54/13 will let me move along in the low to mid 40's pretty comfortably when the legs are working.



    I just sold my Proctor road bike which had a 40/52 and an 11-28 (8 speed)... that was a really nice set up for climbing.

    My Garlatti is also a very decent climber as it has a 40 gear inch low... it has a half step double (49/52) and a 5 speed alpine block that is 14-32 and this is really old school gearing but it works really well when you know how to exploit the half step.


  17. #17
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    craze8z, The '95 & '96 R500s, yours is likely a '96 model, originally had triple crank sets, how many chainrings do you now have?

    Brad

  18. #18
    Senior Member zukahn1's Avatar
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    Well I push a 43/16 SS beater most of the time so maybe I'm not your best source gearing wise.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    craze8z, The '95 & '96 R500s, yours is likely a '96 model, originally had triple crank sets, how many chainrings do you now have?

    Brad
    I shouldve included this. Not sure if this changes things. My cranks are 26/36/46. Will that change a 11-28 set up. Should I go for closer to a 13/14t-28 with that crank set. There is a good mix of semi flat to hill to I have to climb that after how many miles already

  20. #20
    Senior Member zukahn1's Avatar
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    The somewhat compact triple with 26 bailout and 46 tops makes a big difference a 11-23 through 26 would be normal for this setup for a new cassette a 12-25 is probably cheapest and should work fine giving a close to 1 to 1 ratio low which should put you up most hills as easy as walking at a moderate pace.

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    Quote Originally Posted by craze8tz View Post
    I shouldve included this. Not sure if this changes things. My cranks are 26/36/46. Will that change a 11-28 set up. Should I go for closer to a 13/14t-28 with that crank set. There is a good mix of semi flat to hill to I have to climb that after how many miles already
    It does change things, but a 12-28T cassette like this is still a good cassette choice if you need a lot of help for your climbing. I have to suggest a new chain also as yours maybe too short should you select the 28/46 combination by accident.

    Brad

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    It does change things, but a 12-28T cassette like this is still a good cassette choice if you need a lot of help for your climbing. I have to suggest a new chain also as yours maybe too short should you select the 28/46 combination by accident.

    Brad
    nice link I appreciate it. And I appreciate all the help given so far. You guys are good. The link you gave for the 12-28 is a free hub as I think I have a free wheel although I'm not 100% I'll have to look to be sure. If I do have a freewheel cassette are rear rims hard to come by for a 7 speed freehub set up. Say finding a used one but in good shape so I can use the cassette mentioned in your post

  23. #23
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    IF you have an 11T small cog, you have a Free Hub. Free Wheels don't come that small. I've never seen one smaller than 13T.

    Your term "freewheel cassette" is like saying you have a Ford Chevy. It's one OR the other.
    Suggest you study this link-
    http://sheldonbrown.com/free-k7.html

  24. #24
    Senior Member Tim_Iowa's Avatar
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    Freewheels do come in 11T, now.

    But they didn't back then.

    If you have a freewheel hub, just use a freewheel. They are still made, in various cog sets. If you have a 7 speed freehub (they existed in RSX), then use a 7 speed cassette.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim_Iowa View Post
    Freewheels do come in 11T, now.

    But they didn't back then.

    If you have a freewheel hub, just use a freewheel. They are still made, in various cog sets. If you have a 7 speed freehub (they existed in RSX), then use a 7 speed cassette.
    OMG! $31 for that POS!
    Thanks for the link- I stand corrected.
    For that era though, I'll stand on a free hub.

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