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  1. #1
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    Gearing Question for Hilly Terrain

    The classic bikes I have present a problem to me in that the gearing does not work where I live. For example, the 52/42 front and 12-24 6 speed in back means either tree trunk size legs or a lot of standing over the seat. My modern bike has a compact crank 50/34 front and 12-28 10 speed rear, which means more spin time while sitting, my preferred position. Is a Velo Orange compact but old looking crank one answer? I could try to find a 12-30 6 speed to use with the 42 or perhaps find a Campy triple. I live in lower western CT which is the only place on the East Coast where the terrain goes from sea level to over 1,000 feet in 15 miles. Cycling is not easy here unless along the coast and as "the old guy" I need all the mechanical help I can find. Suggestions? Thanks, Jeff

  2. #2
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff44 View Post
    The classic bikes I have present a problem to me in that the gearing does not work where I live. For example, the 52/42 front and 12-24 6 speed in back means either tree trunk size legs or a lot of standing over the seat.
    Welcome to the 70's!

    For competition "back when" a 24 or 26T low paired in hilly terrain w/ a 42 was how we fitted out a race bike.
    Previously the Half Step 52/49 or 47 made our set-up "easy" by comparison.
    It wasn't exactly easy but it was the style of riding: big power and standing as required to hang in the hills.

    However, the Paramount P-15 w/ a triple was the proper machine for a gentleman cyclist of distinction back then.
    We built touring triples as a matter of course for the century riders in the local touring club, usually w/ barcons and a Brooks saddle.
    Different requirements other than racing existed and so did the hardware.

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  3. #3
    iab
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    Senior Member iab's Avatar
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    A TA crank has a 50.4 bcd and can take a 26-tooth chainring. Can be setup as a double or triple.

    A #3 Regina cog can be up to 31 teeth.

    I fail to see a gearing problem.

    Sheldon Brown's Hetchins setup with a 50-28 double TA.

    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Yep, there are lots of options for lower gearing in the C&V world. Just depends on what hardware you have now, how much of it you're willing to swap out, and how low you need to go.

    My '87 Bianchi has a mishmash of regular 6/7/8-speed 105 components on it, and that allows for a 35" low gear (38T small chainring, 28T big cassette cog with my 26" tires), which I can ride up 18% hills without needing to get out of the saddle. And if I need or want lower gears in the future, there are lots of easy parts and inexpensive parts substitutions that will make that happen.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

    ISO: 49T 130BCD 3/32" road chainring, preferably silver and classic-styled.

  5. #5
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    I just went through this myself trying to get my new to me 1989 Bottecchia more appropriately geared for the terrain I live in. Although still in discovery mode I think moving from a 42T to 39T inner chain ring and swapping out the ridiculous 12-20 6 speed "Florida Freewheel" for a 7 speed 11/30 I think I can now manage. I have not tried the really steep stuff around me yet but I still have the option of a triple if I think I need it. We'll see...

    Here is my post regarding this if you are interested.
    Last edited by mgreen3691; 03-30-15 at 07:40 PM.

  6. #6
    Get off my lawn! Velognome's Avatar
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    Do steeps the old fashion way, walk the bike. There's no shame in hoofing it if you need to.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Paramount1973's Avatar
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    I put a VO Grand Cru triple crankset on my Paramount. I live in hilly terrain and I don't walk up hills.


    P4140483 by galoot_loves_tools, on Flickr

  8. #8
    vintage motor kroozer's Avatar
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    The Italians were very snobbish about their racing bikes and hardly bothered to produce any good quality wide-range equipment. I think they'd rather get hit by a truck than be seen with low gears on their bikes. It's possible to put together a nice vintage Italian wide-range drive-train, but it's not common and it is rather expensive.
    Vintage French cranks are great and offer many options for low gears. But nobody produced a really good wide-range derailleur until the 70's, with the Suntour GT, VGT-Luxe, etc. After the mid-1970's there were many good wide-range cranks, derailleurs, and freewheels available. I think the Japanese picked up on it the best, and this helped them take over the bicycle market.

  9. #9
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    @jonwvara at Red Clover Components can sell you a 122BCD or 144BCD triplizer. I doubt you can find a 12T 6 speed freewheel. A 13-30 is more likely.

    If you really need to be able to climb some steep hills on a C&V bike you can try what I use.

    Bob
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  10. #10
    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    I never seemed to have a problem with hills when I was 10 years old on a banana bike.
    Since we can't go back in time, perhaps I need a banana bike.

    Robbie ♪♫♪...☻

    ..someday, there will be a day...

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  11. #11
    Get off my lawn! Velognome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post

    PB, in low gear do you get dropped by snails?

    cartoon-racing-snail-6985718.jpg

  12. #12
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
    @jonwvara at Red Clover Components can sell you a 122BCD or 144BCD triplizer. I doubt you can find a 12T 6 speed freewheel. A 13-30 is more likely.

    If you really need to be able to climb some steep hills on a C&V bike you can try what I use.


    A second for one of Red Clover Components triplizers. Here is a Campy NR with one of Jon's rings:



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    You know it's going to be a good day when the stem and seatpost come right out.

  13. #13
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
    PB, in low gear do you get dropped by snails?

    cartoon-racing-snail-6985718.jpg
    Depends on the gearing the snails use and whether they are spinners or mashers.

    Just for the heck of it--- here it is pictured in High-Low to compliment the Low-High combination above. After all, one needs to be able to use every gear!

    Bob
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  14. #14
    As found... devinfan's Avatar
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    Or you can take the route I've been using so far this year, haven't been beaten by a hill yet: 44 x 18.
    My bike is cooler than me.

  15. #15
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
    PB, in low gear do you get dropped by snails?

    cartoon-racing-snail-6985718.jpg
    Those racing snails are pesky critters to deal with in going up a hill.

    To the OP: the sugino xd 600 triple looks great on an old bike and it will give you all the gearing you need and then some to keep up with those racing snails (or trying to keep up with @Velognome when's he's hoofing it up that hill, )

    Last edited by bikemig; 03-31-15 at 09:33 AM.

  16. #16
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgIL6eHHgZU

    How low can you go? 8.6 gear inches
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  17. #17
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    My solution was to use the Red Clover triplizer (which involves replacing the bottom bracket) and fit a Soma cage to my Campy NR rear derailleur.

  18. #18
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by devinfan View Post
    Or you can take the route I've been using so far this year, haven't been beaten by a hill yet: 44 x 18.
    You mean 44 / 18, don't you? On second thought 44 x 18 = 792. If that is in gear millimeters, it translates to 31.18in, quite reasonable for most hills.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
    jimmuller

  19. #19
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    You mean 44 / 18, don't you?
    44X18 is 64GI, lower than the 70GI I ride on my fixed gear around here.
    There are still a lot of miles ridden on Old School gearing in hilly terrain, it just takes the Old School technique, miles in the legs and a bit of grit.

    -Bandera
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  20. #20
    As found... devinfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    You mean 44 / 18, don't you? On second thought 44 x 18 = 792. If that is in gear millimeters, it translates to 31.18in, quite reasonable for most hills.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
    44X18 is 64GI, lower than the 70GI I ride on my fixed gear around here.
    There are still a lot of miles ridden on Old School gearing in hilly terrain, it just takes the Old School technique, miles in the legs and a bit of grit.

    -Bandera
    What I've found is that I'm actually better climbing hills, even steep ones, on a singlespeed. When I'm riding a geared bike I often spend mental and physical energy trying to get into the "right" gear and then doubting my choice. On a single you can put all your focus into getting up the hill, which is where it should be. I also like being able to stand on the pedals without worrying about ghost-shifting.
    My bike is cooler than me.

  21. #21
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by devinfan View Post
    What I've found is that I'm actually better climbing hills, even steep ones, on a singlespeed.
    Check out the Long Distance sub-forum, several highly committed FG folk there doing 1,200KM Brevets in <90 hours and other hard core efforts.
    They are an excellent resource for modern fixed gear long distance riding in challenging terrain and adverse conditions.

    FWIW mid 60-low-70GI seems to be the consensus for getting it done, plus lots and lots of seat time, solid technique and more grit than a gravel pit......

    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 03-31-15 at 02:03 PM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post

    Just for the heck of it--- here it is pictured in High-Low to compliment the Low-High combination above. After all, one needs to be able to use every gear!

    This is my high-low, after I swapped my 52/42 crank to a 53/42/34.
    It looks about as scary as Pastorbobs.
    Next step, a long cage derailleur.


  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    I once made a jab at one of Pastorbob's photos of his bike cross chained,
    his reply was you need to able to use every gear.

    I worry about a catastrophic failure if I blow a shift.
    My LBS tells me "just don't do that"

    My hill climbing bike, with a 48/42/28 crank to a 14-34 six speed.
    The high-low combo, what a difference a derailleur makes.


  24. #24
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky Gravol View Post
    This is my high-low, after I swapped my 52/42 crank to a 53/42/34.
    It looks about as scary as Pastorbobs.
    Next step, a long cage derailleur.
    A long cage RD certainly won't hurt, but you shouldn't be using the small-small combination in actual riding anyway. You'd be better served by using the middle ring and a larger cog on the freewheel.

    (It's the big-big combination that might pose any danger.)
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

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  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    Yes I understand about not cross gearing,
    But like I said, it's not that I would do it riding,
    I just would like to know that if I do it by mistake,
    I won't end up walking home.

    Big to big on the pkn


    Big to big on the Grand Touring

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