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Old 06-21-09, 07:39 PM   #1
John E
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Show us your half-step gearing!

I have geared two of my bikes half-step (49-46/14-26 on Capo #2, 45-42/13-26 on the Peugeot). My other bikes are all 1.5-step (50-42/14-26 on the Bianchi) or 1.5-step-plus granny (48-40-28/13-26 on the mountain bike).

At one time, I suppose primarily because of limitations in front derailleur design and rear derailleur chain windup capacity, half-step gearing was the default for racing and fast touring bikes, but today it lives on only in our little C&V world. The early 1960s Varsinentals came with 52-49/15-25 or 50-47/15-25 half-step, my 1962 Bianchi had a 52-47/13-26 half-step, and my 1971 Nishiki had a wide-range 54-47/14-34 half-step. I think Trek was still delivering half-step-plus-granny well into the 1980s.

So -- how many of you have either half-step or half-step-plus-granny on one or more of your bikes? Do you keep it just to be authentic or to accommodate balky old derailleurs, or do you genuinely enjoy it as much as I do? Has anyone else played around with third-step, e.g. the 50-47-44 / and 49-46-43 / 13-16-19-23-26 combinations I ran on two of my bikes through most of the 1980s?
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Old 06-21-09, 07:48 PM   #2
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I've got 47/52 ans 14-28 on my Voyager SP,and I love it...the progression of gears is very orderly...
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Old 06-21-09, 08:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E View Post
So -- how many of you have either half-step or half-step-plus-granny on one or more of your bikes? Do you keep it just to be authentic or to accommodate balky old derailleurs, or do you genuinely enjoy it as much as I do? Has anyone else played around with third-step, e.g. the 50-47-44 / and 49-46-43 / 13-16-19-23-26 combinations I ran on two of my bikes through most of the 1980s?
I have half-step+granny on several bikes: 50-45-28 on my loaded tourer, 47-42-26 on my commuter, and 50-45-32 on my tandem. My wife has 48-44-27 on her bike.

I keep it because I like it.
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Old 06-21-09, 08:48 PM   #4
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I picked up an old Peugeot U08 with a half step Stronglight crankset on it. The two chainrings are 51 and 49 respectively, the tightest double I have seen.

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Old 06-22-09, 03:33 AM   #5
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I never know if this counts, because I'd have to do the math and I'm not interested, or I'm too lazy. But this has worked for me here in the NH mountians (although I have intentionally avoided some hills). 47-42 chain rings with a 15-29, 5 speed freewheel on a NR RD. It's not the best set up.





As you can see the NR does not really care to be stretched to such limits.

I'm planning to try a 6 speed Ultra freewheel, set up as 14-16-19-23-26-34 using a Eco DuoPar RD. At the same time I could change the crankset. I have new or nearly new 51, 50, 49, 48, 47, 46, 44 & 42 tooth chainrings. Also the free wheel is a Suntour perfect and I have a great supply of cogs so can build it with any gear combination from 13 to I believe a 38 or 40.

I'd love suggestions!
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Old 06-22-09, 03:38 AM   #6
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I've got an early 1980's Fuji touring bike with half-step + granny that I've been doing most of my randonnees this season. It works quite nicely, after some work (including a repair to the steerer tube). I have to admit that the short, steep-ish hills around here mean I tend to treat it like a wide range 12 speed most of the time. I think half-step works best on longer slopes.
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Old 06-22-09, 03:40 AM   #7
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Also the free wheel is a Suntour perfect and I have a great supply of cogs so can build it with any gear combination from 13 to I believe a 38 or 40.

I'd love suggestions!
The Suntour AG freewheel (5 speed) went up to 38t. Just about everything else went to 32t, not much went bigger than 34t.
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Old 06-22-09, 05:10 AM   #8
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Here's my Franklin Frames Bradley frame with 26/44/48 rings and 13-32 7sp FW. I use these gears because they offer me a wide range and small steps if I need them. I put this bike together in '99 or so. There's just something that about these types of gears that crossovers don't have. I really like HS+G gears



I've got a Rivendell Bombadil frame to build up, and frankly I'm disappointed because I can't use HS+G gears. It just can't handle a large middle ring, bummer. But, considering the 45-50mm 700c tires I'll be using, I'm probably better of with a crossover anyways . . . . but it would be nice to have the option. Any other road bike I put together in the future will have some sort of HS+G gears though.

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Old 06-22-09, 06:29 AM   #9
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My old touring bike with a hybrid "quarter step plus granny" gearing system which I built in the
early 1980's and retired in 2000:


Photo taken in 1983



52 and 48 TA chainrings and a homemade 21 tooth granny



18 and 21 tooth cogs on a Sturmey Archer AW hub (a half-step in itself)



And here's a 48-45-34 triple, using Stronglight middle and inner chainrings
modified to fit on a 119mm BCD Zeus crank. A smaller inner bolt was used
to allow the 34 to work with a bolt circle intended for a minimum of 36 teeth.
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Old 06-22-09, 06:38 AM   #10
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Garth and Cyglist, what are those wide range front derailleurs on your HS+G setups (sorry, QS+G as well)?
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Old 06-22-09, 06:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
I never know if this counts, because I'd have to do the math and I'm not interested, or I'm too lazy. But this has worked for me here in the NH mountians (although I have intentionally avoided some hills). 47-42 chain rings with a 15-29, 5 speed freewheel on a NR RD. It's not the best set up.

As you can see the NR does not really care to be stretched to such limits.

I'm planning to try a 6 speed Ultra freewheel, set up as 14-16-19-23-26-34 using a Eco DuoPar RD. At the same time I could change the crankset. I have new or nearly new 51, 50, 49, 48, 47, 46, 44 & 42 tooth chainrings. Also the free wheel is a Suntour perfect and I have a great supply of cogs so can build it with any gear combination from 13 to I believe a 38 or 40.

I'd love suggestions!
Bob,

If you post or PM me your freewheel tooth counts, I can do the math; I have an Excel spreadsheet set up for it. I can also design a HS gearing for you if you want to try an optimized one, since you have a supply of chainrings and cogs. I'd like to try it, but I don't have much in spare parts. Local flippers have all the decent used bikes, and they get out at 8 am to get'em.

Same offer to the Forum!

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Old 06-22-09, 06:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E View Post
Has anyone else played around with third-step, e.g. the 50-47-44 / and 49-46-43 / 13-16-19-23-26 combinations I ran on two of my bikes through most of the 1980s?
I ran a third-step for a short time in the early 1970's before I discovered the half-step-plus granny concept. 50-46-42 x 14-17-22-28-34 (half-steps at the top and bottom).
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Old 06-22-09, 06:50 AM   #13
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Garth and Cyglist, what are those wide range front derailleurs on your HS+G setups (sorry, QS+G as well)?
That was a Huret Challenger, CPSC version, from the early 1980's, with most of the outer cage plate sawed off.
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Old 06-22-09, 06:55 AM   #14
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That was a Huret Challenger, CPSC version, from the early 1980's, with most of the outer cage plate sawed off.
Thanks!
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Old 06-22-09, 07:33 AM   #15
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Garth and Cyglist, what are those wide range front derailleurs on your HS+G setups (sorry, QS+G as well)?
I'm using a Shimano 105 9speed FD, the model FD-5500 I believe. For those needing HS FD's , the Dura Ace, Ultegra and 105's work perfectly for HS. . . . up to the 10 speed models that is. I was conversing with a custom builder who still sells HS+G on many of his bikes, and he told me the 10 speed models don't have the cage movement anymore for the triple. I'm glad I bought a spare 105 FD in '99!

I've been meaning to try one of my Campy SR FD's on the bike, but just never get around to doing it. I think they work fine though too.
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Old 06-22-09, 07:49 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyqlist View Post
My old touring bike with a hybrid "quarter step plus granny" gearing system which I built in the early 1980's and retired in 2000:
Quote:
Originally Posted by cyqlist View Post
18 and 21 tooth cogs on a Sturmey Archer AW hub (a half-step in itself)
Cool! I always wanted to do something similar by making my old 12-speed hybrid into a 24-speed: 42-40 / 14-16-18-20 on a Sturmey-Archer AW.


Quote:
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And here's a 48-45-34 triple, using Stronglight middle and inner chainrings
modified to fit on a 119mm BCD Zeus crank. A smaller inner bolt was used
to allow the 34 to work with a bolt circle intended for a minimum of 36 teeth.
48-45-34 is indeed a superb combination with a 2-tooth progression in back. I got mine using a standard 110/74mm BCD mountain bike crank, although I could have done it with a 110mm compact double and my extra long 3-ring stack bolts and spacers.

Quote:
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52 and 48 TA chainrings and a homemade 21 tooth granny
You, sir, have taken gear freaking to a whole new level. Frank Berto would be proud of you!
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Old 06-22-09, 08:00 AM   #17
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Quote:
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Bob,

If you post or PM me your freewheel tooth counts, I can do the math; I have an Excel spreadsheet set up for it. I can also design a HS gearing for you if you want to try an optimized one, since you have a supply of chainrings and cogs. I'd like to try it, but I don't have much in spare parts. Local flippers have all the decent used bikes, and they get out at 8 am to get'em.

Same offer to the Forum!

Road Fan
If anyone wants to experiment with regearing, I have some spare 144mm chainrings I'll probably never use, as well as lots of SunTour cogs. The classic half-step combinations which work out nicely include:

3-tooth drop (e.g. 49-46) / 2-tooth drop (e.g. 14-16-18-20-23)
4-tooth drop (e.g. 52-48) / 3-tooth drop (e.g. 14-16-19-22-26)
5-tooth drop (e.g. 52-47) / 3-4-tooth drop (e.g. 13-16-19-23-28)
6-tooth drop (e.g. 54-48) / 4-tooth drop (e.g. 14-18-22-28-34)

I am pleased to see so many devotees of half-step and half-step-plus-granny, even though the industry has completely abandoned us by making the new spiders so thick that the chain will ride up on the teeth of half-step rings. I tried building a 53-50-39 HSG with a 1990s Campagnolo Veloce spider and my long stackbolts, but the chain skidded too easily between the two outer rings. I settled instead for a less satisfactory but still kind of amusing 1.5-step-plus-half-step 50-42-39 setup, which I had to abandon when the left crank broke because of Campagnolo's change in its spindle diameters.
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Old 06-22-09, 08:03 AM   #18
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Here is my setup on a 1990 Marinoni. 46-42-28 (cool Gipiemme 144bcd triple) with 7sp 12-14-17-20-24-28-34.



I like it. In the city I use the wide range cassette on the middle ring (steps aren't too big!) and the half steps are great when trying to maintain a fast pace.

Btw I was reading in Bicycle Quaterly that the racing bikes of the 50-60s didn't really use the half-step like it seems they did. Apparently they used similar front rings to maintain a good chainline on both ends of the freewheel. Well in certain cases that was the case it seems.

Cyglist: epic granny! Nice
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Old 06-22-09, 08:05 AM   #19
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Quote:
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You, sir, have taken gear freaking to a whole new level. Frank Berto would be proud of you!
My gearing experiments were greatly inspired by Frank Berto's various articles, and Ron Shepherd's "Low Gear Bulletin". Does anyone else here remember the latter?
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Old 06-22-09, 08:13 AM   #20
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My gearing experiments were greatly inspired by Frank Berto's various articles, and Ron Shepherd's "Low Gear Bulletin". Does anyone else here remember the latter?
We have two types of coffee table books in my house -- my copy of Berto, Shepard, and Henry's "The Dancing Chain" (2nd. ed.) and my artist wife's various art books.
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Old 06-22-09, 08:44 AM   #21
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We have two types of coffee table books in my house -- my copy of Berto, Shepard, and Henry's "The Dancing Chain" (2nd. ed.) and my artist wife's various art books.
"Shepherd" is the correct spelling. I wish I still had copies of his "Low Gear Bulletin", but I lost them somewhere along the way since they were published in the mid 1970's.
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Old 06-22-09, 07:23 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E View Post
If anyone wants to experiment with regearing, I have some spare 144mm chainrings I'll probably never use, as well as lots of SunTour cogs. The classic half-step combinations which work out nicely include:

3-tooth drop (e.g. 49-46) / 2-tooth drop (e.g. 14-16-18-20-23)
4-tooth drop (e.g. 52-48) / 3-tooth drop (e.g. 14-16-19-22-26)
5-tooth drop (e.g. 52-47) / 3-4-tooth drop (e.g. 13-16-19-23-28)
6-tooth drop (e.g. 54-48) / 4-tooth drop (e.g. 14-18-22-28-34)

...
This thread inspired me to go home and build a new freewheel. My two prerequisites were that I would use a 42 small chainring on my Campagnolo Nuovo Record) and a 34 large cog on a Suntour Perfect Ultra spaced six speed freewheel body.

Here's the end result---

A 14-17-20-24-28-34 freewheel. Should I make any adjustments?

Now, how should I gear the crankset? 42-46, 42-47, or 42-49 (the chainrings in my spares), or something else?

Your wise "vintage half-step" gearing advice is appreciated!
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Old 06-22-09, 07:46 PM   #23
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I am looking at tweaking the gearing on my bike. Old Schwinn Le Tour 10 speed. I really only use the 39 up front and find it works for the most part. I spin out on some of the down hills and need a granny on the longer hills. Would "half step and granny" be a good application here?

Any good sources, other than searching around here? (still looking through the search page)
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Old 06-22-09, 07:53 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
This thread inspired me to go home and build a new freewheel. My two prerequisites were that I would use a 42 small chainring on my Campagnolo Nuovo Record) and a 34 large cog on a Suntour Perfect Ultra spaced six speed freewheel body.

Here's the end result---

A 14-17-20-24-28-34 freewheel. Should I make any adjustments?

Now, how should I gear the crankset? 42-46, 42-47, or 42-49 (the chainrings in my spares), or something else?

Your wise "vintage half-step" gearing advice is appreciated!
That's exactly my 7sp cassette, minus the 12T. A 42-46 should give a very good 1/2 step (9.5% vs mean step of 19.4%). The tall gear won't be super tall but it should do!
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Old 11-23-09, 04:43 PM   #25
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It is worth noting that IRD has an excellent 6-speed freewheel for half-step gearing.
14-17-20-24-28-32
Note the 3 tooth steps at 14-17-20 and then the fours.
I am running that on my Raleigh Alyeska (1986) touring bike with a 48-44-30

...... 48 ... 44

14 92.6 84.9
17 76.2 69.9
20 64.8 59.4
24 54.0 49.5
28 46.3 42.4
32 40.5 37.1

{As a 63 year old Clydesdale .. 92.6 at 48-14 is plenty high for me on the high end.**
Living in Western Washington it is all about hills.

I also have a full-blown 24" TREK 720 (1985)
with Maxi-Car tourism 40 spoke hubs with 700C Velocity Dyads and 42-622 Marathons Supremes
Chainrings 48-44-26 and IRD 7- speed freewheel with 13-15-18-21-24-28-32

by the way those 42-622 tires are 40mm width when mounted on Dyads
which gives about 2 mm of tire clearance under the rear brake bridge.
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