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  1. #1
    FBoD Member at Large khatfull's Avatar
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    Half Step Gearing - Revisited

    Ok, so taking the advice here and reading online I think I have a handle on this...how the equipment available when it was in vogue drove its development. Namely, back in the 5 speed days of more widely spaced rear clusters.

    When I was at the co-op today (they know me by name now) something in the freewheel drawer caught my eye, gold Suntour with a wide range. Turns out it was a nearly perfect condition, yet horrifically dirty, 14-32 6-speed (14-17-20-24-28-32).

    That got me thinking, here's a more widely spaced freewheel, how would this work with my new bike's half-step gearing setup? of course for $4 I got it...it's in the ultrasonic now

    Here's what the gear inches look like for the stock setup (50/45, 14-28):



    And with this 14-32 freewheel:



    If I'm reading this correctly doesn't the second case more even steps between the 45 and 50 chain rings? If one was looking for the half step gearing it seems to me the second case does it better and provides yet a lower bailout gear.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member jonwvara's Avatar
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    That's a nice freewheel that seems to be nearly ideal for half-stepping. I have a 14-17-20-24-28 five-speed that works really well with a 46-42 in front (pretty low high-end gear, although that's not a problem as far as I'm concerned). I'd like to have a 6-speed version with the 32--it would be nice to have a lower gear.
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    Yes, the stock gearing is not a proper half-step since most of the gears on the middle ring are virtual duplicates to ones you already have on the large ring. With that freewheel you'd want the middle and large rings to be a little closer together to have a real half-step. The 14/32 freewheel is a better match for your 45/50 rings.

    Of course then there's the question of whether you actually shift it as a half-step - i.e. with lots of double shifts to go up or down to the next available gear ratio. I tend not to do that on my touring bike which also has half-step gearing.

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    Make sure you lube it REAL good after the ultrasonic bath.

  5. #5
    Senior Member jonwvara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Of course then there's the question of whether you actually shift it as a half-step - i.e. with lots of double shifts to go up or down to the next available gear ratio. I tend not to do that on my touring bike which also has half-step gearing.
    Right, but that's the great thing about half-step--you can use it when you want to. When you don't mind a big jump--or actually prefer a big jump--you can single shift. In cases where you want a smaller jump, you double shift. It allows you to be situation-specific.
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    FBoD Member at Large khatfull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Fat Guy View Post
    Make sure you lube it REAL good after the ultrasonic bath.
    Oh yeah, when it's out I dry it and leave it on paper towel for an hour or so, then chase out the water with WD40, then drip in Finish Line wet lube as I spin it. When the Finish Line starts to show up on the other side I spin it for 5 minutes or so then let it sit on paper towel again to suck up the excess lube. Works like a charm...they get REAL quiet after that treatment.

  7. #7
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Your current freewheel would be great with a 49-46 (my personal all-time favorite) or similar ringset. Even better is 14-16-18-20-23-26.
    For a 4-tooth drop in front, you want something like 14-16-19-22-26, and for 5, as you discovered, the classic 14-17-20-24-28-(32)
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  8. #8
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Wow. I drop you a note about gearing and a new/old hub and you spin off a whole thread about 5- and 6-speed gearing. Of the three gear clusters mentioned, I've used or considered all of them, sort of. The 14-28 5-speed (ignoring the 32 6th) is classic, of course, and what I ride now. I've used the 14-26 but with 1-1/2 step, not 1/2 step. And the 14-28 6-speed is one I'm wishing for now. But then, I run 48,34 chainrings.

    As prathmann said, you don't have to use it as a half-step. Personally, I'd never us it that way even if the gears came out right. It's too much trouble for the amount of payback. I don't mind if the cadence isn't absotively posilutely what I want it to be at all times. And around here the terrain changes so frequently that if the cadence isn't quite right there are two options, shift now or just keep pedaling and wait a moment for the terrain to change. So from my perspective the whole idea is moot. Just pick the big chainring and shift the rear as necessary. If the road gets steep, pick the small chainring and shift the rear as necessary. End of story. Yeah, I know, some people will disagree.
    Last edited by jimmuller; 08-06-10 at 09:00 PM.
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  9. #9
    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    Move to a 46T or 49T(much harder to find) chainring and I think you will have dialed-it-in. Schwinns 2nd tier tourers from the id 80's (Le Tour Lux/Passage) used your first combination with 28/46/50.

    I also like the smallest granny gear I can find (usually 24T). If you need it, you usually REALLY need it.
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  10. #10
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    As prathmann said, you don't have to use it as a half-step. Personally, I'd never us it that way even if the gears came out right. It's too much trouble for the amount of payback. I don't mind if the cadence isn't absotively posilutely what I want it to be at all times. ... Yeah, I know, some people will disagree.
    I disagree, but my elder son is in your camp. I had set up the PKN-10 as a 48-45-34 / 13-15-17-19-21-24 half-step-plus-granny. When I gave him the bike, I installed a 13-15-17-19-21-23-36 seven-speed freewheel with 52-48-34 up front. He never appreciated the 52-48 half-step, preferring 52-45-34.

    Stock gearing on Capo #1 was 52-46 / 14-17-20-23-26, which is almost "full-step" or "crossover" gearing, which yields 6 ratios out of 10. The intent is to use the three largest cogs with the small chainring, then shift to the large chainring and use the three outer cogs with it. I still like half-step and 1-5-step, and I don't mind the double shifts.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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