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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 01-05-07, 07:33 AM   #1
damnable
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Why was this bike suggested to me?

Hi,
I am thinking back to when I was looking around for my first real bike. I went to a number of bike shops (three I think) and they all had the same general range. But the guy at the first shop I went to told me a lot of information about bikes in general and gave me a lot to think on. But, he took one look at me and said something along the lines "I'm not sure the 21 gears would be enough for you, try for at least 24 gears". Now I don't mind him considering my (over)weight to be a factor, in fact it is good, but why suggest it in terms of gearing? Especially since I know some of the clydes around here ride fixed gear or single speed.

Any ideas?

In more information I think (from memory) that he was suggesting the Trek 4300 or 3900 over the 3700.

I am rather miffed at this. If no one can give me an answer I feel good that I didn't buy this bike off him.

Thanks.
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Old 01-05-07, 08:00 AM   #2
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The largest problem us Clydes have are hills. They are the bane of our existence, a blight on an otherwise beautiful ride. You're happily strolling along, confident and happy at getting your heart rate up but not feeling like you'll keel over any minute. You think to yourself, I can do this for hours! Why haven't I started doing this years before?

Then the hill. The blasted hill. Maybe driving around you never even noticed it was there. Maybe it's a 2 or 3 mile gentle incline. Maybe it was the one that you thought to yourself "That's kinda steep but it shouldn't be a problem" You start up it.

Barely three pedal strokes up and your legs just won't go anymore. WTF?! You check to see if your brakes are engaged. No. A midget all of a sudden grabbed onto your rear wheel as a cruel joke? No.

Finally you realized you have gears! You start shifting, trying to find the gear that allows you to pedal again. There it is - OOPS! Too much!! Finally you find it and that hill doesn't look so...wait a minute. Damn! Shift again! OK, we can...DAMN! Shift again!

If you've embarked on a new era of biking the more gears you have will only help you conquer those hills. And some will take significant training to get to the top without walking - and that's OK.

There's not a tremendous difference between 7 and 8 gears in the back (I'll assume 3 in the front which gives you 3x7 or 3x8). But you never really have the full range of gears - you shouldn't run the big chainring in front with the biggest gears in the back because it'll strain the chain and add stress to the chainring in front and gears in the back. Likewise you shouldn't run the little chainring in front with the smallest gears in the back. So by adding one gear in the back you pick up a few more 'usable' gears to choose from.

It sounds like the guy is a straight shooter and giving you some honest advice.
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Old 01-05-07, 09:52 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Air
It sounds like the guy is a straight shooter and giving you some honest advice.
+1

The shop guy wants you to enjoy riding for a long time.
Enjoy: go up hills easier
Long Time: spin up hills so you won't destroy your knees over time.

If you're new to cycling, follow his advice. If you're experienced, do what you know to be good for you. Me? I use a 53/39 front, 12/25 10-speed rear. I need the higher gearing so I can truck on the flats and downhills, pulling all the greyhounds along as only us Clydes can do. But, I've been riding since 1988 and knew what I needed and what I could handle in the hills/mountains of So. Cal.

I think you should feel good about doing business with this shop. They were willing to tell you the truth, at the risk of insulting you and losing your business, in order to make your riding experience more enjoyable.
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Old 01-05-07, 09:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkadam68
+1

The shop guy wants you to enjoy riding for a long time.
Enjoy: go up hills easier
Long Time: spin up hills so you won't destroy your knees over time.

If you're new to cycling, follow his advice. If you're experienced, do what you know to be good for you. Me? I use a 53/39 front, 12/25 10-speed rear. I need the higher gearing so I can truck on the flats and downhills, pulling all the greyhounds along as only us Clydes can do. But, I've been riding since 1988 and knew what I needed and what I could handle in the hills/mountains of So. Cal.

I think you should feel good about doing business with this shop. They were willing to tell you the truth, at the risk of insulting you and losing your business, in order to make your riding experience more enjoyable.
Agreed! Sounds like you are dealing with a good shop to me as well!
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Old 01-05-07, 10:04 AM   #5
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It sounds like good advice to me.

I weight 200lbs (give or take a few) and ride a fixed gear bike happily, but it would have been a terrible choice of bike to get started with.
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Old 01-05-07, 10:58 AM   #6
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It's good advice and bad advice at the same time, IMO.

Good that he's looking out for the interests of a rider that might benefit from a larger range of gearing, which can make riding more enjoyable.

Bad because OP says this is his first "real bike." A huge range of gears to select from can be a daunting task for someone unfamiliar with the concept. Riding should be a pleasure, not a mathematical challenge of trying to decide which of 3 rings up front and 8 or 9 cogs in back to match up, which ones not to use, and what the heck gear am I in now anyways...

Additionally, there's a lot of gearing overlap when you get down to it. Check Sheldon Brown's gear inch calculator, and plug in the ring and cog sizes: See where you end up with duplicate or close (within 1/2 inch) numbers. Knock those numbers out, and that's the effective number of gears you could get away with.

I'm 260 pounds, and I've got a 21spd MTB for a commuter. There's 19 gears on it that never get used because I've found that I can get away with a 46-17 most of the time, and a 46-19 when there's really bad wind or I'm jamming some hills.
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Old 01-05-07, 11:27 AM   #7
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I think I have to take a contrarian view on this one. The NUMBER of gears, for most riders and nearly all casual or new riders, isn't nearly as important as the RANGE of gears, particularly the lower ones.
I'm a fairly strong recreational cyclist, ride about 3000 miles a season and live in the Sierra, with 7,000-foot passes all around, so I climb a lot (but I often ride on the flats around the Calif Central valley, too). I literally can't remember the last time I used a 53t chainring with a cog smaller than about 19 teeth--the whole top end of that driveline might as well not be there, for all the use it gets. If most people looked at the gears they actually USE, I think they'd find the same thing (check it on group rides--nearly everybody you see, except the fast guys who run corncob cassettes, will either be spinning in low gears or hopelessly struggling in one that's too high, turning 38 rpm because they're too macho to shift down).
When I built up my Atlantis, I used a 46-36-26 triple crank and 13-28 cassette. Wouldn't work for Lance, but it's perfect for the kind of riding most of us do most of the time. Having 24 speeds, or 27, or 30, is no advantage if seven of them are too high for you to push.
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Old 01-05-07, 12:29 PM   #8
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If we're talking about a noob cyclist (I think) then all this doesn't matter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velo Dog
I think I have to take a contrarian view on this one. The NUMBER of gears, for most riders and nearly all casual or new riders, isn't nearly as important as the RANGE of gears, particularly the lower ones...
True, in part. Having more gears allows you to find the right gear for the grade you're riding at that time. My old bike had 6 gears. My new one has 10. I am constantly shifting now to get the proper gear so I can smoothly spin in my optimum cadence (around 85-90rpm). I took out my old bike for a spin and found myself spinning too fast or mashing to slow. I needed the extra gears.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Velo Dog
I literally can't remember the last time I used a 53t chainring with a cog smaller than about 19 teeth--the whole top end of that driveline might as well not be there, for all the use it gets. If most people looked at the gears they actually USE, I think they'd find the same thing (check it on group rides--nearly everybody you see, except the fast guys who run corncob cassettes, will either be spinning in low gears or hopelessly struggling in one that's too high, turning 38 rpm because they're too macho to shift down)
I use my 53t chainring with all my gears except the last cog. I can power up short hills in it and not have to shift both front and back (risking dropping a chain or-worse-jamming it into my carbon fiber stays) at the same time when I start down the other side.

If your group rides have guys in the wrong gears, well, they're not doing it right (sorry if offensive...I tried to word it nicely). The only macho bone in my body is when I drop someone
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Old 01-05-07, 01:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
Bad because OP says this is his first "real bike." A huge range of gears to select from can be a daunting task for someone unfamiliar with the concept. Riding should be a pleasure, not a mathematical challenge of trying to decide which of 3 rings up front and 8 or 9 cogs in back to match up, which ones not to use, and what the heck gear am I in now anyways...

Additionally, there's a lot of gearing overlap when you get down to it. Check Sheldon Brown's gear inch calculator, and plug in the ring and cog sizes: See where you end up with duplicate or close (within 1/2 inch) numbers. Knock those numbers out, and that's the effective number of gears you could get away with.
For the record I'm probably not a noob and the whole gear calculating thing scares me. I know that I was getting pissed off with a 48 tooth in front because as fast as I could spin wasn't fast enough. I also don't think he's going to know what gears until he's put 1k miles on a bike at least to get the feel for where he needs more help and where he'd like more.

Again - I think that lbs is the winner. You'll like the extra gears. Shifting is pretty intuitive after a short while, my first geared bike I had it figured out in under 10 miles. Just practice where no one's around and practice on straight even roads and you'll be fine!

Now go back, get on it, and RIDE!
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Old 01-05-07, 10:37 PM   #10
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Sounds like he's trying to sell you a more expensive bike for the wrong reasons. ride your mtn bike up a hill with a 13-30 7 speed casette. Then try it on a 13-30 8 speed cassette. IS there a difference? No, you have the same exact gear to get you up the hill whether there is 21,24,27,or 30! To me, that is what is meant by, "enough gear for you".

Now if the guy said, the 24 has a 32 cog, and the 21 only has a 30, then that would be different.

You'd have to know if the big cog on each of the bikes was the same or not to know if the 24 had more gear than the 21.
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Old 01-06-07, 02:55 AM   #11
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Sounds like he's trying to sell you a more expensive bike for the wrong reasons. ride your mtn bike up a hill with a 13-30 7 speed casette. Then try it on a 13-30 8 speed cassette. IS there a difference? No, you have the same exact gear to get you up the hill whether there is 21,24,27,or 30! To me, that is what is meant by, "enough gear for you".

Now if the guy said, the 24 has a 32 cog, and the 21 only has a 30, then that would be different.

You'd have to know if the big cog on each of the bikes was the same or not to know if the 24 had more gear than the 21.
Hmm, I think that would just confuse me more. I didn't think 3 extra gears would make all that much of a difference. And just for the record, I absolutely love the granny gears, as I am heard them told. True, I am still getting used to the gearing to a certain extent but I have mostly got it down with the exception of a few things such as getting in the right gear to start of fast in before I stop.

I was actually really impressed with this guy because he obviously knew his stuff. The reason I didn't buy from him was that when I went back to confirm prices for a kit (helmet spares etc) he had very little time for me and tried to sell me an altogether different bike. I am happy with my decision and at the shop I bought it from I pretty much deal with the same guy each time too, which is good because he knows me by name now the poor man.
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Old 01-06-07, 09:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damnable
Hmm, I think that would just confuse me more. I didn't think 3 extra gears would make all that much of a difference. And just for the record, I absolutely love the granny gears, as I am heard them told. True, I am still getting used to the gearing to a certain extent but I have mostly got it down with the exception of a few things such as getting in the right gear to start of fast in before I stop.

I was actually really impressed with this guy because he obviously knew his stuff. The reason I didn't buy from him was that when I went back to confirm prices for a kit (helmet spares etc) he had very little time for me and tried to sell me an altogether different bike. I am happy with my decision and at the shop I bought it from I pretty much deal with the same guy each time too, which is good because he knows me by name now the poor man.
Well, then, ya found your shop! Great, and many happy rides!
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Old 01-06-07, 05:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Air
Then the hill. The blasted hill. Maybe driving around you never even noticed it was there. Maybe it's a 2 or 3 mile gentle incline. Maybe it was the one that you thought to yourself "That's kinda steep but it shouldn't be a problem" You start up it.

Barely three pedal strokes up and your legs just won't go anymore. WTF?! You check to see if your brakes are engaged. No. A midget all of a sudden grabbed onto your rear wheel as a cruel joke? No.

Finally you realized you have gears! You start shifting, trying to find the gear that allows you to pedal again. There it is - OOPS! Too much!! Finally you find it and that hill doesn't look so...wait a minute. Damn! Shift again! OK, we can...DAMN! Shift again!
This is so freakin' right on and your discription made me laugh out loud!
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