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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 05-11-09, 11:08 AM   #1
prxmid
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Clyde gearing question

Good morning All,

I bought a new (used) bike at a great price and it's at the LBS being assembled, I'm going in for a fit in two days. It's a Cannondale Synapse Carbon, full Dura Ace. The seller (inadvertantly) labelled it as a compact. It's a standard 52,39 and a 12-25 cassette.

I'm 260 (working my way down to 210) The question is, Is it a problem having a 39/25 as the lowest gear. Moderately hilly here. LBS said it would be expensive to change the chainring, I think the biggest cassette I can get would be 12-27, and that wouldn't be cheap. Is a 2 gear movement worth it?

Also, any suggestions as to options for lower gearing? I suppose I should just wait to ride it and see. I'm coming from a Trek with a triple
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Old 05-11-09, 11:27 AM   #2
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Is it worth it? Only you can answer that question. If you can't get the seller to remedy his mistake, just get the bike and ride it and see what you think.

Looks like you're in Annapolis... I have a compact crankset (50-34) with an 11-25 cassette and I get around fine here. 39/25 might be a little higher than I'd like for some of the worst hills (which I don't think there are many of honestly - the only thing I can think of is climbing the Naval Academy bridge, which is at least short) but I could probably manage. Some of the stuff up near Baltimore like Lawyer's Hill in Elkridge I need a wider cassette for.

A new cassette would run you 100 - 120 or so, and changing the crank to a compact would be 150 for a new R600, more if you want Dura Ace-level stuff or if you have to pay someone to install it.
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Old 05-11-09, 02:54 PM   #3
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Thanks Lambo, yes the NA Bridge (or mountain) and Rt 2 the other way. I live off of St Margarets Rd which going east is pretty hilly. I think I may need to do something, not sure if going from a 25 to a 27 is going to make a significant difference. Perhaps a compact chainring would be the best albeit expensive solution
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Old 05-11-09, 03:08 PM   #4
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A SRAM PG1070 11-28 is only $95.00 at Bikeman.

A 39/28 gear ratio should be low enough for anything. I'm 250 pounds and ride in the Cascade foothills. I've been rolling a singlespeed recently, with 42/18 gearing (which is about 2x taller than 39/28 in gear inches).
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Old 05-11-09, 03:13 PM   #5
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That's encouraging. I'm going to the bike store tomorrow, and I'll check into it.
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Old 05-11-09, 03:50 PM   #6
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That's encouraging. I'm going to the bike store tomorrow, and I'll check into it.
Personally, I'd suggest riding the bike around as-is before you spend any money on it. Much depends on your fitness level and the types of terrain you ride. The area where I ride has quite a few hills and on some of the longer ones I'm very happy to have a compact double (50/34) and 11-28 cassette. This is especially true when trying to get over the last hill or two on the way home from an epic (60-100mi) ride.
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Old 05-11-09, 04:50 PM   #7
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Another vote for a compact front crank. If you are not going to get a triple, are a clyde, and have lots of hills, then get a compact. Cannondale makes models with a compact crank, and that LBS should be able to get you a bike with one, one or switch it out at no extra cost. I would expect at least that much from a bike shop before I shelled out the cash.

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Old 05-11-09, 06:58 PM   #8
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Yeah...I'm w/sstorkel. Ride it for awhile first and see how it does for you on your regular routes. Any changes you make to it are going to be made after it's already assembled, so it won't save you anything having it done now. Plus, none of us can really answer your question. As lambo said, only you...

I also am about 260#. I ride a 53/39. I have 3-cassettes: 11-23, 12-25, and a 12-27. Riding in SoCal, I encounter a wide array of hills: rollers, long-long mountain passes, short mountain passes, short & extremely steep hills, long steep climbs. My 12-25 has served me well on many of them. I got the 11-23 for flat races. I got the 12-27 for the King of the Mountain series and the Assault on Mt. Mitchell last year--all extremely challenging rides (100-miles/10,000ft+ each). It really gave me a last bailout gear for when I was tired. I used it alot during those rides.

I get almost all my stuff at probikekit.com. Cassettes run around $60--$90 there, (usually) much cheaper than an LBS. Check 'em out.
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Old 05-11-09, 08:28 PM   #9
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Wow, now I'm confused. Obviously the best thing for me to do is pick it up ride it and see how I do, But if mkadam can do the Assault on Mt Mitchel with a 53/39 I'll feel like a real wuss if I can't do the hills around here.

Bike shop won't swap it out, as I bought it used and they are assembling it
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Old 05-11-09, 08:38 PM   #10
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I had a 52/39 - 13/27 combo on my Tempo when I started out. Other than one errant trip to Western MD, that was fine even in the early days.

I have a 12/23 on there now, I consider it a "character builder".
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Old 05-11-09, 08:44 PM   #11
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sram 11-28 is the way to go for lower cost.. 71.00 shipped price on ebay, good seller, have bought plenty from them over the years

http://cgi.ebay.com/SRAM-PG-1070-Cas...QQcmdZViewItem
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Old 05-11-09, 09:15 PM   #12
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Wow, now I'm confused. Obviously the best thing for me to do is pick it up ride it and see how I do, But if mkadam can do the Assault on Mt Mitchel with a 53/39 I'll feel like a real wuss if I can't do the hills around here.
Don't base your climbing on someone else's ability. I'd cry in a corner every time Beanz posted one of his climbs on a 39/53 if that was the case.
Most of my distance climbing is done on my brevet bike, which I outfitted with super low gears: 34/46 up front and an 11 - 32 MTB cassette in back. I've been riding my 42/18 singlespeed to build some strength on hills so it translates over to quicker average speeds on the geared bike; but I don't think I'll be swapping out my MTB cassette for the stock 12-27, or putting a standard road double up front any time.
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Old 05-11-09, 09:17 PM   #13
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Wow, now I'm confused. Obviously the best thing for me to do is pick it up ride it and see how I do, But if mkadam can do the Assault on Mt Mitchel with a 53/39 I'll feel like a real wuss if I can't do the hills around here.

Bike shop won't swap it out, as I bought it used and they are assembling it
Dude, the steepest thing you're going to encounter is St. George Barber Rd. That's a real hill. Unfortunately, it only last for about 1/2 a mile. Oh well... If you can't make it up in a 39x25, just pull over to the side of the road and cry like a little girl. Then sell your bike and take up knitting or something.
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Old 05-11-09, 09:22 PM   #14
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Just ride it as is for a while. I've got a 39/26 as my lowest/easiest gear and have been fine so far. And there's some pretty hilly country around here!
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Old 05-11-09, 09:23 PM   #15
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Dude, the steepest thing you're going to encounter is St. George Barber Rd. That's a real hill. Unfortunately, it only last for about 1/2 a mile. Oh well... If you can't make it up in a 39x25, just pull over to the side of the road and cry like a little girl. Then sell your bike and take up knitting or something.
Wow!
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Old 05-11-09, 09:34 PM   #16
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Wow!
Me thinks he's been spending time in the roadie forum
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Old 05-11-09, 09:45 PM   #17
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Me thinks he's been spending time in the roadie forum
Yeah sure.

Seriously. I've been everywhere from 240 to 175 lbs and never rode anything smaller than a 39x25 except for 1 special occasion 100 mile hill ride. There have been times I've wanted to pull over and cry, but instead, you just gotta stand up, gear down and be tough. Bullick Hollow Rd between Oasis bluff and 620 in Austin is one stretch that comes to mind. I really hate that road. And yes, it's hard to believe the bike won't topple over at 4mph, but somehow it doesn't.
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Old 05-11-09, 10:04 PM   #18
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You don't need any gears at all if you're willing to walk at least part of the way. So in a sense, the question is not whether you need a lower gear, it's really how far you're willing to walk.
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Old 05-12-09, 05:05 AM   #19
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Thanks for the replies (mostly)

Noglider, I guess that's the question. But I guess a big guy on a Carbon DA walking up a hill would be the poster child for poseur

Best to ride it this weekend. If anyone needs a sweater knit, let me know
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Old 05-12-09, 05:38 AM   #20
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You're a poseur only if you care how people think about how you look. If you're enjoying yourself, you're doing the right thing. If you're improving, too, even better.

A big guy on a bike looks a lot better than a big guy in front of a TV with a beer in his hand. (OK, those aren't the only choices, but you get the idea.)

And by the way, I'm a guest here, as I'm not a big guy.

Tom
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Old 05-12-09, 05:48 AM   #21
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Hey by the way, which shop is building the bike for you?
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Old 05-12-09, 07:27 AM   #22
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Not building it, just putting it together, and fitting me for it. Bike Doctor in Annapolis
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Old 05-12-09, 08:19 AM   #23
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All this talk is making me feel like a wuss for ordering a bike with a triple. I donít like mashing up hills (and neither do my knees) so Iím looking for a nice low gear ratio so I can keep spinning a decent RPM against as much a hill as possible. I just ordered a Novara Randonee on sale which has a 26 tooth granny gear up front and 11-28 rear cogs. That should give me a low gear of 25.1 gear inches as opposed to the 29.6 I currently have on my commuter. Iím looking forward to seeing how much a difference that makes on the hills.

As near as I can figure 39/25 would give 42.1 gear inches, which is equivalent to 3rd gear on my current bike. I canít personally imagine tackling much of a hill in a gear like that, but then Iím not comfortable with pedaling out of the saddle. I currently weigh in at 260 myself and am trying to get back into cycling after the winter.
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Old 05-12-09, 08:58 AM   #24
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You're not a wuss, LandKurt. You just haven't given up your need for those two lowest gears yet.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:45 AM   #25
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There is certainly room for improvement in my cycling, but once I'm able to climb hills faster it will probably be through higher cadence rather than higher gears. I've got a bit or arthritis in my knees so I avoid mashing the pedals when possible.

"Whatever gear doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is NOT my motto.

I was riding with someone last year who consistently pedaled at a much lower cadence than I did (not that I'm all that hot stuff, 80 RPM is good enough for me). I asked her at one point why she didn't use a lower gear on the hills at least. She said that lower gears made her feel like she was in a hampster wheel getting nowhere. Me, I feel like I'm getting nowhere when I'm straining against a nearly immovable pedal in too high a gear. Different strokes for different folks I guess. Ride what you enjoy and makes you feel like you're getting somewhere.

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