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  1. #1
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    What drivetrain are you riding on

    Curious as to what you guys are using for gears? I recently got rid of my triple (52/42/30) that was mated to an 11/32 9speed rear in favor of a compact crank upfront.

    Not sure how much I like the compact, it results in MORE shifting than before, a lot more. I almost never used the granny ring on the triple except on the larger hills. same for the big ring, never used it much except for the bigger downhills but that middle ring combo great.

    I'm 6'3 usually go between 225 and 250 depending on the time of the year and generally pretty fit but the hills destroy me. I'm wondering if its because i've been using the wide range casette as too much of a crutch? Will going to a 11-25 on the back ultimately make me a better and more fit rider? Or is a compact with 11-32 gearing considered normal for larger rider like myself?

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    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    I run a triple and a 11/32 in the back. It's the gearing that came stock on the bike, a compact double would be fine with me though.

    So for your question: Will and 11-25 make me a better rider than an 11-32? My answer is no. No it won't. The 11/32 has the ability to offer you a similar gear-inch ratio as the 11/25, but will also provide you bail out gears. The idea is to spin up hills, not to mash at a low cadence. Your knees will thank you later. What will make you a stronger rider is to ride more often, go further, and ride faster.

    Compacts with 11/32s are pretty common. No need to change anything around, just ride your bike as-is and put the upgrade money towards some nice bibs.

  3. #3
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    I run mtb gearing on my road bike. 52-42-24 front, 11-34 rear. So far the steepest hill I've climbed with this gearing is 19%. I haven't had to walk yet. Of course that's probably because I'm waiting until I lose at least another 30 pounds before I tackle anything steeper than 19%. I'm trying to be good to my knees so they'll last the rest of my life without medical attention So far, so good.

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    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    6'1 (230-250 depending on training etc.) Hills don't destroy me. It's about the training

    Standard double 53/39- 12/25 cassette on my Cannondale and a triple 53/39/30 -12/26 cassette on my Lemond.


    Triple- I don't use the 3 tallest cogs to keep the gear inch ratio equal to that of the standard double. But I do use the granny in order to keep a straight chainline. I'm not sure why some riders avoid the granny as some of the gear combos are repeats. Better to keep a straight chainline.


    6 by gulpxtreme, on Flickr

    Standard double 53/39---12/25



    @230 lbs after 70 miles and about 9000 ft of climbing on the standard crank (39/25)

    Bear1 by mrbeanz1, on Flickr

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    I came here looking for a good Sram/Shimano fight, but instead find a civil discussion about gearing. Guess I spend too much time on the Roadie forum.

    I run 34/50 rings with an 12-26 cassette.

    Can you change your big ring to something smaller for now?

    As far as making you a better rider, I think it is good to push yourself within reason. Not to the point of injury, so use some good judgement. I was not 100% "ready" for the compact gearing, and the first time I climbed some of my normal hills with it I honestly missed the triple. Now, about a year later, I don't even think about it. So for me, I think the compact has helped me become a better climber due to the fact that on some of the short steep stuff I couldn't bail out as far, and got better and smoother at climbing.

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    Two of my bikes (LHT and 'bent) have wide range 9-speed cassettes and triple chainrings. I get up every hill, albeit slowly.

    My other two are a single speed (65 gear-inches or so) and a 7-speed folding bike. Neither one of them is great for steep hills, but is fine for general riding.
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    Senior Member natbla's Avatar
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    I ride a compact setup with a 50/36 on the front and a 11-28 on the back. I'd like to swap the 36 to a 34 on the front on my next bike. But otherwise I'm happy. I'm using Ultegra 10sp shifters and derailours w/ a truvativ rouler (made by sram) crank set, and a sram 1070 cassette on the back. I like the set up, but I need to mash the gears a bit to get up some the steeper grades around here. Thus the desire to go to a 34 small ring on the front.

    No drive train will make you a better rider. But if your gearing is keeping you from going where you want to or pushing yourself to the level you aspire as a rider than by all means switch it up.
    just spinning the wheels and up and over the hills of Western Maryland. Hmm make that the Hocking Hills of Ohio.


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrClyde View Post
    I came here looking for a good Sram/Shimano fight, but instead find a civil discussion about gearing. Guess I spend too much time on the Roadie forum.
    I married the two on my new road bike - Shimano 10 speed shifters, brakes and triple crank with the Sram rear cassette and derailleur. It's all good!

    The rear, BTW, is Sram XX (12) 36 - a work of art!!!

    I'm looking to get the same set up on my mountain bike. it's sad the road bike has lower gearing than my mountain bike!
    Last edited by Pamestique; 03-16-11 at 02:22 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by motobecane69 View Post
    Curious as to what you guys are using for gears? I recently got rid of my triple (52/42/30) that was mated to an 11/32 9speed rear in favor of a compact crank upfront.
    50-34 x 13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23 although I have an in-shape weight under 150 pounds. With an extra 30+ pounds of fat I'll swap it for for 50-39-28 or 26 x 13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23-26 after wearing out the current chain (cassette should be about shot at that time, rear derailleur is already worn and getting sloppy, first generation ergo small parts have been discontinued, it's a good time to switch to 10 speeds) since there are mountains I want to climb while still heavy and without another 5,000 hard miles in my legs.

    I added the 23 cog on the end when Campagnolo discontinued my preferred 8 speed cassette of 13-21 and switched from a 50-40-30 triple after wearing out my big ring and realizing 34x23 was the same low gear as 30x21.

    While the compact has the same range as my old triple (which I picked to get tight spacing for plains rides east and the Rocky Mountains west without changing cassettes or wheels 3-4 times a week), there's only one overlapping gear that's not fully cross-chained (50x21 and 34x14) so there are hill/wind/fatigue/recovery day combinations that result in a lot of double shifting where each front shift goes with a five cog change in back. The chain's also a lot noisier in some situations because instead of riding 40x17 in the middle of the cassette I'm in 50x21 or 34x14 that's nearly at the end.


    I'm 6'3 usually go between 225 and 250 depending on the time of the year and generally pretty fit but the hills destroy me. I'm wondering if its because i've been using the wide range casette as too much of a crutch?
    Hills destroy you because your power to weight ratio is too low. Increase your power (get a training plan which involves hard intervals and stick to it, or at least mix sweet spot rides with recovery days in each micro-cycle) and/or loose weight.

    Low cadence drills will get you producing the same power when you're running out of gears (you should be able to manage the same power at 50 and 100 RPM) but you still need to increase your power.

    Will going to a 11-25 on the back ultimately make me a better and more fit rider?
    Trying to make do with higher gears will mean you fatigue sooner on hills and end up with a lower sustainable training load and fitness than if you used appropriate gearing for your current weight and fitness.

    Or is a compact with 11-32 gearing considered normal for larger rider like myself?
    If I wanted those extreme gears I'd opt for 53-39-24 x 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-29-21-23 or 53-39-26 x 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-25 instead since the close spacing feels a lot better on flat ground.

    It's simple arithmetic - there's a limit to the power you can produce at various durations, that power produces speeds which are inversely proportional to your weight and decreasing with the grade, and you need low enough gears that the resulting cadence isn't so low you have unacceptable fatigue.

    Power given speed calculator. Put your numbers in to estimate power. The estimate will be more accurate if it comes from a steeper grade where aerodynamics are a smaller component. The drag coefficient is low - Gibertini and Grassi measured .760 for a cyclist riding on the brake hoods. I got rolling resistance of .005 when playing with my power meter and Golden Cheetah's aerolab implementing Chung's virtual elevation model.

    http://www.analyticcycling.com/ForcesPower_Page.html

    Put your numbers in and the steepest slope you plan on climbing (this is easy to find now that we have on-line sources like mapmyride.com and ridewithgps.com)

    http://www.analyticcycling.com/ForcesSpeed_Page.html

    Then take the speed in meters per second, multiply by 60 seconds, and divide by roll out (about 3.14 * (622 (for 700c; use your ISO bead seat diameter for other sorts of bikes) + 2 x tire width in mm) / 1000) to get tire revolutions per minute. Divide by the lowest cadence you want to run and you have a gear ratio that will keep you happy.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 03-16-11 at 02:38 PM.

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    My main road bike has a 10-speed (SRAM Red) drivetrain with a 50/34 crank and 11-28 cassette. I own a standard (53/39) crank, but find that I tend to spin more with the 50/34. My knees like that a whole lot better. My Ultegra-equipped touring bike has a several different setups: I use a 52/39/30 triple crank with a 12-27 cassette when unloaded, but switch to a 48/38/26 trekking crank for credit-card touring or a 44/32/22 mountain bike crank when carrying heavier loads.

  11. #11
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    On my brevet bike I have a 34/48 compact with an 11 - 32 cassette because the sadists who make the routes for our club like to do things like find 3 mile long 12 - 15% climbs at 170km into a 400km ride.

    My current commuter is a 44/18 singlespeed (65-ish gear inches) which is good for cruising about 17mph at 90rpm, and low enough that I can still tackle things like a 2 mile long 6% climb without hating life.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
    50-34 x 13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23 although I have an in-shape weight under 150 pounds. With an extra 30+ pounds of fat I'll swap it for for 50-39-28 or 26 x 13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23-26 after wearing out the current chain (cassette should be about shot at that time, rear derailleur is already worn and getting sloppy, first generation ergo small parts have been discontinued, it's a good time to switch to 10 speeds) since there are mountains I want to climb while still heavy and without another 5,000 hard miles in my legs.

    I added the 23 cog on the end when Campagnolo discontinued my preferred 8 speed cassette of 13-21 and switched from a 50-40-30 triple after wearing out my big ring and realizing 34x23 was the same low gear as 30x21.

    While the compact has the same range as my old triple (which I picked to get tight spacing for plains rides east and the Rocky Mountains west without changing cassettes or wheels 3-4 times a week), there's only one overlapping gear that's not fully cross-chained (50x21 and 34x14) so there are hill/wind/fatigue/recovery day combinations that result in a lot of double shifting where each front shift goes with a five cog change in back. The chain's also a lot noisier in some situations because instead of riding 40x17 in the middle of the cassette I'm in 50x21 or 34x14 that's nearly at the end.


    Hills destroy you because your power to weight ratio is too low. Increase your power (get a training plan which involves hard intervals and stick to it, or at least mix sweet spot rides with recovery days in each micro-cycle) and/or loose weight.

    Low cadence drills will get you producing the same power when you're running out of gears (you should be able to manage the same power at 50 and 100 RPM) but you still need to increase your power.

    Trying to make do with higher gears will mean you fatigue sooner on hills and end up with a lower sustainable training load and fitness than if you used appropriate gearing for your current weight and fitness.

    If I wanted those extreme gears I'd opt for 53-39-24 x 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-29-21-23 or 53-39-26 x 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-25 instead since the close spacing feels a lot better on flat ground.

    It's simple arithmetic - there's a limit to the power you can produce at various durations, that power produces speeds which are inversely proportional to your weight and decreasing with the grade, and you need low enough gears that the resulting cadence isn't so low you have unacceptable fatigue.

    Power given speed calculator. Put your numbers in to estimate power. The estimate will be more accurate if it comes from a steeper grade where aerodynamics are a smaller component. The drag coefficient is low - Gibertini and Grassi measured .760 for a cyclist riding on the brake hoods. I got rolling resistance of .005 when playing with my power meter and Golden Cheetah's aerolab implementing Chung's virtual elevation model.

    http://www.analyticcycling.com/ForcesPower_Page.html

    Put your numbers in and the steepest slope you plan on climbing (this is easy to find now that we have on-line sources like mapmyride.com and ridewithgps.com)

    http://www.analyticcycling.com/ForcesSpeed_Page.html

    Then take the speed in meters per second, multiply by 60 seconds, and divide by roll out (about 3.14 * (622 (for 700c; use your ISO bead seat diameter for other sorts of bikes) + 2 x tire width in mm) / 1000) to get tire revolutions per minute. Divide by the lowest cadence you want to run and you have a gear ratio that will keep you happy.
    Dude, i got to the point where you said you weigh 150lbs and I didn't read the rest. there is no reason to. If I weighed 150lbs i'd have a std double with a corncob on the back!

  13. #13
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    XT 9 speed triple with 11-25 cassette. The middle of the triple (38) paired with the middle cogs on the cassette works well for most of the flatlands around here, but I have bailout and club-ride gears, and can make relatively minor adjustments with the tighter cassette.
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    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motobecane69 View Post
    Dude, i got to the point where you said you weigh 150lbs and I didn't read the rest. there is no reason to. If I weighed 150lbs i'd have a std double with a corncob on the back!
    You should read the rest, he doesn't weigh 150.

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    Compact double with a 12-25, all Ultegra. It was fine on the Chilly Hilly.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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    Curious, do any of the clydes have a problem with descending on compact cranks? I remember a few years back some dude posted that he could spin at 150+ rpm and keep up with anyone on a mountain descent using a standard double (no mentioning names). Well we did a ride and while descending on an organized event. On this descent, it's easy to carry 40without pedaling. I might have been easliy pushing 45 (Angelus Oaks) on the descent and there was no way he could spin his compact fast enough to keep up despite all the claims.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Curious, do any of the clydes have a problem with descending on compact cranks? I remember a few years back some dude posted that he could spin at 150+ rpm and keep up with anyone on a mountain descent using a standard double (no mentioning names). Well we did a ride and while descending on an organized event. On this descent, it's easy to carry 40without pedaling. I might have been easliy pushing 45 (Angelus Oaks) on the descent and there was no way he could spin his compact fast enough to keep up despite all the claims.
    Past some point (somewhere in the 30-35 MPH) you can go faster with an efficient aerodynamic tuck than you can by pedaling and the aerodynamic compromises which go with it.

    50x13 is a 30 MPH cruising gear, 50x12 33 MPH, 50x11 36 MPH at a reasonable 100 rpm. You run out of gear about the same point tucking works better.

    Cranks horizontal, knees against the top tube, as narrow and low as you can get. Some brave riders use the bar tops close to the stem and have their chin resting on their hands.

    Being a Clydestale you also have a higher sectional density than smaller riders which gives you a higher terminal velocity down-hill.

  18. #18
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
    50x11 36 MPH at a reasonable 100 rpm. You run out of gear about the same point tucking works better..
    .
    Yeah, at about 40, there is no sense in pedaling cause I can go just as fast in a god tuck, elbows in, knees in etc. No fancy chin tucks here, looks too risky for a hobby.

    But I do soft pedal on long descents to keep the legs somewhat warm for the next climb.

    I could see that about 35 mph, he was pretty much maxed out while pedaling.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Curious, do any of the clydes have a problem with descending on compact cranks? I remember a few years back some dude posted that he could spin at 150+ rpm and keep up with anyone on a mountain descent using a standard double (no mentioning names). Well we did a ride and while descending on an organized event. On this descent, it's easy to carry 40without pedaling. I might have been easliy pushing 45 (Angelus Oaks) on the descent and there was no way he could spin his compact fast enough to keep up despite all the claims.
    From the sprints I've been doing on my rollers, I know that I can hold 165rpm for 30 seconds and 150 for at least 60 seconds. Beyond that, I don't know how long I could keep up that kind of cadence, but I doubt that I'd have much issue handling the 130rpm required on my 48/11 to keep up with you at 45mph. I do the 2 minute segment of my spiral-down sprints at about that pace and I've still got the oomph to up the speed with each step down the spiral (2 min, 90sec, 1min, 30sec). According to my calculations, if I hit 165rpm on my 48/11 combo that's just over 57mph.
    With a 53/12, you should be hitting 45mph at only 128rpm; it's nearly the same as my 48/11.
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    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    From the sprints I've been doing on my rollers, I know that I can hold 165rpm for 30 seconds and 150 for at least 60 seconds. Beyond that, I don't know how long I could keep up that kind of cadence, but I doubt that I'd have much issue handling the 130rpm required on my 48/11 to keep up with you at 45mph. I do the 2 minute segment of my spiral-down sprints at about that pace and I've still got the oomph to up the speed with each step down the spiral (2 min, 90sec, 1min, 30sec). According to my calculations, if I hit 165rpm on my 48/11 combo that's just over 57mph.
    With a 53/12, you should be hitting 45mph at only 128rpm; it's nearly the same as my 48/11.
    Hmm, that's weird, I had a 52 on my Lemond before the 53 (both with a 12 cog/rear) and it seemed I was spinning out at 42 on GMR. Maybe I am slow when it comes to legspeed.

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Curious, do any of the clydes have a problem with descending on compact cranks? I remember a few years back some dude posted that he could spin at 150+ rpm and keep up with anyone on a mountain descent using a standard double (no mentioning names). Well we did a ride and while descending on an organized event. On this descent, it's easy to carry 40without pedaling. I might have been easliy pushing 45 (Angelus Oaks) on the descent and there was no way he could spin his compact fast enough to keep up despite all the claims.
    Not really ... you'll always run out of gear at some point, but I don't think I've spun out yet, at least for that reason. On steep descents I tend to tuck in to get more aero, and not pedal as much. Seattle goes from sea level to about 500 feet ... we don't have that many long, straight descents. My favorite thing to do these days is to descend through a series of hair pin turns, so I'll seek those out at the expense of the type of hill I might want to pedal into at full speed.

    I can get up to at least 180 rpm, and hold this for half a minute or so, but that's usually on flat ground or slightly down hill, in the granny gear. I do high cadence drills to push myself, and since then I've noticed myself pedaling away at 160ish rpm when I'm sprinting, but again it's on the flats, and usually when I'm in a relatively low gear thanks to lights or whatever.

    So, this hasn't been a problem for me, but I doubt my experience applies to very many people.
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    Interesting replies (drew eckhardt, I read all of yours too!) This is my 2nd season on the bike, I'm stunned and borderline disheartened at how much conditioning I lost over the winter. I planned to at least get my usual 5 miles a day of commuting through winter but my commuter got stolen and it took me close to 2 months to get my new bike which I built from the ground up as a custom commuter. Winter was exceptionally bad so only 2 or 3 rides on the road bike in 3 months. Trainer was too boring for me but I might have been more committed to it if I knew is lose this much conditioning. At the end of the fall I had really started to get good at the hill on my regular route and could do 8-10 repeats of it with relative ease, now I'm back to struggling to get up it once! I'm so deconditioned that doing a seated climb in my easiest gear going I.intentionally easy gets my heart rate up to the 170's. Last fall it would easily stay in the 140s. (my threshold # is appx 160 haven't tested it in awhile) someone tell me my body will get back to its old shape quicker than it took me to get there please!!!

  23. #23
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motobecane69 View Post
    someone tell me my body will get back to its old shape quicker than it took me to get there please!!!
    Yeah you will. I was 3 months off the bike for surgical recovery, and wasn't allowed to do anything. I had to ease myself back into training over the course of a month and a half, and now I'm back up to at least my daily conditioning level of 20 - 30 miles/day (but I'll admit it will be a while before I'm back to where I was before my surgery, which was doing at least a 200k per month and usually another long ride too.)
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  24. #24
    Senior Member DanteB's Avatar
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    I'm using Campy Record Triple 53/42/30 and a 13-29 in the rear. I seem to have better gear combinations than with a compact, works for me.
    Make mine a double!

  25. #25
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    My old road bikes are 2x6 adn 2x7 are campy 52-42 and the rear cogs are 12x23 or 25, newer road bikes are

    1. 3x10, 53, 39, 30 and rear cog is 11-25, this is my bike for supported touring
    2. 2x10, 50, 34 and rear cog is 11x25, carbon fiber road bike
    3. 3x10, 50, 39, 30 and rear cog is 12x28, loaded touring bike.
    4. 2x11, 50, 34 and rear cog is 12x29, current build not completed
    I'm not sure what the mountain bike and hybrid have for gearing.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

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