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  1. #1
    Senior Member dauphin's Avatar
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    gearing question

    Below is gear comparison chart using a 11-32 cassette. How do you know what the various numbers are on the cassette? In this case they are spelled out. What if we were talking about a 12-27 cassette? In my case I have the 50/39/30 triple in the front and 12-27 in the back. Would an 11-32 be better for climbing really steep hills?
    Last edited by dauphin; 08-28-07 at 11:11 AM.

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    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    The larger the rear cog, and the smaller the chainwheel the lower the gear.

    The lower the gear, the steeper a hill you can climb (although obviously at a really slow speed).

    So yes, an 11-32 would give you lower gears than a 12-27, and higher as well to help you fly down the hills. You would have a few bigger jumps in the gears along the way. In my opinion that isn't a big deal.

    One caution, depending on your RD, it may not deal well with 32 tooth cogs (but I suspect you will be fine with most long cage derailleurs).

    You can go to this page on Sheldon Brown's site to look at the differences in gearing in a variety of ways: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/ The chart you included seems to be showing gear inches.
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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    With a 30 tooth chainring and a 32 tooth rear cog, you should be able to climb walls. For each pedal stroke you are not completing a full rotation of your wheels. This is slow, but should get you up almost any hill. The combination I used for fully loaded touring was 28.2 gear inches and I was able to climb some pretty long and steep hills with over 30 lbs. of gear on the bike.
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    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dauphin
    How do you know what the various numbers are on the cassette?
    Just count the teeth on each sprocket. Not much fun. Little Darwin gave the simplest explanation, less teeth up front paired with more teeth in the rear equal easier climbing.
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    Senior Member dauphin's Avatar
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    turns out that I don't have that option regarding an 11-32 cassette according to my LBS. They say that it would work if I was running nine speed, but mine is Shimano 105 ten speed. Don't quite understand that.

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    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    Most cogs have the number of teeth stamped on them, but if your drivechain is gunky, they might be difficult to read; counting them works.

    "Gear inches" is sort of abstract to me; using Sheldon's gear calculator you can also express these ratios as how fast you would be going at a specific cadence. This is a better measure for me since I have a pretty good sense of cadence. See below for example (sorry if formatting is off):


    Gear chart using MPH @ 90 RPM
    For 27 inch (nominal) tire with 170 mm cranks
    With 9-speed aq/ar 11-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32 Cassette

    50 39 30
    11 32.9 25.6 19.7
    12 30.1 23.5 18.1
    14 25.8 20.1 15.5
    16 22.6 17.6 13.6
    18 20.1 15.7 12.0
    21 17.2 13.4 10.3
    24 15.1 11.7 9.0
    28 12.9 10.1 7.7
    32 11.3 8.8 6.8

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dauphin
    turns out that I don't have that option regarding an 11-32 cassette according to my LBS. They say that it would work if I was running nine speed, but mine is Shimano 105 ten speed. Don't quite understand that.

    The width of the chain between the nine and 10 speed are different, and the systems can be very finicky. So, you really shouldn't mix components between these two drive trains. It is possible that there is not a cog made for your system that goes up to 32 teeth. I don't know this for sure, but the largest I've seen in my area's LBS is one that goes up to 28 teeth. Perhaps others know more about this.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  8. #8
    Pat
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    Well, your low gear with a 32 big cog would be about 25 chain inches and your low gear with a 27 big cog would be 30 chain inches. 30 inches is 20% higher than 25 chain inches. A 10% increase is a bit more than a gear shift so we are talking about something that is about 2 gears lower than the other. It is significantly lower. The question is do you need or even want something that low? A 30 inch gear is pretty dern low and a 25 inch gear is seriously low. For really long steep climbs, it is nice to have a 1 to 1 gearing which is 27 chain inches. I like lower gearing than most people because I prefer to sit and spin. What you want depends on your riding style, your level of fitness and the kind of hills you are going to run into. But remember, the body must endure what the ego decrees.

    Here in Central Florida, I ride a 53/39 with a 13-25 rear cassette and that is enough to get me up the biggest and/or steepest hill in the state. Our steep hills max out at about .5 miles and most are shorter. Now if I go to someplace with long, steep climbs, I want lower gearing.

  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Autumn 2005 I saw a few mountain bikes with proto-type 10 speed rear cassettes fitted These rear cassettes were large- at least 34. Unfortunately- other than these few Pre-06 models, I have not seen any taking to the trails.

    So- Talking about staying with 10 speed because that is what you have fitted, it would appear that the largest rear cassette you can fit is a 12/27. This coupled with a triple will give you a Gearing of 30/27.

    If you go to 9 spd then you can fit the mountain bike gearing but this will involve new rear derrailler- and new changers. Quite a lot of expense for what would be a definite upgrade for hills but Is It Worth It? Now if you had a second bike with 9 speed fitted then you could change the Brifters but would still have to buy a rear derrailer and cassette and Chain. Still not a cheap option.

    Better still is to stop going up mountains- or keep going up mountains. The choice is yours.

    I can tell you- Practicing going up mountains hurts- but the sense of achievement when you conquer them is fantabidozie.
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    Senior Member dauphin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain
    I think most people spend most of their time in relatively few gears.
    I have (being new) found that to be the case. To say I have 30 speeds is really meaningless.

  11. #11
    Member brigadon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dauphin
    Would an 11-32 be better for climbing really steep hills?
    We have some pretty shortish steep hills here and no way round them. Some of the steepest parts were just too much for easy climbing with my 28 ring/30 sprocket.

    I recently fitted a megarange cassette with a bigger 34 tooth granny sprocket. It makes climbing those hills almost fun . Hard still, but not so hard that the bike stalls from lack of momentum.

    If you have some tough hills I recommend you get one. As you get stronger it may become redundant......so?

    BTW I had to get a new wide range rear derailleur to take the new cassette
    Last edited by brigadon; 09-19-06 at 05:16 PM.

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    It is meaningless 98% of the time. I have a new Roubaix with 30 gears. The chain stays on the middle ring in the front almost all of the time. Realistically, I probably use 6 or 7 of the gears on the rear cassette with any regularity. I live where it is flat, but will use the lower gears to go up bridges and the highest ones to go down the other side. But the rest of the time, it's really not necessary to have all those gears.

    However, once I get stronger, I think the big ring in the front will get more use. The real crossover between the middle ring and the big one doesn't really occur until around 20 mph, which this newbie ain't hitting with any regularity. And, if I could ever spend a bit of time in the North Carolina mountains, the little ring would get some use.

    The extra gears are just good insurance for the future, I think.

    John

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    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brigadon
    We have some pretty shortish steep hills here and no way rond them. Some of the steepest parts were just too much for easy climbing with my 28 ring/30 sprocket.

    I recently fitted a megarange cassette with a bigger 34 tooth granny sprocket. It makes climbing those hills almost fun . Hard still, but not so hard that the bike stalls from lack of momentum.

    If you have some tough hills I recommend you get one. As you get stronger it may become redundant......so?

    BTW I had to get a new wide range rear derailleur to take the new cassette

    My lowest gear on the mountain bike is 22/32. Rarely use the 22/32 but the 32/32 does come in handy. In fact I now climb most hills in the 22/28, leaving the 32 for survival gear into a headwind or if I am not quite strong enough. So why is it that 5 years ago my lowest gear was 24/28 and I had no survival gear and I still didn't walk up hills?

    I have found that I am spinning a bit more freely but if I get into that lower gear- all that happens is that I carry on spinning just as fast- but the bike is slower. If you have the lowgears- you will use them. In fact the Tandem is the only beast where we use the lowest gear regularly. That lowest gear is 24/32- but in the summer- on our shorter training rides- We put on a 26 to make certain we work up the hills. Hard work but it is a pleasant change when the 24 goes back on again.
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  14. #14
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    I find that I am more often than not in the middle ring. However, I do occasionally do a ride in the larger ring. The big ring ride is smoother and seems more efficient. I do use a larger ring in the rear in order to keep cadence from falling too much. After a day in the big ring though, I find speed and cadence to be naturally higher when returning the the middel ring. My sense is that shifting front rings, is about equivalent to changing two+ gears in the rear. I recommend the occasional "big ring day" for those not usually using it, in order to build up.
    Just Peddlin' Around

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    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I have little or no use for any gear above about 95 to 100 gear-inches. On the road, I have little or no use for any gear below about 40 to 43 gear-inches. Typical setups for my road bikes:
    50-42/13-26 (12 speeds)
    49-45/14-26 (10 speeds)
    47-38/13-23 (12 speeds)
    45-42/13-26 (12 speeds)
    On the mountain bike, I am very happy with:
    48-40-28/13-26 (21 speeds)
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dauphin
    turns out that I don't have that option regarding an 11-32 cassette according to my LBS. They say that it would work if I was running nine speed, but mine is Shimano 105 ten speed. Don't quite understand that.
    Shimano hasn't offered 10-speed mountain bike components yet. Shimano road cassettes only go up to a 27 big cog. 11-32 is a mountain bike cassette. You would also almost surely have to get a mountain bike rear derailleur to handle a 32 tooth rear cog. Long or short cage rear derailleurs, at least for modern Shimano stuff, has little to do with large cog capacity.

  17. #17
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    dauphin-It has taken me a few years of trial and error and evolution to figure out what gears I really wanted for climbing. I started with a 52/42/30 triple with a 12/27 rear cassette. What I currently have is a 50/34 with a 11/32 cassette. I had to change the crank and I also had to change the rear derailleur. As you have learned, you would need to go to a 9 speed setup to go to a 32 as it requires a mtn bike rear derailleur. The 34/32 is a slightly easier gear than the 30/27 which is something I wanted. So what I now have is a little less weight and a slightly easier gear. My knees are thanking me over and over for that change.

    One thing you could investigate is changing the 30 chainring to something smaller-like a 28??

    By the way, I like the 12 better than the 11 and when it's time to replace the cassette I'll look for a 12/32 rear cassette. I did use the 11 several times in a ride this weekend as it had some nice descents and I used it to keep in the groups but generally the 50/12 works just fine for me.

    The setup you have is a very good setup and should serve your needs for most any type of ride. My desire was to go to a double chainring to save a little weight and have gears that I would use more often. I was not using sections gears with each of the three chainrings. That is-the easier gears on the 52, the harder gears on the 30 etc. I like your arrangement of the 50/39/30 a lot better and would probably use a wider range of gears on each chainring-except the harder gears on the 30........
    Ride your Ride!!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain
    Tape a tiny gear inch chart to your stem or put it in your jersey pocket. As you ride, find the gears you normally us for flats, with tail wind, minor climbs etc. Pretty soon you'll start associating terrain and levels of effort with those now meaningless gear inch (how far one complete pedal stroke will drive your bike in inches) numbers. Many people cruise the flats in the 70's or upper 60's, warm up&cool down in the 50's/low 60's tailwind in the 80's, try to outsprint dogs in the 90's and descend in the 100's-- but those numbers are general and subject to all sorts of conditions. The main thing is....learn which gears work for you. It's is good to have an many gear choices as possible in the ranges you need -- without incredibly complex shift patterns with lots of frequent double shifts.

    You can start studying gear charts and different combinations and it can drive you nuts...then you become a confirmed "gearhead"...but that's overkill. What's frustrating is discovering how much redundancy there is and how 27 or 30 speeds is misleading when you take out cross chain problems and repeated gears or weird shifts. I think most people spend most of their time in relatively few gears.
    Very good points, especially re gear inches and redundancy. However I do find the use of gear inches very useful in comparing gear ratios in discussions. I then don't have to do a mental calculation to compare. I guess I'm old-fashioned,as 50 yr ago we always used to compare gear inches. For example, I used to ride a fixie quite a lot; 70" (52x20) for training and 82" (52x17) for time trialling (52/42 chain ring doubles were common in Europe in those days). Using those measures you immediately have an accurate idea of how big/small a gear really is - or does it come naturally to modern-day forumites when they see 53x16 vs 34x12 for example that they know the difference intuitively?

  19. #19
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artmo
    ... - or does it come naturally to modern-day forumites when they see 53x16 vs 34x12 for example that they know the difference intuitively?

    Yeah, that its; intuition rules the new millennum!
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain
    now meaningless gear inch (how far one complete pedal stroke will drive your bike in inches) numbers.
    Gear inches is actually a conversion from a geared bike to the equivalent sized high wheel bike diameter. So riding a nominal 27" wheel with 48/16 is equivalent to a 81" high wheel bike. Most of us don't have legs that long, so when the safety bike was invented, the gearhead was born.

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompiere
    ... so when the safety bike was invented, the gearhead was born.
    And refuses to die... In my younger days I was a gear head who could tell you the gear inches for all of my drivetrain combinations, and I had many. I had the "half-step plus granny" (I know this term is nothing short of ageist, but it's what we called it then), I had the "corncob" setup for when I was riding with the local bike club, I had my "extended range" setup with a foolishing high and low gear available. I did go through a period where I kept a small chart on my top tube, and I annoyed the heck out of my friends with talk of the benefits of a 54 tooth front chainring over a 52 when you were sprinting. These days, however, I don't really have an interest in all of that. I just want something low enough that I can climb the hills where I live, and I haven't been able to really use the highest gear effectively on any of my bikes for some years. With the advent of 9 and 10 cog clusters, I'm just amazed at how easy it is to find the right gear to keep my cadence where I want it.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  22. #22
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    "Gearhead" defined: One who pours over the holy writ of gear charts (update that to calculators) desperately but with futility attempting to assemble the perfect combination; one who draws inumerable mental arrows zigzaging back and forth from chainring to cog to chainring working out the best available shift pattern; an angry dreamer who longs for a 17.5 tooth cog.

    "Aging Gearhead" defined: One who gets out on the road and can't remember all the numbers and patterns he/she has worked out.

    "Recovering gearhead" defined: One who let's the bike shop pick out the cog for, having sold all others, his only remaining bike...a fixie.

    "Emancipated gearhead" defined: No longer gives a damn and enjoys the scenery passing by.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  23. #23
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Someone asked me a question the other day- what is granny gear? I was always led to believe that it did not matter what gearing you had on the back- it was the smallest ring on a triple on the front- and your biggest sprocket on the back. Nowadays- it appears that as soon as you change into your smallest front ring,on a triple of course, you are in granny.

    So what is granny gear? This is the gearing ratio- normally the lowest you can get, in which a granny would be able to climb a hill with.
    Then the next question- But you are not a lady so what is grandad gear? My reply was one that is a bit lower than granny gear as I spin faster. No more questions from this young lad, while he looked for the extra gear.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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    I would say that if you get below 30 gear inches, no matter what combination it is, that is a granny gear. Some bikes use a triple, some use a 32 or 34 tooth sprocket, some use both.

  25. #25
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    From a more "human" point of view......a granny gear, the term is loaded with connotation, is a gear your vanity would prefer you not have to use at the base of a climb, one you're damned grateful for half-way up sometimes, and then one you shift out of a little before the top so your friends, as they recover and start to look around, won't see you using.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

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