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Old 04-29-07, 08:49 PM   #1
doctor j
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More Spin in My Spin

I've had my roadie for a couple of months, and I like it, but I'm missing the low end gears on the mountain bike. We have a few hills here that are reasonably challenging, at least for me. Of the hills I've repeated from last year, I'm doing better than I did last year. On my ride last week, I had a very long climb, a new one for me of 10 miles or so, and I began to run out of gas. I was not able to maintain my normal cadence. I'm thinking it would have been nice to have had a lower gear or two.

My road bike has a triple chain ring, 30/42/53, and an eight speed cassette, 12-24. I saw where Sheldon Brown has 8-speed cassettes in 13-30 and 13-34. So, I'm thinking about the possibility of having one of these cassettes or perhaps a little smaller small chain ring installed by the LBS.

Has anyone gone this route for additional help on hills? Would it help noticeably? Are we talking major dollars in parts and labor? Would I be able to use existing dérailleurs and chain?
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Old 04-29-07, 08:52 PM   #2
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I've got Sheldon's Century Special (I think) cassette. Buy it or similar. Your knees will last longer. Shouldn't be expensive to switch out the cassette. If you still need lower gears you can swap the more expensive chainring later.
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Old 04-29-07, 09:42 PM   #3
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I made a similar change to help get my road bike up an outrageous mountain climb last week. I have a 30-40-50 triple and normally run a 13-24 freewheel. I switched to a 13-34 Megarange freewheel for this ride. The six smallest cogs are 13-24 and it steps all the way to 34 for the largest cog. Yes, it made a noticeable difference. I don't think I could have climbed Brasstown Bald without it.

You may need to change rear derailleurs, as I did, to handle the larger cogs. I used a lower end MTB unit which was cheap and worked flawlessly.

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Old 04-29-07, 11:18 PM   #4
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With an increase in the low end gear, you will increase the gear inch step between each gear change. One thing I like about the 10 speed cassettes is that one get very close spacing with wide range. But if you are running out of gas, go for lower gearing. You can always go back. Use Sheldon's gear calculator to check out the different configurations.

Sprockets and gears are pretty cheap, but if you have to change gearing, front and back plus a derrailleur plus labor, it can start to add up. I might be tempted to suck it up for a while, unless your knees or back are a problem.
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Old 04-30-07, 09:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesDawg
I don't think I could have climbed Brasstown Bald without it.
Wow! Brasstown Bald - that is impressive, Dawg!
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Old 04-30-07, 10:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doctor j
I've had my roadie for a couple of months, and I like it, but I'm missing the low end gears on the mountain bike. We have a few hills here that are reasonably challenging, at least for me. Of the hills I've repeated from last year, I'm doing better than I did last year. On my ride last week, I had a very long climb, a new one for me of 10 miles or so, and I began to run out of gas. I was not able to maintain my normal cadence. I'm thinking it would have been nice to have had a lower gear or two.

My road bike has a triple chain ring, 30/42/53, and an eight speed cassette, 12-24. I saw where Sheldon Brown has 8-speed cassettes in 13-30 and 13-34. So, I'm thinking about the possibility of having one of these cassettes or perhaps a little smaller small chain ring installed by the LBS.

Has anyone gone this route for additional help on hills? Would it help noticeably? Are we talking major dollars in parts and labor? Would I be able to use existing dérailleurs and chain?
I'm guessing from your post that your cassette is 8 speed?

I've gone this route on a 9 speed and would just guess that if you simply changed cassettes and went to a 13-30 your exisiting rear derailluer would probably work okay. That's assumng you have a long cage rear derailluer which most bikes with triples have. However, if you think you need to go to a 34 you'll probably need to go with a mountain bike rear derailluer that can handle up to a 34 rear cassette like what BluesDawg has pictures of.

If your mechanically inclined you can do the changes yourself and at most your looking at the cost of the cassette and the RD-assuming you have a chain tool to remove the cassettes.

By the way, you will still have to push hard even with the easier gears on the steepest hills. I have not found an easiest enough gear yet that takes the work out of climbing.........But you just don't have to push as hard as the gears your now using and it does help the knees.

Another thought-have you tried a cassette with a 27 or 28 with the 30 front chainring yet? Usually that works for most folks.......
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Old 04-30-07, 10:13 AM   #7
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Sounds like your current setup is more than adequate for hills. I would just work on your hill climbing technique and endurance. No fun but the only way is to ride more hills, then more hills, then more........
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Old 04-30-07, 07:35 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jppe
I'm guessing from your post that your cassette is 8 speed?

Another thought-have you tried a cassette with a 27 or 28 with the 30 front chainring yet? Usually that works for most folks.......
Yes, it's an 8-speed. I called the shop today, and the young man said he was sure my rear dérailleur would handle a 28T cog and perhaps a 30. He said he will look for a 13-30 and check to make sure my RD will handle it. I noticed on Sheldon Brown's website that Shimano had a 12-28, but the website noted that it had been discounted. The shop will also look to see if there's a 12-28 lurking out there somewhere. I suspect that the 28T cog might be just enough to get the little extra grunt I need on the hills.
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Old 04-30-07, 07:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oilman_15106
Sounds like your current setup is more than adequate for hills. I would just work on your hill climbing technique and endurance. No fun but the only way is to ride more hills, then more hills, then more........

On the other hand, the "no fun" approach really is no fun for some people. I've ridden plenty of hills with low gears. I'm having fun and am happy to give you a friendly wave as you blow by me.
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Last edited by Jet Travis; 04-30-07 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 04-30-07, 08:07 PM   #10
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52-42-30 up front, 11-32 9 speed on the back of my Coda. Them's some gears! I thought I might need even lower, and for Brasstown Bald, I would (maybe a motorized Flying Pigeon) but honestly for even our steepest hills, that combination is low enough for me. The bike has a Deore XT rear derailler and it works really well. The hills still steal my breath and make my skin leak, but do not fall out of the fun category with that combination.
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Old 05-01-07, 11:04 AM   #11
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Have a triple with 30 on it and when I got the bike it had a 12/26 rear 8 speed cassette. I changed that to an 11/28 MTB LX cassette but feel I do need one lower gear towards the end of a ride on our hills. I can get a 13/30 that will not need a rear derailler change so will do that before I hit any Mountains.

I feel that going to the "Mega" Cassette could cause a problem. It will require a new rear derailler and the jump to the 34 or 32 ring will be very large.
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Old 05-01-07, 03:04 PM   #12
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As an old and fat one, I put on a 26-36-46 front and a 12-32 rear on my long distance bike. I don't regret it for an instant, and I have yet to need the lowest gears. But on a long hot ride its nice to know they are there, and its really nice to spin up all the of long climbs around here.
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Old 05-02-07, 06:54 AM   #13
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I've got one bike, my tourer, that I've geared rediculously low, like Howsteepisit. I find that when I need those gears, I am often not in country where I am in need of the highspeed gears, and I usually am coasting for recovery or needing to brake on the descent anyhow.

In fact, on that bike I found out just how hard I could ride it on the flats, I can sustain 23 mph, and set it up so that speed at 95 cadence was the fastest I could pedal. I ended up with a large chain ring about two teeth bigger than the old middle ring and a very small granny, I think 80 cadence in the lowest gear gets me about two and a half mph. I've never needed to go that low because I've yet to load the trailer and bike to max, in fact the middle ring gets me up anything around here, unless loaded, I just don't need those lowest options.
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