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Old 08-05-08, 06:26 AM   #1
geofitz13
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Cassette question

Ok, so I managed to complete the PMC, and now I'm sitting here trying to heal, and trying to figure out how to make it a little easier next year.
My biggest problem is climbing. There are some serious hills on the route. On most of the hills, I was really grinding it out, while everyone else was just spinning past me. I'm wondering if a cassette change will help.
I'm riding a 2001 Specialized Allez Elite triple. Crank is 50-42-30, and I changed to an 11-27 cassette last year. It seemed to help a little. Top end speed is not a real issue, but I'm wondering if a change to something like a mountain bike cassette would help.
I'm even open to looking at a new bike. (please don't tell my wife)
And I do hill training, but nothing seems to help. I'm 57, weigh about 210 (trying to get lower, but that's another story).
Any suggestions?

Thanks
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Old 08-05-08, 06:37 AM   #2
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Ok, so I managed to complete the PMC, and now I'm sitting here trying to heal, and trying to figure out how to make it a little easier next year.
My biggest problem is climbing. There are some serious hills on the route. On most of the hills, I was really grinding it out, while everyone else was just spinning past me. I'm wondering if a cassette change will help.
I'm riding a 2001 Specialized Allez Elite triple. Crank is 50-42-30, and I changed to an 11-27 cassette last year. It seemed to help a little. Top end speed is not a real issue, but I'm wondering if a change to something like a mountain bike cassette would help.
I'm even open to looking at a new bike. (please don't tell my wife)
And I do hill training, but nothing seems to help. I'm 57, weigh about 210 (trying to get lower, but that's another story).
Any suggestions?

Thanks
If you are running out of low end gears, then you have two choices. Larger cogs and/or smaller chain rings. I would prefer to go to a smaller triple on the front and retain the closer spaced cogs on the rear. Touring Triple, Compact Triple or MTB Triple - whatever you want to call it - can get you down to a 24/27 ratio. Some posters report good results with just putting a 28 as the inner ring on a 30/39/52 triple. - TF
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Old 08-05-08, 07:22 AM   #3
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I am a big fan of a 12 - 34 cluster. Sure, the shifting may not be as smooth as a narrower range, but anything is worthwhile to get low gears. Shifting is still flawless, just a bit noisier. My chainring is 52, 42, 30. These are the standard gears that came with my Cannondale touring bike.
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Old 08-05-08, 07:47 AM   #4
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I went with a 26/36/48 crank (Sugino XD from Ben's Cycle on eBay). With a 12/27 cassette, you would have a good range of useful gears from 26 to 108 gear inches. For extreme hills throw on a MTB RD and cassette.
I plan to use a 13/32 for my next ride up Brasstown Bald for 22 to 100 gear inches.
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Old 08-05-08, 08:47 AM   #5
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I really like your 50-42 combination, which is what I use on my Bianchi. If your granny BCD is 74mm, you can replace your 30-toother with a 28, or even a 26 or a 24, front derailleur cage permitting. If you also replace that 11-27 with something like a 13-30, you will still have a higher top gear than I do, as well as a bottom gear which can get you up almost any reasonable grade.
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Old 08-05-08, 08:53 AM   #6
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A wider cassette will help, but not as much as ditching the extra weight. Many years ago, I entered a 50 mile road race that had some serious climbing. I was approximately 25-30 lbs overweight, and it killed me on the hills. One of the kinder Cat 1 riders pointed out that I was carrying the equivalent of a second bike with full water bottles up each climb. I entered the race again the following year at my correct weight, and while I did not fly up the serious climbs, they were much easier and my time was much better. Now if I could just get to that weight again...
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Old 08-05-08, 08:59 AM   #7
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IMHO, your gearing is fine. Baring any medical / medication limitations, you need more training and lose weight. I doubt that a new bike will make much difference. Others have offered good gearing choices if you are fitness limited.
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Old 08-05-08, 09:14 AM   #8
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Old 08-05-08, 11:16 AM   #9
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Boy, a 30x27 is a pretty low gear.... I don't think you need wider gearing. How steep are these hills?
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Old 08-05-08, 01:24 PM   #10
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Boy, a 30x27 is a pretty low gear.... I don't think you need wider gearing. How steep are these hills?
Probably too steep for the engine

If you are 10 spd- then you will be stuck at around the 27/8 mark as your lowest cassette gear.

Last year I climbed Ventoux and was glad that I had a 52/42/28 on the front and an 11/28 on the rear.

28---28 got me up it.

Now if you are 9 speed- you can fit an MTB cassette of 12/34 but this will also require a new rear MTB Long reach Derailler- and a chain.

If 8 speed- then there is a "Mega" Gear cluster around that is basically a 7 spd 11/28 with an extra 34 cog on the inside- That jump from 28 to 34 is horrendous though.

And on the "Extra" weight- I ride with a few Overweight guys and I can tell you- Fitness counts if you do carry an extra 20lbs or so. My mate Martyn is 240 lbs but he is fit. The power he can put through his legs is tremendous. He just can't lose any weight though. Perhaps we ought to stop visiting the cafes on the rides.
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Old 08-05-08, 02:00 PM   #11
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Probably too steep for the engine

If you are 10 spd- then you will be stuck at around the 27/8 mark as your lowest cassette gear.

Last year I climbed Ventoux and was glad that I had a 52/42/28 on the front and an 11/28 on the rear.

28---28 got me up it.

Now if you are 9 speed- you can fit an MTB cassette of 12/34 but this will also require a new rear MTB Long reach Derailler- and a chain.

If 8 speed- then there is a "Mega" Gear cluster around that is basically a 7 spd 11/28 with an extra 34 cog on the inside- That jump from 28 to 34 is horrendous though.

And on the "Extra" weight- I ride with a few Overweight guys and I can tell you- Fitness counts if you do carry an extra 20lbs or so. My mate Martyn is 240 lbs but he is fit. The power he can put through his legs is tremendous. He just can't lose any weight though. Perhaps we ought to stop visiting the cafes on the rides.
Good technical advice here. I would just add that if you have a 10-sp and go for a 12-34 9-sp mtb cassettes then you may be looking at new brifters, or "Travel Agents" too. There are some after-market cassettes which go to 30 teeth in 10-sp and the Shimano mtb derailleurs will be compatible with these cassettes as well as the brifters. I have never found any shifting compromise (compared to my double Ultegra setup) with these setups although mine are mainly totally Shimano products (i.e. designed to be compatible).

My own solution to this has been a 48/36/26 trekking crank with a 12-34 9-spd cassette. I originally thought this would be too low but at the end of a 200km day the low gears start looking pretty good. From memory this is a range of roughly 22 to 108 gear inches. I seldom have a problem running out on the high end (>30 mph). I do not find the gearing too coarse when riding solo...In fact, my 10-sp can be annoyingly fine grained as I often I find myself double shifting just to get an descernable effect. Riding in a paceline, however, the 10-sp is much better.
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Old 08-05-08, 02:18 PM   #12
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Good technical advice here. I would just add that if you have a 10-sp and go for a 12-34 9-sp mtb cassettes then you may be looking at new brifters, or "Travel Agents" too. ------------------------------------------an descernable effect. Riding in a paceline, however, the 10-sp is much better.
Glad you agree- but My point on 10 spd cassette is that you cannot go lower than a 27/28 and that is why I changed the Granny on the front to a 28. Shimano state that a range of 22t is the max possible on the front derailler- but it will take 24 if you set up carefully. BUT My LBS has some form of Travel agent that will convert a 10 spd system to 9 spd but they reckon that it is not that Good unless you do a lot of tweaking.

You can get an IRD 10spd cassette from Sheldon but at $160 and that jump from 28 to 34- it is not a cheap or convenient choice. But if the hill is that steep- then once you are in the 34t- you will be staying in it.

http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/k7.html#10

I ride a compact- and I reckon a 1-1 ratio on gearing will get me up anything. So I am contemplating investing in a 9 speed set up for when I do the mountains again- But it would be cheaper to get a Triple up front and Perhaps go for a 48/36/24 as we have on the Tandem. Coupled with a 28 on the rear- and I should be able to crawl up any hill.
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Old 08-06-08, 04:24 AM   #13
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I am a big fan of a 12 - 34 cluster. Sure, the shifting may not be as smooth as a narrower range, but anything is worthwhile to get low gears. Shifting is still flawless, just a bit noisier. My chainring is 52, 42, 30. These are the standard gears that came with my Cannondale touring bike.
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Old 08-06-08, 05:28 AM   #14
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Dormouse, which is not a roadbike, but rather a do anything ride has the 26/36/48 chainring setup with an 11/32 cassette. The 26 is almost never used on pavement (except to get uphill to my house 250ft in 1/4 mile) but is most useful on dirt road climbs. I would not hesitate to recomend this gearing for a general purpose or touring bike. I have used this combo on road frames, Touring and MTB frames and it works well for all.

There is a Shimano LX crankset in this ratio based on the smaller MTB bolt circle along with a matching LX front MTB style derailleur. The new SRAM X.7 and X,9 derailleurs are rated for 48 tooth rings as well. A standard road derailleur (105 etc) will also work with this setup without complaint.
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Old 08-06-08, 07:54 AM   #15
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A lot to think about here. Especially the part about the weight. But I may do some experimenting. I'm interested in the idea of changing the small ring up front. Hadn't even thought about that.
Thanks for all the input!
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Old 08-06-08, 10:49 AM   #16
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I'm a tourer. My bike is set up for riding with 50-60 lbs. of gear on it, and climbing mountain passes. I have a Sugino crankset on the front. It came with 26-36-46 chainrings. I replaced the granny with a 24 - the smallest that will fit. On the back I have a 9-speed "Cyclotouriste" cassette from Harris Cyclery. The big gear is a 34. With that setup I'm able to climb most every hill I encounter, though riding at 3 mph with all that weight on the bike takes concentration to balance.

My setup isn't very good for riding around town unloaded, or for centuries. I pretty much never use the lowest gear, and seldom use the granny at all, except on extremely steep sections, or if I'm out of shape. The problem is that I run out of room on the high end. My top speed isn't very high. I get spinning my pedals as fast as I can go, wishing I had higher gears to shift to, but I don't.

If I were you I'd consider a lower granny gear first. If that doesn't do it, consider a cassette with a wider range, including a bigger "big gear".
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Old 08-06-08, 11:36 AM   #17
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My guess is just changing to a 26 up front will work and give you just couple more GI that you need. Shifting may not be very smooth, but if you have a long derailer cage, it should work.
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Old 08-06-08, 11:59 AM   #18
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All of the above is very good , but one question? do you ride hills often? If not a weekly training session where you pick one of the worst local hills (long and steep is best) and go up it 3 or 4 times in succession as a workout can make a tremendous difference. My wife and I ride one 1/2 mile long hill that gets steeper at the end- we used to be forced into walking at the end. After a couple of months of repeats we now spin up (albeit slowly). You might give this a try.
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Old 08-06-08, 12:05 PM   #19
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All of the above is very good , but one question? do you ride hills often? If not a weekly training session where you pick one of the worst local hills (long and steep is best) and go up it 3 or 4 times in succession as a workout can make a tremendous difference. My wife and I ride one 1/2 mile long hill that gets steeper at the end- we used to be forced into walking at the end. After a couple of months of repeats we now spin up (albeit slowly). You might give this a try.
By far the best-If you qualify for the ride hills often bit.

Training for Ventoux last year involved hill repeats. 15% hill for one mile and just repeat riding it. First time of trying and I did not make the 2nd attempt- Within a few weeks I stopped doing repeats as I was getting bored doing the same hill 5 times.
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Old 08-06-08, 06:06 PM   #20
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Again, a lot of good input. I will have to dedicate myself to doing the hill repeats. My training rides always have hills, but the hills are not a major part of the rides. So what I will have to do is shorten the rides, concentrating on the hills, instead. This could work for me on weeknights, then on Saturday and Sunday, my normal rides.
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Old 08-06-08, 06:30 PM   #21
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Glad you agree- but My point on 10 spd cassette is that you cannot go lower than a 27/28 and that is why I changed the Granny on the front to a 28. Shimano state that a range of 22t is the max possible on the front derailler- but it will take 24 if you set up carefully. BUT My LBS has some form of Travel agent that will convert a 10 spd system to 9 spd but they reckon that it is not that Good unless you do a lot of tweaking.

You can get an IRD 10spd cassette from Sheldon but at $160 and that jump from 28 to 34- it is not a cheap or convenient choice. But if the hill is that steep- then once you are in the 34t- you will be staying in it.

http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/k7.html#10

I ride a compact- and I reckon a 1-1 ratio on gearing will get me up anything. So I am contemplating investing in a 9 speed set up for when I do the mountains again- But it would be cheaper to get a Triple up front and Perhaps go for a 48/36/24 as we have on the Tandem. Coupled with a 28 on the rear- and I should be able to crawl up any hill.
Actually, I not sure I understand the above post. However, I stand by my previous remarks...To the point of not recommending the above-linked 10-spd 12/34 IRD cassettes because a) I have not used them personally; 2) They have had a bad reputation in the past...A lot of complaints and returns to the point where my LBS will not stock them which is why I have stuck with Shimano 9 spd for these very wide ratio drive trains (although it is possible that the problems have been sorted out, but to my knowledge they had not been as of March '08).

Further, any of these wide cassettes (beyond about 29 teeth) will require at least a rear derailleur change to accommodate the large difference in teeth and the accompanying large quantity of chain slack.
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Old 08-06-08, 09:14 PM   #22
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As it happens I was 57 weighing 210 2 years ago, really suffering on the hills. Now I'm 20 lbs. lighter and it makes a HUGE difference. So I'd say if you want to make it easy on yourself just lose some weight. Focusing on hill-repeats might even be counter-productive, since it's the longer rides, as opposed to the short intense rides, that really burn calories.

I know it's easier said than done, but in retrospect the unnecessary extra pain I experienced climbing hills was worse than the effort needed to lose the pounds.

Btw, just finishing the PMC is a fine accomplishment. Congratulations!
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