My wife and I ride Tricross comp triples. We love the bikes since they are comfortable for the roads and trails we ride on. The only thing we complain about is riding hills - if they get steep they are a challenge. My gear setup is front 50x39x30 and 12-27 rear. I'm not sure whether my wife's is the same but is probably similar - she got a newer bike and swapped the stock compact double for a triple. We generally ride in the middle ring, dropping into the granny for hills. I use the big ring fairly often but don't need the full range. My wife rarely goes in the big ring.
On our recent bike tour in Spain we both noticed that hills we would have found challenging at home seemed easy. I investigated and saw they were using MTB gearing (42x32x22, 11-30). We probably don't need something that extreme but a smaller granny gear would be nice for hills. Does anyone have any suggestions for what we should look for and what will work without drastic refitting? I would like to leave the cassettes alone so that councils something bigger than than the 42x32x22 would a 46x34x24 be good? How do you evaluate the proper combination and how do you figure out what will fit?
I would like to replace these myself over the winter. I can practice on my old beaters before messing with the good bikes. I figured I could get good advice from you old timers before I venture over to the mechanics forum