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  1. #1
    Senior Member Rixtory's Avatar
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    How to Climb Hills - Going from 27-speed to 12-speed

    Hello....
    I started riding again hard this spring and am down 65 lbs so far. I ride about 12-15 miles a day and attribute much of my success to my love/hate relationship with all the hills around me.
    I have a questions for those with older 12 speed bikes. I got my old 1986 12-speed Cilo out again (105 Biopace grouping) and put new wheels on and cleaned it up (I keep the old as a set of spares).
    I am now riding this bike as much as possible and really am enjoying it over my Trek FX 7700 27 speed.

    My problem is this - I have some serious hills near me (600-700'' in a mile rise) and I cannot tackle them with my 12 speed. Depending on my route I need to use my 27 speed Trek Hybrid.
    Has anyone else gone back to a 12-speed and found the gearing (52T/42T) just too difficult for hills?
    I am wondering what everyone does....
    Thanks
    Rick

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    That will put the hills at around 12 to 15%. For me that is 34/27 gearing but I also have a triple with a 39 middle ring. I can just about tackle them on 39/27 but not too many on a ride.

    So lower your gearing or take the triple off the FX and fit that to the Cilo.
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    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    I stand up. For long, steep grades, I need to take breaks.
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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    Yes, I faced this, this spring. I just got it in my head that this is the bike I have and these are the hills I have. One double hill in particular was very difficult. I just made sure to rest before the hill, get into the lowest gear beforehand, pedaled slowly on the approach and worked it to the best of my ability. I never stood and just went slowly. I can do these hills how much better than when I started.

    I've taken a break due to work schedule and vacation time and when I get back to it I will be using my 21 speed and I'm curious how that switch will be. Will I go to the lowest gear? I shall see.
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  5. #5
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    My wife has an 84 Bianchi. We swapped the bio pace rings for a 52 big ring and a 38 inner ring. Then slapped on a 11-28 cassette. Does fine on the climbs.

  6. #6
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    You failed to indicate the size of the freewheel cogs on your 12-speed. If you have a 13-23 cluster like mine, switching to a 13-26 will make a noticeable difference, generally without forcing you to buy a new derailleur. I have run a 13-15-17-19-21-23-26 7-speed freewheel on the Bianchi, which replicated my original 12 gears while giving me the additional granny.

    Mr. Beanz has a good solution for those with a 130mm or smaller BCD. If you have a 144mm BCD and are stuck with a 42T minimum chainring size, then your cheapest option is a larger freewheel and, if necessary, a new rear derailleur. (The other option is a new bottom bracket, or at least a new spindle, and a tripleizer.) I use a 42/26 = 43.6" gear for the local 13 to 16% grades, because that's the bottom end on most of my road bikes. (Capo #1 has a near-equivalent 38/23 granny.)
    Last edited by John E; 07-09-09 at 02:47 PM.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  7. #7
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rixtory View Post
    My problem is this - I have some serious hills near me (600-700'' in a mile rise) and I cannot tackle them with my 12 speed.
    Those are some serious hills - usually anything over 8% for more than about 100yds is beyond what most highway departments will accept. South of Bethlehem it's either up or down with not much in between. There is stuff in there that's easily 12% and in some cases 20% I think I'd get some low gears and learn to spin - your other option would be to find a good surgeon for your knees.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Rixtory's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the replies. C-Fool - I grew up on the shores of Lake Ontario and only really had to worry about the wind (in one direction) on my rides. I am now just S of Beth and the hills here are no joke. LOL...Our highway department hasn't yet found a grade they can't pave. And it is 2.4 MPH up and 41 MPH down. Legs and lungs get a great workout, but the curves and road grades make it very scary sometimes - especially with animals near dusk. It means riding the brakes all the way down to stay under 30MPH.
    I will look at the teeth on my freewheel. I hadn't thought about replacing the 6 speed 105 freewheel with a 7 speed freewheel. The bike is chromoly (Cilo) so I think I can widen the rear dropouts a little.
    I have looked at new road bikes, but I bought this bike new in 86 and it was my P&J for many, many years.
    I had it in the basement for a few years and am extremely happy to have pulled it out and restored parts of it...

  9. #9
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rixtory View Post
    Hello....
    I started riding again hard this spring and am down 65 lbs so far. I ride about 12-15 miles a day and attribute much of my success to my love/hate relationship with all the hills around me.
    I have a questions for those with older 12 speed bikes. I got my old 1986 12-speed Cilo out again (105 Biopace grouping) and put new wheels on and cleaned it up (I keep the old as a set of spares).
    I am now riding this bike as much as possible and really am enjoying it over my Trek FX 7700 27 speed.

    My problem is this - I have some serious hills near me (600-700'' in a mile rise) and I cannot tackle them with my 12 speed. Depending on my route I need to use my 27 speed Trek Hybrid.
    Has anyone else gone back to a 12-speed and found the gearing (52T/42T) just too difficult for hills?
    I am wondering what everyone does....
    Thanks
    Rick
    I have all vintage bikes. You can lower your gear range a few ways.

    First, most cranksets that will accept a 42 tooth ring will accept a small ring of 39 teeth. It's not a big change, but it will help.

    Second, if your rear frame spacing is 126 mm (measure with a metric ruler) and not 120 mm, you can replace your 6-speed freewheel with a Shimano Megarange 13-34. That will give a very low bail-out gear that will at least get you up most hills if you don't have a heavy touring load. Your bottom gear will then be 26*39/34 = 30 inches. You'll probably need to get a wide-range rear derailleur and add some chain length. It should all work with friction shifting.

    I used a setup like this here in Michigan and it helped build my wind so I could survive slogging uphill. A few years later I'm a bit lighter and somewhat stronger, and I'm going up them in 39/26, for 39 inches. I'm also a bit faster, since I'm spinning this gear fast enough to avoid knee pain.

    I think going to lower gears at this point will help you. You can change back to taller gears later on, if you like.

    I can't tell you how to climb. But this is part of what helped me learn to climb.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Ok, your hills are a lot bigger than mine, but I still think getting more mechanical advantage will help you keep going. Might still be 2.4 mph uphill, but easier on your knees.

    What are your freewheel tooth counts?

  11. #11
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    At a rear spacing of 126mm, I think you can fit a 7 speed freewheel on without stretching the distance of the dropouts. I did it on a 1985 Trek with no problem. I don't think 8 speed will work.

  12. #12
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    +1 on the seven speed freewheel and the 13-34 megarange. I made that change on my '80 Fuji without needing to widen the rear dropouts. It already had 126mm spacing. I was surprised to find that my Suntour rear derailleur could handle the larger cog with no problem. I only needed a new longer chain.
    The drawback of the megarange freewheel is the huge jump from the 34 tooth cog to the 24 tooth second cog makes it hard to adjust your speed as the slope eases. You just have to stay in the 34 until the slope is gentle enough for the 24.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Rixtory's Avatar
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    OK All, I finally got a chance to look at the freewheel.
    It is a Shimano MF2012 6 speed with 13-15-17-19-21-23 teeth combo.
    My Rear dropout spacing is 126, so I think I can easily add this 13-34 Megarange (they seem to be somewhat abundant and rather inexpensive).
    I replaced my 6-speed chain last week and cleaned up the old one with brake cleaner and then a bath in WD40, so I can grab a couple of links off that and add them to the new chain (unless this isn't a good idea. Does anyone know how I would calculate the needed chain length if I add the megarange 11 teeth more? I don't think it is as simple as adding 11 links. is there a method of calc?

    Also, I noticed on the old freewheel that most of the cogs have what looks like 1 half-tooth - are these worn teeth, or are they part of Shimano's uniglide system (I think that's what it was called back then....)?

    Thanks again for all the expert help here.....

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    your lowest gear at the moment is approx 49.3" ie 42x23
    If you do nothing else but swop your 42 chainring for a 38 it will give you 44.6" a very useful decrease of nearly 5" which is practically the same as adding a 26t sprocket to your cassette.


    if you also fit a 12-27 8 speed cassette you'll get a total decrease of 11.3" which will effectively be 4x gear changes which is huge.

    Your current rear mech should cope happily with a 27 sprocket and your chain may not need much adjustment as the extra length required for the 27t sprocket will mostly be negated by the change from 42 to 38 chainring

    A 38t chainring will give you a bigger jump between the two chainrings ie 52 and 38 but most modern road transmissions have a similar gap
    could some kind Moderator please help me with recovering my original ID (earleybird) please.
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  15. #15
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by massi View Post
    your lowest gear at the moment is approx 49.3" ie 42x23
    If you do nothing else but swop your 42 chainring for a 38 it will give you 44.6" a very useful decrease of nearly 5" which is practically the same as adding a 26t sprocket to your cassette.


    if you also fit a 12-27 8 speed cassette you'll get a total decrease of 11.3" which will effectively be 4x gear changes which is huge.

    Your current rear mech should cope happily with a 27 sprocket and your chain may not need much adjustment as the extra length required for the 27t sprocket will mostly be negated by the change from 42 to 38 chainring

    A 38t chainring will give you a bigger jump between the two chainrings ie 52 and 38 but most modern road transmissions have a similar gap
    Massi is correct, with a couple of caveats. First, if you have a 144mm BCD crankset, which is highly likely, you cannot go below 42T up front, unless you find a rare (and expensive) 41T ring from TA. Second, your old Campagnolo derailleur may have trouble handling a 27T low gear, particularly with 8 or 9 cogs, because the cage unfortunately starts to move upward as it moves inward -- this was the motivation behind SunTour's now-ubiquitous slant planograph. You may have better luck handling a wider range in back if you go with a narrower range up front -- my Bianchi came with 52-42/13-23 (6 cogs), which I have successfully replaced at various times with 50-42/14-26 (6 cogs) and 50-42/13-26 (7 cogs). I'll bet the Campagnolo NR could handle something like 46-42/13-28 or even 46-42/12-29. You would definitely notice the difference in the bottom gear.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Rixtory's Avatar
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    OK... Before I get called on this,I should change the name of the Thread: from "going from 27-speed to 12-speed" to "going from 9-Speed Triple Crank to Six-Speed Double crank" I just realized I was using very old naming conventions... Sorry.....

  17. #17
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rixtory View Post
    OK... Before I get called on this,I should change the name of the Thread: from "going from 27-speed to 12-speed" to "going from 9-Speed Triple Crank to Six-Speed Double crank" I just realized I was using very old naming conventions... Sorry.....
    Sorry - your stuck with it! Your just an old retro 50+er like the rest of us...
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  18. #18
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    I have the same problem with a Raleigh Sprint running 52x42 24-13. Can we confirm that a megarange will work and keep original front rings?

  19. #19
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigjim1 View Post
    I have the same problem with a Raleigh Sprint running 52x42 24-13. Can we confirm that a megarange will work and keep original front rings?
    If your rear spacing is 126mm, the 7 speed megarange frewheel will fit in place of a 6 speed freewheel. You will need a longer chain and you may or may not need a different rear derailleur.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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