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  1. #1
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    lower gearing for touring

    I got a 520 about a little over a year ago and want to replace the standard 50/39/30 tiagra crankset. I've looked at the shimano lx and other cranksets that have 44/32/22, but I want a inner chainring of 20. Are there any cranksets out there or can I buy a 64mm 20 tooth chainring and switch out the 22 tooth?

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    rck
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    Wash,
    You might want to check with the touring group or the mtn. boys. I haven't heard of anyone running gearing as low as a 20. However, I haven't looked for it either. Good luck.

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I checked the QBP catalogue and found a Crank Brothers 20t chainring in 64 mm BCD.

    FWIW, 22 X 34 = 17.4 gear inches. 20 X 34 = 15.8 gear inches. That's not very much difference.

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    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I checked the QBP catalogue and found a Crank Brothers 20t chainring in 64 mm BCD.

    FWIW, 22 X 34 = 17.4 gear inches. 20 X 34 = 15.8 gear inches. That's not very much difference.
    It is almost 10%, which would be noticeable.
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    Just curious. Have you ever ridden with such a low gear? I rode a tour last April with a fully loaded LHT. We had some steep climbs, but I still only got down to the 30 X 34 gear a couple times. I never felt I needed lower. The 22 ring will be very low.
    I would suggest trying it before spending the money on a custom or nearly custom 20T ring.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E View Post
    It is almost 10%, which would be noticeable.
    Percentages can be misleading. 2 grams is 100% more than 1 gram. It still isn't much difference.

  7. #7
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Either 22x34 or 20x34 is a seriously low gear, even for a loaded touring bike. I only use my 22x34 combination on the hairiest of climbs on my MTB. What are you planning to climb with such a low gear?
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    Take it you have 9 speed and have the 34T cassette fitted as that is what everyone seems to be talking about.

    Now 30/34 is a low gear for the road- even if you are touring- but there is a possiblity of changing your existing granny to a 26t without having many problems on changing. I can assure you that 26/34 on the road will get you up a wall- even if you do have fully loaded panniers on the bike

    And I doubt that unless you have remarkably high cadence- you will be able to pedal a 20/34 gear and still stay upright. It will be so slow.

    So what gearing do you currently have on the cassette?- and what speed?- just to give us a lead on what we can suggest.
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    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Touring bikes with 44/32/22 cranksets are pretty rare. Most touring bikes use something like 48/36/26, some use road triples like 50/39/30.

    A 48/36/26 paired with an 11-34 cassette is a very serious hill climber on pavement. In fact, most touring bikes don't have gearing this low. I just checked the specs on 7 touring bikes, only one offered a 26:34 gear, and nothing was lower than that.

    Although I could understand if someone was very concerned about climbing, for them to switch to a MTB crankset. I doubt you'd need anything lower than that. Riding in 22:34 is going to require a reasonable cadence to get above walking speed.

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    One thing that Trek did seriously wrong, IMHO, was to begin using a road crank on the newer model 520 bikes.

    I replaced my factory LX cranks a while back. This works fine on my Trek 520, and also dropped a pound or two of weight. I use the 26-36-48 tooth trekking set. A 26/34 crank/cassette combo will climb a telephone pole.

    I have the silver crankset, which you can probably find if you hunt for it.

    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...+Crankset.aspx
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E View Post
    It is almost 10%, which would be noticeable.
    My LHT came with 48/36/26 chain rings and an 11/34 cassette. Replacing the 26 with a 24 made it noticably easier to climb steep hills with a full load, and that's only an 8% difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    And I doubt that unless you have remarkably high cadence- you will be able to pedal a 20/34 gear and still stay upright. It will be so slow.

    Yeah, right: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgIL6eHHgZU

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    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Recycle View Post
    My LHT came with 48/36/26 chain rings and an 11/34 cassette. Replacing the 26 with a 24 made it noticably easier to climb steep hills with a full load, and that's only an 8% difference.
    My climbing bike has 48/32/22 and 11-34, and I use that 22/34 extensively on my favorite local 15% climb.
    I just can't wait until Shimano starts shipping the 12-36 cassette next month.

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    Well I wanted a low gear because I hurt my knee (chondromalacia-patella) while going up 7% climbs all day in a 25 inch gear (I still have the stock 50/39/30 tiagra crankset).

    I guess there is little difference between 15.9 and 17.5 gear inches. I have a hollowtech compatible bottom bracket now, so I think a could get a hollowtech mtn crank.

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Recycle View Post
    My LHT came with 48/36/26 chain rings and an 11/34 cassette. Replacing the 26 with a 24 made it noticably easier to climb steep hills with a full load, and that's only an 8% difference.
    I'm thinking you are traveling a significant distance from Chicago Heights to find a hill worthy of a 19 gear inch hill climb gear.

  16. #16
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    true... if you can track stand a bike at 0MPH, then any forward movement has got to make it a bit easier...

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    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I have an LHT with a Sugino 46-36-24 crankset. It came with a 26 granny, but I swapped for a 24. I have a Cyclotouriste 13 from Harris Cyclery on the back, with a 34-tooth big gear. I've ridden it on one tour - the Northern Tier from Colville, Washington to Glacier National Park. There were plenty of steep hills on that tour. I never felt like I needed anything lower than the 24/34 combination. However, I wouldn't be opposed to having a 22-tooth granny; I just couldn't put one on the Sugino. I know others who have a crankset with a 22-tooth granny and they report that they appreciate having the ultra-low choice.

    I think you'd be fine with the 44/32/22, but if you go with the 20-tooth granny, report back and tell us how you like it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I'm thinking you are traveling a significant distance from Chicago Heights to find a hill worthy of a 19 gear inch hill climb gear.
    Ah. I see you've ridden around here.
    There are a few short, steep grades climbing out of the Des Plaines and Illinois river valleys, but the nearest real hills are over 100 miles out towards NW IL and SW Wisconsin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    Rider has obvious bike balance skills and what cadence is he using? Now do a 15 mile flattish ride with that gearing- and still get home for tomorrows breakfast.
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  20. #20
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Recycle View Post
    My LHT came with 48/36/26 chain rings and an 11/34 cassette. Replacing the 26 with a 24 made it noticably easier to climb steep hills with a full load, and that's only an 8% difference.
    I have a 48/36/24 and 11/32 cassette on one bike. It is an offroad bike and that lowest gear is just right for 15%ers for a mile up scree covered slippery trails. And in case you can't remember it---- And the type of hills it rides.

    I have a knee problem but I have managed to control it by building up the quad muscles. Get good quads and the Legs work better in any case.
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    You need to plan out your crank and chainring choices while figuring the cassette as well.

    Sheldon's Gear Chart lets you dial in the options - http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/

    In general, the recommended range of gearing I've seen (Ken Kifers site, among others) for loaded touring is 20 to 100 gear inches.

    With a Shimano 12-34 cassette, you'd need a 26 or 24 small ring to get you down to the 20 gear inch range and you can swap the 30 for that small a ring. The shifting is not always as precise, but it generally works.

    In my view, the 50/39/30 ring set on the Tiagra makes for a lousy range for a loaded tourer and I'd consider a different crank with 110/74 BCD rings. The tough time comes in finding a 9 speed (I'm assuming 9 speed) crank in 110/74. The only one I'm aware of is the Nashbar Trekking Crank, that comes stock as 28/38/48 in 8/9 compatable. It's also an ISIS b-bracket which not everyone is happy with, but may well be your cheapest solution.

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  22. #22
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    That's my friend, Dan Gutierrez. He can maintain 120RPM, which I think helps him balance at this very low speed. He holds a remarkably straight course up the hill, with much less side-to-side wobble than I would exhibit. Dan is a mere youngster, in his late 40s.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    Interesting - when it gets that steep I'll walk, as you can notice - the walkers were doing better than the riders.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member lighthorse's Avatar
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    Wash,
    As mentioned by other posters, your post needs some more information. The gearing that you need is dependent on where you intend to use it and your conditioning. I used the stock Ultegra triple set up on my LeMond to tour cross country fully loaded (30 X 27 was my lowest gear). That worked fine for the Southern Tier for me. When I toured through the Rockies I went with an XT set up with a low gear of 26 X 32 and that was fine for me. It all depends on what your particular circumstances are. Lots of options.
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  25. #25
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    I still think in gear inches (see Sheldon Brown gear calculator above).

    I'm a low gear weenie, but anything down around 20 gear inches is low enough for me for loaded touring. A triple crank with a 22- or 24-tooth inner cog, combined with a rear cassette with a large cog of 32- or 34-teeth is going to get you there, or close enough, depending on crank length. Going to a 20T inner cog seems like overkill, unless you're climbing straight up walls with an expedition-size load of gear.

    I owned a 2005 or 2006 Trek 520 and I agree that with the stock road triple they're a ridiculous overgeared bike; swapping to a mountain-type crank (I switched to a Deore LX) makes them a much more logical bike.

    Many stock "touring" bikes are stupidly overgeared - the lows aren't low enough, and the highs are so high that few people are going to use them unless they enjoy pedaling at over 30 to 35 mph downhill (and on a touring bike, why bother?).

    If you want a better idea of good touring bike drivetrain set-ups, look at the set-ups on custom builders like Co-Motion or Bruce Gordon. Good folks to copy.

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