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Old 02-17-12, 04:45 AM   #1
kouletsi
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Low gear salvation

I'm in the 60+ group and interested in economical options that will make it easier to climb many of the long grade, and steep, hills where I live. I have used a Compact Ultegra drive train (50/34, 11/28) for years and am considering switching everything to an Ultegra triple to benefit from the realization that the engine ain't getting any stronger, I need that small ring salvation. On the other hand I would consider a MB rear derailleur (32 or 34) and keeping my Ultegra Compact intact. Has anyone found the latter option an effectiive solution over the Triple?

I ride about 3-5 Centuries a year and am planning a 150 one day ride in 4 months.

Any help appreciated.

kgk

Last edited by kouletsi; 02-17-12 at 04:46 AM. Reason: grammer
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Old 02-17-12, 08:43 AM   #2
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If you were going to get a new bike, a triple would be a good idea. But an MTB derailleur setup is much cheaper as a retrofit than a triple.

I did it on my winter bike, and my low gear is 34x34... works great.

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Old 02-17-12, 08:53 AM   #3
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If you have the Ultegra long cage derailleur on the back, you can just install a wider range rear cassette. That derailleur is spec'ed for a maximum 28 tooth cog, but I run mine with a 12-32 SRAM cassette with zero issues. A 12-32 cassette with a 50-34 crank is within the take-up spec of this derailleur. You'll likely need to replace your chain with a longer one and you may need to tweak the b-screw adjustment to make sure the upper jockey wheel clears the big cog on the cassette. I've run with this combination for almost 15,000 miles over the last 2.5 years and it works great.
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Old 02-17-12, 09:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
If you were going to get a new bike, a triple would be a good idea. But an MTB derailleur setup is much cheaper as a retrofit than a triple.

I did it on my winter bike, and my low gear is 34x34... works great.

This will be more economical than a triple.
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Old 02-17-12, 12:18 PM   #5
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First, welcome to the 50+ forum.

I'm using a compact double (34 - 50) and 11-34 cassette with a Shimano Deore XT on my commuter. It works fine. I didn't have to change brifters (which would have been pretty expensive). I actually didn't even put on a longer chain. I will when this one needs to be replaced. But as long as I don't go to the 50 -34 combo, I'm fine.
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Old 02-17-12, 01:43 PM   #6
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It's safer to use the proper size chain. There's times in centuries that I have accidentally shifted into the big ring/big cog because my brain is kind of fried. If your chain is too short that will be the end of the ride for you and possibly the end of your frame or derailleur or wheel.

Chains only cost $35 or so, and they wear out fast so you'll be replacing it soon anyhow if you ride much.
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Old 02-17-12, 01:46 PM   #7
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To change to a triple it would cost you a new chain- New front Dr. And probably brifters.

To change rear cassette will cost a new chain- Probably a new Rear Dr. and the cassette. The rear Dr. and it would probably be a Mountain bike type and The lowest to recommend is LX. Xt would be better but XTR could be expensive unless you buy on a few offers that are around.

Lowest gear with a triple would be 30/28 and by changing the casssete it would be 34/34 with a doublecrank. Not much different on gearing but those 2 teeth make a difference.

Only problem I can see is that the gear ratios with a 34 will be wider- which can get annoying but if you need lower gears- you need lower gears. And for the mountains I have a triple 50/39/30 and a 12/32 cassette. 30/32 and you can climb a wall.
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Old 02-17-12, 01:47 PM   #8
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It's safer to use the proper size chain. There's times in centuries that I have accidentally shifted into the big ring/big cog because my brain is kind of fried. If your chain is too short that will be the end of the ride for you and possibly the end of your frame or derailleur or wheel.

Chains only cost $35 or so, and they wear out fast so you'll be replacing it soon anyhow if you ride much.
I tend not to get "fried" when I ride. The fact is that for my current commute, I don't really need to go to the big ring, and have the front derailleur adjusted so it can't.... at least until I get the new chain.
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Old 02-17-12, 03:33 PM   #9
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I have a compact double 50/34 with an 11-34 rear cassette. The 11-34 replaced an 12-25 cassette. I did change the RD and chain to accommodate the extra large 34 cog and longer cage RD.

Here's what I purchased and the cost;

Shimano Deore XT M771 Rear Derailleur SGS Long Cage, $69.98
Shimano Deore XT 10-Speed Cassette 11X34 $64.99
Shimano Ultegra Chain $38.99

The 34 x 34 combination is low enough to crawl up almost any grade. The extra spacing between cogs on the rear cassette actually has worked well for me. Where I used to shift up or down twice for slight elevation changes, shifting once usually puts me in the right gear. Although, this will depend on your preferred cadence. I like to spin between 85-105 rpm's, so having the wider spacing actually means less shifting, rather then more.

If you change out the RD, don't get the Shadow model, I think it's because it won't work right with the STI shifters. The M771 I listed above, says it's a 9 speed RD, but that's miss-leading, it has plenty of range for a 10-speed cassette.

You can conduct searches on other forums, but what I listed here is what I found and purchased, and it works great.

Good luck...
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Old 02-17-12, 05:05 PM   #10
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hmm ... you are saying that if I put an XT r/d on my bike with a 12-34 10 speed it will work with 105 brifters? I have been told that the STI road shifters would not work with any MTB r/d.
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Old 02-17-12, 05:32 PM   #11
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hmm ... you are saying that if I put an XT r/d on my bike with a 12-34 10 speed it will work with 105 brifters? I have been told that the STI road shifters would not work with any MTB r/d.
You've been told wrong.

Bear in mind, a derailleur is pretty dumb. It doesn't know what kind of bike it's mounted or what sort of lever is pulling its cable. It also doesn't know how many cogs are on your cassette. It doesn't have to in order to do its job.

The cable moves, and the RD moves accordingly. The lever is what decides how much cable to pull or release, and by extension, how much the derailleur moves.

In other words, it's not the derailleur that's indexed, it's the levers.

(For completeness, this refers to traditional mechanical systems. Electronic ones, like Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS, have reversed where the intelligence lives. The levers or buttons are dumb, the derailleur knows how far to move based upon its current position and which button is pressed.)
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Old 02-17-12, 05:41 PM   #12
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I have a compact double 50/34 with an 11-34 rear cassette. The 11-34 replaced an 12-25 cassette. I did change the RD and chain to accommodate the extra large 34 cog and longer cage RD.

Here's what I purchased and the cost;

Shimano Deore XT M771 Rear Derailleur SGS Long Cage, $69.98
Shimano Deore XT 10-Speed Cassette 11X34 $64.99
Shimano Ultegra Chain $38.99

The 34 x 34 combination is low enough to crawl up almost any grade. The extra spacing between cogs on the rear cassette actually has worked well for me. Where I used to shift up or down twice for slight elevation changes, shifting once usually puts me in the right gear. Although, this will depend on your preferred cadence. I like to spin between 85-105 rpm's, so having the wider spacing actually means less shifting, rather then more.

If you change out the RD, don't get the Shadow model, I think it's because it won't work right with the STI shifters. The M771 I listed above, says it's a 9 speed RD, but that's miss-leading, it has plenty of range for a 10-speed cassette.

You can conduct searches on other forums, but what I listed here is what I found and purchased, and it works great.

Good luck...
I have this system and am very happy with it.
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Old 02-17-12, 05:48 PM   #13
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I'd much rather have a triple instead of an 11-34 cassette. (But I don't ride either one, I have a 34-50 and either a 12-25 or 13-29 cassette)

Via Mike Sherman's Gear Calculator:



A triple with 30-39-52 and 12-25 (it's calculator link -- the calculator will update it's graphs on the fly when you make changes.)

The middle chainring has very good coverage from about 13 to 20 mph, with closely spaced gears.

Each chainring is a different color on the Speed Over RPM chart.





A 34-50 compact with 11-34 (it's calculator link)

Bigger jumps between gears, about 2 mph per gear in the 15 mph area. I like my 1 mph jumps on my 34-50 & 12-25 setup. But the lowest gear here is actually lower than the 30-25 on the triple.


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Old 02-17-12, 07:04 PM   #14
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Analysis paralysis. DiabloScott got it right.

The new Shimano 10 speed RDs have different geometry than everything before them and will only work right with Shimano 10 speed MTB shifters. Use a 9 speed Shimano MTB RD with any Shimano indexed road shifters, including 10 speed.
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Old 02-17-12, 08:51 PM   #15
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Analysis paralysis. DiabloScott got it right.
Here's the "knock" on the wide range cassette solution. It may or may not affect you.

The issue is spacing between the gears. Where you're most likely to notice it is on flat roads. I live near the junction of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Between the two rivers is a flood plain area that is dead flat. If you have a gear that's right in the "sweet spot" riding in that area is great. If you don't, you're constantly trying to make do with a gear that's a teence too high or a teence too low. Either one is irritating.
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Old 02-17-12, 09:15 PM   #16
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Here's the "knock" on the wide range cassette solution. It may or may not affect you.

The issue is spacing between the gears. Where you're most likely to notice it is on flat roads. I live near the junction of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Between the two rivers is a flood plain area that is dead flat. If you have a gear that's right in the "sweet spot" riding in that area is great. If you don't, you're constantly trying to make do with a gear that's a teence too high or a teence too low. Either one is irritating.
Have you done the Tour de Corn? I drove out a couple years ago with my wife and daughter to ride that one. Thankfully it was a foggy cool morning for the ride.
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Old 02-17-12, 10:39 PM   #17
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To change to a triple it would cost you a new chain- New front Dr. And probably brifters $$$

edit: AND A BOTTOM BRACKET AND CRANK!! $$$ -diabloscott.

To change rear cassette will cost a new chain- Probably a new Rear Dr. and the cassette. The rear Dr. and it would probably be a Mountain bike type and The lowest to recommend is LX. Xt would be better but XTR could be expensive unless you buy on a few offers that are around.
OP asked for ECONOMICAL options. Run the numbers.

Mine's an SLX Shadow... works fine. I have it with 9-speed downtube shifters.

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Old 02-18-12, 02:08 AM   #18
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OP asked for ECONOMICAL options. Run the numbers.

Mine's an SLX Shadow... works fine. I have it with 9-speed downtube shifters.
Believe this is why stapfam also posted this:
To change rear cassette will cost a new chain- Probably a new Rear Dr. and the cassette. The rear Dr. and it would probably be a Mountain bike type and The lowest to recommend is LX. Xt would be better but XTR could be expensive unless you buy on a few offers that are around.

From what I've read, for STI (105, Ultegra etc...) shifters, the Shadow RD is not recommended. The Shadow RD is setup for the cable pull with the newer MTB shifters, either this or something about the Shadow rear cog set. I'm not sure why this works for you, perhaps it's because you're using down tube shifters and cable pull is different when compared to STI. At least this was how it was explained to me.

The 9 speed XT M771 Rear Derailleur SGS Long Cage works very well with 105 shifters; smooth and quick with no hesitation.

I can certainly understand why some people prefer a triple; it's really the best of both worlds; climbing gears and close gearing for spinning on flats. But the double is not a deal breaker, it can work very well with a full range of gears available without the dreaded cross chain.

At least there is more then one option available.

Last edited by GFish; 02-18-12 at 02:29 AM.
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Old 02-18-12, 02:10 AM   #19
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You've been told wrong.

Bear in mind, a derailleur is pretty dumb. It doesn't know what kind of bike it's mounted or what sort of lever is pulling its cable. It also doesn't know how many cogs are on your cassette. It doesn't have to in order to do its job.

The cable moves, and the RD moves accordingly. The lever is what decides how much cable to pull or release, and by extension, how much the derailleur moves.

In other words, it's not the derailleur that's indexed, it's the levers.

(For completeness, this refers to traditional mechanical systems. Electronic ones, like Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS, have reversed where the intelligence lives. The levers or buttons are dumb, the derailleur knows how far to move based upon its current position and which button is pressed.)
+1... this is correct.
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Old 02-18-12, 02:31 AM   #20
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Is your cogset and RD always this clean?
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Old 02-18-12, 04:24 AM   #21
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Yes - Between my wife and I, we've used 105 brifters with Shimano MTB rear derailleurs and 11-34 cassettes on 5 different bikes and they work just fine on every one.
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Old 02-18-12, 06:53 AM   #22
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Like you, I switched to the compact double years back.
Needing something that would ease the climbs I began looking into super compact doubles (Velo Orange offers two)
The one VO offers is basiclly a Sugino rd600 triple with the large chainring eliminated. It's a conversion any LBS or competent home mechanic could do (requires a longer BB tho)
Thru BF I discovered one can tweak almost any shimano derailleur to accept a 30t cog.
'What' I finally went with was VOs grand cru (the weight, the stiffness, the beauty of it) 46/30 and built up my own (two variations) 8 cog cassette. One being a 12-28 the other a 12 30.
I went with a mid cage 105 Shimano derailleur figuring I might need more chain wrap with the small 30t chainring.
It seems that most road triples don't offer a inner chainring lower than 32t.
If you're going to go with a triple (for hills) you're probably better going with a deore setup where you can get a real granny gear setup.
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Old 02-18-12, 07:06 AM   #23
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From what I've read, for STI (105, Ultegra etc...) shifters, the Shadow RD is not recommended. The Shadow RD is setup for the cable pull with the newer MTB shifters, either this or something about the Shadow rear cog set. I'm not sure why this works for you, perhaps it's because you're using down tube shifters and cable pull is different when compared to STI. At least this was how it was explained to me.

The 9 speed XT M771 Rear Derailleur SGS Long Cage works very well with 105 shifters; smooth and quick with no hesitation.
Shadow RDs are fine as long as they are the 9 speed type. The newer Shadow RDs are Dynasis 10 speed and do not play well with road shifters including 10 speed.
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Old 02-18-12, 07:23 AM   #24
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Is your cogset and RD always this clean?
HA! Not since the day I put it on... that was the "new install" shot. This is my foul weather bike, and it's usually got a layer of grunge on it. (one of the reasons I went downtube shifters... for reliability)
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Old 02-18-12, 10:14 AM   #25
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You've been told wrong.

Bear in mind, a derailleur is pretty dumb. It doesn't know what kind of bike it's mounted or what sort of lever is pulling its cable. It also doesn't know how many cogs are on your cassette. It doesn't have to in order to do its job.

The cable moves, and the RD moves accordingly. The lever is what decides how much cable to pull or release, and by extension, how much the derailleur moves.

In other words, it's not the derailleur that's indexed, it's the levers.

(For completeness, this refers to traditional mechanical systems. Electronic ones, like Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS, have reversed where the intelligence lives. The levers or buttons are dumb, the derailleur knows how far to move based upon its current position and which button is pressed.)
yes I know all that. but thanks for all your authoritative knowledge about basics. I don't know anyone (including me) who thinks a derailleur is indexed. the issue as explained to me is how much the 105 shifter pulls the cable when you move the lever and if it moves the XT r/d the proper amount to get it to shift properly. Blues Dog, along with my LBS (2 of them) say not. Shimano says not. if you all say it works, I guess my question is, does it work well or kinda work?
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