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Old 05-06-13, 08:45 PM   #1
Planemaker
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Shifting

Noob question

I have 3 chain rings (48,36,26) and an 11-32 9 speed cassette on my Trek Fitness 7.4. I like to keep my cadence between 80 - 90 rpm (my desired cadence is 85), when I get under 80 rpm or over 90 rpm I usually shift the next gear (more so when I am under 80 than when I am over 90) on the cassette to keep my cadence where I like it. I am most happy keeping using the middle chain ring almost exclusively. I have never (to date) needed to shift into the smaller chain ring to keep my cadence where I need it further, I have had my bike up to 25 mph and maxed out on the cassette and wanting more only a few times. So, am I missing something in the way I shift and should I be using the other two chain rings more?

FYI - I run up and down the cassette freely to keep my desired cadence

One more bike speak question:

When I shift into an easier gear is that called shifting to lower or higher gear?
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Old 05-06-13, 11:48 PM   #2
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Easier gears are lower.

There are some riders that rarely change until cadence is way out of the usual range and others- like me- that seem to shift gears about twice as much as others. If you have a cadence that you like then you will find gear changes more frequent to stay around that cadence.

Sounds as though you are in a fairly flat area and if the highest gear of 48/11 is too low for you- then it is possible to get a larger chainring if you feel it is necessary. Only point to look out for is that it will fit the spacing of the crank bolts on your crank as there are several variations possible.
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Old 05-07-13, 02:33 AM   #3
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On 700c wheels with 23mm tyres, the 48/11 will move you along at over 30mph at 90rpm. At the same cadence using the 36/11, you'd be doing c. 23 mph. Obviously there is considerable overlap between the ratios on the three chainrings. I would tend to use the middle ring most of the time, but move onto the big ring once I was using the smallest two or three sprockets. Typically I'd double shift - up at the front, down at the back - to make the transition smooth and avoid a huge jump. Save the small ring for big or long climbs. You may not need it much but it is very nice to have if you do.

The alternative strategy, if retaining that fairly tight cadence is important to you, is to swap the cassette for something with closer ratios. Maybe a 12/27 instead of the 11/32. You'd then have very nice close ratios when shifting at the back, but probably be forced to use the small chainring occasionally to keep your cadence at the desired level on the gradients.
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Old 05-07-13, 09:36 AM   #4
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I had a 7.2, and like you spent most of the time in the middle ring. I would use the big ring as an overdrive going down hill. Since I am a bit Clyde, and live where it is fairly hilly, I probably spent more time on the small ring than you do.

YMMV

Quote:
Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
There are some riders that rarely change until cadence is way out of the usual range and others- like me- that seem to shift gears about twice as much as others.
I have noticed that most $100 bikes from the big box stores never leave the gear they leave the store in. I shift constantly unless I hit a long hill and just plain run out of them and have to grind it.

Last edited by CommuteCommando; 05-07-13 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 05-07-13, 10:00 AM   #5
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I suspect you're doing it right - you just need to find some bigger hills. Think of your bike as having 3 gear ranges: one for uphills, one for flats, and one for downhills.
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Old 05-07-13, 10:49 AM   #6
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I tend to run on the middle ring around town. Stops/slow downs are so frequent, it's not worth going to the large ring.
One problem you may have, is in gears 7-9, your chain line is running at a bit of an angle, producing a bit more wear on your cogs/chain. The closer to 9, the more the angle. (cross chaining)
On the middle ring, you should have an ideal chain line when when in 5.
I would tend to think your "start up" gear is probably 3rd? 36/24?

What I would do is get a 12/13-25 cassette and use 1 for your start up gear. Your first 3 shifts are going to be quite soon, you'll spend little time there. You'll have closer spaced gears, thus the ability to better match your ideal cadence.
When you get "out on the road" and are doing steady, higher speed cruising, shift to the large ring and use the outer 3-4 gears.
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Old 05-07-13, 04:24 PM   #7
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Triple chainrings ae great if you live in hilly/mountain terrain like we do.
Usually (depending on wind direction, etc) large ring to barrel down hill or on flat terrain with a good tailwind. Middle ring for flatish terrain and the small chainring for some hefty/long climbs.
We shift when our legs demand it . . .
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Old 05-07-13, 04:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Planemaker View Post
When I shift into an easier gear is that called shifting to lower or higher gear?
Just like a car: lower gears for lower speed.
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Old 05-07-13, 05:08 PM   #9
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This is the way the owner of my LBS stated it when I asked the question when I just started biking again a couple of years ago. Think of the cassette as a mountain or hill on it's side, where the largest cog is the bottom(lowest part) of the mountain/hill and the smallest cog is at the top(high part) of the mountain/hill--bottom of the cassette hill, low gear, top of the cassette hill, high gear.
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Old 05-08-13, 02:04 PM   #10
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Some folks like to drop into the inside ring to start up quickly and easily; others find that the middle ring with one of the larger cogs is low enough for this purpose. I run doubles on all of my road bikes, and when I ride my mountain bike on the road, I almost never use the inside ring. (Offroad I seldom use the outer ring, so it's essentially a 16-speed either way.)
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Old 05-08-13, 05:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
The alternative strategy, if retaining that fairly tight cadence is important to you, is to swap the cassette for something with closer ratios. Maybe a 12/27 instead of the 11/32. You'd then have very nice close ratios when shifting at the back, but probably be forced to use the small chainring occasionally to keep your cadence at the desired level on the gradients.
^^^^^ This. ^^^^^

I started out on a bike very similar to the Trek Fitness. It had an 8-speed 11-30 cassette. I used the middle ring almost exclusively, but I used only four of the available gears in the back. I never used the 11, 25, 27 or 30. What I wanted to do was eliminate the gears I wasn't using and get others between the ones I had, so that the jumps between them weren't so big.

Complaining to my LBS, he walked in the back and came out with an 8-speed 13-23--exactly the range I was using and with four more gears within that range. Since then, that's about all I use. All my bikes have close-ratio cassettes 12-23 (9 and 10-speed) or that 13-23 on the back. It works perfectly for my legs and terrain.

It's something to consider.
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Old 05-08-13, 06:00 PM   #12
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I'm about a 9 to 12 speed out of 27,, Same three or four in the middle out back and the two largest out of three up front. Fav cadence seems to be about 65-70. I could care less how fast I'm going, I got a Little Harley 1200R for speed XD
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Old 05-09-13, 02:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Planemaker View Post
Noob question

3 chain rings (48,36,26) and an 11-32 9 speed cassette on my Trek Fitness 7.4.

One more bike speak question:

When I shift into an easier gear is that called shifting to lower or higher gear?
Hi,

IMO your rear cassette has far too wide a range, its 290%, that
is more than than my 52/42 front, 14,16,18,20,22,24,28 rear,
14 speed, 250% total, no wonder you mainly use one front cog.

If you mainly use the middle ring your high gear 11, is too high
and your low gear 32, is too low. With 3 front rings you want
closely spaced gears. My gears are probably closer spaced
than yours, which negates the point of a 9 speed over a 7.

A low gear you don't go as fast for each pedal rotation,
needed for uphills, high gear the opposite for downhills.

No real need to change your technique with your current
gearing, your not doing anything wrong. My road bikes
40 to 100 gear inches, your middle ring is 30 to 86
gear inches which covers nearly all circumstances.

You have huge overlaps, 40 to 115 for the big ring
and 21 to 62 for the smallring. FWIW 21 gear inches
is appropriate for a fully loaded touring bike and 115
gear inches was speed demon Graham Obrees' single
speed track fixie choice, its not needed for the 50+,
(Unless you like hurtling down hills with the wind
behind you and want to pedal to go even faster ...)

rgds, sreten.

If you fit a close ratio rear cassette fit a new chain.
Measure the old one for wear. If its OK keep it and
rotate the chains when the new one goes slightly
past the old one and keep rotating them.

Last edited by sreten; 05-09-13 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 05-10-13, 03:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsl View Post
^^^^^ This. ^^^^^

I started out on a bike very similar to the Trek Fitness. It had an 8-speed 11-30 cassette. I used the middle ring almost exclusively, but I used only four of the available gears in the back. I never used the 11, 25, 27 or 30. What I wanted to do was eliminate the gears I wasn't using and get others between the ones I had, so that the jumps between them weren't so big.

Complaining to my LBS, he walked in the back and came out with an 8-speed 13-23--exactly the range I was using and with four more gears within that range. Since then, that's about all I use. All my bikes have close-ratio cassettes 12-23 (9 and 10-speed) or that 13-23 on the back. It works perfectly for my legs and terrain.

It's something to consider.
Another vote here for 1- and 2-tooth cog size progressions, with perhaps 3 teeth deltas between the largest cogs.
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Old 05-10-13, 04:15 PM   #15
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80-90 is an ideal pedalling cadence and most people stay in that range.

I like to shift "UP" so my cadence is down to 55-60 and then crank harder until I get back to 80 to build strength. I hold the harder gear until my body gets grumpy and convinces me to take it easier. I am not about being a speed burner. BUT there are rides I want to do that require more strength than I currently have. Even at 59 years old I want to get better and tackle a few hills.
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Old 05-10-13, 06:44 PM   #16
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Ride more. Your brain will sort all this out for you. I never think about shifting.
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Old 05-11-13, 09:41 PM   #17
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What you "should" do depends on what your goals are. Do you want to get there fresher than you do nowadays? Do you want to be stronger? Faster?

80 - 90 rpm is a narrow range. Why do you keep it so steady? I'm not sure why, but my cadence is all over the place. I probably spin a little too slowly, but I am capable of spinning at 180 rpm, if you can believe it.

What's your terrain?
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Old 05-11-13, 10:08 PM   #18
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Math: Chart out the Ratios, know, they overlap . they engineered the FD to be OK in the middle,
but for the 1st & last cogs on the ends in back.

so if that is a next gear change , rather than the edge cog , make a chainring shift,
you will know equivalent ratios , reading your ratio chart ..
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Old 05-12-13, 02:42 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Planemaker View Post
I have never (to date) needed to shift into the smaller chain ring to keep my cadence where I need it further, I have had my bike up to 25 mph and maxed out on the cassette and wanting more only a few times. So, am I missing something in the way I shift and should I be using the other two chain rings more?
If the 36 is working for you in your preferred cadence, then no, you're not missing anything. When you consistently start riding with more speed, you can shift up to the 48. And when the roads go vertical with lots of climbing, you have the 26 to fall back on.

Gearing really is about matching your physical capabilities to the terrain that you ride on. And it sounds like your current gears match your ability.
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Old 05-12-13, 03:10 AM   #20
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I run a 11-32 with a compact ( strictly as a mountain set up)- as others have stated, change your rear cassette - and stop thinking about shifting,,, it's all about what feels the best
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