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  1. #1
    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    Would like your gearing experience

    I am planning to get my first drop bar bike, a Specialized CX bike, that I intend to use only on the road. Kind of a hybrid with drop bars if you will. It comes with a 50/36 compact front and 11/28 10 speed rear. The hybrid I am used to riding has a 50/36/26 front and an 11/26 nine speed rear. I have a few hills that I use that lowest gear on and it seems kind of drastic to go from a 26/26 to a 36/28. They make an 11/32 rear gear. Shouldn't I get that swapped when I buy it or am I off base?

    I NEVER stand when climbing, but perhaps that's the luxury of the lower gearing. I don't mind standing if that's what it takes and heck, on a few of these Tennessee hills I may be standing anyway even with the 32 in back.

    This will also be my first compact gear up front, so I'm in uncharted territory. The front gearing doesn't have any options unless I swapped out the whole thing, so I'm stuck with 50/36 up front. Thanks much!
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    I think mine is similar to your current hybrid. I have a 2009 Specialized Tricross. It has thicker tires, but you can put normal road tires on it. The nice thing is, if you want to go off road a little, it handles very well.

    As for gearing, I rarely stand either...pretty much only when coasting in for a red light. I rode South Mountain here in Phoenix, with a gain of ~1500 feet, and never really got out of the saddle. Not only that, but I kept up with 2 fast guys riding really light bikes. In the easiest gear I felt like it would be faster to just get off the bike and walk, but I wasn't about to do that with those other guys right there.

  3. #3
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    You will likely have to start standing when climbing. It's a good thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
    You will likely have to start standing when climbing. It's a good thing.
    on the bike you currently have, why not just ignore the 26t granny chainring for a while and see how it goes? then decide after you have some experience.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryPitts View Post
    I am planning to get my first drop bar bike, a Specialized CX bike, that I intend to use only on the road. Kind of a hybrid with drop bars if you will. It comes with a 50/36 compact front and 11/28 10 speed rear. The hybrid I am used to riding has a 50/36/26 front and an 11/26 nine speed rear. I have a few hills that I use that lowest gear on and it seems kind of drastic to go from a 26/26 to a 36/28. They make an 11/32 rear gear. Shouldn't I get that swapped when I buy it or am I off base?

    I NEVER stand when climbing, but perhaps that's the luxury of the lower gearing. I don't mind standing if that's what it takes and heck, on a few of these Tennessee hills I may be standing anyway even with the 32 in back.

    This will also be my first compact gear up front, so I'm in uncharted territory. The front gearing doesn't have any options unless I swapped out the whole thing, so I'm stuck with 50/36 up front. Thanks much!
    You will have a lighter bike than the Hybrid for one thing and climbing with a 36-28 isn't that bad. Is it a SRAM or Shimano by the way? Once you get used to a compact you will not miss the tripple. Well I don't know how California hills compare to Tennessee so you could look into an Apex if or a longer reach Shimano if you need more gear. However where did you find a CX from Specialized with a 50x36 compact? Most of the ones I have looked at ar 48x34.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  6. #6
    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMM View Post
    Ran the gear combo's you mentionsed and the newer bike will have a higher lowest gear then your current hybrid - 1.29 vs 1.00.

    What brand/model crankset does the new bike include? You should be able to swap the 36t front ring for a 34t. That will make you lowest gear ratio 1.21. An 11/32 cassette requires a speacial RD. (sram apex)

    http://velobase.com/Resource_Tools/G...+Inches#Output
    It's a Specialized Crux Disc Apex. It has a FSA Gossamer BB30 crank and from their web site 50/36 is all you get.
    2013 Trek Domane 5.9, 2013 Specialized Sirrus Limited

  7. #7
    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    on the bike you currently have, why not just ignore the 26t granny chainring for a while and see how it goes? then decide after you have some experience.
    I can pretty well imagine how that would be although I have one hill close by that I will try that with next time I'm over there. Let me ask this way, what's the disadvantage of getting the 32 rear? That the gears are a bit spaced further apart I guess. I'm not a racer, just a casual rider so I'm not sure there's a downside to the 32.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMM View Post
    An 11/32 cassette requires a speacial RD. (sram apex)
    There's a long cage Rival too (might not be out yet).

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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryPitts View Post
    I can pretty well imagine how that would be although I have one hill close by that I will try that with next time I'm over there. Let me ask this way, what's the disadvantage of getting the 32 rear? That the gears are a bit spaced further apart I guess. I'm not a racer, just a casual rider so I'm not sure there's a downside to the 32.
    No downside really.

    If your rear derailer is an Apex, you might be able to use that with a 11-32. You might need a new (longer chain).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
    You will have a lighter bike than the Hybrid for one thing and climbing with a 36-28 isn't that bad.
    There's some advantage to having a lighter bike but lower gears are better. (We have no idea what condition he's in or the hills he is talking about).

    Quote Originally Posted by GaryPitts View Post
    It's a Specialized Crux Disc Apex. It has a FSA Gossamer BB30 crank and from their web site 50/36 is all you get.
    The website says 46/36 (which is typical for CX). 50/34 is typical for compacts. Did you swap out the larger chain ring?
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...jsp?spid=62219
    Last edited by njkayaker; 02-01-12 at 08:50 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    If you have any doubt in your mind at all, look for something with a triple crankset.

    You'll get an easier hill climb gear, you'll get better spacing on your flat road gears, and you'll also get a faster high gear if that matters to you. Other than style points and a few grams of weight, there is no disadvantage.

  11. #11
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Or just




    (Personally, I'd just ride without using the smallest chain ring on the current bike for a while and see how that goes.)
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  12. #12
    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    The website says 46/36 (which is typical for CX). 50/34 is typical for compacts. Did you swap out the larger chain ring?
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...jsp?spid=62219
    You're right. My bad! 46/36. I must have been looking at a different spec when I posted that. I've been looking at a lot of bikes lately
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    If you have any doubt in your mind at all, look for something with a triple crankset.

    You'll get an easier hill climb gear, you'll get better spacing on your flat road gears, and you'll also get a faster high gear if that matters to you. Other than style points and a few grams of weight, there is no disadvantage.
    +1.

    If you're worried about appearance more than functionality, maybe you can get some streamers to plug into the ends of your handlebars.

  14. #14
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    I say the difference in bike will make up the difference. My wife used to ride a Crossroads hybrid with a triple. Went to a Bianchi double with a 38/28 combo and climbs much better on an 8 mile 6% average grade. She was worried at first and now going back to the hybrid, she wonders how she ever climbed anything on the hybrid.

    Weight, position,efficiency and tires, 700X23 vs 35's make a difference imo.

  15. #15
    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=GMM;13796668
    I recommend riding the bike as-is, first, then adjusting in a month or two, IF needed.
    A 10-speed 11-32 is not widely spaced at all, if you go that route.[/QUOTE]
    I may do that. I've asked the dealer for a quote on swapping the gears. If it costs much at all I'll just check it out as is and do it later if I have to have a lower gear. I just keep thinking about the 'hill from hell' on the Nashville Greenway And I have another one on the road about 6 miles from the house. Those are the only two hills I have needed my lowest gear for to date. I think I'd like to have it, but sometimes my thinking isn't straight. And, again, this is both my first drop bar bike and my first compact front gear bike, so I'm kinda in the dark a bit. Plus I ride more for enjoyment and exercise than to race or push myself. I just want to have fun
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    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    I say the difference in bike will make up the difference. My wife used to ride a Crossroads hybrid with a triple. Went to a Bianchi double with a 38/28 combo and climbs much better on an 8 mile 6% average grade. She was worried at first and now going back to the hybrid, she wonders how she ever climbed anything on the hybrid.
    .
    Yeah, but that 28 is going to climb much better than a 36
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  17. #17
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryPitts View Post
    Yeah, but that 28 is going to climb much better than a 36
    You misunderstood

    your new bike has a 36 up font and a 28 in the rear........36/28

    wife's bike had a 38 up front and a 28 in rear..................38/28

    38 in the FRONT, 28 in the rear...............your 36 will climb better than her 38 .

    I thought everybody understood the universal format of posting gears...38/28.............front chainring/rear cog.

  18. #18
    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    I thought everybody understood the universal format of posting gears...38/28.............front chainring/rear cog.
    Oops. sorry. Not everybody I'm still a rookie, having been at this less than a year still. Learnin' all the time though!
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  19. #19
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryPitts View Post
    Oops. sorry. Not everybody I'm still a rookie, having been at this less than a year still. Learnin' all the time though!

  20. #20
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    on the bike you currently have, why not just ignore the 26t granny chainring for a while and see how it goes? then decide after you have some experience.
    Now that's just crazy-talk.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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  21. #21
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    A 46:11 should be high enough, if the hill is too steep for the 36~8:28,
    That's when you throw the bike on your shoulder, grab the handle bars,
    to steady the front wheel, and run .. it's a Cross bike, thats the sport..

  22. #22
    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    A 46:11 should be high enough, if the hill is too steep for the 36~8:28,
    That's when you throw the bike on your shoulder, grab the handle bars,
    to steady the front wheel, and run .. it's a Cross bike, thats the sport..
    Haha! Touche!
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  23. #23
    idc
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    I would just get a wide 11-32 cassette if you're worried - but first, do what hueyhoolihan says and try your existing bike without going lower than the middle ring.

    I went from a 52/42/30 hybrid (flat-bar road bike) with a 12-25 to a drop bar racing style road bike 50/34 11-25 and I used to use the smallest ring on the hybrid big hills, but now I'm (mostly!) fine with the 34/25 on my road bike as a low. The lighter weight and better position on the road bike helped compensate. I have considered getting a wider cassette but I feel like I can really ride where ever I want on 34/25 as long as I'm not too tired.
    Last edited by idc; 02-02-12 at 09:21 AM.

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    Triple crankset

    I've posted a lot about gearing, mostly about 48-36-26 vs. 44-32-22 crank sets. You can go look at some threads I've posted in. Anyways, my Cross Check had a stock 48-36. When I bought it, though, I asked the LBS to trade out the Tiagra double FD for a Tiagra triple FD and got a 26t granny gear put on it, for free. The intention was to tour with it which I did with a 11-32 cassette. It did really well, considering how much crap I loaded on. It can go as high as 29 or as low as 24. The 36 is good enough for almost 80% of my riding. Sometimes, I'm lucky and catch a long downhill and I can use the 48 to go really fast, but for most everything I use the 36. It's perfect. If I had a 1x9 set up, guess what? It'd be a 36.

    But I'm still glad I have that 26 as a bail out gear. With a 26, I feel confident to take any path. The 26/25 gets me as low as I could need for any hill! It's comforting to know it's there, even if I don't use it very much. I really don't see a disadvantage to a triple crank set. Sure you could HTFU and stand, but on some hills, it would mean standing for over 10 minutes and sitting is just more comfortable over distances, at least for me.

    Get a triple, you won't regret it.You don't have to use the granny gear, but when you need it, it's there.

    edit: I'm 5'11 and 175lbs on a 56cm Cross Check with 48-36-26 / 12-25 on the rear. I've used the front crankset with an 11-32 cassette for touring, but switched back to the 12-25 for commuting/recreational riding. Sometimes, I'll use a pannier but mostly I use my backpack which probably weighs no more than 15lbs at most.
    Last edited by SurlyLaika; 02-02-12 at 10:50 AM.

  25. #25
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    I don't know what your weight is I go at about 260 lbs and when i have the panniers on add another 22 lbs add bike and add 42.
    My low gear 28/34 gives ( on the touring bike) me about 4 mph at about 60 rpm cadence. (Denore XT RDR) Good for a 6% grade. I don't stand because of no berm and standing makes me weave too much to stay on line. I will stop and rest before standing. Heart rate tops out at 165 bpm. For now that is my threshold.

    My road bike has a 28/28 low gear Acera RDR.( the other road bike 30/28 Ultegra 6700 RDR) When i was 200 lbs the 28/28 gear was good enough for Boulder Canyon (Boulder Colorado)

    Another consideration is if you need to start out on a steep slope it is handy to have a granny gear until you get clipped in or if you need to negotiate a bad spot on the road using one foot peddling.

    My Hybrid has an Altus RDR 28/34 also
    Last edited by Jamesw2; 02-02-12 at 10:51 AM. Reason: RDR modle correction

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