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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 04-23-07, 09:13 AM   #1
Bacciagalupe
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Gearing & Tires for LD?

I finally bought the bullet and picked up an old steel road bike, mostly to do LD rides (100 - 150 miles). The bike feels pretty smooth, but the gearing is pretty high -- in gear inches, it's roughly 43" - 110". Plus the tires are pretty ancient.

What do y'all recommend for gearing and tires? I'm figuring that 35" - 100" will be sufficient. I don't know much about 700c tires, although I'm figuring that fast 25's (with reflective sidwalls) will do the trick.

Any thoughts / suggestions?
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Old 04-23-07, 09:28 AM   #2
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Depends on what kind of load you are carrying and what kind of hills you regularly face. I have a 19" to 104" range and have found places where lower gears would be nice. For one day rides around here I would be happy with your gearing and avoid the 20% grade hills.
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Old 04-23-07, 10:13 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
I finally bought the bullet and picked up an old steel road bike, mostly to do LD rides (100 - 150 miles). The bike feels pretty smooth, but the gearing is pretty high -- in gear inches, it's roughly 43" - 110". Plus the tires are pretty ancient.

What do y'all recommend for gearing and tires? I'm figuring that 35" - 100" will be sufficient. I don't know much about 700c tires, although I'm figuring that fast 25's (with reflective sidwalls) will do the trick.

Any thoughts / suggestions?
- B
Suggest you obtain and read the Bicycle Quarterly articles on tires. A partial read is available at http://www.vintagebicyclepress.com/i...qgrandbois.jpg

BQ shows that well-made "fat" (e.g., 700x32) tires can be as fast or faster than narrower tires like 700x25. And the 700x32's provide much better shock absorbency, which is a huge plus on long rides. I've been riding Panaracer Pasela 700x32's for the last several brevets. They feel comfortable, they feel fast, and I knocked nearly an hour off my personal best time for a 200K (despite rain and bitter cold).

As to gearing, on BMB I rode a 22/32/44 MTB crankset and an 11-34 SRAM cassette. There was never a point where I wished I had a gear higher than 44x11. There was also never a time when I felt like the 22x34 was too high to continue riding, though several times I got off just to have a change. The most recent issue of BQ has an article on efficient randonneuring that points out that above about 28 mph, there is very little gain to pedaling hard because air resistance rises so rapidly with speed. Since a 44x11 puts you at 29 mph at 90 rpm, there isn't much point in getting higher gearing. To me, the only point to avoiding lower gearing (e.g., by buying something that has a small chainring up in the low 30's) is just to keep yourself from dropping into the low gears when you're really exhausted.
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Old 04-23-07, 01:59 PM   #4
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I have a 50x42x30 triple with a 12-25 cassette, which seems to be a perfect combination for me.
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Old 04-23-07, 02:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by thebulls
The most recent issue of BQ has an article on efficient randonneuring that points out that above about 28 mph, there is very little gain to pedaling hard because air resistance rises so rapidly with speed. Since a 44x11 puts you at 29 mph at 90 rpm, there isn't much point in getting higher gearing. To me, the only point to avoiding lower gearing (e.g., by buying something that has a small chainring up in the low 30's) is just to keep yourself from dropping into the low gears when you're really exhausted.
I agree. I've picked my gearing based on what I need for the climbs. I chose a 48x13 high gear and worked lower from there. I currently have the option to run 32x29 or 34x29 - both of which work well for me.
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Old 04-23-07, 03:18 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bmike
I agree. I've picked my gearing based on what I need for the climbs. I chose a 48x13 high gear and worked lower from there. I currently have the option to run 32x29 or 34x29 - both of which work well for me.
Campy?

I run 28-39-50 by 13-29. So far so good. I'm currently on 700-38s but they are like riding in sludge. Quite comfy, but slow. I'm going to come back down to the 28-32 range when I tire of this set.
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Old 04-23-07, 03:38 PM   #7
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Campy?

I run 28-39-50 by 13-29. So far so good. I'm currently on 700-38s but they are like riding in sludge. Quite comfy, but slow. I'm going to come back down to the 28-32 range when I tire of this set.
Campy rear, TA front. I can run 30/44 or 46 up front if I buy a few more rings!
I think I found a sweet spot with the Conti's I'm running. 28s at 65-70 psi seem to work. More rides will confirm, but after Sats ride I think I'm in the range.
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Old 04-23-07, 05:02 PM   #8
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Hrm... Well, at least one LBS has a lower freewheel kicking around (13 - 30 iirc). Hopefully it won't have jumps so wide that it would drive me nuts.

Is there some kind of guide to 700c tires? Or maybe I should just try, oh, some 28's and not worry about it....
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Old 05-11-07, 01:44 PM   #9
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I've had good success riding 700x23s Carbon Kylion Michelins for 100 and 200km rider. No flats yet, and good wet weather traction. Seem to be really long wearing too. To dampen vibration, I find a good carbon fork, gel gloves and cork ribbon work wonders! No numbness or wrist pain.

For gearing, I run 50/34 compact rings (110BCD) up front, and a 12-25 cassette. Rode the hilly Tour de Cowichan with this setup and had zero issues. Shifts fast and plenty of low end range for riding with rando kit. Keep in mind that my whole bike is ~19lbs, and I'm 175lbs and in my early 30's. If you're trying to move more or less weight, you may want to match it up with different gearing.
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Old 05-11-07, 07:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebulls
Suggest you obtain and read the Bicycle Quarterly articles on tires. A partial read is available at http://www.vintagebicyclepress.com/i...qgrandbois.jpg

BQ shows that well-made "fat" (e.g., 700x32) tires can be as fast or faster than narrower tires like 700x25. And the 700x32's provide much better shock absorbency, which is a huge plus on long rides. I've been riding Panaracer Pasela 700x32's for the last several brevets. They feel comfortable, they feel fast, and I knocked nearly an hour off my personal best time for a 200K (despite rain and bitter cold).
I just did my first long ride with my new Grand Bois 700x30's I got from Jan Hein at Bicycle Quarterly. Mmmm. Smoooooth. And fast. Set a new PR for a 200K. I was riding Pasela TGs but these Grand Bois are the bees knees.
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Old 05-12-07, 07:29 PM   #11
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I have only ridden a few of the wider tires. I strongly disliked the Performance branded 700x28s and the Rivendell (Panaracer) Ruffy-Tuffys. I come from a racing background and I really don't like sluggish tires. Both the above felt like riding through glue. I haven't tried the Paselas, but I note they all seem to come with Kevlar belts for puncture resistance, and I have never ridden a belted tire that rolled well enough for my tastes.

I have a thousand miles on my pair of Grand Bois Cypres and they are excellent tires, nearly the equal of the long defunct Clement Campione del Mundo tubulars, if anyone remembers those. The Cypres are fairly light tires with thinner treads and no belting, so will probably not last as long as Paselas and the like, and are probably more susceptible to punctures. (I have had one so far, but it was a large chunk of metal that would have punctured any pneumatic tire I've ever seen...) Another poster mentioned that he'd had three punctures, IIRC, in 1000 miles. YMMV, obviously, but I think the occasional flat is a worthwhile trade-off for such a wonderfully comfortable and fast tire.

Gearing: I'm new at the ultra distance stuff myself and am still playing with gearing. I started with a triple, hemmed and hawed about a wide range double, and finally tried it. Very pleased with that set-up. It's a 34x50 in the front with a 12-25 9 speed rear. I was worried that the front change would be a big jump, but I've found that I use the 50 ring for almost everything, only shifting to the 34 for mountains and/or extreme fatigue, so the big jump from 50 to 34 never became an issue. Having a reasonably close range on the rear is a luxury: I don't understand how folks can stand 3, 4, 5... tooth jumps at the back. More power to them, but it's not for me.

The only real troubles are that the 34x25 isn't quite enough for steep mountains at the end of long rides, and that the 50x12 is larger than I ever use. (I'm a big proponent of saving effort above 30 MPH and think people who pedal at higher speeds than that are silly, unless they're trying to win something ) So I've ordered a set of stupidly expensive TA cranks with a 30x46 combo, which I expect to be perfection. (We'll see...)
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Old 05-12-07, 07:41 PM   #12
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Oh, and perhaps this is too obvious to point out, but gearing is a personal thing. There are folks here who ride gears much smaller than I could ever conceive of using, just like there are folks here who would feel utterly naked without a 53x11. Just putting on the gears that work for somebody else will probably result in a compromise for your particular legs and terrain.

You may get lucky right off the bat, but I'd plan on wasting a bit of time, money, and effort before achieving gearing Nirvana.
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Old 05-12-07, 07:45 PM   #13
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I've been playing around with various gearing and tyre combinations on my 1981 Schwinn Super Sport, and one of the most comfortable I've found so far are: 52/46/34 chainset, 13-15-17-19-21-23-26 cassette, and Continental Ultra 2000 (700x28) tyres, which at 110psi are more comfortable on long rides than are 700x23s or 700x25s at the same pressure.

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Old 05-13-07, 04:31 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Six jours
So I've ordered a set of stupidly expensive TA cranks with a 30x46 combo, which I expect to be perfection. (We'll see...)
The TA is working great for me.
I've been working towards a switch to 30x44 or 32x46.
I like the 14 tooth jump as well, and I'll be smoothing out my rear cassette from a Campy 13-29 to a Campy 13-26.

Currently the 34-48 has been working great... but I want the rear end to be closer in spacing.


I used a 'standard' compact most of last year and it worked great... but I wanted the flexibility that the TA affords with all sorts of ring combinations.
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Old 05-13-07, 09:41 AM   #15
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Rode a 400k yesterday on a totally normal Ultegra triple - 52-42-30 in front and 12-25 in back, so 117-32 inches. It was quite a flat 400, only 5000' climbing. Used every gear except the bottom two. Finished in the 3rd group, about an hour behind Jan's group. Rode Vredestein Tricomps @140 on a Trek 5200. Everyone in my group was on well-pumped 23s. Good bit of chipseal. Lots of upwind work. Due to a combination of the time of day and course, only had about 50 miles of downwind. Finished in 15:03 with an 18.8 in the saddle average. I'm no athlete, just a below average 8 minute miler in my youth (now 61). So I'd say that combo worked well. No complaints this morning, other than it made more of a mess of my already bum knee and my legs are really shot today.

The hero of our group was a guy about 25 who rode the whole thing on his fixie. He was (no surprise) even worse off then me during the last hour.
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Old 05-13-07, 04:40 PM   #16
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Err, uh, yeah, definitely NOT planning to use a fixed gear for any LD with any sorta hills.

I did a minor update on the freewheel, so currently running a 52T -42T x 14-28T. So that drops the low end to 39", still rough on the steep hills, although it's better than it was before. I did a metric century today with 3,600 ft of climbing (that is, if you can believe Delorme Topo ), very few super-steep hills or extended climbs, and only felt undergeared on a couple of hills.

I will stick with this bike for a couple of centuries, but will probably go with a compact crank on my next LD bike.
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Old 05-13-07, 10:53 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Six jours
)(re: Grand Bois Cypres) Another poster mentioned that he'd had three punctures, IIRC, in 1000 miles. YMMV, obviously, but I think the occasional flat is a worthwhile trade-off for such a wonderfully comfortable and fast tire.
That may have been me, and you can now adjust the tally to 4 punctures in 1200 miles Also, there's an ...embolism on the surface of my rear tire. Small bump on the surface like a pimple or wart. I took the tire off the wheel to check and noticed that the lining on the inside had frayed just below the bump. Might've hit a pothole or something and caused some kind of damage. However, now it feels like riding on a tire that is badly out of true.

I've since retired the Cypres tires to my reserve bike, and am running Panaracer Pasela 700x28s on the brevet bike. The ride is definitely harsher, and it doesn't 'feel' as fast, but my times are still pretty good. The VBQ article that folks have cited notes that 'tire feel' is a vastly inaccurate method for judging perfofrmance and has more to do with specific tread patterns and bike handling than anything else. Supposedly, the Paselas are just as fast as the Cypres, but I do like the peace of mind that comes with the added protection.

All the same, I've got a friend visiting Kyoto this week, and I've already sent him a request to drop by Grand Bois and pick me up a set of 4 (They're only $30 after currency exchange if you buy them in Japan ... but then, there's the matter of the $1000+ plane ticket)
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Old 05-14-07, 11:02 AM   #18
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Y'know, I can see how the Cypres wouldn't be as tough as some other tires, especially now that so many clinchers come with a plastic/rubber/whatever sidewall coating. And of course, a thin casing with a thin tread just isn't going to stand up as well as a thick casing with a thick tread. I've had better luck than you so far, but I also live in SoCal where the roads are mostly perfect. If I was puncturing every 250 miles, or if my tires developed tumors after 1200 miles of use, I'd probably try something else, myself. Reluctantly, for sure.

IIRC -- and could easily be wrong -- I thought the VBQ article showed the Paselas were a tad slower than the GBCs. Frankly, though, that's far less imprtant to me than the feel of the tire, as I'm not a racer any more. The GBCs are a joy to ride; they feel absolutely wonderful, and the other fat clinchers that I've ridden don't come close to that. Personally, I'm a lot less enthusiastic about riding a bike that doesn't feel that great, so I'm willing to put up with a lot for a good feeling bike. Thankfully, the GBCs haven't been troublesome for me, so far.

Each to his own, eh? I hope you have better luck with the next batch!
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Old 05-14-07, 11:22 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Six jours
The GBCs are a joy to ride; they feel absolutely wonderful, and the other fat clinchers that I've ridden don't come close to that. Personally, I'm a lot less enthusiastic about riding a bike that doesn't feel that great, so I'm willing to put up with a lot for a good feeling bike.
Indeed. I should point out that I was very reluctant to switch out the Cypres. That pimple problem on the rear tire was the deal breaker as it compromised the comfort factor, and I could just imagine it bursting 250km into a 600km and leaving me trying to work magic with dollar bills in the middle of Vermont or New Hampshire. Also, the 700x30 size was just large enough that I would get rubbing on my Honjo fenders if they weren't installed just right. So, it was just a combination of factors. Ironically, as fragile as the tires may have been, they've only flatted on commutes ... never on brevets.

The weather plays havoc with the roads of the Northeast, which amplifies the importance of the 'perfect' comfort tire -- one that is supple and light enough for comfort and speed, but also durable enough to take the occasional pothole and gravel strewn stretch.

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Each to his own, eh? I hope you have better luck with the next batch!
Thanks!
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