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Old 08-03-09, 10:11 AM   #1
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Gearing - retrospective following RAMROD

I rode the RAMROD (http://www.redmondcyclingclub.org/RAMROD/RAMROD.html) last week and was pleased to have survived it. It was a challenge to stay hydrated and keep my energy up, but I did it.

I recall people telling me there was nothing to compare to a mountain climb like Cayuse Pass. Because of the heat, and mild fatigue setting in, it wasn't too long before I was in my lowest gear (30t front and 25t rear).

I climb a fair amount, and routinely hit Cascade foothills for weekend leisure rides. Almost never will I use my 25t unless it's a very long ride, or I'm traveling heavy.

While ascending Cayuse, if I allowed my cadence to get too slow, my legs would stiffen. So I would move at 5-6mph, but then take a quick rest off the bike every mile or two.

I had a buddy with a 28t for his largest cog. He went much slower than I did on the climb, but he didn't need to stop as much either. We actually broke even for overall time - I was faster while moving, but had to rest - he continued at a snails pace the whole time.

It's a rare scenario, but next time I replace my 10spd cassette should I get a 12-27t? Or is that such a trivial difference it won't matter? I'm not looking to be competitive, just a setup that will allow me to keep rolling - or at least mitigate against fatigue.

Then again it was hot and this was my first big pass climb with 100 miles ahead of it.

Any advice is appreciated.
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Old 08-03-09, 11:27 AM   #2
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Can't speak much to the 10spd cassettes since I run 9spd on my brevet rig, but here was my solution for hill climbing:

34/48 compact up front, 11-32 mtn 9spd cassette in back. I may not be fast, but I can lug my 240 pound self up some really long hills (Greenwater climb) at a decent pace without needing to stop. The top 3 cogs are 32-28-24 and span my needs for any range of climbing I've done.
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Old 08-03-09, 11:45 AM   #3
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Don't think my Shimano 105/ultegra drive train would tolerate anything bigger than a 27t in the rear.

My heavy year round commuter has 46/36/26 up front and I run 11-32MTB 8spd in the rear. I can get up anything I've tried with that, but it's heavy and doesn't fit me as nice as my LeMond. I've taken that camping with 40lbs. of gear over some steep hills.
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Old 08-03-09, 12:02 PM   #4
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Smurf_hunter, if you're looking for more gears a 27-tooth cog woud help, but I'd go bigger (using an XT derailleur) and do something like 29 or 32.

For Ramrod my lowest gear was 39x25 - on Cayuse there were a few points where a 27 would have been nice.. but I don't like to go much below 39x27 or I feel like I'm not going anywhere. But we're all different so there is no one "right" ratio of course..

Anyway on Cayuse I just tried to keep to keep the HR around 150, which put me at about 10 km/h (6 mph), and 60 Rpms. Only stop was the water stop 2/3's the way up.

Cayuse pass:
Duration: 1:04:15
Work: 667 kJ
TSS: 41.7 (intensity factor 0.624)
Norm Power: 178
VI: 1.03
Pw:HR: 5.15%
Pa:HR: 0.74%
Distance: 13.051 km
Elevation Gain: 870 m
Elevation Loss: 171 m
Grade: 5.4 % (698 m)
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 362 173 watts
Heart Rate: 124 165 148 bpm
Cadence: 20 100 59 rpm
Speed: 0 30.9 11.8 kph
Altitude: 729 1427 1093 m
Crank Torque: 0 62.8 27.8 N-m

My climbing training mostly revolves around hills in the city or Cougar Mountain fwiw.
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Old 08-03-09, 12:12 PM   #5
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5-6 mph with 30/25 gear would put your cadence down around 55-65 rpm (assuming a 700x23 tire). Everyone is different, but I like to try to keep my cadence above 70 rpm on climbs. I recently rode a loaded tour through the Alps and Pyrennes with a 34/34 low gear and on some of the passes, my speed dropped below 7 km/h (cadence of ~55 rpm) and on those I had to rest every 30 minutes or so.

A 27 cog would allow you to climb the same speed with an 8% higher cadence - 59 - 70 rpm. It may be just enough to let you ride without stopping. But then again, it may be just short.
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Old 08-03-09, 12:34 PM   #6
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Don't think my Shimano 105/ultegra drive train would tolerate anything bigger than a 27t in the rear.
You could use a 11-28 Dura Ace 10 speed cassette with your existing RD.

You could also install a 9 speed XT MTB RD and it will index correctly for a 10 speed cassette if you use a 10 speed brifter (which is what you have now).

This allows you to use a IRD or Sram 10 speed 11-32 or 12-34 cassette.

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Old 08-03-09, 12:42 PM   #7
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Don't think my Shimano 105/ultegra drive train would tolerate anything bigger than a 27t in the rear.
27t is the spec, but a Shimano road triple derailleur can handle a 30t cog with no problem. I run a 12-30 cassette and DA triple RD for the Everest Challenge.

However since you have Ultegra, it's better to get a smaller granny ring. A 26t instead of the 30t works well (especially if you have a 39t middle ring). DA triples use a funky BCD for the granny ring and 30t is all that is available.
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Old 08-03-09, 12:50 PM   #8
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I did RAMROD with a 34x25 "granny" gear and felt OK with this setup. Spent a little too much time in fast pacelines to start the ride and wound up dumping more energy in those freight trains than I should have in the early going. No flats or even false flats on Cayuse that I could detect (!!) and my cadence dropped below my usual 70 minimum for a lot of the climb (again - paid the price for too much early fast riding)

Did anyone else get a weird vertigo feeling when going thru that dark tunnel? Kinda like the tunnel was extending away from you? I know I wasn't alone as I heard a guy behind me mention the same sensation.

Dehydration coulda been a factor I guess, LOL!!!
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Old 08-03-09, 12:54 PM   #9
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Smurf_hunter, if you're looking for more gears a 27-tooth cog woud help, but I'd go bigger (using an XT derailleur) and do something like 29 or 32.

For Ramrod my lowest gear was 39x25 - on Cayuse there were a few points where a 27 would have been nice.. but I don't like to go much below 39x27 or I feel like I'm not going anywhere. But we're all different so there is no one "right" ratio of course..

Anyway on Cayuse I just tried to keep to keep the HR around 150, which put me at about 10 km/h (6 mph), and 60 Rpms. Only stop was the water stop 2/3's the way up.
You killed that climb at an amazing speed. WOW! My HR was closer to 160bpm, with some spikes during Cayuse - and I can't imagine a standard double crank unless I was 30lbs lighter and considerably better trained. I also ride in the city and foothills north of Mt. Rainier (Black Diamond, Carbonado, etc.) I'm fresh off knee rehab (all sorts of patella noises) - so that's my excuse

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5-6 mph with 30/25 gear would put your cadence down around 55-65 rpm (assuming a 700x23 tire).
Exactly my problem. Much below 70rpm, and my legs felt "sticky". I run 700x25c - but close enough.
Looks like a 12-27 may be at least part of the solution. As info, my rear wheel has an older Dura-Ace 7400 series (8spd era) freehub, so I cannot use an 11t lockring on that freehub body.
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Old 08-03-09, 01:37 PM   #10
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As info, my rear wheel has an older Dura-Ace 7400 series (8spd era) freehub, so I cannot use an 11t lockring on that freehub body.
I think you can still put an 11- cassette on a non-HyperDrive-C freehub. According to Sheldon, a thin 1mm spacer can do the trick http://www.sheldonbrown.com/k7.html#hyperdrivec A 30/28 would increase your cadence by 12%.

I actually like ericm979s suggestion to swap to a 26T granny ring. This would increase your cadence by ~15%. You may want to put on a chain watcher if you do this.
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Old 08-03-09, 01:39 PM   #11
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Did anyone else get a weird vertigo feeling when going thru that dark tunnel? Kinda like the tunnel was extending away from you? I know I wasn't alone as I heard a guy behind me mention the same sensation.

Dehydration coulda been a factor I guess, LOL!!!
Ya know I heard someone else talking about that too, but I missed out on it! It was nice and cool in there though.

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You killed that climb at an amazing speed. WOW! My HR was closer to 160bpm, with some spikes during Cayuse - and I can't imagine a standard double crank unless I was 30lbs lighter and considerably better trained. I also ride in the city and foothills north of Mt. Rainier (Black Diamond, Carbonado, etc.) I'm fresh off knee rehab (all sorts of patella noises) - so that's my excuse
Ha, I felt like I was grinding up and constantly being passed though! I'm 155# so that may help me on the ascents... I just tried to ignore the rabbits and keep the pace steady. Next year I'll use a 27 in the rear to give me some breathing room.

So, back to your issue - besides looking at gearing, what about The Engine? You've got the endurance needed to finish the ride, but perhaps you could use some Muscular Endurance training. I think (I'm new to the whole "training" thing) you can acheive that kind of training by doing hill repeats in the big ring (or a larger gear than normal). It will "teach" your muscles to apply greater force to the pedals in the long run.

Or just go climb Cougar Mountain - seems like no matter what gears I have for that I end up grinding parts of it anyway!
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Old 08-03-09, 05:46 PM   #12
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Did anyone else get a weird vertigo feeling when going thru that dark tunnel? Kinda like the tunnel was extending away from you? I know I wasn't alone as I heard a guy behind me mention the same sensation.
I remember having the sensation that I had, um... tunnel vision. Seriously. I couldn't tell if I was about to pass out or it was just dark in there. Turns out it was just dark.

Back to the question at hand...

The next time your cassette needs to be replaced, there's absolutely no reason not to replace it with something with a lower gear. SRAM makes a 11-28 10spd cassette that will work with your current setup.
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Old 08-17-09, 06:43 AM   #13
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Don't change your cassette, change your inner chainring instead. You can achieve the same lowest gear while keeping the spacing on the rear cassette nice and tight. Plus, a new inner chainring should only cost you about $20. I use a 26 or 28 tooth inner ring on all my bikes, normally paired with an 11-26 SRAM cassette. You might be exceeding Shimano's stated capacity for your front and/or rear derailleurs, but in my experience this is not a problem. Put a chain retention device inside the inner ring, don't expect the inner to middle chainring shift to be super fast, and shift on the back to reduce the change in cadence when you shift up front, and you'll be all set.

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Old 08-17-09, 08:58 AM   #14
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Don't change your cassette, change your inner chainring instead. You can achieve the same lowest gear while keeping the spacing on the rear cassette nice and tight. Plus, a new inner chainring should only cost you about $20. I use a 26 or 28 tooth inner ring on all my bikes, normally paired with an 11-26 SRAM cassette. You might be exceeding Shimano's stated capacity for your front and/or rear derailleurs, but in my experience this is not a problem. But a chain retention device inside the inner ring, don't expect the inner to middle chainring shift to be super fast, and shift on the back to reduce the change in cadence when you shift up front, and you'll be all set.
Good tips.

Shimano also stated my Ultegra triple FD would not work with the 105 crank because the 30-39-50 only had 11t different from middle to big, and the Ultegra FD need 13t difference. You know what? I did ZERO FD adjustment when I changed from the stock Bontrager with 30-39-52 and it shifts better than ever.

I have some old inner rings I've parted out from old MTB cranks, pretty sure there's a 26t in the pile. They might be on the heavy side, but I can experiment without spending any money.
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Old 08-17-09, 09:16 PM   #15
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I think the biggest change that needs to be made in gearing is the chainrings. The compact crank, 50/34, was an improvement, but in my opinion not enough. For me 50t are just too many. I ride around 20mph on the flat and just don't need 112" gear. When I rode a triple I had a 48/36/26 and always found the 48t ring too high and the 36t ring too small. I liked the 26t ring for climbing when I had my touring gear on the bike. So I took my 110/74 triple and set it up as a 42/26 double. The result is that I spend 95% of my time in the 42t ring and I feel really comfortable having a top gear of 103" (42/11)
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Old 08-17-09, 10:22 PM   #16
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I rode the RAMROD (http://www.redmondcyclingclub.org/RAMROD/RAMROD.html) last week and was pleased to have survived it. It was a challenge to stay hydrated and keep my energy up, but I did it.

I recall people telling me there was nothing to compare to a mountain climb like Cayuse Pass. Because of the heat, and mild fatigue setting in, it wasn't too long before I was in my lowest gear (30t front and 25t rear).

I climb a fair amount, and routinely hit Cascade foothills for weekend leisure rides. Almost never will I use my 25t unless it's a very long ride, or I'm traveling heavy.

While ascending Cayuse, if I allowed my cadence to get too slow, my legs would stiffen. So I would move at 5-6mph, but then take a quick rest off the bike every mile or two.

I had a buddy with a 28t for his largest cog. He went much slower than I did on the climb, but he didn't need to stop as much either. We actually broke even for overall time - I was faster while moving, but had to rest - he continued at a snails pace the whole time.

It's a rare scenario, but next time I replace my 10spd cassette should I get a 12-27t? Or is that such a trivial difference it won't matter? I'm not looking to be competitive, just a setup that will allow me to keep rolling - or at least mitigate against fatigue.

Then again it was hot and this was my first big pass climb with 100 miles ahead of it.

Any advice is appreciated.
The 12-27 gives you a gear that is about 8% lower than the 25 tooth version. It's about 1 gear easier subjectively - a noticeable gain, but not a big one. I have that cassette on my Madone triple, and I like it on the really steep or really long climbs.

That combination gave me the following averages for cayuse:

75 rpm
8.1 mph
130 BPM

and for the steep section (last 8 miles)

71 rpm
6.2 mph
129 BPM

If the weather had been cooler, I expect that I would have been closer to 7 MPH for the climb.

I took a waterfall break, a water stop break, and two shade breaks (due to the guy I was riding with). I didn't have any leg strength issues, but I've spent the majority of the season not riding on my 30T front at all.
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Old 08-18-09, 06:35 AM   #17
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I think the biggest change that needs to be made in gearing is the chainrings. The compact crank, 50/34, was an improvement, but in my opinion not enough. For me 50t are just too many. I ride around 20mph on the flat and just don't need 112" gear. When I rode a triple I had a 48/36/26 and always found the 48t ring too high and the 36t ring too small. I liked the 26t ring for climbing when I had my touring gear on the bike. So I took my 110/74 triple and set it up as a 42/26 double. The result is that I spend 95% of my time in the 42t ring and I feel really comfortable having a top gear of 103" (42/11)
i'm a fan of the 'compact' double... i have mine set up as 30/44 or 30/46. would be happy in 30/44 as well.
i'm running a 13-29 on the rear - so i spend 80% of my time in the 46.
would love to have something lower when carrying a load - but i just don't do that often enough.
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Old 08-18-09, 06:48 AM   #18
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i'm a fan of the 'compact' double... i have mine set up as 30/44 or 30/46. would be happy in 30/44 as well.
i'm running a 13-29 on the rear - so i spend 80% of my time in the 46.
would love to have something lower when carrying a load - but i just don't do that often enough.
What compact double allows a 30/44 or 30/46 combo?

Most compacts are limited to a 34t due to 110 bcd.

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Old 08-18-09, 07:09 AM   #19
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What compact double allows a 30/44 or 30/46 combo?

Most compacts are limited to a 34t due to 110 bcd.

Michael
note the ' around 'compact'

94 bcd 'compact' ta carmina is the crank on my rando rig.
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Old 08-18-09, 07:15 AM   #20
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note the ' around 'compact'

94 bcd 'compact' ta carmina is the crank on my rando rig.
Yes, that's a great crank.

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Old 08-18-09, 08:24 AM   #21
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note the ' around 'compact'

94 bcd 'compact' ta carmina is the crank on my rando rig.
I call those 'micro' doubles to avoid confusion with 110mm BCD doubles.
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Old 08-18-09, 09:18 AM   #22
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Besides the Sram XX MTB crank and the ta carmina, are there other "micro" double cranks that allow a smaller than 34t chainrings ?
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Old 08-18-09, 11:58 AM   #23
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I use standard triple cranks, and only put chainrings on the inner and middle positions. I now have three bikes: Road/racer = 28/46 (plus 11-26 cassette), Tourer/commuter = 26/42 (plus 11-28 cassette), Cyclocross = 26/44 (plus 12-27 cassette).

A 94 BCD will only let you go down to 29 teeth, so I prefer the triple with a 74mm BCD for the inner ring.
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Old 08-18-09, 12:58 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
Besides the Sram XX MTB crank and the ta carmina, are there other "micro" double cranks that allow a smaller than 34t chainrings ?
I found that some of the older MTB cranksets can be found for cheap. A 94mm/58mm BCD is common on them. Lotsa options for smaller chainrings.

I got my last one of these Shimano sets brand new for $30...
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Old 08-18-09, 08:30 PM   #25
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I ran 34x25 on RAMROD, and averaged around 6.5mph up Cayuse. The day after RAMROD I cannibalized a MTB cassette I had laying around and was able to squeeze a 28 tooth cog on the back. I prefer to keep a higher cadence, so the 28 would have been nice in the back.

I commuted to school back and forth for a year(8 miles round trip) for a year before building a roadbike in march. 5 months of training allowed me to survive ramrod, but I feel a little more saddle time will allow me to "enjoy" the ride a bit more.
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