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  1. #1
    Senior Member Cyclingmaniac's Avatar
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    Cassette and crank questions? Seeking explanation

    Need an explanation of cassettes and cranks. I am looking at a bike with a cassette that has ultegra 11-23T / 9 speed and a crank Ultegra 39/53T.

    Are these good components on a bike?

    What would be considered better components (cassettes and cranks)?

    What do the numbers mean?

    Are there different number configurations?

    Do higher numbers mean harder to pedal or easier to pedal?

    Are there better components for different courses (i.e. flats, rolling terrain, hills and mountains)?

    THANKS!

  2. #2
    Lance Hater Laggard's Avatar
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    11-23 = a rear cassette with 11 teeth on the small cog and 23 on the largest. 39/53 means a large chainring of 53 teeth and a small chainring of 39.

    More teeth on the cassette cog equals easier pedaling. It's the opposite in the front.
    i may have overreacted

  3. #3
    Senior Member gabiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laggard
    11-23 = a rear cassette with 11 teeth on the small cog and 23 on the largest. 39/53 means a large chainring of 53 teeth and a small chainring of 39.

    More teeth on the cassette cog equals easier pedaling. It's the opposite in the front.
    If your going to ride a lot of hills you might want to consider a 12-27 unless you are pretty strong and a good climber.
    MEMBER:TITANIUM BIKE CLUB #003
    Hill's Mean Nothing To Me!!!.
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  4. #4
    Sweetened with Splenda
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    ...And yes, Ultegra is a good component line, Shimano's second-best.

  5. #5
    human velocipedio's Avatar
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    1. Are these good components on a bike? yes.

    2. What would be considered better components (cassettes and cranks)? in the shimano line, dura ace.

    3. What do the numbers mean? 11-23t means that the cassette contains nine cogs ranging from a small cog with 11 teeth to a big cog of 23 teeth. 39/53 means that the chain rings are a 39 tooth inner and a 52 tooth outer chainring.

    4. Are there different number configurations? there are other options. i think an 11-23 is probably too much of a flatlander cassette for a beginner. 12-25 would be more appropriate.

    4. Do higher numbers mean harder to pedal or easier to pedal? no. harder/bigger gears are calculated according to the ratio of the front chainring to the rear cog. 53x11 [as a ratio, 53:11] is a much bigger gear than 39x23. [do the math, the ratio of the former is higher than the ratio of the latter.

    5. Are there better components for different courses (i.e. flats, rolling terrain, hills and mountains)? typically, you would want lower gears for hiller terrain. you could get this with a different cassette [say, 12-25, or 12-27] and/or a compact crankset like 34/50. the cassette is easy and realitively inexpensive to change, a compact crankset is more involved and pricier. a power sprinter who never climbs would feel comfortable with a 11-21 or 11-23 cassette. most reacreational cyclists use 12-27 or 12-25. unless you are very, very strong and go very, very fast, it is unlikely that you will ever use your 53x11 except going downhill.
    when walking, just walk. when sitting, just sit. when riding, just ride. above all, don't wobble.

    The Irregular Cycling Club of Montreal
    Cycling irregularly since 2002

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cyclingmaniac's Avatar
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    Good Information! Maybe I can get some further advice. I just did "American's Most Beautiful Bike Ride" 100 Mile event in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and California. Elevation started at 6300ft and top elevation was 7100 ft. with about 3000 ft in climbing throughout the course (3 major climbs). Used 11/23 cog & 39/53 chain ring configuration. 22 to 28 mph during the flats and rollers, but got my butt kicked on the hills. 6 to 10 mph on 3% to 6% grades. L.A. has similar terrain, but not at the Lake Tahoe elevation levels. Thoughts and recommendations?
    THANKS!

    1. Are these good components on a bike? yes.

    2. What would be considered better components (cassettes and cranks)? in the shimano line, dura ace.

    3. What do the numbers mean? 11-23t means that the cassette contains nine cogs ranging from a small cog with 11 teeth to a big cog of 23 teeth. 39/53 means that the chain rings are a 39 tooth inner and a 52 tooth outer chainring.

    4. Are there different number configurations? there are other options. i think an 11-23 is probably too much of a flatlander cassette for a beginner. 12-25 would be more appropriate.

    4. Do higher numbers mean harder to pedal or easier to pedal? no. harder/bigger gears are calculated according to the ratio of the front chainring to the rear cog. 53x11 [as a ratio, 53:11] is a much bigger gear than 39x23. [do the math, the ratio of the former is higher than the ratio of the latter.

    5. Are there better components for different courses (i.e. flats, rolling terrain, hills and mountains)? typically, you would want lower gears for hiller terrain. you could get this with a different cassette [say, 12-25, or 12-27] and/or a compact crankset like 34/50. the cassette is easy and realitively inexpensive to change, a compact crankset is more involved and pricier. a power sprinter who never climbs would feel comfortable with a 11-21 or 11-23 cassette. most reacreational cyclists use 12-27 or 12-25. unless you are very, very strong and go very, very fast, it is unlikely that you will ever use your 53x11 except going downhill.[/QUOTE]

  7. #7
    Senior Member 55/Rad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclingmaniac
    Good Information! Maybe I can get some further advice. I just did "American's Most Beautiful Bike Ride" 100 Mile event in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and California. Elevation started at 6300ft and top elevation was 7100 ft. with about 3000 ft in climbing throughout the course (3 major climbs). Used 11/23 cog & 39/53 chain ring configuration. 22 to 28 mph during the flats and rollers, but got my butt kicked on the hills. 6 to 10 mph on 3% to 6% grades. L.A. has similar terrain, but not at the Lake Tahoe elevation levels. Thoughts and recommendations?
    If you were climbing in your largest cog, (the 23) pumping to the brink of exhaustion and only doing 6-10 mph, it would be worth it to check into either a 12/25 or 12/27. The bigger gears would allow you to spin the crank faster under comparable conditions. The result being - either you will climb faster with the same perceived effort or climb at the same speed with less perceived effort. Definitely worth checking out.

    55/Rad

  8. #8
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti SteveE's Avatar
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    Although I'm not familiar with cycling in L.A., I think the hills are probably steeper in L.A. than they are in Lake Tahoe. Probably due to the lack of ice & snow.

    I wouldn't consider 3-6% all that steep. However, a lot depends on how long the climbs are. You might wish to consider swapping out the 11-23 for a 12-27. After you've built up some strength and endurance you can put the 11-23 back on the bike.
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ...'holy *****...what a ride!'"

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