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  1. #1
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    Chainring combintions for beginners?

    Our new/used Burley has 26" wheels and came with 54/44/28 chainrings. I'm going with an 11-32 cassette, but not sure about that 54t big ring. We are both just coming back to riding after long layoff from injuries and I want a "real world" setup. What do you all use? And by the way, we live in the shadow of Southern Calif. mountains and can't really go anywhere without seeing some steep, though often short hills.
    Thanks RLong

  2. #2
    Tandem Dealer
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    Hi There,
    You can certainly go smaller on the big ring if you wish, but with a 26-inch wheel I doubt that your big ring will be a problem. Since you will probably only use the 54 in steep downhills and since you already have some pretty low gearing with your 11-32 combination, you might not want to change out the big ring.

    On the other hand if you are having trouble shifting the front derailleur, going to a 52 or 53 is not a bad idea as the 28 to 54 is close to (but not at) the limit of the derailleur wrap capacity.

    Typcially Burley specs their tandems with a 53-42-30 set up so it looks like whomever owned the bike previously had done some chainring swapping to get a broader range.
    Lynn & Patrick
    Tandem Cycle Works of Colorado
    303-715-9690
    http://www.tandemcycleworks.com

  3. #3
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Use what you've got. You have great chainring selection. That 54 will come in handy if you want to 'barrel' down some of those hills you struggled up in the 28T granny ring.
    Time will tell; things can always be changed later, if need be.

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/Zonatandem

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    SDS
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    Given that you are going with the 11-32 cassette, because you need the 28 X 32 low gear, I would switch to 53-39-28 chainrings.

    In North Texas I use 11-21T and 53-39-28, with 700C wheels, but there aren't any real hills here.

  5. #5
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    With 26" wheels, assuming high-presure tires and a with a wide range cassette, I think you will be in the big ring a lot of the time. If there is a shifting problem, it will most likely be from the 28 to the 44 (which I would consider changing to a 42 tooth middle ring...JMHO). You will find when you shift off the 44 onto the 28 to climb that you will have to upshift the rear cogset 3 or 4 gears or you will have a huge jump in gearing.

    But, with a 28/32 low gear and small wheels, you should be able to climb just about anything.

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    The gearing sounds good. We've been riding a bike with 26" wheels and a 28/38/48 which provides smooth shifting and lets us ride in the middle ring a lot on the flat stretches. But we run out of gears on the downhills at around 28 mph. It is fun doing double shifts with some of the combinations of front/back gears to get that in-between position, though.

  7. #7
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tornadobass
    The gearing sounds good. We've been riding a bike with 26" wheels and a 28/38/48 which provides smooth shifting and lets us ride in the middle ring a lot on the flat stretches. But we run out of gears on the downhills at around 28 mph. It is fun doing double shifts with some of the combinations of front/back gears to get that in-between position, though.
    I ride offroad, but occasionally do on road randonnees. 11/32 on the back and 48/36/24 front. Sorry but that 24/32 is just a fraction too tall for a steep hill offroad, and it is surprising how many times we use it on the steeper road hills that we occasionally find. As we are mainly offroad, I think this is the best compromise gearing we can use, as the 48/11 will allow us to still power in up to around 35mph. After that it is tuck in and go. We did try a 50 on the front, and did not find an appreciable increase in speed, as we still tuck in on the fast downhills, and on the flat we were rarely able to use 50/11 as our cadence was not what we were used to.

    I know some may say different, but for my bike and my setup, I cannot get a bigger spread than 24t on the front cranks. As we require that 24 as our granny, this means that we cannot put a larger sprocket on than a 48. We gear for the hills we ride, and as I have said, we find enough speed. Mind you, if you find that you are running 54/11 on the flat for extended parts of the ride, and can still get up the hills, then you do have the right gearing for you.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemDoc
    Hi There,
    You can certainly go smaller on the big ring if you wish, but with a 26-inch wheel I doubt that your big ring will be a problem. Since you will probably only use the 54 in steep downhills and since you already have some pretty low gearing with your 11-32 combination, you might not want to change out the big ring.

    On the other hand if you are having trouble shifting the front derailleur, going to a 52 or 53 is not a bad idea as the 28 to 54 is close to (but not at) the limit of the derailleur wrap capacity.

    Typcially Burley specs their tandems with a 53-42-30 set up so it looks like whomever owned the bike previously had done some chainring swapping to get a broader range.
    It is a little difficult to shift on to the big ring, but that is more a problem of the Deore XT shift lever and the length of it's swing before the ring will climb up there. As for steep downhills, my wife doesn't really like to go quite that fast I am in the process of getting a drag brake to help with that issue. Thanks for your comments.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Use what you've got. You have great chainring selection. That 54 will come in handy if you want to 'barrel' down some of those hills you struggled up in the 28T granny ring.
    Time will tell; things can always be changed later, if need be.

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/Zonatandem
    It is true that we probably haven't put nearly enough miles on it yet to be sure about gearing for us. I'm just looking to find out what people with those miles are using. Thanks for your advice.

    R & S Long

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by galen_52657
    With 26" wheels, assuming high-presure tires and a with a wide range cassette, I think you will be in the big ring a lot of the time. If there is a shifting problem, it will most likely be from the 28 to the 44 (which I would consider changing to a 42 tooth middle ring...JMHO). You will find when you shift off the 44 onto the 28 to climb that you will have to upshift the rear cogset 3 or 4 gears or you will have a huge jump in gearing.

    But, with a 28/32 low gear and small wheels, you should be able to climb just about anything.
    Yes, the jump from the granny to middle gear is edgy, especially when I forget to let my wife know what I'm doing and that she needs to back off. There have been some clunky shifts, believe me. But I'm getting better, or rather, we're getting better, and having great fun doing so.

    Thanks,
    R & S Long

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    I ride offroad, but occasionally do on road randonnees. 11/32 on the back and 48/36/24 front. Sorry but that 24/32 is just a fraction too tall for a steep hill offroad, and it is surprising how many times we use it on the steeper road hills that we occasionally find. As we are mainly offroad, I think this is the best compromise gearing we can use, as the 48/11 will allow us to still power in up to around 35mph. After that it is tuck in and go. We did try a 50 on the front, and did not find an appreciable increase in speed, as we still tuck in on the fast downhills, and on the flat we were rarely able to use 50/11 as our cadence was not what we were used to.

    I know some may say different, but for my bike and my setup, I cannot get a bigger spread than 24t on the front cranks. As we require that 24 as our granny, this means that we cannot put a larger sprocket on than a 48. We gear for the hills we ride, and as I have said, we find enough speed. Mind you, if you find that you are running 54/11 on the flat for extended parts of the ride, and can still get up the hills, then you do have the right gearing for you.
    We have some roads in all directions that have extended grades of 6%-10%. We are properly ignoring those for now, but at some point we will be on them if for no other reason than that they are typical club rides and we like to ride with our friends. But for now we are sticking to the easier roads where our gears work for us.
    Last edited by rlong; 05-05-05 at 09:23 PM. Reason: add to statement

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