I have found that the jumps between a 11-34 9sp cassette to be too large and we never used the 11. So, I changed from 30-42-52 chainrings and 11-34 9sp cassette to 26-38-48 chainrings and an 11-27 10sp cassette for hills and an 11-23 10sp for flat rides.
The result shifts great with road derailleurs. I know that gearing is very individual but except for a low top end am I missing something with this combination? Any suggestions?
I don't understand the need for a 52 or 53/11 either. It's a flat-land sprinting gear on a single (though most 'club' riders are better served by a 12). I don't sprint on my tandem. Also, how much pedaling does one do going down hill? Once you are coasting at 45 + MPH what is the use?
I am running a 53/12 top gear and only occasionally use the 12.