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  1. #1
    MB1
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    Gear Range for Florida?

    We just bought a house in Clermont/Lake County. There are hills there but nothing of any bother. We are running stock Santana 10spd gearing (11/34 cassette and 30/39/53 rings) and just about never use the inner ring. Even touring in Germany or riding the hilly parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania that small ring gets pretty lonely (39x34 is a pretty low gear for us).

    We are used to the way the thing shifts and have ridden it in Lake County with no issues. Is there any real advantage to switching to a narrower range cassette or taking the 2 inner rings off and just running the 53?

  2. #2
    sch
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    If your riding speeds go above 20mph on a regular basis a narrow range cassette, either
    a 12-27 shimano or for 35mph+ blasts an 11-26 SRAM gives you lots of 'vernier' options.
    SRAM also has an 11-28 10spd. Riding with groups or on gentle undulations a tooth or
    two shift up or down can be all you need to keep cadence in a comfortable small range.
    Depends on your type of riding. Narrow range cassettes can be addictive or a curse
    depending on your riding style, but 26 tooth is not all that small a sprocket even on
    a tandem. You might also consider a 46-50t CW instead of 53, again considering your
    riding style, basically emulating the compact gearing setups with perhaps a 39-50 CW
    that with an 11t sprocket will still let you wind it up well above 30mph if you are so inclined.

  3. #3
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    We used an 11/23 rear cassette on our Santana with the 53/39/30 triple. It works great but for the long steep climbs. I used an 11/28 SRAM cassette in Mallorca Spain and 30/28 was fine.

    However, the reason we changed cassettes initially was to get more gears at the high end. The 11/34 has too big a change at the high end for our taste i.e. 11/13/15 and etc. The 11/23 and 11/28 are 11/12/13/14 and etc. They offer better cadence control to meet our objectives.

    We spin 90 to 100 rpm so we use the 39 tooth chainring a lot but are totally indifferent to middle v large. Also, for longer but not necessarily steep climbs, we may use the 30 chainring and the middle of the rear cassette so there is less cross chaining and finer cadence control.

    I suggest an 11/23 or 11/21 rear 10 speed cassette and leave the front der and chainrings alone. If you decide to travel where there is more challenging terrain then you only need to swap to your 11/34 cassette.

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    We went with 11-23 after a brief period with a stock 12-34 or whatever it was, and it is much, much better. We rarely hit the granny (except by mistake!) in New England. Highly recommended change for a stronger team.

  5. #5
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    highest spot if Fla is what, 300 ft. Maybe just a fixie.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living






    ^ Since January 1, 2012

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    Senior Member iamarobotman's Avatar
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    I use a singlespeed tandem. You don't need gears here.

  7. #7
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    HI,
    We spend some time in Fl occasionally, in the winter, and have a converted mtn bike
    as our tandem. We run an 11/21 on the back and a traditional double on the front, 53/42,
    and it works great. Sure, we'd be happy with pretty much anything 'cause it's warm and
    sunny, but I also love the way it looks,...makes me feel really strong,..but as you can imagine,
    it's like a close ratio gear box in a sports car. Also,..I've never ridden in the lake country, but
    as mentioned above, I think you'd be safe with anything mentioned.

    Rich.

  8. #8
    Florida rider bikeguy's Avatar
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    I will be interested to hear your reviews when you ride up Sugarloaf in Clermont or even buck hill for that matter....

  9. #9
    MB1
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeguy View Post
    I will be interested to hear your reviews when you ride up Sugarloaf in Clermont or even buck hill for that matter....
    We have gone down to Florida (we live in DC) over Christmas/New Years for the last 5 years. We have ridden up Sugarloaf many times-from both sides. The first few times we did it we were riding fixed gear.......

    A few weeks ago when we were house hunting we took the tandem (the thing has S&S Couplers), Sugarloaf ain't that much of a climb but we did use the middle ring. Not long, not steep except in the context of Florida riding. The view from the top is pretty good.
    Last edited by MB1; 10-31-08 at 09:40 AM.

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    I've heard that Floridians often ride up overpasses to get in some hill climbing! A fixed gear tandem would be the ultimate in light weight and low maintenance.

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    Every team is different, but I can't imagine needing a 53x11 in Florida unless you have 26" wheels or regularly draft semis for fun. We only use our 52x12 (700c tandem) or 53x11 (26" triple) on really good downhills. A 12-23 cassette has one-tooth jumps all the way up to 19t, which, in my experience, can come in handy on long headwind stretches.

  12. #12
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    you do realize Sugarloaf is near Cleremont. Not long but 15%

    If you want tighter ratios put on an 11-23, and just don't the small ring. There's no significant disadvantage leaving the small chainring on , and its avialable if you go somewhere else to ride.
    Last edited by merlinextraligh; 10-30-08 at 04:47 PM.

  13. #13
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    As some have said.

    Your best bet is leaving the crankest as-is and using an narrower range cassette.

    An 11-28 sounds like a good choice. You will get nicer spacing between gears. A 30-28 could get you up most climbs anyway.

    We have a 53/42/30 with a 9-spd SRAM 11-32. But we have stuff that looks like this:

    http://www-graphics.stanford.edu/~lucasp/grade/bohlmanonorbit.html

    However, I do make it a point to stay in the 42 ring for many climbs if we can "for training purposes"

  14. #14
    MB1
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    I'm tired of hearing about Sugarloaf.

    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    you do realize Sugarloaf is near Cleremont. Not long but 15%....
    #1 I really doubt that baby is anything like 15% even from the west approach. Even if it was that steep the thing is what, 150 feet of elevation gain?

    #2 The first half dozen times we rode over the thing we were riding fixed gear near the end of a century.

    #3 Most places in the country it wouldn't even rate a mention on a route slip.

    #4 In Colorado it would be just another "roller."

    So, ignoring that Alp-like bump in the road; what gear range makes sense for Florida riding. We are going to be riding the tandem in Florida again in a month. Right now I am leaning towards a 12-27 (mostly because I already have a spare in the bin).

  15. #15
    Florida rider bikeguy's Avatar
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    here's a thought.... if the terrain is so terrible .....and you are such awesome climbers....Why move to Florida......

    If you do.............. here is a thought...... remove from your Vocabulary..... " Well..... when we rode up North....."

    Cuz frankly..... we don't care

    other than that welcome to our humble state

    -----------------------

  16. #16
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    MB1 - why did you ask the question in the first place since you already know so much about FL? Why not just stay with fixed to avoid the complications of gear choice

    P.s. I do envy your climbing ability having myself struggled up Sugarloaf at the end of a couple of centuries - but I'm well over 60! I agree with you that those Clermont hills would have been nothing to write home about had I been 40 years younger. I used to ride a 69in fixie up a 25% grade in my youth.

  17. #17
    Cyclist- Bike 'n a half
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    Sugarloaf isn't that much of a hill, but it's our hill & we like it!

    We live in neighboring Orange County where it's flat as a flounder. Hills were a struggle for us when we first started riding the tandem. We didn't even try Sugarloaf on the big bike until after a trip to some real hills at the TN Tandem Rally. Now we go right up with no problem. We run 12-27 in the back & 53-39-26 in the front. We never use the granny on our side of town or just about anyplace else in the state except Sugarloaf & Buck Hill, and it's darned nice to have when you need it. As to the grade, the highest I've measured on my Garmin Edge 305 is 13%, no telling how accurate that is.

    Anyone who rides in the area needs to know about this ride coming up in a couple of weeks;

    http://www.horrible-hundred.com/

    Attendance has been over a thousand riders the last couple of years and it should be even better this year. We'd hope to ride it on the tandem this year but instead I'll be in charge of the SAG team & stoker Michele will be manning a rest stop.


    And yes, it true that some Floridians try practicing for hills by doing overpasses. Trust me it doesn't work. I tried it myself when I lived in Ft. Lauderdale and signed up for 6 Gap. The only way to get good at hills is to do lots of them.
    Last edited by regomatic; 11-02-08 at 05:51 PM.

  18. #18
    MB1
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeguy View Post
    here's a thought.... if the terrain is so terrible .....and you are such awesome climbers....Why move to Florida.........--
    Those are things I have never said.

    Why move?

    Winter warmth!

    Plus we greatly enjoy riding in Lake County.

    We are thinking it just might be a great place to retire to (sometime in the next couple of years).

  19. #19
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MB1 View Post
    So, ignoring that Alp-like bump in the road; what gear range makes sense for Florida riding. We are going to be riding the tandem in Florida again in a month. Right now I am leaning towards a 12-27 (mostly because I already have a spare in the bin).
    As I said before 11-23. It will give you tight spacing. The 11 will occassionally be useful when you're going down the fewe steep short descents, when you're hammering downwind, and when you want to stand for a bit at a lower cadence.

    The 12-27 you already have will be fine. It just won't give quite as tight of spacing, and will give you a lower gear than you need, and you won't have the 11 for those few times you can actually use it.

    Writing on a clean sheet of paper, I'd buy an 11-23. Already owning a 12-27 I'd just run that.

  20. #20
    Cyclist- Bike 'n a half
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    The 12-27 with the 53 up front starts to spin out for us somewhere just north of 36 MPH. If you still need to pedal going faster than that, more power to you, we'll just coast for a while and catch up with you later.

  21. #21
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    ^ I understand, that its very difficult to spin out a 53/12. However, there are still reasons to like the 11.

    Biggest reason for us is that when you're going along in the low 20's on the flats,and want to stand up for a butt break, 53/11 makes a very nice gear.

    And if you don't need the low end, an 11-23 cassette is lighter an better spaced than a 12-27.

  22. #22
    PMK
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    Reviving a slightly older topic...

    I'm doing some work and changes to the bike (Co-Motion Speedster with 700c/28). The main mod is installing new cranks and BB's. The stokers 170's were to short so 175 are going on.

    These cranks, Race Face Tandems, came with chainrings 32/44/54. Our old cranks were Race Face also with the same 32/44/54 sizes.

    Currently the rear cassette is a 11/32(9sp).

    In all of our riding with the 11/32, we've never used the inner ring, nor have we spun out the 11/54. We have one hill to use as a gage, this is in a park built on a previous landfill. I'm not sure what the grade percentage would be, but we go vertical about 70feet in less than 200 yards.

    On this climb, we normally climb in worst case in the 32/44 set.

    Back to the reason for the post, with the new cranks and chainrings, I'm installing a new chain. I also have in some spares, a new 12/21 cassette (9sp).

    I did some quick math, and while not quite as stump pulling as what we currently run, if we were to run the full range on the front, our 21/32 is a bit taller.

    I doubt it will be a concern here in West Palm,
    So before I cut the new chain, any thoughts.
    How about if we head off to other venues like north Florida or Georgia?

    Thanks
    PK

  23. #23
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PMK View Post
    How about if we head off to other venues like north Florida or Georgia?

    Thanks
    PK
    North Florida you won't find anything steep or sustained. 80 vertical feet, at 6% across a bridge is about it.

    Parts of Central Florida you have some steep hills, such as Sugar Loaf at 15%, but they're short, and most of the "hills" are more rolling and not that steep.

    Depending on your team strength you might like something lower than 32/22.

    North Georgia is a different story. There are actual hills there in the area around Dahlonega and Helen.
    Brasstown Bald is the worst. 3 miles with an average grade above 10% and a sustained section of 21%. Hogpen Gap is 7 miles with a section above 15%. I would venture that you're average tandem would struggle up Hogpen in a 32/22, and would not make it up Brasstown.


    Personally, I'd go ahead and put the smaller cassette on. You'll get better spacing and better shifting.
    Then if you're going to head to actual hills, you can always swap out the 11-32 cassette, and a chain dedicated to that cassette.

  24. #24
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Our motto:
    Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it . . . but we live in Arizona where it's 74 degrees now on Dec. 30 and not at all flat.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  25. #25
    PMK
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    Thanks for the replies

    We'll put in a few miles over the next couple of days and see if it is for us. I was trying to use the 12/21 as it's basically new and laying around.

    That 12/21 is without a doubt close ratio.

    I'll probably pick up something with a bit more bottom end, just not as rock crawler low as what came off.

    I hear you about the weather Rudy or Kay, for us these are days we look forward to. Probably low 80's today, wife was wearing sunscreen on Sundays off road ride.

    Thanks again
    PK

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