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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 05-19-09, 10:30 PM   #1
rdtompki
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Changing cassettes according to planned ride?

How many of you will change the cassette according to the ride terrain (and distance)? Our tandem has an 11-32 9-spd cassette with a 24-36-48-60 set of chainrings. This is great when we're climbing, but if I know in advance that the terrain is moderate, let's say not much over 6% I'm thinking of swapping out for something like a 13-25. Is this a common practice? Would make it a bit easier to keep up with fast singles. I'm comfortable anywhere between 80 and 100 rpm, but I don't want to go over 85 or so until my wife gets more comfortable at these higher cadences. The wider spacing on our current cassette makes it a bit difficult to find a mutually agreeable sweet spot.
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Old 05-20-09, 12:47 AM   #2
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I think having the desire to try a new combo is reason enough to make the change. Any excuse that keeps your motivation to ride is good in my book.
I know many single bike riders who tailor their cassettes/ cranks to the terrain for every ride.
I personally ride the same gearing for every ride, but I am just to lazy to change parts. Actually, i think it's cause i am an old guy set in my ways. I spent at least 2/3 of my life riding 6 speed freewheels, so the current 9/10 speed set ups, to me, seem like i have infinite gear choices.
I would definitely go with whatever your instinct is leading you to do.
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Old 05-20-09, 01:17 AM   #3
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I'm a bit obsessive about gearing combinations. We mostly keep the cassette on that will work best for all-round riding, which is an 11-26 (10-speed) with a 24-32-42-53 quad crankset. In a couple of weeks, we're doing a 110-mile mostly flat ride with 2,000 other people, so I'll be switching to an 11-23 (i.e., trading the 26 tooth for a 16 tooth) for that and will block off the 24-tooth chainring using the limit screw on the FD to keep the chain from falling onto it by accident. When we go to hit some serious, long Alpine climbs, or we're touring with luggage, then I put the 12-28 on (i.e., trading the 11-tooth for a 28-tooth, which I actually achieve by using a 12-25 cassette with the 16 tooth removed and replaced with a 28 tooth from a MTB cassette, plus a special combination of spacers).

Last edited by Chris_W; 05-20-09 at 01:21 AM.
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Old 05-20-09, 04:26 AM   #4
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12x27t is our default using 53-43-32t chainrings. However, when we know there will be some steep climbs or when we're feeling puny I run an 11x32t.

As noted, the mid-range gearing steps on the wider range cassettes can be annoying.
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Old 05-20-09, 05:53 AM   #5
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Last year we used a 12-27 for our flat local rides and 11-4 for hilly rides. Using the 12-27 most of the time made the jumps on the wider range cassette more difficult than ever. I wish that Shamino still made the 12-34 XT cassette, that helped some.
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Old 05-20-09, 08:04 AM   #6
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I think I'll play around with my gearing calculator a bit. I notice that both 13-25 and 14-25 are available. A 60-14 combination would give us 29 mph at 85 rpm. I can see spinning out with a big tailwind, but at our age we're not about to pedal downhill above 30 mph? Sounds intriguing!
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Old 05-20-09, 08:15 AM   #7
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We have two. 12-25 and 11-28 10 speed. The first for flatter routes [<6%] and the other for everthing else. Front is a 55-42-28. I really appreciate small drops between shifts.
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Old 05-20-09, 08:37 AM   #8
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We live in a quite hilly area so normally I leave our base setup (11-32) on the bike all the time. But we spent this past Feb in Florida for the full month so I switched out to 12-27 for that and really enjoyed the close splits.

Bill J.
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Old 05-20-09, 09:21 AM   #9
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We always keep a 12-27 10sp cassette on. However, next month we are doing a fairly hilly tour so I just bought a 12-30 10sp cassette. We'll try it over the next few weeks before we decide to switch for the ride.
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Old 05-20-09, 09:31 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
How many of you will change the cassette according to the ride terrain (and distance)? Our tandem has an 11-32 9-spd cassette with a 24-36-48-60 set of chainrings. This is great when we're climbing, but if I know in advance that the terrain is moderate, let's say not much over 6% I'm thinking of swapping out for something like a 13-25. Is this a common practice? Would make it a bit easier to keep up with fast singles. I'm comfortable anywhere between 80 and 100 rpm, but I don't want to go over 85 or so until my wife gets more comfortable at these higher cadences. The wider spacing on our current cassette makes it a bit difficult to find a mutually agreeable sweet spot.
as it you've got it covered from 147 to 20 gear inches. That is a huge range.

A 12/25 cassette would still give 135 to 25, with closer spacing. I would think that for most teams that range would handle just about all the terrain you're likely to run across.
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Old 05-20-09, 09:34 AM   #11
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We set up our tandem for Everest Challenge with 53/39/26 and a 12/27 (29,000 verrtical feet in 2 days, with sections of 17% grade)

In Florida, we typically use an 11/23. The 11/23 with the 2 outer chainrings gives nice tight spacing.
And if we venture into hilly terrain the 26/23 combination is still pretty low. The 12/27's would only go back on for an extreme ride.
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Old 05-20-09, 10:14 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Is this a common practice?
I've said this in other threads. When looking at the responses, try to figure out what kind of rider the poster is and whether it fit your riding style and experience. I venture to say that most replies are from enthusiasts with 1000s of miles under their belt. Do you fit that pattern? I seem to remember that you've had your tandem for a few weeks. This is important, because reading this thread gives the impression that changing cassettes standard practice for everyone, and you are likely to get sucked up in this whirlwind of possibilities (better tires! lighter wheels! different cassette! better brakes!). I know I do get caught up in that whirlwind at times. I have in the past bought bike components that once I installed them turned out to be no improvement at all over the given situation.

My own guideline is to make mimimal changes to the bike, get some serious miles on the bike and then evaluate options for improvement.

Of course, if money is not issue, by all means, buy a second cassette and give it a try.

Now for my response to OP's original question: I've never switched a cassette on any bike other than to replace a worn out one. We are a beginning tandem team (less than 1000 miles total under our belt) and our riding has been flat sofar (Midwest). I do ride 4-5k miles annually, about 2/3 on road commuting, 1/3 longer rides

Just my 2 cents
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Old 05-20-09, 11:38 AM   #13
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as it you've got it covered from 147 to 20 gear inches. That is a huge range.

A 12/25 cassette would still give 135 to 25, with closer spacing. I would think that for most teams that range would handle just about all the terrain you're likely to run across.
+1.

If I were on a DaVinci (which you are), I would definitely think about a narrow(er) cassette all the time, not for changing according to circumstances.
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Old 05-20-09, 02:32 PM   #14
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We run a 28-42-54 upfront with an 11-32 in the rear. I used to run an 11-27 in the back and then swap to the 32 but gave up doing it because we simply ride too many rides where we need something more than the 27. Eventually I might look into a 26-38 or 39-53 with an 11-29 10spd campy rear but I'll wait till I need new chainrings to consider that.
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Old 05-20-09, 03:43 PM   #15
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Living in the AZ there is hardly ever any flat terrain. We run a 9 speed 11-34 cassette and just leave it on.
Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
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Old 05-20-09, 06:44 PM   #16
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Definitely some choices. Right now we don't have enough of an overlap in our "power bands" so the wider range cassette has some drawbacks. I'm going to think on this some more before I make a decision. Very good input all.
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Old 05-20-09, 09:08 PM   #17
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We run the original SRAM PG-970 11-34 and up front 52/39/30. We live in a hilly area and they seem to work well. We ride wherever and the set up seems good.

When do you know and how do you know when a different cassette is going to provide a better ride?

Are there better cassettes than others?

How difficult is it ot upgrade from 9 to 10? Can it be done easily?
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Old 05-21-09, 05:45 AM   #18
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I upgraded from 105 9-spd to Ultegra 10 over the winter, and it was the best change I have made. The brifters are the most expensive part, and I got them cheap, so it really was a piece of cake. The shifting is much better. I was never satisfied with the 105's. We run 11-23 and only use the granny (30t) for emergencies, so it is a close to my racing bike as possible.
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Old 05-21-09, 05:55 AM   #19
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The bike came set up with the Ultegra 9 front to back on the drive train. I was wondering how best to decide when is a good time or reason to switch out a cassette. The one currently on the bike has a wide spread which would seem to be intended to cover a wider variance of riding terrain. To date it covers us well as when we ride we try to find 4-6 hills to climb to help in building our legs for distances to come.

I was wondering it we ride along the coast would it be good to go with a 11-25 or 11-27 just to have closer shifting since their would be less hills? Or stick with what we have because torrow we will be back riding around home where we easily find many hills to climb?
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Old 05-21-09, 06:02 AM   #20
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I think you have to decide how much you use the small chainring. We decided that we would never want to climb something needing a 30x27, since we don't want to descend such a thing, and besides we don't see much of that. At ETR 2008 (in NH), we did use the granny and lowest gear on one of the rides; but that was still 30x23.
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Old 05-21-09, 06:14 AM   #21
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Tandemnh wrote:Are there better cassettes than others?

How difficult is it ot upgrade from 9 to 10? Can it be done easily?


For a wide range cassette use the Santana and not the IRD. The Santana cassette works but the IRD seems to be a problem. It is surprising how the 10th cog takes the jumps out on the Santana 11-34 but the 10 speed is more finicky. The 10 speed chains are reported to wear out faster, up to 50% faster and the Santana cog sets are $170.
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Old 05-21-09, 09:55 AM   #22
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I think you have to decide how much you use the small chainring. We decided that we would never want to climb something needing a 30x27, since we don't want to descend such a thing, and besides we don't see much of that. At ETR 2008 (in NH), we did use the granny and lowest gear on one of the rides; but that was still 30x23.
I'm familar with the area around Durham [ETR 2008 (in NH)] and it is similar to the middle of the state where we live though we can find more hills to climb. The nice thing is that they can be tough but no to long. For this reason I like having the spacing of gears on the back end. We rarely us the 30 up front unless we are on a long ride and we're hitting hill 6+, then the 30 comes into use.

By the way will you be attending the ETR 2009 in PA?
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Old 05-21-09, 09:56 AM   #23
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Tandemnh wrote:Are there better cassettes than others?

How difficult is it ot upgrade from 9 to 10? Can it be done easily?


For a wide range cassette use the Santana and not the IRD. The Santana cassette works but the IRD seems to be a problem. It is surprising how the 10th cog takes the jumps out on the Santana 11-34 but the 10 speed is more finicky. The 10 speed chains are reported to wear out faster, up to 50% faster and the Santana cog sets are $170.
Am I safe in assuming I would need to change out my shifters up front to accomodate the 10th gear?
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Old 05-21-09, 12:00 PM   #24
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By the way will you be attending the ETR 2009 in PA?
No. Am sorry to miss it, but the schedule didn't work out this year. 2008 was much later in the summer, I think, and that plus proximity made it easy.
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Old 05-21-09, 05:21 PM   #25
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Will the chain need to be shortened if you change from a 34 tooth cog to a 27 tooth cog?
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