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Thread: Gearing

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    Gearing

    I'm picking out the gearing for my touring bike what is a good range? I am using a Race Face mountain crank with 5 arm 94 spacing, and I have the following rings I could use, 46,44,34 and a granny. Will 3 of those work or should I buy some other teeth numbers,and what would be good for the cassette? I am heavy and old so hills are a challenge. Thanks Ted

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    George Krpan
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    Use the lowest (smallest) chainrings you can get, usually that's 44/32/22. A full set of chainrings (3) can cost more than a whole new crank. Also, a new crank complete with gears will shift better because the ramps and pins are placed optimally in relation to each other.
    An 11-32 cassette is the norm. There is also 12-34 cassettes but bike makers seem reluctant to spec them. It's probably because there has been shifting problems with the 34 tooth gear. At any rate there's not a material difference between a 34 and 32 in gear inches.
    I like to have the 11 because, although it is not used much while touring, it is useful when riding the bike unloaded.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I'd go for low gearing, if you feel your fitness isn't quite there.

    The lowest I've heard of in terms of gear inches is 18", which you can get with something like a Schlumpf or the SRAM DualDrives. I assume you can do this with a triple as well, not sure on that.

    A typical touring bike is around 27", by the way.

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    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    My wife and I use 42/32/22 with 11-32 you can just about go anywhere with the lowest setting.
    We are not young nor super fit and it has worked out very well for us.

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    While there is a Gear thread happening anyone want to give an opinion on this proposed set up for a loaded world tour? I've got a 12-27 right now but I am thinking about switching it up just a little.

    48/38/24 - 13 14 15 17 19 21 24 27 30
    100.9 79.9 50.4
    93.7 74.2 46.8
    87.4 69.2 43.7
    77.1 61.1 38.6
    69.0 54.6 34.5
    62.4 49.4 31.2
    54.6 43.3 27.3
    48.6 38.5 24.3
    43.7 34.6 21.9
    Surly Cross Check, Thorn Sherpa

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoss10
    I'm picking out the gearing for my touring bike what is a good range? I am using a Race Face mountain crank with 5 arm 94 spacing, and I have the following rings I could use, 46,44,34 and a granny. Will 3 of those work or should I buy some other teeth numbers,and what would be good for the cassette? I am heavy and old so hills are a challenge. Thanks Ted
    A 46/34/22 is a very nice crankset combination. I have in on my touring bike (with a RaceFace Turbine) with a 11-34 cassette on the wheel. It works well and makes a nice transition from middle range to high range in the middle of the cassette. Go to Sheldon Brown's Gear calculator and play with numbers before you decide, however.
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    nun
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    Here's my gearing

    42/26 on the front with an 11-34 cassette. Its set up so that I use the 42t ring with from 11 to 23 and the 26t ring
    from 17 up to 34. I can infact use all the cogs with both chain rings but keep the chain angle reasonable. I
    went with the 26t ring as I was worried about the front shifting, but it works smoothly with an ultegra double.
    Going from the 42 to the 26 is a big ratio change, but its not difficult to get used to here's my gear inches

    cog/ring 42 26
    11 103 64
    13 87 54
    15 76 47
    17 67 41
    20 57 35
    23 49 31
    26 44 27
    30 38 23
    34 33 21

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoKrpan
    Use the lowest (smallest) chainrings you can get, usually that's 44/32/22. A full set of chainrings (3) can cost more than a whole new crank. Also, a new crank complete with gears will shift better because the ramps and pins are placed optimally in relation to each other.
    An 11-32 cassette is the norm. There is also 12-34 cassettes but bike makers seem reluctant to spec them. It's probably because there has been shifting problems with the 34 tooth gear. At any rate there's not a material difference between a 34 and 32 in gear inches.
    I like to have the 11 because, although it is not used much while touring, it is useful when riding the bike unloaded.
    I tend to like a 48-34-24 combination with a 12-32 but I wouldn't argue with George's assessment since it certainly wouldn't hurt anything.

    The bottom line is this - you almost NEVER use the fastest gears on a touring bike and you seldom use near the fastest. There was one place on our last tour where one of the group wanted to hurt everyone else and picked the pace up to 20 mph for the last 20 miles but I wasn't in high gear with my 53-39-24 combination with a 13-28 7 speed on the back.

    But when you need lower gears you really need lower gears.

    From mountain biking I've discovered that the LOWER limit is being able to ride about 2.5 to 3 mph. Any slower than that and you can't balance a bicycle safely. You end up swerving all over the road and you don't want to be doing that on a highway with a steep climb.

    So you need to have sufficient strength to turn a large enough gear to carry you and your load up the steepest road at 3 mph or faster. I usually feel comfortable riding at 4 mph up steep stuff in a 24-28 but there are times when a 30 would have been nice. My load was about 40 lbs and I weigh in at about 200 clothed.

    So while you really need low gears there is a lower limit and I think that a 22-34 is below that limit.

    As for high gears I could point out that the gear I normally use was only 2/3rds of nun's high gear so his setup seems to fall well within my standards as well.

    There are a lot of ways to achieve the same thing. But everyone that has toured seems to advise lower gears instead of higher.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoKrpan
    Use the lowest (smallest) chainrings you can get, usually that's 44/32/22. A full set of chainrings (3) can cost more than a whole new crank. Also, a new crank complete with gears will shift better because the ramps and pins are placed optimally in relation to each other.
    An 11-32 cassette is the norm. There is also 12-34 cassettes but bike makers seem reluctant to spec them. It's probably because there has been shifting problems with the 34 tooth gear. At any rate there's not a material difference between a 34 and 32 in gear inches.
    I like to have the 11 because, although it is not used much while touring, it is useful when riding the bike unloaded.
    That's an excellent summary, even right down to the 11T usage.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Maybe this deserves it's own thread, but it is related to the OP's question, and there are people with very low gears answering...

    Is there a practical lower limit for gears? I would think that there was, but have no experience down in the teens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom
    I tend to like a 48-34-24 combination with a 12-32 but I wouldn't argue with George's assessment since it certainly wouldn't hurt anything.

    The bottom line is this - you almost NEVER use the fastest gears on a touring bike and you seldom use near the fastest. There was one place on our last tour where one of the group wanted to hurt everyone else and picked the pace up to 20 mph for the last 20 miles but I wasn't in high gear with my 53-39-24 combination with a 13-28 7 speed on the back.

    But when you need lower gears you really need lower gears.
    Since hoss10 already has the 46 tooth outer ring, it makes more sense to just use it and an 11-34 cassette. I've found that 11-34 are more readily available in 9 speeds than 12-34 also. A 46/11 combination is a 114" gear while a 48/12 is a 109" gear. Not really enough of a difference to worry about. As for the chainrings working together, any chainring will work with any other. Some are just nicer then others.

    I'm a big fan, hoss10, of experimentation. If you try it and it doesn't work, it cost you nothing but some time.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom
    From mountain biking I've discovered that the LOWER limit is being able to ride about 2.5 to 3 mph. Any slower than that and you can't balance a bicycle safely. You end up swerving all over the road and you don't want to be doing that on a highway with a steep climb.

    So you need to have sufficient strength to turn a large enough gear to carry you and your load up the steepest road at 3 mph or faster. I usually feel comfortable riding at 4 mph up steep stuff in a 24-28 but there are times when a 30 would have been nice. My load was about 40 lbs and I weigh in at about 200 clothed.

    So while you really need low gears there is a lower limit and I think that a 22-34 is below that limit.
    I'd disagree with a 22/34 as being too slow to keep the bike balanced. Perhaps I different from others but I have no problem keeping a straight line at even less than 2 mph (I can track stand pretty well even with a load...or on a tandem ) There's lots of places where a 22/34 comes in very handy. The Alpowa summit is one I can think of. Also the climb out of the Golden Eagle ferry dock in Illinios is another. Of course you aren't going to use it all the time but it's handy to have when you need it.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom
    As for high gears I could point out that the gear I normally use was only 2/3rds of nun's high gear so his setup seems to fall well within my standards as well.

    There are a lot of ways to achieve the same thing. But everyone that has toured seems to advise lower gears instead of higher.
    I prefer a nice range of gears. I tend to throw myself down things as fast as I can so a nice gear over 100" is necessary to my riding style. I also use the bike at other times and, being the lazy cuss I am, I hate to change the chainwheels any more than I have to. Having a 114" high gear and a 17" low gives me a great range with a minimum of hassle.
    Stuart Black
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo
    Maybe this deserves it's own thread, but it is related to the OP's question, and there are people with very low gears answering...

    Is there a practical lower limit for gears? I would think that there was, but have no experience down in the teens.
    Not really. I've mountain biked with a Quad with a 44/34/24/16 and a 12-34 cassette. A 12" gear won't get you going fast anywhere but I never had problems staying upright.
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    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nun
    I can infact use all the cogs with both chain rings but keep the chain angle reasonable.
    Hey! I thought about this setup a while ago. SO... does everyone ride a triple?

    By the way, what is your motivation for keeping the chain angle reasonable?

    Apparently, from an efficiency standpoint, there is very little loss from chain angles.

    See issue 50 and 51. http://www.ihpva.org/HParchive/issues.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Since hoss10 already has the 46 tooth outer ring, it makes more sense to just use it and an 11-34 cassette.
    Would it depend on the type of shifter?

    That is, large jumps in chainring size is easier with a friction shifter than an STI/index shifter. Given the small ring is a 26, inferring from the chainring sizes on compact cranks, I would think that a jump greater than 16 teeth would be difficult with an STI shifter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Not really. I've mountain biked with a Quad with a 44/34/24/16 and a 12-34 cassette. A 12" gear won't get you going fast anywhere but I never had problems staying upright.
    Thanks for the link. This is a nice combination. I have a 46/34/24 front, and a 16 or 18 woud be a very nice addition. It would certainly improve my image going up steep hills.
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    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Not really. I've mountain biked with a Quad with a 44/34/24/16 and a 12-34 cassette. A 12" gear won't get you going fast anywhere but I never had problems staying upright.
    Are there problems with the front derailer?

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    Does anyone know, is it even possible to put a cassette larger than 27-28T on a bike with integrated road shifters and derailleurs? From everything I've read, larger cassettes (32 or 34T) only seem to work with derailleurs designed for touring or mountain bikes.

    Having never really used a cassette that size, is there a big difference between 27 and 32T?

    And I was interested to note what was described earlier in the thread as a big difference between 11 and 12T.

    When I complete an upcoming build, I'll have a bike rigged up with brifters, a road triple 52-39-30 and a Shimano 12-27 cassette. This may work for light or flat touring but from what I hear more and more on this forum, I'm going to need to rig it up with a larger cassette, smaller granny gear, and indexed/friction shifters if I'm going to tackle any serious expedition touring. Does that sound right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    Would it depend on the type of shifter?

    That is, large jumps in chainring size is easier with a friction shifter than an STI/index shifter. Given the small ring is a 26, inferring from the chainring sizes on compact cranks, I would think that a jump greater than 16 teeth would be difficult with an STI shifter.
    I have the same combination on the same (or similar) crank (46/34/22). I use an STI shifter with a Tiagra front derailer without issues. Shifts are nice and crisp.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    I

    A typical touring bike is around 27", by the way.
    I'd have to disagree. Stock gearing is in that range but those guys are really afraid of pushing it lower. It's pretty easy to get way below a 27" gear that still shifts and performs very well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenstork
    Does anyone know, is it even possible to put a cassette larger than 27-28T on a bike with integrated road shifters and derailleurs? From everything I've read, larger cassettes (32 or 34T) only seem to work with derailleurs designed for touring or mountain bikes.

    Having never really used a cassette that size, is there a big difference between 27 and 32T?

    And I was interested to note what was described earlier in the thread as a big difference between 11 and 12T.

    When I complete an upcoming build, I'll have a bike rigged up with brifters, a road triple 52-39-30 and a Shimano 12-27 cassette. This may work for light or flat touring but from what I hear more and more on this forum, I'm going to need to rig it up with a larger cassette, smaller granny gear, and indexed/friction shifters if I'm going to tackle any serious expedition touring. Does that sound right?
    Yes, it's very easy. I'd suspect that even a long cage road derailer would handle a 32 easily. Most of my bikes have XTs on them but even the bike I had with a short cage road derailer handled a 29 tooth cog well.

    If you are going to the combination you detailed why not go to a mountain bike or trekking crank? A 48/11 combination is almost identical to the 52/12 in terms of gearing. The smaller chainwheels shift a bit better, in my opinion, and with the smaller inner ring (usually a 36 or 34) you get a better middle range. When you combine it with a 24 inner, you get a low that's worth carrying around

    Nashbar is selling an XT Octalink trekking crank right now for $90 which is a super deal. I just ordered one to get rid of the 53/42/30 crank on my commuter bike. Even a speed demon like me doesn't need a 130" gear

    Edit: Michel Gagnon has a website about this conversion. He post here in the touring forums a lot.
    Last edited by cyccommute; 01-08-07 at 03:37 PM.
    Stuart Black
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    Are there problems with the front derailer?
    There weren't 15 or so years ago but derailers back then had a much wider range. I doubt if you could get an indexing front shifter to work. It would probably work with a cheaper front derailer and a barcon shifter. The cheaper front derailers have a bit more capacity then the more expensive ones.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    If you are going to the combination you detailed why not go to a mountain bike or trekking crank? A 48/11 combination is almost identical to the 52/12 in terms of gearing. The smaller chainwheels shift a bit better, in my opinion, and with the smaller inner ring (usually a 36 or 34) you get a better middle range. When you combine it with a 24 inner, you get a low that's worth carrying around ...
    I have some fairly specific desires for a crank set. 1) I need a 177.5mm crank arm length and 2) I'd prefer a splined bottom bracket that stands up well in wet Seattle weather.

    I ended up with a Dura Ace triple because it was one of the few cranks that met both criteria. I'm going to keep that up front no matter what although I might consider changing out chainrings. Not ideal for touring, I know, but well suited otherwise, for commuting and long weekend/century rides which will occupy about 90-95% of my time on the bike.

    Anyways, I was hoping to compensate for the big rings of the DA with a larger toothed rear cassette, thinking if I got up to 32 or 34T that it would perform passably well for most of the touring I'll be doing. Not ideal but certainly workable I would imagine. According to my LBS, the Campy long cage rear derailleur won't really work with anything much larger than a 29-30T. I guess time will tell, and a few mountain passes
    Last edited by greenstork; 01-08-07 at 04:43 PM.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenstork
    I have some fairly specific desires for a crank set. 1) I need a 177.5mm crank arm length and 2) I'd prefer a splined bottom bracket that stands up well in wet Seattle weather.

    I ended up with a Dura Ace triple because it was one of the few cranks that met both criteria. I'm going to keep that up front no matter what although I might consider changing out chainrings. Not ideal for touring, I know, but well suited otherwise, for commuting and long weekend/century rides which will occupy about 90-95% of my time on the bike.

    Anyways, I was hoping to compensate for the big rings of the DA with a larger toothed rear cassette, thinking if I got up to 32 or 34T that it would perform passably well for most of the touring I'll be doing. Not ideal, I know, but certainly workable I would imagine. I guess time will tell, and a few mountain passes
    If the Dura Ace is 130mm bolt circle, you could still go with a 48/38/26 (or maybe 24) for the front if you want to change the chainrings. Your curent setup isn't bad...I've touring many miles with something similar... but if you have problems or need a lower range of gears, changing to the above ring set would help. My order of change would be the cassette first (easier and cheaper to change) then the rings.
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    George Krpan
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    Greenstork,

    I fear you are getting 10 speed. If so, you lose compatability with the mountain bike stuff which is 9 speed.
    I don't know how well the Dura Ace rear derailleur handles a larger than 27 tooth gear but it is a moot point because Shimano does not provide a 10 speed cassette with a gear larger than 27.
    What kind of bike are you building that you would put Dura Ace on but is capable of touring?
    I think of Dura Ace in terms of pure road bike. On a more versatile bike, not a pure road bike, I do not consider road groups but rather mountain bike groups. I'll be building a Long Haul Trucker soon. It's main use will be for my almost daily road ride. I have a high tech road bike but aesthetically, I hate it. I've retired from the racer poser crowd and do not have to keep up with them anymore. Now, I can ride what I really want to ride. I'm going with a 48/36/26 crank. This will give me a good top end AND a good low end. I'll be able to hang with the roadies if I want to and I'll be able to tour on it too. I can use 9 speed road casettes such as 11-23 or 12-26 or I can use mountain bike cassettes like the 11-34. I can change them to suit my specific needs at any time.
    My point is, are you sure you want Dura Ace for this bike?

  25. #25
    RPM: 85. MPH: varies. edtrek's Avatar
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    As a gearing geek I love this thread! My Surly LHT will have a 20/36/46 up front, and an 11/34 in the back. This results in a lower low gear than my 26" MTB, and a higher high gear than my Trek1100 road bike.

    I've been puzzling for a while over how to effectively present gear-inch chart (front/rear*27) and how to present the optimal path through the effectively usable gear, and I've ended up with this sort of a chart:


    I'd sure appreciate any critique or suggestions about a way to present this info. I think it's a key issue in bicycle popularity- the market sells people bikes with 27 gears and no info or briefing on how to use them.

    By way of explanation, the chart indicates the gear-inches resulting from every gear combo.
    The effective path through the gears is indicated by the green color and the smaller sequence numbers.
    The large-large combos are not available, there's not enough chain to accomodate them.

    So, you'd start in the granny gear F20 / R 34, and click the rear derailluer twice to get to 3rd gear.
    Then, you'd upshift to the middle chainring and downshift the rear twice, to get to 4th gear.
    You'd stay in the middle chainring for 5 gear shifts, resulting in 9th gear at 61 gear-inches.

    To get to the 10th gear, upshift the chainring and downshift the rear derailleur for a 10th gear of F46/R18.
    Continue shifting the rear der. until you get to 14th gear - which, if you get there, probably means you're descending and light.
    Last edited by edtrek; 01-08-07 at 05:58 PM.

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