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  1. #1
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    Half-step plus granny?

    Does anyone use this gearing setup? Ken Kifer wrote about it, saying he liked a 10% difference between his top two chainrings. His setup sounded pretty useful, with 14 out of 15 usable gears, but it had a 5-cog cassette, which I can't put on a modern touring bike. Does anyone know of a good setup one could put on a Surly LHT? I tried to create a 7-cog version of Ken's setup, but I'm not sure if an LHT will take 7 cogs:

    * 42-38-24 in front
    * 11-13-15-19-22-27-33 in back

    At any rate, I don't know how well this would work, and into what combinations I would find myself unable to shift because of chainline issues. Should I just go with the flow and use individual gearing (something like the Surly LHT complete's setup)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by iain.dalton View Post
    Does anyone use this gearing setup? Ken Kifer wrote about it, saying he liked a 10% difference between his top two chainrings. His setup sounded pretty useful, with 14 out of 15 usable gears, but it had a 5-cog cassette, which I can't put on a modern touring bike. Does anyone know of a good setup one could put on a Surly LHT? I tried to create a 7-cog version of Ken's setup, but I'm not sure if an LHT will take 7 cogs:

    * 42-38-24 in front
    * 11-13-15-19-22-27-33 in back

    At any rate, I don't know how well this would work, and into what combinations I would find myself unable to shift because of chainline issues. Should I just go with the flow and use individual gearing (something like the Surly LHT complete's setup)?
    Half-step chainrings were used in the era of five-speed cogsets to "fill-in" the useful range of the gears (on triple chainwheels) while minimizing the duplication of gear combinations. With nine-speed cassettes, the utility of half-step gearing is moot. Because few makers use less than nine-speed cassettes except on the lowest-priced bikes or on vintage restoration projects, there is little interest in this type of chainring setup anymore.

    Unless you are rebuilding an older and valuable bike with vintage parts, you should stick with a modern nine-speed MTB cassette and contemporary touring rings.

  3. #3
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    Alright, half step and granny are not useful then. New question: I'd like my bike to be as bombproof as possible. Will getting an 8 or even 7 cog cassette extend the life of my drive train? Or are 9 cogs just as good for that?

  4. #4
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iain.dalton View Post
    Alright, half step and granny are not useful then. New question: I'd like my bike to be as bombproof as possible. Will getting an 8 or even 7 cog cassette extend the life of my drive train? Or are 9 cogs just as good for that?
    Internal Geared Hub But in reference to your question, I don't have any proof to back it up but I would think that the 7 or 8 speed would be better in that you have less extreme chain angles, therefore putting less strain on the various wearing parts.

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  5. #5
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHenry View Post
    Half-step chainrings were used in the era of five-speed cogsets to "fill-in" the useful range of the gears (on triple chainwheels) while minimizing the duplication of gear combinations. With nine-speed cassettes, the utility of half-step gearing is moot. Because few makers use less than nine-speed cassettes except on the lowest-priced bikes or on vintage restoration projects, there is little interest in this type of chainring setup anymore.

    Unless you are rebuilding an older and valuable bike with vintage parts, you should stick with a modern nine-speed MTB cassette and contemporary touring rings.
    I wouldn't say that halfstep gearing is exactly moot with wide range 9 speed cassettes. It can be used effectively to fill in the gaps and give you 7% gear steps, ie 42-39-24 with 11-34 cassette

    Try this link

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...e_id=56277&v=s

    and the recent thread here "Tour gearing"

  6. #6
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    a started that other thread. like a lot of things, it seems either you like half step gearing, or you think its useless. I am starting out my first tour making a conscious decision to NOT go to half step, but would consider it, even making the change during the trip, if I find I have made an error in judgement. My local LBS guy is solidly in the 'why would you even do that' camp.

    i must admit that when I read the half step article on crayzyguyonabike, when he said he had to use an older model shimano 105 DOUBLE der to get to where he is happy with his setup, I though "if this is so great, why is he standing on his head to get there - if it was widely considerred desirable, by now he have been able to find cranks, chainwheels and a der that all just work well together". So decided to wait - if these parts are so great, I'll switch when the market has decided it in fact IS great.

    and it turns out, feedback in that other thread seemed to be spilt with folks who were happy, perfectly fine with normal 15% shifts, and folks for whom 7.5% shifts was somehow essential.

    for a similar topics that will generate even more widely adamant responses on both sides, post a thread about the benefits of trailers vs paniers someday. or campy vs shimano. carbon vs steel, bar end shifters vs sti, global warming vs naturaly warm portion of a normal weather cycle.

    as a beginning tourer, (but not a beginning cyclist) I am starting by NOT going to half step to see what its like and if I think I am struggling, I'll change my mind during a day off during the tour. My first tour only has 1 mountain pass, I will be crossing the rockies by only making 1 3400' in 20 miles climb. and after that 25 miles of mostely coasting then OUT of the mountasins for the rest of the trip. I'm gonna be ok. it think across Kansas I'll be unlikely to get off the middle ring. maybe in missouri I might use the small ring some.

    I am a strong cyclist, think I'd be ok with either gearing decision, just want to see what the full range of options feels like by starting out with 15% shifts and come to my own conclusions.
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  7. #7
    nun
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    I think you've made the right decision to avoid the half step. Its interesting, and I will probably try it on one of my bikes, but you don't want to be experimenting when starting a tour. As a strong cyclist I think you'll do just fine with a regular touring set up of something like 46-36-24 on a 110/74 triple with say 12-34 or if you want a lower end use a 44-32-22, but that means a MTB crank and I think a 110/74 triple is by far the most adaptable crank and should give you enough low end. I find that anything less than 20" and I start to zig zag
    as at 80 rpm I'm only doing 4mph and at that point I get off and push anyway.

  8. #8
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    i'm going 44-36-22- and 11-34, and if its a mistake that and i discover it near civilization, its a trip to a bikeshop and some rest while they work on it. i am starting in st. charles MO, on the katy trail, lots of shops on that route.

    on the other hand:

    I probably wont know its a mistake until the last 130 miles (in the rockies) and in that area I'd have to backtrack, or go on and make it to the destination before there IS a bike shop.

    backtracking?eeeeyuck.

    to the original poster - i apologize for the thread hijack...

    jack
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  9. #9
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    I had half step plus granny on my 1980 tourer. It works quite well with 5 to 7 cogs and could still be made to work with 9 cogs, but I don't think it's necessary. Here are a few factors to consider:

    – Current front derailleurs work best with a 10-14 teeth differential between large and medium rings. According to Rivendell and/or Sakkit, you would need a Double to shift well a bike with close front ratios, and then only with friction gearing (i.e. downtube or bar-end shifters).

    – Half step allowed one to fine tune their gear selection according to terrain. But shifting through the gears one by one was not that easy. In other words, if the ideal gear was half way between 53/17 and 49/15 (for exemple), you ended up doing lots of double shifts.

    – Some would object that half step plus granny leaves you with wide gaps at the bottom. It might be a problem in Western Canada and Western U.S. because of longer not-so-steep hills, but in Eastern Canada, it's definitely not a problem; 15 or 20% grades don't last for too many kilometres and their grade vary often.


    I believe that my current setup offers most of the advantages of half step, and even more. It uses 44-34-22 chainrings with a custom cassette I cobbled with a 11-32, a 12-25 and a few leftover parts. That cassette has the following cogs: 12-14-15-16-17-19-21-25-34. Compute the ratios on Sheldon Brown's Calculator and you'll see what I mean.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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    As with a few of the posters here, I tend to think those who say half step is dead, haven't quite thought it through.

    For instance, the 7 speed cluster I use has a percent range between the gears of a low of 9 and a high of 17%, while the "standard 9 speed 11-34 is actually worse with a low of 13%, and a high of 18%. So who really needs to worry about filling in the holes?

    That said, I am not convinced the half step is all that much better since what it fixes is it smoothes out the jumps further, but increases the double shifts. I could live with that, but it does it's good work at the high gear inches, which are not of great interest to me, not at the cost of double shifts.

    The best thing one can do is to learn to ride the bike. Study up on a strategy that gives you the best results, how to pedal, when to shift, when to attack, when to coast. When you have that sorted out, figure out where you need more or less of what you have. most people do this, but often only to the extend of "I need a lower granny". Ok, so you have trouble with hills. Are you spinning, what is your climbing stragegy, are you really packing your lung capacity, etc... As you progress you can review your gears, where they are, and what changes make sense. Then do some trials on Sheldons stuff.

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    It looks like everyone has their own favorite gearing. I'm not yet sure what I'll choose, but I would guess that Surly's LHT complete comes with bad gears? 48-36-26, and 11-34, make for a high gear of 118 inches. That sounds pretty high, so it's going to leave unacceptably large gaps between gears, right?

    Michel, I'm curious as to why you didn't insert a 13t cog and make up for it somewhere on the other end of the cassette, such as removing the 19. Other than that one cog, it looks like you have all close differences on one end and larger differences on the other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    I am not convinced the half step is all that much better since what it fixes is it smoothes out the jumps further, but increases the double shifts.
    Very few people ride it like that. Instead, you shift with the rear, and then use the front to fine-tune to fit your optimal cadence.

    Quote Originally Posted by iain.dalton
    48-36-26, and 11-34, make for a high gear of 118 inches. That sounds pretty high, so it's going to leave unacceptably large gaps between gears, right?
    That is a pretty high top gear, but it's the 11 that does it, not the 48. And if it's a 9-or-10-speed cassette, it's not really a problem. You still have a very low gear, you just also have a very high gear. I tour on a 52-48-26/14-30 6sp setup, and we have about the same spacing between our gears. You just have more on the top and the bottom. Not a problem.

    Let's look at the three questions that have come up. One, do you have a large enough low gear? If it's 26-34, almost certainly. Yes, you could go lower, but not much. If you get pooped, just (gasp) walk a bit.

    Second, will half-step-plus gearing be better than the "alpine" gearing? I think so, but it's not a given. Half-step gearing makes finding the sweet gear a little easier, but it does complicate your shifting a touch. Is it a huge improvement? Not really, just some of us like it a little better.

    Third, will 7/8 spd components last longer than 9/10 spd? Not if you use quality components. They will wear equally well and the biggest factor in how long they perform is the amount of care you give them. The advantages in using lower speeds are simplicity and accuracy of shifting. A 7spd is a little more forgiving of tuning errors than a 10 spd. Not a lot, but a bit. This comes with a loss of either gearing range or gear spacing. Not a big loss if it's done well. Really, it's an issue of what will fit your frame.

  13. #13
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by iain.dalton View Post
    It looks like everyone has their own favorite gearing. I'm not yet sure what I'll choose, but I would guess that Surly's LHT complete comes with bad gears? 48-36-26, and 11-34, make for a high gear of 118 inches. That sounds pretty high, so it's going to leave unacceptably large gaps between gears, right?

    Michel, I'm curious as to why you didn't insert a 13t cog and make up for it somewhere on the other end of the cassette, such as removing the 19. Other than that one cog, it looks like you have all close differences on one end and larger differences on the other.
    While the 48x11 combo is unnecessarily high for touring I wouldn't call the LHT stock gearing really bad, either just swap out the 48 and the 26 for a 44 and a 24 or better still go with a 12-34 or a 13-34.

  14. #14
    Slowpoach
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    I often find myself doing a double shift to find the right gear on the flat, running 11-34 and 24-36-46 (I think). I think next time I'll run a slightly tighter cluster and miss out on the smaller cogs.

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    "Very few people ride it like that. Instead, you shift with the rear, and then use the front to fine-tune to fit your optimal cadence."

    Probably right, if the going is easy, but you can't pick up the extra density, which is the main point, without double shifting. I have days when I can sit in the 36 chainwheel all day, and the thing about half step is that if you are that comfortable place, for a lot of people or it wouldn't be the standard set-up, then you are between two wheels. I'm not dising either system just depends what one wants more.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by iain.dalton View Post
    Michel, I'm curious as to why you didn't insert a 13t cog and make up for it somewhere on the other end of the cassette, such as removing the 19. Other than that one cog, it looks like you have all close differences on one end and larger differences on the other.

    Actually, in hindsight, I think I would have preferred a 13-34 cassette with 46-34-22 chainrings. I am not a powerful guy, so I rarely use anything higher than 44/14 or even 44/15, so the 44/12 combo is basically one I'll use if I have a strong tailwind or go down a 1% grade.

    As for the other ratios, my idea was basically to have six close ratios (14-15-16-17-19-21) that I can use with either chainring, plus bail outs at each end of the spectrum. the 17, 19 and 21 cogs are my most often used.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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