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  1. #1
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    how do you get those low gears?

    Just read a pretty good book about bike touring that suggests you should have an 18" gear (or below) for scaling those mtn passes and such w/ a fully loaded bike. Just wondering, how do you get gears that low on a typical touring bike? (i.e. crank w/ a BCD 110/74) I'm starting to think a mountain bike-to-tourer is the way to go. Any advice?
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    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Modern mountain biking drivetrain is commonly used on touring frames. A 22 granny with a 34 big cog will give you just under 18". That's low enough to winch yourself up practically anything.
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    Senior Moment grinningfool's Avatar
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    How do you even keep the bike vertical with gearing that low ? At such a slow speed, I would think balancing the bike becomes very difficult.

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    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    No more difficult than when going fast!

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    Quote Originally Posted by grinningfool View Post
    How do you even keep the bike vertical with gearing that low ? At such a slow speed, I would think balancing the bike becomes very difficult.
    Spin baby, Spin! I have only been on one climb where I was going slow enough that I was better off getting off and walking....but I had already been passed by a couple of guys running...up hill

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  6. #6
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    22T-34T is the granniest gear that I have on my bike, and when it is loaded with 20 or 30 lbs of luggage and water, I work hard to climb very steep hills. It's not too low. One of my friends has 20T-34T, and he uses it!

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    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    http://www.abundantadventures.com/quads.html
    Because a 16 tooth granny gear is what you really need.

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I run am mtb drive on my touring bike (a converted Trek 7500) and run a 22/32/42 with an 11-30 (8 speed) in the rear... this gives me a nice gear range from 19.6 to 102.2 and with a 34 I could go as low as 17.3 gear inches.

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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Having ridden at just under 4 mph on a 28x34 gear on a tandem at 9,200" elevation.
    Slow, but very do-able!

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    Easy once you're rolling, but if you have to stop on a hard/steep section, it can be a bit tricky to get going again because your first stroke is already at 6 o'clock before you've found your balance. This is where a Rohloff has a slight advantage - it's very easy to switch to a slightly higher gear before you get back on the bike, so you can start cranking with more control. On a derailleur bike you'd have to lift the back end off the ground (with all that luggage!) and faff about with the pedals & derailleurs.

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    Question Authority JoeMan's Avatar
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    Gearing WEB Site

    Thanks for the tip - this site is very interesting

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    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    You can go pretty slow. A 22/34 with a 26" wheel gets you 16.8 inches. Just mash up the hill. Kinda like mash-glide-mash-glide.

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    Here's one way...

    Change from 74BCD to 58BCD
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

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    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    There is also the Schlumpf Mountain Drive which has a 2.5 to 1 plantary type reduction gear in the bottom bracket. A tap of the foot and your 20 gear-inch is now an 8 gear-inch. I can maintain 3 MPH up a 20% grade with a full load at 19 G-I. Steeper then that the front wheel can start to lift off the ground. Then I walk.

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    Last edited by ken cummings; 10-26-08 at 05:50 PM. Reason: spelling
    This space open

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    Go to Sheldon's site and fritz with the gear choices for you actual rig and tire size. With really small gears it's easier to get them on 26". I did find it hard not to put a foot down the first time I tried, particularly if the shoulder gets a soft spot, or you get a big tail eddy off a truck. All in all a lot easier than the same thing on a recumbent.
    Last edited by NoReg; 10-26-08 at 08:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ken cummings View Post
    There is also the Schlumpf Mountain Drive which has a 2.5 to 1 plantary type reduction gear in the bottom bracket. A tap of the foot and your 20 gear-inch is now an 8 gear-inch. I can maintain 3 MPH up a 20% grade with a full load at 19 G-I. Steeper then that the front wheel can start to lift off the ground. Then I walk.

    www.schlumpf.ch/
    Can you use the Mountain Drive with a Tripple ring?

  17. #17
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by erbfarm View Post
    Just read a pretty good book about bike touring that suggests you should have an 18" gear (or below) for scaling those mtn passes and such w/ a fully loaded bike. Just wondering, how do you get gears that low on a typical touring bike? (i.e. crank w/ a BCD 110/74) I'm starting to think a mountain bike-to-tourer is the way to go. Any advice?
    The lowest you'll get on a 110/74 is a 24x34 combo which is 19" on a 27" wheel. I make do with a 42/26
    double and an 11/34 cassette to give me 21" to 103" which is great for touring.

    I have an old TA Zephyr just waiting to be installed and with that I could do a 20x34 which would be 16"

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    Senior Member Hasek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    Can you use the Mountain Drive with a Tripple ring?
    yep, check out page A2: http://www.schlumpf.ch/handbuecher/WHB.md.engl.pdf

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    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    Pray tell nun, how do you have yourself a 42/26 double? I'm looking for almost exactly the same setup, and can't afford a TA.

  20. #20
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I don't find anything quite that low necessary. A 26-32 was OK for everything on the Trans America. There were maybe three times in the Appalachians that I might have shifted one gear lower if I had it. In the Cascades and Rockies it was completely adequate.

    I since put a 24T ring on but still use the 32 in the rear. Nothing wrong with a 22-34, but it isn't a necessity for most riders in anything close to normal touring conditions unless maybe you travel pretty heavy.

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    It's nice to know it's there though, just in case you come across something out of the ordinary.

  22. #22
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Nothing wrong with a 22-34, but it isn't a necessity for most riders in anything close to normal touring conditions unless maybe you travel pretty heavy.
    And that also has a lot to do with the riders' fitness level.
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  23. #23
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    The world of cycle-tourists is divided into two main camps: Those who crave ultra low gears, and those who are perfectly satisfied with slightly higher gears!

    Ultimately, each rider discovers, through their own experiences, just how low they need to go. I have switched drive trains five or six times during the past 15 years, and each time, I have opted for smaller granny gears. One's own experiences with these matters is of paramount importance.

    I have been following this forum for five years, and the closest thing to a consensus about gearing that I have read is that a wide range is good for bicycle touring... although the fixies might take issue.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by acantor View Post
    One's own experiences with these matters is of paramount importance.
    That might be overstating it a bit - you can always use gear 2 instead.

  25. #25
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Downie View Post
    It's nice to know it's there though, just in case you come across something out of the ordinary.
    I agree, but hate to see new riders assuming they need to go to some extreme before they can tour. I find it a bit amusing to read threads where the riders assume they have to have all kinds of stuff before they can even consider touring. I mean there are the folks who haven't toured a single mile, but have a long list of must have items they need to upgrade on their LHT complete, or whatever, despite the fact that their bike is quite capable of long distance touring right out of the box.

    A 46-36-26 with an 11-32 is adequate for most, even for an XC tour and even for untrained cyclists. Spending an extra $10 for a 24T is probably not a bad idea, but swapping the crank for one that takes a 22T seems excessive for most riders. If they have a road crank that only goes down to 30T then it makes sense to swap it out, but if they have one that goes down to 30T it may not be worth it.

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