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  1. #1
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    lowest gear inches for supported touring

    is 34" low enough gearing for SUPPORTED touring? assuming i am in decent shape, carrying no load on my bike, and biking across the country which will include some mountains...


    this website suggests 30" for non loaded touring but my current set up has 34" as the lowest. also it is a little vague about the terrain.

    http://www.bicycle-touring-guide.com...e-gearing.html


    any opinions?

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    If you can make a reasonably inexpensive change to a chainring or a cassette to get the gears lower, I'd do it.

    I don't think anyone regrets having another gear (or two) to reach for when the going gets tough. It's not just hills - heavy duty headwinds on the plains can have you riding in some low gears as well. Even on a fully supported tour, you're likely to be carrying something in a seat bag or handlebar pack.

  3. #3
    Macro Geek
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    When I take my touring bicycle for a ride, even when not carrying significant luggage, I am grateful that I have super-low gears to get me up steep hills and through strong head winds. My lowest gear is around 18 inches, and I use it.

  4. #4
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatigoworld View Post
    is 34" low enough gearing for SUPPORTED touring? assuming i am in decent shape, carrying no load on my bike, and biking across the country which will include some mountains...


    this website suggests 30" for non loaded touring but my current set up has 34" as the lowest. also it is a little vague about the terrain.

    http://www.bicycle-touring-guide.com...e-gearing.html


    any opinions?
    If someone else is carrying your gear, your 34" will probably work. However, like acantor, I have the lowest I can get on all my bikes all the time. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it
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    34 gear inches suggests a 34 small ring and a 27 large cog. If you have road derailleurs, then it's probably not possible to get smaller gear inches without significant changes. If you're not old, then you'll probably do fine with what you have. If you are old, then save your knees and make the change, perhaps to a different bike.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
    Amen brother!

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I've done short tours with around 25 pounds of luggage with around the same kind of gearing.

    It depends on your fitness, how hilly the route is and how long the tour is. I'm reasonably fit, so I was able to do a nearly flat tour and a semi-hilly tour (Ireland) without too much trouble. Other tours with more inclines and carrying more weight (California coast) definitely benefited from lowering the gearing.

    If your tour is going to be more than, say, 2 weeks long and/or involves a lot of hills, I'd lower the gearing.

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    i am currently running a single chainring front thats 44t chainring and 11-34 cassette. its always been a good range for me which is 34" to 107". i have never needed more or less. although i havent climbed many mountain ranges (except for the adirondacks). i would love to stay with my current set up if possible but i dont want to screw myself over if its a mistake.

    i understand the reasoning of having extra low gears that you wont end up using, but what if i wont even use 34"? i am honestly broke right now so it would be a stretch to make any changes to my bike....i wouldnt want to go throught the trouble if i dont absolutely need to...

  9. #9
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    No one can tell you the right gears for you, with any certainty. It all depends on fitness, riding style (read desired cadence) and terrain.

    One test however would be go out and find some sustained steep climbs. If you can comfortably climb a 15% grade with that setup, I think you'll likely be ok.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

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    You never absolutely need to. Worst case is that you might have to walk a few of the steepest sections and/or take a break or two on some of the longest hills. No worries. Have fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    No one can tell you the right gears for you, with any certainty. It all depends on fitness, riding style (read desired cadence) and terrain.

    One test however would be go out and find some sustained steep climbs. If you can comfortably climb a 15% grade with that setup, I think you'll likely be ok.
    anyone know a 15% grade climb near NYC?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fatigoworld View Post
    i am honestly broke right now
    New information.

    When I read "supported tour across the US" I was assuming you were paying for the support and that a few bucks for a new crankset wouldn't be a big deal.

    Sounds like your current set-up has served you well. Have a great trip!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatigoworld View Post
    anyone know a 15% grade climb near NYC?
    Sneak into some parking garages.

  14. #14
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    I don't think its a fitness issue so much as a riding style issue, but that's beside the point. At any rate, I rode across the Rocky Mountains when I was 21, carrying all my gear, and my lowest gear was 34 inches. And it was fine, really, it didn't bother me at all. But I wouldn't do it that way again.

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    if you did it again without gear, would it be a suitable range?

  16. #16
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatigoworld View Post
    is 34" low enough gearing for SUPPORTED touring? assuming i am in decent shape, carrying no load on my bike, and biking across the country which will include some mountains...
    I like a 22 inch low for the long steeps, but that's me. Gearing is very personal. Try finding a nice long steep climb and see how you feel about your 34 inch low. It might be fine for you. Or not.

    Speedo

  17. #17
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatigoworld View Post
    anyone know a 15% grade climb near NYC?
    Can you go up to Bear Mountain State Park? Climb up the road to the top of the mountain. If you make it up without walking or hurting your knees you can go on your tour without worries.

    Speedo

  18. #18
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    ill try bear mountain, thanks!

  19. #19
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatigoworld View Post
    ill try bear mountain, thanks!
    I just checked. That won't give you a 15 percent grade, but it will give you a very challenging 8-9 percent grade for a couple of miles.

    Speedo

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