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  1. #1
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    Mountain bike gears vs. Road bike Gears

    I've noticed that a lot of touring bikes that you buy fully set up come with road bike gearing, but on speaking to a few mates and bike shop owners etc I've come across a lot of people who suggest that mountain bike stuff is the best to go for. Just wanted to throw out the question to the forum and see what your thoughts were.

    Rob.

  2. #2
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    Just kind of depends on how low a gear you want/need. Biggest cog that a Shimano mtb rear derailleur (long cage) supports would be a 34 I think, which is more than the largest road derailleur supports (28????, I don't remember)... And you can still use STI with a Shimano rear derailleur as on the Salsa Vaya... Or you can use barcons and have friction/index on the rear der. ala Surly LHT...

    Jay

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    Cheers man,
    that makes a lot more sense to me now!

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    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    I'm so glad you asked this. Nothing to contribute, but it was something I was wondering about too.

  5. #5
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    Might wonder why not just use a mountain bike? Well, some people do, in fact, I did for about 12 years, I would commute and tour on a 1995 marin team hardtail. But in general, for road use, a road bike geometry is faster and perhaps more comfortable so mfgrs would combine the road frame/geometry with a mtb der. (at least on the rear) to provide best of both worlds. Some bikes, like the Salsa Fargo is intended for off road touring so it has a MTB der front and rear.... whereas the LHT or the Vaya use a traditional road der on the front...

    Jay

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    Depends on where you are touring and how strong you are and how much stuff you are carrying. For fully loaded/camping touring in mountainous areas for a normally fit person, mountain bike gearing works really well.

    I swapped out my crank on my Trek 520 to a mountain bike crank and love it. I hardly ever need a bigger gear, but I'm in my lowest one lots.
    ...

  7. #7
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I did the same conversion to my wife's and my touring bikes (Cannondale T800 and Bianchi Volpe) as Valygirl, and have found the gearing much better for loaded touring. We rode across the US fully loaded a few years ago with the stock cranks, and the first thing I did when we got home was take off the "trekking" cranksets 48/36/26 and replace them with a mountain 44/32/22 set. Combining these gears with an 11-34 rear cassette makes the bike a lot more " hill friendly". We've done two segments of the Pacific Coast route since then and really appreciate the lower gearing. Right now I'm building a LHT and plan on the same gearing. STI shifters (combination brake and shift levers-road) work great as does the Tiagra front derailleur which is a road derailleur. The STI shifters also work well with the mountain, Shimano LX, rear derailleurs.

    With the 44/32/22 I spin out at about 26 mph, which is plenty fast for touring. I've also found that in hilly country I spend a lot more time in the low gears than I do in the high. It just takes longer going up a hill at 4 mph than zipping down the other side at 30!


  8. #8
    Gouge Away kaliayev's Avatar
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    I run an Ultegra 6503 crank on my Trek 520. I did change the chainrings to 48-39-24 with a rear cassette 11-34 using a XT RD. I also use my 520 to commute on which is mostly via MUP so I wanted a higher gear. The 24-34 low has been plenty for me so far.

  9. #9
    Senior Member KDC1956's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    I did the same conversion to my wife's and my touring bikes (Cannondale T800 and Bianchi Volpe) as Valygirl, and have found the gearing much better for loaded touring. We rode across the US fully loaded a few years ago with the stock cranks, and the first thing I did when we got home was take off the "trekking" cranksets 48/36/26 and replace them with a mountain 44/32/22 set. Combining these gears with an 11-34 rear cassette makes the bike a lot more " hill friendly". We've done two segments of the Pacific Coast route since then and really appreciate the lower gearing. Right now I'm building a LHT and plan on the same gearing. STI shifters (combination brake and shift levers-road) work great as does the Tiagra front derailleur which is a road derailleur. The STI shifters also work well with the mountain, Shimano LX, rear derailleurs.

    With the 44/32/22 I spin out at about 26 mph, which is plenty fast for touring. I've also found that in hilly country I spend a lot more time in the low gears than I do in the high. It just takes longer going up a hill at 4 mph than zipping down the other side at 30!

    I run a 44,32,22t mountain crank set on my LHT as well its a Shimano M442 has work well for me I don't care for speed anyway.Nice bike you have too.

  10. #10
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    I'm deciding between a 56 LHT (48-36-24) and a Trek 520 with the 50-39-30, which is too high, of course (for me). If I keep the Trek, I'm definitely changing to lower gearing; would I be better off just going all the way to 44-32-22, or is the 48-36-24 just as good for most purposes. I'm new to all this, so welcome your suggestions.

  11. #11
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bstromberg3 View Post
    . If I keep the Trek, I'm definitely changing to lower gearing; would I be better off just going all the way to 44-32-22, or is the 48-36-24 just as good for most purposes. I'm new to all this, so welcome your suggestions.
    IMHO either one is OK.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDC1956 View Post
    I run a 44,32,22t mountain crank set on my LHT as well its a Shimano M442 has work well for me I don't care for speed anyway.Nice bike you have too.
    I use a 46/36/26 on my LHT but it has 26" wheels so it's about the same. 11/32 cassette.

  13. #13
    imi
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    I rebuilt my bike last year before my two month winter tour of the CA deserts (flew home today), going from road gears to MTB gearing.
    I sat down with Sheldon Brown's gear calculator and compared my old, with a few different new combinations, and finally settled on 44/32/22, 11/28 (LX with barcons) which suited me and my load perfectly... even crawling out of Death Valley on 22-28 for 3.5 hours (Townes Peak if anyone knows it, *phew*).

    Most of the time I was on the middle ring except when crawling or flying

    Not saying my setup is perfect for everyone of course, but making an excel chart of a few different combinations certainly helped me make a decision

  14. #14
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    Depends on fitness, terrain, and load. If you plan to ride alot unloaded with a MTB setup, you might be frustrated not being able to increase your speed while pedaling down hills. But if I were to make a mistake, I'd sure prefer to have too low gearing than too high gearing.

  15. #15
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    You say that a lot of touring bikes come set up with road bike gearing. Well, a lot--probably more of them--come set up with mountain bike gearing. It is true that the Trek 520 came with road bike gearing for many years, but even it switched to mountain bike gearing a couple of years ago. The mountain bike gearing makes more sense, and most touring bike makers realize this.

  16. #16
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    Hi,

    This is my first post here and I should probably keep my thoughts to myself as I am the least knowledgeable of the contributors to this thread. But I use a combination of gears that has worked well for me and I have not seen mentioned in this thread.

    I bought a Novara Safari for all around use three years ago. It came with an 11/34 cassette and 48/36/26 chain rings. I swapped the 26t out for a 22.

    I have not toured with it yet, but I ride a thousand miles a year on the local trails and roads of the Olympic Peninsula. Maybe there are some good reasons not to ride with this combination, but I have not had problems with it. I can do a lot of riding in my middle chainring, but when the trail gets too steep or I need a break on the hills, the 22t granny gear keeps me going.

  17. #17
    Bike4Peace Vernon Huffman's Avatar
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    I run an 11/34 cassette with 24/38/52 chain rings, in order to drag heavy weight up steep hills and take full advantage of momentum on the downhill. It requires me to watch out for crossover positions, but it's easier to change a tire than it was when I had a SRAM dual drive hub for 72 gear combinations.
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  18. #18
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    I don't see how anyone could haul 40lbs of weight up hills, deal with head winds, or deal with off road conditions for prolonged periods of time while utilizing road bike gearing ratios.

    52 tooth rings are designed for top speeds, not hauling weight.

    My ratio:

    36t and 46t chainrings
    11t 32t "mountain" (marketing term) cassette

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