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  1. #1
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    Just dropped off my bike to have the front crank set changed.

    I hope I am doing the right thing. I am a 48 year old female 5'2" and weight 110 lbs. I have a Specialized Vita Elite that I love to ride. However, I have only used the big front ring twice in the year I have owned it. I find myself also wanting to shift to an easier gear when going up hill but can't as I am as easy as it goes. I have just recently bought the ortlieb panniers and haven't ridden it fully loaded yet so I think that I will be wanting to get easier gearing just to haul my gear. (My husband always pulled a trailer with the gear.) The Vita came with a 48, 36, 26 set and I am having it changed to a 44, 32, 22.

    Tell me I am doing the right thing please. I am really getting myself confused on what I want to do. The part comes in tomorrow.

    Thanks for any thoughts you have on this. I appreciate all the advice this forum gives. Even though I don't post much, I do read a lot.

  2. #2
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    The 22/32/44 will give you an excellent range of gearing... have often found that modern bicycles come geared too high for normal folks and have converted many a bike to similar set ups.

    Nice thing about a compact triple is that you can often run a closer ranged rear cassette and improve the shifting off the back as well without giving up much in the low gear department.

    I ran my Trek 7500 hybrid with a 22/32/44 and an 11-27 8 speed cassette which was far better than the stock 28/38/48 and the 11-34 cassette.

    Gearing is often calculated using a gear inch system and you only have to understand that mountain and touring bicycles tend to have a low around 20 gear inches and racing bikes might have a high gear at 120 but this high gear is impossible to push unless you have a huge tailwind or like descending at 60 miles per hour.

    Most fit riders and racers do most of their best work in the 90 gear inch range, while recreational riders and tourists work in the mid seventies.very few people can push more than 95 gear inches on flat ground for any distance

    The 22/32/44 with the stock 11-32 gives a range of 17 gear inches at the bottom (it doesn't get much lower) and 108 at the top end.... the original set up gave you a range of 22-117 so the low gear was okay but can see how most of the top gearing was pretty much useless.

    You might even consider swapping the rear cassette for an x-28 as it would still give you the same low gear you had with the original drivetrain and would make the gear steps smaller in the rear which makes for more efficient riding and smoother shifting.

    Your bike shop should understand gear inch calculations...

    The old rule was that recreational riders needed a 40-100 gear inch range for normal riding conditions, racers usually ran a 50-115, and mountain bikers and tourists (people who carry higher loads) would usually run in the 20-110 range.
    Last edited by Sixty Fiver; 01-29-13 at 02:47 PM.

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    Yep, you're fine. I'm the same size as you, I ride a Trek 520 with mountain bike gearing - 44-32-22 front and 12-34 rear. I carry a full solo touring load.

    You won't ever be sorry having low gears.
    ...

  4. #4
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    The 22/32/44 will give you an excellent range of gearing... have often found that modern bicycles come geared too high for normal folks and have converted many a bike to similar set ups.
    +1

    You won't ever be sorry having low gears.
    She is absolutely right!

    My touring bike and my wife's touring bike are running 44/32/22 cranks with an 11-34 rear cassette. It is a great combination.

    My cyclocross bike is also set up with the same cranks. I very seldom, if ever, spin out at the 44-11 combination which is about 28.5 mph at 90 rpm--unless I'm going downhill. I also use this bike on club rides and have no problem with the gearing set up, and no one points and laughs at my "small" chainrings. At least not while we are going up a hill.

    I'm betting that you will really like it
    Last edited by Doug64; 01-29-13 at 04:40 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    I think you will be happy with the change. Even if you don't use the lowest gear all that often, at the end of the day after loading dinner and breakfast fixings on board and climbing a long steep grade the lowest gears will be appreciated. I made the same change on my bike, but swapped out the 44 tooth chain ring for a 46. Not so much to break the land speed record but when there is a good tail wind or long down hill, I want to keep my legs moving without having to spin at high rpms. It becomes kind of a easy pace loafing along gear.
    Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member corwin1968's Avatar
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    I've spent the last year upgrading an old Trek hybrid and I spent a lot of time running different crankset/cassette combinations and had decided on the Deore 48/36/26 trekking crankset. About a week ago someone mentioned the 44/32/22 Deore and I ran some combinations and it might work even better. I prefer small jumps in my gearing so the smaller chainrings will allow me to have a tighter cassette while still maintaining small jumps, as Sixty Fiver mentioned. That is a huge advantage for me. The crankset is the last major component I need to upgrade so this was timely information for me.
    Currently riding a 1983 Takara Highlander converted to a single-speed.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    if 170 felt long a 165 may be a better crank arm length. [ but most sell in just 170, or 175]




    my Brompton got a crankset change, Swiss Mountain Drive . 2 speed planetary.
    with it, a 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub bike can take on Alpine Passes.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-01-13 at 02:51 PM.

  8. #8
    djb
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    Another person here who is a big fan of the 42 (or 44) 32/22 crank. My old mtn bike has this gearing, that I use for commuting and have toured with. I also strongly agree with the suggestions of a 11-28 cassette in the back to keep the jumps between shifts close to each other--my bike has always had this cassette range, and when I needed to replace it along with a chain a few years ago, I got another exactly because I liked the spacing and specifically didnt want to go with the more common 11-32 or 34 that would have had bigger jumps between gears. Mine is a 8 speed, and the cassette was maybe $20.
    As noted, the gearing range of what you will be changing to will allow you to get up steep stuff while being easier on your knees (and ticker too) while still allowing you to pedal down a hill at 30mph if you are so inclined.

    Ive toured a fair amount in hilly terrain, Im a light guy and dont mind climbing, but I am convinced that this range of gearing is excellent for anyone who will have any amount of load on a bike. Last May I biked a bit in very mountainous country with this gearing, and was so glad to have it, going from 45mph to a 5mph grunt in a very short time rather often. I was very grateful of the 22 tooth granny.

    Lets face it, for the vast majority of the time we ride, we are in the range of speeds of 15-30kph (sorry, I think in km, so lets say 9-20mph) and a bike with this gearing is perfectly well suited to these day in, day out speeds. On downhills I spin out at about 50kph or 30mph, but in the big scheme of things, this doesnt happen very often BUT as others have mentioned, the times we are schlepping up a steep hill when tired and can downshift lower--THIS happens more often, and yes, one really really does appreciate being able to find a lower gear.

    My wife rides an older Vita, also with the 48/36/26 and she hardly ever goes into the large chainring, so I know exactly what you mean.

    You have made a very good choice with this change, and yes, putting weight of even two panniers with stuff on a bike drastically makes it that much harder going up hills, and even on the flat is just more work, and lower gearing is the way to go.
    You will see that with your two full bags on the bike, a large part of the time you will be in the 32 ring, I know I am, and when tailwinds present themselves, or with slight downhills, the 42 or 44 is there too so you dont have to be in the 11 or 12 tooth cog at the back for a long time (its harder on the chain, especially the 11)

    Im sure you know, on internet forums, it easy for every Tom Dick and Harry to spout off opinions, but do feel assured that the majority of the people who have responded here agree on how this crank will make your riding more enjoyable (the whole point yes?) and as a bonus, your knees will be thankful too.

    *the only thing I would criticize with a 44/32/22 is that if unloaded, I find I need to switch more often between the 32 and the larger chainring. It doesnt really bother me that much, and is completely and utterly overshadowed by the advantage of lower gearing for hills with weight on the bike.

  9. #9
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
    I've spent the last year upgrading an old Trek hybrid and I spent a lot of time running different crankset/cassette combinations and had decided on the Deore 48/36/26 trekking crankset. About a week ago someone mentioned the 44/32/22 Deore and I ran some combinations and it might work even better. I prefer small jumps in my gearing so the smaller chainrings will allow me to have a tighter cassette while still maintaining small jumps, as Sixty Fiver mentioned. That is a huge advantage for me. The crankset is the last major component I need to upgrade so this was timely information for me.
    The key to enjoying yourself on a bicycle is having the right gearing range for the suited purpose with the closest steps possible between gears so that the transitions are smoother and so you can maintain a more even cadence.

    I run a 22/32/44 with an 11-25 cassette (8 speed) on my XC bike and this offers a pretty much perfect range for what is an all rounder... a bike that is just as at home on the road as it is on the trail. Being that it doesn't carry anything but me and because it is very light, the low gear of 22GI is more than adequate for any climbing it does.

    The closely stepped road cassette makes for some wonderful crisp shifting with smaller steps and when I am on the road the chain rarely comes off the 44 tooth ring.

    We build touring bicycles in our shop and many people have opted to roll with a compact triple and a closer stepped cassette after realizing it will offer them all the gearing they would ever need... for many, anything over 100 gear inches on a touring bike is a waste.

  10. #10
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    Being older, and much heavier, I like even lower gearing. I like the older 94-58 cranks that go to 20 on the grannie. I gear mine with 20-32-42 with a 12-36 9 spd cluster. Do I have more lower gears than usual? Definitely! But at the end of a long, hot day on a long, steep hill, they can be a life saver. These days I seldom go lower than the 32 front, 36 rear, but they are nice to have. I find my cranks on ebay.

  11. #11
    1. e4 Nf6 Alekhine's Avatar
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    Sheldon Brown (RiP) made a gear calculator that's pretty nifty. Has both gear inches and gain ratios.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/
    Signature

  12. #12
    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    You will be giving yourself one lower gear in the granny range than what you had. With your old setup your 3 lowest gears were 28.8, 24.7, 21.6 gear inch. Gear inch is best described as what the tire size would feel like given a 1 to 1 gearing or direct drive like on a unicycle or kids trike etc. , so picture yourself riding a bike with a 21.6” tire. With your new setup your 4 lowest will be 27.9, 24.4, 20.9, 18.3 gear inch. You can see how it all will be shifted over one place the difference of 3.3 GI will be quite noticeable.

    Your center gears were in the range between 30 and 87 GI and now will be 27 and 77 GI so you will be losing 10 GI off the tallest ratio when on your center ring. That’s what djb was referring to in his last sentence in the above post and what I didn’t care for also when I tried a mountain crank. Like he mentioned I also use my touring bike a lot as a commuter and all around road bike and I liked having my center ring have all my normal range I liked for both loaded and unloaded riding, and I missed the couple gear I lost quite a bit.

    Your old big ring gave you a range between 40 and 116 GI and your new ring it will be 37 and 106 GI. As mentioned the 116 is ridiculously large, picture trying to ride a bike with a 116” tire even if your legs were long enough. But on the other hand the next gear over on your old set up was 106 so you didn’t gain any gears on the big ring.

    Let’s say you are riding along on fairly level roads and you are on your center ring and you get to the end of the range on the cassette 32-11 combo 77 GI. Your next shift up will be to down shift twice on the cassette and move over to the big ring in the front to get 44-14 and 84 GI. Then you will have just two more gears to use on the big ring 98 and 106 GI and in all likely hood you won’t use the 106 very much except maybe down hills. So for practical purposes the big ring still won’t be used much.

    No one can really tell you where your sweet spot is on the center ring but you can test it out ahead of time because your old center has the gears you will be moving to the large ring and you can ride around and think about what will be your new point you will have to make that front shift. Pretty much your 36-12 and your 36-11 gear ranges will be moved to the big ring. If those don’t feel like gear you will using a lot or jumping between. Then it will be good to lower all your gears with the mountain crank.

    For me I absolutely hated running out of gear on the center ring and absolutely loved the low gear on the granny. So I took a different approach to get both. I think you could just change your granny ring to a 24t as an option to get a bit lower with the crank you are taking off if you find the mountain crank isn’t your thing. A 24t would lower your granny to a 20 GI. That’s what I did and I also switched to a 12-36 cassette lowering it even more to a 17.7 GI. With doing that that you only loose a smidgen between the 11t and 12t when you keep your larger center ring and the 11 to 12 helps a bit lowering the big ring top number.

    Now that I have you completely confused I bet. I just wanted to point out both the upside and the down side to the mountain crank per my experience. Hope this helps not confuses you more.


    PS: Just for the record my final gearing front is 45,42,24 with 12-36 (9 speed) in the back. 42 is my magic number and I suggest people start off looking at their center ring and find their magic number as that ring is where you spend most of your time.


    PSS: The suggestions above for 11-28 cassette to smooth out the jumps between shifts is a good one for doing that but will take you back to almost the same low gear you have now old granny gear is 21.6 GI and with an 11-28 you will be at 21GI. It will seem to be the same low gear you have now.
    Last edited by bud16415; 01-30-13 at 07:54 AM.
    What's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Yep, you're fine. I'm the same size as you, I ride a Trek 520 with mountain bike gearing - 44-32-22 front and 12-34 rear. I carry a full solo touring load.
    Where do you get a cassette like that? I've thought for years a 12-34 or even 13-34 would make perfect sense for touring, but I'm just too cheap to buy the custom cassette from Harris Cyclery.

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    Good decision with the crankset chainring gear selection Nanaterry. I look forward to hearing you follow through with a cassette selection with the biggest tooth cog of around 32,34 or 36. Touring bikes need low gearing for loaded hill climbing and I am incredulous at some of the suggestions mentioned here.

  15. #15
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClemY View Post
    Being older, and much heavier, I like even lower gearing. I like the older 94-58 cranks that go to 20 on the grannie. I gear mine with 20-32-42 with a 12-36 9 spd cluster. Do I have more lower gears than usual? Definitely! But at the end of a long, hot day on a long, steep hill, they can be a life saver. These days I seldom go lower than the 32 front, 36 rear, but they are nice to have. I find my cranks on ebay.


    I have an LX compact road triple that will accommodate a 20 tooth granny... with the availability of cassettes with a 36 tooth low I could get down to 14 gear inches on my touring bike if I decided to install that.

    If the OP replaces her crank with the 22/32/44 and uses the stock cassette the low will be 17.5... most would find that to be a low enough gearing.

  16. #16
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rifraf View Post
    Good decision with the crankset chainring gear selection Nanaterry. I look forward to hearing you follow through with a cassette selection with the biggest tooth cog of around 32,34 or 36. Touring bikes need low gearing for loaded hill climbing and I am incredulous at some of the suggestions mentioned here.
    Incredulous... really ?

    I see lots of good advice and a good primer on gearing that borders on utter nerdiness.

  17. #17
    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    Not to be “Incredulously Nerdly” but I get a low gear inch of 18.3 GI with the 700x28 stock tires.

    But I could be wrong.
    What's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    Where do you get a cassette like that? I've thought for years a 12-34 or even 13-34 would make perfect sense for touring, but I'm just too cheap to buy the custom cassette from Harris Cyclery.
    If you look around the net you will find various sizes of first position cogs from $8 up. You can buy Miche loose cogs and spacers and have what ever gears suit your fancy.
    Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
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  19. #19
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by bud16415 View Post
    Not to be “Incredulously Nerdly” but I get a low gear inch of 18.3 GI with the 700x28 stock tires.

    But I could be wrong.
    nope, you aint wrong.Here are the charts for her bike, stock and with a 44/32/22 (using the original cassette of gears that came with the bike) I also threw in the chart of my mtn bike with a 11-28 cassette, with diff sized wheels than her 700 equipped bike.

    Vita_stock.pngVita_with_44-32-22.png22-11-28.png

    18.3 is pretty close to my 19.5 gear inches on my mtn bike with my 11-28 cassette (because of the 26inch wheels) , this is great.

    Her original 9 speed cassette of 11-32 should be perfectly adequate as is and will be a nice help with the lower gearing.

    ps, I too find your "incredulous" curious. The crank change alone will give a nice lower equivalent (more or less) of one whole gear lower. The suggestions of a tighter cassette were opinions on trying to keep the jumps between gear changes less, although I ride a bike with the same 11-32 9 speed cassette as the lady's Vita, and its not too bad for the spaces (less would be nicer, but yes to get a lower gearing, she should keep it)

    ps, I do admit to being an incredulous nerd for this stuff, I (and others) should bottle it as a sleep aid for all non bikers (and most bicyclists as well probably)
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    Last edited by djb; 01-30-13 at 03:56 PM.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post


    I have an LX compact road triple that will accommodate a 20 tooth granny... with the availability of cassettes with a 36 tooth low I could get down to 14 gear inches on my touring bike if I decided to install that.

    If the OP replaces her crank with the 22/32/44 and uses the stock cassette the low will be 17.5... most would find that to be a low enough gearing.
    I agree. I got the 20 tooth crank before I converted my bike to 9 spd. With a 12-32 the 20 was great. With 12-36 it is a bit of overkill.

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    I run 48 as the largest chain ring with a deore megarange rear cassette. in terms of gear inches I prefer 85-90 for comfortable riding at 80-90rpm. I do use the 48-11 combo fairly ten though. I really find 44 to very limiting, but uf I'm on my mule with my kid on the back going uphill thise smaller gears sure come in handy!

  22. #22
    "part timer" SuperLJ's Avatar
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    Your're doing the right thing. You'd be happier though if the middle ring was closer in size to the big ring, i.e. 44-34-22. Anytime the middle ring is closer is size to the small ring than the big ring, the middle ring tends to hide in the "shadow" of the big ring, and the result is poor front up-shifting.

    Here's the best online gear chart:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~mike.sherman/shift.html
    Last edited by SuperLJ; 01-30-13 at 09:08 PM.
    '75 Raleigh GS * '78 Bertin C-35 * '82 Trek 614 * '95 Mercian * '98 Fisher HKEK * Y2K Rivendell * '02 Heron Tour

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClemY View Post
    I agree. I got the 20 tooth crank before I converted my bike to 9 spd. With a 12-32 the 20 was great. With 12-36 it is a bit of overkill.
    It should be noted that the new x-36 cassettes were designed for the drive trains of modern 29'r mountain bicycles and that the cassette is supposed to go with a stronger hub body to withstand the extra torque although a standard hub should stand up to this well in all but the most severe use.

    Although Shimano says they offer individual cogs, these are sometimes very difficult to find but as noted, other companies do offer single cogs.

    Back in the old days Suntour offered an Alpine group that had a 14-36 freewheel and this had an AG derailleur which was designed to handle this massive rear cog.

  24. #24
    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    The 36t cassettes were designed for the 29’r and with a tiny chain ring Sixty Fiver is correct you can get one heck of a lot of output torque depending on how hard you are mashing. On the other hand if I had the engine to rip the spokes out I wouldn’t need the 36. For me it’s a tool for someone that wants to stay in the saddle and spin up a tough climb off the granny. I tried the 36t with the 22t ring and for me it had me saying something I didn’t think I would ever say and that is the gearing was just too low, or I couldn’t spin fast enough to keep the bike upright. So in my case there can be too low of a gear. Spinning that combo produced a speed about like pushing and I actually felt pushing would be easier at that point. I used a 26t granny with it and last summer tried a 24t and found that to be my absolute low gear.

    I like that cassette as much if not more for what it gave me off the center ring as a range of gears. Like the OP using the bike for touring as well as all around, and in my case my old sluggish motor runs at a lower RPM but still puts out a fair amount of torque. I won’t say I’m a masher but my comfort zone is a good 10 RPM lower than when I was younger as well as the speed is dialed back a little.

    In my case my perfect touring GI off the center ring would be around 30 to 70 GI, but my perfect recreational riding without a load would be around 40 to 90 GI.

    That was my biggest concern with the mountain bike crank for me it gave me a great loaded gear range but fell short on the top end at least without making that front shift. I needed the 42,32,22 for touring and liked the 52,42,30 around town even though I had no use for the 52 for the most part. That’s where the 29’r cassette let me have it both ways with a few adjustments to the rings.

    That was for me and each person has to look at it based around their torque and spin preference. The op might have a naturally higher cadence or if not won’t find making that front shift more often to be any problem and getting that lower climbing gear well worth the tradeoff.
    What's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.

  25. #25
    djb
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    Enquiring minds want to know....

    do let us know what you ended up doing and what you think of the changes after riding with two filled panniers.

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