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  1. #1
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    Gearing question

    The bikes I am lookign at getting both come with a smallest gear of 30/32, and based on what I have read on these forums I need something lower. Ideally I would like to keep the crankset with the 52 at the front (I hardly ever move off it on my current bike). The place I am buying from say you can't swap the 30 for a 26 on a 52/42/30 chainring as it won't shift from 26 to 42, but I am sure I have read on the forums that people have done it successfully?

    The other option I guess is to change the back - is it possible to just change the 32 for somthing bigger, or do you need to change the whole cassette? Will this cause any other problems?

    Thanks

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    I ride my bike Revtor's Avatar
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    cassette change should be no problem to a 34, but this still probably wont be enough.. well, if you push a 52 around normally, then maybe you are strong enough to make 30/32 work. You gotta load up that bike and try. I have 28/32 low combo and was wishing for a 26 at times but after two weeks, I was fine with it (even in VT..hill country) So maybe the 30/34 will work? As you have seen though this is not the general consensus. Most people will opt for lower gears. Its always better to have a way out. (granny-low)

    I use the Nashbar 28/38/48 crankset which uses the bolt pattern to fit these smaller cogs. I think the limitation for a derailleur is the overall spread of teeth. If (for example) they advertise a 21 tooth maximum spread between smallest and biggest gears, maybe you can get away with 24 tooth difference, but its a gamble. Check the specs.

    Ask over in the mechanic section too.

    ~Steve
    with a fully loaded bike (30-40 extra lbs), you will not be in the 52 for long!! If you value your knees. Trying to spin a huge gear like that will burn up your legs and you will not get a full day of riding out of them. Spin man, spin! Its the only way to ride for 6,7,8 hours in a day. A tour is supposed to be an extended mosey : )

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    I've gone 26T on the front with the original set-up that came with the Fuji (ie, the original was 30-42-52). This is LBS theory getting in the way of practice. I think you might even be able to go as low as 24T if you can find the right ring.

    Revtor, dreamy is planning to do trans-Am. The mountains in the East and West will likelly have him down in granny, but it sounds as though he could handle the 52 chainring on the flat stuff.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    I've gone 26T on the front with the original set-up that came with the Fuji (ie, the original was 30-42-52). This is LBS theory getting in the way of practice. I think you might even be able to go as low as 24T if you can find the right ring.

    Revtor, dreamy is planning to do trans-Am. The mountains in the East and West will likelly have him down in granny, but it sounds as though he could handle the 52 chainring on the flat stuff.
    Sometimes you have to take what a bike shop says with lots of salt. I have had bikes with Avid adapters that allowed me to run a 20 tooth chainring on the front with a 40 T middle ring. Shifted just fine. I currently use a 24 with a 38 and have no problems. A 24 will work although you might what to change to a 40 in the front. Just gives a better range.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreamy
    Ideally I would like to keep the crankset with the 52 at the front (I hardly ever move off it on my current bike)
    That suggests either you are a very strong rider as another poster mentioned or you don't like to spin but rather mash at low cadence. If you are strong, then you should almost have no problem pushing a 30 granny with the appropriate cassette when fully loaded.
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    I have a low gear of 30/32 on my touring bike and it works well for me. With a 30/32 low gear and a cadence of around 60, you will be going around 4.5 mph. I kind of feel like if I go slower than that, I might fall over so I might as well get off and walk.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Belugadave
    I have a low gear of 30/32 on my touring bike and it works well for me. With a 30/32 low gear and a cadence of around 60, you will be going around 4.5 mph. I kind of feel like if I go slower than that, I might fall over so I might as well get off and walk.
    My low gear is a 28/30 and there have been times I wished for lower I am inclined to agree with Belugadave, though if you go much slower...I was riding up Mt Mitchell in NC one time and got passed..by a runner! If you want to see what your gearing will provide in mph/kph try Sheldon Brown's Gear Calulator it lets you "try" out your gear ratios and steps before spending the money.

    Aaron

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc
    My low gear is a 28/30 and there have been times I wished for lower I am inclined to agree with Belugadave, though if you go much slower...I was riding up Mt Mitchell in NC one time and got passed..by a runner! If you want to see what your gearing will provide in mph/kph try Sheldon Brown's Gear Calulator it lets you "try" out your gear ratios and steps before spending the money.

    Aaron
    I do a lot of mountain biking and 4.5 mph, often times, is the average speed for the day
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  9. #9
    Evil Genius capsicum's Avatar
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    But was the runner wearing a 60pound pack?

    I use 24/30 on my MTB and it is very low, I had 26/30 but it was to high for logging roads after a very long day of riding.

    If the big and middle rings are 130 bolt pattern you can go down to a 38 tooth middle ring(39 is common). If it's 110 bolt spacing I beleive 33 is the smallest.
    With the wide ratio 11-30 or 12-32 cassettes you will have no need for anything bigger than a 48 tooth big ring anyway; A 46/12 at a cadence of 80rpm (high but not a quite a racer spin) on 700c wheels will zip along at 25MPH at 60rpm (fairly low) it is 19MPH. I can't do 25MPH for long periods totally unloaded.

    yes you can make custom cassettes, it is quite easy to do so to. Just get a cassette with most of the cogs you want and either order individual cogs(spendy) or get a lightly used cassette with the other cogs you want. Now, grind the heads off of the 3 rivets that hold the cassette together and pop them out with a small punch or nail and hammer. Now you have loose spacers and cogs, combine as you please.
    The smallest cog must have the thick built in spacer(part of the cog), and the cogs that have the thinner built in spacer must use that little wavy spacer that originally made up for the rivet heads and cannot be used as the last cog.
    There is no need to rivet anything back together(they[rivets] were just there to make cassette changes quick), just slide the parts one at a time onto the hub and secure it all with the lockring.

    don't bother trying to get 22 tooth cassette cogs they don't exist, 27 tooth is only on spiders so you won't find that either 25 might be rare in the wide range MTB/touring cassettes but they might be found on a road cassette.(road cassettes are the same, just closer ratio and higher geared, make sure it is steel though! Aluminium cogs wear fast thus they are for racing only. And that it does not use a spider/carrier for the large gears.)
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  10. #10
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    As often happens off-road, I would rather comfortably grind up a steep climb at only 2mph pushing only 16 gear inches than walk and push my loaded bike...
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    I think the discussion is becoming a little bit too esoteric for dreamy's needs. The short answer basically is that if dreamy wants a lower granny while retaining the standard crankset, the bike shop should fit (without argument) a 28 at least, and put on a cassette at the rear that's 34-12. Easy, cheap and non-complicated.

    Otherwise I'd recommend a 22-32-44 MTB crankset. But dreamy seems confident of handling the bigger gears, so it's not relevant.

    The next conundrum he will need to deal with is load and its weight and distribution around the bike. Now, that's going to be a great discussion

  12. #12
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    The original poster "stays on 52 all the time"...

    First, what gearing does your current bike have? If you have a rear cluster with 14-28 (a common freewheel 15 years ago), your high 52/14 was 100 gear-inches and roughly equivalent to 44/12. In other words, if you change the large chainring for a 48, then you will still have taller gears than what you likely had.

    Second, are you spinning your cranks at 80-90 rev/min? If not – and especially if you are churning at a mere 45-50 rpm, you should work on increasing your cadence. It will seen odd and tiring at first, but you'll quickly like it, you will be less tired, your knees will love it and your speed will increase a bit.

    Third, you may install 52-40-26, or maybe even 24. Things will work better if you have 48-38-24.
    Michel Gagnon
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  13. #13
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    I have used 48-38-28 on my front chainring since 1989 and swear by it. My previous bike had a bigger jump between the middle ring and the granny and I was always having to double shift. I use a 13-34 cluster on the back which gives me a 28 to 34 lowest gear which I need since I tour fully loaded on dirt roads. I've always seen the general rule of thumb for lowest granny as "below 1 to 1" -
    Best - J

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    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    I stay on my 52 ring allmost exclusively as well, UNLOADED on my road bike. Wouldn't consider it on tour, unless touring unloaded (credit card for example), on said road bike.

    I run an Ultegra triple 24/38/48 on my tourer, with an 11-32 xt cassette. I wish I had either a 22 granny, or 34 high cassette. I will be swapping out the cassette for something that starts at say 13-the 11&12 were rarely used. I might be going with one of Sheldons' cassettes.

    All that said, it seems that I spin at a higher cadence while touring, than I do while out on my roadie. I can spin all day long, I can't mash (on&off) for longer than a few hours.

    I'd go with a different set up.

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    What is the BCD of your cranks, five arm 110 or 130?(Bolt Circle Diameter)

    110 can take lower gearing and if desired very high gearing as it was common on tandoms for a while so big rings up to 63 are available and old school MTBs used them with 26-36-46 or 24-34-44 rings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Belugadave
    I have a low gear of 30/32 on my touring bike and it works well for me. With a 30/32 low gear and a cadence of around 60, you will be going around 4.5 mph. I kind of feel like if I go slower than that, I might fall over so I might as well get off and walk.
    All the mountainous touring I've done in the Alps, Pyenees etc., and I've never got off and walked. I tried it once on my first tour and found it a lot harder than pedalling! Seriously though, I too was very reluctant to lose my 52 when I got my new touring bike. My old road/touring bike had 52/42/32 and 12-30 (7 speed). In the end my new bike came with 48-38-28 and 11-34. As i didn't have an 11 tooth on the back on my old bike, the top end was really no different for me and so the decision not to change anything was easier. I'm very happy I did. The higher cadence improved my climbing no end and when I was on decent long climbs I was able to climb faster than what I could on the old bike with the higher gearing.

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    Thanks for the replies.

    Yes, I currently ride a road bike with highest 52/11, tend to pedal with fairly low cadence in a high gear, and treat each training ride like a race due to my competitive nature, all of which I am currently in the process of trying to change. I also took a bike for a test ride this weekend, and rode it up the steepest hill I could find. Even then, 30/32 seemed ridicuously low and the thought went through my mind " surely I can't ever need something this low"

    however...

    I cannot argue against people who know and have experienced a lot more than me, and the overwhelmign weight of public opinion, so will be going for the lower gearing and am sure I won't regret it....

  18. #18
    Evil Genius capsicum's Avatar
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    Yep touring is what super wide ratio gearing is for, unlike racing if the gear is a bit to high there is no problem with a small drop in speed because of large down shift jumps.

    Really though when touring if you can coast faster than you can pedal in a 46/13(comfortably is like 26mph) than why not coast and take a break, you won't gain that much time.(I've calulated it many different ways for different reasons, much more time is gained by speeding up the slow parts, like uphill, with the same power increase)
    Besides you may not enjoy going any faster than 26-30mph on a fully weighted touring rig(like 100 pounds), depends on the bike and you and your particular load that day of course, heck you might like 40mph down a snakey dirt road.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreamy
    Thanks for the replies.

    Yes, I currently ride a road bike with highest 52/11, tend to pedal with fairly low cadence in a high gear, and treat each training ride like a race due to my competitive nature, all of which I am currently in the process of trying to change. I also took a bike for a test ride this weekend, and rode it up the steepest hill I could find. Even then, 30/32 seemed ridicuously low and the thought went through my mind " surely I can't ever need something this low"

    however...

    I cannot argue against people who know and have experienced a lot more than me, and the overwhelmign weight of public opinion, so will be going for the lower gearing and am sure I won't regret it....
    Whatever bike out of the two on the short list, take it out for a jaunt through the Blue Mountains and tackle some serious hills. Not one. Not two. But as many as you can squeeze in for, say, six hours. Then come back and report. Oh yeah, fill six four-litre wine casks with water, put 'em in a pair of panniers BEFORE you go (or get them from the local bottleshop -- you might need the pain-deadening effect afterwards ).

    I like the way your prepared to accept the advice. Honestly!

    I can tell you from experience, there will be a time come when you are s-o-o-o-o grateful for the that granny gear. I might use it 5% of all my riding, but it's a god-send when I do. Just a question: How often do you use first gear (auto or manual) in your car? How often would it be used towing a 21" caravan going up a reasonably steep hill, or even just starting off? Remember, your bike will be the caravan/motor home, and you the engine. Treat yourself the same as your car engine...

    I still think you are strong enough for a 26 or 28 front granny ring and a 34 rear cog. BUT, riding day after day with a load at low cadence is asking for knee trouble. It will start with a kind of general throbbing around the base of the quads and around the kneecap. It can affect your sleeping comfort, and may progress into something else. Bike fit can help a lot to overcome this, but as one of my colleague posters observed, try to get into a spinning habit sooner rather than later.

    Sounds as though you are close to a decision

    GO FOR IT!!!


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