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Looking for advice/options to upgrade wife's bike

Old 05-23-24, 03:22 PM
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Looking for advice/options to upgrade wife's bike

Back story first to provide context, real questions start after the break:

My wife has a Raleigh Revere 3 with 105 mechanical disc that I swapped to 32mm tires for a better ride quality.
It is an awesome bike, shifts reliably, handles/feels well, but there are 2 things that she would like improved and I am all about improving her quality of ride so that she is more likley to spend time on the bike with me (who's going to Ragbrai this year?).
When we purchased it I wanted to spend a little more than we did (it was a last season model we got for $900 in 2017) but she is more wallet conscious than I am.

She complains about reaching the brakes so that she doesn't have as much braking power and I find that she never uses the big chain ring, cross chaining and spinning at 100rpm.
I have considered upgrading her to a Ultegra/105 with Di2 hydraulic groupset to solve both of these, but maybe I could switch her to a 1x12 with a big range of gears in the back and get a hydraulic front brake for her? Any other creative ideas/suggestions?
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Old 05-23-24, 03:31 PM
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None that wouldn't put you in the dog house for quite awhile. I tried everything to get my wife to ride with me and have been in the dog house many a time for it.

I finally realized that no matter what I did, my wife was not ever going to enjoy cycling in the same manner I do. She's more of a very leisurely slow ride type. The first glistening of sweat would have her done for the day.

Welcome to BF.

I know it's a serious question. My answer is actually more serious than it sounds. I might suggest you consider getting a tandem for the times you want to ride together. And just realize for the riding you really want to do, you'll have to do solo or with other's that enjoy the same type cycling in the manner you wish to do it.
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Old 05-23-24, 04:26 PM
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I'd start with a 1X and if her mechanical discs aren't TRP Spyre, I'd make that switch as well. Also, if she isn't in the drops on descents she's likely missing out on braking power. Be prepared for none of it to make her a happy rider.
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Old 05-23-24, 04:38 PM
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If the bike fits, there's really nothing wrong with it. The control levers have a reach adjustment. If you peel back the top of the rubber hoods you should find a grub screw that takes either a screwdriver or allen key. Try that. I forgot which direction brings them in, but you'll figure it out.

As for spinning along at 100 rpm, we should all be so lucky. But maybe if she had more control over the shift levers she'd use them more confidently, and use the big ring once in a while.
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Old 05-23-24, 04:41 PM
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Drivetrain
According to online sources, both a 2016 and a 2017 Raleigh Revere 3 have a 2x11 105 drivetrain with 50|34 chain rings and a 11-32 cassette; please confirm?
Have you ever asked your wife why she does not use the big 50T chain ring?
Coincidentally, that is also my first road bike drivetrain, and I hated the gaps on the 11-32 cassette (11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 25, 28, and 32), especially when riding on the 50T chain ring. The respective two-teeth gaps between the 14T, 16T, and 18T cogs require a relatively large change in cadence, and for a beginner who was not very strong, it renders the smallest 5 cogs in the cassette unusable in many circumstances.
If the above reflects her experience with this drivetrain, she may do better with a lower gear range while having smaller gaps between adjacent cogs, e.g., 46|30 chain rings with a 11-30 cassette.
Brakes
Hydraulic disc brakes stop better and with less effort than their mechanical counterpart.
Conclusion
GRX 600 groupset with 46|30 chain rings and a 105 11-30 cassette, or a 1x12 groupset if she really rather not use an FD.
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Old 05-24-24, 06:52 AM
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When I recommend bikes to new and especially female riders, I always start them off on an lightweight upright bike with city slicks.

The goal is to get riders from zero cycling to some really enjoyable easy cycling.

I do keep in touch with them for servicing. Most of them never upgrade to a "faster" bike, yet they love their upright and cycle regularly with it. What they love the most is how easy it is for them to pedal around, and things like levers and shifters so easy to operate. Who can say no to upright elastomer saddles.

Partners often make the mistake and want their SO to dive into exactly what they have, and do 40 miles a ride. Forcing them to use a 105 galore road bike from the start isn't going to work at all.

Sometimes it can take years for a rider to move out of their comfort zone. Some never do at all.

The goal is to make a rider WANT TO bike, instead of something they HAVE TO do.

And when they love their Marin/Trek/Specialized low step thru bikes, be happy they have gone that far.

Last edited by soyabean; 05-24-24 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 05-24-24, 08:24 AM
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If this is this bike in question: https://99spokes.com/bikes/raleigh/2017/revere-3

Couple thoughts...
1. Swap to a shorter stem - 10-20mm made a significant difference for me without impacting handling too much.
2. Different bars - different shape road bars or flat bar conversion (gasp... he said flat bar conversion)
3. Install HG700 cassette - gives wider range which might help with the 50t front ring
4. Adjust the disc with new/better pads and clean rotors (swapping to hydraulics could get spendy...)


Additional thoughts...
I have 50/34 on two bikes with the HG700 - I spend 95% of the time on the 34t front (I know about crosschaining) and with a good 1x crank and proper chainline, I can see it as a viable option.

My wife has a Trek Verve (I recommended the FX series but she likes the uprightness of the Verve) and with the Alivio 3x9, she runs the front middle ring and makes gear changes with the derailleurs. I've considered a 1x conversion for her because it must makes sense... see above

Gotta ask this... have you considered crank length? Our house is full of short people and 165mm cranks have made a difference in comfort and ridability.
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Old 05-24-24, 08:29 AM
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​​​​​​https://www.performancebike.com/shim...xoCZl0QAvD_BwE
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Old 05-24-24, 08:38 AM
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Regarding the brake reach situation, a good middle-or-the-road option is to swap to some TRP Hy/Rd calipers. You can keep the current setup (after adjusting for the reach as noted above) and get a pretty decent boost to braking ability. If you have the know-how or the resources, you can make the swap to compressionless cable housings for the brake cables, and that'll reduce some of the travel and mushiness in the brake levers.
Otherwise, let her ride how she wants. Messing about with changing parameters and gearing systems in hopes that she'll start shifting through the gears like a pro will only frustrate you more when she doesn't take advantage of the changes you made (and paid for). She might not understand why you're changing things that she hasn't actively complained about, and she'll only see it as an expense that didn't need to happen (she's more wallet-conscious, remember).
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Old 05-24-24, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
I tried everything to get my wife to ride with me and have been in the dog house many a time for it.
Thanks for the welcome... I found bikeforums.net when googling a question and realized I belong here, I just need to figure out how to reply to multiple people at once. In one day I have more ideas than I could have ever come up with.

And yeah I realize I am extremely happy to have her, she rides around a thousand miles a year with me.

I asked her about using the big ring and she just doesn't realize/think about it. Just spins away happily in the small ring.
oldbobcat I think I have adjusted the lever as close as I can with the adjustment screw on the outside of the caliper.
The calipers are TRP, not sure if there are different grades/styles of TRP.

SoSmellyAir The rings/cassette she has is 50/34 32/11 as you found in your research, to do the cassette/ring swap I think we wouldn't need another derailer?

Trav1s I have not even considered swapping stem/crank/brake pads, there are things I could probably do with parts I have laying around or for very cheap to test, thanks.

MilhouseJ I have never heard of compresionless cables, I will have to do some research... Thanks for the pointer.

dedhed Just to be sure I understand, that part fits in the Shifter to give more adjustment range? That might be the perfect ticket.
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Old 05-24-24, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by adamtreier
... I found bikeforums.net when googling a question and realized I belong here, ...
That is how I came upon BF too and I feel the same way.

Originally Posted by adamtreier
I just need to figure out how to reply to multiple people at once.
You select multiple posts by clicking on the Multi Quote button under each of those posts, then when you click Quote you can respond to multiple posts in the same post.

Originally Posted by adamtreier
The rings/cassette she has is 50/34 32/11 as you found in your research, to do the cassette/ring swap I think we wouldn't need another derailer?
You do not necessarily need new derailleurs just for switching chain rings and new cassettes, but you may need a new GRX-specific FD to use a GRX crank with the 46|30 chain rings because the GRX crank has a + 1.5 mm chain line compared to traditional Shimano road groupsets. Besides, if you were upgrading to hydraulic disc brakes, you would need the corresponding STI levers anyway, and your wife would appreciate having everything match.

Last edited by SoSmellyAir; 05-25-24 at 05:46 AM. Reason: For clarity
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Old 05-25-24, 05:00 AM
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Regarding earlier suggestions of conversion to flat bar: absolutely yes. From everything you wrote, she'll be much happier with upright bars. Yes, you prefer the idea of her being on a drop bar bike. But, as I learned in the past in similar circumstances, what you and I prefer is irrelevant.

And Grip Shift. Their best 2 x 11-speed set (just checked; they're compatible with Shimano 11-speed derailleurs) goes for about fifty bucks, which is nothing for a guy who was considering converting to Di2 and hydraulic brakes.

There are quite a few Grip Shift haters on Bike Forums, by the way, but my recommendation is based on 60 years of riding and racing and 15 years of using Grip Shift for my various utility and bad-weather-training bikes. The entry-level Grip Shift models aren't too good, but the mid-level and better models work great and seem likely to last forever.

And pick up a flat bar bike to ride with her. Drop bars are annoying to ride at lower speeds.

The tandem suggestion is good, too. If you decide to go that route, post a thread on the Tandem Cycling subforum here asking for advice on how to ease yourself and your wife into tandem riding.

My tandem advice, in a nutshell: you'll want to charge off at macho man speed and do longer distances, but the first several rides should be in beautiful surroundings, away from traffic and hills and other riders, slow (especially on downhills!), and very short, maybe 15 or 20 minutes - short enough that, after a few outings on the tandem, your wife wants to do longer rides. Couldn't hurt to, e.g., park near a restaurant she likes and treat her to a meal there after the ride.

Edit:

Reverting to the topic of 2x11 versus 1x11: if she's happy treating the current 2x11 as 1x11, I'd leave it alone. Since shifting using Grip Shift or trigger shifters is so easy and confidence-enhancing on a flat bar, there's every chance that she'll start using the front derailleur. But even if not, it's not worth worrying about.

Last edited by Trakhak; 05-25-24 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 05-25-24, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
... conversion to flat bar: absolutely yes. From everything you wrote, she'll be much happier with upright bars. ...
I am curious: what has adamtreier written that suggested that his wife would prefer flat bars?

Originally Posted by Trakhak
And Grip Shift.
Same question: what has adamtreier written that suggested that his wife would prefer grip shifts over STI levers on a bike that she has owned since 2017 and on which she has ridden at least 1,000 miles?

Originally Posted by Trakhak
Drop bars are annoying to ride at lower speeds.
Spinning 100 rpm cross-chaining the 34T chain ring and the 11T cog is not that slow. it is almost 25 mph.

Bicycle Gear Calculator (gear-calculator.com)

Even assuming some hyperbole on his part, there is nothing to assume that his wife is riding too slow for drop bars merely because she never uses the big chain ring.

I would surmise by her complaint about difficulty reaching the brakes that she has similar difficulty reaching forward far enough to firmly flick the left big lever inward to shift the FD onto the big chain ring, which takes more effort on a 105 FD-5800 than newer FD in later Shimano 11-speed groupsets. I agree with the suggestion by Trav1s of a shorter stem, and further suggest one with an increased angle (i.e., in the positive or upward direction). Even just rotating the handlebar downward relative to the stem (i.e., such that the ends move closer to the rear wheel) while relocating the STI lever clamps further up the handlebar and closer to the tops would noticeably reduce the reach to the hoods and STI levers. (Yes, this would require retaping the handlebar.)
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Old 05-25-24, 06:37 AM
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Do with this as you please...

Re: Flatbar Conversion
The flatbar shifter options for 105 2x11/GRX 2x11 are limited. I have both Shimano RS700 and the Microshift Centos 11 on bikes right now. While I prefer RS700 (they are hard to find and expensive), Centos 11 is a great option and about 1/2 the cost. Centos 11 or Shimano RS700.

I shared my experience with the Centos about half way down this link: Centos 11 on Trek Multitrack

Re: GRX 48/30 Crank
I'm going with the 165mm version on a gravel build. I find the 46/30 a more usable combo than 50/36 of the 105. SoSmellyAir mentioned
​​​​​​​You do not necessarily need new derailleurs just for switching chain rings and new cassettes, but you may need a new GRX-specific FD to use a GRX crank with the 46|30 chain rings because the GRX crank has a + 1.5 mm chain line compare to traditional Shimano road groupsets. Besides, if you were upgrading to hydraulic disc brakes, you would need the corresponding STI levers anyway, and your wife would appreciate having everything match.
GRX 600 2x11 crank requires the GRX front derailleur due to the difference in chain line. (I recently purchased the GRX600 2x11 crank for $130 shipped with tax.)

I'm thinking that a flat bar conversion is a solid and reasonable option that wound not cost too much. Pick up a set of flatbar brake levers that are compatible with the mechanical discs, upgrade the brake pads, some Ergon GP grips, and the shifters.
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Old 05-25-24, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
Regarding earlier suggestions of conversion to flat bar: absolutely yes. From everything you wrote, she'll be much happier with upright bars. Yes, you prefer the idea of her being on a drop bar bike. But, as I learned in the past in similar circumstances, what you and I prefer is irrelevant.

And Grip Shift. Their best 2 x 11-speed set (just checked; they're compatible with Shimano 11-speed derailleurs) goes for about fifty bucks, which is nothing for a guy who was considering converting to Di2 and hydraulic brakes.

There are quite a few Grip Shift haters on Bike Forums, by the way, but my recommendation is based on 60 years of riding and racing and 15 years of using Grip Shift for my various utility and bad-weather-training bikes. The entry-level Grip Shift models aren't too good, but the mid-level and better models work great and seem likely to last forever.

And pick up a flat bar bike to ride with her. Drop bars are annoying to ride at lower speeds.

The tandem suggestion is good, too. If you decide to go that route, post a thread on the Tandem Cycling subforum here asking for advice on how to ease yourself and your wife into tandem riding.

My tandem advice, in a nutshell: you'll want to charge off at macho man speed and do longer distances, but the first several rides should be in beautiful surroundings, away from traffic and hills and other riders, slow (especially on downhills!), and very short, maybe 15 or 20 minutes - short enough that, after a few outings on the tandem, your wife wants to do longer rides. Couldn't hurt to, e.g., park near a restaurant she likes and treat her to a meal there after the ride.

Edit:

Reverting to the topic of 2x11 versus 1x11: if she's happy treating the current 2x11 as 1x11, I'd leave it alone. Since shifting using Grip Shift or trigger shifters is so easy and confidence-enhancing on a flat bar, there's every chance that she'll start using the front derailleur. But even if not, it's not worth worrying about.
As someone who’s built hundreds of bikes for people with varying abilities and experience, and also ridden a tandem for years with my spouse, I think this is all excellent advice.
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Old 05-25-24, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by adamtreier
dedhed Just to be sure I understand, that part fits in the Shifter to give more adjustment range? That might be the perfect ticket.
Actually less "range" but moves the brake lever closer to the bar for less "reach" to the lever. Dirt cheap to at least try.
They come in different thicknesses as well.

See bottom left here "Lever stroke adjustment".

https://hollandbikeshop.com/images/SI-6TH0A-002-ENG.PDF
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Old 05-25-24, 09:47 AM
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Looks like you've gotten some good advice on bike fit. I think you might also try some casual group rides.

I like to ride hard, my wife doesn't, at least not yet. This is familiar territory.
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Old 05-25-24, 10:18 AM
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Di2 would be a major upgrade costing in the range of twice what you paid for the bike. But it would have a big advantage for shifting. You can program those to just allow you to shift up and down the gears and it will automatically shift the front as needed. In effect, it is a bit like a 1X setup.

Another thing is a mechanical shift up to the big ring takes some significant effort. Di2 makes this effortless.

I would give consideration to the GRX Di2. This gets lower gearing. Also, Shimano just released 12 speed GRX Di2, so you might find a good deal on the 11 speed group set, or even a whole new bike with it.
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Old 05-25-24, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir


Spinning 100 rpm cross-chaining the 34T chain ring and the 11T cog is not that slow. it is almost 25 mph.

Bicycle Gear Calculator (gear-calculator.com)
Yeah, but that's a lot of chain slap, and most likely the chain is rattling on the inside of the big ring.

But, properly set up, 105 11-speed is a pretty slick-shifting setup, and the brakes work great too, if you can reach the levers. Before committing yourself to making radical, expensive modifications, take your wife and her bike to a shop and explain that you want to make it easier for her to shift and brake. It can be done without major reinvention. Maybe a narrower handlebar with less reach would help.
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Old 05-26-24, 07:09 AM
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Don't assume that your wife won't love to ride when you assemble the perfect steed (I speak from experience since mine does). Take her to a bike shop on a slow day and let her try different models until she finds the right one, then replicate the dimensions (alternatively have her sit on the bike with you holding it up, close her eyes and put her hands where she feels most comfortable. That's what we used to do with off road motorcycles because it's one size fits all with them).

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Old 05-26-24, 03:35 PM
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This is her third bike, she had a flat bar bike in the past and prefers the neutral position of the drops... And we actually do have a tandem but we can only ride it locally since we don't have a truck to transport it.

I have purchased some TRP HY/RD calipers and the local bike shop is going to install the spacers the lever (already have a scheduled tune up before ragbrai so will let pros mess with the integrated shifter). Will just let her spin on the small chain wheel if she wants and just remind her if it's clicking to press both big levers.

If she wants to do something in the future will probably look at GRX as Mtracer and others have suggested instead of upgraded 105.

Last edited by adamtreier; 05-26-24 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 06-01-24, 01:28 PM
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Excellent: for me, there's nothing like riding with my better half, and we've been doing it every weekend, sometimes during the week and vacation for 15+ years. I learned that however much is spent on her bike is a worthwhile investment.
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