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Lower gearing for road bike

Old 06-22-09, 05:05 PM
  #1  
5kdad
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Lower gearing for road bike

Bought a Felt Z100 a couple weeks ago. Substancial improvement over the older Bianchi I was riding.
It has an 8 speed cassette, 12-25.
I'm in a part of the country with lots of hills, plus I weigh about 220. Also, riding in hot weather, I don't get as hot if I can pedal easier up a hill. Thinking about having the cassette changed out. So far, I've been able to ride up all the hills, but I've not tackled some of the longer, steeper ones here in the Arkansas/Missouri Ozarks.
LBS has a 11-30 cassette, will have to change out rear derailleur, so parts will be about $120. I know an 11-32 is made, just wondering if the 11-30 will give me enough improvement, to make it work the investment.
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Old 06-22-09, 05:10 PM
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That seems like an excessive amount of money for that work / parts. I think you should be able to do it / get it done more cheaply.

No idea if that will make much of a difference for you. Perhaps Sheldon's gear calculator might be of help. I find it helps to plug in the setup from another bike with a gear range that I like for comparison.
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Old 06-22-09, 05:16 PM
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If you can, just get a smaller inside chainring.
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Old 06-22-09, 05:21 PM
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Heck, why not just change to a smaller set of chainrings up front? Most cranks can be downsized some on ring size. Then you shorten the chain a couple of links to accomodate the shorter overall length, and you're set!
I changed my hybrid Sugino crank from 42-52 to 36-46. Made all the difference. I really appreciated the lower gearing, and didn't really miss the highest ones.
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Old 06-22-09, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by tellyho View Post
That seems like an excessive amount of money for that work / parts. I think you should be able to do it / get it done more cheaply.

No idea if that will make much of a difference for you. Perhaps Sheldon's gear calculator might be of help. I find it helps to plug in the setup from another bike with a gear range that I like for comparison.


$29 for the new cassette, $89 for the new derailleur. The Shimano Sora will only go up to 27 teeth.
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Old 06-22-09, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemeister View Post
Heck, why not just change to a smaller set of chainrings up front? Most cranks can be downsized some on ring size. Then you shorten the chain a couple of links to accomodate the shorter overall length, and you're set!
I changed my hybrid Sugino crank from 42-52 to 36-46. Made all the difference. I really appreciated the lower gearing, and didn't really miss the highest ones.
Don't think I'm a total whimp, but it already has a triple chainring....52/42/30. I'm not real familiar with what would be available or feasible for a lower-geared chain ring.
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Old 06-22-09, 05:58 PM
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I assumed your inner BCD to be 74mm and I can find a inner granny as low as 24t. That should help a lot.

For around $20 I might add. All you'd need to DIY is a 5mm hex.

If you are "sensitive" to the feel of you bike, I would suggest lowering all three chainrings. Still be cheaper than new cassette and RD, before labor.

Also, you can bring yoru other two gears down as well to make the change not so drastic. The only thing to do afterwards is to adjust the FD and with some reading at parktool.com > repair help, it should be pretty easy. Once again, all you'd need is a 5mm and perhaps a flat head screw driver.

Last edited by z415; 06-23-09 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 06-22-09, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
Don't think I'm a total whimp, but it already has a triple chainring....52/42/30. I'm not real familiar with what would be available or feasible for a lower-geared chain ring.
replace the 30tooth ring with a 24t ring
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Old 06-23-09, 12:05 AM
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I would switch your chainrings for a 26-39-52 setup and see how well that works - that shouldn't require any adjustments to either derailleur. To make the change, you will probably need more than just the 5mm hex key because you'll likely need a crank extractor to take the right crank-arm off to change the inner ring.

If that is still not enough for you, then switch the cassette to one with a 30-tooth cog. However, when you do that you'll probably need to add a couple of links to the chain. Your Sora rear derailleur is only officially rated up to 27 teeth, but many people have got them to work with up to 30 teeth, so try it before replacing it. However, by that time you will have such a spread of gear combinations that a mountain-bike rear derailleur will probably be necessary so that it can take up sufficient slack when on the small chainring.

Anyway, try changing your inner chainring first, and consider changing the middle at the same time, because this should be the simplest thing and keeps the spacing between the gears on the rear reasonably tight. Your LBS should have suggested this to you in the first place.
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Old 06-23-09, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by z415 View Post
I assumed your inner BCD to be 74mm and I can find a inner granny as low as 24t. That should help a lot.

For around $20 I might add. All you'd need to DYI is a 5mm hex.

If you are "sensitive" to the feel of you bike, I would suggest lowering all three chainrings. Still be cheaper than new cassette and RD, before labor.

Also, you can bring yoru other two gears down as well to make the change not so drastic. The only thing to do afterwards is to adjust the FD and with some reading at parktool.com > repair help, it should be pretty easy. Once again, all you'd need is a 5mm and perhaps a flat head screw driver.
I agree... that's the easiest way to go, because you don't need to change anything on the rear.
I run a 24-34-46 triple and an ultra-close ratio 14-15-16-17-18-20-23 cassette with just a $20 Sora...


...and still have almost a 1:1 low gear.


Greg

Last edited by oldpedalpusher; 07-14-09 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 06-23-09, 05:46 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
Don't think I'm a total whimp, but it already has a triple chainring....52/42/30. I'm not real familiar with what would be available or feasible for a lower-geared chain ring.
You want lower gearing, and with your set-up, a 24t granny gear is the easiest solution. A 24f+25r gear-combo will be equivalent to a 30f+31r combination. Would cost less in parts and labour as well and not mess with the jump between gears in back.

Wide-range cassettes are annoying because the large gaps between cogs frequently throw you in-between gears. One is too tall while the next one is too low. This is especially bad with 8-spd and there's absolutely no way you're spinning out a 52x12t gear, so you certainly don't need an 11t. If you really wanted to change the cassette, remove the 12t and add a 28t on the inside for a 13-28t stack.

However, the easiest, simplest and least-costly solution for you is a 24t granny in front.
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Old 06-23-09, 05:48 PM
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I've never ridden on a bicycle equipped with one of these, never even seen one "in the flesh"; nevertheless...

Mountain Tamer Quads
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Old 06-23-09, 05:56 PM
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Even though the spec says 27t max, a Shimano triple rear derailleur will shift onto a 30t cog. I have used a DA triple RD on a 12-30 cassette. Works great.

But a 24t or 26t chainring is probably a better solution, especially if you pair it with a 39t middle ring. That way you won't have the big gaps between gears that a wide-range 8sp cassette would have.
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Old 06-23-09, 06:07 PM
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Thanks for the wealth of knowledge!
If I were to replace my 30 chainring with a 24, would it be feasible to keep the 52? And if so, what would the middle ring need to be? I'd assume not leave it at 42, or am I wrong?
If not, would I need to replace the 52 with a 46, as "oldpedalpusher" has done?
Would something like 24-36-52 be a good combination, or would I need the 24-32-46 when dropping the small chainring so small?
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Old 06-23-09, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
Even though the spec says 27t max, a Shimano triple rear derailleur will shift onto a 30t cog. I have used a DA triple RD on a 12-30 cassette. Works great.

But a 24t or 26t chainring is probably a better solution, especially if you pair it with a 39t middle ring. That way you won't have the big gaps between gears that a wide-range 8sp cassette would have.

You'd suggest a gearing of 24-39-52?
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Old 06-23-09, 06:26 PM
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38 is the smallest you can go for the middle ring without swapping your whole crankset. It would even out the jump from the small to middle ring and likely shift a little better too.

Just FYI, you can get a Shimano MTB rear derailler for $21 that will do the trick for a wide range cassette:

https://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...16&category=72
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Old 06-23-09, 09:31 PM
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I just realized that I was dead wrong about *just* needing a 5 mm hex for DIY. You need a crank puller as well. Sorry about that.

Along with a (probably) either a 8 mm hex or a 15 mm socket or something like that to release the crank bolt.

Last edited by z415; 06-23-09 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 06-23-09, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by z415 View Post
I just realized that I was dead wrong about *just* needing a 5 mm hex for DIY. You need a crank puller as well. Sorry about that.

Along with a (probably) either a 8 mm hex or a 15 mm socket or something like that to release the crank bolt.
To remove the chainring bolts, your going to need a chainring nut wrench - somthing like this:

https://www.parktool.com/products/det...23&item=CNW-2#
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Old 06-24-09, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by woodway View Post
To remove the chainring bolts, your going to need a chainring nut wrench - somthing like this:

https://www.parktool.com/products/det...23&item=CNW-2#
Not really. Definitely not for the granny ring(s) and I just use a screwdriver for the others. Mine is sitting in my tool box unused.

OP would need to pull out the crank for the granny ring to drop it to 24/26t.
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Old 06-24-09, 11:05 AM
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+1 on the 24t chainring. It will allow you to keep the gears at the back, that you use for 90% of your riding.
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Old 06-24-09, 11:14 AM
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I never thought I'd need a chainring nut wrench 'til I came across some that were either seized on there or just REALLY tightened down good. Giant flathead screwdriver just didn't hold.
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Old 06-24-09, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
Don't think I'm a total whimp, but it already has a triple chainring....52/42/30. I'm not real familiar with what would be available or feasible for a lower-geared chain ring.
Run a gear calculator on what you have and on the proposed changes before you spend money on anything.

Here's what I have:

30-24 -> 2.6 meters development
30-28 -> 2.3 meters
30-32 -> 2.0 meters

==========

Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
Wide-range cassettes are annoying because the large gaps between cogs frequently throw you in-between gears. One is too tall while the next one is too low.
Another advantage of running a gear calculator is to know where these "middle" gears are. (Yes, they are less convenient to get to but it's sometimes helpful to know where they are!)

Last edited by njkayaker; 06-24-09 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 06-24-09, 01:05 PM
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I would not automatically assume that you can run a 24 granny chainring. You might have clearance problems with the bottom bracket. I'd replace the middle ring with a 39, it needs to be designed to run in a triple with ramps and pickup pins. Try a 26 granny ring, but a 28 might shift better.

My wife's Ultegra triple has 28-39-49 TA Alize chainrings but it has been challenging to get it to shift well.

Your front derailleur was designed to work with the chainrings that you now have. The farther you deviate from those rings the greater the possibility of having shifting problems.

Al

Last edited by Al1943; 06-24-09 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 06-25-09, 02:44 AM
  #24  
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^ You have a good point. If you take a loo the bike pic in post #10 and imagine a 52 on the outside, the FD would seem hard pressed to shift to the 24 and not run onto the inside of the 52.

Keep in mind that that isn't the OP's bike, but you get the general idea. Might have to swap at least the large ring and the small ring.
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Old 06-25-09, 03:39 AM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
Don't think I'm a total whimp, but it already has a triple chainring....52/42/30. I'm not real familiar with what would be available or feasible for a lower-geared chain ring.
I think your LBS pricing for that upgrade is not bad, especially the $29 cassette. If you can fit a 24 tooth sprocket, fine, but you also might need a front derailleur with a deeper or different cage. 24 is pretty darn small!

There might be some better prices out there, but how much is it worth to keep working with a good LBS, or to help keep them in business?

If going for the 32 tooth cassette is a possibility, given that you might be getting a Deore rear derailleur or other long-cage wide-range model, do it. Not a huge difference relative to the 30, but if the cost and possible waiting are acceptable, it will help you. Then you can keep teh 24 tooth idea in your back pocket as a "final solution." It really will be, because you will have just about maxed out gear technology.

We all need better conditioning. Even Armstrong doesn't stop training. But we still need to get up those hills while we're training.
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