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Do you make use of your 52 tooth chain-ring?

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Do you make use of your 52 tooth chain-ring?

Old 10-07-18, 06:42 PM
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Do you make use of your 52 tooth chain-ring?

Every vintage bike I see has a 52ish tooth big ring. Modern race bikes seem to also. I never make use of them unless going downhill. Am I just a slow wuss? Are you guys flying along like total badasses? I always wonder when I see people running 52t big rings. My large ring is a 48. With a 48x11 gearing, I can cruise along at well over 20mph. ...not that I manage that much unless, as mentioned, going downhill. I often ride in my smaller ring, but see people riding around on the big ring. Can you guys cruise on a flat at high 20s mph? I have certainly had some people on the path blast past me on occasion. There was one guy smoking along at 27mph on a long flat one day. I tried to hang with him for a while, but only lasted probably 1/2mi before I started running out of steam and gave up. My normal flat cruising speed is closer to the 16mph mark, 18-20 if Im having some fun and going fast. Did people used to all ride around faster back in the bike boom when everyone was riding around on sweet 80s race bikes and fast bikes were cool? The vast majority of people I see these days are riding commuter type bikes.
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Old 10-07-18, 06:52 PM
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Top gear used to be 52x14, which is lower than your 48x11. Everyone pedals differently, but 53t big rings are mostly because that's what the pros use.
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Old 10-07-18, 06:59 PM
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I never leave my 52 tooth ring. My riding area is dead flat for as far as I can pedal in a day. I use 12, 14, 16 in the rear. 16 in villages, and the other two depending on the wind. I am not a high cadence pedaler.
Originally Posted by Velo Vol View Post
Don't you have to actually ride your bike to be considered an "addict"?

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Old 10-07-18, 07:17 PM
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I had a 52 on for a while but found it a bit overkill so dropped it down to a 50 which suits me just fine.

Try to find replacement Campy 50T chainrings though...
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Old 10-07-18, 07:21 PM
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Big ring all the time - Illinois is flat. Run a range between 48T and 53T across my bikes.

Discovered that the 48T paired with a 12-23 makes a great "wind bike".
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Old 10-07-18, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by droppedandlost View Post
Top gear used to be 52x14, which is lower than your 48x11.
Agreed. A 52t chain ring driving a 14t cog is equivalent to a 41t chain ring and an 11t cog. Some freewheels back then did go down to a 13t cog, but 52t & 13t cog is still only equivalent to a 44t ring with an 11t cog.
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Old 10-07-18, 07:24 PM
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On rollers, a 52 or 53/17,18 or 21 gets you 20 mph depending on cadence. My latest 8 speed experiment is a 53/42 crankset with a 12-14-16-17-18-21-24-28 cassette. That 16-17-18-21 combo keeps me in the high teens-low 20's.
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Old 10-07-18, 07:31 PM
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It all makes so much more sense now! Thank you! I didnt think of older bikes not having an 11t in the rear. That explaines why one bike that I built up with modern 9sp wheels, but Dura-Ace crank with 52t ring, was such a beast to pedal on the smaller cogs. It sure did Fly down a big hill though!
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Old 10-07-18, 07:46 PM
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When I raced, sure the 52 was needed. Today, I just get rid of it on most every bike I own.
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Old 10-07-18, 08:07 PM
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Sometime in the mid '90s I figured out that I hardly used the 52 so I switched to a 50T.....and never looked back.

Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
Try to find replacement Campy 50T chainrings though...
135 BCD? Campy made that size for their triples so they're out there. If you're OK with aftermarket then Stonglight still makes them and they aren't crazy priced.
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Old 10-07-18, 08:11 PM
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Um well yeah.

52x14 is about the same as 48x13, FWIW. Bigger chainrings last longer.

11t cogs didn't exist BITD. I remember 12t, but it was rare. I ran a 12-17 regina oro 6spd for a while. It was kind of silly.
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Old 10-07-18, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Choke View Post
135 BCD? Campy made that size for their triples so they're out there. If you're OK with aftermarket then Stonglight still makes them and they aren't crazy priced.
Yeah 135 BCD. I'll keep looking.
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Old 10-07-18, 08:43 PM
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As John Howard was quoted long ago in Competitive Cycling, 52t chainrings just don't cut it. 53 is the way to go, along with two of my bikes that have 40t inner rings, one with a 39.
Another with a retro looking 50/34. My stealth climbing bike.

If one looks at a gear chart, often there are useful gears to be had in the big cookie.
When I come up to a guy mashing away in a big ring, I always make sure I'm in the small ring. Then politely ask, what do they use when they are on a descent?
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Old 10-07-18, 08:56 PM
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I use a 50/39 front and 12-23 rear. I can count the times I've used my big chain ring this year on one hand. I'm a spinner and don't mind cross-chaining.
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Old 10-07-18, 09:07 PM
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I recently put a 52/34 Sugino GT on my '78 Peugeot, along with a 28-13 6 speed rear. I think it's a great combination. Enough grunt for most hills, and good top end for the flats. I have a spare 52t that I'm thinking of swapping with the 50t big ring on my Sugino triple Raleigh Super Course. I used to race on a 53/45, and like having a big ring to go to.
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Old 10-07-18, 09:20 PM
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53-13 all day here.

I like to spin the 42-15 every third ride.

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Old 10-07-18, 10:10 PM
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I'm mostly on the big 52 and 18 or 20 in the rear. Small ring is for headwinds. Man I hate headwinds.
A race bike in any era is a highly personal choice that at its "best" balances the requirements of fit, weight, handling, durability and cost tempered by the willingness to toss it and oneself down the pavement at considerable speed. ~Bandera
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Old 10-07-18, 10:20 PM
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Pretty much run 52t or 53t up front on all my bikes. Inner rings go from 38t to 44t. Most bikes have a 24 or 26 in the rear for the biggest cog.
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Old 10-07-18, 11:22 PM
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Great for down hill with a following wind, beats coasting.
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Old 10-08-18, 01:20 AM
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Just cause Im not using it right now doesnt mean you can borrow it
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Old 10-08-18, 02:12 AM
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52t non! 53t non

Back during the 70's boom (or fad) 14-28T 5 Speed FWs with 52-42T, 52-40T or occasionally 52-36T chainrings were standard on non racing bikes. It was called "Alpine Gearing".

"Racing Bikes", usually Campy equipped, had freewheels with 13T or 14T small sprockets and 18T to 24T large sprockets. They were mostly 5 speed freewheels because 6 speed hubs and Freewheels were not commonly available (in the early 70's) and only came on a few bikes like Raleigh Professionals.

In the late 70's, 53T large chainrings became popular (because that's what the pros were riding). Since the only cranks "acceptable in the eyes of the US amateur raceurs" had 144mm BCD chainrings, 42T was still the smallest chainring in use in the racing circuit.

Shimano popularized 130mm BCD cranks in the 1970's. Even though they could use a 39T chainring, 52-42T cranks were still popular on Shimano equipped performance bikes until the early 1980's. As Shimano components became more acceptable, so did 53-39T chainrings. Campy followed suite with their 135mm BCD C-Record cranks. During much of the 80's 53-39T chainrings were de rigueur for road bikes.

Disclaimer: dates are speculative estimates!

In 1975 I did a bunch of "gear freaking" with graph paper. I came up with half step gearing that gave me even 5% or 10% jumps between 46" and 101" with 49-45T chainrings and a 13-26T 5 speed freewheel.

Being a retrogrouch, I stuck with 120mm hubs with 5 speed or 6 speed narrow freewheels because I could switch wheels between all of my bikes back then.

I used that gearing on my road bikes until 2006 when I realized that the hills in the Bay Area where too steep, I was getting old and fat plus all the other old fat guys were using lower gears.

I have a few bikes with 52T or 53T large chainrings and 39T or 42T small ones. Since I want to keep the all original look on these bikes I'm not going to change them. Because I'm running 28T FWs I only ride those bikes on shorter, flatter rides.

On most of the rest of my bikes I've switched to 50T, 49T or 48T large chainrings. With 11T, 12T or 13T cassettes or 13T FWs I have plenty enough high gears. I run them mostly with 38T or 39T small chainrings but I have 35T to 42T chainrings on some of the bikes.

For me, smaller front chainrings make for easier overall shifting.

@BigMig , hows this for an explanation!? I'll dig out several of my olde 13-26T 5 Speed FWs and send you a tooth count. Earlier this year I was throwing out a lot of my old paperwork and so on. I came across all of my gear graphs and figured I'd never need them again.

Things aren't always what they seem... Don't believe everything you think!

Chas. ;-)

Last edited by verktyg; 10-08-18 at 02:58 AM.
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Old 10-08-18, 02:24 AM
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I have a stash of several 52 and 53 tooth rings. They are never needed on my bikes. I choose gear ratios that make sense for me.
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Old 10-08-18, 03:16 AM
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I'm usually in the 52-20 or 52-17 combination on my 5 speed cluster bikes.
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Old 10-08-18, 04:01 AM
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It depends in the gear at the back. A 52 /19 is the same as a 36/13 but more options if you need a change. Some pros ride a 56 big ring in time trials but it's not because they need a 56/11 but rather they can use the middle of the cassette and get a better chain line
So for instance where i live there are usually short steep hills so if i drop from the big ring to the small i may not have to change the rear at all.
But if i am in the 36/13 i would need to change up 4 or 5 at the rear which is extra hassle.
It's a matter of getting the right ratios overall and knowing where they are. Some people put a gear chart on the stem for reference.

Last edited by blamester; 10-08-18 at 04:49 AM.
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Old 10-08-18, 05:02 AM
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My road bike is 52/42x28/14. I tend to run in the 16(3rd in) a lot, and sometimes the 15. My commuter had 48/34x28/14 I run the 15 a lot, and lowest when running late at full gas, but it is quite flat.
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