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This Is Ridiculous (No Ultra Low Gear Options)

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This Is Ridiculous (No Ultra Low Gear Options)

Old 10-17-21, 08:13 AM
  #1  
Paul Barnard
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This Is Ridiculous (No Ultra Low Gear Options)

I ordered a Lynskey GR 300 frame. I want to get below 20 gear inches on the low end and above 95 on the high end. Preferably closer to 19 and above 100. A 46/30 (as found on Shimano GRX and several other gravel cranksets) is a good starting point. The problem is that no derailleur is made to run on drop bar/road cable pulls and designed to handle more than an 34T max cassette. I need a road cable pull derailleur that gives be the ability to run an 11-42 cassette in a 2X set-up. Mountain cable pull rear derailleurs can easily tackle this range. Front derailleur cage profiles favor big road rings or small mountain rings with few options for middle of the road stuff.

That sends people off looking for special solutions/hacks. Wolf Tooth makes several special derailleur links. Gevenalle makes special shifters. The internet provides volumes of reading on hacks. The touring sub-forum is full of threads discussing this very issue. The demand is inarguably strong.

Here's an article that describes the need and difficulties of getting the desirable range out of gravel bike gearing. https://road.cc/content/feature/how-...entures-246424

Here are some comments from the article that speak well to the issue.

"Out of the box, your typical gravel bike has a 50/34 chainset and an 11-32 cassette, giving a range of gears that’s fine on roads unless you’re riding somewhere very hilly, but with limitations you very quickly bang up against when you venture off road."

"Not only is 29in too high, but so is 123in. You’re never going to use that top gear off-road and you’re not going to get much use from it on the road either. (I could digress into a rant here about component makers supplying almost nothing but pro-class top gears on bikes that will never see a sprint for the line, but that's a topic for another time.)"


Since triple cranksets have fallen out of favor, folks have been clamoring for workable wide range gearing solutions with some serious low end capability. It's no technological feat at all to make this stuff work. I predict that in the next few years manufacturers will fix this glitch, then hail the groundbreaking new technology as perfect for us regular folks who don't fancy ourselves as world class athletes.

In the meantime, I'll piddle with frustrating hacks.

Gonna be a sweet bike when I'm done!
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Old 10-17-21, 08:28 AM
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I like my low gearing as well, I prefer small rings and a tight rear (<34t). Works great for my high cadence. I also think those large cogs look silly
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Old 10-17-21, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
I also think those large cogs look silly
They help prevent the chain from breaking up when climbing very steep.
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Old 10-17-21, 09:18 AM
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Is this really a problem? I have thousands of trouble-free miles on an XT derailleur with Ultegra shifters using a Wolf Tooth Tanpan. Really a very simple device with very little to go wrong. Not a "frustrating hack" in my experience.


Brent
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Old 10-17-21, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
They help prevent the chain from breaking up when climbing very steep.
ive never heard that one before….
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Old 10-17-21, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
Is this really a problem? I have thousands of trouble-free miles on an XT derailleur with Ultegra shifters using a Wolf Tooth Tanpan. Really a very simple device with very little to go wrong. Not a "frustrating hack" in my experience.

Brent
I agree with that. I understand liking Gevenalle shifters, but to me it's more of a workaround to run those shifters instead of a wolflink or tanpan if I wasn't planning on it to begin with.
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Old 10-17-21, 10:08 AM
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Really, your sticking point is Shimano. Familiar situation for anyone on the mountain bike side these last 10 years.

SRAM 1x11 will support up to a 46t rear and e13 makes a 9-46 cassette and Garbaruk makes 10-46.

If you still want to have a left shifter and a Shimano freehub, SRAM 10 speed mountain bike derailleurs are compatible with the road shifters, and that will get you a 40t rear.

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Old 10-17-21, 10:56 AM
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I switched my bike's drivetrain from a 2x9 to a 3x9 (44-32-22 mountain crank + bar end shifters) shortly after getting it.
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Old 10-17-21, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
Is this really a problem? I have thousands of trouble-free miles on an XT derailleur with Ultegra shifters using a Wolf Tooth Tanpan. Really a very simple device with very little to go wrong. Not a "frustrating hack" in my experience.


Brent

Brent, I am ignorant about that device. Can you walk me through your drivetrain in detail?
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Old 10-17-21, 12:56 PM
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11 speed Ultegra Shifter



XT derailleur with Wolf Tooth Tanpan SH 11 adapter


Brent
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Old 10-17-21, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
11 speed Ultegra Shifter



XT derailleur with Wolf Tooth Tanpan SH 11 adapter


Brent

What FD and Crank are you using? Any chainline workarounds?
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Old 10-17-21, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
What FD and Crank are you using? Any chainline workarounds?
Front derr. is Ultegra. Cranks are XT. No chainline problems.
Brent
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Old 10-17-21, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
Front derr. is Ultegra. Cranks are XT. No chainline problems.
Brent
Do you know what chainline mm your frame was built on? 142mm rear spacing?
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Old 10-17-21, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
Do you know what chainline mm your frame was built on? 142mm rear spacing?
Rear spacing is 142mm. Current chainline is aprox. 47mm. I don't know the chainline spec. used by the builder.
Brent
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Old 10-17-21, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
Rear spacing is 142mm. Current chainline is aprox. 47mm. I don't know the chainline spec. used by the builder.
Brent
Thanks Brent. Pt Reyes is such a cool place. I can see why you would want the gearing you have in that part of the country.
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Old 10-17-21, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
I ordered a Lynskey GR 300 frame. I want to get below 20 gear inches on the low end and above 95 on the high end. Preferably closer to 19 and above 100. A 46/30 (as found on Shimano GRX and several other gravel cranksets) is a good starting point. The problem is that no derailleur is made to run on drop bar/road cable pulls and designed to handle more than an 34T max cassette.
Below 19gi just isn't something that is commonly needed. It shouldn't be surprising to see options to get there are alternatives vs mainstream.

Get a White Industries crank and fit whatever size chainrings you want to get the gear inches you need. It'll set you back like $400, but it'll work.

The tanpan or a roadlink may work for what you want.
Also, Shimano's limits are conservative. GS model RDs can handle larger than stated cassettes and also can handle more chainwrap.

Related note- even a Surly Disc Trucker, the common standard for touring bikes right now, comes with 21gi as a low. Complaining that gravel bike drivetrains aren't readily available with under 20gi for bailout isn't realistic.
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Old 10-17-21, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
They help prevent the chain from breaking up when climbing very steep.
Never had that happen. But I've only been riding for 45 years.
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Old 10-17-21, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by rando_couche View Post
Never had that happen. But I've only been riding for 45 years.
Other factors come into play like weight of the rider, uphill gradient, alignment of the drivetrain components, shifting technique, and maintenance regime of the drivetrain.

All things equal, you are less likely to snap a chain pedaling up a very steep hill on a very big cog as you can only impart less tension on the chain compared to using a smaller cog (leverage arm).

I've often seen riders snap their chains on uphills and intersections (when they try to quickly accelerate to speed when the light turns green). Most of them have their chain on the small cog.
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Old 10-18-21, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by rando_couche View Post
Never had that happen. But I've only been riding for 45 years.
Yep, not an issue. I'm fat and regularly ride/struggle up 18% grades on my measly 34t cog. If your chain is properly engaged, it won't break. When people break chains it's generally user error while shifting or on installation. Of course if folks are using a no-name "chain shaped object" anything is possible.
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Old 10-18-21, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Below 19gi just isn't something that is commonly needed. It shouldn't be surprising to see options to get there are alternatives vs mainstream.

Get a White Industries crank and fit whatever size chainrings you want to get the gear inches you need. It'll set you back like $400, but it'll work.

The tanpan or a roadlink may work for what you want.
Also, Shimano's limits are conservative. GS model RDs can handle larger than stated cassettes and also can handle more chainwrap.

Related note- even a Surly Disc Trucker, the common standard for touring bikes right now, comes with 21gi as a low. Complaining that gravel bike drivetrains aren't readily available with under 20gi for bailout isn't realistic.
I am far from being alone in my wishes for lower gearing. The net is chock full of info on workarounds to get there. If you were to ask those who do loaded touring in the mountains what they'd like to have for a low, you'd see that many, if not most, would like sub 20" set-ups. The article I linked talks about a fit rider who had to walk his bike up steep sections of a gravel road. I suspect most riders would be more likely to need 20" than they would need 50-11 gearing.
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Old 10-18-21, 07:56 AM
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It would be interesting to know why Shimano chose to go with different cable pulls for road and mtb. Prior to 10 speed mtb, we happily mixed and matched. FWIW, Microshift has drop bar levers for Shimano mtb/Dynasis RDs but I think mechanical brake only.
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Old 10-18-21, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
I am far from being alone in my wishes for lower gearing. The net is chock full of info on workarounds to get there. If you were to ask those who do loaded touring in the mountains what they'd like to have for a low, you'd see that many, if not most, would like sub 20" set-ups. The article I linked talks about a fit rider who had to walk his bike up steep sections of a gravel road. I suspect most riders would be more likely to need 20" than they would need 50-11 gearing.
I am not criticizing you, I totally get your need and recognize you are not alone. Im just saying it isnt a large market. No matter how many people want that gearing, 20x more dont, and that group is will obviously be the one that is served.
Actual touring(vs just having a touring bike) is a niche activity. Touring on unpaved roads/trails is a niche of a niche activity. If the demand were there, then the products would be there.

Why not use an Alivio 48-36-26 triple crankset paired to 3x9 Sora shifters? That is what Surly DTs and Trek 520s use. The 520 has 19.9 gear inches as it uses an 11-36 cassette.
Or The Trek Grando uses Tiagra shifters mated to a 42/28 crank with 11-36 cassette. That gets you to 21.56 gear inches.


As for the initial claim that gravel bikes come with 50/34 cranks and 11/32 cassettes- sure that can happen. But a large majority of 2x offerings for the last few years are significantly better spec'd and use a 48/32 crank, a 48/31 crank, or a 46/30 crank and pair those with an 11-34 or 11-36 cassette. And then many others are 1x and offer sub 1-1 ratios.
A 46/30 crank with an 11-42 cassette, which helpful for some, is way more capacity than most want/need. 30/42 with 40mm tires is 3.5mph at 60rpm.
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Old 10-18-21, 09:06 AM
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Maybe this would get you there?

https://www.sram.com/en/sram/models/rd-apx-1-a1

https://www.sram.com/en/sram/models/sb-apx-b1
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Old 10-18-21, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I am not criticizing you, I totally get your need and recognize you are not alone. Im just saying it isnt a large market. No matter how many people want that gearing, 20x more dont, and that group is will obviously be the one that is served.
Actual touring(vs just having a touring bike) is a niche activity. Touring on unpaved roads/trails is a niche of a niche activity. If the demand were there, then the products would be there.

Why not use an Alivio 48-36-26 triple crankset paired to 3x9 Sora shifters? That is what Surly DTs and Trek 520s use. The 520 has 19.9 gear inches as it uses an 11-36 cassette.
Or The Trek Grando uses Tiagra shifters mated to a 42/28 crank with 11-36 cassette. That gets you to 21.56 gear inches.


As for the initial claim that gravel bikes come with 50/34 cranks and 11/32 cassettes- sure that can happen. But a large majority of 2x offerings for the last few years are significantly better spec'd and use a 48/32 crank, a 48/31 crank, or a 46/30 crank and pair those with an 11-34 or 11-36 cassette. And then many others are 1x and offer sub 1-1 ratios.
A 46/30 crank with an 11-42 cassette, which helpful for some, is way more capacity than most want/need. 30/42 with 40mm tires is 3.5mph at 60rpm.
"Im just saying it isnt a large market. No matter how many people want that gearing, 20x more dont, and that group is will obviously be the one that is served."

Friendly discussion here, so don't take any of this the wrong way. Let's think in terms of the average buyer. I think those of us that hang out here and are very serious represent a small fraction of buyers. I'd guess that 20X people don't really know what they want or are never going to come anywhere close to needing either end of their gear range. Most of them will buy what the sales person steers them toward. They'd be just as happy with 50/36 11-32 gearing as they would with 46/30 11-42. gearing. I don't think it would be a stretch to say that 80% of buyers would be as happy with one as they would the other and would never truly need a limit.

What about the other 20% (or whatever you think that number may be) Let's take standard gravel bike gearing. 50/34 or 46-30 and 11-34 is fairly standard 2X gearing these days. All I am asking for is rear derailleur shifter combos that would allow me to run an 11-42 rear cassette instead of the 11-34 with the 46/30. Now let's apply that to a gravel loop. You and I are going to ride your favorite loop and my favorite loop. My chosen gearing is 46/30 with 11-42. This is my loop. At some places there are some rougher 20% climbs. https://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/4655864239 I will need better than 30-36 on the steeper parts. On this entire loop, I'd never have a need for more top end than the 46-11 affords. I have a hunch that my chosen gearing would serve me very well on your favorite route. I have a hunch that it'd serve you and most others perfectly well on your favorite route too. If it wouldn't, help me understand why.

46-11 gives you 27 MPH at an 80 RPM cadence. At a good sprinting cadence of 100, that's 34 MPH. Are people really hitting these kinds of speeds on gravel? I know many of our loops involve tarmac. Is it common for you or others to pedal faster than 34 on the tarmac stretches of your gravel loops? On my mixed surface routes, I am happy to coast when speeds start getting over 30MPH.

The quote in the linked article touches well on this reality. "That bottom gear is far too high. When I head out of Cambridgeshire to the gentle slopes of Suffolk I find myself wanting something lower for longer climbs. When he tested Trek’s new Checkpoint David Arthur — who is much, much fitter than me — found he had to get off and walk when riding the Cotswolds. "Compact chainsets have no place on gravel bikes," he said in a road.cc office discussion of the issue."
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Old 10-18-21, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I

Why not use an Alivio 48-36-26 triple crankset paired to 3x9 Sora shifters? That is what Surly DTs and Trek 520s use. The 520 has 19.9 gear inches as it uses an 11-36 cassette.
.
I have learned that it's not so obvious to others when I type with my tongue in my cheek, so I'll tell you that is where my tongue is with this reply.

I bought a Lynskey titanium frame. You have the gall to suggest I hang "Alivio" and "Sora" "9 speed" components on this? Do you put Ketchup on your filet mignon?
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