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Old Guy's Hill Assist

Old 01-26-16, 04:17 PM
  #1  
DougG
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Old Guy's Hill Assist

This is the one change I made to my prime road bike last week when doing my annual winter maintenance: a 12-36 10-spd cassette to go along with the 50-34 compact crank and give me an ultra-granny-gear for the hills that I am not so great on.



The main drawback is losing yet more close-ratio gearing as the cogs go 12-13-15-17-19-22-25-28-32-36, which is one good case for an 11-speed group. I'll probably have more times when one gear is a tad low and the next smaller one feels a tad high. But since most of the hills I encounter tend to be of the short-and-steep variety vs. longer, more gradual climbs, having that ultra-low gear should give me a bit more confidence. I hate bonking...
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Old 01-26-16, 04:52 PM
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Good choice!

I have often found myself wanting a lower gear than my lowest.

I've never found myself wishing my lowest gear was higher than it was.

BTW, that is one clean drivetrain!
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Old 01-26-16, 05:00 PM
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I did this on my winter bike a few years ago - 34x34 low gear for the Summit Wall. I went 9-speed with downtube shifters.
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Old 01-26-16, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Good choice!

I have often found myself wanting a lower gear than my lowest.

I've never found myself wishing my lowest gear was higher than it was.

BTW, that is one clean drivetrain!
It is as clean as it is because of where he is. That looks unridden to me

and Doug, I am riding a Sram 11 with a low of 34/34, couldn't be more pleased and I have access to some long hills (western NC)
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Old 01-26-16, 08:25 PM
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Looks like a good set up, Doug, nice choice on your gearing.

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Old 01-26-16, 08:44 PM
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That's a big one.
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Old 01-27-16, 12:20 AM
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Geez . . . you need such a granny to ride up to Stoney Creek Park? (used to live out that way)
BTW am 83 years old and use 12-30 39/53 in much hillier AZ.
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Old 01-27-16, 07:47 AM
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You could also opt for a 46-30 crank. Those are a little tougher to find though. Too bad that triples have gone out of fashion. There is a lot to be said--depending on the hills--to a 24/26 tooth inner ring.
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Old 01-27-16, 08:10 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Geez . . . you need such a granny to ride up to Stoney Creek Park? (used to live out that way)
BTW am 83 years old and use 12-30 39/53 in much hillier AZ.
Perhaps he takes on vacation to northern Michigan as I do.
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Old 01-27-16, 09:54 AM
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Good job Doug!

As the years have gone on I have been lowering my gearing too. I run a 13-32 7 speed (with a 38/46 double) and my wife has a 12-34 8 speed with a triple. Triples are a great way to go because you can set up the middle and large chainrings to handle nearly everything and then drop into the 30t when necessary.

John
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Old 01-27-16, 10:01 AM
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Two years back I went from an Ultegra 10 speed triple to an compact 11 speed with a 34x34 low end. No regrets.

Last edited by dendawg; 01-27-16 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 01-27-16, 10:03 AM
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Very nice set up Doug! Looks like it should work well for your tough climbs out there. Here the climbs tend to be longer and not as steep (with a few notable exceptions!) but your gearing would work well for the mountain near SoCal too.

I have a compact (34/50) on the front of my SRAM 10 bike with an 11-32 in the back, which seems to work well for me. However, as I get older, lower gearing may become necessary (65 now). A friend of mine (Peg Miller) fitted an 11-40 to her Cervelo so there's that option too!

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Old 01-27-16, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Geez . . . you need such a granny to ride up to Stoney Creek Park? (used to live out that way)
BTW am 83 years old and use 12-30 39/53 in much hillier AZ.
Is that because your stoker does most of the hard work.
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Old 01-27-16, 10:59 AM
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Stoker always has done her share of the workload. However at age 80, she's still 'a youngster'!
Here she is in northern Utah last summer . . . still smiling!
On our tandem we do run a triple . . .
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Old 01-27-16, 11:17 AM
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I have not worked out the exact chainring and cog sizes you would need, but one way to pick up the lost "in between" gear ratios is to use a 1.5-step system, in which the ratio change in front is 1.5 times the average ratio change in back. I run 50-42/14-16-18-20-23-26 on the Bianchi, with the only drawback being the 84-to-96 gear-inch gap on top. A 7-speed freewheel with a 15 between the 14 and 16 would be one solution. The double shifts are not that bad, since you use them only for fine-tuning.

Also, if you don't really need that high a top gear (I don't), consider starting at 13 or even 14 teeth in back.
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Old 01-27-16, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Gerryattrick View Post
Is that because your stoker does most of the hard work.
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Old 01-27-16, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
You could also opt for a 46-30 crank. Those are a little tougher to find though. Too bad that triples have gone out of fashion. There is a lot to be said--depending on the hills--to a 24/26 tooth inner ring.
I was a big fan of triple cranks on my 7 speed drivetrains, but as the typical setups have evolved with each successive additional rear cog, I find it less needed, especially with smaller front rings. I found the compact 34/50 cranks to work well for me in most situations, but sometimes wishing for more low end.

The 12-36 cassette like in the OP is one good way to get lower. I have chosen the 30/46 crank approach. This allowed me to run an 11 speed 11-28 cassette with the Campagnolo drivetrain on my road bike (White Industries VBC crank) and to get really low with a 10 speed 12-36 cassette on my gravel/adventure bike (Sugino OX601 crank). Both have proven to suit me very well for the types of riding I do on these very different bikes. With the 46 tooth big ring, I can stay in the big ring in many situations where I found myself shifting frequently between the 34 and 50 on standard compacts.
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Old 01-27-16, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
I was a big fan of triple cranks on my 7 speed drivetrains, but as the typical setups have evolved with each successive additional rear cog, I find it less needed, especially with smaller front rings. I found the compact 34/50 cranks to work well for me in most situations, but sometimes wishing for more low end.

The 12-36 cassette like in the OP is one good way to get lower. I have chosen the 30/46 crank approach. This allowed me to run an 11 speed 11-28 cassette with the Campagnolo drivetrain on my road bike (White Industries VBC crank) and to get really low with a 10 speed 12-36 cassette on my gravel/adventure bike (Sugino OX601 crank). Both have proven to suit me very well for the types of riding I do on these very different bikes. With the 46 tooth big ring, I can stay in the big ring in many situations where I found myself shifting frequently between the 34 and 50 on standard compacts.
agreed that as the number of cogs on the back have increased, the need for a triple has decreased. still I like a 24 for some kinds of riding and shimano hasn't made it easy to mix mtb with road stuff which would have helped.

I missed that the OP is running a 12-36 on the back; a 34 running on a 36 is a pretty decent low gear.
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Old 01-27-16, 04:18 PM
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That's a great combo Doug!! I love my 11-32 and frankly I don't notice any issues with any gaps at all. I don't have to use the 34-32 that often but when I do it's a god send.
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Old 01-27-16, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
You could also opt for a 46-30 crank. Those are a little tougher to find though. Too bad that triples have gone out of fashion. There is a lot to be said--depending on the hills--to a 24/26 tooth inner ring.
Are you talking about chain rings 46-30 (front) or cogs 24-26 (rear)?
No triples have not going out of style particularly with "randonneurs" multi days riding with paniers and camping gears.
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Old 01-27-16, 04:51 PM
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Sorry to crash the chorus of approval, but I loathe and detest those big cassettes. The big jumps between gears are less efficient and mean one is constantly groping for the right gear in rolling terrain. A triple with a much tighter cassette at the back is much the better way to go if one wants a climbing gear in my opinion. It also means much less shifting up front, because going up and down the gears on the 39 middle ring is good for 22-23 on the flats and adequate for moderate hills.

I recently went 11-speed on one of my road bikes and foolishly bought a 50-34 compact and a 11-32 cassette. Horrible, just horrible. I've now put a 12-25 on it, which almost, but not quite, makes up for the horror that is a 50-34 compact crank. Next step will be to revert to a standard 53-39' or maybe one of the new 52-36 jobs if I'm feeling feeble.
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Old 01-27-16, 04:52 PM
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Wow. And I thought my 34/50 12/26 gave me a low gear -- of course we don't have that many steep hills in this area. I am a big fan of using medium and long cage mountain derailleurs on road bikes. I don't think the shifts feel any less "crisp" to me and I like the extended range of gears.
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Old 01-27-16, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by VNA View Post
Are you talking about chain rings 46-30 (front) or cogs 24-26 (rear)?
No triples have not going out of style particularly with "randonneurs" multi days riding with paniers and camping gears.
I was thinking 46-30 up front. Shimano and SRAM would both like to move away from triples to save money. The need for them is going downhill as others have pointed out because you can run a huge cassette in the rear and you're not missing all the in-between gears with 10 or 11 which you were when running 6 or 7.

Agreed that they should not go out of style; just sayin that the big manufacturers would like to get rid of them.
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Old 01-27-16, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
Sorry to crash the chorus of approval, but I loathe and detest those big cassettes. The big jumps between gears are less efficient and mean one is constantly groping for the right gear in rolling terrain. A triple with a much tighter cassette at the back is much the better way to go if one wants a climbing gear in my opinion. It also means much less shifting up front, because going up and down the gears on the 39 middle ring is good for 22-23 on the flats and adequate for moderate hills.

I recently went 11-speed on one of my road bikes and foolishly bought a 50-34 compact and a 11-32 cassette. Horrible, just horrible. I've now put a 12-25 on it, which almost, but not quite, makes up for the horror that is a 50-34 compact crank. Next step will be to revert to a standard 53-39' or maybe one of the new 52-36 jobs if I'm feeling feeble.
+1

Well ... I wouldn't say that I loathe them, but I have no interest in moving to a compact double set up. I understand why Shimano et al would rather everybody move to a compact set up (forgoing the expense of marketing different brifters and derailleurs), but I still believe them to be a better setup.

1. The spacing offered by an 11 speed system is only marginally better than a 10 speed system. Why compare them to the 6 or 7 speed systems so few use?

2. Going to bigger and more cogs in the cassette negates much of the weight advantage of a CD.

It's not all about range, and it's not even all about spacing, its also about doing less shifting. To wit:

Little Chainring: Hereabouts, our climbs are typically long, so I just put it in the little chainring and keep it there. I can shift up considerably using the rear derailleur as the grade lessens (I don't use the little ring as a bailout gear). So what is often referred to as the "hassle" and "complexity" of shifting into the little chainring is a lot of nonsense. And when I'm in that granny gear, I get the benefit of finer spacing.

Middle Chainring: Riding around in average terrain and gentle hills, I can put it in the middle chainring and keep it there. And since the cassette isn't wildly spaced out, there is reasonable spacing between them.

Large Chainring: Racing on flatter terrain, I can use the large chainring to get 1/2 steps between the gears and get exactly what I want. Believe it not, that is a huge advantage in the endurance races I do. And of course, its there for the usual purpose of high speed riding.

I dunno ... CDs are all right. But I'll be among the last to adopt them.
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Old 01-27-16, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post

1. The spacing offered by an 11 speed system is only marginally better than a 10 speed system. Why compare them to the 6 or 7 speed systems so few use?
Because for many of us, the argument for triples was much more compelling when we rode on 6, 7 or 8 speed systems. This was only a few years ago for me.

I rode a 30-40-50 triple with a 13-23 7 speed. I tried a 50/34 with an 8 speed and it was totally unacceptable. I rode a 12-30 10speed with a 50/34 for years and it covered the range I wanted well, but did require more shifting than I wanted between the front rings.

The subcompact 46/30 combined with the the 11 speed 11-28 that I now ride gives me a wider overall range and the big ring gives me almost the same range as the old middle and large rings with tighter spacing. Win - win.

Nothing will work for everyone in all situations.
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