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Bucking The Trend:34/34?

Old 01-04-21, 10:39 AM
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Bucking The Trend:34/34?

Who is refusing to modify the gearing on their Road bike from what was normal--like low gears of 42/24 for old bikes and 39/23 for newer road bikes?

AND, how's it going for you?

I'm 50+12, ride 5-9,000 miles/yr over the last 10 years with my weekend rides 100ft/mile elevation gain mostly 6-8% with some 10-15% as I get prepared for some big ride. I've had a couple meniscus repairs that were not cycling related, one or the other knee will bug me while riding from time to time but it goes away if I raise/lower my ankle or slide forward/aft in my seat. I have worried sometimes that a suddenly bothersome knee would get worse in the middle of a hard 200k and I would have to get in the wagon but it eventually passes and I forget to worry. For a really hard event (think Belgian Waffle Ride) I have used a 39/28 but I put it back in the bin when I get home. So far so good.

I'm not passing judgment or bragging since it is not a big deal. I just want to know how it's going for folks riding the gears of their youth on a regular basis.

Jeff.
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Old 01-04-21, 10:49 AM
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I never think twice about running low gears. Central Iowa is not too hilly but I like to ride in the driftless region (SW WI, SE MN, and NE IA). There is some serious climbing in that area. 15% grades are not uncommon. The last metric century I did up there had close to 6,000 ft of climbing. I took my 70s Fuji Finest with 48/38/28 rings and a 13-28 7 speed rear freewheel (the bike has been spread to 126 OLD).


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Old 01-04-21, 10:50 AM
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50+12? Then I'm 50+16. Back in the 80s I used a 42x28 low gear and I was 220#. Always did all the local climbs, Santa Monica mountains, San Gabriels, etc.
I put on a 39 when I moved to the mountains near Frazier Park. I ran a triple starting in 2002 and a compact double starting in 2012. On the compact I have a 34x29 low gear and can get up all the local stuff with that, including My Baldy. If I buy a new road bike I would like something a little lower.

I still have one bike with a triple and when I ride it up longer hills or when I am tired the 39x28 isn't enough and I have to drop into the small ring.

My mtb has 28x46 low!
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Old 01-04-21, 11:16 AM
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My first road bike was a 1972 Schwinn Paramount, this bike had a 53/49 crankset with a 14-26 freewheel. As a teenager, I could climb steep grades by mashing the pedals while climbing. However, the days of being 140lbs are long gone. Even top professional riders in the 2020 Giro, Tour and other big races are using a 36 chainring and a 28 or 30 cog on days with long and steep climbs.

I have many bikes with many different drivetrains. I’ll use my vintage bikes with vintage drivetrains for a few retro rides. However, my frequently-ridden bikes will all have something close to a 1 to 1 drive. I’ve found that a 48/31 with a 11-32 cassette is close to ideal for me.




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Old 01-04-21, 11:32 AM
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I justified the 34x34 for my vintage bike because I use it as my winter ride and foul-weather bike, and I rode it in l'Eroica... so extra weight, slower, bad roads, and bad weather. Don't call it a granny-gear, it's a Koppenberg Kassett.




It doesn't have that professional criterium rider look... but it does have that "gets ridden a lot" look.
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Old 01-04-21, 11:55 AM
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When has gearing choice ever been normal to where everything came with the same front rings and rear cogs? The arguments have pretty much been the same for the fifty plus years I've been riding. Just that now we have more cogs on the rear and components that can run wider ranges. There's a little more gear science involved, but by far personal preference and fad still go a long way. And I'm okay with that.

So what's the question?
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Old 01-04-21, 12:53 PM
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I used to think of a 24 as a winter training gear. 21 was normal during the summer. No way I'm doing that now, knees wouldn't be happy.

You can ride big gears up steep hills, but either it means you are riding short rides or you have to eat more. And eating is one thing that has gotten a lot more difficult as I have gotten older. There is no doubt I have lost some muscle mass since I was younger.
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Old 01-04-21, 01:05 PM
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Seems like my fleet of vintage racers have different freewheel gearing one from another most still have the road double with the two campy group bikes doing the NR 52/42 stuff. These are not open road bikes, but mainly kept for casual evening rides downtown (unashamedly showing off).

The ‘88 Cannondale Criterium (pre-CAAD) racer is the one everyday rider to tackle our N. Michigan hills (steep) that have recently pressed me to try a compact double of 34/50. The Crit still sports a 12-28 cassette. Sure makes the tougher climbs more tolerable.
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Old 01-04-21, 05:55 PM
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I enjoy 34x32 or 36x34 on my climbing road bikes. I recently put a 46/30 coupled with an 11-34 on my gravel bike. That 30x34 combo is a real treat! It’s so much nicer than the 34x34 on steep gravel and a 20+ lb bike.
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Old 01-04-21, 10:11 PM
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Got some low gears (GRX 31/34) and not afraid to use them...
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Old 01-04-21, 10:27 PM
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I know many riders young and old that have embraced the larger cogs and smaller chainrings and everyone should ride whatever provides the joy that is riding a bike. I get a kick out of riding my road bikes with the gears described in the Orignal Post and was wondering if other riders also enjoy it and how they get along both mentally and physically. There are plenty of other threads for riders to express their preference and rationale for smaller gears.

Let me rephrase my query: If you had a roadbike that was not a tourer but more of a road racing bike in the 70s or early 8Os and you continue to put most of your weekly miles on a bike like that with gears like that, how is it going?
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Old 01-05-21, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
I know many riders young and old that have embraced the larger cogs and smaller chainrings and everyone should ride whatever provides the joy that is riding a bike. I get a kick out of riding my road bikes with the gears described in the Orignal Post and was wondering if other riders also enjoy it and how they get along both mentally and physically. There are plenty of other threads for riders to express their preference and rationale for smaller gears.

Let me rephrase my query: If you had a roadbike that was not a tourer but more of a road racing bike in the 70s or early 8Os and you continue to put most of your weekly miles on a bike like that with gears like that, how is it going?
I have multiple bikes that fit this description. These include a 1972 Schwinn Paramount with a 53 & 42 Campagnolo crankset and a 12-24 five speed freewheel. I also have a 1984ish De Rosa Professional and a 1993 Pinarello Gavia both of these have 53 & 39 cranksets.

These are fun on flat routes. Iíve completed metric century rides on these and I enjoy the mechanical feel and the ride quality. However, I donít enjoy the guaranteed-to-be-dropped pace during climbs.

The Eddy Merckx below first had a 53 & 39 Dura Ace crankset and 2x7 drivetrain but now has a 50 & 34 eleven speed Campagnolo drivetrain. The Colnago has been sold and the Paramount has been restored since this picture was taken.







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Old 01-05-21, 08:08 AM
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My 1990s Cannondale and Fuji race bikes came from the factory with 53/42 x 12-21 and I rode them in the mountains and on big hills back then (plus they were used for racing).

I didn't ride from 96 until the end of 2019. At that point I bought a bike with 50/34 x 11-34. I wasn't trying to get something with low gears, I was just wanting something with 105 on it and didn't pay attention to a whole lot else. Once I had the bike I realized how low the gearing was and did a quick search for a closer spaced cassette. I'm glad I didn't buy one as the first hill I came across when actually riding made me glad for the low gears. 😋
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Old 01-05-21, 08:51 AM
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Based on what’s available on new bikes, I would say the trend is towards smaller gears. *Bucking* the trend would be to keep a “standard” double 53/39 in front with a 12/25 in back.
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Old 01-05-21, 10:24 AM
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I still don't quite understand the question. Why would I want to limit myself to five speeds on the rear? Nor do I understand that a compact crank was a normal crankset. I never had one. I very much will always like the skinny tubed bikes of my youth. But to live with the limits of the groupset technology for drivetrains is not desirable for me.

Sure, I can probably briefly wax nostalgic about the bikes I had or wanted then, but if I had my choice for a ride right now, I'd pick the one with modern groups/drive trains.
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Old 01-05-21, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I still don't quite understand the question. Why would I want to limit myself to five speeds on the rear? Nor do I understand that a compact crank was a normal crankset. I never had one. I very much will always like the skinny tubed bikes of my youth. But to live with the limits of the groupset technology for drivetrains is not desirable for me.

Sure, I can probably briefly wax nostalgic about the bikes I had or wanted then, but if I had my choice for a ride right now, I'd pick the one with modern groups/drive trains.
No one is suggesting that you change any thing that you currently have on your bikes. Go ahead and wax nostalgic briefly or not.

The question was not, "Why don't you want to ride an old 10 speed?" Read it again.
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Old 01-05-21, 07:19 PM
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The question about vintage gearing reminds me of the last time I rode a fixie after many years off: "Oh yeah. I remember why I quit doing this!"
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Old 01-05-21, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
Who is refusing to modify the gearing on their Road bike from what was normal--like low gears of 42/24 for old bikes and 39/23 for newer road bikes?

AND, how's it going for you?

I'm 50+12, ride 5-9,000 miles/yr over the last 10 years with my weekend rides 100ft/mile elevation gain mostly 6-8% with some 10-15% as I get prepared for some big ride. I've had a couple meniscus repairs that were not cycling related, one or the other knee will bug me while riding from time to time but it goes away if I raise/lower my ankle or slide forward/aft in my seat. I have worried sometimes that a suddenly bothersome knee would get worse in the middle of a hard 200k and I would have to get in the wagon but it eventually passes and I forget to worry. For a really hard event (think Belgian Waffle Ride) I have used a 39/28 but I put it back in the bin when I get home. So far so good.

I'm not passing judgment or bragging since it is not a big deal. I just want to know how it's going for folks riding the gears of their youth on a regular basis.

Jeff.
Good question.,

First off, it would make more sense to refer to ratios are gear inches to account for stuff like rim sizes etc.

My bike came equipped with 40/52 front and 14/34 rear. 2x5. Personally I'm really happy with the extra ratio spread and find myself using 34 in the rear freewheel often enough. The ratios are well spread and useful for acceleration or hills when riding with a heavy load and what not.

I am currently using a 34/50 front crankset with 175mm. The extra 10mm in arm length over my previous definetly.makes a difference with gearing.

while I do like having 34/34 as my lowest gear, i find that 34 on the front chain ring is a bit too low for me. I think the jump between 34/50 can sometimes be too much when accelerating after a shift and there's nothing in between the two ratios to compensate. I'm planning to swap out my chainrings for 38/48 in the near future which should work well for most my riding conditions.

In short. I prefer having the lower gears and a slightly wider ratio spread versus something like 13-26 as you would see on many other race bikes. If I were to change out my freewheel , I'd use 12/13/14 - 34 again, but a 7 speed.
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Old 01-05-21, 11:08 PM
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Oh well. If I ever buy a new component group, current 12 speeds let me get a corncob 12-23. My last new group was a 10 speed and the 12-23 left some gaps. I've got a 48/34 with a 11/28 for CX and trailer pulling duty and I get why similar drivetrains are on many a road bike. I just thought there were a few 50+ guys riding bigger gears on their regular road rides for kicks. I guess not. Carry on.
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Old 01-05-21, 11:23 PM
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My vintage groupies are 52/42 era. I have been able to make 26 cogs work with Nuovo Record, a delicate balance of chain length.. A few have original road gearing. I have made concessions approaching age 70. 48/34 cranksets for a couple. 46/30crankset for the gravel dedicated bike. Two newer bikes are 50/34 cranks. And I have a vintage and a more modern triple bike. None of my road bikes have a cog bigger than 29.

The terrain in western Washington State is varied enough to necessitate a fleet suited for every type of terrain.
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Old 01-06-21, 07:00 AM
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Lower gears make you go slower. No thanks.
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Old 01-10-21, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Lower gears make you go slower. No thanks.
Lower gears will not necessarily make you go slower on an ascent, because you will probably pedal faster. In contrast, your top descending speed could arguably be a function of your top gear ratio, but I don't like going over 30mph anyway, so a top gear in the mid 90s of gear-inches (46/13, 49/14, or 50/14) works just fine for me.

I just changed the 1959 Capo from 47-38 / 13-23 (2x6) to 46-38 / 13-25, which gives me a smoother ratio progression on the bottom, anyway. When I was in peak cycling condition in my early 20s, a 42/23 bottom gear was fine, but now I want 42/26 or lower.
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Old 01-11-21, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
I'm 50+12, ride 5-9,000 miles/yr over the last 10 years with my weekend rides 100ft/mile elevation gain mostly 6-8% with some 10-15%....
Impressive
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Old 01-11-21, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Impressive
thanks, but my op intention was to find others who do similar riding, and read what mature rider issues if any they experience, and how they are overcome without going to lower gearing. I'm not convinced that spinning lower gears climbing at the same speeds makes your knees last longer. When I had my second meniscus repair (non cycling injury) I asked my very well respected surgeon if I should start using lower gears to save my knees and he told me that I could if I want to--but it won't make a difference.
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Old 01-11-21, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
Who is refusing to modify the gearing on their Road bike from what was normal--like low gears of 42/24 for old bikes and 39/23 for newer road bikes?

AND, how's it going for you?

I'm 50+12, ride 5-9,000 miles/yr over the last 10 years with my weekend rides 100ft/mile elevation gain mostly 6-8% with some 10-15% as I get prepared for some big ride. I've had a couple meniscus repairs that were not cycling related, one or the other knee will bug me while riding from time to time but it goes away if I raise/lower my ankle or slide forward/aft in my seat. I have worried sometimes that a suddenly bothersome knee would get worse in the middle of a hard 200k and I would have to get in the wagon but it eventually passes and I forget to worry. For a really hard event (think Belgian Waffle Ride) I have used a 39/28 but I put it back in the bin when I get home. So far so good.

I'm not passing judgment or bragging since it is not a big deal. I just want to know how it's going for folks riding the gears of their youth on a regular basis.

Jeff.
my standard rig is 51/39 front, 12/23 rear (10sp). I used to run a 13/26 cassette when I lived in a hillier part of the country, but thereís nothing in the gently rolling terrain of central NC that canít be climbed on a 39/23. I keep a 13/29 cassette if I know Iím going to be doing any serious climbing. Thereís a 50/34 compact crankset in the parts box, but I havenít needed it (yet&#128543

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