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Do more gears help? 2 x 8 vs 2 x 10

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Do more gears help? 2 x 8 vs 2 x 10

Old 03-30-23, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
The number of gears is less important than the high-to-low gear range.

If the 2x8 setup gives you an adequate low gear for the riding you do, and the top end is high enough to keep you from spinning out, then you're fine.

The "more gears are better" crowd will tell you that having just that right gear combination for the current condition is important, but that's a Goldilocks argument. Humans are not that delicate.
Terry Morse - The new Frank Berto. Who knew? BTW, I was a follower of Berto in Bicycling Magazine and enjoyed his articles on gearing.

I like a lot of gears on the bike and I seem to always looking for the Goldilocks Porridge of leg cadence and pedal force. I ride a 50/34 with 11/32 11 speed cassette and I have 12 speed cassette envy. I have done a lot of climbs both domestic and international and sometimes I am looking for a lower gear than the 34/32. When one overlays a budget on making changes to a bicycle and has to make choices, I get why one would want to try to figure out is a change worth it...especially on older equipment.

Let me argue the other side of the deal. I had a training session with a coach and we met at the bottom of Old La Honda, Terry knows this climb quite well 3.1 miles 7.2% grade with switchbacks > 15%. The coach says we are going up 3 times. The first one he says use the small chain ring and the 2nd to easiest gear on the cassette, The next climb is in the big ring and any gear on the cassette and the final climb...anyway you want.

We had a broad range of ages and abilities from a couple of Cat 1s to guys like me (older). The Cat 1 guys immediately complain that they had 53/39 11/23 cassettes. The coach says so what...no change get going. I have to climb in an 34/23. That is what I should be able to generally climb in at race pace and standing on the switchbacks but it will be hard with 2 climbs to go after that so I am thinking this will not end well.

First climb was as expected and I saw the Cat 1 guys going up for their 2nd climb in the big ring as I was descending and they shouted encouragement to me. Okay, I can do this - big ring schmig ring no problem. Up I go in the 50/25. The cadence is low and I am standing more. The switchbacks feel like leg breakers but I make it. I struggled on the last climb. Everyone made it.

Coach says at the end..;.good. Now you guys know you can do anything climbing...do not fear anything. Cycling is so mental. Frank Berto (RIP) was a great editor and engineer. But one thing he did not take into account is the human ability to adapt and do things that seem humanly impossible.

Age Schmage. If you believe my other side of the deal, then pocket the $120 and do not change a thing.

Last edited by Hermes; 03-30-23 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 03-30-23, 10:48 AM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by Hermes
Terry Morse - The new Frank Berto. Who knew? BTW, I was a follower of Berto in Bicycling Magazine and enjoyed his articles on gearing.

I like a lot of gears on the bike and I seem to always looking for the Goldilocks Porridge of leg cadence and pedal force. I ride a 50/34 with 11/32 11 speed cassette and I have 12 speed cassette envy. I have done a lot of climbs both domestic and international and sometimes I am looking for a lower gear than the 34/32. When one overlays a budget on making changes to a bicycle and has to make choices, I get why one would want to try to figure out is a change worth it...especially on older equipment.

Let me argue the other side of the deal. I had a training session with a coach and we met at the bottom of Old La Honda, Terry knows this climb quite well 3.1 miles 7.2% grade with switchbacks > 15%. The coach says we are going up 3 times. The first one he says use the small chain ring and the 2nd to easiest gear on the cassette, The next climb is in the big ring and any gear on the cassette and the final climb...anyway you want.

We had a broad range of ages and abilities from a couple of Cat 1s to guys like me (older). The Cat 1 guys immediately complain that they had 53/39 11/23 cassettes. The coach says so what...no change get going. I have to climb in an 34/23. That is what I should be able to generally climb in at race pace and standing on the switchbacks but it will be hard with 2 climbs to go after that so I am thinking this will not end well.

First climb was as expected and I saw the Cat 1 guys going up for their 2nd climb in the big ring as I was descending and they shouted encouragement to me. Okay, I can do this - big ring schmig ring no problem. Up I go in the 50/25. The cadence is low and I am standing more. The switchbacks feel like leg breakers but I make it. I struggled on the last climb. Everyone made it.

Coach says at the end..;.good. Now you guys know you can do anything climbing...do not fear anything. Cycling is so mental. Frank Berto (RIP) was a great editor and engineer. But one thing he did not take into account is the human ability to adapt and do things that seem humanly impossible.

Age Schmage. If you believe my other side of the deal, then pocket the $120 and do not change a thing.
Frank Berto, there's a name I haven't heard in years! Another mechanical engineer with a silly attraction to the bicycle (he got his MS the same year Jobst Brandt got his BS, 22 years before me). You can still see Frank's About Me page on the wayback machine.

Old La Honda repeats, those were the days! I used to do those until boredom set in, occasionally out of the saddle the whole way. Standing speed was only slightly slower than sit-and-spin. OLH is not a fun descent, though, so I preferred to climb OLH and descend 84, which is fun and fast.

Both those roads are currently a bad idea, as are most of the roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains. 84 is closed due to a slide-out, and traffic is diverting to Old La Honda and Kings Mountain. They won't even start to repair 84 until it stops sliding:


CA-84 slide-out between Portola Road and Skyline Road

I must say that mashing a long climb will make my knees sore. I see this when I ride with others who are going slower than I would normally go. Having a lower gear for those situations would be nice.
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Old 03-30-23, 11:20 AM
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Wow, 84 looks awful. Interestingly, we did the OLH repeats a lot and coach used 84 for the descent but stopped due to too many broken collarbones. Guys would descend too fast and hit gravel on 84 and slide out. On OLH, one has to go much slower with more braking. Traffic on OLH must be nuts and I can see the residents up in arms. Oh well.
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Old 03-30-23, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
Wow, 84 looks awful. Interestingly, we did the OLH repeats a lot and coach used 84 for the descent but stopped due to too many broken collarbones. Guys would descend too fast and hit gravel on 84 and slide out. On OLH, one has to go much slower with more braking. Traffic on OLH must be nuts and I can see the residents up in arms. Oh well.
Yes, it's hard to find a mountain road that isn't broken, covered in debris, closed to through traffic, or full of angry drivers.

I've been doing short (1-2 mile) hill repeats in Los Altos Hills, but tomorrow I'm going to try Mount Hamilton Road. Some reports say it's closed, others say it's passable with detours and one-lane sections. We'll see. At least there won't be much traffic.
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Old 03-30-23, 12:17 PM
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When roads are closed to motorists they become great for bicyclists. A case in point is Highway 1 at Big Sur which has landslides thanks to the state's incompetent highway engineers which have been taking place for many decades, year after year after year. Buut it is heavenly for bicyclists when this section of road is closed to motorists.

I toured the Calfornia coast and the Sierra Nevada mountains with my camping gear and a 10 speed bicycle with little difficulty. I simply had one very large cog with 28 teeth to use with my 45T small chainring and I could go up anything. Today I would be using a 32T or 34T large cog on my cassette for those conditions. In the past the rear derailleurs were limited to handling much smaller cogs than what became available with the advent of mountain bikes. On my road e-bike I went the opposite route and put on a cassette with a smaller range (11-34t instead of 11-42t) and replaced the long cage rear derailleur with a medium cage one.

It does not matter for general riding if there is a big gap in gearing between the two largest cogs at the rear. Unless one is racing there is no need for tight spacing and needing 22 gears available. What I have found important is having a close spread at the middle range for riding on hilly terrain and a tall enough gear to be able to pedal on downhill sections to provide more momentum on the next hill section.

For some reason people think that the human body has changed over the past 30 years and today they need more gears to be able to negotiate the terrain, which also has not changed over the years.
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Old 03-30-23, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
For some reason people think that the human body has changed over the past 30 years and today they need {a motor} to be able to negotiate the terrain, which also has not changed over the years.
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Old 04-01-23, 09:05 AM
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Not more gear but different setup, 1x9 with a 44t chainring and a 12-36 9speed Shimano Cassette. The 12-36 9 speed from Shimano has one of the best spreads on a modern cassette and works very well with a Half step setup.
it goes from 34.9GI to 105gi.
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Old 04-19-23, 03:31 PM
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What a pro uses for long distance racing in the moutains is not a good reference for what the average rider should have. The pro is trying to maintain an average speed greater than 30 mph for hour after hour. How many amateur road riders can or want to do that? The pro is going to have a cassette for each race to provide the optimum gears for the race terrain, and may have a half dozen different cassettes use on something like the Tour de France. I doubt many general riders with road bikes make changes to the cassette they use from one day to the next. The pro is spending most of their time in a pelaton and following other riders and this affects the gears they need.

With my most recently purchased road bike I replaced a 11-42t cassette with a 11-34t. I would have preferred a 11-32t but it was not available in the states. I found I was never using the larger cogs on the factory supplied cassette.

I see people going up hills with very low gears and spinning the cranks like crazy and wasting a good deal of energy in the process.
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Old 04-19-23, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
What a pro uses for long distance racing in the moutains is not a good reference for what the average rider should have. The pro is trying to maintain an average speed greater than 30 mph for hour after hour. How many amateur road riders can or want to do that? The pro is going to have a cassette for each race to provide the optimum gears for the race terrain, and may have a half dozen different cassettes use on something like the Tour de France. I doubt many general riders with road bikes make changes to the cassette they use from one day to the next. The pro is spending most of their time in a pelaton and following other riders and this affects the gears they need.

With my most recently purchased road bike I replaced a 11-42t cassette with a 11-34t. I would have preferred a 11-32t but it was not available in the states. I found I was never using the larger cogs on the factory supplied cassette.

I see people going up hills with very low gears and spinning the cranks like crazy and wasting a good deal of energy in the process.
1. Pros are not managing 30 mph average in a mountain stage.

2. Using a high cadence while climbing does not cause a big efficiency penalty, but it does reduce muscle fatigue.
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