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On the Down-Low for Cheap!

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On the Down-Low for Cheap!

Old 05-23-23, 07:13 AM
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On the Down-Low for Cheap!

Last year I bought a lightweight 2006 Felt F-65 2x10 carbon/aluminum road bike to celebrate the new job. The rear cassette was an 11-23, and even with the smallish small front cog and light weight, the hills of Colorado Springs were hard on my 61 year old knees.

I had fit lower gears on my other bikes, except the MTB which got higher gears for road/commuting.

My bike co-op was able to set me up with a compatible used 12-28 rear set for only $10 with $15 installation.

Yesterday, I rode the bike with the new, lower gears to work, taking a longer, hillier route and OMG it was fantanstic! While not quite the granny-gear, sit-and-spin experience of my MTB or 20-inch folder, I was able to stay in the saddle up all hills and the starts from stop-lights were lightning quick!

I was worried the 12-28 wouldn't be low enough, but the 12-28 was the largest gear set that would work with the original short-cage derailleur. I could have gone with even lower gears, and a longer derailleur like I did on my folder, but that gets complicated and adds expense, even at co-op prices.

But the 12-28 was perfect! And as far as gaining a tooth on the high end (12 vs 11) The big front chain ring is large enough that I rarely used top gear, and that seems to be the case with the new setup as well.

Just wanted to share in case any of you were wondering if lowering the gearing of your road bikes would "neuter" them. I've now done it three times and each has been successful in not ruining the overall character of the bikes while giving my knees a break.

Last edited by BobbyG; 05-23-23 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 05-23-23, 07:36 AM
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For reference, what are your chain rings (teeth)?

Last edited by Clyde1820; 05-24-23 at 03:52 AM.
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Old 05-29-23, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG
Last year I bought a lightweight 2006 Felt F-65 2x10 carbon/aluminum road bike to celebrate the new job. The rear cassette was an 11-23, and even with the smallish small front cog and light weight, the hills of Colorado Springs were hard on my 61 year old knees.
That's the year I bought an F5. With an 11-23, I'll bet it had compact rings of 50-36. I replaced the worn-out rings on my Trek with 50-36. Now I use the small ring more, and I don't have to double-shift as much when I drop down.
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Old 05-30-23, 09:05 AM
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Dang! 11-23 on the rear. Is this a 3x or 2x bike? Unless it's 3x I'm pretty impressed someone could push that bike around the hilly part of Colorado. Perhaps that's why it was for sale.
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Old 05-30-23, 01:34 PM
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Lower gears are never a bad thing.
My vintage bikes with 52/42 rings get far fewer rides.
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Old 05-30-23, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood
Lower gears are never a bad thing.
My vintage bikes with 52/42 rings get far fewer rides.
That's why I replaced the Bianchi's OEM 52-42 144mm BCD Ofmega crankset with a 130mm 46-38 setup and rebuilt the OEM Regina America freewheel from 13-15-17-19-21-23 to 13-15-17-20-23-26, which provides a decent (not perfect) 1.5-step. I now also have almost identical gearing on the 1959 Capo, which already had 128mm BCD Nervar Star cranks.

I recently regeared the mountain bike from 48-40-28 to 46-38-28 (with a 26 and a 24 available next time I do a bottom bracket service) and found an 11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30 cassette to replace my 12-13-15-17-19-21-24-28. (I kept the 12T high, since I had no use for the 11T.) This makes hill climbing a breeze.
"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." --Theodore Roosevelt
Capo: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger (2), S/N 42624, 42597
Carlton: 1962 Franco Suisse, S/N K7911
Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
Bianchi: 1982 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069
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Old 05-30-23, 07:41 PM
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Yup, I switched my old school steel road bike to 50/38 chainrings and 13-28 freewheel years ago. Much nicer on our roller coaster terrain, and a few longish climbs. No mountains here.

My 2010-ish Diamondback Podium 5 carbon bike still has the 53/39 chainring and 11-23 or maybe 11-25 cassette. I'm about ready to concede age and get a 28 or larger big cog. My days of chasing KOMs and PRs are over, no point in beating myself up on leisurely rides. My final "fast" year was 2020-2021. I got sick in late 2021, never fully recovered, and am about 25% slower now. No point in being slow *and* miserable while puttering up climbs at 6 mph.
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