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How to achieve easier gears?

Old 06-10-22, 05:22 AM
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bobslee
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How to achieve easier gears?

Hey folks!

I have a 2021 Kona Rove with a Sora 9 speed drivetrain. The easiest gear on my bike is 34/34, so a 1:1 ratio.

I live in a very hilly area and often find myself wishing I had 2 or 3 extra gears. Especially when riding steep gravel/off road sections.

what options do I have available to me? Ideally I would not change my entire groupset, but if I have to I will.

I donít care about trends, so 3x9 is totally fine for instance. Also open to budget groupsets.

Thank you for your time and advice 🙏
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Old 06-10-22, 05:35 AM
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I think unfortunately you are out of luck as 34/34 is about as low as it goes sticking with the Sora drivetrain chainring/cassette options. Probably your best bet is to look into gravel chain sets e.g. with 46/30 chainrings (be careful with chain-lines, front mech etc when mixing/matching front/rear groups).

Last edited by PeteHski; 06-10-22 at 05:39 AM.
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Old 06-10-22, 05:40 AM
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bobslee
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
I think unfortunately you are out of luck as 34/34 is about as low as it goes sticking with the Sora drivetrain chainring/cassette options. Probably your best bet is to look into gravel chain sets e.g. with 46/30 chainrings (be careful with chain-lines, front mech etc when mixing/matching front/rear groups).
Thank you!

If I would change the chainrings, would I have to change anything else as well? The chain for instance?

And if I would decide to change the whole groupset, what would be some great options to achieve easier gears?
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Old 06-10-22, 06:21 AM
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Not all my bodges work but....
If your rear derailleur is the Sora RD-R3000-GS I'd risk $30 on a 36 tooth cassette HG-400-9. That RD spec is 34 tooth max and 43 chain wrap.

Assuming you have a 50-34 chainring, the RD would be good on chain wrap and over the cassette max by 2. I've had good luck pushing the Shimano max by 2 teeth, without using a Wolf Link or other extender (other BF folks have similar success).

On the other side of the coin, I'd be looking at a SRAM 1X11 NX or GX groupsets, there's a lot of bang for the buck IMO.

Edit: Now I see your bike has brifters, new 1x11 is not a good idea. I assumed flat bar.

Last edited by BTinNYC; 06-10-22 at 07:08 AM.
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Old 06-10-22, 06:29 AM
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You will find posts doing 11-36 with both 8000 & 7000 series rear derailleurs.

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Old 06-10-22, 07:14 AM
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Thanks for all input, everybody! Much appreciated

Would I also be able to mount an entire MTB groupset on the bike? I would have to change the handlebars of course.
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Old 06-10-22, 08:18 AM
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You could get a front derailier and put a double upfront although that might get expensive what with the extra parts.

Back in 1992 I added a triple up front to my 6-speed Schwinn Cruiser Supreme, although that used thumb-shifters and I used low-end parts, it wasn't too expensive, but then it was 1992.

Two years ago I converted my MTB to drop bars which necessitated new brake levers and shifters. By using both used and inexpensive parts and doing the work myself I was able to do it for under 100 bucks.

If there is a bike co-op by you you or a bike shop that would source used parts, you might be able to add a double for very little.
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Old 06-10-22, 08:31 AM
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What's currently on the front? (Some people are assuming 1X, you said you wouldn't mind going to 3X. I'm guessing you currently have 2x).



If it is already set up for 2x, here are some relatively conservative options (in terms of cost and modifications):

1. Change the crankset to a GRX 46/30T. You can probably keep your current front derailleur (I did). $150. (There are 10-speed and 11-speed versions, but both should work for you. 10-speed might cost less.)
2. Change the cassette to one with 36T. Shimano is conservative with their specs, so you can almost certainly get away with it (I did). ~$50.
3. Do both (I did.)
4. Get a Woolftooth Roadlink and put on an even bigger cassette. (I've never tried this.)
5. HTFU (I've never tried this.)

Options 2-5 will of course also work with 1X.
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Old 06-10-22, 08:48 AM
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You might need to put hilly in better context for us with a better idea of the actual grade percentage and elevation change for the average hill

And is it easy gears for paved, gravel or for off road rides?

As well just riding more will get your body use to the demands of your riding. Then you might find 34/34 silly easy.
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Old 06-10-22, 09:34 AM
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I think you should be able to find a 46/30 crankset that would work on your bike without too much trouble. Local bike shop should be able to help. Way less trouble than going to a triple.
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Old 06-10-22, 09:34 AM
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If you go triple front with a hybrid crankset, and 36t rear, you can get a 26/36 bottom gear. Look at Surly Disc Trucker for reference.
Shopping list...
Sora triple FD
Sora triple left brifter
Alivio triple hybrid crankset & probably BB
Alivio 8/9-speed MTB rear derailleur
Cassette, but maybe not. 34 and 36 are not much different
Chain, if you change the cassette
probably some cables and other small parts

If you changed to flat bar MTB controls you would also need to change the brake calipers. If you went that route honestly it sounds like you might be better off with a hybrid. Remember you're not married to it, it's just a bike.
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Old 06-10-22, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by bobslee View Post
Thank you!

If I would change the chainrings, would I have to change anything else as well? The chain for instance?

And if I would decide to change the whole groupset, what would be some great options to achieve easier gears?
You would have to change the whole crankset, not just the chainrings. A Shimano gravel 46/30 crankset would be the obvious choice.
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Old 06-10-22, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by bobslee View Post
...
I don’t care about trends, so 3x9 is totally fine for instance. ...
I converted my bike from 2x9 to 3x9 and really that setup. Old 44/32/22 mountain cranksets are readily available. In addition to that you need a new FD, shifters (I used Microshift bar ends), and cables. I sold my take-off crank, FD, and shifters so the overall project wasn't that expensive.

My top gear is 44-11, and to be honest I'd prefer something a little higher - someday I'll get a 48/36/26 "trekking" crank.

edit: you'll need new brake levers too.

Last edited by tyrion; 06-10-22 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 06-10-22, 03:41 PM
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@Polaris OBark, I have 2x9 Sora up front.

If I understand you correctly, all I need to purchase would be GRX 46/30 and change to a 36T cassette in the back, right?

From every option mentioned here (again, thanks everybody, so helpful ❤️) that seems like the most obvious one and would give me what I need in terms of gearing.

Is there anything else I should take into consideration? Will I just be able to swap my 50/34 chainrings for the GRX and thatís it? Can I just swap my current 34t cassette in the back for a 36? Or would I run into new problems that I am not currently foreseeing?

Newbie here
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Old 06-10-22, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
If you go triple front with a hybrid crankset, and 36t rear, you can get a 26/36 bottom gear. Look at Surly Disc Trucker for reference.
Shopping list...
Sora triple FD
Sora triple left brifter
Alivio triple hybrid crankset & probably BB
Alivio 8/9-speed MTB rear derailleur
Cassette, but maybe not. 34 and 36 are not much different
Chain, if you change the cassette
probably some cables and other small parts

If you changed to flat bar MTB controls you would also need to change the brake calipers. If you went that route honestly it sounds like you might be better off with a hybrid. Remember you're not married to it, it's just a bike.
The Surly bike for reference is a really great tip! It shows me all the parts I would need for this set up. I am going to consider this as well.

I am going bikepacking with my lady. Which means I am carrying all the gear + pulling a trolley with a dog. Your option might give me just what I need to get up those hills. I donít care about speed, as long as I get up there 😎
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Old 06-10-22, 03:57 PM
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First, peel back the rubber hood and get the model number of your left shifter. It could be that the Sora left/front shifter is actually a triple already. My friend has a Sora bike with a double, but the shifter is triple capable. She was asking me the same question recently and I peeled back the hood of her left shifter, looked up the model number and found it was capable of shifting a triple.

You need to answer that question before moving on. That will tell you if you can simply buy a new crank and front derailleur and get the lower gears you're looking for. FD and crank of Sora-level or lower lever MTB (which would work) aren't horribly expensive.

As a general rule, Shimano 9 speed shifters will shift 9 speed mountain derailleurs, cassettes and cranks. No need to go flat bar if you want to do that.

As an editorial comment, to anyone who thinks we need to know what sort of hills the OP is riding and/or that the OP should just get stronger, that's nonsense. If any rider thinks they need to lower gears, they need lower gears. It doesn't matter whether any of us thinks the hills aren't worthy or that the rider is too weak.

Last edited by Camilo; 06-10-22 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 06-10-22, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
As an editorial comment, to anyone who thinks we need to know what sort of hills the OP is riding and/or that the OP should just get stronger, that's nonsense. If any rider thinks they need to lower gears, they need lower gears. It doesn't matter whether any of us thinks the hills aren't worthy or that the rider is too weak.
So we are always to assume the Person asking has been riding for a long time and isn't a noob. Okay if you say so.

However if I'd gone out and spent money to get me up hills when new then three months later I would have realized that I wasted my money because my legs got use to the effort.
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Old 06-10-22, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by bobslee View Post
@Polaris OBark, I have 2x9 Sora up front.

If I understand you correctly, all I need to purchase would be GRX 46/30 and change to a 36T cassette in the back, right?

From every option mentioned here (again, thanks everybody, so helpful ❤️) that seems like the most obvious one and would give me what I need in terms of gearing.

Is there anything else I should take into consideration? Will I just be able to swap my 50/34 chainrings for the GRX and thatís it? Can I just swap my current 34t cassette in the back for a 36? Or would I run into new problems that I am not currently foreseeing?

Newbie here

If you want to get the 30T chainring, you need a different crankset than what you have now, i.e., you need to get something like the GRX 46/30 crankset/chainring combination. The whole thing costs $150.

It is possible you might need a GRX front derailleur as well. I didn't, but YMMV.

The 36T cassette is a second option, which you can do by itself or in combination with changing the gearing in the front.
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Old 06-10-22, 05:57 PM
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In your case, the first thing you need to do is calculate out your gear inches, I convert mine to speed at a particular cadence, so you have some idea exactly what you have. I like the speed reference because when I'm climbing and note the speed and the gear, I can always back into a real climb cadence. If you have no clue, except that you want "2 or 3" extra gears, suggestions are pretty meaningless.

Once you have that, see if you can rent a bike that has lower gearing and see how it works. Ride the same route and note the gearing and the speed. When you find where you want to be, then go buy the components.

I can't give you any advice on what gearing you need. But beware that setups might sound great until you are actually putting them into use. The worst outcome is spending money only to find out you really want one more lower gear.

John
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Old 06-10-22, 06:33 PM
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What Sano said. Additionally, you might start with what ratio will raise you 6" for one full turn of your rear wheel, then look at what combination of front and rear teeth gives you that ratio.
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Old 06-10-22, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
So we are always to assume the Person asking has been riding for a long time and isn't a noob. Okay if you say so.

However if I'd gone out and spent money to get me up hills when new then three months later I would have realized that I wasted my money because my legs got use to the effort.
Yeah, it's always what one's opinion on the poster's hills and fitness is what's important. I don't agree and it's a common cliche to make those sort of comments. As another editorial comment, it's always nice to give advice based on the actual question being asked like I, and every other poster did.
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Old 06-10-22, 11:13 PM
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Longer crank arms. Going from 170mm to 175mm results in about 3% easier gears apparently
https://www.slowtwitch.com/Tech/Cran...ring_4095.html
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Old 06-11-22, 10:45 AM
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Check out ďPath Less PedaledĒ on YouTube. Russ is always looking for lower gears.

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Old 06-12-22, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
Yeah, it's always what one's opinion on the poster's hills and fitness is what's important. I don't agree and it's a common cliche to make those sort of comments. As another editorial comment, it's always nice to give advice based on the actual question being asked like I, and every other poster did.
Well please don't restrict yourself only to the question I ask. If I'm asking a question then it's also very possible that the are other things that I haven't realized about the issue.

It seems you feel I was being derogatory to suggest that legs get stronger if you use them more. So if that's the case, then you must read with a lot of negative emotions or something.

I suppose we'll be tangling up again in other threads if you persist in supposing the emotion I write comments with.
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Old 06-12-22, 11:16 AM
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You might be able to keep your existing derailuers and add a wolftooth road link and the 11-36 cassette. But if it is a short cage derailuer it may not handle it. It may be worth a try
I ride a 30-40 GRX crank with a 11-42 rear 10 speed cassette. I have 105 and a wolftooth road link.
I need lowest gears possible, old, fat and shot knees.
On my other bike I have a 26-36 XT crank with a 11-42 cassette. it has a rear deore shifter and a microshift rear mega derailuer and works fine.
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