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Better hill gearing on a 2x10

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Better hill gearing on a 2x10

Old 09-18-16, 05:34 PM
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n0thing
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Better hill gearing on a 2x10

Hello, I have a 2015 Specialized Sirrus Comp Disc (with 2x10 Tiara gearing) that I've owned for a while now that I absolutely love. My problem is that I am getting absolutely killed on big hills with it! I go into the lowest gear but at some point on rides even it isn't low enough anymore. My friends all have 24-27 speed hybrids and can basically crawl up them when they are in survival mode but I have to go twice as fast as them or I fall off.

I went to my LBS to ask about improving gearing only to be told that it's the best hill climbing gearing I could get on a 2x10 setup and told me all I could do is swap to a 1x10 setup to help. This confused me as my Rockhopper Expert had 2x10 SRAM X5 gearing that was MUCH more hill friendly. I am FAR from knowledgeable on this though.

Anyhoo, I'm hoping that maybe this forum can help me out and give me some ideas on how to improve my bike. I'm 200lbs and dropping but ride more casually (picking more challenging routes to help) than seriously so both the bike and myself need some improvement to keep me going.

The drivetrain specs on my bike is Tiagra front and back. The crankset is FSA Omega (50/34) and the cassette is Shimano Tiagra (10-speed, 12-30).

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-18-16, 05:38 PM
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When you are using the 34 up front and the 30 in the back, that is pretty low gearing that should almost allow you to climb a wall.

So, if you need lower gearing then you could use mountain bike components and enjoy even lower cassette gearing. Changing the cassette, jockey wheels and chain length will get you to a 40 tooth low gear. That should make you look forward to steep hills!
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Old 09-18-16, 05:52 PM
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Wolftooth Roadlink, a bigger cassette, and a longer chain.

http://www.wolftoothcomponents.com/products/roadlink
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Old 09-18-16, 06:00 PM
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"The drivetrain specs on my bike is Tiagra front and back. The crankset is FSA Omega (50/34) and the cassette is Shimano Tiagra (10-speed, 12-30)." Thats high speed road gearing.

For hill climbing, you want a smaller number of teeth on the crank, and a larger number of teeth on the casset (rear wheel). I think the more engine friendly sirrus comp disk has a 48-32 up front and a 11-34 range out back. So its granny gear is a 32/34 (.911) gear ratio which is more oriented for speed vs say a crosstrail which has a 42-32 up front but a 11-36 out back, a 32/36 (.889) gear ratio. The 1x10 X1 sirrus has a 40 front and 11-42 out back, a 40/42 (.952) granny gear ratio. Mountain bike components would have insane granny gear ratios at the expense of speed.

Off hand I don't know what is available for crank or cassette, but you could look for swapping the crank gear for something smaller with less teeth, or swap a rear cassette in with a bigger (more teeth) ring.

There are tons of discussion about, and one power/speed compromise or another.

I've used mike sherman's gear calculator to get relative speed/power ratios.

Mike Sherman's Bicycle Gear Calculator - Info

Mike Sherman's Bicycle Gear Calculator

Last edited by ColdCase; 09-19-16 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 09-18-16, 06:08 PM
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Get an 11-32 or 12-32 cassette, e.g. https://www.sram.com/sram/road/produ...-1070-cassette

Assuming a 28mm tire, this will drop you to a 28.3" lowest gear. Seriously (no snark), if you are riding unloaded and can't climb anything that presents itself with that, you might as well walk.

Other than that, "Don't buy upgrades, ride up grades." E. Merckx
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Old 09-19-16, 01:39 AM
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FWIW, I switched the gearing on my CAADX a couple of days ago. It had standard cyclocross gearing 46/36 and 11-28. It's Sora 9-speed. I put a 34T small chain ring on it(10-speed ring which is supposedly the same width as 9-speed and compatible.) I decided to see if an 11-34 cassette would work without a Wolftooth Roadlink(32T is officially the maximum cassette for a Sora GS derailleur but Shimano is known to be conservative on derailleur maximums.) I haven't bothered to switch to a longer chain yet(it makes it onto the big/big combination but with more tension than I like. I'm taking care to avoid shifting into that combination.)

It works somewhat but not to my satisfaction. It's fine in the big chain ring. And it's fine on about the upper half of cassette in the small ring. On the smaller cogs when I'm in the small chain ring, the chain sometimes brushes against the ramps of the big chain ring and lifts a little, making for a drivetrain that is not smooth. It's not a huge problem for me because I normally ride in the big ring and really only use the low gears when in the small ring, but it's not right, so I'll try to sort it out. Not really sure what's causing it. I may need the Roadlink. The 34T chain ring is a SRAM marked 10-speed only--maybe that's it. I doubt that a short chain would be causing the problem, but I'll be putting a longer chain on anyway, so if that's it, it will be taken care of.

On the road, I'm liking the change. Sure, gearing that low isn't absolutely necessary, but it's been nice to spin up climbs that were a grind with the prior gearing.

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Old 09-19-16, 07:36 AM
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Cheap solution: Change your bottom chainring to a 32 or 30

Cheapest solution: Keep biking to bring up your fitness level and build strength. Then you will be able to climb those hills.
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Old 09-19-16, 07:37 AM
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I've been reading around the web and it looks like the rear Tiagra doesn't like more than a 30t (it's a long cage road which is supposedly more like a medium cage mountain?). The recommendation, apparently, is to change over to a mountain bike rear derailleur. That could just be that specific RD, though, so I'll do some digging and see which model I have.

One of the sources: gears - Can I fit a cassette with a larger range with my Shimano Tiagra 10-speed ( GS-4600) derailleur? - Bicycles Stack Exchange

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Old 09-19-16, 09:06 AM
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The answer is: you can get lower gearing; but, it might involve other changes as well. You can get rear cogs with more teeth on the big side, and chainrings with less teeth, on one or both rings. You may also have to get a different derailleur, maybe both. Possibly even a different rear shifter.

Any competent bike shop should be able to help you accomplish this, if you are unable to do the work yourself! If your bike shop told you that was the best they could do - you need to find a real bike shop! MHO

I did it to my older Sirrus, buy switching the rear cassette, and a rear derailleur from a 105 short cage to a 105 long cage, AND, A NEW CHAIN. I went from a 50/34 11-25. to a 50/34 11-30, and it made a huge difference for me (wanted a 12-30, but just couldn't find one). With the right derailleur, you could go to a 34 or 36 tooth rear, and lower your gearing as much as 20%. While still leaving the front rings as they are. I'm 200# also, so you must be climbing bigger hills than I do!

You could also go to a 48/32 front chain ring, and go even lower.

Last edited by Wanderer; 09-19-16 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 09-19-16, 09:32 AM
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Alternative approach - reduce the # teeth of the front crank

I am rapidly approaching my 70's - and as I prefer closer-ratio's on the cassette, I am considering this approach for my next bike.

A discussion of this 'smaller-front-crank' approach can be found on the 'Fifty Plus' forum of this site - discussing moving to 46/30 - [URL="http://www.bikeforums.net/fifty-plus-50/1072550-anyone-using-46-30t-crank-road-bike.html"[/URL]

Not sure if link working - thread started by wgscott on July 15th - last posting Sept 17th
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Old 09-19-16, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by FamilyMan007 View Post
Alternative approach - reduce the # teeth of the front crank

I am rapidly approaching my 70's - and as I prefer closer-ratio's on the cassette, I am considering this approach for my next bike.

A discussion of this 'smaller-front-crank' approach can be found on the 'Fifty Plus' forum of this site - discussing moving to 46/30 - [URL="http://www.bikeforums.net/fifty-plus-50/1072550-anyone-using-46-30t-crank-road-bike.html"[/URL]

Not sure if link working - thread started by wgscott on July 15th - last posting Sept 17th
The only downside to this approach, is the % of change is much less, unless you radically change the size of the big rings, and you lose top speed on the big downhills.

It's easier to effect big percentage changes on the rear cogs. And, it's easily changed or restored.

Say you switch from an 11-30 to a 11-36, You change gearing 20% on the low side. Later you discover that is a bit too much, and want to switch to 11-34, or 12-34 - easy to do with a cassette change. and you still dropped the low side 15%. Not the same with the big rings, and usually more expensive. MHO

Last edited by Wanderer; 09-19-16 at 09:51 AM.
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Old 09-19-16, 10:32 AM
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Its not just a matter of lowering teeth count on the front or raising them in the rear, there are technical issues to consider:

If your crank has a 110bcd, you cannot easily go lower than 34 (there are some 33s and 32s out there). To go lower, you will need to swap out the crankset.

The tiagra medium cage rear der. also maxes out at 32t but here are workarounds listed above, like the wolftooth link, new pulleys, or running a MTB derailleur
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Old 09-19-16, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by n0thing View Post
I went to my LBS to ask about improving gearing only to be told that it's the best hill climbing gearing I could get on a 2x10 setup and told me all I could do is swap to a 1x10 setup to help. This confused me as my Rockhopper Expert had 2x10 SRAM X5 gearing that was MUCH more hill friendly. I am FAR from knowledgeable on this though.
Your current bike has 50/34 crank. Mountain cranks are typically much lower (38/24 is common), so the larger ring on your mountain bike is comparable to the smaller ring on your hybrid.

Switching to a 42/28 crankset would give you some lower gearing without sacrificing too much top end. You would still have plenty to pedal at 20+ mph.
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Old 09-19-16, 11:51 AM
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Sorry - I did not mean to imply moving to 46/30 crank was a 'silver bullet' to solve all situations

The discussion in the 'fifty plus' forum addressed various aspects, and is likely still evolving - I will not attempt to summarize here.

For me there are attractions as I consider how to equip my 'N+1'
~ I do not see it as 'either/or'. Reserve the larger cassette(s) for the future, in the meantime I like the idea of relatively 'close ratios'
~ I do not see myself being limited in downhill speed. But I am not very adventurous. I will find 46/11 (some 111 gear inches) and even 46/12 (102 gear inches) quite high enough for me. Those who want to go faster (or use slower cadences) will indeed 'spin out'.
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Old 09-19-16, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
Its not just a matter of lowering teeth count on the front or raising them in the rear, there are technical issues to consider:

If your crank has a 110bcd, you cannot easily go lower than 34 (there are some 33s and 32s out there). To go lower, you will need to swap out the crankset.

The tiagra medium cage rear der. also maxes out at 32t but here are workarounds listed above, like the wolftooth link, new pulleys, or running a MTB derailleur
Digging around on Shimanos website I did find this:

RD-4700-GS

Max sprocket: Low sprocket: 34T / Top sprocket:12T (front double)
Minimum sprocket: Low sprocket: 28T / Top sprocket:11T (front double)
Total capacity: 39T (front double)

I'll have to see if I have this version of the derailleur when I get home, but I'm assuming I probably do not. Wouldn't that be convenient if I did though. An 11-34 with the stock crankset up front would put it right at the 39t max. Not that I'd choose an 11-34, I just figured I'd calculate at the max end. The spacing between gears on an 11-34 seems a bit.. Well.. Spacey.
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Old 09-19-16, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by n0thing View Post
Digging around on Shimanos website I did find this:

RD-4700-GS

Max sprocket: Low sprocket: 34T / Top sprocket:12T (front double)
Minimum sprocket: Low sprocket: 28T / Top sprocket:11T (front double)
Total capacity: 39T (front double)

I'll have to see if I have this version of the derailleur when I get home, but I'm assuming I probably do not. Wouldn't that be convenient if I did though. An 11-34 with the stock crankset up front would put it right at the 39t max.
GS is the long cage; take Shimano's specs with a grain of salt. I've personally used a short cage with 32t (theoretical 28t max);their specs are very very conservative so YMMV. A 34t cog rear will give you a 1:1 ratio, which is considered pretty low for road. If you want lower, you may want to look into a "compact plus" crank which uses a 110 outer and a 74 inner bcd: https://somafab.blogspot.com/2012/12...01-cranks.html.

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Old 09-19-16, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
GS is the long cage; take Shimano's specs with a grain of salt. I've personally used a short cage with 32t (theoretical 28t max);their specs are very very conservative so YMMV. A 34t cog rear will give you a 1:1 ratio, which is considered pretty low for road. If you want lower, you may want to look into a "compact plus" crank which uses a 110 outer and a 74 inner bcd: https://somafab.blogspot.com/2012/12...01-cranks.html.
I've ridden nothing but entry level hybrids (with 27 speed gearing) and mountain bikes so this is my first time with road gearing. It's certainly helping my fitness level.

Any improvement is better than no improvement so I may go the relatively cheap route and change out the rear cassette only (if the Tiagra RD I have allows it) and see what I think. I can pedal up the hills as it sits now, it's just on the longer rides we do (20-40 miles) I'm burning a lot of extra energy on these hills that I feel could be saved if I had slightly better gearing for them.
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Old 09-19-16, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by FamilyMan007 View Post
Sorry - I did not mean to imply moving to 46/30 crank was a 'silver bullet' to solve all situations

The discussion in the 'fifty plus' forum addressed various aspects, and is likely still evolving - I will not attempt to summarize here.

For me there are attractions as I consider how to equip my 'N+1'
~ I do not see it as 'either/or'. Reserve the larger cassette(s) for the future, in the meantime I like the idea of relatively 'close ratios'
~ I do not see myself being limited in downhill speed. But I am not very adventurous. I will find 46/11 (some 111 gear inches) and even 46/12 (102 gear inches) quite high enough for me. Those who want to go faster (or use slower cadences) will indeed 'spin out'.

And I did not mean to demean your post - just wanted to point out the differences. It can be done either way.
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Old 09-19-16, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by n0thing View Post
I've ridden nothing but entry level hybrids (with 27 speed gearing) and mountain bikes so this is my first time with road gearing. It's certainly helping my fitness level.

Any improvement is better than no improvement so I may go the relatively cheap route and change out the rear cassette only (if the Tiagra RD I have allows it) and see what I think. I can pedal up the hills as it sits now, it's just on the longer rides we do (20-40 miles) I'm burning a lot of extra energy on these hills that I feel could be saved if I had slightly better gearing for them.
Don't forget the new chain, as it is very likely you will need one that is longer by a couple links..
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Old 09-19-16, 01:21 PM
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If you could find a 12-34 (if that works for your gear) you may be happier. It does give you one more gear in the middle. And it's hard to spin out a 50-11....... or a 50-12
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Old 09-19-16, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post

Cheapest solution: Keep biking to bring up your fitness level and build strength. Then you will be able to climb those hills.
That's how I would deal with it. I'd go out alone to some very hilly section and practice there exclusively until my muscles adjusted to the strain, which can't be that bad. But I only ever cycle alone, so for me the issue wouldn't arise. It's interesting how some people are team players while others are lone wolfs. I would never consider riding with a group in fact, but I clearly see the benefits of it.
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Old 09-19-16, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
If you could find a 12-34 (if that works for your gear) you may be happier. It does give you one more gear in the middle. And it's hard to spin out a 50-11....... or a 50-12
I haven't had much luck finding a 12-34. I can find a 12-36 but not a 12-34.
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Old 09-19-16, 07:54 PM
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I couldn't either - but this may be right up your alley Shimano HG81 SLX 10 Speed Cassette if the rear derailleur will handle it.

Here are the steps 11-13-15-17-19-21-23-26-30-34 Nice even steps http://bike.shimano.com/content/sac-...s-hg81-10.html

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Old 09-20-16, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
The only downside to this approach, is the % of change is much less, unless you radically change the size of the big rings, and you lose top speed on the big downhills.
If you only change the bottom ring to help climb hills you won't lose any top speed on the big downhills.
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Old 09-20-16, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
I couldn't either - but this may be right up your alley Shimano HG81 SLX 10 Speed Cassette if the rear derailleur will handle it.

Here are the steps 11-13-15-17-19-21-23-26-30-34 Nice even steps CS-HG81-10
I've compiled a list that includes the SRAM PG1050, PG1070, the Shimano CS-HG81-10 (SLX, the one you shared) and the CS-HG500-10 (Tiagra). The SRAM you can get in 11-32 and 12-32. The Shimanos you can get in 11-32 or 11-34. The SRAMs have identical gearing and the Shimanos have identical gearing (between models and versions of the same cassette).

SRAMs: 11-12-13-15-17-19-22-25-28-32, 12-13-14-15-17-19-22-25-28-32
Shimanos: 11-12-14-16-18-20-22-25-28-32, 11-13-15-17-19-21-23-26-30-34

I'm assuming differences between the two cassettes (when comparing the SRAM to SRAM and Shimano to Shimano) is weight but weights are hard to find. Possibly quality differences as well I'd imagine.

I agree with you that the 11-34 is very even. The newer Tiagra derailleur says it can handle 11-34 and isn't that pricey so it sounds like the way to go to me so that I get both a 30 and a 34 for climbing but also retain good gear for speed as well. I looked up the Tiagra RD that's on the bike now and it's an older model that states it can only handle 32. I know that is conservative, but what's an extra $30 for piece of mind considering how much I spent on the bike originally?
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