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Questions About Gearing......

Old 08-04-22, 10:26 AM
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newbert
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Questions About Gearing......

My Catrike Villager front gears (Is that called the crankset?) is 30-39-52 (stock) as far as I know. As I'm finally getting my "trike legs", I find that I'm mostly in 52 and only occasionally in 39 and never in 30. So, I'd prefer that my middle gear be at 52 or thereabouts with a larger large gear.

Would that require an entirely new crankset? Do triple cranksets only come in standard combinations? What might other options be to get that middle crank at about 52?

Please be patient with me, since this stuff is all new to me.

Thanks!
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Old 08-04-22, 10:43 AM
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spend some time climbing some hills before you make any mods. more likely you'll want to change the cassette rather than the chainring. might find some good "learning" here, too: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gear-calc.html
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Old 08-04-22, 11:47 AM
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What I did was figure out the gear inch range I use mostly and see if a different cassette could accomplish the same. BikeCalc.com - Bicycle Gear Inches Chart. If you input all you gear here, you can see your existing range and then play around with what other options might give you.
I never get out of my 52t chain ring but that's because it is mostly flat or small hills where I ride OR I ride big hills and use my e-assist (and the 52t is barely big enough to avoid spinning out on flatter ground). A triple is useful if you ride a varied terrain with everything from flats to big hills because you need the granny gears to climb (manually not electric). So what is your terrain like? Pretty consistently flatish?
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Old 08-04-22, 11:55 AM
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I don't think the problem is in your crankset. It is just that you have e-assist that is adding to the effort you put in. You are running out of gears because is is easier to pedal but there may be a second factor shown below. Note: I am not an expert in this area.
A look at the E-BikeKit website https://www.ebikekit.com/blogs/news/...kit-hub-motors shows two different models. It shows there is a limit to your top speed, as little as 15 mph for the 36V Direct Drive motor. The best you can expect is 28 mph for the 48V geared motor. It doesn't take much for me to reach 28 mph on a downhill stretch. My trike is geared higher than the Villager. It doesn't run out of gears until I reach the low 30 mph range. I would guess that 90+% of my riding is done in the middle chainring 39T and using the 11/36 10 speed rear. While you may be able to change out the largest chainring for one with more teeth, you always need to match the span (largest #T - smallest #T) with a derailleur with the correct span. When you get above 52T, the chainrings get more expensive. My Greenspeed GTO has a single 65 tooth chainring. The replacement costs $180.
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Old 08-04-22, 01:08 PM
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Ahh. didn't recognize you have e assist on your Villager. In that case, a 52t is basically the right middle gear if you use e assist all the time. Anything lower and you will not get any resistance at all when pedaling, you either ride like a moped with a throttle or "fake pedal" just to keep the motor running on pedal assist; you'd have to spin way faster than 100rpm to keep up. I'm looking to go to a 68t large crank ring to complement my 11-32 cassette. I'll either do that with a planetary system or swap out the chain rings and install a new longer chain. The other option, though, if you don't care about acquiring top speed, is to go into your display and into settings and reduce the amount of assist.
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Old 08-04-22, 04:37 PM
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I'll try to answer all your questions and will probably end this post with a few more of my own.

1. Yes, I have an eBikeKit emotor on my Villager. Based upon the website image and the fact that it can be programmed to max out at 28 mph (although mine is set at 20 mph), I believe it's the geared version. However, I've significantly exceeded 20 mph on a downhill stretch, of course.

2. E-assist is indeed ON most of the time. I have it set at Power Level 2 (out of 5), with 5 being the highest) because 1 is too slow for my taste and 3 and up is too fast.

3. While I could drop to Power level 1, that would require me to use the throttle frequently to support my own effort to ride at the speed I like (9-11mph). Power Level 2 keeps me in that range pretty consistently without using the throttle. With Power Level 2, I use the throttle only to quickly speed up in an emergency (like a dog chasing me, or quickly getting across a busy intersection) or occasionally to get going from a full stop on an uphill if I'm in the "wrong" gear..

4. While my 69 year old legs would call my riding area moderately hilly, a serious (and/or younger) cyclist most likely would not. We have rolling hills and mountains (the Adirondacks), but it's far from Tour de France levels.

To clarify - in order to ride at my preferred speed on my preferred Power Setting of 2, I find that I need to use the gears on the largest front sprocket (ie -52). My limited research (being a "newbie" at all of this) indicates that it's not good for the components to ride "Big" in front and "Big" in back. Hence my concern about riding on the "Biggest" (52) front sprocket most of the time even though that sprocket is compatible with the usual effort that my old legs can provide. Dropping to the 39 (middle) sprocket makes pedaling too easy.

My goal is to give my legs some exercise, and not "ghost pedal" much of the time, but I don't want to be totally exhausted at the end of the ride either. 52 seems to be my sweet spot to achieve that. So, I'm thinking that my best option is to have 52 as my MIDDLE sprocket.

Sorry for the wordiness, but I hope that I've captured describing my dilemma.

So, any thoughts, advice, suggestions and options to consider would be greatly appreciated.

And, finally, my questions: In order that I learn the "language' that you all speak (LOL) what does the "cassette" refer to as opposed to the "crankset"? (Note: I do know what a derailleur is....)

Thanks much!
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Old 08-04-22, 04:52 PM
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So - the gear inch you are riding in is a mathematical formula based on the chain ring (up front with the pedals, which is the crankset) and the cog you select in the rear (your cassette is a collection of cogs of difference sizes on the rear wheel). If you can tell us what cog you are using when you have the crankset on the biggest chain ring and you are riding in Eassist level 2, then using the calculator I posted earlier we can find your "ideal" gear inch. From that you want to make sure you have a reasonable amount of range available on the higher and lower sides. Given your terrain and the near constant use of eassist, you will want more room on the higher end (to go faster) than the lower end (granny gears). Without knowing your exact cog selection, I can estimate that you're riiding somewhere in the 40-50 gear inches if you are using the larger cogs in the rear with your 52t tooth up front. for example, a 52t front and a 21t rear gives you 49.31 gear inches (slight variance depending on tire size). Your 39t with a 16 inch rear cog would give you nearly the same. So unless you are riding with the large chain ring and the smallest cogs in the back, you can also get nearly the same gear inches using your middle chain ring with different rear cogs. I guess I'm not clear if you understand gear inches and how to use your gearing/chain rings & cogs. My point is that except for maybe your top 2 or 3 gear settings, you can ride in the same gear inches using your middle ring equivalent to the easier settings on your big chain ring. Does that make sense? So do you actually ride in the "big-big"? You can get the same from the middle chainring.
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Old 08-04-22, 08:06 PM
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The crankset is the three gears in the front and the cranks themselves. The crank is the part that attaches the pedal to the axle located n the bottom bracket. All of the parts are show and labeled here https://www.trekbikessouthcarolina.c...bike-pg435.htm. They are identical to those found on regular upright bikes, just located in a different place (hence the name "bottom" bracket). The cassette is the name for the 10 gears at the back on your villager. It is a unit that can be unscrewed and replaced as needed. Recumbents, especially long wheelbase recumbent bikes and also trikes do not have a problem with you using all of the gears, including the biggest gear on the cassette and the largest gear on the crankset. The problem with upright bikes (DF) is that the chain is much shorter than on a recumbent, With a DF you get "cross chaining" which according to one site, "The problem is that this stretches your chain diagonally to its limits, and needlessly" but because the chain on a recumbent is so long you really don't get the same stress on the chain. However, all trike gearing systems have some overlap with roughly the same gear in more than one combination of cassette and crankset gears. You probably aren't going to use the large gear in rear and large gear in front often. The large gear in front is the highest gear while the large gear in the rear is the lowest gear. You probably can find a gear combination using the middle chainring and the gears on the rear cassette that would match large front/large rear. You might work out your actual gear range using one of the gear calculators like Sheldon Brown or Mike Sherman have online. It is useful in calculating the changes that will result by replacing chainrings with larger ones. This way you know what you will be getting without having to buy the parts and then find out it is either what you want or a costly mistake.
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Old 08-05-22, 10:39 AM
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The RANS Rocket, which had a 20" drive wheel, came standard with a 39/52/62 chainring set. That allowed almost normal gearing. Traditionally, trike riders have always wanted lower gears, even using 22/32/44 mountain chainsets on 20" rear wheels. Of course, the advent of electric assist now means that there's no telling what gearing anyone will want! I'm pretty sure you can swap chainrings around, just make sure that you maintain the correct spacing between them. That means if you move the 52T to the middle you might have to flip it or change spacers. Larger chainring can be found, but only with some effort. AND they can expensive compared to normal sizes. I have a 58T pinned chainring for my Catrike Speed.That's a compromise between what I'd like and having it pinned for better shifting.
https://www.amazon.com/Driveline-AL7...%2C208&sr=8-24
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Old 08-05-22, 10:42 AM
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Hmmmm.......I don't know what happened but my previously prepared reply didn't post - It was really eloquent too! LOL! Oh well, let's try this again.

First, Thanks for links to the calculator, and the definitions. Regarding the calculator, what is meant by "tire size"? (Is it the width?) I know my rim specs, (406) but I assume tire size refers to something else My cassette is 11/36 10 speed and the cog that I'm usually on when most comfortable is the 4th smallest. How do I know what cog value to use for that in the calculator? Once I get these answers clartified, I think that I can make very good use of that calculator.

Finally - I assume that the lower the "Gear Inches" value, the easier it is to pedal, right?

Thanks to you both for your informative replies to this newbie.

Bert
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Old 08-05-22, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
The RANS Rocket, which had a 20" drive wheel, came standard with a 39/52/62 chainring set. That allowed almost normal gearing. Traditionally, trike riders have always wanted lower gears, even using 22/32/44 mountain chainsets on 20" rear wheels. Of course, the advent of electric assist now means that there's no telling what gearing anyone will want! I'm pretty sure you can swap chainrings around, just make sure that you maintain the correct spacing between them. That means if you move the 52T to the middle you might have to flip it or change spacers. Larger chainring can be found, but only with some effort. AND they can expensive compared to normal sizes. I have a 58T pinned chainring for my Catrike Speed.That's a compromise between what I'd like and having it pinned for better shifting.
https://www.amazon.com/Driveline-AL7...%2C208&sr=8-24
From your reply, can I assume that it's possible to change only one of the three chainrings, and that there's no need to change them as a complete 3-ring set? IOW, I could theoretically change from 30-39-52 to, say, 39-52-62 by keeping the original 39 and 52 and adding a new 62? Not saying that's a good idea in my case necessarily, but is that how it would work? ie - could I re-use 2 out the 3 existing chainrings?

Thanks!
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Old 08-05-22, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by newbert View Post
Hmmmm.......I don't know what happened but my previously prepared reply didn't post - It was really eloquent too! LOL! Oh well, let's try this again.

First, Thanks for links to the calculator, and the definitions. Regarding the calculator, what is meant by "tire size"? (Is it the width?) I know my rim specs, (406) but I assume tire size refers to something else My cassette is 11/36 10 speed and the cog that I'm usually on when most comfortable is the 4th smallest. How do I know what cog value to use for that in the calculator? Once I get these answers clartified, I think that I can make very good use of that calculator.

Finally - I assume that the lower the "Gear Inches" value, the easier it is to pedal, right?

Thanks to you both for your informative replies to this newbie.

Bert
OK, so I got my tire size - 1.75. So these are the values that I plugged in:

Rim Size: 20 inch (406mm- BMX/Recumb)
Tire Size: 175
Chain Ring: 30 min; 52 max
Cog: 11min; 36 max

Based on these values the gear I find myself in frequently equates to 48.32 Gear Inches (Ring 52 and Cog 21). I'm assuming that's about the fourth (out of ten) cog. The nearest equivalent on Ring 39 would require the 2nd cog.(50.66 gear inches), while on Ring 30 (which I almost never use), it requires Cog 1 which equates to 53.19 gear inches.

If I'm doing this correctly, it seems to confirm what I'm feeling at Power Level 2 of the eMotor. That is that I'm running out of gears when in Power Level 2. The logical solution is to drop down to Power level 1, but frankly that's a bit slow for me and too big a jump in the effort I have to put in with my 69 year old legs. 8-(

So what other options do I have? Change the crankset (if so, to what)? Or change the cassette (if so, to what)? Or maybe I'm just crazy? Or just suck it up on Power Level 1?

Open to all suggestions and/or corrections in my calculations (especially wrt cog values translating to physical cog number).

Thanks!
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Old 08-05-22, 04:53 PM
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So 11/52 is what I have on my trike with e-assist. My current solution is to reduce the assist power via the display settings to the motor. This does make me slower but at least I am not spinning out in level 1 anymore. The real solution is to either install a bigger chain ring or a planetary system (I'm looking at Efneo's GTRO, which gives a top 68t for their e-assist model, which uses a single 38t chainring and then planetary gearing to make it work like a 68t) or a different cassette. While we both paid for multi-speed gearing (you have 30 gears and I have 24) the truth is that if you use e-assist pretty much all the time, all you really need is a 7 or 8 speed if you have the correct chain ring. S0 - that is to say you "could" just jettison the triple, simplify things, and put on a single bigger chain ring. Re-do your chain length, and enjoy. You'd find yourself using 3 or 4 maybe of the
available gears + eassist support. In fact, lots of trike manufacturers sell their e assist models with 8 speeds but they put on too small a chain ring imo so you get no resistance at the highest gear and spin out. If you want to keep the triple because you might include manual riding in
your activities, then it's either a chain ring swap or planetary upgrade. Or you could look into a new cassette, 3t makes a 9-28, which would give you a top gear inch of 112 with your 52t chain ring!!! It's 11 speed so you might have some minor compatibility issues, I don't know about that, though. Cassette - 3T Bike. Oh, and yes lower gear inches means less resistance but you go slower; higher gear inches is more resistance and faster.

Ok, one more thing. You mostly ride in 21t rear cog? You can go all the way down to 11 so you've got a few gears to work thru before you need a change. When 52/11 no longer gives you sufficient resistance and you spin out because you
can't pedal fast enough, then it's time to do something.

Last edited by linberl; 08-05-22 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 08-06-22, 08:32 AM
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It takes time and effort to build up endurance on your recumbent trike. If you had purchased a trike without e-assist you would have encountered this as a new rider. I remember starting out back in 2003 with a brand new 36 pound trike with 19 to 98 gear inch range. I wasn't fast (still not!) and the steeper hills were a real challenge. It got easier quite quickly but I was riding approximately 3k miles per year back then. Unfortunately for some e-assist can act as a crutch so it becomes harder to achieve your maximum endurance. Your post made me go to the Sheldon Brown calculator and enter in the information for my mid-range chainring (39T) and the values for the Catrike cassette 11-13-15-17-19-22-25-28-32-36. Drive wheel size is 700C X 23 and cranks are 170mm. What I got out in gear inches are 29.2 - 32.9 - 37.6 - 42.1 - 47.9 - 55.4 - 61.9 - 70.2 - 81 - 95.7. These are the gears I use 95% of the time. Occasionally I use the 52 tooth chainring going downhill and extremely rarely use the 30T chainring. It has to be a hill I would rather not climb to go there.

That makes me realize I am mostly starting out on a level stretch in 61.9 GI and progressing up to 81 GI or 95.7 for most of the time. If I hit a hill I might go a bit lower starting out and drop down a gear or two. I wouldn't get far in my 42.1 GI gear before exhausted with spinning too fast for my preference. I'm not a masher (use too low a gear) because it hurts my knees to do so. I just pick a gear that seems comfortable and don't worry much about which gear it is in.
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Old 08-06-22, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
It takes time and effort to build up endurance on your recumbent trike. If you had purchased a trike without e-assist you would have encountered this as a new rider. I remember starting out back in 2003 with a brand new 36 pound trike with 19 to 98 gear inch range. I wasn't fast (still not!) and the steeper hills were a real challenge. It got easier quite quickly but I was riding approximately 3k miles per year back then. Unfortunately for some e-assist can act as a crutch so it becomes harder to achieve your maximum endurance. Your post made me go to the Sheldon Brown calculator and enter in the information for my mid-range chainring (39T) and the values for the Catrike cassette 11-13-15-17-19-22-25-28-32-36. Drive wheel size is 700C X 23 and cranks are 170mm. What I got out in gear inches are 29.2 - 32.9 - 37.6 - 42.1 - 47.9 - 55.4 - 61.9 - 70.2 - 81 - 95.7. These are the gears I use 95% of the time. Occasionally I use the 52 tooth chainring going downhill and extremely rarely use the 30T chainring. It has to be a hill I would rather not climb to go there.

That makes me realize I am mostly starting out on a level stretch in 61.9 GI and progressing up to 81 GI or 95.7 for most of the time. If I hit a hill I might go a bit lower starting out and drop down a gear or two. I wouldn't get far in my 42.1 GI gear before exhausted with spinning too fast for my preference. I'm not a masher (use too low a gear) because it hurts my knees to do so. I just pick a gear that seems comfortable and don't worry much about which gear it is in.
You actually help make my point about e-assist. Because the trikes usually come with standard gearing not adjusted for e-assist, they present little resistance and even if you are a spinner with a high cadence, you can't keep up. So the exercise and strength building of the typical e-assist trike is pretty limited. As I did with my DF bike with e-assist, it requires modification if you actually do want to get exercise. The way I had my DF set up was that I actually had to put in the exact same effort as I would without a motor but the result propelled me several miles faster is all. My cadence and resistance remained identical to a non-motorized bike (I had a cadence meter) and I just went a little faster. That worked great on the DF because my motor/e-assist only weighed 4.5lbs incl. battery and that made it easy to also ride without the system turned on. On a trike, the e-assist system typically adds a good 15 lbs total. I can ride with the motor off on total flats (and in fact do which is why my range is so good) but the assist is needed for any. kind of hill. I limited the voltage on my system, chose the lowly 36v battery, specifically because too much power means less exercise. I also went into the display settings and turned the assist power to "least". So with my 52/11 I can maintain a cadence of 65 (still getting bent legs) with decent resistance in level 1. Unless it is a big hill I never leave level 1. Well, wait, that's not true......one day I was running late getting to my appointment at kaiser and I did pop into level 2 to avoid being late, lol. But that was a case of using my trike 100% as my car. It is entirely possible to set up a trike so that the exercise efforts and rewards are as good as without a motor, but one has the added benefit of getting places a bit faster and there's a fallback option in case of surprising hills or stressed joints or other injury. It's unfortunate that they come with standard gearing and they just plop an assist system on them instead of putting the right gearing on in the first place. It sets people up to use it as a "crutch" as you said because they often don't realize the changes they need to make.
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Old 08-06-22, 12:17 PM
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Guys, your most recent posts have gotten to the crux of the matter, If I want a workout, I'll have to drop down my e-assist to Level 1 or zero, (plus drop to a lower gear) at least for part of my ride. It'll probably result in a shorter ride (both distance- and time-wise) at first, due to fatigue. But that's OK. I see now that I've been using the e-assist as a "crutch". While it's fun, the settings I used were not doing me any favors when it comes to getting some exercise. So, I'll mix it up and only use Level 2 for my "joyrides" and/or to get me home when worn out.

I'm glad I posted this thread and grateful to you guys for responding so often, Its been a real education!

Thanks!
Bert
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Old 08-06-22, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by newbert View Post
Guys, your most recent posts have gotten to the crux of the matter, If I want a workout, I'll have to drop down my e-assist to Level 1 or zero, (plus drop to a lower gear) at least for part of my ride. It'll probably result in a shorter ride (both distance- and time-wise) at first, due to fatigue. But that's OK. I see now that I've been using the e-assist as a "crutch". While it's fun, the settings I used were not doing me any favors when it comes to getting some exercise. So, I'll mix it up and only use Level 2 for my "joyrides" and/or to get me home when worn out.

I'm glad I posted this thread and grateful to you guys for responding so often, Its been a real education!

Thanks!
Bert
That's how I use it. I ride unassisted when I can and every ride I try to stretch that unassisted time to build up. I can definitely see and feel the increased strength in my legs. Where I might normally ride an unassisted bike ~10 miles a day I typically do at least 20 miles with my assisted trike, started off mostly assist and now it's about 60%. One way that you can keep track of how you are doing in terms of building up is to calculate your rate each ride - take the volts used (so note where you are when you start) and figure out how many miles you get per volt. It's not perfect but it will be accurate relative to each ride. The more you ride unassisted the longer your range is. Have fun!
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Old 08-07-22, 05:53 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by newbert View Post
From your reply, can I assume that it's possible to change only one of the three chainrings, and that there's no need to change them as a complete 3-ring set? IOW, I could theoretically change from 30-39-52 to, say, 39-52-62 by keeping the original 39 and 52 and adding a new 62? Not saying that's a good idea in my case necessarily, but is that how it would work? ie - could I re-use 2 out the 3 existing chainrings?

Thanks!
It's not quite as easy as it sounds. The large chainrings have one bolt circle diameter (BCD) - the circle defined by the 5 attachment bolts. Most road cranks use 130mm. You can probably swap around rings if they're the right BCD. Inner rings typically have a different BCD - often 74mm, and sometimes 58. Mountain bike 4-arm cranks use something else entirely. The limit of a 130mm BCD is about 38 teeth; after that the bolt circle is too big for the number of teeth. And cheapie cranksets use riveted rings, which are not replaceable. Rings have indents meant to hold the attachment bolts, and you have to put those on the correct side or the ring won't sit solidly on the spyder.

There are other complications, too. The front shifter has a ramp that lets you shift from 2nd to granny. If you add a bigger outer ring without changing the middle ring, the ramp may no longer align properly, making it very difficult to shift to granny.

So I guess what I'm saying is that you can make changes of a few teeth either way yourself, but if you're going to rework the whole crankset, you're going to need help from someone who knows what they're doing. But yes, it can be done.
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Old 08-07-22, 09:52 PM
  #19  
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^^And that is why I am thinking about the Efneo GTRO 38T planetary crank - if you can remove a bottom bracket and pull cranks and pedals, it's easy to install. The tools aren't expensive, but if i do it I will probably just go to my local bike co-op where you can borrow tools (and extra muscle if needed by old ladies like me, lol). It's equivalent to a 38/54/68t triple. 1 new message (efneo.com)
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