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chainrings and cassette help

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chainrings and cassette help

Old 04-11-17, 12:03 PM
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gsnake
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chainrings and cassette help

hi guys,

I have a road bike that has the following gear setup:

11/25 cassette with 53/39 chainrings

When I was building it (a few years back) I choose to have these because mostly I was cycling on the flat terrain (Ontario, Canada). Now, I have moved to British Columbia and my route is hilly all the time. I am still managing to climb hills by standing and using the lowest gears but I am thinking maybe I should really change my chanirings to better accommodate the local terrain?
I hardly go to the bigger ring.. Hoping I can only change the chainrings without replacing the cassette or the chain.. (at least not the cassette).
Again, I am managing it today but don't like the big jump from the larger to smaller rings and hoping going 'compact' will be beneficial (for the optimal use of gears)..
Any help will me much appreciated
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Old 04-11-17, 12:06 PM
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Stating the obvious here, but going compact will absolutely benefit you. You are on the right track. Not certain, but pretty sure you will have to remove some links from the chain. Also think a move to 11-28 would help, but like you said, you'd rather not change the cassette. Your call.
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Old 04-11-17, 12:44 PM
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Yes, you can go compact, but it will require an entirely new crankset, not just chainrings. (Granted, rings can be expensive, so a new crank might be cheaper.)

You can also go with a larger cassette. Depending on your RD, you could go up to a 28 or a 32. I run a 53/39 and 11/32 cassette when I go out to the mountains. I'm not sure why you don't want to change the cassette, it's way cheaper than new crankset.

As for the chain, that depends. If you go to a large cassette, then yes, you'll need a longer chain. If you go to a compact, you probably wont. How old is the chain? It may be worn and need to be replaced anyway. Also, chains are fairly inexpensive.
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Old 04-11-17, 12:51 PM
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hate to be the one to deliver bad news ...

yes, you really need to go to 50-34 or maybe less, depending on your terrain. And the cost of the rings .... it depends. You might or might not be able to swap rings on your existing crank/spider. maybe not.

it is usually a good idea to replace the chain when replacing cassette and/or chainrings, because if the chain has worn, it will wear the new parts more quickly ... and chains are only ten or fifteen bucks. ( I say "only" knowing that $10 is actually a fair chunk of disposable income for me, and many others (what is that, about Ca$300? )

You might have to buy a whole new chainset, BB and all. And depending on how hilly, you still might need that 11-28.
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Old 04-11-17, 02:43 PM
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The previous poster is probably right. You are probably going to want a 50/34 up front in addition to a cassette change.

Your chainring choice depends on the Bolt Circle Diameter (BCD) of your crankset. This is information not provided in your question.

If you have 110 BCD already, then new 50/34 rings is no big deal. Just buy and put them on. Probably won't even need to shorten the chain or anything.

If the crank is 130 BCD, then a new crankset option is probably the way to go.

I'd look up the specs on your rear derailleur. Just to be sure you wouldn't exceed it's ratings and make an informed cassette choice from there.

A 50/34 with a 28 tooth rear cog would get you a long way in the right direction.

Last edited by base2; 04-11-17 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 04-11-17, 02:49 PM
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Agree, First thing to do is check your crank bcd (bolt circle diameter). If your crank is 110bcd you can go compact by swapping rings. If it is 130bcd you need to replace the crank. Either can be done inexpensive (or expensively).
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Old 04-11-17, 05:43 PM
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wow, so many replies! thanks! I am going cycling now and reply to all later today

cheers
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Old 04-11-17, 06:49 PM
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Gong from 39T to 34T is about a 14% change in gearing.

Going from a 25T to a 28T is about a 12% change.
Going from 25T to 30T is about a 20% change.

So mounting something like a 12/30 cassette will actually be an easier gear than keeping your current cassette and mounting a 50/34 crankset.

How many miles on the cassette? How is the chain wear? It is much more likely you'll wear out a cassette than wearing out your chainrings. So, if you have say 10K miles on the cassette, it might be time for a replacement anyway.
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Old 04-11-17, 06:54 PM
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or do the 12/30 and get 52/36 rings?
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Old 04-11-17, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
or do the 12/30 and get 52/36 rings?
You still need 110 BCD (or similar) cranks to go 36T
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Old 04-11-17, 06:59 PM
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Super-compact 46/30. Under $50 shipped, bolts right up to a 130BCD crank, all you'd have to do is lower your FD and take a couple of links out of your chain. With a 46T big ring, you'll actually get use out of that 11T, and a low of 30/25 should get you up most hills.

I can't think of a more economical option.
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Old 04-11-17, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by gsindela View Post
Stating the obvious here, but going compact will absolutely benefit you. You are on the right track. Not certain, but pretty sure you will have to remove some links from the chain. Also think a move to 11-28 would help, but like you said, you'd rather not change the cassette. Your call.
Fred,
I can also change the cassette too. I thought I would achieve the desired just by changing the chainrings
What in your opinion should be the ideal combination?

thanks
Art
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Old 04-11-17, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by gsnake View Post
wow, so many replies! thanks! I am going cycling now and reply to all later today cheers
Now there is a wise man indeed.
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Old 04-11-17, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
Yes, you can go compact, but it will require an entirely new crankset, not just chainrings. (Granted, rings can be expensive, so a new crank might be cheaper.)

You can also go with a larger cassette. Depending on your RD, you could go up to a 28 or a 32. I run a 53/39 and 11/32 cassette when I go out to the mountains. I'm not sure why you don't want to change the cassette, it's way cheaper than new crankset.

As for the chain, that depends. If you go to a large cassette, then yes, you'll need a longer chain. If you go to a compact, you probably wont. How old is the chain? It may be worn and need to be replaced anyway. Also, chains are fairly inexpensive.
I have FSA carbon crankset and I thought this is the easiest way to just replace the chainrings (especially it looks like I would not need to remove the crank at all). Would it be very different just to replace the cassette (as yours 11/32)? Or better replace both? The chain is a few years old but I think it does not need a repacement unless I have to, yes - chain is not a big deal too. For the best result I don't care if I would need to replace all three of these components.. My knees worth more.. Just today I was going uphill and there was a guy who passed me like I was standing still. And yet he was just sitting while I was out of saddle and still lot slower.. I am sure it is the gear LOL
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Old 04-11-17, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
You still need 110 BCD (or similar) cranks to go 36T
guys, not sure what 110 BCD means..
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Old 04-11-17, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Gong from 39T to 34T is about a 14% change in gearing.

Going from a 25T to a 28T is about a 12% change.
Going from 25T to 30T is about a 20% change.

So mounting something like a 12/30 cassette will actually be an easier gear than keeping your current cassette and mounting a 50/34 crankset.

How many miles on the cassette? How is the chain wear? It is much more likely you'll wear out a cassette than wearing out your chainrings. So, if you have say 10K miles on the cassette, it might be time for a replacement anyway.
interesting numbers.. the cassette is few years old, probably around 6-7K on it.. I can replace it too.. Whatever makes sense to achieve the most efficient gears in my situation. thx
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Old 04-11-17, 07:23 PM
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If it's 53/39, it's "standard" 130BCD. The Willow chainring set I linked above will be the most economical. Any other usable chainring selection will require changing the cranks.
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Old 04-11-17, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by gsnake View Post
guys, not sure what 110 BCD means..
BCD = Bolt Circle Diameter

If you have a 53/39 crankset, you probably have 130 BCD for Shimano and related cranksets, or 135 BCD for Campagnolo.

Look at your smaller chainring, and you'll notice the bolt holes are really close to the edge of the chainring, and you can't get fewer teeth without running into the bolts.

For traditional 5 arm cranksets, there are a few different bolt circles.

144 BCD - Quite old Campagnolo 52/42 (or 41)
135 BCD - Campagnolo 52/39
130 BCD - Shimano 52/39
110 BCD - Shimano (or Campagnolo), also referred to as a Mid (X-36) or Compact (50-34) (and possibly 33)

There are more a few more options, especially with MTB cranksets and triples. New cranksets may also only have 4 bolts, but more or less the same idea.
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Old 04-11-17, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by gsnake View Post
guys, not sure what 110 BCD means..
BCD is bolt circle diameter. If you look at where the bolts hold your chainrings to the crank arms, imagine a circle on the chainring that passes through the center of all of the bolts. The diameter of that circle is the BCD. The BCD limits how small the chainrings for a given crankset can be made.
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Old 04-11-17, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by gsnake View Post
I have FSA carbon crankset and I thought this is the easiest way to just replace the chainrings (especially it looks like I would not need to remove the crank at all). Would it be very different just to replace the cassette (as yours 11/32)? Or better replace both? The chain is a few years old but I think it does not need a repacement unless I have to, yes - chain is not a big deal too. For the best result I don't care if I would need to replace all three of these components.. My knees worth more.. Just today I was going uphill and there was a guy who passed me like I was standing still. And yet he was just sitting while I was out of saddle and still lot slower.. I am sure it is the gear LOL
As others noted, if you have a 53/39, there's probably a 98% chance you have a 130 bcd crankset. With that, you cannot go smaller than a 38/46 combo, which isn't much of a change or you can go with the the tripilizer contraption posted earlier. If you have a new four-bolt FSA crank, I'm not sure what you have.

If your chain is a few years old, you probably need a new one.

And if you really are concerned about your knees, go with a bigger cassette. Sram and Shimano both make cassettes that go up to 32. That said, you will need to extend the length of the RD. For Sram, that means a WiFli rear derailleur. For Shimano, I believe it is a medium cage.
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Old 04-11-17, 07:36 PM
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Going to a 32 will very likely require a new RD. I was about to run a short cage 5700 with my 12-32 but wasn't about to get the chain take needed with a SS6700A, had to go to a GS. I'm confident that I would have been able to used a 12-30 cassette with the SS6700A.

The OP didn't tell if it was an 9.10 or 11 speed setup. My only experience with with Shimano 10 speed. If a 12-30 10 speed would work there are some good deals on 4700 cassettes out of the UK. I'd expect a 4700 cassette and chain to be about $40 USD (just recently bought an 11-32 for about that).
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Old 04-11-17, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
If it's 53/39, it's "standard" 130BCD. The Willow chainring set I linked above will be the most economical. Any other usable chainring selection will require changing the cranks.
Have never saw that, pretty cool to have that option. I see many good deals on standard crank sets but never considered them due to my inability to pull a big gear.
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Old 04-11-17, 07:54 PM
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Here in the Northwest, a 50/34 is pretty standard. Considering the cost of a crank, my money is on the cassette first going from a 25 big cog to a 32 will save you almost 22% effort (25/32=78.125 minus 1=21.875% savings) The caveat is if your derailleur will go 32 teeth happily.

It would be a great start. Then, if it is still no-go then I'd dump money into a crankset & get that last 13% (34/39=87.17 minus 1=12.8 savings) I suggest this route because a crankset is 2x the $$$ for 1/2 the benefit.

By the way: Welcome to the Northwest.
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Old 04-11-17, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by gsnake View Post
interesting numbers.. the cassette is few years old, probably around 6-7K on it.. I can replace it too.. Whatever makes sense to achieve the most efficient gears in my situation. thx
"Efficient" is probably what you are most comfortable with.

Many of the vintage road bikes had a lot more severe gearing, and somehow people made it to the tops of hills.

So, if you need to be just a little easier, then first try either the new cranks, or the new cassette, but not necessarily both.

The issue with going to really big gears in the back is that you'll end up with much greater change in effort between the gears. Many avid cyclists like tight gearing in the rear so one shift just makes it a little easier or tougher. But, I'm not sure if it really makes that big of a difference. It all is a compromise to find what works best for you.
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Old 04-11-17, 08:36 PM
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One note: No matter what gearing you get, there will be people who blow right by you who look like they are not even trying. No matter.

Hills are hard work, and non-stop work. The more you ride up hills ... the less it will suck.

Getting the right gearing makes it suck a Lot less. Getting stronger makes it suck a lot less. But the most important thing ... is to not care when you are laboring, you cannot breathe, you think your heart is literally about to burst, and your legs are zero strength and 100 percent burning pain ... and some 65-year-old woman rides by smiling and waves. Just pretend your grimace is a smile and ride your own hill.
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