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What gearing changes should I make to my Tarmac for better climbing in Maine?

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Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

What gearing changes should I make to my Tarmac for better climbing in Maine?

Old 03-29-20, 08:47 PM
  #26  
jdishner
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
A 200 dollar crank vs 30 dollar cassette + 34 dollar 105 5800 DR + 30 dollar chain........ I don't think so. Unless you know somewhere to get cranks cheap. Those are new prices. Personally, I wouldn't buy any used.

edit... yeah I'm probably being a little harsh, and the OP should consider if they need the low gearing that would give.
For myself, I just think it might be too low a gearing, depending on what part of Maine the OP is riding in. As well, when going downhill, I like to pedal and have a little resistance even though I might not be adding to the speed of just coasting.
I'm working on figuring that out - looking on Sheldon's gear site and trying to get an understanding of how fast each configuration will be, then going to look at cost and performance differences. If it helps I'm in Camden, Maine, rode 19.7 miles today with nearly 2000 ft of elevation, whereas in Illinois I would ride 40+ miles with about 800 ft. Looking for a more balanced gearing that allows me to use more of the big ring, not just climb easier.
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Old 03-29-20, 08:52 PM
  #27  
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Bailout Geat

FWIW I changed from an 11/28 on a 52/36 a couple of years ago to a bike w/ 50/34 and an 11/34 cassette, I was actually slower climbing with the latter
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Old 03-29-20, 09:15 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Depends on how much top-end you need.
How fast do you ride, and what cadence range do you prefer to ride at?
How strong are the groups you ride in: when they're going tempo on the flats in calm conditions, what sorts of speeds are you looking at?


The 11-34 cassette doesn't cut off any top-end compared with an 11-28 cassette, because highest cog on both cassettes is 11-tooth.

52T is about 8% bigger than 48T. So, at any given speed, when you're in your highest gear, you'll be spinning your legs about 8% faster with a 48T.
Thanks again - very helpful questions. I don't know yet how fast I'll be riding here, and it doesn't look like there will be many groups in my area, or that many riders at all based on Strava activity. I would typically average about 19.5 and about 90 avg cadence, thats solo and group rides, no races. There's a lot more elevation here so it will be take a while but it will average out, probably between 18-19. There aren't a lot of flat calm conditions in midcoast Maine, but as a group we would be in the mid 20's to upper 20's depending on wind and group.

I think the 48 would be good change, what I really want (which I realized after reading the responses here) is to be able to spend more time in the big ring, and the low end climbing capability will be helpful as well.
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Old 03-29-20, 09:24 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by phrantic09 View Post
FWIW I changed from an 11/28 on a 52/36 a couple of years ago to a bike w/ 50/34 and an 11/34 cassette, I was actually slower climbing with the latter
Interesting. I used to kind of power up the hills in Illinois, never had to sit and spin and endure. Are you riding in hills or mountains? Here the climbs are pretty long and all over the place, and I want to be able to use more gears on the big ring as well as spin faster at lower speeds.
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Old 03-29-20, 09:30 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by jdishner View Post
Interesting. I used to kind of power up the hills in Illinois, never had to sit and spin and endure. Are you riding in hills or mountains? Here the climbs are pretty long and all over the place, and I want to be able to use more gears on the big ring as well as spin faster at lower speeds.
I don't want to be "that guy", but maybe just ride a little more in the area before you try to buy climbing ability. It's never easy to climb hills at first, but you'll get faster.

We used to say "HTFU", but some people get offended by that now.
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Old 03-29-20, 09:38 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
I don't want to be "that guy", but maybe just ride a little more in the area before you try to buy climbing ability. It's never easy to climb hills at first, but you'll get faster.

We used to say "HTFU", but some people get offended by that now.
You're absolutely right, and if it wasn't raining/snowing right now I would be going out again tomorrow to try again. I know I will get faster, my form is crap right now, that's my own fault, not the bike's or the gearing. What I did realize though is that I want easier gearing on the big ring primarily, I like to ride on the big ring, but with my set up right now I'm not ever going to be able to use the 56/11 - the downhills that could use that are the backside of mountains and it's fine just tucking and coasting. So that's my primary motivate to change, the slightly easier gearing may help on the big climbs, but easier big ring gears will help for all the inclines that aren't true mountains.
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Old 03-29-20, 09:44 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Yeah, I thought I had seen the GRX at around $149 or so, itís up around $225 As well, a 105 level 11spd. Cassette is nearer to $50, F derailer also near $50-$60 on a few Google look ups, chain around $20. But the OP indicates he wants speed so maybe going to a 48 isnít the solution. I was thinking that a low of 30/31 ring would help deal with the hills.
Steve in your first post you suggested a 48/31 GRX - but here you say a 48 isn't the solution - does the GRX have different configurations? If I could keep my current rear cassette/ derallieur the same and just get the new crank that might work as well.
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Old 03-29-20, 09:55 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by jdishner View Post
Thanks again - very helpful questions. I don't know yet how fast I'll be riding here, and it doesn't look like there will be many groups in my area, or that many riders at all based on Strava activity. I would typically average about 19.5 and about 90 avg cadence, thats solo and group rides, no races. There's a lot more elevation here so it will be take a while but it will average out, probably between 18-19. There aren't a lot of flat calm conditions in midcoast Maine, but as a group we would be in the mid 20's to upper 20's depending on wind and group.

I think the 48 would be good change, what I really want (which I realized after reading the responses here) is to be able to spend more time in the big ring, and the low end climbing capability will be helpful as well.
If you're riding with people who push a paceline tempo at 25+mph, you might not want to go too low on the top-end, in case someone decides to drill out a huge effort on a shallow descent.

If you're just trying to keep a strong steady solo pace, this probably doesn't matter much at all: how soon you switch from pedaling to tucking-and-coasting on steep stuff isn't a massively important issue. Some people say they can't stand not being able to slow-pedal the downhills, and that's how I feel too when I'm on a bike with a high top-end... but then when I ride a bike with a low top-end, like the 52-14 on my '79 Fuji (which is like if your road bike had a 41-tooth chainring), it doesn't really bother me.

Nearly all 11-speed cassettes start with an 11T cog, so putting a lower gear out back generally means using a wider-spaced cassette. So what this come down to is: how much would you be bothered by a loss of top-end versus by having more widely-spaced gears on the cassette.
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Old 03-29-20, 10:45 PM
  #34  
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The 46/30 chainring's are a popular conversation with an 11 -32 cassette, and for good reason. However I like the close ratios of the 11-28 and would not change it, at least not yet. This gives 29 gear inches for climbing some pretty steep hills, a 113 gear inch top gear so you can still hit the downside at dangerous speeds, and can stay in the big chainring longer then a 48t ring.

It's all about tradeoffs. But I think the 46/30 is the best ballance for most folks.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 03-30-20 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 03-29-20, 11:30 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by jdishner View Post
You helped me realize what I was actually asking for - not just easier climbing, because that will come in time as my form returns, but also more time in the big chainring. More useable gears and yes, some lower ones for the really steep climbs, but more that I can use on the false flats and the not as steeps climbs. There isn't enough flat or slight downhills that I can use the full range on the harder end. I'm not familiar with the Roadlink - can you describe or post a link? Also, what do you mean by mid-cage RD? I'm new to doing things like this more "on my own" instead of just going to a LBS and paying them. I've seen two other mentions here of the GS rear DR so at this point that is making the most sense to me. Thank you very much for your response and for helping me better understand what I'm looking to do.


Roadlink is a bit of metal that hangs the RD lower, allowing a bigger cassette to fit, for $20. The other part of the equation is taking up the slack chain on the small/small end.

Road RDs typically would have a short cage- the part with the pulley wheels, newer ones may have mid cage- longer & able to take up the chain for wider gear range, or long cage-

usually found on mtn bikes. GS means the same as mid-cage.


phrantic09 says he was slower with lower gears, & that's understandable- he might have been faster still on a single speed, as you have to turn the pedals fast enough to avoid stalling,

but it's also what you're adapted to. I've had that experience- faster up 18% grades with the 28 than 34, but the price is paid by the end of a long ride.


48/11 gets you to 35 mph at just over 100 rpm, where a good tuck will give more speed than more pedaling (assuming that one is not a monster going over 35 on the flats). 52/11 goes to 37 or 38 mph.

Plus, Eddy Merckx.


IMO, all the fuss about close ratios doesn't amount to much, as the middle & lower end of the cassettes are much the same, but I live in a hilly area, YMMV.
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Old 03-30-20, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by jdishner View Post
Interesting. I used to kind of power up the hills in Illinois, never had to sit and spin and endure. Are you riding in hills or mountains? Here the climbs are pretty long and all over the place, and I want to be able to use more gears on the big ring as well as spin faster at lower speeds.
Big hills I guess?? Usually about 500-1k feet of climbing every 10 miles? But on long sustained climbs (20-30m) I was faster on the 11-28 52/36
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Old 03-30-20, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
I don't want to be "that guy", but maybe just ride a little more in the area before you try to buy climbing ability. It's never easy to climb hills at first, but you'll get faster.

We used to say "HTFU", but some people get offended by that now.
Donít buy upgrades. Ride up grades.
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Old 03-30-20, 07:09 AM
  #38  
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With a 48/11 top gear, like I have, it takes about 113 rpm to hit 38 mph, so riding in the 25-30 mph range is no problem. You should not be changing gearing to use the big ring more. Only change if your lowest gear is not low enough to get up the steepest climb. Use each ring where it's appropriate. If the 52 and next to largest sprocket is too much gear, then shift to the little ring. That transition speed will probably be about 15 mph. The big ring isn't for climbing.

I ride plenty of 10-12% grades and at my advanced age, a 34/29 was not low enough, so I first changed to the largest sprocket available, which is a 32 for Campy 11. That worked, but I wanted lower, so a year later the 12 speed Chorus 48/32 crank and 11-34 cassette was just what I needed
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Old 03-30-20, 07:34 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by jdishner View Post
Steve in your first post you suggested a 48/31 GRX - but here you say a 48 isn't the solution - does the GRX have different configurations? If I could keep my current rear cassette/ derallieur the same and just get the new crank that might work as well.
GRX also comes in a 46/30, but as you stated you want speed, going from a 52 big ring to a 48 or 46 is going to have you spin out earlier. These are as BTW, the Shimano cranks. FSA also makes similar cranks. My Cannondale Topstone came with an FSA 46/30, works just fine with a 105 derailer. An FSA Omega ME is $131 https://shop.fullspeedahead.com/en/omega-crankset-4659

But really only YOU know what gearing is going to work so for know I'd pay attention to how often you fine yourself in the 52/11, ask if you need that, maybe do a gear chart to plot out the options.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gear-calc.html
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Old 03-30-20, 07:56 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
GRX also comes in a 46/30, but as you stated you want speed, going from a 52 big ring to a 48 or 46 is going to have you spin out earlier. These are as BTW, the Shimano cranks. FSA also makes similar cranks. My Cannondale Topstone came with an FSA 46/30, works just fine with a 105 derailer. An FSA Omega ME is $131 https://shop.fullspeedahead.com/en/omega-crankset-4659

But really only YOU know what gearing is going to work so for know I'd pay attention to how often you fine yourself in the 52/11, ask if you need that, maybe do a gear chart to plot out the options.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gear-calc.html
Good call, I've been using the gear calculator and after sleeping on it I think what I'm going to do for now is just change the chainrings, keeping as much of what I have now as possible. I very rarely used the 52/11 even in Illinois, which had long flat roads and big winds. It wasn't that useful then and it certainly isn't useful now, so I'm going to look into just chainrings, and change the crank if necessary. I can always change the cassette etc later if need be.
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Old 03-30-20, 08:05 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by jdishner View Post
Good call, I've been using the gear calculator and after sleeping on it I think what I'm going to do for now is just change the chainrings, keeping as much of what I have now as possible. I very rarely used the 52/11 even in Illinois, which had long flat roads and big winds. It wasn't that useful then and it certainly isn't useful now, so I'm going to look into just chainrings, and change the crank if necessary. I can always change the cassette etc later if need be.
First step is to verify you can lower the front derailer as it has to be lower to work with smaller rings. Not likely to be a problem, as modern systems since about 9 spd. have been using 50/34 cranks as standard, but never hurts to check. Only older frames where a 53/39 crank and using a braze-on mount had issues.
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Old 03-30-20, 08:09 AM
  #42  
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Sounds to me like you need a new chainset. Gearing is pretty personal, but 46/30 is good if you are riding mostly solo rides and don't need to keep up with a group. 46x11 is over 40 mph @130 rpm, which is fast enough for me. I just got an Easton EC90 with a 46/30 to replace a 50/34 on one of my bikes. EA90 is a much cheaper version of the same thing. One nice thing about the Easton crank is that it's very easy to swap rings if you decide you want different gearing.
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Old 03-30-20, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
With a 48/11 top gear, like I have, it takes about 113 rpm to hit 38 mph, so riding in the 25-30 mph range is no problem. You should not be changing gearing to use the big ring more. Only change if your lowest gear is not low enough to get up the steepest climb. Use each ring where it's appropriate. If the 52 and next to largest sprocket is too much gear, then shift to the little ring. That transition speed will probably be about 15 mph. The big ring isn't for climbing.

I ride plenty of 10-12% grades and at my advanced age, a 34/29 was not low enough, so I first changed to the largest sprocket available, which is a 32 for Campy 11. That worked, but I wanted lower, so a year later the 12 speed Chorus 48/32 crank and 11-34 cassette was just what I needed


Don't agree with this, & since that is what 1x is, the powers that be also don't agree.

For other posters suggesting 46t chainring, I have the on the cx bike, & it definitely limits keeping up with a fast group.

Last edited by woodcraft; 03-30-20 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 03-30-20, 09:06 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by jdishner View Post
Thanks again - very helpful questions. I don't know yet how fast I'll be riding here, and it doesn't look like there will be many groups in my area, or that many riders at all based on Strava activity. I would typically average about 19.5 and about 90 avg cadence, thats solo and group rides, no races. There's a lot more elevation here so it will be take a while but it will average out, probably between 18-19. There aren't a lot of flat calm conditions in midcoast Maine, but as a group we would be in the mid 20's to upper 20's depending on wind and group.

I think the 48 would be good change, what I really want (which I realized after reading the responses here) is to be able to spend more time in the big ring, and the low end climbing capability will be helpful as well.
If it’s so hilly that you can’t ride it with a 52/39 and 11/32, well, you’re unlikely to average 18-19 mph with smaller gearing unless you’re just pulling our leg. You’re going to spend a LOT of time on those climbs, and you said there are no flat sections... I’ve been to Maine plenty of times. It’s not the Alps, nor is it the Rockies. Sure, there are some serious grades, and they also go DOWNHILL, too. Keep your taller gearing available for using on the gravity-assisted sections. (On which you will spend far less overall time, but still need to pedal.)

Or HTFU.
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Old 03-30-20, 09:08 AM
  #45  
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Radical idea:

Sell your current bike and get a Canyon Endurance CF SL Disc.

What goes up, must come down, and discs are ****** for steep twisty descents. The Endurance comes with a 52/36 x 11/34.
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Old 03-30-20, 09:10 AM
  #46  
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I can't believe I'm suggesting this, but didn't 105 5800 have a triple front DR version? Or was this the previous 10 speed 105's? Since I've been up and down the Maine coastline several times sailing, I know there are some pretty long climbs and maybe a triple would be a better way to adapt the current bike if there isn't room for a new bike.

Of course a triple might be more severe with noise cross chaining. Hopefully those will only be gears needed briefly. Also, the shifer will be an added cost along with other changes.

And in case I missed it, I'm still not certain the OP's bike is 11 on the rear, so I may just be prattling nonsensical stuff. Please don't tell me I always do that...... <grin>
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Old 03-30-20, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
Don't agree with this, & since that is what 1x is, the powers that be also don't agree.
I have no clue what you're saying. My post does not mention 1x. Who are the powers that be?

I noticed when I switched to a 48/32 crank that it did increase the time I could spend in the big ring by a small amount, but that was not there purpose for the change. It was to get lower gearing for steep climbs. I went from a 34/32 low gear to a 32/34, which is about 12% lower. I also gained a bit of top gear with the 48/11 instead of a 50/12.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 03-30-20 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 03-30-20, 10:18 AM
  #48  
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There are many reasons for running different gears and they're all valid. The important thing is that we're all getting new bike parts.
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Old 03-30-20, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by phrantic09 View Post
FWIW I changed from an 11/28 on a 52/36 a couple of years ago to a bike w/ 50/34 and an 11/34 cassette, I was actually slower climbing with the latter
I've noticed a similar phenomenon when I ride my fixed gear. Since I'm stuck in 44x17 I just get out of the saddle and stomp my way up rather than shift, sit, and spin.

Originally Posted by jdishner View Post
Thanks again - very helpful questions. I don't know yet how fast I'll be riding here, and it doesn't look like there will be many groups in my area, or that many riders at all based on Strava activity. I would typically average about 19.5 and about 90 avg cadence, thats solo and group rides, no races. There's a lot more elevation here so it will be take a while but it will average out, probably between 18-19. There aren't a lot of flat calm conditions in midcoast Maine, but as a group we would be in the mid 20's to upper 20's depending on wind and group.

I think the 48 would be good change, what I really want (which I realized after reading the responses here) is to be able to spend more time in the big ring, and the low end climbing capability will be helpful as well.
I fully endorse the idea of going to smaller chainrings. I have a 46/30 on one of my bikes and I more or less treat it as a 1X plus granny. 98% of my time is on the big ring in the middle of the cassette.
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Old 03-30-20, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by jdishner View Post
Do you think I am I cutting off too much top end by going with 48/34 & 11/34? I would probably need to replace the crank which I'm contemplating anyways. I'm not using this as a commuter, I'm riding to be as fast as possible. My normal adviser sent me to sheldon's gearing website, but I am not fully understanding all the data. You may not have the information you need to answer that, but any help is appreciated.
Imo, just stick with your current crank and get a 11-34 cassette, a new chain and GS rear DR. Only if that is not adequate I would replace the crank. As mentioned the GRX line is suitable, but the 48/31 is a bit pricey and requires a GRX front DR as well. 48/11 is plenty for most. The GS rear DR is not an "upgrade", its has a longer cage to accommodate the bigger cassette.
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