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

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Road Cycling “It 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.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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

Old 04-05-20, 10:32 AM
  #126  
Racing Dan
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
Seems like you haven't been following the thread. I consider myself to be a normal person, I don't race but do a lot of long distance and my preference is a top gear of around 100" narrow spacing around 70" and a low of around 30" or lower, which I can't achieve with any standard or compact road chainset.


If people ride a lot of steep and long hills they may want a lower low gear, but I would argue that has more to do with fitness than terrain. I'm not an especially strong climber and can get up anything with 30". Lower is easier obviously. Could be someone who likes to go really fast down big hills would want a top end bigger than 100".
So what (shimano) gearing, cassette and rings, do you propose to achieve that?
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Old 04-05-20, 10:47 AM
  #127  
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
Excellent points. Mentally replace everywhere I say "normal" for "weak". I don't normally think of myself as a weak cyclist, but the facts speak for themselves, so there you go.
On the other hand, I've barely done a hundred miles a few times total, so I wouldn't slap you with that label either.
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Old 04-05-20, 11:05 AM
  #128  
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
100 miles is the beginning of long-distance to me.


Standard gearing is too high for me. If people have less fitness than I do, they need lower gearing not more fitness. That's been my point the whole time. Standard road gearing is designed for people who are a lot stronger than I am, and even I am stronger than some people who need even lower gearing than that.

I agree. My Litespeed with 50-34 and 11-30 has a lot gearing territory I will never need. I can safely say it's the same for just about every person I know, ride with and observe. I know I live in the flats, but I take my bikes with me when I travel to the mountains. I don't take the Litespeed because I can't push 34-30 up steep grades or long stretches of more moderate grades. I prefer to be able to ride up steeper grades at about 20 gear inches. The best mine can do is about 26 gear inches if I go to an 11-34 cassette. I can't push that up mountains. Most riders I know can't. Bottom line is that this bikes gearing won't allow this reasonably fit person to climb mountains.

On the other end, the 50-11 at a 90 cadence finds me going 32. The average rider can't do that for long if at all. I can't. It's simply not useful territory for me.

With a 40-26 and 11-34. I can climb anything I would ever want to climb at under 20 gear inches. In 40-11 I am at 25 MPH at 90 RPM. If I spin it up to 110, I can eclipse 30. That will find me going downhill as fast as I ever want to. Gear spacing is small enough on the smaller cogs that I will be able to find a sweet spot in my group rides.

For ALL the things I and most riders I know do, a 40-26 and 11-34 is FAR more useful than modern compacts.
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Old 04-05-20, 11:11 AM
  #129  
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
So what (shimano) gearing, cassette and rings, do you propose to achieve that?
My bikes have old triples or new campy with a sub-compact crank, so I'm not really sure how to get there with just Shimano parts. You can get pretty close with a compact crank and a Jr. cassette, or 46/30 and a 12-25 11-speed cassette. Pretty sure Shimano makes those things, but you won't find them on a new complete road bike. A gravel bike maybe.

Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
On the other hand, I've barely done a hundred miles a few times total, so I wouldn't slap you with that label either.
Yes, my distances are pretty far outside the normal range. While we might not be fast, old guys can still be good at endurance. How about "low power output"?
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Old 04-05-20, 11:17 AM
  #130  
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Gearing can effected by fitness. Gearing can also be effected by weight. Larger people need lower bears to keep their cadence at a speed that efficient. Gears are like saddles; you will probably have to replace them when you buy a new bike.
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Old 04-05-20, 12:39 PM
  #131  
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
For ALL the things I and most riders I know do, a 40-26 and 11-34 is FAR more useful than modern compacts.
Unless you have some serious hills, I'd imagine anything below a 34T is going to make the bottom ring seem ridiculous.

For up to moderate hills, a 46/36 or 46/34 mated with a cassette with a 27 or 28T max would probably be more useful for most people. Lots of overlap and plenty of low gear for stiff headwinds.
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Old 04-05-20, 01:04 PM
  #132  
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In the spirit of every gearing discussion ever, 36x28 is good enough for me so it's all the low end anyone needs.
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Old 04-05-20, 01:11 PM
  #133  
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Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
Unless you have some serious hills, I'd imagine anything below a 34T is going to make the bottom ring seem ridiculous.

For up to moderate hills, a 46/36 or 46/34 mated with a cassette with a 27 or 28T max would probably be more useful for most people. Lots of overlap and plenty of low gear for stiff headwinds.
I ride category one climbs every summer. I love my 24-28 combo for most of those climbs and on the steeper parts I have a little left in reserve. I can't push 34-30 up those mountains. Most of the riders I know can't. Most would benefit from closer to 20 gear inches. On the other hand I don't know many riders who can make full use of 50-11 for much of a ride in either the mountains or flat lands.

How much of your average ride would you say you are pushing more than 100 gear inches at 90 RPM? At what cadence do you begin to spin out?
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Old 04-05-20, 01:35 PM
  #134  
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
I agree. My Litespeed with 50-34 and 11-30 has a lot gearing territory I will never need. I can safely say it's the same for just about every person I know, ride with and observe. I know I live in the flats, but I take my bikes with me when I travel to the mountains. I don't take the Litespeed because I can't push 34-30 up steep grades or long stretches of more moderate grades. I prefer to be able to ride up steeper grades at about 20 gear inches. The best mine can do is about 26 gear inches if I go to an 11-34 cassette. I can't push that up mountains. Most riders I know can't. Bottom line is that this bikes gearing won't allow this reasonably fit person to climb mountains.

On the other end, the 50-11 at a 90 cadence finds me going 32. The average rider can't do that for long if at all. I can't. It's simply not useful territory for me.

With a 40-26 and 11-34. I can climb anything I would ever want to climb at under 20 gear inches. In 40-11 I am at 25 MPH at 90 RPM. If I spin it up to 110, I can eclipse 30. That will find me going downhill as fast as I ever want to. Gear spacing is small enough on the smaller cogs that I will be able to find a sweet spot in my group rides.

For ALL the things I and most riders I know do, a 40-26 and 11-34 is FAR more useful than modern compacts.



You'all got some steep hills on that Louisissippi Coast!
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Old 04-05-20, 01:45 PM
  #135  
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
You'all got some steep hills on that Louisissippi Coast!
In to not too distant past, people in this country used to travel and take vacations.
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Old 04-05-20, 03:15 PM
  #136  
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
In to not too distant past, people in this country used to travel and take vacations.


Yeah, now folks seems to mostly go to Richmond, London, & Watopia- wherever that is...
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Old 04-05-20, 05:09 PM
  #137  
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
How much of your average ride would you say you are pushing more than 100 gear inches at 90 RPM? At what cadence do you begin to spin out?
Percentage wise, not so much -- and I think it's more important to have low end when you need it than high end when you want it.

But I also think having great selection where you do the lion's share of your riding is a good thing which is why I favor narrower cassettes when they make sense -- hardly ever using certain ring/cog combos or needing to change rings too often is a sign that there's probably a better cassette ring combo for you.

Just so happens on my ride today, I had a particularly steep section at 22% (Brynwood Drive for those who know PDX). On my 34/27 combo it was brutal -- a 26T would have been most welcome. But the combo is good for my riding in general, and our hills max out around 1K feet so even if you take a steep way up and have to use extra muscle, it's not that long before your legs get a chance to rest.

If we had serious mountain climbs with extended steep pitches, I'd want a wider cassette for certain and probably a smaller ring.
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Old 04-05-20, 05:15 PM
  #138  
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[QUOTE=banerjek;21402403]
Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
I ride category one climbs every summer. I

Percentage wise, not so much -- and I think it's more important to have low end when you need it than high end when you want it.

But I also think having great selection where you do the lion's share of your riding is a good thing which is why I favor narrower cassettes when they make sense -- hardly ever using certain ring/cog combos or needing to change rings too often is a sign that there's probably a better cassette ring combo for you.

Just so happens on my ride today, I had a particularly steep section at 22% (Brynwood Drive for those who know PDX). On my 34/27 combo it was brutal -- a 26T would have been most welcome. But the combo is good for my riding in general, and our hills max out around 1K feet so even if you take a steep way up and have to use extra muscle, it's not that long before your legs get a chance to rest.

If we had serious mountain climbs with extended steep pitches, I'd want a wider cassette for certain and probably a smaller ring.

My knees ache thinking about doing 22% hills in any gear. I'd tap out if I had to do it in 34-27. Looks like a wonderful place to ride from looking on Google Streetview. I am stuck in flat, featureless terrain with mostly straight roads.
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Old 04-05-20, 07:04 PM
  #139  
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
My knees ache thinking about doing 22% hills in any gear. I'd tap out if I had to do it in 34-27. Looks like a wonderful place to ride from looking on Google Streetview. I am stuck in flat, featureless terrain with mostly straight roads.
In all honesty, that 22% climb is kind of junky in that aesthetics and a sense of nuance are lacking. However, the hills have great selection of climbs and descents -- the way I'd describe it is that we don't have the best of anything, but we have an excellent variety of very good things that are super convenient.

Although I don't use my top gears much in terms of total distance, I do use them multiple times on every single ride (including my commute which has 1000' of gain). Though that didn't happen by luck alone -- I specifically looked for a job that would have a great commute
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Old 04-05-20, 07:12 PM
  #140  
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Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
In all honesty, that 22% climb is kind of junky in that aesthetics and a sense of nuance are lacking.
What does it mean when a climb lacks a sense of nuance?
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Old 04-05-20, 07:18 PM
  #141  
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[QUOTE=Paul Barnard;21402410]
Originally Posted by banerjek View Post


My knees ache thinking about doing 22% hills in any gear. I'd tap out if I had to do it in 34-27..
Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
In all honesty, that 22% climb is kind of junky in that aesthetics and a sense of nuance are lacking
22% grades are tough, no mater what gears you have.

There's one on the other side of town, that I do 6-10 times a year. No matter what gear I use, it's never easy. I gear my bikes for the other 350 rides I do every year, instead of the one I do a handful of times.
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Old 04-06-20, 01:04 AM
  #142  
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
What does it mean when a climb lacks a sense of nuance?
It means it lacks the small things that would have made the ride great even if there was practically no elevation gain -- a great view, peeks at neat things, variations in terrain that change the optimal lines for the ride depending on what you want, and a million other things that make you discover new stuff no matter how many times you've ridden it. A good ride never gets old. Rather it gets better every time you do it.

This ride isn't horrible. There's zero traffic and it's forested residential. But it's really just a stunt with nothing else to recommend it.

There are plenty of steep grades that have many redeeming qualities beyond the pitch.
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Old 04-06-20, 07:02 AM
  #143  
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[QUOTE=noodle soup;21402578]
Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post

22% grades are tough, no mater what gears you have.

There's one on the other side of town, that I do 6-10 times a year. No matter what gear I use, it's never easy. I gear my bikes for the other 350 rides I do every year, instead of the one I do a handful of times.

How often do you use your big-little combo and under what circumstances?
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Old 04-06-20, 08:06 AM
  #144  
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post


How often do you use your big-little combo and under what circumstances?
50x12? Daily. Any time I'm descending at 28mph or greater. I usually stop pedaling at about 35mph.
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Old 04-06-20, 12:40 PM
  #145  
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[QUOTE=Paul Barnard;21403109]
Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post


How often do you use your big-little combo and under what circumstances?
My top gear is 48/11. I spin it up to 38 on nearly every ride with a downhill that brings my speed up into the 40-54 mph range. Yesterday I rode the 44 mile round trip up to Estes Park, with only 2500 feet of climbing. A lot of the descent is so gradual that I only spin out the top gear briefly, but it gets lots of use when my speed is in the 30s.
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Old 04-06-20, 12:44 PM
  #146  
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[QUOTE=DaveSSS;21403730]
Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
My top gear is 48/11. I spin it up to 38 on nearly every ride with a downhill that brings my speed up into the 40-54 mph range. Yesterday I rode the 44 mile round trip up to Estes Park, with only 2500 feet of climbing. A lot of the descent is so gradual that I only spin out the top gear briefly, but it gets lots of use when my speed is in the 30s.
FTR, I didn't ask that question.
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Old 04-06-20, 01:31 PM
  #147  
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Make sure you do the calculation

As you may need to replace the rear derailleur. Fwiw, my lbs goes over the max regularly and without difficulty. You may not be able to do large large, but you don't want to cross chain anyway
I moved from flat sea level in Outer Banks NC to Boulder CO mountains and had to suck.a lot of air, even after I changed my cassette
:-)
https://www.mantel.com/blog/en/derai...mum-techcenter
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Old 04-13-20, 08:49 AM
  #148  
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Originally Posted by jdishner View Post
Hello, I recently moved to Maine from Illinois and there is a lot more elevation here. I was already advised to go with a smaller front ring in Illinois but I was ok with powering along at a slightly lower cadence, however one ride here has convinced me that I need to make a change. I have a 2016 Specialized Tarmac Sport (specs on bikeradar here) with a stock 52/36 up front and 11/28 in the rear. Suggestions?
My Specialized Tarmac is stock with a 52/36 up front and a 11-30 cassette in the rear. I've used this on several very long 100+ mile rides with long mountain pass climbs. Has served me well and no difficulty in climbing long grades 10+ miles at 7-8% incline. If I was to make any change it would be to a 11-32 rear cassette just for the added gearing on a big hill. No plans to do that though.

My much older LeMond Zurich is a triple with 52/42/30 and a 12-25 cassette. I rarely ever used the 30 up front. Once climbed a short half mile hill in 30/25 that was at 14-15% grade. Biggest problem was keeping the front wheel down!
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Old 04-13-20, 12:09 PM
  #149  
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Originally Posted by bfaIllini View Post
As you may need to replace the rear derailleur. Fwiw, my lbs goes over the max regularly and without difficulty. You may not be able to do large large, but you don't want to cross chain anyway
I moved from flat sea level in Outer Banks NC to Boulder CO mountains and had to suck.a lot of air, even after I changed my cassette
I'd be careful about going over max.

While you often can do it, this sounds like a great way to increase your exposure to the sort of bad luck that can put your RD in your spokes.

Better to get the right tool for the job and ride with confidence IMO
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Old 04-13-20, 12:44 PM
  #150  
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
Yes. I'm very picky. What's surprising to me is that most people don't seem to be.
Lance Armstrong used 21-22-23 small cogs for l'Alpe d'Huez in spite of having the most effective doping program ever.

The pro peloton added cogs in the middle instead of the ends until reaching 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23 9 cogs; after which some 10 sped Campagnolo riders still preferred adding an 18 for 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23.
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