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current generation of riders weaker than those of years past?

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current generation of riders weaker than those of years past?

Old 01-01-09, 08:50 AM
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droptop
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current generation of riders weaker than those of years past?

current standard bike gearing seems to have a 53-39 or 50-34. the bike i just pulled out of the barn has a 52-42. why the drop in teeth? I haven't gotten around to counting the ratios on the rear of the bike yet, but i will later today.

im assuming that with the 9/10/11 speed groups now, you can still get the same range, but i have seen several older racing bikes with "corn cob" gearing (and subsequently swapped out the freewheel to a more appropriate range for the beginner cyclist for my somewhat hilly region. did previous generations of racers just have more power than us today?
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Old 01-01-09, 08:53 AM
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Previous generations of racers had crappier older bikes with stupid 52-42 chainrings and 12-18 straight blocks in the back. Try climbing Mt. Doom with a 42-18. That would suck.

I did once climb Fiddler's Elbow Road in western NJ with a 42-21. Don't ask me how.
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Old 01-01-09, 09:57 AM
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The real reason for the switch from the old 52/42 to the current 53/39 is largely due to the invention of indexed shifting and later the brake/shift lever. With the new ability to precisely shift 2-3 cogs easily and precisely, larger chainring spacing and the increased range it provides became more practical. To shift in a uniform progression, it requires a shift of 2-3 cogs smaller after shifting from the 53 to the 39 chainring, (one more than a 52/42). This can be done quickly and accurately with indexed shifters.

A larger jump between the chainrings increases range and may avoid the need for wider spacing between the sprockets. The 50/34 takes this idea on step further. With a 50/34 you can opt to lose nearly one gear ratio of top gear to gain about 13% more low gear, or you can change cassettes to produce slightly more top gear and a little more low gear. An example would be changing froma 12-25 with a 53/39 to a 50/34 with an 11-23. The 50/11 is a little higher than a 53/12 and the 34/23 is alittle lower than a 39/25.

I choose to use a 50/34 with an 11-25 (11 speed) cassette. Then I have even more low gear for the mountains and still have a little mre top gear than a 53/12.
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Old 01-01-09, 10:07 AM
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Good description by DaveSSS.

Back in the day gearing was all about compromise. What were you willing to give up depending on the ride at hand. Want the 14 (or later 13 or 12)? Gotta leave the 21 at home. As an old schooler the biggest change is not having to change rear gearing often (or at all), love it.
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Old 01-01-09, 10:16 AM
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Dave and Voodoo, you've got it. With bike technology now, there is no compromise in gearing anymore. Whereas you'd have to sacrifice top-end for a good climbing gear, you can run a 39x23 as your climbing gear and a 53x11 as your top-end. I never need to take off my 11-23 anymore. Isn't that great?
Tell that to those grouches who think bike technology died in the 70's; you're able to have an easier climbing gear and a bigger sprinting gear at once.
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Old 01-01-09, 01:50 PM
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Previous generations of racers rode fixed gears and single speeds. None of this geared nonsense.
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Old 01-01-09, 02:34 PM
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Pedalling style too perhaps?
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Old 01-01-09, 02:47 PM
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My boss/teammate/training partner used to race back in the days of 5 speeds. He said he rode around on 42-18 (maybe it was 21)

Now he said theres no way he'd ride 42-18. He said they all just climbed slower and ground it out rather than the higher cadences of today. The whole style of riding was different because of the harder gear on the low end.
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Old 01-01-09, 02:59 PM
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They pedaled much lower cadence back in the day. They stood and mashed a lot, rather than spinning.
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Old 01-01-09, 03:06 PM
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"I did once climb Fiddler's Elbow Road in western NJ with a 42-21. Don't ask me how."

My crappy old Gran Sport runs a 42:52 with a 6 speed rear block that runs a 13-17 (single stepped) and then has a 21 for when the pain comes...

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Old 01-01-09, 03:11 PM
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eddie merckx is way more badass than armstrong or lemond
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Old 01-01-09, 04:02 PM
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maybe elapsed time of a stage is a better indication of rider strength...i can climb up "mt. doom" that mr. pcad is so afraid of on a 53-11 just need to stop every 5feet to rest

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Old 01-01-09, 07:37 PM
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Can you imagine getting off the bike to flip the rear wheel - to get to the big cog installed on the other side?
You had to get cooperation from all - "no one attack while I stop for a pee OR flip my wheel!".
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Old 01-01-09, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Flatballer View Post
They pedaled much lower cadence back in the day. They stood and mashed a lot, rather than spinning.

Nonsense.
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Old 01-02-09, 01:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Flatballer
They pedaled much lower cadence back in the day. They stood and mashed a lot, rather than spinning.
Originally Posted by classic1 View Post
Nonsense.
Any proof that it's nonsense? It seems plausible to me that the cadences were lower then if they were using toe clips, flimsier shoes and higher gearing.

Speaking of gearing, does anyone know if they used shorter crank arms then? Or was 175+ a common size to see on bikes size 58 & above?
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Old 01-02-09, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by thirdin77 View Post
Any proof that it's nonsense? It seems plausible to me that the cadences were lower then if they were using toe clips, flimsier shoes and higher gearing.
Why would toe clips and flimsier shoes affect cadence? WTF are you talking about?

The gearing wasn't that much different. You could buy blocks with 23 or 24 tooth sprockets in the 1970's and 80's if you needed them.

Most top climbers are/were natural spinners. Go and watch a vid of the climbers Bahamontes, Gaul, Van Impe, Herrera.
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Old 01-02-09, 06:41 AM
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This is like saying today's engineers are worse than those of the 1950's because they have calculators and computers today instead of slide rules. Cyclists of the past had crappier gear. They dealt with it.

40 years from now some idiot on BF (it will still be here, so will I, but I'll have 1.8 million posts by then) will create a similar thread about the lame 10 and 11 speed 15 lb bicycles of 2009 and how cyclists of 2049 aren't as tough as the cyclists of today's era.
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Old 01-02-09, 08:17 AM
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All of this is true, and advanced engineering is a great thing in bike technology and everything else. That said, I suspect most riders, especially casual riders, have way more gears than they really need. If you live and ride in flat to rolling hills, you really don't need all that much gearing choice. Seriously. I often ride rolling terrain on a single speed fixed gear bike and it really is just fine. My Look race bike is only 2000 DA 9 speed and I've never encountered a hill I couldn't climb (yet--I'm going to upgrade to SRAM in the spring....I love good tech as much as the next guy.)
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Old 01-02-09, 10:11 AM
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Bike racers may have restricted themselves to large chainwheels but cyclotourists had been using wide range triple chainwheels and appropriate wide range derailleurs since the 1930's. Bike boom bikes were 42-52 with 14-28 had a wide enough range for most cyclists in the 1970's, most of whom were buying their first multi-speed bike. If they got into touring they would upgrade their drivetrain with Stronglight cranks and long cage rear derailleurs.

Chainwheels with ramps and pins and front derailleurs with sculpted cages are what made the modern 52-36 double crankset possible.

The flexible Sedisport chain using a bushingless design is what made cross chaining the wider 7 through 11 cog rear cluster possible. Also, stronger rims were needed to compensate for the weakness created by the greater dish needed for wider rear clusters.

The early shifting slant parallelogram rear derailleur is what made indexed shifting, and later, brake-shifters, work well enough to be reintroduced into cycling.

So indexed shifting and brake shifters are the beneficiary of a number of developments in drive trains.

Back in the bad old days thrity years ago you could still have a nice range of gears as long as you used a triple; which of course, no one on the Road Cycling subforum of BF would be caught dead riding today.
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Old 01-02-09, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
"I did once climb Fiddler's Elbow Road in western NJ with a 42-21. Don't ask me how."

My crappy old Gran Sport runs a 42:52 with a 6 speed rear block that runs a 13-17 (single stepped) and then has
a 21 for when the pain comes...
For me, the pain comes swiftly and often.
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