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Gearing Question

Old 06-18-10, 10:11 PM
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seattle_newbie
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Gearing Question

hey all,
I thought I would post this question b/c everyone has been so helpful in the past. I live in Seattle and commuting on my 80s specialized sirrus steel road bike involves some moderately aggressive hills. In addition, some of the touring in this neck of the woods has hills.
My bike originally came with 52/42 up front and 11/22 in the rear and was IMPOSSIBLE to climb with. I have since adapted it a bit with 46/36 cyclocross style front chainrings that have helped quite a bit, but I still need some downgearing. I have a 6 sp freewheel in the back.
So... my options as I see it are to go to a long-cage road RD and a 14-28 freewheel vs. a touring XT style RD and a 14-34 megarange RD. I DO NOT want to go to friction shifting in the rear to go to a 7+ speed.
What do you think? I don't know if I necessarily need the 34t gear in the back, and 28t may be ok, but I am not sure what going from 22t --> 28t will give me vs. 34t.

Thanks!
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Old 06-18-10, 10:28 PM
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Go to www.sheldonbrown.com and look for the gearing calculator. Your best bet is to compare mph at 90rpm in one gear combination versus another. In your case, compare 36/22, 36/28, and 36/34. Keep in mind that the 14-34 freewheel will have huge jumps in between gears. As a compromise, you could go with the 14-28 and swap your 36T front ring for a 34 or 33.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:31 PM
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28t should give you enough. How steep are the hills in Seattle? 36-28 @ 80rpm on 700x28 tires will give you 8.2mph. Do you go slower than that any time during your commute? A 34 will give you 6.7mph at 80rpm with the same chairing and tires.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/
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Old 06-18-10, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ptle View Post
28t should give you enough.
The rest of your post was very useful. Why do these comments always get included on gearing posts in this forum? How would you have any clue what the OP needs?
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Old 06-18-10, 10:35 PM
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I just changed the front chainrings and don't really want to do it again, although I could go to a 34

The hills here can be steep, but short around the city. I was hoping that I could get by with the 28t so that I could stick with road components.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:38 PM
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You can get a Shimano 34T inner ring for ~$25.

Look at the numbers. If the 28 gets you to a cadence you like at the slowest speed you like to climb then it'll work for you. If you can only turn over the 28 at 50 rpms at your typical climbing speed, then you need something bigger in back or smaller up front.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:39 PM
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[QUOTE=seattle_newbie;10985413]hey all,
I thought I would post this question b/c everyone has been so helpful in the past. I live in Seattle and commuting on my 80s specialized sirrus steel road bike involves some moderately aggressive hills. In addition, some of the touring in this neck of the woods has hills.
My bike originally came with 52/42 up front and 11/22 in the rear and was IMPOSSIBLE to climb with. I have since adapted it a bit with 46/36 cyclocross style front chainrings that have helped quite a bit, but I still need some downgearing. I have a 6 sp freewheel in the back.
So... my options as I see it are to go to a long-cage road RD and a 14-28 freewheel vs. a touring XT style RD and a 14-34 megarange RD. I DO NOT want to go to friction shifting in the rear to go to a 7+ speed.
What do you think? I don't know if I necessarily need the 34t gear in the back, and 28t may be ok, but I am not sure what going from 22t --> 28t will give me vs. 34t.

Thanks![/QUOTE

That 14-34 is going to very difficult to live with, big jumps. You should give the 14-28 a chance. Anything bigger than a 30 is too tall for me, as a matter of preference.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:43 PM
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All great points!!
Perhaps I will do the 14-28 to start, then if I am still having trouble go to a smaller front chainring. I guess I won't know until I actually have it put on my bike and give it a try!
I currently have a 105 short-cage DR, so I will need a longer cage DR first.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:43 PM
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Did that come stock with a 42-22 lowest gear? Seems awfully high for what I remember as a decent, but essentially entry level, bike. In that price range you'd expect something like a 26t cog...
There's quite a difference between 22 and 28 teeth in back, and you MIGHT be able to run a 28, or at least 26, with your existing derailleur, especially if a previous owner swapped the freewheel to get higher gears. I'm pretty sure the Sheldon Brown site gives max cog sizes for common derailleurs, and if not, you can track it down somewhere. I think I'd try that first. I'm a lousy climber, in Reno, with 7500-foot passes all around, and even I don't use a 34t freewheel.
Well, on my mountain bike I do. But not the roadies.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
Did that come stock with a 42-22 lowest gear? Seems awfully high for what I remember as a decent, but essentially entry level, bike. In that price range you'd expect something like a 26t cog...
There's quite a difference between 22 and 28 teeth in back, and you MIGHT be able to run a 28, or at least 26, with your existing derailleur, especially if a previous owner swapped the freewheel to get higher gears. I'm pretty sure the Sheldon Brown site gives max cog sizes for common derailleurs, and if not, you can track it down somewhere. I think I'd try that first. I'm a lousy climber, in Reno, with 7500-foot passes all around, and even I don't use a 34t freewheel.
Well, on my mountain bike I do. But not the roadies.
Yea, 42-22 is definitely quite high! I have no idea whether he swapped freewheels for higher gearing, but my LBS has looked at the rear DR and it is currently not compatible with a 28t cog... but thats ok (I king of am pining for a new rear DR for my b-day anyway).
Anyway, thanks everyone I think I made up my mind to go with 14-28 (or 13-28 IRD) and try it out. I think ultimately I will eventually be getting a new road bike with a triple anyway.
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