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Touring Bike Gearing Question

Old 05-01-15, 06:55 AM
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Touring Bike Gearing Question

I recently acquired my first true touring bike, a pre-73 Raleigh International. The bike came with a 54/48/30 front and 14-32 rear. I live in a hilly section of CT and wonder if the front gear is suited to my needs? It seems very tall. I do have a 50/45/28 triple as a replacement. Your advice your be appreciated.

Thanks, Jeff
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Old 05-01-15, 07:17 AM
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Both your chainsets are classic half-step set ups. I would change to the 50/45/28, more useful max gears and 8% lower minimum gear. What are you running for rear cassette/freewheel, 5-6 speed freewheel or did you upgrade to a freehub?
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Old 05-01-15, 07:21 AM
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You alternate crankset is about 10% lower at both ends, not exactly day and night difference. Th overall range is the same so it's up to you to decide if you need the 10% lower gear and whether the lower high end is something you want to give up.

I'd say ride it as is, and if you find yourself never using the 54/14 high, and wanting a lower gear then make the swap
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Old 05-01-15, 07:38 AM
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The OP has a 50-45-28 triple replacement crank. I'd put in the replacement. Either crank is suitable for hilly CT but you'll have an easier time of it spinning the 50/45 chainrings than the 54/48 currently on the bike.

There are two aspects to gearing you want to think about. The first is whether you have a low enough low. A 28 running on a 32 gives you a 23.6 inch low gear. That's low. You can get it lower but that will probably require a number of modifications which will cost you some money. I'd start with the 28/32 and if it works, you're good.

The other is your shifting pattern. A half step plus granny works well but involves a somewhat complicated shifting pattern. I'd figure out my gear ratios and tape them to the handlebar which is very old school but useful.

You can use this site to figure out your gear ratios:

Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator
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Old 05-01-15, 07:54 AM
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Agree, go as low as you can go with what you've got first. You might have to drop your front derailleur a touch, shorten your chain a touch but overall, unless your are extremely athletic, I'm betting you'll appreciate the lower gears.
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Old 05-01-15, 08:38 AM
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In 1985 I Got a Specialized Expedition It came with a 48-44-28 crank, I changed it to a 50-40-24*. with substituting different chainrings .

Has 110-74 bcd cranks, 24t was the minimum on the 74 bcd.

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-01-15 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 05-01-15, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by jeff44
I recently acquired my first true touring bike, a pre-73 Raleigh International. The bike came with a 54/48/30 front and 14-32 rear. I live in a hilly section of CT and wonder if the front gear is suited to my needs? It seems very tall. I do have a 50/45/28 triple as a replacement. Your advice your be appreciated.

Thanks, Jeff
Neither crank would work for me Jeff.
Currently my gear inches are approx 16.3 to 86.1
I can't go lower and keep within warranty spec of my IGH hub.
In a perfect world, I'd like to drop another inch at the low end.

All I'll say is don't do what I did when I was younger and wear out my knees pushing/grinding too high a gear on a loaded bicycle.
Consider putting a mountain bike crankset with a small ring around 22t on it and maybe grab a cassette with a 36T ring for low gear inches.
I think your knees will thank you long term.
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Old 05-01-15, 11:12 AM
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I'm old and worn out,so there are no gears that are low enough.Granny on my bike is 20x36 on 26. It's crawling low.

My first tour,a million years ago, from L.A.-S.F. I rode with a 52-42 X 14-28.....Only did THAT once....

Sometimes at the end of a long day,those extra low gears are mighty nice.

Last edited by Booger1; 05-01-15 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 05-01-15, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by jeff44
I recently acquired my first true touring bike, a pre-73 Raleigh International. The bike came with a 54/48/30 front and 14-32 rear. I live in a hilly section of CT and wonder if the front gear is suited to my needs? It seems very tall. I do have a 50/45/28 triple as a replacement. Your advice your be appreciated.

Thanks, Jeff
I worked in a Raleigh shop in the early 70s. The Raleigh Internationals that we sold were mostly a Campy equipped racing bike with tubular tires and Reynolds tubing, but I think it had Weimann brakes instead of Campy. Raleigh at the time sold a touring bike with a TA triple crank, but I do not recall the model name. I think all the Raleighs at that time had 120mm dropout spacing, except the Raleigh Professional might have had 126mm spacing. The International would have been out of the Carlton factory, thus it would likely have british bottom bracket threading.

I am not sure what you have but it sounds quite different from the Raleighs that I was familiar with at the time. Do you have a photo?
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Old 05-01-15, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
In 1985 I Got a Specialized Expedition It came with a 48-44-28 crank, I changed it to a 50-40-24*. with substituting different chainrings .

Has 110-74 bcd cranks, 24t was the minimum on the 74 bcd.
How do you like that spread? I've got a 48-40-28, and the inner could use replacing. I was thinking of dropping down to a 26t, my largest rear is 32t. Would you say you use the 24t to its full capacity? I might go down that far, if my FD allows it.
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Old 05-01-15, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
The OP has a 50-45-28 triple replacement crank. I'd put in the replacement. Either crank is suitable for hilly CT but you'll have an easier time of it spinning the 50/45 chainrings than the 54/48 currently on the bike.

There are two aspects to gearing you want to think about. The first is whether you have a low enough low. A 28 running on a 32 gives you a 23.6 inch low gear. That's low. You can get it lower but that will probably require a number of modifications which will cost you some money. I'd start with the 28/32 and if it works, you're good.

The other is your shifting pattern. A half step plus granny works well but involves a somewhat complicated shifting pattern. I'd figure out my gear ratios and tape them to the handlebar which is very old school but useful.

You can use this site to figure out your gear ratios:

Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator
I've given up on Half-Step-Granny gearing - I just find it so much more impractical than modern gearing setups. I used to ride a 54-49-34 SR triple on my old steel Trek (13-32 6 speed Sun Tour Winner freewheel in the back), and I was basically not bothering to do the front shift - I was just ignoring the 54 ring like it wasn't even there. I picked up a 48-38-28 Sakae crank on ebay for a pittance, and swapped it out. Now it's just much more useful. I can ride either the 48 or 38 ring across 5/6 of the freewheel when I need to, then do a double shift and ride the other ring. The 28 ring only gets used on the 3 biggest cogs on the freewheel, and I've now got a much more useable setup. On paper, the prior setup had 15 useable gears and tighter spacing, but in the real world, I wasn't using the tighter spacing because it always required a double shift. Now I've got 14 useable gears that I really use 13 of them on that bike. I lost my highest gear on this bike, but I wasn't using it anyways, this bike is basically a tourer, commuter, climber, grocery shopping bike for me. So I haven't got a gear above 98 inches on this bike now. Big deal.

I just built up a new (actually a Craigslist find, Paramount PDG Series 7 frame) that I built up as a 9x3. Based on the experience with the Trek, I did not go with half-step-granny on the front, but rather, a 51-39-29 setup, along with a 12-27 cassette. Frankly now that I've got the triple shifting properly in the front, I absolutely LOVE this setup. The spacing is pretty tight, but it's thoroughly useable in real life. It's not as wide range as the Trek, but it's plenty, for anything short of climbing mountains with bags full of gear.
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Old 05-01-15, 08:07 PM
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I'd ride with it using the current gears for awhile to see if they might already be low enough. If not then I'd think about substituting your replacement crank but with something like a 24 inner ring replacing the 28. Moving from the current 30 to a 28 doesn't seem like a big enough change to justify the switch.
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Old 05-02-15, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by phenry24
How do you like that spread? I've got a 48-40-28, and the inner could use replacing. I was thinking of dropping down to a 26t, my largest rear is 32t. Would you say you use the 24t to its full capacity? I might go down that far, if my FD allows it.
10 & 16t spread between the rings , granny gear 1/2 the tooth count of the big ring. Steel, long wearing, chainrings ...
50:14/or/13 (622-35 wheels) 24:34 Low .. (6 speed Freewheel) Toured Northern Europe and the British Isles several times ..

Friction Bar end (Sun Tour) shifters ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-02-15 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 05-02-15, 09:28 AM
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I agree, half step isn't useful with a 9 speed cassette. I have a Tiagra 50/39/30 but I didn't understand the BCD of the inner ring is an orphan, can't find anything but the 30T. I just bought a 105 triple, 50/39/30 but the inner BCD is 74mm, I have a 26T ring to replace the 30T. Then I'll have a minimum gear of 26x30, if that's not low enough I'll put a 32 or 34 in back. I'm too old and slow not to have low gears. I make custom 9 speed cassettes using a Tiagra 14-25 as the base, then choose cogs based on keeping the steps under 10%. I run a 14T for the smallest cog to keep steps between gears as small as possible. I tried an 11-32 9 speed cassette and really disliked the size of the steps.
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Old 05-02-15, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr IGH
I agree, half step isn't useful with a 9 speed cassette. I have a Tiagra 50/39/30 but I didn't understand the BCD of the inner ring is an orphan, can't find anything but the 30T. I just bought a 105 triple, 50/39/30 but the inner BCD is 74mm, I have a 26T ring to replace the 30T. Then I'll have a minimum gear of 26x30, if that's not low enough I'll put a 32 or 34 in back. I'm too old and slow not to have low gears. I make custom 9 speed cassettes using a Tiagra 14-25 as the base, then choose cogs based on keeping the steps under 10%. I run a 14T for the smallest cog to keep steps between gears as small as possible. I tried an 11-32 9 speed cassette and really disliked the size of the steps.
I just picked up a shimano 105 triple and a 13/25 cassette as well. Pretty decent low and high and the gearing is nicely spaced out. I wouldn't mind changing out the inner for something smaller than a 30 though.
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Old 05-02-15, 09:55 AM
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56mm BCD granny gets you down to 20t .. Avid adapters and sun tour s MTB triples did that.. Shimano went 58mm

Discontinued .. TA Zephyr triple cranks were threaded for 56 & 74.. and 110.

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-02-15 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 05-02-15, 02:27 PM
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Depends on if, and what kind of touring you're doing. Are you touring loaded or not. How much are you bringing with you if it's an out today and back tomorrow? I'm running a 52-39-30, and 11-36. I don't do loaded touring, so this gearing has been fine for me. Depending on the shape that you are in, your weight, gear, etc, will help you to determine if that stock gearing is right or not.
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