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25mm road bike on the TransAm?

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25mm road bike on the TransAm?

Old 09-08-21, 06:44 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by Doug64
A 30/30 will give about 26 gear inches. IMO something in the low 20s or high teens is better for touring.

I'm just curious. What gear ratios did the folks who said that the son's bike's gears are OK for the "relatively gentle" slopes found in the west use when they rode the TA?
I knew when I wrote that there would be pushback. Pete mentioned the climb up from Vesuvius; if my mental math was right then, and my memory is right now, that averaged over 15% grade for three miles. (It was even tough going down, heading west; met a kid at the bottom who'd blown a tire and taco'ed his wheel!) I may be mistaken, but I don't remember anything west of Kansas over 8%.

My low was about 20 gear inches. However, my knees were decades older than 13 years of age when I rode it, I was obese, and my bike plus luggage was pushing 90 pounds. I'd expect a credit card tourer on a road bike would be a third to a half that load, and I hope a young teenager tackling the TransAm isn't as fat as I was.

20 gear inches has been loaded touring canon for many years. I suspect that was because, for 30 years or so, that was the lowest you could go without heroic wrenching. One frequent poster here tours with a 14-16 gear inch low. Should that become the new standard for loaded touring, since it's possible?

With the rise of ultralight touring, bikepacking, and CC touring, it's time for a conversation on what's reasonable/required/recommended gearing for those applications. Do people riding like that have to have 20" low gears? or 16"? Is 20" reasonable for bikepacking because there may be some steep singletrack? On the flip side, does a youngster carrying a 10 pound load on a road bike, riding on paved roads, need to have that kind of gearing to prevent knee injury? I doubt it, but I could be wrong.

Last edited by pdlamb; 09-08-21 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 09-08-21, 07:12 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
Oh, like the perpetual roadwork in and south of Yellowstone? (Except in winter.)
On the Northern Tier we ran into a couple of miles of unpaved U.S. 2 around the MT-ND border. It was very "slippery" with fat tires. Lot's of sandy places.

Either Big Hole Pass or Badger Pass on the TransAm in MT had been temporarily reduced to dirt when I climbed it Later ran into another such stretch somewhere before W. Yellowstone.
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Old 09-08-21, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug64
I'm just curious. What gear ratios did the folks who said that the son's bike's gears are OK for the "relatively gentle" slopes found in the west use when they rode the TA?
Oddly enough, I had a 30/30 low gear. I was lightly laden.
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Old 09-08-21, 07:44 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
My low was about 20 gear inches. However, my knees were decades older than 13 years of age when I rode it, I was obese, and my bike plus luggage was pushing 90 pounds. I'd expect a credit card tourer on a road bike would be a third to a half that load, and I hope a young teenager tackling the TransAm isn't as fat as I was.

20 gear inches has been loaded touring canon for many years. I suspect that was because, for 30 years or so, that was the lowest you could go without heroic wrenching. One frequent poster here tours with a 14-16 gear inch low. Should that become the new standard for loaded touring, since it's possible?

With the rise of ultralight touring, bikepacking, and CC touring, it's time for a conversation on what's reasonable/required/recommended gearing for those applications. Do people riding like that have to have 20" low gears? or 16"? Is 20" reasonable for bikepacking because there may be some steep singletrack? On the flip side, does a youngster carrying a 10 pound load on a road bike, riding on paved roads, need to have that kind of gearing to prevent knee injury? I doubt it, but I could be wrong.
what you and Stae bring up are really good ideas.
re total bike weight, absolutely its a factor, but from my life experience riding, even if not carrying stuff or very lightly loaded, having about 20 gear inches is still extremely useful, especially if you are bikepacking on steep stuff---or even take a small dirt back road sometime and you hit a short steep section with loose gravel, that sort of thing.

there clearly is still a view that low gearing has a "wimpy" factor to it (and yes, I know both of you don't say that) but in my opinion, for a vast majority of regular people, having the ability to downshift one or two more gears when needed is a real real advantage.
Remember too that for many many riders, and especially a 13 year old, the whole mental thing of dealing with long climbs can be very overwhelming and disheartening.
An example, my wife for years had a real mental block with hills, and it was only when I got her a bike that had good low gearing (18g.i. from memory) that she started to get her head around climbing. Yes, she is still a really, really slow climber, so there's a physical thing going on too, but at least now she doesnt get defeated mentally by cliimbs.

re age and whatnot, I've always remarked that Stae is one of those "strong leg" guys, he's a "Classics" (one day pro races, like Paris-Roubaix, etc) kind of body guy. I however have always been a skinny guy, waaaaaaay more so when I was 13.
Heck, I'm over 5'10" and weigh 135, so imagine me at 13 or 14........so all this is to say that having lower gearing for a lot of people will just be easier on their knees and everything.
And sure, if you don't need that first gear, shift up to second, it's that easy.
I figure too that when talking about age, I reckon its even more important to make sure a kid doesnt hurt a knee that could be there for the future. At that age, I hurt my knee downhill skiing, and I'm sure its the reason I've had dodgey knee experiences touring before I figured out lower gearing is better, plus an overall slight dodgey knee thing as I get older and nearly 60.

But of course, every kid is different body type wise, so if possible, this parent should try to do long rides with his son and see how it is---BUT, be aware that an inexperienced rider won't be as aware of stuff, maybe not want to admit its hard, and or will have no idea how he will feel after a long day , day after day, or when tired and hungry, or feeling overwhelmed and tired and hungry.......which brings us right back to the whole topic of there being no downside to lower gearing. If you use it and it helps, great. When you don't need it, shift up. Simple.

and of course leads right back to wanting this to be a good experience, and fun (and good parenting to anticipate this stuff).

And I bring this up often too, but re higher gearing and going "faster", I'll put good money down that loaded or unloaded, on a good twisty or non twisty downhill, I'll beat most of you down the hill even on my bike that in theory can only be pedalled to maybe 25 mph.

good topic though, I hope the dad here takes some of this stuff into consideration, from our touring experiences and as parents taking kids touring.
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Old 09-08-21, 09:24 AM
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If he's 5 foot nothin, then I would bet he doesn't weigh a lot. That means he can run slightly lower tire pressures. He will be fine. He can carry his own gear also, look into a handlebar roll for him and a big seat bag.
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Old 09-08-21, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
re age and whatnot, I've always remarked that Stae is one of those "strong leg" guys, he's a "Classics" (one day pro races, like Paris-Roubaix, etc) kind of body guy. I however have always been a skinny guy, waaaaaaay more so when I was 13.
Body type probably does come into play, but I think sometimes the whole spin higher cadence thing can be oversold at times. Folks can go too far either way on that.

I remember times when Id be at a mtb race or riding with buddies and guys would marvel that I was in the big ring. They'd say that I'd pay with ruined knees. My comment was always that I was saving my thumbs. Now at age 70 my knees are fine and my thumbs are completely trashed.
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Old 09-08-21, 10:42 AM
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Back again with another thought. (Hey, I'm like Einstein, I thought of it while riding my bicycle!

Bike sizing. If I were the OP, I'd make sure my credit card was ready to buy a new bike next spring. Son's 5' even in August? If he hits a growth spurt, he could be 5'8" next June 1, and his current Fuji may be too small, period.

If that turns out to be the case, it'll be time to start looking for a touring bike (if that's the decision) mid-February -- about the time you get off the phone making motel reservations for Yellowstone and the Tetons. Touring bikes (and other new model year bikes) start hitting shops in a normal year about March, and in this trans-Covid time, you'll want to be there early to let the lad test ride the bike.

With all due respect to the other posters, I'd let the boy decide what he wants. Point out the advantages of lower gears, and let him ride the tourer (if you've found one that fits). While my favorite bike is my Fuji Touring, a lot of people are very vocal about how a touring bike is heavy, feels sluggish, etc. Don't tell him that, just ask if he'd rather ride, for example, an LHT he just tested, or whether he'd prefer another road bike that fits him. After all, you probably want him to continue riding when the tour's over, and a bike that just feels fun to ride is going to get ridden more than one that doesn't feel like that.
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Old 09-08-21, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
Oh, like the perpetual roadwork in and south of Yellowstone? (Except in winter.)
Yup, this was in 2007 just outside of Yellowstone on Highway 20. We were using 28 mm tires then;while not optimal, they were what we had.

Last edited by Doug64; 09-08-21 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 09-08-21, 02:31 PM
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The great thing is that there is lots of time, or at least time to do a certain amount of riding and see how things are--and also to get a better feeling if the desire is really there.
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Old 09-09-21, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64
Yup, this was in 2007 just outside of Yellowstone on Highway 20. We were using 28 mm tires then;while not optimal, they were what we had.
Run what ya brung. I tour on sporty and dual sport motorcycles also. Whatever bike you bring, at some point in the tour it will not be the ideal bike, but at some point it will. The less than ideal makes for better stories.
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