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Does this gearing change make sense?

Old 10-04-22, 12:26 PM
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afrowheels
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Does this gearing change make sense?

Hi All,

This is a continuation of a previous thread (Looking for some advice on LHT rejigging/components for tour) but a new topic so I am posting as such.

My current Surly LHT has a Deore 48-36-28 crankset at the front and a Shimano 8-speed 11-28 cassette (I don't remember which version) at the rear with an XT derailleur. I am switching to drop bars and in doing so moving to a 9-speed indexed shifter for the rear and a friction shifter for the front. Since I will be replacing the rear cassette it seems to make sense to take advantage of that to increase my lower gear range since I will likely be doing heavily loaded touring in areas that will have some steep climbs. I am thinking of getting a new 9-speed cassette that is 11-34. Does that sound okay/sensible? Would it also be straightforward to swap the smallest chainring from 28 to 24? Or would that be too wide a range for any reason? Presumably if I am using a friction shifter for the front it should not be a problem...? But I am really figuring this out as I go so would appreciate a thumbs up or down from any of you who know more about this.

Cheers
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Old 10-04-22, 12:30 PM
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My LHT has a 24x34 low gear. Just did a ride across PA with some double digit grades. Makes perfect sense. Want to go to a 22 up front, but that will require a new crank.
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Old 10-04-22, 01:33 PM
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I put a 36 on the rear of mine. Just means you can't use the large frontring on the lowest 3 rear cogs... but why would you?
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Old 10-04-22, 01:39 PM
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Yep, I've had a 34t largest cog XT cassette for awhile, and just yesterday, I put on a 28t small chainring. I was upgrading the bottom bracket anyways, so the chainring was easy. Works great, but I have a lot more room for a smaller chainring, if I can find one that fits. 🙂

Might as well get as much advantage as possible, when you're climbing mountains with a heavy load. 👍
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Old 10-04-22, 01:44 PM
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Odd that of all the different bikes that have a very broad spectrum of gears in the back a 34T seems to be the most common largest gear. I saw some 36T and 38T and even a 40T rear cog on some mountain bikes but when I questioned if they were ever used they bikers said not really. 34T was just about as big as they ever used in the back. Also in the front it was 28-30 as the smallest crank gears.

I continue to use 11-34 in the back and 42-30 in the front for my Old Geezer rides.

Many of the touring bikes I have seen come through my area have about the same set up but run triples in the front.

Lately I have seen a fair amount of late model touring bikes with brifters converted to friction shifter set ups. I am not sure why...
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Old 10-04-22, 02:04 PM
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11-34t is a common choice for touring bikes. I myself ran this setup for a long time.

In the future when your chainrings wear out and you need to replace them, I suggest going for a double chainring setup. Triple chainrings are unnecessary weight.
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Old 10-04-22, 03:08 PM
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28x34 will give you one lower gear than what you've got now. It shouldn't be much of an issue to change the 28 chainring out for a 24, which gives you a lowest gear about 1.5 "gears" lower. That shouldn't require changing either derailer, though it may take some adjustment to get it tuned.

Just make sure, when you switch to your drop bars, to get a 9 speed triple shifter set.
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Old 10-04-22, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
11-34t is a common choice for touring bikes. I myself ran this setup for a long time.

In the future when your chainrings wear out and you need to replace them, I suggest going for a double chainring setup. Triple chainrings are unnecessary weight.
c'mon, man! it's a couple of ounces of weight.

honestly, i've never been out on a loaded tour and thought........................ "gosh, if only i had fewer gears!"
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Old 10-04-22, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
c'mon, man! it's a couple of ounces of weight.

honestly, i've never been out on a loaded tour and thought........................ "gosh, if only i had fewer gears!"
Really, you haven't thought that? I have. I rode a triple, then moved to a double, and finally built a single chainring touring bike this summer.

My thought process is that I top out at 18mph (29 km/h). I am incapable of riding faster than that on flat ground on a touring bike. Those panniers catch the wind like crazy and really hold you back. If I find myself going faster than 18mph, it means I'm on a downhill. At that point I'm coasting anyway. So why do I need the higher half of my gears? I got rid of all these gears and only kept the low half. With only a single chainring there is no front derailleur either. The weight savings and reduced maintenance are worth it.

On the 1x bike I have a 34 chainring with a 11-52 cassette. I'm thinking about changing to a 32 chainring. I find the 34-11 combination useless. It is too fast. By the time I need it I'm already coasting.
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Old 10-05-22, 02:37 AM
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Great, thanks for the feedback 👍 I will carry on with that plan then.

Last edited by afrowheels; 10-05-22 at 02:40 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 10-05-22, 05:04 AM
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I spun out of my 44x12 on the High Line heading to Malta, MT. (RD was acting wonky and wouldn’t go into the 11.) Sustained 32.5 mph for several miles. Finally had to dial it back to 28. Helluva tailwind that morning.
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Old 10-05-22, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
Really, you haven't thought that? I have. I rode a triple, then moved to a double, and finally built a single chainring touring bike this summer.

My thought process is that I top out at 18mph (29 km/h). I am incapable of riding faster than that on flat ground on a touring bike. Those panniers catch the wind like crazy and really hold you back. If I find myself going faster than 18mph, it means I'm on a downhill. At that point I'm coasting anyway. So why do I need the higher half of my gears? I got rid of all these gears and only kept the low half. With only a single chainring there is no front derailleur either. The weight savings and reduced maintenance are worth it.

On the 1x bike I have a 34 chainring with a 11-52 cassette. I'm thinking about changing to a 32 chainring. I find the 34-11 combination useless. It is too fast. By the time I need it I'm already coasting.
your problem isn't too many gears, it's that you have the wrong gears.
put more emphasis on little gears to get up the big hills....15-90 inches should do.
don't just throw away all those gears, change the ratios to make them usable.
with 3 rings and 9 cogs you have the opportunity to have a nice assortment of well-spaced gears.
never a time when your gears are either too big or too small........you always have one that's just right.
nothing worse that a long day riding loaded, and you can't find the right gear.
that's worth a few ounces and "increased maintenance".
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Old 10-05-22, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
Really, you haven't thought that? I have. I rode a triple, then moved to a double, and finally built a single chainring touring bike this summer.

My thought process is that I top out at 18mph (29 km/h). I am incapable of riding faster than that on flat ground on a touring bike. Those panniers catch the wind like crazy and really hold you back. If I find myself going faster than 18mph, it means I'm on a downhill. At that point I'm coasting anyway. So why do I need the higher half of my gears? I got rid of all these gears and only kept the low half. With only a single chainring there is no front derailleur either. The weight savings and reduced maintenance are worth it.

On the 1x bike I have a 34 chainring with a 11-52 cassette. I'm thinking about changing to a 32 chainring. I find the 34-11 combination useless. It is too fast. By the time I need it I'm already coasting.
Interesting take, though I disagree with it.

I'm not sure where you find flat ground on a tour, and what about wind? Seems to me like most of my touring is climbing or descending. 5% downhill or steeper, yeah, I'm coasting. But I don't mind pedaling to go 25-30 mph (40-50 kph?) if I've got a slight, 1-3% downhill in my favor. Psychologically it makes up for hours climbing steeper stuff at 5-10 mph. And while it's rare, I want to go as far and as fast as possible when I catch the occasional tailwind.
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Old 10-05-22, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
your problem isn't too many gears, it's that you have the wrong gears.
put more emphasis on little gears to get up the big hills....15-90 inches should do.
don't just throw away all those gears, change the ratios to make them usable.
with 3 rings and 9 cogs you have the opportunity to have a nice assortment of well-spaced gears.
never a time when your gears are either too big or too small........you always have one that's just right.
nothing worse that a long day riding loaded, and you can't find the right gear.
that's worth a few ounces and "increased maintenance".
That a good idea in theory but in practice you don't get lower gears on a triple. Your lowest gear on a triple is 22 front 36 rear. On a triple you can't use a cassette bigger than 36. That's the same lowest gear as in a double. On a 1x, my lowest gear is 34 front 52 rear, which is not quite as low as the others, but very close. So there is not really any difference possible on the low end.

Moving on to the high end next:

On the triple you have the faster 36 and 46 chainrings. On a double you only get the 36. On a 1x I have a 34. The fastest cog on the cassette is always 11. Or on a higher end 1x you are able to use a 10. So the only real difference between the three is whether you ever use a 46 chainring. Back when I had a triple bike I used it maybe five times a year.

Don't forget with a 1x drivetrain you have 12 speeds so the spacing is not too bad.
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Old 10-05-22, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
I'm not sure where you find flat ground on a tour....
Southern New Jersey and a lot of the Delmarva Peninsula.

I did this over two days last Easter weekend on the way to DE:

Dashboard · Ride with GPS

It actually has a couple of hills in the early miles. Still, there is only about 14.5' of climbing/mile, and the ruling grade for the entire route is just under 3%.
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Old 10-05-22, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve0000 View Post
I put a 36 on the rear of mine. Just means you can't use the large frontring on the lowest 3 rear cogs... but why would you?
I wouldn't be okay with a setup where an accidental shift to three of the possible gears would break the rear derailleur or maybe even the RD hanger. You are suggesting that right?
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Old 10-05-22, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Southern New Jersey and a lot of the Delmarva Peninsula.

I did this over two days last Easter weekend on the way to DE:

Dashboard · Ride with GPS

It actually has a couple of hills in the early miles. Still, there is only about 14.5' of climbing/mile, and the ruling grade for the entire route is just under 3%.
But would you be willing to limit yourself to a bike that's geared for a two day tour?

[Edited to add] And would you be willing to limit yourself to gearing that would have you spin out below 20 mph if the wind was at your back?

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Old 10-05-22, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
That a good idea in theory but in practice you don't get lower gears on a triple. Your lowest gear on a triple is 22 front 36 rear. On a triple you can't use a cassette bigger than 36. That's the same lowest gear as in a double. On a 1x, my lowest gear is 34 front 52 rear, which is not quite as low as the others, but very close. So there is not really any difference possible on the low end.

Moving on to the high end next:

On the triple you have the faster 36 and 46 chainrings. On a double you only get the 36. On a 1x I have a 34. The fastest cog on the cassette is always 11. Or on a higher end 1x you are able to use a 10. So the only real difference between the three is whether you ever use a 46 chainring. Back when I had a triple bike I used it maybe five times a year.

Don't forget with a 1x drivetrain you have 12 speeds so the spacing is not too bad.
My 19x36 (19/34/42 triple) gives me about an 18% lower gear than your 34x52, if I did my math correctly. My cassette is a 9 speed 12-36. Did a fully loaded, 2800 mile tour this summer with that and I can assure you there were times when I wished I had either a lower low or higher high or an in between step. 1x, 2x, 3x - lots of personal preference going on here but facts are I can always get a higher or lower or both gear than you can with a 2x or 1x. Or, I can get the same range with closer steps. Maybe even higher, lower and closer steps (actually, I think my current set up compared to your 1x does this). I like to shift a lot and I love to customize my drive train to fit the use. Others may not. I can't argue with your personal preferences but I can state as fact that on my triple I can and do go smaller than 22 and that, for me, an 18% lower gear is significant (and I could choose to go even lower).
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Old 10-05-22, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by L134 View Post
My 19x36 (19/34/42 triple) gives me about an 18% lower gear than your 34x52, if I did my math correctly. My cassette is a 9 speed 12-36. Did a fully loaded, 2800 mile tour this summer with that and I can assure you there were times when I wished I had either a lower low or higher high or an in between step. 1x, 2x, 3x - lots of personal preference going on here but facts are I can always get a higher or lower or both gear than you can with a 2x or 1x. Or, I can get the same range with closer steps. Maybe even higher, lower and closer steps (actually, I think my current set up compared to your 1x does this). I like to shift a lot and I love to customize my drive train to fit the use. Others may not. I can't argue with your personal preferences but I can state as fact that on my triple I can and do go smaller than 22 and that, for me, an 18% lower gear is significant (and I could choose to go even lower).
Wow a 19t chainring. You are right that is very small. Usually they don't go below 22t.
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Old 10-05-22, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
c'mon, man! it's a couple of ounces of weight.

honestly, i've never been out on a loaded tour and thought........................ "gosh, if only i had fewer gears!"
If I had to give up a chainring doing loaded touring, the big one would get the chop. It is easier to coast down a hill, than walk up it.
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Old 10-05-22, 11:48 AM
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My older xt derailleur barely has a long enough cage to pull up that much chain slack. As it is, I had to shorten my chain an extra link to pull the upper pulley off of my 32 tooth cassette. My bike is a little older FYI... (2006) so yours will probably work just fine - fyi...
You should be able to look up the amount of gear inches your derailleur is able to handle.

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Old 10-05-22, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
But would you be willing to limit yourself to a bike that's geared for a two day tour?

[Edited to add] And would you be willing to limit yourself to gearing that would have you spin out below 20 mph if the wind was at your back?
Hell's no. As I mentioned, I am at 24x34 right now and wanting to go to 22x34 due to age, etc. High end is 46x11. Yes. The Race Face ring set I got a few years ago has a 46 large ring, not a 48. Works out well for commuting/errands. I use one cog higher with the 46 that with the 48. That "spreads the love" around the gears more than the 48 did.

My first touring bike came with a MTB front setup. 44 was the largest. 22 was the lowest. Can't remember what the middle ring was. 11x34 on the back. Never walked a hill in the U.S. with that. Walked a few sections in Andalucia when I encountered some steep grades. (I remember one street sign going into a town warning of 16%.)

This winter I will probably invest in a new crank that can take a 22 small ring. My 40th high school reunion in western Mass. is next June. For my 35th I rode there from northern Vermont and then continued home through the Berkshires, etc. Thinking about doing the same for my 40th.
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Old 10-05-22, 12:38 PM
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Someayouse must not ever ride down mountains, lol. 😉 Trust me when I say, there are times when you NEED that largest chainring. Coasting downhill is my preference too, but if there's a truck coming up behind me, intending to turn off a busy road, at the same time as I'm crossing his turnoff, I need to either pedal the heck out of his way quickly, or slow down/stop till he gets past. I don't want to lose all my speed, and time, so I'm happy to shift up & pedal harder for a few minutes. 🙂

And don't forget critters. Suppose a bear started chasing you, for some reason. Do you really want to spin out, with no higher gear options, and become lunch? 🤔😁😉

You might hardly ever need the highest gears, but when adrenaline kicks in, you want your machine to back you up. 😎
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Old 10-05-22, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
Wow a 19t chainring. You are right that is very small. Usually they don't go below 22t.
I use a Mountain Tamer in triple mode. Looks like he has one 17t available. Mine with a 19t worked flawlessly. I experimented with it as a quad. It worked but wasn't worth it. Mountain Tamer Quad Plus
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Old 10-05-22, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by stardognine View Post
And don't forget critters. Suppose a bear started chasing you, for some reason. Do you really want to spin out, with no higher gear options, and become lunch? 🤔😁😉
Careful with the sarcasm there. Remember some politician cracked a joke about arming school teachers because a bear might come into a school. Lo and behold, they did!

Bear in school grounds euthanized at request of Arizona Game & Fish – Parker Live (parkerliveonline.com)

and

Bear Family Takes Over a North Carolina Elementary School's Playground Video (people.com)
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