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Gear Inches for credit card touring

Old 03-31-09, 09:25 AM
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Gear Inches for credit card touring

Hi,

My current 'touring' bike has a 8 speed cassete with 11-23 teeth and my crankset is 52, 42, 30. I think this gives me gear inches between 35.2 and 127.6.

I would like to upgrade this in a couple steps. First to allow me better gearing for credit card touring and then eventually to upgrade to fully loaded touring if I ever decide to. I also use the bike for commuting.

My options for a new cassete seems to be 11-32, 13-32 or 13-34.

Then if I ever want to try fully loaded touring I can change the crankset to something like 46, 36, 26 or even lower if needed.

What do you think would be a good cassete or gear ratio to have for credit card touring and commuting?
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Old 03-31-09, 09:29 AM
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I just got back from a 500 mile tour.
52-42-24 rings,11-25 cassette
No problems.
What bike do you ride?
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Old 03-31-09, 09:33 AM
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For credit card touring in Kansas or Florida, I'd say you're fine as is.
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Old 03-31-09, 10:38 AM
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Credit card touring is a broad category. I have credit card toured carrying anywhere from 18 to 28 pounds (8-13 kg), plus water, plus food, plus gifts purchased along the way, etc. Undoubtedly there are people who carry more and less than I do. In fact, I believe that it is possible to carry less weight than I do while hauling a small tent and sleeping bag.

People who go on credit card tours cover a wide range of terrains. You will work much harder to ascend a mountain pass while hauling 20 pounds than you will to ride flat roads while carrying 60 pounds.

And there is always the problem of headwinds. For riding in headwinds, particularly if the terrain is hilly, small gears are indispensable.

For these reasons, I always recommend that bicycle tourists equip themselves with the lowest gears that their bicycle will handle, regardless of whether they are tootling around for an afternoon, or going around the world. The only exception that I can think of is when someone is planning on being only in relatively flat places, like Holland. (But when I was there on a rented three speed bicycle, the winds were so powerful that I ended up pushing my bicycle!)

How low is low enough? The answer can only be learned from experience. Younger, stronger riders might be satisfied with gears that would destroy the knees of an older rider. At the moment, my lowest gear is 22:34. If I could find a way to reduce it even further, I would.
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Old 03-31-09, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by acantor
At the moment, my lowest gear is 22:34. If I could find a way to reduce it even further, I would.
+1
My rides are usually in the mountains and 12% grades are not uncommon.
Last year I was running a 26:34 bottom gear and wound up with knee problems that sent me to the doctor.
This year I have a 22:34 bottom gear.

Last edited by Shimagnolo; 03-31-09 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 03-31-09, 10:53 AM
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How much do you plan to carry, what do you weigh, and where will you ride? Err on the lower side, but I think some people go to extremes in this regard. 24x32 was about as low as I would go for my fully self supported load for anything we saw on the Trans America. On the TA my lowest gear was actually a 26x32 and it was just adequate. I weighed 195 and my load ranged from 40-50 pounds on the trip since I was carry a 4 man tent and the tools and spare parts for our group of three.

We crossed the continental divide 9 times and the 26x32 was fine for all of that. A couple places in the Appalachians I would have liked the 24x32.

How much higher of a gear you can get by with depends on how much less your load is and where you tour. Personal preference comes into the equation too of course.
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Old 03-31-09, 11:04 AM
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127" is not much use unless you are a pro or a serious racer. I'd recommend a gear range from 100" to 20" for your touring and commuting. The 11-34 will get you that range with the 46-36-24 triple. I even think that the 46x11 combo is a bit large for most riders as at 80 rpm you'll be going 27mph which is the average speed of the TdF. Good club runs seldom average over 20mph and when touring it tends to drop to perhaps 15mph, obviously this depends on the rider. For me I designed my gearing around having the best chain line at the combo that gets me 67" as that's where I typically ride and at 80 rpm I'll be doing 16 mph. I use a 42-26 double with an 11-34 that give me a range of 103" to 21"
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Old 03-31-09, 11:10 AM
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What bike do you ride?
1999 Devinci Destination
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Old 03-31-09, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
How much do you plan to carry, what do you weigh, and where will you ride?

I would ride with two rear panniers (tools, clothes, snacks + lunch, water), not sure what it would all weigh. My weight is 135lbs.

Some of my touring will be around where I live, Alberta, so lots of mountain and hills.
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Old 03-31-09, 11:29 AM
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I did a very lightly loaded short credit card tour in the rockies, 12 pounds of extra stuff on my road bike (= rack, small bags, change of clothes, light tools, rain gear). The bike has a very low gear for a road bike of 30 x 27 - ultegra triple and cassette. It was fine. I road it over Trail Ridge Road, among other things -- similar grades to the roads in Canada I've ridden (on my loaded tour bike) - Crowsnest pass, Icefields Parkway.
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Old 03-31-09, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
I did a very lightly loaded short credit card tour in the rockies, 12 pounds of extra stuff on my road bike (= rack, small bags, change of clothes, light tools, rain gear). The bike has a very low gear for a road bike of 30 x 27 - ultegra triple and cassette. It was fine. I road it over Trail Ridge Road, among other things -- similar grades to the roads in Canada I've ridden (on my loaded tour bike) - Crowsnest pass, Icefields Parkway.
What kind of grades did you find up there?
I keep thinking about a Home->Estes Park->Grand Lake CC tour.
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Old 03-31-09, 11:42 AM
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Remember that radical changes to gearing might require switching front and/or rear derailleurs as well. Account for the need and cost of these when you make gearing decisions.
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Old 03-31-09, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo
What kind of grades did you find up there?
I keep thinking about a Home->Estes Park->Grand Lake CC tour.
Yeah, totally good ride. Grades almost a <10%

Day 1) Boulder - Hwy 119 (boulder cyn) - south on P2P to Blackhawk - down "Oh My God Road" (better to use the Central City parkway) to Idaho Springs

Day 2) Idaho Springs - Grand Lake over Berthoud Pass

Day 3) Grand Lake - Estes over Trail Ridge (AKA "Hail Ridge") Road

Day 4) - would have been Estes to Boulder, not sure of route, but due to current & forecasted weather and the easy availability of a ride home, we got a ride home.

People do this ride in one or two days, but I wanted to do it as a tour, not a 'long distance' ride. three would be a good number of days, but it doesn't really break up that well in thirds.
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Old 03-31-09, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by chemando
I would ride with two rear panniers (tools, clothes, snacks + lunch, water), not sure what it would all weigh. My weight is 135lbs.

Some of my touring will be around where I live, Alberta, so lots of mountain and hills.
Based on that, my best guess is that the 13-34 would be a good choice. That assumes that your rear derailleur has enough range to handle that much difference. You could swap the cassette back when you were around home and not touring if you wanted closer ratios (smaller gaps).
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Old 03-31-09, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Based on that, my best guess is that the 13-34 would be a good choice. That assumes that your rear derailleur has enough range to handle that much difference. You could swap the cassette back when you were around home and not touring if you wanted closer ratios (smaller gaps).
How can I tell if my derailleur has enough range? It is a Shimano 8 speed RSX, I believe the model is RD-A416.
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Old 04-01-09, 03:07 AM
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Originally Posted by nun
. I use a 42-26 double with an 11-34 that give me a range of 103" to 21"

What kind of crankset are you using to get a double with that combination?
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Old 04-01-09, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy
What kind of crankset are you using to get a double with that combination?
You can do it with an old TA cyclotourist, but I just use the middle and inner positions of a 110/74 triple. FYI Sugino are bringing out a 110/74 double

https://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2009...-update-3.html
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Old 04-01-09, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by chemando
How can I tell if my derailleur has enough range? It is a Shimano 8 speed RSX, I believe the model is RD-A416.
I don't know the specifications of an 8-speed RSX and couldn't find anything with a quick google search. The surest way check is to try it out. Maybe your LBS has some old worn out cassettes that they'd let you use to experiment. Another alternative is to just compromise with a 12x28 or buy a mountain bike derailleur

Rear derailleurs are limited by a maximum rear sprocket size and a maximum teeth capacity. Most road derailleurs won't handle a cog as big as 32 or 34 teeth.

The maximum teeth capacity is a measure of the amount of chain slack that the derailleur can take up. Add the total number of teeth in f & r sprockets. The difference between the maximum and the minimum is the required maximum teeth capacity.

eg. If you want to use the 52 and 24 cogs, the total is 76 teeth and the derailleur will be in a forward position. When you change to say 30 and 18, the deraileur will be in its most rearward position and the total teeth count is 48. The difference is 76-48 = 28. This is the required teeth capacity of the derailleur. If you want to use a bigger rear cog with the 52 ring (or a smaller one with the 30 ring), you'll need even more teeth capacity.
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Old 04-01-09, 09:56 AM
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Thanks rwp!
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Old 04-01-09, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by nun
You can do it with an old TA cyclotourist, but I just use the middle and inner positions of a 110/74 triple. FYI Sugino are bringing out a 110/74 double
Ah, thanks. After seeing a picture of your bike I tried to figure out the crank - the TA's look pretty expensive and the ones that seem to be most useful apparently aren't made any more (I forget the name).

A 110/74 double would be really useful.

What kind of front derailleur are you using? Does it mind the jump from 26 to 42?
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Old 04-01-09, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy
Ah, thanks. After seeing a picture of your bike I tried to figure out the crank - the TA's look pretty expensive and the ones that seem to be most useful apparently aren't made any more (I forget the name).

A 110/74 double would be really useful.

What kind of front derailleur are you using? Does it mind the jump from 26 to 42?
The jump is 16t which is standard for today's compact doubles. I use a 105 double and it works well. IRD also makes a FD specifically for a compact double that would work nicely too. One thing about using such a small big ring is that you have to set the FD up with a bigger than normal gap between it and the big ring so that it will clear the chainstay when you cahnge to the small ring.
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