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New roadie, Gear question, Please?(10 posts)

New roadie, Gear question, Please?jjdbike
Aug 25, 2002 3:03 PM
Hello. I would greatly appreciate any advice. I am a former XC MTB'er up to the end of last season. I am a high cadance spinner (100rpm). I am light (146lbs, & stronger cardiovasculary then muscularly. I got my first raod bike . Its Dura Ace & the gears feel huge. My legs feel so wimpey. The cassette is 11-23. The Lactic acid builds up pretty quickly. I live in a somwhat hilly area ( South-eastern Chester County PA). I want to try TT next season & want to keep bike light. Should I go all the way up to 12-27 in back?
Thanks for any advice in advance!
re: New roadie, Gear question, Please?collinsc
Aug 25, 2002 3:44 PM
if 39-23 is too much, yeah use the 12-27 for a while. You wont need it long if you work on strength (hills + standing + sprinting = strong) but for a few months it sounds like it would be a good option.

weight of the cassette, imo, isnt worth worrying about. Dont spend the bucks on DA, just get the Ultegra if you plan to grow out of it in a short while.
Gearing and strength trainingKillerQuads
Aug 25, 2002 5:19 PM
I think most new bikes are over geared. Many new bikes have 53/42 chainrings and 11/23 rear cogs for a top gear of 130 and a low of 49. Although they are harder to find, Ultegra cassettes with a 13 small cogs make more sense and give you more useful gears.

My commuter road bike has 50/38 chainrings and a 13/24 7-speed cassette. This works well for the higher loads and riding home in the afternoon heat.

My fast bike came with 53/42 rings and a 11/23 (9 sp)cassette which I changed to a 13/25 cassette. This was a big improvement with many more mid range gears and a bail out gear for steep hills.

You did not say what chain ring sizes you have but I would get a 13/25 cassette first, then consider a 39 small chainring if needed.

You did not state your age, height, or sex, but you sound under weight (for a guy). If I were you, I would use your local hills for interval training to build up muscle mass. You need to shift one or two gears higher and climb standing on the pedals. If you are in too low a gear you will not last long. It may be painful at first, so just sit back down. But gradually try to build up how long and hard you can push while standing. Experiment with how far you lean forward when standing(I like to press on the hoods with 10-20 lbs of weight, the rest of my weight on the pedals), slow your cadence, and increase your breathing rate and depth. Rest (spin) on the down hills and flats. If you are young, you can interval train every day. If you are older you need to alternate with easier days.

Supplement your diet with carbs and protein (power bars, or protein powder).

Muscle bulk and strength comes with increasing resistance when training. Spinning low gears all the time won't get you there.
53/39 is standardwilsonc
Aug 25, 2002 6:14 PM
I believe that 53/39 is pretty standard these days for road bikes, not 53/42... I think that 53/42 was more standard in the past as my friend rides an old school bianchi with suntour-6 geared with 53/42. I too am in PA (Pittsburgh), and I run a 53/39 up front, with 12-23 in back. It does get pretty hilly here (ranging from 3-4 mile 4-5% grade climbs, to short steep 21% grade climbs), but you get used to it, although I have thought about going to a 12-25 in back.

Now if you are talking about TT bikes with 650 wheels, then something in the range of a 53/42 isnt unheard of (my tri bike came stock with 55/44).

I think the best advice may be just to ride ride and ride some more. your body will adapt to climbing the more you climb.

Hello, and welcome to the road!...kapalua
Aug 25, 2002 5:21 PM
I, too, came from mountain biking. First, the spinning techniques we learned from MTB is valuable, so you're off to a great start. You will have to build stronger legs muscles and strengthen legs' connecting tissues. This will come with the mileage so don't worry about being wimpy at first. To do this, (after warm-up) I will push medium to bigger gears with a cadence around 65-80rpm for about 10-15 straight minutes, and cool down with low gear spinning. Do this several times a week and you'll get stronger.

As for the gearing, 12-27 should be fine for hilly areas. I use a 12-25 with a 39/53 chainring for moderate hills. You can always change the cassette range when you get stronger.

Good luck!
re: New roadie, Gear question, Please?Part Time
Aug 25, 2002 8:34 PM
Going to a 12-25 in the back should be good enough. You should be able to grunt up a 10 percent grade for quite a ways with that. I leave the 11-23 in the rear to people who race (which may be me soon). I have a 4,000 ft climb over 12 miles close to me that I ride most weekends. When I started, I thought I needed more gears but I toughed it out (listening to more experienced roadies saying I would be wimping out to get a triple on the front). Like mtn biking, the more you ride the stronger you get.
re: New roadie, Gear question, Please?Silas_Greenback
Aug 26, 2002 7:12 AM
At the core of the problem is the difference between road and mountain biking. The latter tends to be more of a power exercise, but with short intervals. You do not pedal much, if at all, when descending. You can recover on the downhills so it is like sprinting on the road. Road riding is a constant effort, and you need more muscle endurance, at least here in Connecticut. I remember having the same feeling after getting on my road bike in Vermont after a year of mountain biking. The gears felt huge, and I tired quickly, even though my heart rate was higher climbing smaller but steeper hills mountain biking. The two types of biking are, in some ways, different exercises. You also get more leverage on a road bike and have to get used to that as well.
Why do roadies insist on killing themselves?Silverback
Aug 26, 2002 7:49 AM
Just one non-traditionalist with an opinion here, but I've ridden both road and mountain for 20 years, and I've never understood why roadies beat themselves up with high gears. Why kill your knees trying to push a 39/23 up a hill you could spin in a realistic gear?
Racers can justify it, I guess. But for the average-to-good rider, something like a triple or a 46-34 double with 11-28 cassette makes more sense. You still have a 113-inch high gear (plenty for me, at least), more usable steps in the middle and a real low when you need it.
Why do roadies insist on killing themselves?Cat 4 boy
Aug 26, 2002 9:06 AM
Why on earth would a "standard" road bike be sold with an 11 sprocket? Guaranteed to ruin the pedalling style of any newbie who slams it in "top" gear coz that's how you go fast.

I've even taken off my 12, use a 13-26 campag 10 cluster. Far better to have a straight thro' block 13 - 19, which, be honest is where most of your riding time is spent.
Macho top gears are for ..macho poseurs. Spin like Lance :)
Consider a 52 or 50 up front in combo with a 12-25. (nm)rtyszko
Aug 26, 2002 11:17 AM