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Gear Dilema(23 posts)

Gear Dilemamarty
Sep 24, 2001 5:47 AM
Last week I did a 45 mile ride that was mostly uphill or so it seemed. The ride included one ascent named the wall. At at any rate, I am an ex-racer with a traditionally-geared bike (12x23). All of the other guys I was riding with had either triple cranks or a 27 gear in back. At any rate, I noticed that I was being outclimbed on the steeper sections of the climbs. Since I am beginning to experience some knee pain after mashing my 23 gear up the steeper hills, I am now considering re-gearing my bike and accepting the fact that I am no longer a 30 year old 150 lb climbing machine. My question is this- has anyone else out there experienced the same dilema and re-geared their bike. I am a fit 38 year-old cyclist at 170 lbs, but am wondering if all of my sports are beginning to take their toll on my knees.
Sep 24, 2001 6:09 AM
Right after I picked up my new Coppi - had gotten used to my triple training bike and found it really hard with the 48/53 and 12-23. Struggled a week before getting a 27 - best move ever - can now get up in comfort, and pretty much just as fast, certainly over the length of a mixed ride and need to mash much less on the steeper hills. Go for it - that's why they make them, and you still have the higher gears if you want them.
I like a triple.MB1
Sep 24, 2001 6:13 AM
That way you get to keep a nice tight cluster in the back and still have the low gears. Of course a triple is going to cost more than just a wider range cluster.

That being said I am going to do most of my riding for the rest of the year on a fixed SS.
best change I've madebianchi boy
Sep 24, 2001 6:56 AM
Was switching my cassette from a 12-23 to 12-25 and later a 12-27. On my new bike, I got Campy Chorus with a 13-29. In my view, you sacrifice very little going to a bigger range cassette. You don't need those low gears very often, but they sure are nice when you need them. A lot depends on your riding style - spinner vs masher. I'm a spinner, so I like having the extra low gears.
re: welcome to the clubTurtleherder
Sep 24, 2001 6:58 AM
Nice to have a new memeber to the "I just woke up old one day" club. I had the exact same experience as you this spring when I was mashing up the hills on Bluff Road in St Louis with my brother in law. My knees hurt terribly and I could not make any speed with my 23 gear. This winter I am trading it in for a 12-27 cassette. The realization that you cannot do now what you could do then is a hard one to take. I just don't see myself as almost 40 but still think of myself as 28.
As a side note I will also change out the chain as it is getting old. I would like to try a sram chain but do not know which one to use. I have an Ultegra set up with an 11-23 cassette now soon to be a 12-27. So which chain is the right one?
Old Men Who Don't Get Out Of Shape In The Winter? nmMB1
Sep 24, 2001 7:03 AM
re: welcome to the clubbadabill
Sep 24, 2001 7:10 AM
I believe the SRAM road chain is the 89R. After breaking 2 shimano chains on my MTB I switched to the SRAM 69 on my MTB and Cyclocross. I like the master link setup so you can take the chain off to clean.
re: Gear Dilemabadabill
Sep 24, 2001 7:03 AM
If you run Shimano another option is to change your rear derailer to a MTB style (XT or LX long cage) and run a 12-32 MTB cassette on those days when you know you will do a lot of climbing. My cyclocross bike is set up this way. This would bive you a 39-32 low gear with a double. Its great for touring when your loaded down.
Question.......Len J
Sep 24, 2001 7:15 AM
Any idea if you can widen the Dura Ace rear cassette limit of 12-27 by using the new long cage rear Der from the D/A Triple? (I.e. will this new rear der allow you to use more than a 27 tooth cog).

Sep 24, 2001 7:26 AM
I would assume the new dura-ace long-cage is the same as the Ultegra, with a cassette limit of 27tooth. The largest road cassette I have seen for shimano is 27, the next size up is the 32 MTB so I dont think the new Dura-ace cage will be long enough.
re: Gear DilemaLone Gunman
Sep 24, 2001 7:09 AM
I would suggest that you do the math with a gear inch chart and determine what you think is suitable for your legs and riding ability. A quick note, a 12x25-30/42/52 has a gear inch range of 32 to 117, wide enough to climb just about any paved hill in the country. A 12x27-39/53 is a 39 to 119 also very wide but the differences between each gear change tend to be wider and it can disrupt your cadence, you will want to ride a gear inch combo that is inbetween the 2 choices available.
re: Gear DilemaElefantino
Sep 24, 2001 7:14 AM
Get a 27. It's worth it and far less financially draining than changing to a triple.
Plus, when you show up with a triple, everyone notices. Just quietly change to a 27, blow away your buddies on the next hill and tell them, when they ask what the difference is, that you changed energy bars. Or socks.
re: Gear Dilemamarty
Sep 24, 2001 7:20 AM
Thanks for the advice. It's nice to see that I've had such a quick response to my question. I may have trouble outclimbinig the 140 lb mountain goat with the triple, with or without the new socks and energy bars, but c'est la vie.
re: Gear Dilemadzrider
Sep 24, 2001 7:43 AM
At a similar age I decided that competing with the younger riders made little sense and competing with their equipment even less. Over the last 15 years I've gone to easier and easier gears. First a 39 tooth small ring, then larger rear cogs and now a triple. The point for me is to ride comfortably and stay out there. There are too many guys my age who used to ride.
They notice the 27, toomr_spin
Sep 24, 2001 7:37 AM
As someone who enjoys climbing and is good at it (and shamefully but tastefully proud!), I always look down at the cassette if someone passes me on a tough climb. Inevitably, it's a 27 or larger, and I am comforted that I haven't gotten any weaker pushing my 23! It's no big deal. Whatever gets you up hill. It's just my little thing.
sounds like you should be mr_masher ...bianchi boy
Sep 24, 2001 9:11 AM
not mr_spin
it's not that badmr_spin
Sep 24, 2001 11:01 AM
I don't mash as much as it might seem. When I get into mash territory, I stand up. It helps that I only weigh 125-130 lbs. That's a real advantage on a climb!
Stay on top of the gearguido
Sep 24, 2001 1:31 PM
Well, I came up with a low gear of 42-21, then standard for racing. I climbed Mt. Wilson in 44-22. The important thing to do when trying to keep up with those in 39-27,say, is to stay on top of the gear. Once your cadence slows, you'll get dropped. I used to ride with guys who could spin up a good hill in 42-21. That's gonna be faster than spinning up the same hill in 39-27.
53-42 and 12-23 is Shimano's way of saying we're suckerscory
Sep 24, 2001 8:37 AM
If you think you have knee problems now, just push that 39-23 for another few years...
I'll try not to launch into my speech about this, but there really aren't very many cyclists who don't suffer from the "standard" road bike gearing these days. You may be an exception, but next time you're around a crowd of riders, especially casual/non-competitive ones, look at the gears everybody's using. I know people, pretty decent riders, who never touch the big ring here in the Sierra. They're either climbing or coasting. But we all want those big gears because Lance has 'em or something.
Putting on a triple 10 or 12 years ago was the best thing I've done as far as letting me ride more places, more often, and go farther. Even more than the Brooks saddle, it's responsible for keeping me on the bike in my 50s.
re: suckers?cyclopathic
Sep 24, 2001 8:45 AM
I guess we are :-(

at least I am climbing faster with triples
re: suckers?marty
Sep 24, 2001 8:56 AM
I think Cory was saying that anyone would be a sucker if they went status quo with their gearing and didn't explore other options. More power to anyone who rides, triple, quadruple, electic motor, whatever. I can tell you that the old bucks that powered past me with their triples/27s had my respect. Shame on me if I keep thinking I am 25 years old to the sacrifice of my knees.
Here, here!Jon
Sep 24, 2001 8:54 AM
Couldn't agree with you more. One thing I did, though, with my triple recently. The 42 tooth wore
out, so I replaced it with a 39. In the relatively flat area where I live we have some short, and sometimes
steep rollers. In my 42 x 23 I'd be overgeared, but would mash the gears anyway to avoid having to
do double shifts. With the 39 I'm adequately geared for moderate hills, but when I go to the mountains
I've still got the bailout gears. The only difference I've noted is that with the 39-tooth I'm going to the
big ring much more often. In my 42 x 12 I could spin along at up to 45 kph without having to go to
the big ring.

Interestingly, both Lance and an old guy like Fred Matheny, who is a hammer by anyone's standards,
note that most riders should either have a triple or a 27 for hills.
re: thanks badabillTurtleherder
Sep 24, 2001 8:57 AM
Thanks for the info on the chain. My wifes Lemond is set up with a shimano mountain bike cassette and rear derailleur. It works well for her.