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A question about gearing:(23 posts)

A question about gearing:LAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 6:58 AM
I'm a 50 yr old, somewhat overweight, newbie who is trying to get back into shape. I really enjoy riding and have made it a big part of my "comeback plan." I ride an older Klein with Shimano 600 components, 52/42 front and 12-23 rear.

I've been on some organized rides and find I have difficulties making it up the steeper grades. I've noticed that, often, I'm grinding along while the person in front of me is spinning his/her merry heart out. So, I'm thinking of getting some lower gears. (I know, I know, I should just train harder, but this is for the meantime.)

I don't want to spend the $5-600 to upgrade to a triple. So I figure to change to a 52/39 front with a new rear casette. My question: will going to a 12-27 give me some real options for climbing or do I need to get a 12-34 with a new rear der to actually make a difference?

re: A question about gearing:mr_spin
Sep 26, 2001 7:13 AM
There's a world of difference between a 23 and a 27. A 12-27 should solve your problem for less than $100.
Thanks. That's what I needed to know.**LAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 1:49 PM
I think you should get a triple but if you won'tMB1
Sep 26, 2001 7:13 AM
and can afford it get a new rear derailleur, chain, 39T chainring and 2 cassettes and the tools to change the cassettes yourself. Then you will have the 12-23 and a 12-27 and a 12-34. That should give you enough gear range for most SoCal rides.

I like a triple for the close ratio cluster with low gears too. Having a double with multiple cassettes is almost as good.
That would be great butLAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 1:51 PM
I'm trying to do this with minimal expenditure. (If I keep riding, I expect I'll upgrade the bike in 6-12 mos., so I don't want to spend a whole lot on this one.)
re: A question about gearing:Johnno
Sep 26, 2001 7:23 AM
changing to 39/27 will make climbing noticeably easier, and as you seem to be getting up the climbs it should be all you need.
Thanks. I appreciate the help.*LAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 1:53 PM
What I did....davet
Sep 26, 2001 7:34 AM
I,m 59 and have been biking for a year. My bike came with a 53/39 double set up and a 12-25 cassette. This was not enough to get me up some of the steeper hills without my legs exploding or up some of the less vicious hills during century rides. I tried a 12-27 cassette but that was still not enough, particularly if there were lots of hills. I thought about a triple set up but the cost was really more than I wanted to pay. On the advice of a really good LBS I installed an XT long cage rear der and an XT 12-34 cassette.
Right after that install I did a metric century and then an 85 mile ride the following weekend. In both cases I was able to spin up hills where needed. I may have been slow going up but I didn't have to stop. With my new set up I have the flexibilty to chose the gears I want to use to go up hills in the manner I choose. True, the jump in the last three gears is rather large, 26-30-34, but those gears are generally only used in a bail-out situation. The fact that you WILL be able to conquer those hills will make it more enjoyable to challenge them and enable you to really enjoy riding more and more. I'm 59, and because of biking, I am in the best shape of my life. My wife doesn't mind the fact that I have four bikes. Hell she even thinks I have great legs!
Thanks. Great info . . .LAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 1:59 PM
I think I'm going to try the 39/27 first. The consensus here seems that it will make a big diffference in my low end. Moreover, because I've only got a seven speed, I'd like to keep those last three gears a little closer together.
re: A question about gearing:dzrider
Sep 26, 2001 8:10 AM
I'd first try the 27 as a new cassette is pretty cheap and a few new cogs would be even cheaper if you're willing to take a cassette apart. If that's not enough help for your climbing, I'd go to a triple and preserve closer gear ratios in the range I use for most of my riding. Try to be patient while you get fitter and need less help.
Thanks. I think that's what I'll do. . .LAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 2:04 PM
I'm trying to be patient with training, but I'm doing a metric century in a month and want to make sure that I have the gears to finish it. I feel confident about the distance, but don't what to blow up on the hills.

I'll have my LBS do the work, so maybe he will just sell me the cogs instead of a whole new casette.
gearing Vs body weight ...breck
Sep 26, 2001 8:25 AM
It would be mighty interesting if there were some published data regards bicycle gearing Vs rider and bicycle scale weight as equivalent improvement in performance. That is, changing the rear cog out from 23 to 27 would be equivalent to losing how much body weight?

My data based on my bicycling experience is that a 1.0 percent change in body weight translates to a 0.5 percent change in performance ( down to a minimum body weight one could obtain of course :)

Changing the rear cog from 23 to 27 is ~15 percent gear reduction. So the 200 (quarter?:) pounder, including all kit, riding the 22 pound bike (=222 pounds) would need half of that or about ~7.5 percent total weight reduction, = ~17 total pounds (in round numbers:) to "see" the same effect, or 183 pounds new body weight the "goal".

or not :)
...of course both rear cog change and some body weight reduction may be required in a perfect world ...I.E., spend less moolah on dah foods and more moolah on dah bike :)

breck ...a 59 year old newbie:)
Wow! That's a big improvement. . . .LAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 2:10 PM
What a neat analysis. In the real world, I've lost 10lbs and about 6% points of body fat in the last two weeks. I know that I need to get in better shape. Hopefully, by the time I really need the lower gears (because I'm confronting the hills), I won't need the lower gears (because I'm in better shape). I just want to have some insurance.
56-year-old ex-fatty says...cory
Sep 26, 2001 9:00 AM
You're way overgeared, as you already know. Forget the macho BS and put in the lowest gears you can fit/afford--a triple if you can, but certainly the smallest chainring (39?) and biggest rear cog.
Not to diss anybody, but a lot of the information you'll get on here comes from guys way younger and stronger than you and me. It works for them--it worked for me 30 years ago--but when you get into your 50s, you have to be thinking about keeping your knees and other parts healthy so you can walk, and ideally ride, when you're 70. Make it easy on yourself, spin up the hills at 80rpm and 6mph, and you may still be doing it in 2020.
Incidentally, I've lost 45 pounds and five inches off my waist this summer with small diet changes and a lot of low-gear riding--at 6'4", I'm down to 218, just five pounds more than I weighed in high school. It CAN be done...
I'm impressed . . .LAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 10:11 PM
and thanks for the encouragement.

Yea, I've notice that a lot of the posters here seem to be younger and in much better shape than I am.

Thanks for the encouragement. You're an inspiration.

P.S. I've lost 8-10lbs and about 6 percentage points of body fat in the last two weeks.
re: A question about gearing:LC
Sep 26, 2001 9:35 AM
I think because you can barely make it up the hill with a 42x23, a 39x27 will be enough to make the difference of making it easy. If there are hills that you have to walk, then looking at 39x32 or 34 would be the way to go.
Thanks. So far I've been able to make it up the hills. . .LAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 10:16 PM
on the rides I've done. But I had to go to switching back and forth on one grade. The consensus here seems to be that 39/27 will make an appreciable difference. And it will save me the $50 for a new rear der. I'll try that first.
re: A question about gearing:Birddog
Sep 26, 2001 9:44 AM
Start with a 39 small chainring. If that doesn't do it go to a 12/27 cassette. You'll probably have to do both.
Thanks. I'll go with the 39/27. *LAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 10:17 PM
go 39/26 or 27dano
Sep 26, 2001 10:21 AM
I think if you change your small chainring to a 39-tooth and put a 13-26 or 27 tooth cassette on, that you'll be fine. 42/23 is too tall for steep or long climbs. That's what came with my Cannondale that I bought way back in 1990. As soon as I moved to some serious mountain road country, I had to change to 39/26. I've since stayed with the 39/26 combination on all bikes since. That gearing enables me to climb 5000 ft + / 10% monsters in the Alps and Dolomites at 41 years old. No way could I climb those same mountains with 42/23. Believe me, I tried. If I did make it up one without stopping, I never wanted to climb it again. The 39/26 actually makes big hills fun. Even if you don't climb hills like that, its good to have the low gear for extra steep pitches, climbing into a stiff wind, or when you tired. Changing your small ring and cassette is the easiest way to gear for hills. No need for a triple.
Thanks. I appreciate the benfit of your experience. *LAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 10:18 PM
re: about gearing:Chen2
Sep 26, 2001 10:47 AM
I'm a 58 year old weakling and I switched from a triple to a double, 53-39 Dura-Ace and 12-27 cassette. This takes care of all the hills I ride but I don't carry any heavy loads and I weigh 165#. This year I've learned to alternate between seated climbing and coming up off the saddle. This has helped with endurance and speed. I really prefer the double for quick positive shifting, I don't like the trimming that seems to be required on a triple. But If I rode in mountainous areas I'm sure I'd want a triple. I think it just boils down to where you ride and how much of a load you've got to carry.
Why do I doubt that you areLAIrish
Sep 26, 2001 10:21 PM
as weak as you claim? I do, though, appreciate the advice. I'm going with the 39/27 for now. Hope that will be enough for this ride and, with further training, I should be strong enough soon.