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Road Rider newbie question(18 posts)

Road Rider newbie questionMikeBu
Jan 22, 2002 9:00 PM
I am mainly a mountain biker but I just bought a new road bike with a 39/53 double and 12-23 cassette. I want to do more training on the road. My previous road bike had a rsx triple with gearing that wasn't at all similar to this. My question is how do you use the front chain ring. Do you mostly keep it in the big ring unless a hill requires a smaller gear? Or do you use the small ring more then that.
small ring almost all the timeishmael
Jan 22, 2002 9:13 PM
unless downhill or sprinting...spin faster
re: Road Rider newbie questionkentuckyjoe
Jan 22, 2002 9:15 PM
Good question,im also a newbie to roadbiking and would love to hear some good replies to this post.I find myself riding most of the time on the 39 front and doing most of my shifting with the rear until i come to a nice decent and want to pick up some downhill speed,but i may be doing it all wrong.I live in kentucky though, and it seems like you cant go a half mile without running into a good hill around here. Later,Joe
re: Road Rider newbie questioncyclaholic
Jan 22, 2002 10:04 PM
Considering that this is your first road bike, you are going to have to adjust to the completely different gearing, especailly after having gotten used to a triple. You have a good gearing set up for racing, with a low enough gear for tough hills. Like the other writer said, you will find yourself mostly on the small front chainring.

Depending upon your strength and fitness, this gearing may suit you perfectly. But it may well be that you find cranking a 39x23 to be difficult on very hard hills.

Most of the serious recreational cyclists that I ride with have found that a 12-25 rear cassette takes just enough edge off of those killer hills. That can really make a difference on a very long ride.
It all dependsTrent in WA
Jan 22, 2002 10:39 PM
Gearing's a tricky topic, and there's at least one book on it. My .02: Just because Lance pushes a 39x21-23 gear up the Alpe d'Huez doesn't mean that you can, or should. If you're already a strong rider, or you do all of your riding in a fairly flat area, and you don't mind going anaerobic on a regular basis, and you have aspirations to race (or at least spend most of your time on a bike chasing the butt of the guy ahead of you in the chain gang), then the setup you have might suit you eventually. In the meantime, it might be worthwhile getting a wider-range cassette (like a 12-27 or 13-28) and save the 12-23 for race day.

Trent in WA
Easy answerDWridesGT
Jan 23, 2002 3:42 AM
Shift up when to hard, shift down when to easy. Don't make this difficult, your legs/lungs will tell you when/what to shift into.

Just ride the bike.
Agree with Easy answerIseemo
Jan 23, 2002 10:00 AM
Just ride the bike. Shift down to a lower gear if you feel yourself struggling with it and shift up to a bigger gear when you feel you are spinning too fast. Over time you'll get to know what gear is appropriate for what terrain and conditions you're riding in and what people you are riding with. The focus should not be on the gearing, but the rpms you're comfortable with to maintain whatever target heart rate you're shooting for (and this will/should come later also).

Just ride, ride, ride, ride.......................................................then you'll figure it all out.
Jan 23, 2002 4:07 AM
I solved my weakness problem by changing the big rings to 46 or even smaller rings. Now I need to use the 39 only rarely. In the back I usually have 13-23 or 12-21. I ride on flatlands, mostly.
TA is a quality brand of these chain rings.
What kind of rider are you?Elefantino
Jan 23, 2002 5:02 AM
Do you like to spin at a high cadence (100-110 rpm), or do you like to push big gears at low cadence (80-90 rpm)?

And what type of terrain do you ride?

It's hard to "tell" you what ring to use without knowing your riding style and location. But I agree with others who say you're going to feel the 39x23 on the hills. That's a big geear if you're used to a triple.

Spend the money for a different cassette. Maybe your LBS will swap out the 12-23 for a 25 or 27.

re: Road Rider newbie questiongalibier
Jan 23, 2002 5:29 AM
Your gearing is fine. I live in mountainous country and that's exactly what I and most of my riding partners use. As for whether to ride in the big or small chainring, that really depends on conditions. Assuming for the sake of this hypothetical that you are riding on flats with no wind, then I'd say small chainring when alone, and big chainring when in a pace line that's working well.
re: Road Rider newbie questionBikingViking
Jan 23, 2002 5:37 AM
This could be considered a little "anal retentive" but it works for me. I got one of the road bike books and most of them have the gear ratio charts in the back. Those charts are based on what chainrings you have in the front and the cassette in the rear. I figure out the easiest(42 x 23 in my case) and hardest (53 x 13) and put the various gears in order of difficulty. There is a bit of shifting between the large and small chainring, but it helps me be a bit more efficient, knowing where to shift to when things get tough.

Hope this wasn't TOO confusing
Depends what gear you will need nextDCP
Jan 23, 2002 6:30 AM
While there are some equipment longevity issues here (like trying to keep the chain straight as possible), for the most part I select the ring based on what I expect to need next. If I will need the big ring next for a descent and there is a gear on the big ring that will work now, that is where I will be.

That said, I have the same setup and spend much more time in the small ring than the large ring. It probably has something to do with the gearing being oriented toward racing. It takes someone who is pretty fit to use the big ring and spin with this gearing. It probably suits a masher just fine.
Ring selectionMikeC
Jan 23, 2002 6:32 AM
It depends on the terrain you're riding, and your ability to maintain a decent cadence at the speed you want to ride.
What you want to do is maintain as direct (non-diagonal) a chain angle as you can (the path the chain takes from your ring to your cog). Most of the time, you'll probably find that that you use a relatively narrow range of gears, so choose the ring/cog combination that enables you to keep a cadence of around 90 rpm and has the least chain angle.
Of course, you'll need to eventually develop a cadence that's right for you, and it's always a good idea to have another cog to move into (up or down) when you're faced with a surprise situation that needs a quick reaction.
Just keep in mind that you want to keep the extreme cogs for extreme situations, as they don't leave you anywhere else to go.
re: Road Rider newbie questiontreetop
Jan 23, 2002 7:24 AM
Find the right cadence for you. It is generally regarded that a high cadence (over90rpm) is the most effecient. A lot depends on your mucsle composition. Riders with more fast twitch muscle fibres (powerful riders) tend ride with a slower cadence whilst those with more slowtwitch fibres ride at high cadences. Jan Ullrich and Lance Armstrong are both great and sucessful cyclists yet Armstrongs cadence is much higher than Ullrichs.
Find the best cadence for you and as your fittness increases you will be able to push a higher gear at that cadence (i.e ride faster). You should avoid pushing to bigger gears at very low cadences as it can lead to knee problems. Where possible you should be able to remain seated for most climbs.
Small ring only...vitudude
Jan 23, 2002 8:30 AM
on my commuter bike. I found that I did not use the big gears commuting so I removed the front deraillier and big ring, using track bolts to affix the small ring to the crank by itself. Alls the gears I need for commuting. I do occasionally spin out on weekend group rides with this bike, but usually use my other bike with a big ring for these. Really depends on your strength and riding style.
Not ideal gearing unless you're pretty strongcory
Jan 23, 2002 8:57 AM
I know, everybody runs a 53/39...but that's because that's how the bikes come. How many of us can really push that big ring?
If you can, fine. If not, though, there are pretty convincing reasons to go down several teeth. I run a 46-36-26 triple on my Atlantis, and it gives me a lot more usable gears than the "conventional" gearing on my other bikes. I stay in the big ring at least twice as long as I used to, but I still have all the high gear I can use.
What ever happened to the old 36-46?LC
Jan 23, 2002 10:14 AM
I would love to see Shimano come out with a good quality 36-46 crankset. I use a old RSX 36-46 crankset for the winter/rain bike, and the gearing seems perfect when I want to spin. It also shifts smoother than the 39-53 on my race bike.

Shifting to the highest gear 46x11 is very close to 53x13, which is really high enough for most people not to spin out anyway. The 36 is sure nice for people that live in a hilly area, but don't want the chain drop problems that seem to happen with a triple. I don't even think anyone makes a 36-46 anymore? Anyone know of a good quality one?
Riding style will dictate your choice . . .morrison
Jan 23, 2002 11:07 AM
and it's too soon to tell. I agree with the posts above. There are lots of talented conditioned athletes who seldom stray from the small ring, and vice versa. There are also a lot of knuckleheads who insist on mashing the big ring to the detriment of their efficiency.

I tend to ride the big ring much more than the small, but I have a very muscular lower body and I am able to do it at a relatively high cadence.

Find your riding style and know your body. If you find yourself wanting to spend more time on the 53, I would make the following recommendation: start on the small ring to maintain a decent cadence. As you condition yourself and build muscle strength, try switching to the big ring in familiar situations when you normally would be able to spin comfortably w/ the 39. Compensate w/ appropriate adjustments on the rear casette. If you are able to comfortably spin on the big ring, work your way back down the casette over time until you find a combination that works for you.

Don't make the newbie mistake of trying to gear off of more experienced riders you see on the road. What works for them is largely personal, and may never work for you.

Good luck

Some very