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Need help with gearing(9 posts)

Need help with gearinggtscottie
Dec 4, 2002 3:26 PM
I have a 52-42 set on the front I am planning some touring this summer into some good hills. I have the option to get a set that is 48-38. Should I change this or go to a bigger set on the back??
re: Need help with gearingjtolleson
Dec 4, 2002 3:43 PM
Depends on the hills, but with a 42 in front and assuming that you can't get any bigger than a 30 (and less if you aren't swapping derailleurs) in back, you may be hurting.

Hills like Rocky Mtn hills, hills like Blue Ridge Parkway hills, or what?

I'd look at a 53/39 if I were you. I personally wouldn't want to lose my top end (big ring) for the flats and downhills. Even with a 39, if you are really going to be in the mountains you may need to evaluate your cassette as well.
re: Need help with gearingroadcyclist
Dec 4, 2002 3:44 PM
IMHO you should do both - if - you don't ordinarily ride hills and/or you're talking about loaded touring (racks, panniers, etc.). If you're talking about credit card touring (staying in hotels, eating in restaurants), I'd probably go with the 48-38 set-up, as no new ders. will be needed.
Impossible questionKerry
Dec 4, 2002 4:42 PM
People have been known to cross the US with a 54 inch low gear, fully loaded. That's a 39/19! We cannot tell what gear you need since we don't know how strong you are, and you never told us what you had in the back. For a reasonably strong rider, 39/23 is low enough for all but the steepest climbs. Going to a 25 or 26 or a 27 or 29 in the back gets a moderately strong rider up most hills without serious strain. For loaded touring, some would recommend as low as a 24/32. The range in ability for riders is so great that it is not possible to answer your question. Perhaps you could tell us what you have now and what kinds of hills (rise and length) you can climb at what speed.
And even for the "reasonably strong" rider...Ray Sachs
Dec 5, 2002 5:20 AM
who can get over most hills in a 39x27, he or she may not be able to do that after five straight days of climbing. For racing, you might want to err slightly on the side of too high a gear (although Roberto Heras might disagree), but for touring, I'd *ALWAYS* err on the side of too low.

Personally, although I'd never be mistaken for a racer, I do 4,000 - 6,000 miles per year, will climb anything (at a modest pace), and most of the folks I ride with consider me a strong tourist type rider. On long or multi day rides with lots of climbing, I'm extremely happy to have a 34x34 low gear, sometimes even lower. That would make most racer and pseudo racer types of riders laugh, but it works for me. On a tour I did last summer, I was comfortably spinning those low gears up some tough climbs and riding right past a number of macho types that were grinding up in their 39x25s or 39x27s. Clearly there are a lot of people who don't need gears anywhere near that low, but unless you're sure, better to have them and not use them than need them and not have them.

Dec 5, 2002 6:03 AM
In my early 30's I toured with a 10 speed. The easiest gear was 42x24, a cool numeric palindrome, but some of the mountains in Western Pennsylvania were torturous. I once had to get off and walk so far from the top that I got my running shoes out of the panniers and put them on. Now I ride a triple with a 23 tooth large cog for most of my riding and a 27 tooth large cog for loaded touring. I encourage others to get triples when I'm asked.
FWIW, I'm with Kerry and RaySilverback
Dec 5, 2002 8:58 AM
I have a friend who rides a 42-16 road single and a 38-18 mountain single EVERYWHERE, including 9,000 foot Sierra passes--and he's pushing 50. Personally, I have a 46-36-24 triple and 12-28 cassette, and I use every last gear. For a mountainous tour, though, I'd err on the side of being too low. I've never been on a ride where I said, "Jeez, I wish I didn't have that granny gear."
Repeat after me: low gears are goodsatanas
Dec 5, 2002 6:50 AM
If you are touring, and especially if you are carrying luggage, high gears will be used only rarely. I tend to use a top gear of 108" commuting, but for touring (with luggage) 90" is plenty, and 80" is enough on bad roads/dirt.

If you don't have a massive high gear, you might coast down hills a bit more, *but* if your low gear is too high you will spend hours suffering, especially if there are long, steep climbs.

I used 46x34 + 13-30 in the Alps several years ago (with light panniers), and this was generally adequate, except for one day where it was much too high for several hours...

Best to err on the side of caution. (I would probably use 38x32/34, or change the crankset, but this all depends on your cadence, what you are planning to carry, etc...)

Good luck!
re: Need help with gearingLC
Dec 5, 2002 9:59 AM
I would go with 52/38 chainrings and have at least a 27 or 28 cog in the rear. If you don't need the low gears then you just won't use them, but if you have to walk then your tour will really suck. Hills don't just go up either, they go down too, so the 52 will get used as well.