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What's your top gear and when/how do you use it?(25 posts)

What's your top gear and when/how do you use it?pedalAZ
Nov 16, 2003 11:07 AM
I took my maiden ride on the new bike yesterday, a short one up a pretty major hill and back down. I was glad for the low gearing on the way up, but a bit surprised and disappointed how quickly I had to quit pedaling on the way down from not having a tall enough gear. My low end is 34x27, almost MTB range, and the top is 50x12. As I get stronger legs from some road riding experience (I am a newbie roadie, crossing over from MTB), I expect to swap out the rear cassette for a 12-25, and ultimately an 11-23 if I can still make my hills.
re: What's your top gear and when/how do you use it?hudsonite
Nov 16, 2003 11:56 AM
On the road bike, the 'top gear' is 53x13. On the cross bike it is 44x11.

The road bike tops out at 51.3km/h at a cadence of 100
The cross bike tops out at 47.6 km/h at a cadence of 100.

I spin out of both of them on long and steep downhills. After I get to 65km/h, I just let it run and stop pedalling.

I have considered going to a 53x11 for the road bike, but then I will have a harder time climbing as I will lose some bigger sprockets on the cassette. As I would only need the 11 going down a mountain, that means I had to climb it. So, I have decided to continue with the current setup. At least for me, it is better to climb without pain, then to go faster down a hill.
Is that a 110 BCD crank?LC
Nov 16, 2003 12:06 PM
With 50/34 rings I assume your not using a standard 130 BCD crank, although it could be some kind of modified triple?

Most road bikes have a 53x12 top gear on a double, or a 52x12 on a triple. If you trade the 12T for an 11T then you have a similar high gear with 50x11. If you got a 11T laying around from one of your old MTB cassettes, or maybe even trade it with your MTB since you don't need it on single track, you can just pop that on. BTW you will also need the smaller lock ring with the 11T. You probally won't even miss not having the 12 since the only time a newbie roadie needs a high gear like that is down hills.

The other [better] option is work on your spin more.
FSA carbon pro compact 110BCDpedalAZ
Nov 16, 2003 1:23 PM
You're right, it's not a 130BCD. I'm using 1 piece CNC'd aluminum cassette(s), a 12-27 and a 12-25. I can get an 11-23 from the same source.

I was curious if stronger riders can crank up the 53x12's or 53x11's to high cadences in the flats, or if they need some downhill gradient for those gears. I also wondered if on long, gentle downhills, whether I'll be spinning out while others on 53x12 or 53x11 will be pulling away from me because they can still supplement the gravitational force.
I can't do 53x11.....divve
Nov 16, 2003 3:02 PM
for any decent amount of time unless going downhill I guess, but the guys in the pro peloton in Europe crank 53x13 or 12 for an extended time going around 32mph average...that's on their own without drafting and no time trial.
I can't do 53x11.....torquecal
Nov 16, 2003 3:42 PM
I can't either. I've got a wheel with an 11x21 on it but it doesn't get used much.
re: pros cranking in a 53-12 or 11, 32mph avg -- uh, no. Thebill
Nov 17, 2003 11:40 AM
average for the Tour is like 25 mph ('course, that's with all of those mountain top finishes). The fastest stages are still under 30 mph (I think that the fastest stage was like 48 km/hr, which is just about 30). And that's with PLENTY of drafting and pack riding. The fastest time trials are at about that same 50 km/hr pace.
I haven't checked my figures, so, if I'm wrong, have at me.
I do remember Paul Sherwyn screaming about a finish, I forgetbill
Nov 17, 2003 11:45 AM
whose, with an uphill sprint that was won in a 53-11. That's a HUGE gear to push on anything but a descent, let alone uphill. I have sort of kind of spun out a 53-12, in that my cadence got a little uncomfortable, but not to the point where I was thinking, next time an 11.
I've never done the math, but an 11 makes some sense at speeds north of 38. If I'm going that fast, it's downhill, where I am just as well off in a tuck.
re: pros cranking, Paris Tourscyclopathic
Nov 17, 2003 12:54 PM
avg for 257km (160mi) was 49.5km/h (30.7mph). No, it wasn't all downhill, there was a long live break, and Bettini had no problem to ride off the front.

The fastest tour ITT is 55km/h was set up by Greg in '89.
yeah, but the original post seemed to assume that probill
Nov 17, 2003 2:00 PM
races pretty much cruise along at 30 mph, all day, every day. That's not true. When they're working to catch a break, or in a break, sure, but, if not, in the grand tours, anyway, they're cruising at speeds not unheard of in local races. Jonathan Vaughters wrote about this in a piece about his Tour experience -- four hours of cruising in the pack at 25, an hour or two of killing themselves. Now, they actually have use for an 11, which I in my Cat 4 glory really don't, but even the pros don't stay in these biggest gears all day long. The truth is a little more pedestrian than that.
53 x 12.KG 361
Nov 16, 2003 4:00 PM
Only really use it on descents and there I can spin it out. I could probably do without the 12 but it comes on my favorite cassette, a 12-27, so I'll keep it.
53 x 13Al1943
Nov 16, 2003 7:02 PM
You could easily convert your 12-27 to a 13-27 and add a 16 in the middle. I've done away with all of my 12's and now ride a 13-25, 13-26, and 13-27 with 16's. My wife rides a 14-28, all are 9-speed Shimano. I'll sacrifice top end for closer ratios any day.
Where's you get a 14 -28? Thought biggest was 27? nmKG 361
Nov 16, 2003 8:25 PM
You spun out at 35+ mph - time to coastKerry Irons
Nov 16, 2003 5:38 PM
Unless you're in a race and absolutely have to go as fast as possible, by the time you've spun our your 50/12 you can go just as fast in a tight tuck. 110 rpm in that gear is 35.5 mph, and I'd be willing to bet you could be coasting that fast on your downhills. When I coast around here, I keep up with the guys who are pedaling.
That's what I wanted to hearpedalAZ
Nov 16, 2003 5:50 PM
Thanks, Kerry. I'll quit worrying that I left too much top end out of the build.
Here's what I useglia
Nov 16, 2003 6:00 PM
I have the FSA compact carbon as well. I use the 34/50 with either a 11/23 or 12/23. The 11/23 give you a greater range than a regular 12/25-39/53 combination. You have both an easier and a harder gear by having the spacing a bit further apart. I use a Titanium cassette from Cycle Dynamics that allows me to swicth out individual cogs so I can make it an 11/21 one day and a 12/25 the next depedning on the ride.
54x11jim hubbard
Nov 16, 2003 6:53 PM
But I am one of those freakish people that like big gears. I started using it after being in a race where we had a tailwind for the first 100k. It was a hilly course, I was in a 2-up breakaway with an old 'vet' and we were hauling we were sitting on 70kph on the flat and 60kph up the hills. I had a 53x12 that day and was tapped. Gearing is a personal thing so don't sweat it, mtber tend to spin smaller gears anyway.
60kph up hill?????pedalAZ
Nov 16, 2003 6:59 PM
What kind of "vitamins" are you taking? Damn, Holmes.
60kph up hill?????jim hubbard
Nov 16, 2003 7:12 PM
I said with a tailwind.... most of the hills were only 1k long. BTW way the 'vet' I was riding with just won the TT stage of the Tour of Southland. 20sec quicker than the national TT champ and 23sec quicker than the under 23 champ. TT was 16km. I think he is 50-55ish
53 x 12dgangi
Nov 16, 2003 9:01 PM
My top gear on my Fuji is a 53t (big ring on the Ritchey Pro crankset) mated to the 12t gear in the back (12/23 Ultegra). I use this combination on long downhills when I am >30MPH. My legs can't pedal any faster when I reach about 38MPH. And in Phoenix there are plenty of areas where this gear combination comes in handy:

1) Downhill sections of Tatum (thru PV)
2) Downhill section of 7th Street out of the Pointe Tapatillo
3) Lots of areas in North Scottsdale

I believe the 39/53 rings up front mated to a 12/23 gearset in the rear is a classic racing setup. I was worred at first that the bike would be geared too high, but after riding it for 500 miles, I think this combination is perfect for the riding we do in Southern Arizona. And as my legs get used to the road bike, I hardly ever use the "granny" gear anymore (or as granny as it gets on a 39/53 setup).

Anyway, I think it will take you some time to get your body dialed into the bike. Once your body is used to the road bike, you might decide to change out your gearing (among other things). I don't think it is wise to change anything before then, unless you can get it done for free (i.e. part swap that the bike store might offer).

53 x 11 HUGE TAILWINDS HERE!!!!!!! did I say 25mph gust 40mph!andy02
Nov 17, 2003 6:58 AM
I found myself in a 30+mph tail and a 1-2% down hill (as big as it gets here for any long "climb") spinning my 53-11 at 115rpms! But my avg speed was only 17.5!! for the round trip that should tell you haw hard the head wind was going out. I have a 11-23 but next year plan on a 12-21 or a 11-21 with a 11-23 for trips to NC/Va mountains.
Any time I need more than my 46-11, I'll be coastingCory
Nov 17, 2003 9:14 AM
I've had at least half a dozen bikes with the "standard" 53-11 and literally never used the top two or three gears. Finally decided to swap out the crank for one with a 110/74 BCD and put on some useful chainrings. Works great for a middle-aged guy here in the mountains.
Nov 17, 2003 10:24 AM
I like it for those long flats right after a down hill. It seems that if I get it spun up on a down hill and then have a flat after ward I can hold it for a long time and really make some time.
re: What's your top gear and when/how do you use it?MShaw
Nov 17, 2003 10:24 AM
I'm convinced that you only get as strong as your smallest gear. If that's a 39/27, then being able to turn that is how strong you're going to get. If its a 34/XX, then that's how strong you're going to get.

I've found over the years that lower gears don't mean I don't push on the pedals with any less force, just that I go slower doing it!

Try riding SS. Its amazing what you can get up and over in a 42x17 if you HAVE to.

From what I remember, you only go 10% faster pedalling downhill vs. coasting. Save the energy for the next uphill. I'll spin my legs around on the way downhill to keep the blood flowing, but I'm not trying to go faster.

A 50t ring is only one tooth smaller in the back than a 53t. ie: a 50x12 feels like a 53x13, etc. You aren't losing too much on the top end, just on the little ring.

You may run into "problems" riding with a group because you have non-standard gearing. The pace may end up too high for the little ring, but not fast enough for your big ring. Try it and see, I've been known to be wrong every once in a while.

53x12 - mostly for standingJFR
Nov 17, 2003 1:28 PM
Most of my road riding is flat land commuting (45mi round trip). Since June when I got my road bike I haven't done many (if any) recreational rides with a downhill section that is straight enough and long enough to really spin out my 53x12 and notice it... so I use mine most often when riding out of the saddle.