What gearing do you use?

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What gearing do you use?

Postby beeb1506 » Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:17 pm

Hi, I took the chain and cassette off on the weekend for cleaning and inspection, it's a 2nd hand bike I've had a few years so I was interested to take a close look at the wear and tear as well as because it really needed a good clean.

I was suprised to discover that the back cluster ran from 12 to only 21, it's a 9-speed Ultegra set and I've been having some problems getting up some of the bigger local hills. I don't know why I didn't count it before but I always assumed it was at least 25 - my old bike had 28 on the back and 42 on the front, whereas this has 39 on the front and 21 on the back.

Given that I want to do some extended rides outside of Sydney e.g. Mangrove Mnt through to Windsor and others that all have significant hills, I really want to drop the gearing down quite a bit. I've looked at the Shimano options for this set and it looks like I can go down to either 25 or 27 as the lowest, I'm tempted to just leave it at 25 which would give me a lowest gearing of about 40" I think. Question is, what do you use (excluding race day bikes for less hilly sections) that will get you up anything you come across?
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by BNA » Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:43 pm

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Re: What gearing do you use?

Postby heavymetal » Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:43 pm

beeb1506 wrote:Question is, what do you use (excluding race day bikes for less hilly sections) that will get you up anything you come across?


My touring bike is equipped with front chain rings of 22-30-42T and the rear ranges from 11 - 34T :D

I have Shimano on the front and SRAM on the rear. This will get me up most hills in Australia.
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Postby jr1991 » Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:52 pm

I run 53/39 and 12/23. It gets me up all the hills around here, including Mt Panorama ( which is the best known around here but not the biggest hill in the district) :)
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Postby Bnej » Mon Jun 02, 2008 10:53 pm

I have 30/39/50 rings and 12-26 cassette. IMO 39/26 is a low enough combo for any hill if you are relatively strong and riding an unloaded road bike.

A 34/50 compact crankset and 11-25 cassette is a good "hills" setup, lets you spin out a couple of lower gears while others are down to weight-lifting their bikes with the cranks.
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Postby mikesbytes » Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:17 pm

I run 53/42/30 11-25 nine speed on my good bike. I never use the 30. I don't feel any holes in the 11-21 nine speed ratios.

On my commuter I run 53/39 11-21 seven speed and I get up the hill to Crows Nest no problems.
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Postby Deanj » Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:51 am

53/39 front and 11-25 cassette which works well for me.
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Postby Kalgrm » Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:26 am

52-42(Q-ring)-30 to a 12-26 cassette on my recumbent. So far I've climbed every hill I've attempted on it, but Perth is not very hilly.

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Postby kslim » Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:43 pm

Mangrove Mountain to Windsor ?

Can't say I've done that in one go, but have done most of the roads that would make it up.

I use a 53/39 and 12/27. On the hills on that route, I usu climb seated in the 39/24 combo or higher.

Having said that, there have been times I have been so stuffed that the 39/27 combo was welcome. Maybe it's psychological, but I like knowing I have the 27 there if I need it (though I very rarely use it).
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Re: What gearing do you use?

Postby beeb1506 » Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:57 pm

heavymetal wrote:My touring bike is equipped with front chain rings of 22-30-42T and the rear ranges from 11 - 34T :D


Wow, I'd have thought tyre grip would be your main concern in that low gear when you're heading up a 1 in 2 :shock:

mikesbytes wrote:On my commuter I run 53/39 11-21 seven speed and I get up the hill to Crows Nest no problems.


I get up that hill ok myself on 39-21 (as I now know), it was the River Rd hill approaching Greenwich Road near Greenwich hospital that recently did me - I managed it but it was a close thing. I need to be able to get up those sort of gradients over longer distances.

Kalgrm wrote:52-42(Q-ring)-30 to a 12-26 cassette on my recumbent

Don't recumbents use much smaller wheels and therefore the final ratio would be very different? I see a recumbent pretty much every day on my walk home up the hill to Crows Nest (as mentioned previously), looks fast.

kslim wrote:Mangrove Mountain to Windsor ?

Can't say I've done that in one go, but have done most of the roads that would make it up.

I use a 53/39 and 12/27. On the hills on that route, I usu climb seated in the 39/24 combo or higher.

Having said that, there have been times I have been so stuffed that the 39/27 combo was welcome. Maybe it's psychological, but I like knowing I have the 27 there if I need it (though I very rarely use it).


I'd probably do this ride over a w'end stopping at Wisemans ferry (it's suggested in a cycle guide book).

I'm thinking that the 27 is the way to go based on this and all the other posts. It won't leave huge gaps and might come in handy later in the day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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Re: What gearing do you use?

Postby Kalgrm » Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:45 pm

beeb1506 wrote:
Kalgrm wrote:52-42(Q-ring)-30 to a 12-26 cassette on my recumbent

Don't recumbents use much smaller wheels and therefore the final ratio would be very different? I see a recumbent pretty much every day on my walk home up the hill to Crows Nest (as mentioned previously), looks fast.

There are many more designs of recumbents than there are designs of "normal" bikes.

Mine currently has two 700c wheels on it. I should have specified my wheel size, so sorry for the confusion.

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Postby munga » Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:10 pm

Will your current derailleur support a 27t sprocket?
I thought i read a recent thread on this site about someone having an issue running bigger than 26t on a modern shimano changer..
Anyone (with a better memory) recall this thread/issue?
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Postby munga » Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:46 pm

uh, MichaelB had a minor issue with 28t sprockets and his 105 rear derailleur, so i guess 26t or 27t will be apples
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Postby Hotdog » Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:41 pm

I think Shimano road rear derailleurs are specced for sprockets up to 27T, but it's widely believed that's just because that's the biggest sprocket size on a Shimano branded road cassette and that they actually work fine up to 28T...

Me, I like to spin, on one of my recumbents (much like Graeme's, but with 26" wheels) I use a 52/42/30T triple with an 11-34T 9-speed cassette. With that gearing I can keep a cadence of 80+rpm going right down to 8.3kph if I really want to... :roll: My newer recumbent (also with 26" wheels) has a 53/39T double with a 11-32T 8 speed cassette and it's taking me a little while to get used to climbing at lower cadences on the steep bits.
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Re: What gearing do you use?

Postby heavymetal » Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:53 pm

beeb1506 wrote:
heavymetal wrote:My touring bike is equipped with front chain rings of 22-30-42T and the rear ranges from 11 - 34T :D


Wow, I'd have thought tyre grip would be your main concern in that low gear when you're heading up a 1 in 2 :shock:


I only use the 22T when hauling a loaded BOB trailer uphill. :D

I fall over otherwise as it's too slow a speed to stay upright. :shock:
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Postby MichaelB » Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:23 am

munga wrote:uh, MichaelB had a minor issue with 28t sprockets and his 105 rear derailleur, so i guess 26t or 27t will be apples


In the end it worked fine, B-screw fully wound in, and avoided the big-big combo.

Didn't notice any shift quality issues either.
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Postby thomas_cho » Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:40 pm

Actually I have read reports where you can run 30T at the back with no issues. Aside from turning the b-screw all the way in, you can get more clearance by reversing the screw, or simply get a longer one.

The issue is not so much with the big-big combo, but rather with the small big combo where the derailleur pulley wheels do not clear the large sprocket at the back.
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Postby Hawkeye » Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:57 pm

I run MTB gearing - 11-32T rear and 22-32-44 on front. I never use granny gear (22x32) because keeping the front down becomes a major challenge. :lol:

I do use most of the others, though. I'm an old phart. :roll:
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Postby beeb1506 » Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:17 am

Well I've ordered the 12-27 from the LBS, the assistant suggested a dura-ace chain, he thought it is worth the extra 10 bucks it costs - a quick search on these forums seems to agree with him.

One question, what's a b-screw?
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Postby Hotdog » Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:27 am

beeb1506 wrote:One question, what's a b-screw?

It's the adjustment screw at the 'b-pivot' where the derailleur attaches to the frame. It's used to adjust how close the derailleur is to the cassette, for best performance you want the jockey pulley to be close to but just clearing the cogs in all gears.

Edit: Sheldon's take on the subject.
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Postby MichaelB » Thu Jun 05, 2008 10:39 am

On the previous bike, 38/50 at the front and 12-26 SRAM at the rear (9sp), and with the Argon 18, its a 39/53 and 12-25 (10sp).

I used an 11-28 for a hilly ride on the LeMond, and will probably resort to an 12-27 on the Argon soon, but trying to work on the engine over winter ....
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Postby beeb1506 » Thu Jun 05, 2008 10:42 am

Ok, thanks - that makes sense, I'm not sure if my old one has that adjustment (it's a Campag Record from the 80's) but it sounds like it should be fairly obvious if it needs adjusting once it's in lowest gear.

I'll fit the new one on the w'end - sadly it doesn't look like the weather will be much good for riding though.
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Postby stated » Thu Jun 05, 2008 5:13 pm

I've changed recently from 12-25 to 11-23 with 39/52front. I don't really need the lowest gear except when I occationally do the lapstone hill which is 2.5km with about 150m of climbing, I went alright with the 23t gear and didn't really struggle any wore than before, I simply stand up when I no longer can spin. The reason I didn't go 11-25 is I like to have the extra ring in the middle when I am on the motorway.
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Postby Parrott » Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:13 pm

53/44t on the front, no hills here :( , and 11-23 10s on the back. Will be going for a 12-23 on the back next as I very rarely use the 11 but often miss an 18, my current cluster is 17,19,21,23.
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Postby 531db » Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:11 pm

44/16 fixed :D on my most often ridden bike.

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Postby LuckyPierre » Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:45 pm

I'm late to this thread, but I've just moved to 12-23 cassettes on both my bikes - both have 53/39 chainrrings. I ran a 12-27 cassette on my 9-speed Ultegra-euipped bike with no problems, although I did need to lengthen the chain when I first put the 12-27 on as I was replacing an 11-21 cassette on a used bike.
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