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Trek Verve 3 2019 vs 2020? How many gears do I need??

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Trek Verve 3 2019 vs 2020? How many gears do I need??

Old 11-16-19, 02:59 PM
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mrmonktu
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Trek Verve 3 2019 vs 2020? How many gears do I need??

What are your thoughts on the Verve 3 for 2019 (27 gears) vs 2020 (18 gears)?

I‘m looking for an upgrade from an entry level Gravity 21 speed and am confused by the decreased drivetrain on the 2020 Verve 3 and about how many speeds I actually need for recreational cycling.

I usually ride 20 or 30 miles 3 x a week at a speed of about 12 -15 miles/hr on a local paved Rails to Trails path. My husband has a 2018 Verve 2 (24 gears) and I can ride it now at this same pace in the highest gear on the inclines and have to coast on the declines. Granted, our trail does not have huge hills, but I feel like I need more gears - not necessarily to go faster but because I want to have MORE resistance when pedaling. Yes, I DO have very strong legs!

Guy at LBS acted like I was crazy and suggested I get the 2020 with only 18 gears - and pedal faster- instead of the 2019 with 27 gears. This doesn’t make sense to me.

Can you help me understand this logic?? What do you suggest?
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Old 11-16-19, 05:14 PM
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2020 Trek Verve 3 - 46/30 chainring with 11-36 cassette
2019 Trek Verve 3 - 48/36/26 chainring with 11-32 cassette

Between the 2 bikes, the 2019 has two extra teeth for the high gear (48-11). Trek Verve is not known as a go fast bike and two chainrings is the new thing. All the higher groupsets only have 1 or 2 chainrings. Ask the shop how much it would be to add larger chainrings on the new bike, such as a 48/34. They may have a take off part and do it cheap.

I'd suggest you also look at the Trek FX 2 or higher if you want a faster bike. It looks like the FX 2 has a 48/38/28 chainring, but FX 3 has 46/30 chainring.
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Old 11-17-19, 01:37 PM
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I'm not a fan of the new 2x craze. Almost all of my riding (when I'm at speed) is in the 14-18 mph range, and I'm almost always in the middle ring (36 or 38 teeth on most of my bikes) and I can use the entire cassette from this middle ring; I don't even shift the front derailleur on many rides. I wouldn't be able to do that with one of these 2x setups. I'd be out of high end if in the small ring (30 front, 11 rear) and I'd be out of low end if in the large ring (46 front, 36 rear). I'd be continually moving back and forth between chain rings, and I wouldn't want to do that. For me, personally, if I were going to get rid of the 3x setup, I'd move straight to a 1x, with something like a 36 tooth ring. A 2x is not an improvement for me.

I say that to suggest you consider what your gear inches range is when you're biking. There are a lot of gear inch calculators on the 'net. Go out and note what gear you're in when you're at the slowest that you usually go, and note what gear you're in when you're at the fastest you usually go (given your preferred cadence, etc.). Calculate the gear inches for each of those -- that's the "normal" range that you usually bike. Now look at the 2x and 3x setups and look to see which one will minimize the amount of shifting on the front you'll need to do. Could you do almost all of your biking from the 46 tooth chain ring? If so, then it might be a good option for you. If not, and if your normal gear inches range is more or less spread across the two chain rings, then you might be better off on a 3x.

There's no right or wrong answer -- just whatever will work best for you.
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Old 11-17-19, 02:06 PM
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It's not the number of gears that is so important as the range of gear will determine the range of terrain a bike is suitable for.

A hypothetical 1x12 and a 3x11 have 12 & 33 "speeds" respectivly but both may or may not be suitable for a given terrain it depends on what the gears installed are...Think of "speeds" as the number of choices you have. Often times you may have many redundant duplicates depending on the exact combination of components. The hypothetical "33 speed" from above might only have 10 or 12 or 14 real actual different choices achievable from a variety of different means. In that case it's a lot of extra components & complication for no real benefit.

Short answer: "More" doesn't automatically equal better. What really matters is the lowest gear, the highest gear, & a reasonable number of non duplicate choices in between. I vote for the "18 speed" in your case. Half step gearing affords you 18 real choices over the 18-ish real choices & 9-ish duplicates in the other scenario.

There are, of course times where a 3 speed triple crankset paired with a 7,8,9,10 speed cassette does have it's place. A 750+% range touring bike comes to mind. The duplicate ratios are a deliberate compromise in this case.

Last edited by base2; 11-17-19 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 11-18-19, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Half step gearing affords you 18 real choices over the 18-ish real choices & 9-ish duplicates in the other scenario.
But the 2x option isn't half-step gearing, right? It consists of two very different chain ring sizes (30 and 46), with no smooth way to cross over between the two. That's a huge step, and is the primary issue I have with these modern 2x setups. A 10t jump is a lot for many people (as you get with most triples). A 30-to-46 jump is more than a fifty percent increase in gear inches, which almost necessarily requires two or even three shifts on the cassette to keep a more-or-less even progression in your speed/cadence. So that's potentially four shifts just to be able to cross over from one ring to the next.

I think the best case scenario for a 2x is to have one ring be the primary ring which you use almost all of the time, and then have another ring as either a "bail-out" or an "overdrive", depending on the size. For a Verve, I don't see either a 30 or a 46 being a good "primary ring". This is where I think a triple has a lot of benefit. A large majority of people find a 36 or 38t ring to be a good primary ring, one they can ride almost exclusively. Then you have a nice 26/28t ring as a bail-out if you need it, and a 46/48t ring as an overdrive if you need it. But most people will stay on that 36/38t all day.

I think a much better idea for a 2x is something like a 26/40, especially for a Verve or DS or similar bike (where we're not cranking out miles at 25-30 mph). The 40t would be useful as a primary ring to be used almost all the time, and the 26t would be there as a bail-out. Few people would be spinning out of a 40-11 gear on a Verve or DS (that's about 100 gear inches, the traditional high gear on older road bikes with a 14t small on the freewheel). Even fewer will be spinning out of a 46-11 (which is the high gear with a 30/46 2x crankset, and is about 115 gear inches).
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Old 11-18-19, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by hokiefyd View Post
But the 2x option isn't half-step gearing, right? It consists of two very different chain ring sizes (30 and 46), with no smooth way to cross over between the two. That's a huge step, and is the primary issue I have with these modern 2x setups. A 10t jump is a lot for many people (as you get with most triples). A 30-to-46 jump is more than a fifty percent increase in gear inches, which almost necessarily requires two or even three shifts on the cassette to keep a more-or-less even progression in your speed/cadence. So that's potentially four shifts just to be able to cross over from one ring to the next.

I think the best case scenario for a 2x is to have one ring be the primary ring which you use almost all of the time, and then have another ring as either a "bail-out" or an "overdrive", depending on the size. For a Verve, I don't see either a 30 or a 46 being a good "primary ring". This is where I think a triple has a lot of benefit. A large majority of people find a 36 or 38t ring to be a good primary ring, one they can ride almost exclusively. Then you have a nice 26/28t ring as a bail-out if you need it, and a 46/48t ring as an overdrive if you need it. But most people will stay on that 36/38t all day.

I think a much better idea for a 2x is something like a 26/40, especially for a Verve or DS or similar bike (where we're not cranking out miles at 25-30 mph). The 40t would be useful as a primary ring to be used almost all the time, and the 26t would be there as a bail-out. Few people would be spinning out of a 40-11 gear on a Verve or DS (that's about 100 gear inches, the traditional high gear on older road bikes with a 14t small on the freewheel). Even fewer will be spinning out of a 46-11 (which is the high gear with a 30/46 2x crankset, and is about 115 gear inches).
I think there is some confusion. My understanding is you like the triple because the duplicate ratios allow you to cycle up & down the cassette for almost all conditions with out ever leaving the middle ring. The 7(?) choices you use suit almost all your needs with the smallest & largest rings being largely unnecessary most of the time, but welcome when needed.

If my understanding is about right, then yes, going to a 1x is a reasonable decision for someone who uses their bike in that way.

I always thought that "half-step" was the result of having a gear combination in one ring evenly between another combination in the other ring. In which case yes, shifting a ring in the front would require a click, click, click on the rear to get to the next sequential ratio. Though I could be wrong now that I think about it...(without checking) my gut says a pair of 34 to 36 rings would split a given cog to the adjacent ratio with no further shifting in the rear. That would also fit the definition, albeit by a different manner than I thought. Perhaps someone here could clarify. I'm keen to learn.

For someone interested in achieving the next sequential ratio to finely tune cadence or whatever, a triple is a complicated beast & I think general confusion in how to get the desired shift is why doubles are popular & singles is the latest craze. The people who have triples (myself included) rarely use them to their full potential; settling on "close enough" most of the time. Why not 4 rings in front? 5, 8? 8 in front, 8 in the rear for a 64 speed?

With the advancements of modern index shifting a front shift paired with a click, click, click of the rear really is a nonissue. At least not like it was in the days of downtube friction.

For the OP, I think it comes down to how he's going to use either system...As for me, all my bikes, even the IGH ones, have doubles. In just recreational cycling, I think along the lines of "low range" & "high range" then try avoid cross chaining. If I'm on a "workout" day then I use the system as designed to finetune cadence.

I think we agree that neither is right/wrong. The only real consequence may be price on the LBS showroom. All things/price being equal I'd choose the higher tier component option.
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Old 11-18-19, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by mrmonktu View Post
Granted, our trail does not have huge hills, but I feel like I need more gears - not necessarily to go faster but because I want to have MORE resistance when pedaling. Yes, I DO have very strong legs!

Guy at LBS acted like I was crazy and suggested I get the 2020 with only 18 gears - and pedal faster- instead of the 2019 with 27 gears. This doesn’t make sense to me.

Can you help me understand this logic?? What do you suggest?
As a generality, most seasoned cyclists tend to pedal about 80-100 rpm when they are motivated to get somewhere. The reason is to balance the workload between the cardiovascular and muscle systems. The general theory is lower cadences place additional stresses on joints & muscle tissue & favors wastful quick twitch muscle fibers. Higher cadences allow for additional circulation of fresh blood and easier removal of waste products from the muscle cells and encourages use of more efficient slow twitch muscle fibers. What your heart rate is relates to where your body derives it's fuel source...stored fats, or food derived sugars.

So when the guy at the shop says choose this bike & "pedal faster" what he probably means is to encourage a more optimal balance between cardiovascular & muscular systems will be more efficient over all.

Grinding out 45rpm leg presses may still yield the same bike speed, but you are going to suffer cramps & fatigue much sooner. The same applies for someone who spins out 110rpm. Much of that effort is used to flail the legs around.

I'm painting in broad strokes, here. The whole of human physiology is a spectrum. By way of comparison: There is a lady in my cycling group who is a speed skater with massive legs. For decades she has always grinded out 50-60rpm for 30-50mile rides a few times per week & does just fine. Her outstanding health & massive strength allowed for an unusually speedy recovery from both hip replacements. She has no intentions of doing the local clubs annual double century or other long distance riding, so "peak nominal efficiency" really isn't a concern for her like it would be for others that are interested in long distance endurance activitys. Her interest is short track speed skating. Cycling is tuned to support that goal.

Does this explain the sales persons logic?

Last edited by base2; 11-18-19 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 11-18-19, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
My understanding is you like the triple because the duplicate ratios allow you to cycle up & down the cassette for almost all conditions with out ever leaving the middle ring. The 7(?) choices you use suit almost all your needs with the smallest & largest rings being largely unnecessary most of the time, but welcome when needed.

If my understanding is about right, then yes, going to a 1x is a reasonable decision for someone who uses their bike in that way.
Yes, that's the long and short of it. My main hybrid uses a 28/38/48 crankset and a 12-36 9-speed cassette. I can usually ride in the 38t ring all day and never have to shift the front derailleur.

I think much of the discussion of total range misses some nuance regarding user satisfaction (or ease-of-use, or whatever descriptor is appropriate). A widely spaced double like a 30/46 or 34/50 mathematically provides a good gearing range without a lot of overlap, but the disadvantage comes with actually making those shifts. Many cyclists with doubles will live in one ring for a majority of the time, and use a bail-out ring or overdrive ring only occasionally. Trek's choice of 30/46 pretty much exactly splits the difference of what many cyclists use on these types of bikes in the real world: rings of about 36 or 38 teeth. These types of cyclists (of which I am one) will run out of gear on the 30t ring (and need to make three or four shifts to transition smoothly to the big ring), or will have a little too much gear on the low end of the 46t ring (and will fall hard on the 30t ring). To me, it's a really awkward choice in gearing.

Originally Posted by base2 View Post
I always thought that "half-step" was the result of having a gear combination in one ring evenly between another combination in the other ring. In which case yes, shifting a ring in the front would require a click, click, click on the rear to get to the next sequential ratio. Though I could be wrong now that I think about it...(without checking) my gut says a pair of 34 to 36 rings would split a given cog to the adjacent ratio with no further shifting in the rear. That would also fit the definition, albeit by a different manner than I thought. Perhaps someone here could clarify. I'm keen to learn.
I think your definition of half-step is correct, but has traditionally been implemented in a way that was smooth to use. Sheldon has a page about gear theory, where he discusses half-step gearing and its implementations. The crankset would be fitted with two rings that were close in size (he cites 46/49 and 47/50 combos), where you could work the rear derailleur and the front derailleur together to achieve 10 or 12 sequential "speeds", rather than the duplication you correctly note happens with other types of systems. This worked well because the gearing difference at the crankset was only 5 or 10%, and you could effectively dance back and forth on the front while you worked the rear, and it was relatively smooth.

I think something like the 30/46 double that many hybrids feature today meet that technical definition (of featuring 18 distinct speeds), but the shift pattern would be really unconventional (and difficult to use). From low to high, you might start on the 30t ring for the largest four sprockets, then go up to the 46t ring and back up to the 2nd largest sprocket for "fifth speed", then go to the 3rd largest sprocket for "sixth speed", then back to the 30t ring and down to the 6th largest sprocket for "seventh speed", etc. I'm sure there is a shift pattern that gets you there sequentially, but you wouldn't want to actually use it.

I think the reason we see higher numbers of sprockets on the wheel instead of on the crank is likely for weight (weight increases fast with multiple large chain rings) and for spacing (Q-factor and such).

Regardless, you're absolutely right that we agree neither solution is right or wrong. In fact, I think the 30/46 may be perfect for someone who is always on a 42t, 44t, 46t, or 48t chain ring (or larger) and wants a smaller (30t) only for bail-out if needed. And alternatively, it may be perfect for someone who is always on a ring smaller than 34t, but might want a big overdrive ring just in case they want it occasionally. I still suggest the OP look at the actual gear inches range she uses on a regular basis to see if a 30/46 setup is right for her. She may find it is!

Last edited by hokiefyd; 11-18-19 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 11-18-19, 01:08 PM
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Thanks for your comments and suggestions! I especially appreciate the comments about muscle balance - that DOES make sense to me, but what FEELS comfortable to me now is riding in the most difficult gear all the time. And, I feel like I would be MORE comfortable with GREATER resistance to push against.

I would like to up my mileage from 30 or so at a time to maybe 50, but I don’t foresee having a need or a desire to ride a longer distance at one time and I am happy with a speed of ~15miles/hr.

I am still learning about the technical side of biking and it may take me a bit to process all of your information.l, but it is definitely helpful.

PS I am NOT an athlete by any stretch but have done step zumba with weights 2x weekly for many years, usually for a total step count of ~3 miles/hr, plus weight training, plus bike riding for about 6 years now😜
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Old 11-18-19, 02:10 PM
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Awesome! Glad we could help.
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