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Eighties Gearing vs. Gearing Now

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Eighties Gearing vs. Gearing Now

Old 01-07-09, 04:39 PM
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firenbones
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Eighties Gearing vs. Gearing Now

Back in the day, the standard road bike gearing was 52/42, 14-28.

Now the standard gearing is more like 53/39, 13-26 or 12-25.

Does this "improvement" make sense? Does having the 39 cog up front make up for the loss of the 28 in back? Obviously, with cassettes you have great freedom this way or that way ... but I'd be curious to hear from people who today own, say, both a Madone and a 710, an Evoke SL and an RB-1 ... I know there are many variables here, but the bottom-line question becomes: is the new-and-improved "stock" gearing really preferable to the old "stock" gearing?
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Old 01-07-09, 05:39 PM
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Little Darwin
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I run into a lot of older bikes with 52/39 and 14-28

These were usually the lower end bikes, but they provided the wide gear ranges for entry level riders.

However, 42x28 with a 27" wheels gave 40.5 gear inches at the bottom.

39x25 with a 700x23 wheel (and everyone rides 23's since Lance rides 23's) gives 39.4 so you have a slightly lower low with the new gearing.
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Old 01-07-09, 05:44 PM
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rhenning
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Basically the same gear range just more in between gears and duplication on newer bikes. Roger
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Old 01-07-09, 05:51 PM
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Gonzo Bob
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I prefer gears in the seventies!

I have an old roadie from the 80's with 53x42 and 13-26 6sp. I also have a bike from the late 90's with 53x39 and 12-23 9sp. The low gear on each is not quite the same but it is close.

With the 9sp, there is a lot less double shifting - you simply change the cog in the back to go up or down to the next gear.

With the 53x39, however, the 39 is a lot less usable on flat ground and I tend to ride the big ring a lot more, albeit on the bigger cogs of the cassette. In other words, I probably ride with more chain deflection more often on this setup.
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Old 01-07-09, 05:55 PM
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I'm faster on modern gearing. But I really don't care.
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Old 01-07-09, 06:14 PM
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Mike Mills
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It's all about the shifts in between the extremes, not about the numbers at the extremes. The only extreme I worry about is the low-low combination and that is unchanged in the example you gave.

You need to have the proper ratios to transition from cog to cog and a decently low, low end ratio.
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Old 01-07-09, 08:17 PM
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I use 50/34 and 14-28. 52/42 is useless. When would you even need the 42? It's not low enough to go up a long steep grade, and it's too small for the flat. I stay on the 50 except for the steep hills, and then I go 34 - 28. I like ~30 inches, and so do my knees.

My crank may not be vintage, but at least it's useful.
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Old 01-07-09, 08:23 PM
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Mike Mills
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I'm running a 47-50 front and a 13-26 rear. This is a nice half step gearing which works well in my local area, near the beach.

If I go for a mountain ride, I switch the gearing to 42-45 X 13-34. This is also half step gearing but offers a much lower, low gear. We do have some STEEP roads out here.
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Old 01-07-09, 08:40 PM
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My 6-speed and 7-speed freewheels do have the larger cogs in back, but are 52/39 up front. I can deal with hills better on them, but then again, I set up my 8-speeds to go fast, not climb. I have a 9-speed, but it's range is no wider than than my 6-speed and 7-speed bikes, using the two largest rings.

I think the gear selections were, and are still, based on getting the greatest gear flexibility for the bike's intended market. I think all these extra speeds now are just trying to do the same thing, and have gotten just a little carried away with helping us stick to a metronome cadence. That's no fun, but I'm sure that's what the market wants, or they wouldn't do it.
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Old 01-08-09, 12:05 AM
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Mike Mills
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If it was available for a 120 mm axle, I'd take a 10 speed freewheel. It's not about new vs old, it's about what works.
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Old 01-08-09, 12:17 AM
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I run an 80's 600 group on my '73 Raleigh and with my little mishmash of parts (the rear wheel is a 80 's Maillard / Rigida with a Regina 6 speed freewheel) that gives me a 42/52 up front and a 13 - 21 in the rear.

The 13-17 is single stepped and the bailout gear is the 21 which makes some of the climbs here really challenging but doable... I have a low of 53 and a high gear of 108 when I running 27 inch wheels and 7/8 racing tyres.

I have some beautiful Fiamme tubular wheels (700c) that I would like to set up with a little wider gearing to use on the bike (it will run both wheel sizes).
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Old 01-08-09, 06:53 AM
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Hello first time post , as Mike said above id go for the 10 speed freewheel if it would fit .So what I do on my old road bike is fit a 13/ 17 freewheel with 34 X 42 chain rings.That i find gives an ok range of gears with out the big jumps.Admitedly you spin a bit on tthe descents and grind up the steep climbs but I'd prefer that to the big jumps of a 13/28 42x52.
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