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New cassette time. Help with gear ratio decision?

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New cassette time. Help with gear ratio decision?

Old 05-05-20, 08:02 PM
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Archinutt
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New cassette time. Help with gear ratio decision?

I have a 2006-2007 giant OCR1 road bike with the stock triple. My cassette and chain are getting ready to be replaced because of normal wear.

itís a 10 speed cassette on an all 105 setup

Iím wanting higher gears - the down hill kind. Most of the cassettes i see have the same high gear (11)

so is that a new front gear change? Is that difficult?

my riding is a typical 12 to 40 mile rides at 12.5 to 14mph average speed -actual speed 12 to 20mph. Minneapolis isnít super hilly in my area but not overly flat. I will start commuting soon a few times a week. 30 mile round trip.

any advice?

Last edited by Archinutt; 05-05-20 at 08:07 PM. Reason: More info
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Old 05-05-20, 08:19 PM
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What are the chainring sizes on your crankset? It basically sounds like you need a bigger chainring but the front derailleur can only handle a certain range of chainring sizes so it may not be as simple as getting a bigger big ring. You may need to replace the whole unit and possibly lose your smallest ring if that matters to you
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Old 05-06-20, 08:08 AM
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Hate to tell you, but a taller gear isn't going to make you go faster.

You need to work on pedaling faster, instead. Figure out how to count how many times you push the pedals around in a minute; I'm guessing it's around 40-60 (it's called cadence, FWIW). Now practice shifting DOWN a gear, and pedaling 10 rpm faster. After a few weeks, once that seems normal, try down-shifting and pedaling another 10 rpm faster. Once you've worked your way up to a cadence of 70-80, you may find you're already going 2-3 mph faster than when you started.
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Old 05-06-20, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Hate to tell you, but a taller gear isn't going to make you go faster.

You need to work on pedaling faster, instead. Figure out how to count how many times you push the pedals around in a minute; I'm guessing it's around 40-60 (it's called cadence, FWIW). Now practice shifting DOWN a gear, and pedaling 10 rpm faster. After a few weeks, once that seems normal, try down-shifting and pedaling another 10 rpm faster. Once you've worked your way up to a cadence of 70-80, you may find you're already going 2-3 mph faster than when you started.
The point is not to make you faster, it's to give you the mechanical advantage to do what you are already doing well. The people who think they are on the tour de france and have to keep the exact cadence for every stroke, well there is no helping that kind of nonsense.
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Old 05-06-20, 06:59 PM
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And, it's a whole lot easier to make power with speed, than it is with brute force. Higher cadence comes easier, the more you do it/
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Old 05-07-20, 09:41 AM
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Thanks for the replies! I understand the cadence and have been riding for a while. Not to over simplify but I just really enjoy those taller gears (is that the right word) and if I am going through the expense and effort of replacing gears I would like to have something a bit different than I have had for years.

I do need to go and count my gears. I guess a bigger question is how do you know how many teeth it can handle. Is there a formula? My LBS seemed to think by derailed hanger was medium to large.

I have changed my mind on on making a big change to the back cassette. WIth a triple I have never thought I needed even lower gears. I might stick with the smaller range to keep with the smoother gear change, especially if I mess with the front.

Let me go and count them and report out
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Old 05-07-20, 09:53 AM
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I completely understand the need for tall gears, it's nice to have a gear you can spin on your way down hills without going 120 RPM and bouncing around looking like an idiot. I think I have better balance and control over windy roads when I can keep pedalling, plus I stay loose, and on cold days stay warm.

I think with a triple, a 52 or 53 front chainring makes sense. You will have the lower gears covered, if you don't mind shifting a little more often up front. FD may not be compatible, but FD's are cheap.
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Old 05-07-20, 10:08 AM
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Ok, went out and counted

Rear cassette is 11-23 (and needs to be cleaned ). I will be replacing this at the end of the season. Shark fins for sure and chain is also on the verge....just going to finish them off together

Front triple - they were nice enough to put the numbers on though I donít quite understand them - 50/39t (what does the 50 mean?) then a 39/30t and the smallest unmarked with 30 teeth. Top two were marked with ďS-10Ē (10 speed?) 130mm

Thoughts on getting a higher range? I donít need anything extreme or that will cause damage or drastically shorter life, or do I just have what I have? Itís all shimano 105.

Good reminder on the cadence too. I did that a long time ago but havenít paid much attention to it lately. Probably should again.
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Old 05-07-20, 10:46 AM
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You aren't going that fast and don't have a lot of hills. With you bike and likely the stock 30/39/50 chainring and 12-25 cassette, you should have a pretty nice configuration for day to day use with a reasonably tight cassette spacing to keep a reasonable cadence. The middle ring in that setup looks like a nice place to be.

On the high end of things, your 50-12 gets you 30 mph at a reasonable 90 RPM. "bouncing down the hills" at 120 rpm, you will be going 40 mph.

50-11 only buys you an extra ~2 mph at a given cadence

If you feel you need taller gears to go faster, you probably should be looking at increasing your cadence. It should help you increase you average speed on you longer rides anyways.
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Old 05-07-20, 10:56 AM
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Thanks! Interesting information. One of the things my lower average speed comes from riding through urban areas and all my favorite routes having a decent number of stop signs/crossings.

As it stands now the middle chain ring does great for 95% of everything.

Is there a way to know if the big ring can even get bigger and still shift well? I’m not sure how to know.
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Old 05-07-20, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Oneder View Post
The point is not to make you faster, it's to give you the mechanical advantage to do what you are already doing well. The people who think they are on the tour de france and have to keep the exact cadence for every stroke, well there is no helping that kind of nonsense.
It can be nonsense, certainly. In my own riding, what cadence I'm at is determined by the resistance I'm seeing due to the level of effort, which is influenced by my speed, ascent or descent, etc. There's no one cadence I'm shooting for, rather the cadence is matched to the level of effort. That being said, since most of my riding is in very flat terrain it's fairly predictable. If I'm going 12mph with my wife I'll probably be at like 60 or 65 rpm and freewheeling often with next to no effort or resistance in the pedals. If I'm cruising at 17 mph it'll probably be high 70s/low 80s. At 18 mph it'll probably be around 85ish, and at 19 or 20 I'm upper 80s to mid 90s. The higher 90-95 rpm cadences are only used when there's enough power being generated to develop significant pedaling resistance at a steady state. For non-steady state it's going to just depending on the conditions in each moment. I can't speak for anyone else, but for me personally spinning a high cadence can only be done at all if there's a pedaling resistance sufficient to justify it. Too-low resistance makes it actually difficult and senseless to try to spin a high cadence.

So yeah, I'm an advocate for reasonably high cadence (95 rpm is high cadence for me, may not be for others), but only as appropriate. I'll certainly never tell someone going 13 or 14mph on flat ground that they need to be spinning 90 rpm. That's nuts, and would probably have them flopping all over the saddle. I think your post is spot on in the sense that high or consistent cadence needs to be matched to the circumstances including the current level of effort, and aren't desirable under just any and all circumstances.
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Old 05-07-20, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
It can be nonsense, certainly. In my own riding, what cadence I'm at is determined by the resistance I'm seeing due to the level of effort, which is influenced by my speed, ascent or descent, etc. There's no one cadence I'm shooting for, rather the cadence is matched to the level of effort. That being said, since most of my riding is in very flat terrain it's fairly predictable. If I'm going 12mph with my wife I'll probably be at like 60 or 65 rpm and freewheeling often with next to no effort or resistance in the pedals. If I'm cruising at 17 mph it'll probably be high 70s/low 80s. At 18 mph it'll probably be around 85ish, and at 19 or 20 I'm upper 80s to mid 90s. The higher 90-95 rpm cadences are only used when there's enough power being generated to develop significant pedaling resistance at a steady state..
Sounds like you are riding a fixie...

Originally Posted by Archinutt View Post
Is there a way to know if the big ring can even get bigger and still shift well? Iím not sure how to know.
It depends... You might be able to find a 52T for your current set, but it only buys 4% in speed to cadence. As noted above, it may require a new derailleur or at least an adjustment. Seems like a lot of headache if you have a working setup, but if you are due for replacement, it might be worth a shot.

Sorry in my last post I missed that you had an 11-23.

Anyway, here is a fun tool to play with to compare. Of course, speed and cadence needs power, of course find what is comfortable, but if you spend a lot of time at <70 and are working, you may want to try a higher cadence, it may work better for you... or maybe not.
https://www.bikecalc.com/speed_at_cadence
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Old 05-07-20, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Mista Sparkle View Post
Sounds like you are riding a fixie...
Nope. Further comment below.

Of course, speed and cadence needs power, of course find what is comfortable, but if you spend a lot of time at <70 and are working, you may want to try a higher cadence, it may work better for you... or maybe not.
https://www.bikecalc.com/speed_at_cadence
The part you yourself bolded is why my cadence depends on my level of effort. If the effort is low, then the percentage of my muscle strength required to turn the pedals can be low even at a low cadence, and if the effort to turn the pedals is already low, there's not only little point to spinning faster, it can actually be difficult to do. I mean, I'm sure you'd agree with this, but for anyone who might be confused, try to spin at 90 or 100 rpm while doing 5mph in your lowest gear on flat road and see how that works out. With no resistance at all (or very little resistance at all) spinning is difficult and unnecessary. The reason I'll spin ~80rpm at 17 mph or 85rpm at 18mph and 90rpm at 19mph (or close enough, just an approximation here) is because the level of force required per pedal stroke will be approximately the same. If it gets too easy I'll shift up to a higher gear, if it gets too hard I'll shift down to a lower gear, as the case dictates. The cadence is meant (at least for me) to keep the required leg muscle exertion to a level that's sustainable over a long ride.
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Old 05-07-20, 01:26 PM
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I don't disagree that you work harder at higher speeds, but I believe you cadence varies less than you suggest. What you posted as an example is nearly a straight line going through 0, implying you could nearly use just 1 gear.

You will most likely be pedaling at a higher force at a higher speed even if you don't change gears as power required grows exponentially instead of linearly.
More fun calculators =]
https://www.gribble.org/cycling/power_v_speed.html

Sorry to derail...
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Old 05-07-20, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Mista Sparkle View Post
I don't disagree that you work harder at higher speeds, but I believe you cadence varies less than you suggest. What you posted as an example is nearly a straight line going through 0, implying you could nearly use just 1 gear.

You will most likely be pedaling at a higher force at a higher speed even if you don't change gears as power required grows exponentially instead of linearly.
More fun calculators =]
https://www.gribble.org/cycling/power_v_speed.html

Sorry to derail...
Holy crap, that's actually kind of a cool calculator. Putting in my weight and bike weight, but not changing my front area or drag coefficient (leaving them as-is in the calculator), because I'd have no way of knowing the true values, I had a look at the graph and it's actually not that far off from what I've observed, as in probably within 10% or so. With frontal area and drag coefficient set more appropriately no doubt the prediction would be even closer. That's pretty cool.

Yeah, I'm not making force judgments based on measurements or anything while I ride, nor would it be really beneficial if I could. It's really judged by feel, and it's a qualitative rather than quantitative judgment. I've ridden enough thousands of miles to know approximately what the pedaling force I can exert and maintain for a long cruise feels like, so I'll shift or increase cadence as appropriate to keep it in the ball park for whatever level of effort a given ride is supposed to be at. None of this is new stuff: we all do this our own way, and what I've said is just my way of trying to put what I actually do into words.

Bottom line: I'm a proponent of higher cadence, but not universally higher cadence, by which I mean I'll use a high cadence when the power output required can benefit from a higher cadence while keeping my "leg burn" at a level that I can sustain for a while. When the power output doesn't require this, I don't do it. It's why when I'm riding with my wife (essentially a non-cyclist) at 12mph on flat ground I'm fine pedaling along at 60 or 65 rpm nearly effortlessly where spinning a high cadence would be neither beneficial nor even practical, and within my typical cruising speed range (say, 17mph for an easy cruise, 19-20mph for a high-effort cruise) the cadence will ramp up with the effort required. I don't think anyone who advocates spinning a high cadence means literally high cadence all the time, no matter the level of effort.
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Old 05-07-20, 05:27 PM
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I'd just be replacing the rear with another 23-11 and keeping the front at 50. If you really want to, you could look at getting a larger large chainring, but they're not cheap usually and the gains are relatively low. The reality of 3 extra teeth -53/11 vs 50/11 is actually only a few rpm at ~40mph. Maybe work at being able to spin at higher rpm. You can easily work at that, and once you get to a level where the rpm is too hard to hold for any decent length of time (I'm talking 120+rpm here) you'll be going so fast and likely downhill that you're better off getting low and aero and coasting it out
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Old 05-07-20, 06:54 PM
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What an interesting conversation. I had no idea this was going to turn into a conversation 95% about cadence. Who knew (everyone but me apparently). I may need to change the title of the thread

I may likely keep it as it is at replacement.

Thanks everyone
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Old 05-08-20, 01:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Archinutt View Post
What an interesting conversation. I had no idea this was going to turn into a conversation 95% about cadence. Who knew (everyone but me apparently). I may need to change the title of the thread

I may likely keep it as it is at replacement.

Thanks everyone
It has to involve cadence. If your range in cadence were infinite and you could push infinitely hard you could go as fast as you want with a single gear.

If I spin at 90 rpm and you mash at 75 rpm and my smallest cog is a 12t and yours is an 11t, who's going faster given the same chainrings up front?
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Old 05-08-20, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
It has to involve cadence. If your range in cadence were infinite and you could push infinitely hard you could go as fast as you want with a single gear.

If I spin at 90 rpm and you mash at 75 rpm and my smallest cog is a 12t and yours is an 11t, who's going faster given the same chainrings up front?

yíall were all talking about speed. Iím fine with how fast I ride and my own cadence. I said I enjoyed the higher gears and if I was going to spend money and effort it would be fun to change things up and how to figure that out asked how.

i can mash potatoes all I want ... ha!
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Old 05-08-20, 02:24 PM
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So the answer to your original question is that you'd need a 52 or 53 tooth chainring up front to replace the 50 (whether that's possible with your current crank is another story). In my own cycling experience, the only time I notice the difference between my bike with a compact (50 tooth) chainring and the other bike with a 52 tooth chainring is when I'm going down a substantial hill trying to keep up with somebody else. 30 + mph.
If that's what you're trying to work around, a new chainring might help you. If not, you have plenty of gears to ride at the speed you want to ride at with no equipment changes. IMHO.

You can go here and see what I mean - plug in your cassette and instead of the default for chainrings, use 50 for one and 53 for another and it will show you the speed differences for a given gear combo in a given cadence range. Mike Sherman's Bicycle Gear Calculator
You can see that it's really not a very dramatic change at all. Ignore the low end, you would have shifted down to your middle chain-ring by then anyway.

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Old 05-09-20, 10:34 AM
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Cool. And yes I am more than happy with the current
set up. It’s the half dozen super steep down hills it would be fun to have a bit more. But after all this I’m not thinking it’s worth it. However I have learned a ton...thanks everyone!
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Old 05-10-20, 03:55 AM
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Fast is super fun IMO. There’s some good downhills where I live and it’s possible to get up around 80kph (50mph). Once you start going up over 30mph aero matters a lot. Staying low and tight gets you faster speeds. Working on a good aero tuck(if you can really call it that for us Clydes ) will get you speed. Breaking that position to pedal can sometimes slow you down. On the pedaling side, laying down power at those higher speeds and higher cadences is something you need to work on. Do you have a cadence meter on your bike? If not one could be a huge benefit to you. Ride down hills in a small gear from time to time a really rev it out, like 120+rpm. Also do it on the flats occasionally too. What you want to work on is having the feeling of pushing on the pedals at high revs rather than the feeling of chasing the pedals around with no pressure. Working on that will get you faster at speed when you start revving out that big gear. Work at it and you will get better at it.

I’d only gotten back into riding for about a year before I got into low level road racing and track racing soon after. Track is where I developed my spin ability, and it took a while for it to develop, so don’t get disheartened and think it will happen overnight. But work at it and it will come
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Old 05-11-20, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
Holy crap, that's actually kind of a cool calculator. Putting in my weight and bike weight, but not changing my front area or drag coefficient (leaving them as-is in the calculator), because I'd have no way of knowing the true values, I had a look at the graph and it's actually not that far off from what I've observed, as in probably within 10% or so. With frontal area and drag coefficient set more appropriately no doubt the prediction would be even closer. That's pretty cool.

Yeah, I'm not making force judgments based on measurements or anything while I ride, nor would it be really beneficial if I could. It's really judged by feel, and it's a qualitative rather than quantitative judgment. I've ridden enough thousands of miles to know approximately what the pedaling force I can exert and maintain for a long cruise feels like, so I'll shift or increase cadence as appropriate to keep it in the ball park for whatever level of effort a given ride is supposed to be at. None of this is new stuff: we all do this our own way, and what I've said is just my way of trying to put what I actually do into words.

Bottom line: I'm a proponent of higher cadence, but not universally higher cadence, by which I mean I'll use a high cadence when the power output required can benefit from a higher cadence while keeping my "leg burn" at a level that I can sustain for a while. When the power output doesn't require this, I don't do it. It's why when I'm riding with my wife (essentially a non-cyclist) at 12mph on flat ground I'm fine pedaling along at 60 or 65 rpm nearly effortlessly where spinning a high cadence would be neither beneficial nor even practical, and within my typical cruising speed range (say, 17mph for an easy cruise, 19-20mph for a high-effort cruise) the cadence will ramp up with the effort required. I don't think anyone who advocates spinning a high cadence means literally high cadence all the time, no matter the level of effort.
Yeah I think the same. Also though when you are bigger like me the low gearing is nice for going down hills or you are just spinning away to no effect.
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Old 05-11-20, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Oneder View Post
Yeah I think the same. Also though when you are bigger like me the low gearing is nice for going down hills or you are just spinning away to no effect.
I hear ya. On my cassettes I've sacrificed the ultimate high gear ratios in exchange for more mid-range fine shifts, the penalty for which is that on steep enough downhills I sacrifice a couple mph before spinning out. Oh well.

I learned to think a little differently about gearings and relationship to cadence and whatnot during this discussion. I've always read the comments from guys who claim to really need those 53/11t combos, and I've struggled to understand why if they're not racing or just trying to maximize their downhill speeds. It finally occurred to me that folks who mash along at, say, 75 rpm when I'd be at 95 rpm are going to be a good 2-3 cogs further down the cassette than me. I'll be on my #4 or #5 cog and they're nearing the end of the cassette. The gearings needed and how they're used are intrinsically related, and not everyone does it the same, which is fine.

Btw, it's actually kind of funny how the conversation veered and OP bemoaned that we were reading way too much into his original questions. The problem is, his original questions were, for the most part, fairly vague, and lacked any indicator of what he was trying to accomplish or why he thought he wasn't already accomplishing it with is present gearing. I mean, he's already at 11t in the rear, stated his usual speed was 12-14 mph, and wants "taller" gears. Taller than what, first of all, but secondly, how small must his big ring have had to be not to be sufficient in combination with an 11t in his usual 12-14 mph range, or even his high-end 20mph max? How this played out in this thread is understandable. He doesn't seem to know what he wants or why he wants it, but I hope he finds it.

Last edited by SethAZ; 05-11-20 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 06-08-20, 04:09 PM
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Archinutt
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It is true that my question was vague and I didn't quite know what I was asking...Which is why I asked

A couple of updates. When I say average 12-13 mph, that's the computer read will all the stops built in. no wind and flat natural pace for me is around 18-20 but that's hard to say because of all of the variables.

I don't have a cadence counter but this weekend was on longer straights and did several counts using a 60 second timer while counting rotations. The average cadence for how I have been riding for a while is about 74-75 rpm. I did a few where I consciencly spun faster but at a pace I thought I could keep for a good long while (close to bouncing but not bouncing) and got to the 85 range. I did several of really spinning but something I could get used to and was in the mid low 90's. It was a cool experiment. I will keep it up as suggested here and see what happens to my speed.

Armed with all of this new knowledge and thinking of a few short, but very very steep hills on my favorite rides (plus just wanting something different to experiment with) I ordered the 11-25 and am not messing with the front gears.

Thanks everyone...my bemoaning was more a surprise on where the conversation went. I learnt a ton - thank y'all
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