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Gearing Help please

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Gearing Help please

Old 09-16-20, 11:29 AM
  #1  
oleg232000
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Gearing Help please

Hello. Iam currently riding my recently purchased "vintagy" Litespeed. Its got a Sachs New Success drivetrain. Its 8 in the back, 2 in the front, so technically 16 speed. After todays ridiculous climb attempt, I realized I dont have enough gears. A steep climb is ended almost immediately cause there just arent enough gears.

So before I go the route of changing out the entire groupset, which I might in the future, does anyone know if I can just change the rear cassette? I am assuming I would also have to change the chain as well, to lets say an 10 or 11 speed chain? If so, anyone know what is compatible with Sachs New Success drivetrains? Shimano, Campy?

Thanks
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Old 09-16-20, 11:40 AM
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This thread is probably relevant to your interests:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...cess-info.html

To add gears to your cassette (i.e. change from 8 to 10/11 speed) you will need to change your shifter. Based on what people were saying 13 years ago, it sounds like finding a compatible shifter for your rear derailleur could be a challenge, so you might need to change that, too.

At the end of the day, if you want an easier time climbing, you should look at what your current gears provide you in terms of development or gear-inches, and then see what your preferred gear set could give you:

Bicycle Gear Calculator

Take note of the Derailleur Capacity that the calculator gives you, as that will determine whether or not your drivetrain can handle your desired setup. There will also be a limit to the largest cog size that a rear derailleur can handle, so do your research before making any purchases.
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Old 09-16-20, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by oleg232000 View Post
Hello. Iam currently riding my recently purchased "vintagy" Litespeed. Its got a Sachs New Success drivetrain. Its 8 in the back, 2 in the front, so technically 16 speed. After todays ridiculous climb attempt, I realized I dont have enough gears. A steep climb is ended almost immediately cause there just arent enough gears.

So before I go the route of changing out the entire groupset, which I might in the future, does anyone know if I can just change the rear cassette? I am assuming I would also have to change the chain as well, to lets say an 10 or 11 speed chain? If so, anyone know what is compatible with Sachs New Success drivetrains? Shimano, Campy?

Thanks
We have to know things like how old you are and what is the present gearing. In general, if you can't climb in a compact 34 front - 28 rear you need more practice. Going to very large gear normally doesn't help you because then you are going do slowly that you have trouble balancing the bike. 8 speed bikes have more than enough speed. The wild multiplying of gears came from Lance Armstrong who wanted an extra gear for really hard climbs in the European races. That triggered off this preposterous desire for more gears. If you're a racer they may give you a very slight advantage but the sports rider ends up using one top gear on the flats and 2 or three for climbing. So when you approach a change in the grade you're shifting three or four gears because the ratios are too close.

If you're a recent beginner, you have to practice climbing. That is something that doesn't come naturally to most people. Personally I hated the Sachs components, but today you're pretty much stuck paying a small fortune for an Ultegra or Chorus group with 11 speeds with all of their disadvantages - cost, rapid wear and shifting many times to get where you want to go.
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Old 09-16-20, 12:36 PM
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If you've got indexed shifters, you can't just throw a 10-speed cassette on the hub. You've only got 8 clicks and the chain wouldn't find the cogs properly. (On the other hand, if you have friction shifters, you could likely make it work) I would start with just looking for an 8-speed cassette with wider range. How many teeth in the largest cog of your current cassette?

(Also, none of the relevant numbers here relate to your birthday)
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Old 09-16-20, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by RiceAWay View Post
We have to know things like how old you are and what is the present gearing. In general, if you can't climb in a compact 34 front - 28 rear you need more practice. Going to very large gear normally doesn't help you because then you are going do slowly that you have trouble balancing the bike. 8 speed bikes have more than enough speed. The wild multiplying of gears came from Lance Armstrong who wanted an extra gear for really hard climbs in the European races. That triggered off this preposterous desire for more gears. If you're a racer they may give you a very slight advantage but the sports rider ends up using one top gear on the flats and 2 or three for climbing. So when you approach a change in the grade you're shifting three or four gears because the ratios are too close.

If you're a recent beginner, you have to practice climbing. That is something that doesn't come naturally to most people. Personally I hated the Sachs components, but today you're pretty much stuck paying a small fortune for an Ultegra or Chorus group with 11 speeds with all of their disadvantages - cost, rapid wear and shifting many times to get where you want to go.
Ill look up the present gearing, but Im 37 and im an avid rider. I did a grade ranging from 3-5.5% this morning, and it was fine. Doable no issues. Didnt even get out of the saddle. But then i hit a 20% grade, and after about a 1000 ft of pushing hard out of the saddle, there was just no where to go. The gears waaay too high. Im not saying Im looking for Lance Armstrong gears, but I really do think this gearing is not right.
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Old 09-16-20, 01:14 PM
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The easy button here is putting on a larger compatible 8 speed cassette, assuming one is available, but you'd have to make sure the rear derailleur can accommodate the largest gear.

You could also change the crankset to one with smaller gears, again assuming you can find a compatible one. Either of these changes would require double checking your chain length.

Outside of the above, I think you're staring at changing out the entire groupset. The newer stuff is a lot nicer, more gears and better shifting, so I don't think you'll regret making the change.
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Old 09-16-20, 01:48 PM
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You have enough different gear ratios. The problem is that your lowest gears are not low enough. This can be addressed in 2 ways. First, a cassette with a larger large cog, and second a smaller small chainring
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Old 09-16-20, 01:53 PM
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If that was a legit 20% grade, you're going to have trouble with that pretty much no matter what gears you have.
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Old 09-16-20, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
If that was a legit 20% grade, you're going to have trouble with that pretty much no matter what gears you have.
For sure, but having trouble is one thing. Literally not being able to pedal, even out of the saddle, is another. I know this cause I had some fellow riders on stock Cannondale Synapses with stock drivetrains, that were still able to pedal. Albeit very slowly
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Old 09-16-20, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
If you've got indexed shifters, you can't just throw a 10-speed cassette on the hub. You've only got 8 clicks and the chain wouldn't find the cogs properly. (On the other hand, if you have friction shifters, you could likely make it work) I would start with just looking for an 8-speed cassette with wider range. How many teeth in the largest cog of your current cassette?

(Also, none of the relevant numbers here relate to your birthday)
So my gearing setup is 13 through 21 in the rear. 42, 52 in the front. That front cog seems waaay too high or is it just me?
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Old 09-16-20, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by oleg232000 View Post
So my gearing setup is 13 through 21 in the rear. 42, 52 in the front. That front cog seems waaay too high or is it just me?
That’s old-school super-high gearing. I have 52/36 in front and 11-28 in the rear. I rarely use the small ring, but I live in Texas with just little rollers and very few real climbs. Your lowest gear is 50% harder than mine, and you face bigger hills. You can probably get smaller chainrings and a larger cassette without needing to change shifters and derailleurs.
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Old 09-16-20, 02:54 PM
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Hoo boy, that is some old school classic gearing. That cassette is known as a corncob. Great for racing Paris-Roubaix in 1975. Maybe not optimal for hills in 2020.

So, yes, the 42 small ring up front is way too big, but just as important is the 21 in the back is way too small. The good news is that 8-speed cassettes are still available and you shouldn’t have any problem finding ones with a bigger spread. The other side of the equation is swapping out smaller chainrings on the front. If you have a standard 130mm crank spider, you won’t be able to mount anything smaller than 38. Which means you’ll probably want to get a whole new compact crankset. But that’s pretty doable.
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Old 09-16-20, 03:05 PM
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I ran Sachs brifters and derailleurs on a bike back in the 90s. IIRC, the brifters were essentially first generation Ergopowers, but the cog spacing was the same as Shimano (maybe?), so you should be able to put on a 12-25 cassette, and at the front, I'd swap out the 42 for a 39, which as others have noted is probably the smallest you can go, given the bolt circle.

Mind you, I could be remembering things COMPLETELY wrong!
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Old 09-16-20, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Hoo boy, that is some old school classic gearing. That cassette is known as a corncob. Great for racing Paris-Roubaix in 1975. Maybe not optimal for hills in 2020.

So, yes, the 42 small ring up front is way too big, but just as important is the 21 in the back is way too small. The good news is that 8-speed cassettes are still available and you shouldn’t have any problem finding ones with a bigger spread. The other side of the equation is swapping out smaller chainrings on the front. If you have a standard 130mm crank spider, you won’t be able to mount anything smaller than 38. Which means you’ll probably want to get a whole new compact crankset. But that’s pretty doable.
So 11-32 in the back should make a significant difference correct? I want to make the smallest investment necessary for now, so I m trying to not buy a new crankset.
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Old 09-16-20, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by oleg232000 View Post
So 11-32 in the back should make a significant difference correct? I want to make the smallest investment necessary for now, so I m trying to not buy a new crankset.
I'd be surprised if your rear derailleur could handle that range. 12-25 or 12-26 plus a new small chainring would work, almost without question, but a 25 year old road derailleur with a capacity for a 32 tooth cog? Doubtful.
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Old 09-16-20, 04:02 PM
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Look at it this way: 42/21 is a ratio of 2. 39/26 is a ratio of 1.5, so it should be a A LOT easier. 42x21, at 60 RPM, you're going about 9.4 mph. 39x26, at 60 RPM, you're going 7 mph. So about 25% easier.

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Old 09-16-20, 04:43 PM
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I have no advice, but I sympathize. I just bought a bike with with a similar set up. And a 144 BCD crank, so I can't put anything smaller than 42 on the front. I have mostly rollers (this part of Florida is not flat) and they've been manageable but I haven't yet tried the few tougher hills in the area. I don't think I can take this one to the mountains.

Good luck.
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Old 09-16-20, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
I'd be surprised if your rear derailleur could handle that range. 12-25 or 12-26 plus a new small chainring would work, almost without question, but a 25 year old road derailleur with a capacity for a 32 tooth cog? Doubtful.
Agree.
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Old 09-16-20, 05:02 PM
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Htfu....
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Old 09-16-20, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by jon c. View Post
I have no advice, but I sympathize. I just bought a bike with with a similar set up. And a 144 BCD crank, so I can't put anything smaller than 42 on the front. I have mostly rollers (this part of Florida is not flat) and they've been manageable but I haven't yet tried the few tougher hills in the area. I don't think I can take this one to the mountains.

Good luck.
How did people handle these back in the day, anyway?
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Old 09-16-20, 05:06 PM
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On my Shimano 7 speed bikes with standard double Ultegra crank I ran a 39 in front and a 28 in back with a short cage derailleur and had no problems. I had 3 different bikes set up like that and I climbed everything then with those gears, except earlier when I used a 42 in front. I was in my 30s then and 220 pounds.
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Old 09-16-20, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
How did people handle these back in the day, anyway?
1-Slower because they were bottomed out and their pedaling form went lumpy.
2-They often just didn't. Letting your bicycle dictate your routes is a path of less resistance than fixing the bicycle to facilitate the rides you want to do. It's not like that doesn't still happen today, even with modern road gearing; the line is merely drawn at weaker riders and/or steeper hills.
3-If they really wanted lower gears on their road bikes, it was entirely possible. Wider-range drivetrains existed and worked great, and this has basically always been the case: derailleurs spent their first several decades being marketed primarily at cyclotourists. It just wasn't fashionable to use wide-range drivetrains on racing bikes.

Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
If that was a legit 20% grade, you're going to have trouble with that pretty much no matter what gears you have.
If by "no matter what gearing you have" you're assuming that the rider is sticking with standard road offerings, perhaps. But if you literally mean "no matter what gearing you have", then I'd disagree. 20% on pavement normally isn't a very big deal if you're not bottomed out. Maybe if you're down in the <2W/kg range and your speed has plunged down into the realm of 2mph or lower and you have balance issues. But most people can keep a bicycle balanced at those speeds pretty well if they're rolling power through the cranks.

Last edited by HTupolev; 09-16-20 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 09-16-20, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
How did people handle these back in the day, anyway?
It helped that back in the day I was much younger.

I started riding again about 8 years ago after a break of 30+ years. I've often wondered what the gearing was on the bike I rode when I was a teen. Riding around the finger lakes region of New York I recall that even with youth on our side we did occasionally encounter grades that forced us to walk. And otherwise I think no one expected to take hills at the cadence people do today. It was a low cadence grind. Now I worry a bit about what that might do to my knees.
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Old 09-17-20, 10:48 AM
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Well we will have to see. I already ordered a 11-32 cassette from Amazon, but its a free return. So if anything Ill trade it in for a 11-28 or 26.

And yes the particular hill i was on was 20% grade, at least according to the internet. Its a known hill in the cycling community here (Mountain Gate road, LA).

And regarding the front chain rings, I feel like I should first try and change out rear cassette before trying to mess with the front chain ring, crank setup. That will be more costly and I would need to research what is compatible with my bike, drivetrain etc.
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Old 09-17-20, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by oleg232000 View Post
So my gearing setup is 13 through 21 in the rear. 42, 52 in the front. That front cog seems waaay too high or is it just me?
The gearing is way to high for anyone, up to and including Lance. The pros will frequently be riding a 53/39 front with 11/28 cassette for the mountain stages. I suspect there's a few riders with 39f/30r combination.
The pro's really need the 53 chainring to keep up with the peloton, and can usually maintain 10-12 kph even up a 15% grade.
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