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Best way to soften the gearing

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Best way to soften the gearing

Old 11-26-18, 08:31 PM
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tigat
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Best way to soften the gearing

Some years ago for Christmas, I surprised my wife with a new Trek Domane 4.5, replacing her Bianchi, which had a triple crankset. The new ride had a nice Ultegra 10 spd group, but the switch meant she went, not entirely voluntarily, to a compact double that maxed out at 34-28 for climbing. I promised her it would be fine.

At 62 now, she's a trooper, but the grinding up hills has started to reduce her willingness to ride and climb. No judgment here, when I found out that the DA di2 stuff now accommodated 30 on the back, I put it on my new Domane in a heartbeat.

I've looked at everything from a new groupset, which will leave us with parts that we will never use, to putting a 46-30 crank on, to a Tiagra or 5700 105 derailleur married to the 6700 vintage levers. I would love some thoughts on solutions.
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Old 11-26-18, 08:41 PM
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Roadlink & a 32 or 34 cassette, maybe a new chain.

About $100
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Old 11-26-18, 10:35 PM
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11-36 cassette, 46/30 crankset
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Old 11-26-18, 10:43 PM
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I run a SRAM PG-1170 11/36 cassette with Ultegra compact cranks and a GS derailleur. It shift perfectly. I crosschain the crud out of it.

Also consider an "adventure" crank, 48/32 or 46/30. There is a very long thread.

https://www.bikeforums.net/fifty-plu...road-bike.html


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Old 11-27-18, 02:50 AM
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I would suggest a pair of 4700 shifters, 4700 derailleurs, a 10S 11-34 cassette and a new longer chain.
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Old 11-27-18, 08:18 AM
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Campy lost a longtime customer when I decided on a new bike. Record / Chorus maxes out at 29 and I could get compact with 32 or 34 rear with Ultegra.
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Old 11-27-18, 08:22 AM
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Get a Tiagra 4703 triple group and sell the old group. The death of the triple on higher end groups is almost criminal.
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Old 11-27-18, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by waters60 View Post
Campy lost a longtime customer when I decided on a new bike. Record / Chorus maxes out at 29 and I could get compact with 32 or 34 rear with Ultegra.
You could have changed front gearing on your Campy bike.
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Old 11-27-18, 08:46 AM
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Planet Cyclery still has Centaur and Athena triple groupsets in stock. Sounds like you bought your wife a nice bike, so it would be a shame to switch the ultegra out for tiagara, but ultegra to athena is a lateral move IMO. I don't have any use for one right now, but I might have to pick up one of those athena triple groupsets just because it was the last nice triple and I will certainly need it someday.
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Old 11-27-18, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
You could have changed front gearing on your Campy bike.
Not really without changing the crank. Pretty sure 34T is the smallest ring you can put on a compact campy crank.
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Old 11-27-18, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
Not really without changing the crank. Pretty sure 34T is the smallest ring you can put on a compact campy crank.
That's right. Change the crank. You said you bought a new bike and Campy lost a customer. Very few bikes are sold with Campy groupsets.
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Old 11-27-18, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
That's right. Change the crank. You said you bought a new bike and Campy lost a customer. Very few bikes are sold with Campy groupsets.
@waters60 said that, not me.
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Old 11-27-18, 09:30 AM
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The Ultegra cassette only goes to 11-30 in 10-speed. But the mountain bike CS-HG81-10 cassettes should work fine. There's 11-32, 11-34, and 11-36.

On my 11-speed, I tried an 11-32 to replace the stock 11-28. It shifts fine, even though the top pulley is quite close to the biggest cog.

For your bike, I'd get the 11-32 and try it, the price is under $40 usually. With the bike in a stand, or held by the saddle, shift the chain onto the big chainring, then "carefully" shift from the middle of the cassette to the largest cog. You need at least a tiny gap between the top pulley and the big cog, and the derailleur arm needs to have a jog in the chain. You don't want the chain stretched all the way straight. You might not even need a new, longer chain. Make sure the front ring can easily shift to the small ring while cross chained, too. Now go test it at low speeds, and easy shifts.

The Wolf Tooth is a longer derailleur hanger, to allow a larger cassette to fit.

(You need a "chain whip" and a "cassette tool" to swap cassettes. )

Last edited by rm -rf; 11-27-18 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 11-27-18, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by tigat View Post
Some years ago for Christmas, I surprised my wife with a new Trek Domane 4.5, replacing her Bianchi, which had a triple crankset. The new ride had a nice Ultegra 10 spd group, but the switch meant she went, not entirely voluntarily, to a compact double that maxed out at 34-28 for climbing. I promised her it would be fine.

At 62 now, she's a trooper, but the grinding up hills has started to reduce her willingness to ride and climb. No judgment here, when I found out that the DA di2 stuff now accommodated 30 on the back, I put it on my new Domane in a heartbeat.

I've looked at everything from a new groupset, which will leave us with parts that we will never use, to putting a 46-30 crank on, to a Tiagra or 5700 105 derailleur married to the 6700 vintage levers. I would love some thoughts on solutions.
I think an important question to ask is what sort of climbs is she avoiding with her current gearing? I'm asking because going to a 12-32 with maybe a switch to a long cage RD would be easy and relatively cheap, but that may still not be a low enough gear if she's trying to grind up 5 mile 10% grades. This is a good guide so you can match her climbing cadence to the right gearing, based on her sustainable power and weight etc-

BikeCalc.com - Speed at all Cadences for any Gear and Wheel

Here's a little snip of the differences in going from a 28 to a 30 or 32 on the back, as well as going from a 34t front ring to a 30t.


Last edited by Dan333SP; 11-27-18 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 11-27-18, 10:12 AM
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Gearing choices

Cadence

The tradeoff with wide range cassettes is larger gaps between shifts. Some riders don't care or notice that they can't get the "just right" cadence. Other riders, like me, will be annoyed and keep shifting up and down one click, either pedaling a little too fast or a little too slow.

With my 32 rear, compared to my old 28 low gear, I can slow down, use moderate pedal pressure and stay seated on a steeper hill. And the really steep grades are easier to do standing up, too.

Percentages
One rear cog shift is anywhere from about 6% up to 15% or so, depending on the tooth counts between the cogs. Around 10% could be considered "one shift" in effort.
So going from 28 to 32 as the largest cog is 32/28 = 1.14 = 14% easier
A 30 chainring instead of a 34 is 34/30 = 13% easier.

Charts from Mike Sherman's Gear Calculator.
10 speed gearing at typical flat road cadences:

11-28 and 34-50, the stock setup.
Reasonably close shifts in the big chainring, and close shifts in the small chainring all the way to 20 mph.
Great for everything except steep hills.




34-50 and 11-32 (The gear calculator link for this setup: Calc )
A lower low gear for hills, the tradeoff is bigger gaps from 15-20 mph in the small chainring. The big ring is quite similar to the 11-28 setup from 15-22 mph.
(Compare to the 30-46 and 11-28 chart farther below.)



~~~~~~~~~~

11-36 and 34-50, will need a Wolf Tooth.
Lots of low gearing!
The small chainring has large gaps between shifts above 15 mph.
The big chainring is okay down to around 12 mph.


~~~~~~~

30-46 new crankset

11-28 and 30-46 crankset
This just moves the good gearing of the current bike down about one more rear shift.
It has a similar lowest gear as the 50-34 & 11-32 above. But there's much closer shifts in the 12-17 mph range. The small chainring doesn't reach 20 mph, though.


11-32 and 30-46 crankset
Really low gears!
But you'd want to shift out of the small chainring before 15-16 mph, which might be a little annoying on fairly flat rides.
It depends on the rider's typical cadences and usual road speeds if this makes sense.

Last edited by rm -rf; 11-27-18 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 11-27-18, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
Gearing choices

Cadence

The tradeoff with wide range cassettes is larger gaps between shifts. Some riders don't care or notice that they can't get the "just right" cadence. Other riders, like me, will be annoyed and keep shifting up and down one click, either pedaling a little too fast or a little too slow.

With my 32 rear, compared to my old 28 low gear, I can slow down, use moderate pedal pressure and stay seated on a steeper hill. And the really steep grades are easier to do standing up, too.

Percentages
One rear cog shift is anywhere from about 6% up to 15% or so, depending on the tooth counts between the cogs. Around 10% could be considered "one shift" in effort.
So going from 28 to 32 as the largest cog is 32/28 = 1.14 = 14% easier
A 30 chainring instead of a 34 is 34/30 = 13% easier.

Charts from Mike Sherman's Gear Calculator.
10 speed gearing at typical flat road cadences:

11-28 and 34-50, the stock setup.
Reasonably close shifts in the big chainring, and close shifts in the small chainring all the way to 20 mph.
Great for everything except steep hills.




34-50 and 11-32 (The gear calculator link for this setup: Calc )
A lower low gear for hills, the tradeoff is bigger gaps from 15-20 mph in the small chainring. The big ring is quite similar to the 11-28 setup from 15-22 mph.
(Compare to the 30-46 and 11-28 chart farther below.)



~~~~~~~~~~

11-36 and 34-50, will need a Wolf Tooth.
Lots of low gearing!
The small chainring has large gaps between shifts above 15 mph.
The big chainring is okay down to around 12 mph.


~~~~~~~

30-46 new crankset

11-28 and 30-46 crankset
This just moves the good gearing of the current bike down about one more rear shift.
It has a similar lowest gear as the 50-34 & 11-32 above. But there's much closer shifts in the 12-17 mph range. The small chainring doesn't reach 20 mph, though.


11-32 and 30-46 crankset
Really low gears!
But you'd want to shift out of the small chainring before 15-16 mph, which might be a little annoying on fairly flat rides.
It depends on the rider's typical cadences and usual road speeds if this makes sense.



I don't see many folks who ascend steep hills at 85 minimum cadence- not me for sure,

& sounds like not you either.
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Old 11-27-18, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
I don't see many folks who ascend steep hills at 85 minimum cadence...
You need a triple for that
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Old 11-27-18, 10:47 AM
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Dear Shimano, please read this and similar threads and see how much confusion you caused by killing the 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace triple groups. 30-46, 36-50, 1-32, 11-98, blahblahblahblah. This kind of talk was never needed. The triple covers it all. Just bring the 3T back please.
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Old 11-27-18, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
You need a triple for that


Even if you have the gears- on a mtn bike, say, who spins up everything?

Don't tell anybody, but my cadence drops to the 50s on hills sometimes.
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Old 11-27-18, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
I don't see many folks who ascend steep hills at 85 minimum cadence- not me for sure,

& sounds like not you either.
Well of course. The charts are for normal riding on flat to small rolling hills. That's where you use the higher cadences.
Riders spend way more time at these cadences than the really low cadences on steep climbs. You don't get "free" lower gears without other tradeoffs, which may or may not be significant to the rider.

The charts do show how many more gear shifts are available below the previous lowest gear. Even one or two more shifts is significant.

~~~~~~

Swapping in a lower low gear doesn't make steep climb cadences all that much lower, but it really helps on reducing the amount of pedal pressure to climb. That mashing, all-out climbing effort is what makes steep climbs difficult.
I can stay seated on 10% grades now, and my speed is less than 4 mph, with a cadence in the 40s. But I'm not pushing hard on the pedals. With my old 25 or 27 low gearing, I'd need to stand up.

Down to 3 mph
The gear calculator also shows speeds at a cadence.
Here's my 34front - 32rear low gear (in 11 speed)
When comparing gearing, I like to keep reducing the cadence number until the lowest gear shows 3.0 mph, that's about as slow as I can comfortably climb in a straight line.



That's 36 rpm at 3 mph.
My previous 28 low gear would be 32 rpm. That's about 1 pedal stroke a second. It doesn't sound like much difference, both are very low cadences. But the 32 cog needs less pedal pressure, a big advantage.

I often climb steeper hills at 3.5 mph, around 40-44 rpm. Less taxing with a 32 cog compared to a 28 at the same climbing speed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~
Climbing at 80 rpm!
Here's ex-pro Phil Gaimon, climbing Pikes Peak for almost an hour, from the 10000 foot level up to 14000 feet at the finish. Lots of 11% grades at 8 mph.
You can see the cadence from his shadow. 9 mph with a 50-28 is 94 rpm, but he appears to be doing about 80 rpm or so. He might have a 53-39 and 12-28.
That's amazing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMBI9ZSUHHA#t=13m43s

Last edited by rm -rf; 11-27-18 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 11-27-18, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
You need a triple for that
Officially the 4700 triple only supports 11-32 with a 30t in front. Its not that far off a 11-34/34 combo.
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Old 11-27-18, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by tigat View Post
trooper,
trouper

but the grinding up hills has started to reduce her willingness to ride and climb. No judgment here, when I found out that the DA di2 stuff now accommodated 30 on the back, I put it on my new Domane in a heartbeat.

I've looked at everything from a new groupset, which will leave us with parts that we will never use, to putting a 46-30 crank on, to a Tiagra or 5700 105 derailleur married to the 6700 vintage levers. I would love some thoughts on solutions.
My 11-speed Ultegra Di2 can handle an 11-36T cassette, and a 46-30T crank.


The least expensive option for your wife's bike is to put an 11-36T cassette on and crank the B-screw down.

The "official" ratings are very conservative.

Last edited by wgscott; 11-27-18 at 11:38 AM. Reason: Added link to 46/30T crank thread
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Old 11-27-18, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
The least expensive option for your wife's bike is to put an 11-36T cassette on and crank the B-screw down.
Yep. Always do the easy and cheap thing first.

Get a SRAM PG-1130 cassette + longer chain and see how she likes it.
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Old 11-27-18, 12:07 PM
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I know availability is an issue. (I'm still riding 9-speed stuff.) But if you do go triple, go less than 30 on that inner. I run 24 to 28 on all my triples. I love the 110/74 BCD cranksets because of the gearing choices they offer. If I were looking to buy a crankset, I'd go to Sugino and see what they offer.

I am also a fan of the ancient "inches" system of gear ratios because it is so easy to visualize. 100"- big, downhill. 70" - normal flat ground, 30" - hill climbing. (Chainring teeth / cassette teeth X wheel diameter. 27" is very close to the actual diameter of most 700c tires.) So a 30-32 gear gives you 30 / 32 X 27 = 25.3" 26-28 gives you 25.1" and better gear spacing. 26-30 gives 23.4". 24-28 gives 23.1" And so on. (You can get steel 24s that will wear very well and they are so small they don't weigh much more. I believe Salsa made them.)

I don't sweat rear derailleur capacity much as long as it's close. I make sure I have enough chain to easily get into the big-big and have fun watching the small-small sag, maybe the cage folding back completely; possibly with the chain rubbing against itself. Then I just ride it. And use the small-small on occasion (if that crankset will allow it. Old ones did, New ones like to pick up that chain and dump it on the middle ring.) Do put on a ChainWatcher. There are several brands. They all work.

If your wife can deal with the triple, she may consider this a real gift.

Edit: I also often run front derailleurs beyond "capacity". This means the chain drags on the roller at the bottom of the cage. I often take off the roller and replace it with a stack of the smallest washers I can get on the bolt. Let the chain drag. It's going to be a long time before either the chain wears out or the washers do. My life expectancy is a much smaller number.

Ben

Last edited by 79pmooney; 11-27-18 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 11-27-18, 12:47 PM
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To all, great responses. Thanks.

I'm going to start with a 5700 series mid cage (less than $50 online), an 11 32 cassette, and a new chain. The Shimano guide says her current ST 6700 levers are compatible. It's the short steep ramps that are getting her bogged down, not the longer climbs, so 34-32 is probably good enough.

Some research on the WolfTooth Roadlink site indicates it is only available if you already have a GS series Shimano rear derailleur (in which case I'd already have a 32 option on the cassette), or for the new 8000, 9100 stuff. Darn. It seemed like an cheap, simple solution.

The braze on front derailleur on the Domane looks like it's already as low as it can go in the slot, so I'm not sure about the 46 30 crank, but that's probably the next move if this doesn't work.

The triple on the bike the Domane replaced was one of the last Ultegra models. I had a fleeting thought about trading it out with the new Domane. Woulda, coulda, shoulda moment. Oh well.
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