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Gearing change for easier climbing

Old 06-30-21, 07:09 AM
  #1  
teejaywhy
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Gearing change for easier climbing

My wife has a 2018 women's Tarmac Expert. Ultegra equipped, it has a 52/36 front and 11-30 rear. She is not racing and would like to explore changes to change to some lower gears for easier climbing.

It seems the least expensive would be to swap the cassette, but she has the "short" cage RD which is spec'ed to support a max 30t.

That leaves the front. I know the complete crankset is available in a 50/34 for about $280. But I'm also finding just the smaller chainring in a 34t. Is this possible to just swap the 36t to 34t ?? Would that cause any problems with shifting? Will it really make any difference anyway?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-30-21, 07:42 AM
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Cassette and a Wolf Tooth RoadLink might be your best bet: https://www.wolftoothcomponents.com/...ducts/roadlink

I'm not sure the 50/34 front will give your wife the result she wants and seems like a more expensive way to go.

Patrick
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Old 06-30-21, 07:51 AM
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You might find a rear Ultegra mid-cage DR and cassette a less expensive change than a crankset change. Or a 105 mid-cage DR will be even less. Are you certain that DR is a SS version and not a GS version?

As for changing the small chain ring, someone else will have to say. Even if the small 34 will fit a big 52, that's a lot of difference and you'll be out of the min/max diff for the DR, as well as other spec's.
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Old 06-30-21, 07:56 AM
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Changing both the rear derailleur and cassette would be cheaper than changing the crank. The Ultegra GS rear derailleur (or 105 for that matter) will accept a 32T cog and, with a Wolf Tooth, would accept even a larger cog.
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Old 06-30-21, 08:02 AM
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The first question is if your wife has ever used the 50-11 combination? If not, dump the 50t.

Both my bike and my wife’s are setup with triples, but I don’t think that is an option with an 11 speed. I would go to a 46-30 subcompact crank. Maybe a GRX RD and run an 11-34 or 36.

I’m not up on the 11 speed stuff but I think GRX will work with Ultegra shifters.

John
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Old 06-30-21, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
The first question is if your wife has ever used the 50-11 combination? If not, dump the 50t.

Both my bike and my wifes are setup with triples, but I dont think that is an option with an 11 speed. I would go to a 46-30 subcompact crank. Maybe a GRX RD and run an 11-34 or 36.

Im not up on the 11 speed stuff but I think GRX will work with Ultegra shifters.

John
+1 on the 46/30 crankset. I know there are people who "need" more than 110 gear-inches, but you can still go pretty fast within that limitation.
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Old 06-30-21, 08:53 AM
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It is too bad there’s no way to set up a 44t, or even 42t, with a 30t on an 11 speed. A 44-11 is equivalent to the old 52-13 4x standard. The typical climbing gear was 42-28, or 39-28 for a little steeper stuff.

My wife’s set up is 46-39-30 with a 12-34, it is not 11 speed. She is not a racer and typically rides in the 39t. Occasionally the 46t and the 30t for climbing. She could probably ride a 42-30 double, if it were available, and not need the 46t or 39t.

Everyone is different, but you have to figure out what gearing is really needed before swapping things out for marginal gains.

John

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Old 06-30-21, 09:15 AM
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Again people are recommending the 'road link'. Not a good idea to do this. While they allow the use of a larger (easier) big cog they move the upper pulley away from the smaller cogs and shifting will suffer. They also don't make the pulley cage any longer so the derailleur won't wrap the necessary chain needed for the bigger cogs that are larger than the derailleur is spec'd for.
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Old 06-30-21, 10:32 AM
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Not sure if you are aware, but both FD and RD not only have spec's regarding the number of teeth on a cog/ring.
They also spec the tooth count difference between the largest and smallest, referred to as "Capacity".

The shimano spec for the Capacity of your FD is 16t
50-34=16t
52-36=16t

I don't know if exceeding this 16t will work, so can't recommend it. But the Shimano 34t chainring is only $22 if you wish to (with care) try.

I already have a 50/34 crank so I replaced the SS RD with GS and cassette with an 11-36 cassette.
This setup also exceeds Shimano's spec, but I'm very happy with it.

Barry
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Old 06-30-21, 11:42 AM
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I agree with the above. Keep in mind that capacity only comes into play when running small-small, or close to it in cases of extreme disregard; i.e. running a capacity of 40 with a 30 rated RD might impact the first few cogs in the small chainring.

The max cog, in your case 30t can generally be exceeded. The amount over usually depends on your derailleur hanger. This does bring the Wolftooth RoadLink into play. It lets you exceed the max cog by a lot, but doesn’t impact capacity, which means your wife may have to be disciplined enough not to run the 11, 12, 13, or so when in the 36t chainring.

And as stated above, you can swap out the 36t for a 34t. Try it with the 52t. If it were me, I’d swap out the 52t for a 46t and run the existing 36t to see how she likes it with an 11-36 cassette. Everyone will say it won’t be matched, but for someone who doesn’t race, even pretend against unknown people ahead of them, it will work.

You may still be destined for a crank change with a 30t inner chainring, but maybe this will hold off replacing the crank and only dealing with a cassette change, chain, (if you run a RoadLink), and maybe an outer chainring.

John

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Old 06-30-21, 11:47 AM
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The step from 52 to 34 is out of spec for your front derailleur. It might work, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's rough. You could also replace the 52 with a 50, which would keep that step in spec. But switching from a 36 to a 34 doesn't give you much of a hill-climbing advantage.

I am also a fan of 46/30 chainrings. You would need new cranks for this (smaller rings need a smaller bolt-circle diameter). She could keep the cassette she has in back, get a 1:1 ratio low gear, and still have pretty close spacing between gears.
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Old 06-30-21, 12:01 PM
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You can try a Bikingreen 46/30 110 bcd setup, pretty sure they make them in both 4 and 5 bolt systems, and I think her current crank is 110bcd.
Larger issue may be whether you can get the FD low enough to shift the 46 tooth ring; if the fD is a clamp on type prolly not a problem but if it’s a braze on you may have to also buy a drop down for the FD, which I think Bikingreen also makes.
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Old 06-30-21, 12:22 PM
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I didn't know these existed !!!!
I like it..... mainly because it would let me keep my Stages dual sided (crank) power meter.

bikinGreen CNC Chainring 46/30T FoR Shimano 4 Arm 10-11Spd Road Cyclocross Tour
I believe this is the adapter

If anyone decides to purchase one, please do report back.

Thanks

Barry

RESEARCH:
This thread comments on "Skinny Bolts" do we know if this is true?

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Old 07-01-21, 11:12 AM
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Thanks everyone for the ideas.

I see mention of a mid-cage RD, which brings the question - how many sizes are offered? And how does one tell which size they have?

Research shows only two options: SS and GS. From this I was assuming the Tarmac must have the SS and the Roubaix the GS. ? Or is (was - 2018) there a third size ?

My Roubaix also has the Ultegra RD with 11-32 cassette. The Specialized spec page describes it as "Shimano Ultegra 8000, long cage, 11-speed..." But the specs for the Tarmac say only "Shimano Ultegra 8000, 11-speed..." The cage (which is the bracket with the two guide pulleys, right?) on the Tarmac is visibly shorter than the one on the Roubaix, perhaps a cm smaller.

thanks again...
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Old 07-01-21, 11:50 AM
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Traditionally a particular model derailleur with short, medium, long cage options only impacted the chain wrap. The max cog was the same because the derailleur body was identical with the cage being the only difference.

While I’m guessing things haven’t changed, but I’m really not sure about more current derailleur offerings since wider range cassettes have become more prevalent on road bikes.

Shimano docs can confirm if a particular model in short or long has the same max cog or if there are other design differences that increase max cog with a longer cage.

That said, I would be more inclined to find a compatible RD that offered both a larger max cog and wrap if contemplating lower cassette gearing.

John
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Old 07-01-21, 08:53 PM
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https://absoluteblack.cc/oval-road-c...-for-110-4bcd/

Absoluteblack also makes chainrings that will let you go sub-compact with your crank but they aren't cheap. I'm running their 46/30 rings on my road/gravel bike so that I could keep my cassette an 11-32 for road riding but have the 30 tooth chainring for climbing super steep gravel climbs. If I were doing it now I'd be tempted just buy a whole GRX crank with 48/31 chainrings and a new GRX front derailleur. That would give me a bit more topend without hurting climbing and around the same cost. Just loose a bit of bike bling.

Going from a 36 chainring to a 34 isn't really going to change much.
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Old 07-02-21, 05:01 AM
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Make it easy:

Buy the matched 50/34 chainrings (do NOT mix/match a 34 to a 52, it might work, it won't work well). You do not need a new crank, just new chainrings. I'd avoid the recommendations of a 46/30 setup, that's awfully low, and unnecessary on a road bike.

Buy an 11-32 cassette, run it on the short cage. Yes, it is out of spec, but not by much, and in my experience a couple teeth beyond are fine, Shimano is notoriously conservative with their RD specs. No need for a road link, just set the B-screw to clear the big cog on the cassette, BUT, if you size the chain for big/big, it will be too slack for the small/small combo. Size the chain 1" short, and NEVER run big/big, or size the chain properly, and never run small/small, in fact avoid using the two smallest cogs when on the small ring in the front. The all out option is to buy an 11-34 and get a medium cage RD.

To compare what those setups look like click here.
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Old 07-02-21, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Canker View Post
https://absoluteblack.cc/oval-road-c...-for-110-4bcd/ Absoluteblack also makes chainrings that will let you go sub-compact with your crank but they aren't cheap.
Well knowing Absolureblack makes em as well got me all excited, though a lot more expensive that the Bikingreen option.

If you look at the Absoluteblack product you can see the smaller holes for the smaller bolts. But only two of the four holes were of reduced size.
Then it hit me... The Absoluteblack option uses Oval rings, so only two holes are of reduced size. The Bikingreen option has round rings, so I suspect all four hole are reduced for smaller bolts.

Never ridden Oval rings, not sure what to make of those?

Barry
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Old 07-02-21, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by teejaywhy View Post
Thanks everyone for the ideas.

I see mention of a mid-cage RD, which brings the question - how many sizes are offered? And how does one tell which size they have?

Research shows only two options: SS and GS. From this I was assuming the Tarmac must have the SS and the Roubaix the GS. ? Or is (was - 2018) there a third size ?

My Roubaix also has the Ultegra RD with 11-32 cassette. The Specialized spec page describes it as "Shimano Ultegra 8000, long cage, 11-speed..." But the specs for the Tarmac say only "Shimano Ultegra 8000, 11-speed..." The cage (which is the bracket with the two guide pulleys, right?) on the Tarmac is visibly shorter than the one on the Roubaix, perhaps a cm smaller.

thanks again...
Don't overlook or dismiss the 46/30T chainring combination for her bike. Several folks have offered this solution, and it's a valid one. Most bikes are geared WAY too high for the average rider, especially if your wife "spins" versus mashes.

(1) 46/30T crankset
(2) Wolf-tooth roadlink to lower the existing rear derailleur
(3) 32T cassette
(4) Shorten chain by 1"
(5) Lower front derailleur accordingly

She'll be set to go. Use this link to visualize the changes that you're contemplating.

Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator
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Old 07-02-21, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Most bikes are geared WAY too high for the average rider...
You have no idea how much I needed that ego boost.
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Old 07-02-21, 07:18 PM
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I think it is reasonable to state that the average cyclist is not spinning out a 50-11 on the flats; maybe with a 25mph tailwind.

But sure enough going down a double digit grade; that does take a good deal of the effort out of the equation.

John

Edit added: The one valid argument was keeping one’s legs moving going downhill in cold weather; which seems like a very good reason.

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Old 07-03-21, 07:56 PM
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You don't have to go 46/30, Absoluteblack also makes 48/32 if you want more of a compromise. As for the oval part I'm one of those people that can't tell any difference. I've ran ovals on my mtn bikes in the past and now my road/gravel and have never been able to feel it. The 46 rarely hold me back on a road ride but if my bike was 100% a road bike I'd go 48. I spend way more of my rides climbing at less that 8mph than flying down hills at 30+mph and I've never been climbing a hill and thought "I sure wish this gearing was harder".
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Old 07-04-21, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Traditionally a particular model derailleur with short, medium, long cage options only impacted the chain wrap. The max cog was the same because the derailleur body was identical with the cage being the only difference.

While Im guessing things havent changed, but Im really not sure about more current derailleur offerings since wider range cassettes have become more prevalent on road bikes.

Shimano docs can confirm if a particular model in short or long has the same max cog or if there are other design differences that increase max cog with a longer cage.

That said, I would be more inclined to find a compatible RD that offered both a larger max cog and wrap if contemplating lower cassette gearing.

John
At least for the current and immediately prior generation Shimano 105 and Ultegra road rear derailleurs, which are available in short cage (SS) and medium cage (GS), the two versions also have slightly different parallelogram geometries (in addition to just cage length), so that the GS version can accommodate the greater difference between the smallest and biggest cogs in the larger range cassettes
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Old 07-06-21, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Badger6 View Post
Make it easy:

Buy the matched 50/34 chainrings (do NOT mix/match a 34 to a 52, it might work, it won't work well). You do not need a new crank, just new chainrings. I'd avoid the recommendations of a 46/30 setup, that's awfully low, and unnecessary on a road bike.

Buy an 11-32 cassette, run it on the short cage. Yes, it is out of spec, but not by much, and in my experience a couple teeth beyond are fine, Shimano is notoriously conservative with their RD specs. No need for a road link, just set the B-screw to clear the big cog on the cassette, BUT, if you size the chain for big/big, it will be too slack for the small/small combo. Size the chain 1" short, and NEVER run big/big, or size the chain properly, and never run small/small, in fact avoid using the two smallest cogs when on the small ring in the front. The all out option is to buy an 11-34 and get a medium cage RD.

To compare what those setups look like click here.
Great! Thanks! Didn't realize you can replace the large chainring as well. Looks like that route would be about ~$100 cheaper than the entire crankset.
Perhaps we might try the 11-32 cassette. Worst case, replace the RD if it is not working.

Thanks everyone for the ideas.

Last edited by teejaywhy; 07-07-21 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 07-18-21, 06:49 PM
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Bikingreen 46/30 chainrings

Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
bikinGreen CNC Chainring 46/30T FoR Shimano 4 Arm 10-11Spd Road Cyclocross Tour
I believe this is the adapter

If anyone decides to purchase one, please do report back.

Thanks

Barry
OK so I took the plunge and ordered up the Bikingreen 46/30 rings in the 4 bolt version for my R8000 Ultegra cranks along with the Bikingreen Adapter to lower the FD on the hanger.
Rings are nicely made, and unlike the Shimano ones bolts go from outside to inside not that it really matters. I could not find a torque spec for the chainring mounting bolts and used a guesstimate of 9nm. After all the bolts are only going into 7075 aluminum.

Bike is an R3 so it's carbon and the RD hanger is very short in the adjustment department. In fact, it's at the bottom of the adjustment range when using the standard compact 50/34 Shimano rings.
So I need to be able to mount the FD lower and attempted to use the Bikingreen adapter.

The Bikingreen adapter does NOT fit my Di2 FD-R8050 front derailleur. The threaded block at the top of the Bikingreen Adapter hits the housing that contains the Di2 workings. I suspect this would not be an issue for a non Di2 FD, but I don't have one to confirm fit.

GOOGLE to the rescue
FSA makes a similar adapter but without the use of a threaded block at the top....... FSA Bike Bicycle Front Derailleur Super Compact Adapter Kit EL344
I've got one of these on order and will report back once I've tried fitting it.

Picture of Bikingreen Adapter WAY crooked on my Di2 FD
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