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Easy change compact / sub-compact??

Old 01-01-22, 09:15 PM
  #1  
tomgdaly
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Easy change compact / sub-compact??

I have a compact Ultegra R8000 (manual) groupset on a Trek Domaine but I also use the bike for light touring and ultra-racing a couple of times a year and then I like to use a sub-compact (or reduce the gearing somehow - Iím also 67 years old, so donít have much power).

In the past I have changed to a 32-small ring Sugino sub-compact chainset with a front derailleur extender (along with a regular 34-tooth rear).

But changing the chainset is a pain, especially setting up the front derailleur each time, and so Iím wondering if thereís any better options to reduce the gearing occasionally and easily??

For example, could the standard rear derailleur (GS?) handle an 11-40 cassette, or would some other rear derailleur do this without compromising the quality of the change on an 11-32 cassette (which I use as an everyday gear).
I have also posted this on the Mechanics page

Thanks, in anticipation.
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Old 01-02-22, 06:52 AM
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It isn't clear what gearing ratio that you wish to achieve.

If I understand correctly, your standard setup is a 50-34 crank with an 11-32 cassette but when you tour, you change the crank to a 32 small ring. If so, personally, I could not touch the FD with only a 2 tooth drop in the inner ring. The Shimano RD is rated to 34 teeth. You would achieve the same low gear replacing the 11-32 with an 11-34 and keeping your compact crank than you currently achieve with swapping the front small chainring from 34 with a 32.

There are derailleurs and hacks (hanger extenders) that would make a 40T work but it will affect the shifting performance from the 11T to maybe 15T, but you aren't jumping out of corners in Crits, so, it might not matter much. The GS "might" handle a 36T with a b screw tweak, I dunno. I run 32t on SRAM etap that is designed for 28T and 36T on AXS that is designed for 32T and 39T on one designed for 36T. There is risk. The mechanics should know more.....
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Old 01-02-22, 07:45 AM
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I have the same components as the OP--Ultegra R8000 with GS rear derailleur and a 50-34 compact crankset. On extra hilly rides I use a SRAM 12-36 cassette and it works great. Some b screw adjustment is needed. On a recent mixed surface ride with lots of steep climbs I was wishing for some even lower gears, but I'm not sure if I will make any changes.

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Old 01-02-22, 08:43 AM
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Steve B.
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I have a 30/46 FSA crank on my Topstone gravel bike. When I run a road wheel with 28mm tires, I have a 12-25 cassette, otherwise a 11-34 on the gravel wheels. The 30/46 is a terrific crank and way to get to lower gearing when your rear derailer can only handle so much chain. FSA makes some nice ones, Shimano makes some in 31/46.

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Old 01-02-22, 10:18 AM
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Let's face it, at 67 you aren't getting any stronger. Get a GRX crank and a couple of sets of chainrings. Then leave the smaller set on there because that's all you really need.

I did an SR series using a crank with 42 and 28 tooth chainrings. The 600km ride involved some relatively spirited group riding, and I never wanted a bigger gear than the 42-11. 42-11 is a bigger gear than the 52-14 top gear that was common when you were a teenager.

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Old 01-02-22, 10:37 AM
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I recently switched to a 42/28 crank on my brevet bike, too. I haven't gotten to do any truly long rides on it for multiple reasons, but have a good feeling about subcompacts going forward. And I'm only 41.
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Old 01-02-22, 11:29 AM
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My normal brevet bike has a 46/34 on it now. I wanted a 44, but 46 are easier to get. The problem with the GRX is the more expensive ones come with a 48 minimum, which means the smaller chainring is also larger. So I would have to buy a cheaper crank for the chainrings. Or just stick with the cheaper crank.

Using a 46 is so much better than a 50. I don't have to shift the front as much. I used to wear out the 17 and 19 tooth cogs on cassettes, but cassette wear is much more even now.
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Old 01-02-22, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by tomgdaly View Post
...Iím also 67 years old, so donít have much power)...
Not really what your looking for, but I want to throw in here as someone who has found a good set of gears for Up and Down, light gravely, local bike rides at the age of 68. Yes... No Power...

For me using a Freewheel 34T at the rear is as big as I can get. I am not a Brifter Guy and use Friction Shifters so there are really only about five gear combinations I use. My Freewheel is a 14-34 six speed (ChiCom Shimano) and up front I use a Compact Crank at 46/30 (bikinGreen). I am very satisfied in my gear combinations, speed and accuracy I can attain with this set up. If I were using Brifters and a Cassette I am pretty sure I would have to change this set though...
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Old 01-02-22, 02:46 PM
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I've got an Easton crankset. If your goal is to change your setup in front, that might be a good option. They've got 2x gravel rings that they sell as a single unitóI've got the 46/30 but they have othersóand they sell a spider for mounting typical road rings. You'd still need to remove the crank from the BB to make the swap, and adjust the front derailleur's height. Praxis does something similar, although their gearing only goes down to 48/32.

Another interesting option might be White Industries. They sell 2x chainring combos (for their cranks) that are more widely spaced than you typically see, and claim you can have differences of as much as 22 teeth, which would allow for, say, a 50/28 in front. That would give you loads of range without needing to swap anything, although unless you have a mega-range rear derailleur, you'll need to be careful about cross-chaining. With an 11-30 in back, you'd need something like a Deore Long Cage to have enough wrap capacity.
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Old 01-02-22, 05:03 PM
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Or, do what most people did two or three decades ago if they wanted lower gears. Get a triple crank, you can keep your high gears and add lower ones.

I have two touring bikes with a half step plus granny crank (46/42/24) and my rando bike has a stock Campy road triple from the square taper days (52/42/30). All three of those bikes use the same 11/32 cassette.

Not sure what you would use for shifter. My touring bikes use bar end shifters, the front shifter is friction. My rando bike has a brifter for the rear but uses a vintage friction downtube shifter for front.

My rando bike with 32mm tires has gearing like this:
https://gear-calculator.com/?GR=DERS...N=MPH&DV=teeth




Low gear is 25.1 gear inches, gets me up all but the toughest hills. The two highest gears are over 100 gear inches, only use them on shallow downhills where I want to maintain momentum for the uphill on the other side of the valley.

Photo below is the rando bike drive train.



Good triples are rare now, but still obtainable.
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Old 01-05-22, 09:05 PM
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Bikin green on ebay makes 46/30 rings that bolt onto Shimano road cranks. Might be an option, they are less than 100$ iirc
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Old 01-05-22, 10:38 PM
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I forgot about the bikin green chainrings, those are perfect for me.

No need for a triple when a small dose of giving up and accepting reality will do the same job for a lot less money and hassle. Maybe on a 'bent.
Going to a triple when the industry really, really wants you to go to 1x is just asking for trouble. They are slowly making it much harder for those of us that like 2x, 3x is such a small market that they can't be bothered. Plus the OP said "easy change," not, "I need a hobby"
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Old 01-06-22, 06:29 AM
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Not directly related but we always have a 24 inch gear, our own 2 feet. Yes, I said it. I walk really steep hills rather than destroying myself and sometimes it feels good to walk. If I can ride at 3 mph, my walking speed might be 2 mph or a touch more. Not during a race but when touring or randonneuring, if there is a 15% hill, I often walk and my brevet times are not terribly slow despite wasting time walking. I think I recally Jan Heine walking steep hills on 600K brevets (and still doing them in under 24 hours)

What has generally worked for me is having one more climbing gear that I think I need. So, if I think 34x28 is enough, I make sure I have a 34x32. Secondly, I want good chainline and one tooth steps when using the big ring. If OP is not routinely using the 50 x 13, 14, 15 on the flats.....definitely get much smaller rings.
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Old 01-06-22, 07:32 AM
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That's a good point about walking. I think Old Mine Rd. might be just as fast to walk as it is to ride. Getting off and back on the bike might be the only thing that is slower on a hill like that.
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Old 01-06-22, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
That's a good point about walking. I think Old Mine Rd. might be just as fast to walk as it is to ride. Getting off and back on the bike might be the only thing that is slower on a hill like that.
I sometimes walk part of old Mine Shaft or old Mine Field on an upright but 100% of the time on a recumbent although I have not been on it since repavement. Steamer has a very good calculation on his blog showing how he selects gears on his bike. They say not to burn too many matches on a brevet. On a 15% grade, I need around 375 watts to go 5 mph and what is it, about 300 watts to go 4 mph (I carry a lot of junk in my recumbent and it is heavy, too). A sustained 15% climb isn't too common, but I walk them mostly on my bent. A short pimple? I gain speed before it and hump it over. It is a legitimate strategy on a brevet to save a few matches, especially if the hill is early on the ride. I made that (incorrect) decision to let the lead group go on the third and last climb in Longy Perche(we were averaging almost 27 mph to that point) during PBP 2015 but it is much better to err on the conservative side on long rides. If Jan Heine can walk and finds benefit, it probably makes sense for us lesser mortals to put it in our toolchest.
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Old 01-06-22, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
...
Going to a triple when the industry really, really wants you to go to 1x is just asking for trouble. ...
Then I guess I am asking for trouble. When I count my errand bike, I have four with triples. Not sure what that trouble will be, but maybe decades from now I will find out.
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Old 01-30-22, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by tomgdaly View Post
I have a compact Ultegra R8000 (manual) groupset on a Trek Domaine but I also use the bike for light touring and ultra-racing a couple of times a year and then I like to use a sub-compact (or reduce the gearing somehow - I’m also 67 years old, so don’t have much power).

In the past I have changed to a 32-small ring Sugino sub-compact chainset with a front derailleur extender (along with a regular 34-tooth rear).

But changing the chainset is a pain, especially setting up the front derailleur each time, and so I’m wondering if there’s any better options to reduce the gearing occasionally and easily??

For example, could the standard rear derailleur (GS?) handle an 11-40 cassette, or would some other rear derailleur do this without compromising the quality of the change on an 11-32 cassette (which I use as an everyday gear).
I have also posted this on the Mechanics page

Thanks, in anticipation.
I don't have a Domane, but I found my Ultegra rear derailleur can handle an 11-36T cassette (despite being rated 32 max) with a bit of a B-screw adjustment, and I was able to put on a 46/30T GRX crank without otherwise changing the Ultegra drivetrain, simply by adjusting the H-limit screw on the front (and lowering it a tad). On another thread, someone else reported this didn't work for them, so I can't make any promises. (At worst, you would have to get a GRX derailleur). You only lose the very highest gear (50/11); the 46/11 is almost the same as the 50/12 combination. I'm 9 years younger than you are, FWIW.

Another alternative is get the Wolf Tooth rear derailleur extender, use a 40T cassette, and avoid cross-chaining.
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Old 02-01-22, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Then I guess I am asking for trouble. When I count my errand bike, I have four with triples. Not sure what that trouble will be, but maybe decades from now I will find out.
My main brevet bike has a shimano ultegra triple, using tiagra 4703 to shift it, works pretty great. I like the tiny steps between gears. Unfortunately they don't make a triple shifter with hydraulic brakes so my next brevet/gravel bike is gonna be sub-compact gearing... gonna miss the steps I think.
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Old 02-02-22, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by clasher View Post
My main brevet bike has a shimano ultegra triple, using tiagra 4703 to shift it, works pretty great. I like the tiny steps between gears. Unfortunately they don't make a triple shifter with hydraulic brakes so my next brevet/gravel bike is gonna be sub-compact gearing... gonna miss the steps I think.
The bike and component manufacturers have been pretty good at cutting labor and associated labor costs from the bike assembly process. They would like you to think that everything was an improvement, but a big part of why they made some of the changes was to reduce labor costs by component manufacturers, bike manufacturers, and bike dealers that sell the bikes.

Cup and cone bearings in hubs were replaced with cartridge bearings that can be pressed in, no labor time needed to adjust bearings. Cup and cone bottom brackets were replaced with bottom brackets that use pressed in cartridge bearings, more labor time savings. But I was happy to see the cup and cone headsets disappear.

Getting rid of triples cut the assembly time associated with getting the front derailleurs and shifters to index right, another labor savings.

By going with 1X systems, that gets rid of several components saving more labor time and it also raises the revenue from selling more expensive replacement cassettes. A winner for the component manufacturers and also the bike manufacturers.

I am a little surprised that some of the Shimano hubs are still sold with cup and cone bearings, they must have figured out how to automate the bearing adjustment, otherwise they would have dropped those from their product line years ago. I built up a new touring bike about five years ago, bought a brand new Shimano M756A rear hub for it, that hub design is probably over a decade and a half old but they are reliable, uses quarter inch ball bearings and a steel axle.

I posted a photo above in post 10, repeating that photo here:



I built up this bike about six years ago, ordered the new frame in Dec 2015, so had all winter to build it up. Parts include:
  • Campy road triple, I am guessing 15 years old, maybe 20 years. I have spare chainrings on the shelf.
  • Campy bottom bracket. This is probably the only trouble spot for replacements, it uses a ISO taper, not JIS, so replacements are rare. I have a spare on the shelf for that reason.
  • Rear wheel, I built that up in 2004, quarter inch ball bearings are easy to replace. I used to tour on that wheel, thus I put a spoke protector on it to make sure I was not stranded somewhere with a derailleur cage in the spokes.
  • Rear derailleur is a common Shimano long cage model, this one is an XT from the 1990s. Replacements are easy to find.
  • Sram eight speed 11/32 cassette, quite common and cheap. I have several spares on the shelf since I have four bikes that use that cassette.
  • Eight speed KMC chain, easy to find.
  • Campy 10 speed brifter for the rear. But I am not sure how much longer parts will be available to rebuild those. Have a spare on the shelf.
  • Front shifter is a vintage Huret downtube friction shifter. Initially this was intended to be temporary while I decided what to use as a permanent front shifter. But it is still there, so it is looking less temporary.
  • Front wheel is however newer technology. When I built this bike up six years ago I used a front wheel that I had built in 2004. But a year later I built up a dynohub wheel, SP PV8 hub. Thus, I have a hub that is much harder to repair if I need to. (There was a post on this forum a couple years ago where someone described replacing the cartridge bearings.) So, this is the one upgrade that I made that improves the bike function, but has made it harder to fix.

When I avoid the two most cross chained gears on each chainring, I still get 18 well spaced effective gears without redundancies. I do not see a reason to change to a 2X or 1X system. The level of technology about 15 or 20 years ago is perfectly adequate in my opinion. I would prefer indexed front shifting on the handlebar, but it is not a high priority to me.

Unusually warm day yesterday, temp up in the 40s, so went out for an exercise ride, that was the bike I chose. Has not snowed for a while, so I left the bike with studded tires at home.



My road bike which I bought as a complete bike is my only bike with a double instead of a triple crank. I was not looking for a new bike when I bought it, but it was an unbelievable price and brand new with factory warranty, so I bought a 2X bike. Since I bought that as a complete bike, the drivetrain was all one grupo, a 2X10 Campy drive train. I am not in a hurry to change any of the parts on that.
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Old 02-03-22, 07:08 AM
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Shimano likes cup and cones because the manufacturing tolerances are quite large and they are easy and very cheap to make. However, the cup and cone friction is higher than on high quality industrial cartridge bearings like SKF or NTN. I do not miss the maintenance on my old Campy cup and cone hub, BB, or pedal bearings. The only lousy experience? Trek's stupid glued in BB. Pretty much all my cranks have 24 mm width and BSA threaded BB.

I do like my triple on my loaded tourer and never in a million years thought I would ride anything but 2x on a road bike for many reasons.

I actually have a 1x crank coming today. 48T to pair with SRAM 12 speed AXS etap. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 24, 28, 33, 39 to replace 53/39 and 11-32 11 speed that I usually randonneur on. I am giving up the 126 inch 53x11 for a top gear of 115 inches or 48 x 11 with the benefit of more appropriate 1 tooth spacing down to 84 inches. My normal cadence is only 70 rpm at rando speeds, so, the 13T, 14T, and 15T are good cruising gears on the flats for me. My 48x39 is identical to the 39x32 at 32 inches. Whether the low gear of 32 inches is sufficient is the big question but I am not adverse to walking very steep hills. I am sure Campy's 13 speed would give me everything I need.
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Old 02-05-22, 10:24 AM
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I'm moving to 2x on my new gravel/rando bike. I'm not using anything cup-and-cone in the future.... I never really liked adjusting and servicing loose-ball bearings anyway so good riddance to 'em. I spent 10 years volunteering at a co-op and most people don't maintain their own stuff very well or at all, and loose cones were probably one of the biggest issues that we dealt with, after basic flat repairs. All the bike shops around me are looking to hire mechanics, so the labour costs are definitely a big issue locally.

My triple brifter setup works pretty well but it's tied to using the 50/39/30 crankset that matches it. I don't mind that since it works well for me but if I did loaded touring I'd be running a 12-36 or something along those lines instead of a 12-30.

I think 1x is pretty great on a mountain bike, I liked it when I tried a buddy's bike. I don't do enough MTB to justify upgrading, and since gravel is turning into drop-bar mountain biking I think it's natural to see similar gearing on those bikes. I know a few randonneurs that have 1x and it seems to work well enough for them. I think I'll be fine with my new gearing compared to my existing setup. If I could swap the 11t on the 11-32 cassette for a 16 I might have gone that way but I think I'll be okay with that gearing.
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