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Tips/Tricks to ride a 52/42 crank set?

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Tips/Tricks to ride a 52/42 crank set?

Old 06-19-22, 08:40 PM
  #51  
beng1
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Some figuring I did last summer on how 52/19 gears on my road-bike translated to a bit over 88rpm at a 19.2 mph average over 12.5 miles, so not "mashing" at all. A book I read on Bicycling Science showed research where professional fit cyclists usually spun at lower rpms in a higher gear than the average cyclist or amateur. I am certainly an amateur and often spin higher rpms and at higher speeds with this 52/19 combo, so I am looking for a different freewheel with an 18-tooth cog so I don't have to spin as high and will be able to run at a higher speed. My other ten-speed I ride has a 50/17 I run well with on flatter circuits when there is no strong headwind, but it too would be a little better for me right now if it had an 18T cog. In the end don't worry about what people say on forums, just do what feels good, that is the advice of a popular reviewer of research paper's on cycling when it comes to many parameters of setting up the bicycle for the rider.


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Old 06-19-22, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
Some figuring I did last summer on how 52/19 gears on my road-bike translated to a bit over 88rpm at a 19.2 mph average over 12.5 miles, so not "mashing" at all. A book I read on Bicycling Science showed research where professional fit cyclists usually spun at lower rpms in a higher gear than the average cyclist or amateur. I am certainly an amateur and often spin higher rpms and at higher speeds with this 52/19 combo, so I am looking for a different freewheel with an 18-tooth cog so I don't have to spin as high and will be able to run at a higher speed. My other ten-speed I ride has a 50/17 I run well with on flatter circuits when there is no strong headwind, but it too would be a little better for me right now if it had an 18T cog. In the end don't worry about what people say on forums, just do what feels good, that is the advice of a popular reviewer of research paper's on cycling when it comes to many parameters of setting up the bicycle for the rider.
I keep one number in my head because it's easy. 100 RPM on a 42-17 (67") equals 20 mph (assuming a tire circumference of 27" - close enough for older 700c road tires. With that, I can do the math in my head for other gears or speeds. (While riding - no pencil, paper or calculator but plenty of time!)
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Old 06-19-22, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Tango1 View Post
So Iím attempting to go all in this year and learn to be a road cyclist - a lot of which involves training in heart rate zones. Iím having a heck of a time trying to keep in an easy Zone 2 pace simply because the gearing feels so tall but obviously itís a case of rider not the ride.

Iíve discovered riding almost exclusively in the 52 ring actually works pretty well and every time I drop down to the 42 it feels like I have lost a lot of momentum - I usually end up walking shortly after downshifting. Iím also using 6 gears in the rear so Iím feeling pretty limited.

I was hoping those of you familiar with riding vintage / classic bikes might have some tips for a newbie to the sport? I usually end up riding at 150-155 bpm for my 60-90minute rides so far and it doesnít feel bad I just canít seem to ride anywhere near 130 bpm.
...at this point in time, almost everything I do with regard to fitness "training" on a bicycle is intervals. When I'm doing intervals, my goal is to do four or five minutes at max heart rate and breathing, then back off for a minute or 90 seconds, then hit another interval of 4-5 minutes, then back off again. Repeat for at least 5 intervals. Max heart rate and breathing is just short of puking. If you need to stop and puke, you went past your current maximum.

This has always worked well for me, and I did similar intervals back when I ran, using a jump rope to max out, then coasting for a minute or two, then back up with the jump rope.

I've talked to at least one guy who's a pro in the kinesiology and performance field, out at Davis. He referenced a couple of recent research products for me (which I long ago forgot about), that seem to indicate that this maximizing your heart rate beyond what a lot of what you read tells you is the "proper rate" for you, (calculated using age, etc,), might have more benefits in maintaining fitness, circulation, O2 utilization capacity, etc . But you do need to make sure your current physiology is healthy enough that maxing out this way won't unexpectedly kill you. Anyway, that's what I do. It seems to give me the most bang for the buck, on rides around here of about two hours or so duration. I stretch at the turnaround, too.

With respect to your question about 52/42, and your feeling that the 42 isn't working well for you, you might want to experiment with a larger small ring than your current 42. What you have now used to be called "alpine" gearing. For flatter crit courses using older bikes, it was not at all unusual to see something resembling half step gearing (you can Google it...there are plenty of references that explain it online). So your small ring is now only a few teeth down from the 52, like a 47 or a 48. It gives you a narrower overall range, but a closer set of options that allow you finer tuning in selecting a cadence. And you'll probably find that you stand up on the pedals more.

Anyway, that's how I approach it, personally. It works for me, but be careful if you decide to try it. Get cleared first in terms of any possible underlying medical issues, and ease into it. I kind of agree that all the heart rate monitors and stuff are a distraction, so I don't use them, and haven't for a long time now. It frees me to listen to what my body is trying to tell me, even if it is complaining a little.
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Old 06-20-22, 05:19 AM
  #54  
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Seems like you're semi local. It is pretty flat around here so I find myself in the 52 and 4 smallest gears in the rear of a 6 speed almost all the time. I usually only drop to the 42 when there's an incline. The more you ride the less you'll think about gearing and just do it.
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Old 06-20-22, 07:15 AM
  #55  
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Unless all of your riding is down a generously steep hill, just sticking to 52t is completely inefficient. I actually used to do something very similar... Until I eventually tried dropping down a few gears and picking up my cadence. Never looked back. I now ride a gravel bike with a 40t front chainring and never found myself needing more gear even on quite steep hills. Ive hit 60km/h on this bike before spinning like a demon. For reference, one of my road bikes had a 53t front cog, which I found wouldn't allow for a fast enough cadence on the steepest hills I was able to find.

Start to work on your cadence. Anything else would be indirect or even wasting your time.
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Old 06-20-22, 08:13 AM
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.
...also, I am not a big fan of Biopace ovalized chainrings. The big rings are not too bad, roughly equivalent to round rings. but when you get down small enough ( I don't recall what a 42 Biopace feels like to ride, but I use a small one as the granny ring on a triple here), there's a definite flat spot, that makes it harder for me to maintain cadence. I'm told that eventually you get used to that, but I never did. Chainrings to fit your Shimano crank are readily available all over the place, and it should have a 130 BCD. So you might experiment with that.
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Old 06-20-22, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
.
...also, I am not a big fan of Biopace ovalized chainrings. The big rings are not too bad, roughly equivalent to round rings. but when you get down small enough ( I don't recall what a 42 Biopace feels like to ride, but I use a small one as the granny ring on a triple here), there's a definite flat spot, that makes it harder for me to maintain cadence. I'm told that eventually you get used to that, but I never did. Chainrings to fit your Shimano crank are readily available all over the place, and it should have a 130 BCD. So you might experiment with that.
Personally I was a big fan of biopace when using flat pedals. They felt ridiculous when using strap in pedals tho. I had to flip them around to the standard oval crank configuration (more teeth in the strongest part of your stroke) for it to feel decent.

When using pedal straps. I can get away with circular cranks. Ill prefer an oval ring when using flats. Using oval rings with the strap ins works pretty fantastic for me, although if I had crank arms in my preferred size (180mm-182.5mm) I think I wouldnt go oval.
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Old 06-20-22, 10:37 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
.
...also, I am not a big fan of Biopace ovalized chainrings. The big rings are not too bad, roughly equivalent to round rings. but when you get down small enough ( I don't recall what a 42 Biopace feels like to ride, but I use a small one as the granny ring on a triple here), there's a definite flat spot, that makes it harder for me to maintain cadence. I'm told that eventually you get used to that, but I never did. Chainrings to fit your Shimano crank are readily available all over the place, and it should have a 130 BCD. So you might experiment with that.
Biopace rings were designed for novice sport riders - those who tend to maintain a cadence in the range of approximately 65 to 80 rpm. Oversimplifying a bit (mostly because I have no idea what was going on with that complicated shape), they're shaped to provide a low gear ratio in the power portion of the stroke for ease of pedaling and a higher ratio in the rest of the stroke for a slightly increased recovery period. It's a shame that they never clarified that the rings were not intended for use by fast sport riders, much less racers.

For what it's worth, the late Sheldon Brown loved his Biopace rings.
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