I have a 2008 Giant FCR3 that I have been riding for two years including one long tour. I'm planning an unsupported tour with a trailer and it is clear that I don't have enough gear on the low end. Even unloaded I never used the third chain ring and spend 90% of the time in 4 or 5 gears.
I'm considering three options:
1. Replace the cassette, currently 11-28 with an 11-32. That only changes the lower three gears and perhaps by not enough.
2. Replace the chain rings (currently FSA Vero 30/42/52). I think I can move the 42 to the outer ring and add 22/32 FSA Pro ATB to get 22/32/42. I've never done this but It looks like it would work.
3. There is also this Nashbar MT2 mountain bike crank set for real cheap that would get me 22/32/44. I'm a little nervous about this as I don't know if it will work in my current bike (don't know anything about how cranksets match up with bottom brackets). This cost is about the same as option 2.
- I might opt for both the cassette and the chain rings to get a gear range of 19 to 108 inches. Is this too low? (I think I know the answer to this one).
- Am I right that I can move the middle chain ring to the outer and add two more inside? I'll check the BCDs. The range is fewer teeth than the current so I assume no problems with the FD? Do I just move the FD down the post a little bit to match the smaller chainrings?
- How can I figure out if the Nashbar MTB crankset will work? Is this a lot harder to do than the rear cassettes and the rings? If I had to spend a lot on tools this will be a more expensive option.
- Any other advice?
Sorry for asking for free help but this is essentially my entire biking budget for the year and I'd like to get it right.