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is there a way to use drop bars and brifters with a full modern group to get to 20 gear inches or below?
Russ, what's the crank on this bike? How small is your little ring?
The only issue I can see using 10 speed would be mixing road indexed shifters with mtb 10 speed cassettes.
I would give some thought about the braking you will want to use too.
My low gearing 26x26 is fine on everything I ride here at home. (Live in the Sierra Nevada Foothills) I took my bike in this morning to my bike store. Mechanic said he will swap my 11/26 cassette with a 11/34 for $34 plus a bit for installing
No the OP could be the owner of Surly LHT or a Co-Motion Pangea, they both come in 26". As for gearing, we found that a 38 front and 17 rear seem to work just perfect giving you plenty of range for flats and the most demanding climbs.
I am interested in doing the TransAmerica Route in 2016. I have a Trek FX 7.5 with 48/36/26 and 11/26 gearing - I think that should get me by ok. I have a rear rack and small panniers large enough for 20 lbs.
I have 26" wheels, 26x32 is my lowest gear. Would it be best to go with a 22" in the front?
The day I made my decision I went to Richardson Bike Mart. I asked to see touring bikes. They showed me an ugly green Trek 520. Low gear was 30 front, 34 rear. Useless. I left.
I drove to Plano Cycling, a Co-Motion dealer. Two hours later I had been measured, selected colors and written a check for a custom Americano. Stock low gear on the Americano: 24-34.
But on the other hand the early morning rides in the desert are really nice starting around 4:30 am.