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Messages - RussSeaton

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Sure its doable.  Biking is not really that physically demanding.  Provided you ride at a fairly slow pace, you can cover about any distance.  Of course the slower you ride, the longer it takes.  But biking does not physically harm you.  Unlike running for instance, which does literally pound and tear up your body.  Biking is not an impact activity and does not harm you.

My concern is with your lack of any bike mechanic knowledge.  Flat tires will occur.  Guaranteed.  Chains will come off.  Bolts will come loose.  Handlebars will get turned.  Derailleurs will go out of adjustment.  All of these are easy to fix with a little knowledge and a few simple tools.  But they can all ruin a trip or cause days of delay if you do not know how to fix them immediately.

Gear Talk / Re: Tour Bike Gearing
« on: July 05, 2012, 03:05:07 pm »
"Low gearing:  Lower the better.  Smallest inner chainring possible.  Biggest rear cassette cog possible.  Your crankset seems to be 74mm bcd inner.  So 24 is the smallest.  Mountain bikes seem to use 22 teeth as the smallest.  Not much difference."

A difference that can make a difference. Not much difference in number of teeth, significant difference in percentage, 8 percent. Would you say dropping from 52 teeth to 48 teeth for large chainwheel is not much difference? Same 8 percent.

As already stated, percentage changes lose their significance when you are talking about small gears.  For small gears you need to look at the difference in gear inches between gears.  Percentage difference is OK at the large gears.  For instance, take gears of 1 inch and 2 inches.  50% or 100% difference.  The 2 inch gear is TWICE as hard to pedal as the 1 inch gear.  In reality, you could not tell the difference on a bike.  Same logic applies for low bike gears around 20 gear inches.  You can tell the difference between a 25, 20, and 15 gear inch gear.  But in reality, there isn't much differene.  All will work just about the same climbing a hill.  It would be nice to have the 15, but the 20 is perfectly fine too.  And the 25 does not put you at much of a disadvantage.  All three gears would be equal enough.  Huge percentage difference though.

In another post it was commented that STI would not reliably shift to a 22 chainring.  ??????????  My Shimano STI 5703 triple 105 shifters shift a 44-33-20 crankset perfectly well.  STI shifts all cranksets fine.  There can be difficulties in getting the front derailleur set up properly.  But the STI shifter will shift between any and all chainrings fine.  Size is irrelevant.

Gear Talk / Re: Tour Bike Gearing
« on: July 05, 2012, 12:28:24 pm »
Tires:  I like big fat wide tires on my touring bike.  35mm Specialized currently.  Have used 32 and 38 at times.  But a friend uses 28 tires.  So about anything will work I suppose.

Low gearing:  Lower the better.  Smallest inner chainring possible.  Biggest rear cassette cog possible.  Your crankset seems to be 74mm bcd inner.  So 24 is the smallest.  Mountain bikes seem to use 22 teeth as the smallest.  Not much difference.  A 34 tooth rear cog is good.

Front derailleur:  For whatever reason people seem to imagine all sorts of problems for this.  People are enamored with fiction.  I use a Shimano STI 5703 10 speed triple shifter with a 9 speed Tiagra front derailleur and 10 speed cassette and chain.  Shifts perfectly.  I'm pretty sure most other combinations work fine too.  Don't invent problems.

Spokes:  36 spokes per wheel works fine.  Loaded or unloaded.  No need for tandem spoke wheels.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier September
« on: June 30, 2012, 03:56:20 pm »
Maine to Minneapolis.  Riding early September to mid-late October.  For the most part it does not freeze or get cold until November.  On average the days should be pretty pleasant for riding.  Nights can get cool, but with a quality sleeping bag and tent you are fine.  Obviously you can have extremes of weather and who knows what you will get.  But on average September and October are good riding months.  Not too hot, not too cold.

Gear Talk / Re: Is a '99 Bianchi Volpe worth rebuilding?
« on: June 26, 2012, 11:43:06 pm »
Maybe.  Assume this bike needs a 1" fork.  Nashbar has one for $70.  But it is a road bike fork.  Not lots of clearance for big tires like a touring bike uses.  No cantilever or V brake mounts.  You will have to look around to find a touring bike fork in 1" steerer.  Figure $100.  It will likely be threadless steerer, so $25 for new headset and $25 for new stem.  If you can find a threaded 1" touring fork, then you can use the existing stem and headset probably.  Firgure this bike is 7, 8, or 9 speed.  9 speed bar end shifters can be found for $75 easy enough.  7 or 8 may be difficult to find.  Maybe new cassette for $30 from Nashbar and new chain for $20.  Without really replacing anything that does not need replacing, you are at $200-300.  And you doing all the mechanical work yourself.  Not paying a shop to do the work.  If you have to pay a shop, add another $100 labor.  Is it worth it?  Nashbar has a touring bike for $650 before discount codes.  Bikes Direct has a touring bike for about the same.  Probably a few others out there.  These bikes are better equipped than the Bianchi will ever be.  Fixing, upgrading old bikes usually does not make economic sense.  Unless you get the parts used or super cheap, do your own mechanic work, and only fix it to a working level, nothing extra.  Now i am not saying you should not fix the Bianchi and ride it and enjoy it.  Just keep in mind you are sort of, kind of wasting money and throwing it down a hole.  No reason not to do this, but realize you are doing it.

Gear Talk / Re: Lower gearing
« on: June 22, 2012, 08:05:07 pm »
This suggestion is the easiest to implement.  Least big change of bike parts.  Your SRAM Apex compact crankset has 110mm bcd.  It will take a 33 tooth inner ring.  TA and Stronglight both make 33 tooth 110mm bcd chainrings.  Get one and replace the 36 ring you now have.  48-33 chainrings will shift just fine.  You currently have a 11-32 10 speed cassette.  SRAM and Shimano both make 10 speed cassettes with 32, 34, or 36 tooth big cogs.  Might have a hard time with the 36 big cog.  So get a 11-34 10 speed cassette.  Your current 36x32 low gear is 30 gear inches.  The new low gear of 33x34 is 26 gear inches.  She will notice that change.  $40-50 for the 33 chainring.  $80 for the 11-34 cassette.  $30 new chain since the big cog is now bigger but the outer ring is the same size.  So big x big is bigger and needs an extra link or two.  So new longer chain just to be super safe.

These changes do not get the low 20 gear inches you want.  But 26 gear inches should be plenty low enough for Rockies and Sierras mountains.  These changes are simple and easy to make.  Not terribly costly.  Putting a triple crankset onto the bike requires getting a new shifter for the front derailleur.  And the crankset and new front derailleur.  The ease of just putting on a new inner chainring and new cassette might override everything else.

The idea suggested by staehpj1 is also very good.  Shimano and maybe SRAM too make mountain bike cranksets with two chainrings.  So you can buy an off the shelf solution.  Not cheap.  $206.  26 teeth appears to be the smallest inner chainring from the factory.  But the inner is a 64mm bcd.  So a 22 tooth inner ring will fit.  Extra $16.  See links below.

Current low of 36x32 is 30 gear inches.  My new 33 ring and 11-34 casssette gets you low of 33x34 and 26 gear inches.  Cost of $130.  New 2x10 Shimano crankset and new inner 22 ring gets you low of 22x32 and 18 gear inches.  Cost of $230.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear increments
« on: June 20, 2012, 10:09:43 pm »
On my recumbent, the granny on the triple is tiny but it only provides a very small difference in the middle ring/large cog gear. I only need it occasionally but I'm glad it's available.

I'm curious to know what chainrings you have on this bike.  I have two bikes with triple cranksets.  One is 52-42-24 and the other is 44-33-20.  There is a very noticeable difference between the middle ring and the inner ring no matter which cog on the cassette I am using.  The 52-42-24 triple uses a 13-28 cassette in the mountains.  There is a world of difference between 42x28 and 24x28.  The 44-33-20 triple uses a 11-32 cassette.  There is a pretty good size difference between the 33x32 and 20x32 gears.

Lots of people for unknown reasons leave their triple cranksets as it came from the bike factory.  They are not wise enough to put on the smallest possible inner chainring.  Road bike cranksets come with triples with 53-39-30 chainrings.  That 30 tooth inner ring is idiotic.  All these cranksets use 74mm bcd inner rings and can accept a 24 tooth inner ring.  Why people use triples with 30 tooth inner chainrings that aren't much lower than the 39 middle ring instead of a truely low 24 tooth inner ring is a mystery.

Gear Talk / Re: Gear increments
« on: June 19, 2012, 05:20:07 pm »
A no longer used gearing pattern called Half-Step Gearing gives very consistent steps between every gear.  It has a unique, repeated shifting pattern for every shift.  It requires shifting the front derailleur on every shift.  And half the shifts require shifting both the front and rear derailleurs simultaneously.  But you do get that nice even consistent shift between every gear.  With modern 9-10 speed cassettes and triple mountain cranksets with limited choices for chainrings, and very expensive rings, the era of half-step gearing has probably passed.  Its more of a novelty to be different than a useful gearing pattern today.

I assume you want even steps between gears when shifting the rear derailleur.  You will more or less leave the chain on one of the chainrings in front, outer or middle, and shift up and down the rear cassette.  To get nice even smooth shifts on the rear cassette you want minimal jumps between cogs.  Something like 13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23 for a 9 speed cassette produces super smooth steps.  On small cogs you want small jumps.  On bigger cogs you want bigger jumps.  Its a percentage thing.  1 tooth divided by 12 teeth is 8.3%.  2 teeth divided by 19 teeth is 10.5%.  3 teeth divided by 28 teeth is 10.7%.  Close enough.  Even jumps in percentage.  Problem is you can't get exact jumps due to the fact cogs are available in 1 tooth jumps only.  Percent difference between 11-12-13-14-15-16-17 is not exactly the same.  Fairly close though.

For a touring bike you want 1-2 tooth jumps on the small cogs and 2-3 tooth jumps on the medium cogs and 4 tooth jumps on the large cogs.  For 9 speed cassette Shimano makes a XTR 12-34 cassette.  12-14-16-18-20-23-26-30-34.  SRAM makes a 1070 10 speed cassette in 12-32.  12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-28-32.  Both of these cassettes provide smooth jumps between cogs in the back.  Shimano and SRAM also make 9 and 10 speed cassettes in 11-32, 11-34, 11-36 with sort of similar jumps in cogs to those listed above.

The problem with a touring bike is you want a wide range in the cogs.  From 11 or 12 or 13 or 14 on the small cogs to 32 or 34 or 36 on the big cogs.  That is about 20-22 tooth spread.  You have to have kind of big jumps in cogs to cover that range with 9 or 10 cogs on the cassette.  With racing bikes you have cassettes that go from 11 or 12 on the small cog to 23 on the big cog.  So you are covering 11 or 12 teeth spread with the same 9 or 10 cog cassette.  You are covering half the range with the same number of steps.  Easier to get the steps really close and smooth.  The original cassette on your hybrid bike was maybe 12-25.  The new cassette you have to get the lower gears is 11-34.  The range is about twice as big with the new cassette.  Yet you still only have 9 shifts to cover it.  Jumps between cogs are not as incremental.

Gear Talk / Re: Le Mond bikes - anyone know them?
« on: June 10, 2012, 02:00:05 pm »
LeMond was a Trek brand of bike from about mid 1990s through mid 2000s.  LeMond stopped racing in the mid 1990s.  LeMond bikes are Trek bikes.  Trek made LeMond bikes.  I'm pretty sure there were no touring models in the LeMond lineup.  Racing and sport touring models only.  Cyclocross too.  Go for a bike ride and you will see a few LeMond bikes.  They are common.  Trek discontinued the LeMond brand of bike after the LeMond/Armstrong feud got too intense.  Trek could not reconcile sponsoring Armstrong as a racer and LeMond as a bike brand and having them feuding.  I would not be surprised if LeMond bikes were just an alternate to Trek bikes and did not add to more revenue.  The brands were essentially competitors.  They did not serve different markets.

Routes / Re: Denver to Charleston,Illinois
« on: June 04, 2012, 07:48:56 pm »
Back in 2006 I did a 750 mile brevet going from Boulder to 100+ miles into Kansas and back.  We picked up US36 a few miles east of Denver.  Strasburg.  US36 seems to start by I-70 a few miles east of Denver.  We rode the shoulder of US36 all the way to the Kansas-Colorado border and then 100+ miles into Kansas.  It was an OK road to ride.  Not much traffic.  Hills were big rolling ones.  Lots of flat too.  We were on US36 for about 300 miles in each direction.  Once you get further east in Kansas you would likely want to get off US36 and onto smaller state roads.  Traffic probably picks up the further east since the east is where all the people live in Kansas.  And in Colorado no one lives in the eastern third so no traffic.

Gear Talk / Re: Ultegra (Carbon) vs. 105 (Aluminum) Shifters
« on: June 03, 2012, 04:16:46 pm »
I have Shimano 5703 shifters on the touring bike.  Aluminum STI levers shift my 44-33-20 triple just fine.  11-32 ten speed cassette.  I have carbon Shimano 7970 shifters on my carbon racing type bike.  Crashed on it this morning.  No harm done to the shifters.  Rubber hoods got a few extra scrapes.  I'd say carbon shifters are tough enough.  I'd probably give the edge to aluminum STI levers but...

Gear Talk / Re: Bottom bracket replacement - 118 vs 110
« on: May 21, 2012, 03:18:33 pm »
When replacing bottom brackets I try to get one as short as possible while not having the inner chainring hit the chainstays.  And another thing to consider is whether the inner cage of the front derailleur will hit the seattube if you adjust it to shift onto the inner chainring.  If the bottom bracket is too short the front derailleur just won't be able to shift to the inner chainring.  Several things to worry about.  Really the only thing you can do is try the shorter bottom bracket to see if it will work.

Would sandals be better?  The toes are open so if your toes curled up, nothing would really be bothered.  I know you said you prefer the stiff Specialized shoes over more flexible Shimano shoes.  But I've always had comfortable feet when riding with sandals.

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Bikes Under Consideration
« on: May 17, 2012, 02:48:27 pm »

The current Trek 520 comes with Shimano M543 Trekking crankset.  It comes from Shimano in two configurations.  Either 44-32-22 rings or 48-36-26 rings.  Personally I would change the whole crank to the 44-32-22 model if your dealer would do it.  You want as low an inner chainring as possible.  So no matter what get them to put on a 22 inner ring to replace the 26 ring.  The bike comes with a 9 speed 11-32 cassette.  So a 44x11 high would be plenty high for any touring bike.  The 48x11 high Trek specs is way too high for anything except coasting down mountains.  Kind of demonstrates Trek does not employ people who ride bikes.  Their bike spec person is clueless.  If buying this bike see if the dealer will put on a 11-34 cassette instead.  On a touring bike you want as small a front chainring as possible and as big a large cog as possible.

Routes / Re: USA touring routes - September?
« on: May 16, 2012, 12:54:37 pm »
Since you are flying in from Ireland, you have unlimited choices for starting location.  Another option might be to fly into Miami or Atlanta and then do the Atlantic Coast route up north.  Have to ride a couple days from Atlanta to catch the route.  You could end the ride in Washington DC, New York City, or Boston.  Depending on how much time you have and miles you want to ride.  All those towns have things for tourists.  You've seen the Pacific coast so this would give you a chance to see the Atlantic coast.  Should see plenty of tree leaves changing the further north you get.

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