Author Topic: Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4  (Read 1057 times)

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Offline New Jawn

Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4
« on: September 12, 2022, 01:45:23 pm »
After 325, 850, and 400 mile trips, I'm beginning to get a much better idea of what works for me.  I have a Surley Disc Trucker that came with a 3X9 gear set-up.  I rarely use more than 4 gears.   I mentioned this to two different bike mechanics at two different shops and said that whenever stuff wears out or I win the lottery, I'd like to change to maybe a 1X9 or 1X11,  and both said that was a very common swap.  The "Path Less Traveled" guy on YouTube echoed the same.   I can't swear to it, but I think that Hyojeong Jin swapped out long ago, too, but she's never spoke directly on the subject.
 
Has anyone done this?  Happy with the change? 

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2022, 03:19:55 pm »
I don't qualify to answer since I'm happy with my 3x9 shifting system.  I get a lot of wear on the middle cog of my cassette.  I'm still happy to have the rest of the gears available. but here goes anyhow.

Where have you ridden?  If you've stuck to fairly flat tours, such as rail-trails or coastal routes, you may be unhappy if you ever try to climb a mountain.

Are you OK with the idea of getting off to push?  Or being limited in how fast you can go on a slight downhill?  If you answer "yes," maybe a one-by system will make sense.

What do you see as the downside to a triple?

Personally, I'd stick with what you've got until you wear out a cassette (and change your chains as needed to keep that from happening).  Why?  Because it still works, and I'm too cheap to buy a new cassette, shifter, chain, and crank until the old one is worn out.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2022, 05:40:23 am »
I always ride triples on all of my bikes.  While touring I live in the middle when loaded, until I hit the hills, then it is the small ring up and the big ring down. When not loaded I tend to ride exclusively in the big ring. I have never cursed and said; "Man I wish I had fewer gears". Yes more gears mean more complex, but the only shift component that has ever failed on me, besides cables, has been the rear derailleur. To avoid that you may want to go with a hub and belt drive.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline staehpj1

Re: Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2022, 07:29:48 am »
Do you use only 4 because you shift in big jumps or because you ride in a very small range of gears?  If you currently only use one of the front rings, which one do you use?

If you are a flat land rider and only use one of your current front rings, there isn't much to gain with a new 1x system.  Just use one ring on your current setup.  Take off the front derailleur and two rings if you must but you'll only loose a little weight.

Personally I kind of like the newer 1x or 2x setups with the real wide range cassettes.  They have a bit bigger jumps between gears than you may be able to manage with a triple, but I tend to shift 2 or 3 steps at a time and don't mind adjusting my speed or cadence up or down a bit to match the available gear.  That said I wouldn't spend the money to convert an existing bike to 1x.  Maybe if all or most of the drive train parts wore out and needed to be replaced at once, but that typically doesn't happen on a well maintained bike.  Even my older bikes with over 100k miles still have original drive trains with various parts replaced one part at a time here and there.  They never seem to need one big expenditure that would temp me to swap the whole gruppo.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2022, 08:53:09 am »
I don't see a "why?" in your post. What do you expect to gain?
Surely if you use 4 gears on a 3*9 setup you will use a similar amount on a 1*9 or 1*11?
The gear range is what's important for me.


Honestly, I can't fathom using only 4 gears. I used more than that on my daily 20km commute in the Netherlands - not exactly the hilliest part of the world!

With respect, the mileages you have covered are of little relevance without elevation data (altitude and gradient).

My understanding is that you are planning a cross country tour? In that case you will encounter a variety of situations where due to tiredness, aches, an injury, weather or extra loading mean that you may wish to pedal outside of your usual combos.

There's also the fact of greater flexibility with front as well as rear options in the event of unexpected damage or wear and tear.

There's always a push (especially online with targeted ads) for the newest.
From my experience it's easy to list the advantages of buying something new, not always so easy to calculate the costs of losing the old.

If I was in your shoes I'd look at the cost of changing - not just the front chainrings but also the bottom bracket, the cost of components (cassettes and chains) and the likely availability of those components where I plan to travel.

I'd also look at what else I'd lose.
For me the flexibility of a 3*x setup would be a loss.
The ongoing costs would be a factor, as would the availability of replacement components on the road, especially if going with 11 sprockets.

Bikeshops are always looking to sell or upsell and some YouTube channels are sponsored and you can be pretty sure that the hosts often get much better service than the likes of you & I (I'm not familiar with the channels you mentioned).

Then again, my bike is a 3*7 (currently running with an 8 speed cassette) so what do I know?  :)

Good luck with your decision.


Offline staehpj1

Re: Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2022, 10:54:59 am »
I don't see a "why?" in your post. What do you expect to gain?
Surely if you use 4 gears on a 3*9 setup you will use a similar amount on a 1*9 or 1*11?
The gear range is what's important for me.
For sure it would be helpful/interesting to know which 4 gears were used.

Just in general someone who uses only 4 gears probably isn't likely to be the best candidate for what we usually refer to whan talking about 1X setups.  Hard to tell without more info though.

My best guess would be that the OP probably uses a limited range of gears.  If that is the case they can most likely just choose to stay in only the middle or big ring which ever is the correct range just ignoring the front shifter.

I have to question that being a "a very common swap" at least on a bike like a disc trucker.  It may be common on high end mountain and gravel bikes, but I doubt there have been many disc truckers or regular LHTs with that choice.  Anyone ever seen one?

Offline ray b

Re: Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2022, 01:44:42 pm »
A provocative thread title. Yes I spend a fair amount of time on a single speed geared fairly low. Just watched The History Guy's rake on the 25th infantry trip from Missoula to St. Louis - 55 pound Spalding single speed bicycles geared to 68 inches. (Considering the roads and railroad tracks used, those guys were monsters.)

That said about how few gears with which one can get the job done, when I'm pounding it in the mountains with an 80 pound rig, I'm thankful for every gear I have (14).

An argument for not using all the gears is minimizing chain angle - always good to keep the chain running as straight as possible fromthe front chainring to the rear cluster. If one eliminates the extremes, i can see using 12 of 27 gears in a 9X3 and only 8 of the gears if I never have call for the small chain ring. In that context, 4 gears seems reasonable..... Just remember to change out the rear gears when they wear out.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline driftlessregion

Re: Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2022, 07:55:33 pm »
There's no right answer to this question of course. Gearing is as personal as shorts and the holy grail, saddles (or chain lube). I have different gearing on all five of my bikes. A couple are intentional (touring v. commuting or nightly rides when not not touring) and a couple are just whatever gearing components I had lying around. They all work but I have to adjust for a few shifts each time I switch bikes. No big deal. If you like it, it is the right gearing for you.

Offline Mark Manley

Re: Shifting gears: I have 27 and use 4
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2022, 02:23:08 am »
Depending on what range the OP uses I would suggest they consider a hub gear which can be more simple and reliable than derailleur, it does not have to be anything expensive like a Rohloff if they are within a limited range a 4 or 5 speed would suffice.