Author Topic: My planned gearing-- any thoughts/comments?  (Read 4195 times)

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Offline sps7

My planned gearing-- any thoughts/comments?
« on: June 17, 2007, 05:11:53 pm »
I'm wondering what you bicycle tourists think about my possible or likely gearing for a long, solo tour I'm thinking of doing this Summer.

I own a 36 y. o. Raleigh "Supercourse" touring bicycle. It only has a double chainring and due to its age, I found out that the bb might be wrecked if I try to put in a new bb so that I could have a triple chainring. [Long ago Raleigh used its own unique threading which is a bit different from standard British threading. My bicycle has that unique threading so changing certain components is impossible or not easy.]

I used this Raleigh on a very long tour many years ago. For that tour (in the US and Canadian Rockies) I had a Suntour, 6 sprocket (14-19-20-21-28-34T) freewheel made. The double chainrings in that tour were: 40-52T. I got by OK with this arrangement in the Rockies, but I was much younger then, long ago.

I recently checked with Sheldon Brown (who knows a good deal about old Raleighs) about this planned tour. He, knowing my age from my email message, thought I should forget about a triple chainring and instead keep the double chainrings making them 33-52T. [I'd probably favor 34-52T.] I didn't mention to Sheldon that I'd have front and rear panniers and that I'd be traveling from east to west across southern Saskatchewan and southern Alberta heading to Canada's Waterton Lakes Nat'l Park and to Glacier Nat'l Park in Montana. I mention the direction of travel because I wonder how often and how strong headwinds could be in southern Canada in Summer.

Since that old 14 to 34T Suntour freewheel is still in excellent shape (I took it off after the long-ago tour), I'd like to use it and change my Sugino GT double chainring (presently 42-52T) to 34-52T.

I'd certainly test in varied local terrain the proposed gearing and my pannier-loaded bicycle before I ever set out for this tour. [I'm still waiting for panniers and rear rack, so that's why I can't say yet how all this will work out for me.] I suppose that without headwinds and in order to make some progress, I'd have to be riding often in the big chainring. I'd be interested in your comments and ideas about my plan. [Also, should any changes be made in the Suntour freewheel?]

Here's the gear chart for my proposed gearing:

      ___14 _____19_____20_____21_____28_____34__
52  | 100.3         73.9         70.2         66.9         50.1       X
34  |   X              48.3          45.9         43.7        32.9     27

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.

  - Iris Murdoch, writer (1919-1999)

Offline ptaylor

My planned gearing-- any thoughts/comments?
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2007, 09:12:07 am »
I'm not very knowledgeable on gears, except that I know I like a low granny in the mountains or on the steep grades in the East.

My guess is that with a 27 inch granny, you would be walking up some grades. Take a look at Choosing a Touring Bike For The Road. Diskin recommends a 21 inch granny, and I would have to agree with that recommendation for loaded touring.

As a side issue, if you haven't ridden a bike with a modern drive train, you should give one a try...they shift like magic compared to what was being built 30 years ago.


Offline RussellSeaton

My planned gearing-- any thoughts/comments?
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2007, 01:41:32 pm »
I'm guessing from talking to Sheldon Brown that you have determined the bolt circle diameter is 110 mm.  So it will take down to a 33 tooth ring.  Get the 33 or 34 inner ring and ride.  Pack as light as possible.  Easier to climb if you are not carrying everything under the sun.  Front low rider panniers and a tent, sleeping pad on the rear rack and that is it.  Nothimg more.  Light, light, light.  Be prepared to walk up the steepest climbs.  Plan your routes to avoid really steep stuff.  Plan to ride shorter distances each day so you have plenty of time to rest and enjoy.  I suspect many people have toured before with higher gears than you will have and enjoyed themselves.

And as already mentioned, new bikes are enjoyable.  And not that expensive given the time committment involved with touring across Canada the entire summer.  Buy a new bike with super low gearing and never worry again.

Offline gregg

My planned gearing-- any thoughts/comments?
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2007, 04:22:05 pm »
I have to agree with the comments made above. A 27 inch low gear seems pretty high to me. I'm 52 and completed a 950 mile solo tour in May. With 26" tires, my low gear was 18 inches (22 front, 32 rear), with my next lowest gear at 22 inches. My load was about 45 pounds. I ended up using my lowest gear a lot, particularly when there were headwinds going uphill. I'm in pretty good shape (I bicycle everyday, and ride hills), but I still needed that lowest gear, and was very glad to have it when I did. You can look at low gears like lawyers (or parachutes, or armies etc. etc.) maybe you won't need one, but if you do, you are going to be really happy that you have one.

So, do what you need to do to get some low gears on that bike. It will (in my opinion) make your tour less stressful and a lot more enjoyable.

Have fun!