Author Topic: Lower Gearing on Road Bike  (Read 16193 times)

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Offline Bowdrie

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« on: June 18, 2006, 10:23:49 am »
   I have returned to cycling for the great exercise and enjoyment it offers, after about 15 years of being away from riding.  I purchased a Trek 6500 MTB for mixed trail/bikepath/and road riding.  I am finding that I would like a much lighter road bike for the road rides, but love the gearing and more upright riding position available on the MTB.  I may also add that I am interested in pleasure riding rather than speed, and may desire to add some touring after I develop my skills and conditioning again.    
   Finding a light weight bike with lower gearing seems to be a problem.   I would prefer not to purchase a Fitness or Hybrid flat bar style bike as I believe they are really a poor trade off for an all road bike.  I would also prefer to purchase from one of the local bike shops in my area for service and cost reasons vs. a custom built bike.
   I have considered the middle and higher end Trek Pilot, Giant OCR, and Specialized Sequoia series bikes, primarily because of their compact design/upright riding position and lighter weight.  They do not however provide me with a gear ratio of less that 29- 31.  I find myself often using gearing in the 20 range on my MTB for some of the hills on the local roads in my area. Thus the lower gearing becomes my problem.  
   I have discussed changing rear cassette or front crank with our local shops.  Most are reluctant to do this, citing possible incompatibility with derailleur and/or chain.  Also the Giant OCR1, a really nice and seemingly well fitting bike to me  even nicer in its carbon variations, is a ten speed triple and they do not seem to find compatible gearing lower than a 30 front 27 rear combo (25 to 27 is not really worth the change) and they seem to be unsure of the results of going with a Mountain Derailleur on a road bike.  Experimenting, successful or not, would be at my expense before the bike is even purchased.  Not wanting to buy parts that do not work well or smoothly, I am somewhat reluctant to go with other than a stock bike.  
   After reading some of the posts here, my desire for lower gearing does not seem to be unusual.  I am not sure just how much the lighter bike will affect the need for a lower gearing on our hills as the short test rides that I am allowed to do around the parking lot or down the road dont really allow that type of testing.
   Is my conceived need of lower gearing unwarranted when using the lighter bike, and/or, are there any suggestions anyone can offer, or other bikes I should consider?
        Thanks for your thoughts and consideration.



Offline alfonso

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2006, 05:13:19 am »
I sympathise with your need for a road bike such as you describe and
I've been looking at similar makes.

Perhaps we should be looking at a tourer -- a Cannondale, Trek or
Fuji? Mongoose also have tourers available in Australia (where I am) --
don't know if they are available in your area.

Tourers like these are often used as commuters or long day rides.

Stay in touch and let us know what you find.


Offline RussellSeaton

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2006, 01:09:33 pm »
1.  Find a quality bike shop that is willing to put on the lower gearing you WANT.  It sounds to me like the bike shops you are visiting want to do what they want, not what you want.  I always thought the customer with the money was the one in charge.  I sure would not trust a bike shop like you speak of to care much about servicing the bike if they did not care enough at the beginning to put on the parts the customer wanted.

2.  If you go with 10 speed, and for a road bike I would recommend this, you are pretty limited in your gearing on the rear cassette.  Shimano makes a 12-27, IRD makes a 12-28, Campagnolo makes a 13-29.  Maybe Miche and Marchisio make a 30 tooth rear 10 speed cassette for Shimano and Campagnolo.

3.  Triples that come on road bikes always have a 74mm bolt circle diameter for the inner chainring.  You can put as small as a 24 tooth ring on this.  So you can easily get a 53-42-24 triple in front.  These 24 tooth 74mm bcd inner rings are $10.  You would also want a long cage rear derailleur to wrap up more chain when using the 24 tooth inner chainring.  For Shimano this would be one of their mountain bike rear derailleurs since they are longer than their road long cage rear derailleurs.  9 and 10 speed rear derailleurs work fine on either so it makes no difference.  Just get the longest cage possible.  They come in short(Dura Ace, Ultegra, 105), medium (Dura Ace, Ultegra, 105), and long (LX, XT, Deore).

4.  Front shifting with STI may be a problem with a 24 inner chainring.  STI is more finicky.  Use a chainwather (Third Eye, Deda Dog Fang, N Gear Jump Stop).

5.  Tell the bike shop you want to test a 24 inner ring on a 10 speed bike.  They will have to have some 10 speed shop bike they can quickly and eaisly replace the inner ring with a 24.  Then take it out and ride it and test how well it shifts between rings.  And whether there is any chain-chainring rub when using the smaller cogs in back with the 24 tooth inner ring.  If a shop is not willing to do this, don't buy anything there.

6.  Your low gear will be 24x27 or 24x28 or 24x29 depending on which cassette you go with and which brand you choose.  24x27 is 23.5 gear inches on a 700C bike.  Its probably comparable to a lower gear on a mountain bike because the lighter bike will make up a few gear inches difference.  A few, not a lot.  So a 20 on a heavy hybrid would be comparable to 23 on a light road bike.  If a shop tells you different, then go elsewhere.

7.  Swapping the cassette and inner chainring and rear derailleur had better be free swaps when the bike is purchased.  24 ring instead of 30.  XT or LX long cage rear derailleur instead of Ultegra or 105 medium cage rear derailleur.  12-27 10 speed cassette instead of 12-25 cassette.  If a shop is not willing to do this, go elsewhere.

8.  You can switch the whole crankset to a mountain bike crankset.  But with STI shifters, the front derailleur shifting will/may not work too well.  I would not advise experimenting here.

9.  You can go with 9 speed on a road bike.  But the STI levers seem to be disappearing in the higher priced ranges.  Its hard to find Dura Ace or Ultegra or 105 9 speed STI levers.  But 9 speed cassettes with 32 and 34 teeth are available so you can get low gears easily.  I would not advise this option for a road bike due to the disappearance of 9 speed STI levers.


Offline oldhuskyrider

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2006, 10:05:02 pm »
I have been looking for lower gearing also but can't find a 24 or 26 tooth chainring in 74 diameter.  My local shops aren't aware and none of the catalogs stock it.

Also, the teeth of a 26 tooth interfere with the bolts on a Dura Ace triple, or any 74 for that matter.  How is this overcome?  


Offline alfonso

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2006, 09:36:20 am »
I confess the technicalities of this conversation lost me about three
turns back. However, this article on compact cranksets might have
some relevance: http://www.australiancyclist.com.au/showarticle.php?
s=9_cranks


Offline TheDaltonBoys

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2006, 11:37:15 am »
RussellSeaton - Reading your response reinforces my desire to go work at a LBS for a year AFTER attending UBI/BBI school. I kinda kept up, that knowledge is where I want to go. Best part about anyone who hires me is I'll be retired and with an income, with my own health insurance, too old to stay up partying (so I'll be at work on time and in my right mind) and "travelling light". I can hardly wait c'mon Jan '07!! Enjoy the voyage..Mark of the Dalton
Boys


Offline RussellSeaton

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2006, 12:45:47 pm »
"I have been looking for lower gearing also but can't find a 24 or 26 tooth chainring in 74 diameter.  My local shops aren't aware and none of the catalogs stock it."

You need to find a quality bike shop.  This is a link to QBP (Quality Bicycle Products) the main distributor to bike shops in the USA.  Actually its Harris Cyclery's link to QBP contents.  Tell your bike shop to open up their catalog and order it from QBP.  Nashbar sells the 26 tooth 74mm bcd ring for $13.  Cambria Bike Outfitters sells 24 and 26 tooth 74mm bcd rings.  I just bought a couple 26 and a 28 from them.  $5 for the 26s and $10 for the 28.
http://harriscyclery.net/page.cfm?PageID=49&action=list&category=203&type=T&searchtype=attributesearch&searchDropDown97=5-Bolt&searchDropDown99=74&searchDropDown2=&searchDropDown71=&searchDropDown102=&searchFrom96=&searchTo96=&gobutnsearch=Search




"Also, the teeth of a 26 tooth interfere with the bolts on a Dura Ace triple, or any 74 for that matter.  How is this overcome?"

Dura Ace triples ONLY accept a very special, unique 30 tooth inner ring.  Its a 92mm bcd.  There are no other inner rings available for a Dura Ace triple other than the one they send with it.

Which bolts are the 26 tooth ring interfering with?  The bolts that hold the inner ring to the crank are within the diameter of the ring itself, the chain cannot touch the bolts.  It is possible the inner ring can be so small that when cross chaining the chain will catch on the middle ring.  Can occur if using the inner ring with the smallest cogs in back.


"However, this article on compact cranksets might have some relevance:"

Compact cranksets as used currently means a crank with 110mm bcd for the two chainrings.  The smallest ring that will fit on a 110mm bcd is 33.  Only available from TA.  34 tooth rings in 110 are available from everyone.  A 34 inner ring is not all that low unless you are using it with a 32 or 34 rear cog.  A 34 inner ring on compact cranksets gets you the equivalent of the next step up in cogs in back.  A 39x27 is the same as a 34x23.  Compact cranksets can be useful for a very fit road rider who for some reason wants a slightly lower low gear but for some reason does not want to change cassettes.  In about 100% of the cases, its easier to change the cassette than the crank and bottom bracket.  But some people want to believe in compact cranksets.

For touring and very hilly terrain, a 110mm bcd compact crankset will not work.  It just won't get you a low enough gear.  You can make a micro-compact crankset by using a 94mm bcd crank.  That will allow a 30 tooth inner ring.  The equivalent of the road triples on many bikes today.  Not really low enough for touring, but usually low enough on a lightweight racing bike if you pick the right rear cassette.

If you want or need low gears, you have to get a triple crankset.  Triple allow an inner ring of 24, 22, or 20 teeth.  Combined with about any rear cassette, you end up with a truely low gear.

On my loaded touring bike I have 45-42-20 chainrings with a 14-16-18-21-24-28-32 cassette.  A low gear of 17".  Sometimes I put on a 12-28 cassette too.  On my racing (style not use) bike I have 53-42 rings with a 13-26 cassette.  I have put on a 39 inner ring and 13-28 cassette when going to hillier parts of the country.  On another road bike I have 52-42-30 rings and a 13-28 cassette.  This is my brevet bike.  All the gearing I need.  I used this gearing in the Rockies for a week, unloaded recreational riding.  I have 28 and 26 and 24 74mm bcd inner rings if I think I need an even lower gear.  On another racing bike I have 48-30 rings with a 12-23 or 13-29 cassette.  This is a 94mm bcd crank.  This bike with a low of 30x29 will be used on the Triple Bypass ride this year.  For a lightweight bike, unloaded, and a very conditioned rider, it should work well.  For most riding I will run this bike with 48-40 rings instead of the 30 because around home I don't have any serious hills I can't grunt up in less than a minute.


Offline mike_khad1

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2006, 03:24:05 pm »
I would consider the touring bike I purchased - Burley Hudson. Burley Hudson
I has a fairly upright position, a good low gear, and wider tires (28mm).

Work to Eat
Eat to Live
Live to Bike
Bike to Work

Offline don quixote

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2006, 04:32:09 am »
I have 2 bikes, both of which are "foldable" and fit in standard airline sized cases without extra fees. One is a road bike, Ritchey Break-Away, and the other is a touring bike, Co-Motion Americano Co-Pilot. Both were built with a 46-34-24 front chainring and a rear 11-34 cassette, for a gear inch figure of 19. No problems. The Ritchey has STI levers and the Co-Mtion has bar end shifters. I have ridden the Ritchey from Seattle to Boston, in Spain and in New Zealand. I love having the low gears when needed, and gladly give up a couple of high gears for the trade-off. The Co-Motion was built at the factory, but the Ritchey had several changes made by a local Ritchey dealer, Hi-Tech Bikes in San Diego, before I took delivery. Call me if you would like to discuss further. George  619-223-8933

George Olmstead
San Diego
don quixote
San Diego

Offline Bowdrie

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2006, 08:03:10 pm »
RussellSeaton
   Thank you for your detailed responses to my inquiry.  You seem quite knowledgeable on the subject.  I would like to have contacted you directly but no e-mail is listed.
   It would be nice if the bike shops in my area were as willing to work with a customer as apparently they are in your area.  Around here, the bike price is as it sits, and nothing is swapped or added for free.  Except for adjustment and tuning of the stock bike, no work or screw turning is done without a labor charge.  
   I would like to recap my understanding of your suggestions and perhaps have you clarify a few points.  First, I probably need to give further description of  the three bikes available in my area that I am considering.

1.  GIANT OCR1 - 10 speed Shimano 105 group and 12-25 Cassette / FSA Gossamer Mega Exo 30/34/50T.
   (I am not sure I really want to buy a Giant but the bike really feels good and handles well so I guess the Geometry is right for me.  The shop is a small two man shop, easy to get along with, but I am not sure they really want to do a lot of parts swapping.)

2.  TREK PILOT 2.1  9 Speed Shimano 105/Sram PG950 12-26 Cassette/ Bontrager Race 52/42/30 Crank   ---OR---    PILOT 2.1  s.p.a.  which is a 10 speed Shimano STI shifter/ Shimano Ultegra Front & Rear/ Shimano 105 12-25 10 speed Cassette/ Bontrager Race 52/39/30.
   (Larger shop with a very nice service plan from which I have previously purchased an MTB.  They may be a little more willing to swap things around.)

3.  SPECIALIZED SEQUOIA ELITE  9 speed Shimano105 group/ Shimano HG50 12-25t Cassette/ Sugino Direct Drive 2 piece Crank set with 50/39/30t.  
   (Also a smaller shop with mixed experiences when visiting.  I have also had very little experience with Specialized bikes other than their good reputation.  I have not yet talked to them about a parts swap.)  

As I understand them, your recommendations are (do I have them correct?) &
   A.  I should buy and install a chainwather which will solve any problems with STI shifting to a 24 tooth front chainring.  I like the looks of the N Gear Jump Stop.
   B.  Rear Cassette  For 10 speed Shimano STI Shifter, I will be limited to 12-27 in Shimano and for one or two teeth it is probably not worth changing the rear.   For a 9 Speed Shimano STI Shifter I can probably go up to 32 or 34.
   C.  Front Inside Chainring  For any of the above bikes, the inside chain ring can be changed to a 24 tooth ring.  You provided several sources for availability.
   D.  I will need to change the Rear Derailleur to a Deore LX or XT.

Points for clarification &
   1.   You do not mention the Front Derailleur.  With these changes, am I ok with the stock front Derailleur or is there also a change necessary in the front.  You did mention in one of your points that with STI shifters the front derailleur will/may not work well.  I believe this was in reference to changing to a whole mountain bike crankset.  I am a little confused here.  

   2.  You also do not mention the chain.  Because they advertise a 12-27 on an OCR1 and the one in the shop had a 12-25, one of the things I did when first considering a Giant was to call their customer service.  When I spoke to them about lower gearing they also recommended the mountain derailleur but this was in reference to changing the rear cassette, and they recommended first checking with the crank mfr.  So, I then called Full Speed Ahead FSA.  They told me their cranks were compatible with a mountain derailleur and gearing, but they recommended staying away from Shimano chains due to their lack of sideways movement.  They suggested a Wipperman or Connex Stainless Steel chain (???).  Will I also need to consider changing the chain?  

   3.  I would like to end up with the smoothest and most trouble free shifting possible.  In the Shimano long cage derailleur I have three levels to choose from.  Can I expect better performance and less problems from the higher grade Shimano Devore LX?

   4.  On your point Number 9 you say, You can go with 9 speed on a road bike.  But the STI levers seem to be disappearing in the higher priced ranges.   I would not advise this option for a road bike due to the disappearance of 9 speed STI levers.  I am confused here because most of the Bikes (including 2 of the 3 models I am considering) seem to be 9 speed.  Could you please clarify this for me?  Without consideration of other plus factors and based on wanting lower gearing alone, would I not be better off with a 9 speed, considering the better selection of rear cassettes, etc?  

   5.  One other question dealing with the TREK 2.1 and 2.1 s.p.a.  Do you (or anyone else) have any experience with the Suspension Performance Advantage (s.p.a.) and the Buzz Kill handlebar offered by Trek in this model?  I note the Derailleur are also upgraded to Ultegra, but I would be changing them anyway.  So, I am wondering if the $200 increase in price is worth it.

Thanks again for any help offered on this matter.



Offline Bowdrie

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2006, 09:06:09 pm »
   With Respect to Perhaps we should be looking at a tourer &  Most of the touring bikes would provide the lower gearing but with that also comes a heavier bike.  Great for loaded travel, but for the most part at least for now, my load, besides myself which is already to much, may only consist of light rain/wind jacket, first aid kit, water bottles and perhaps my lunch.  I want to increase my riding distance and enjoyment without pushing a 30 lb MTB with 26 inch knobs, so I would opt for lighter weight.
   Re the Burley Hudson &  I took a look at their web page.  I particularly liked the Burley Vagabond.  Their closest dealer is about 100 miles from me.  I did request a weight from the company.  Didnt get it until today.  59 cm (what they quoted) is 26 lbs on the Hudson and 27 lbs on the Vagabond.  A little far and a little heavy (but it looks like a great touring bike for possible later use.  I would have to ride it and will keep it in the back of my mind.  Thanks.
   George:  I also looked at the recommendation of the Ritchey and the Co-Motion.  Not sure I would use a foldaway.  I note that the Ritchey seems to come stock with double chainrings and 11-23 or 12-25.  On the changes made by your local dealer, what exactly did you have changed and specifically changed to what? Thanks for the info.



Offline RussellSeaton

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2006, 06:01:47 pm »
"     Thank you for your detailed responses to my inquiry.  You seem quite knowledgeable on the subject.  I would like to have contacted you directly but no e-mail is listed."

The forum is for publicly discussing bikes and parts.  No harm in asking any bike questions right here.

"     It would be nice if the bike shops in my area were as willing to work with a customer as apparently they are in your area.  Around here, the bike price is as it sits, and nothing is swapped or added for free.  Except for adjustment and tuning of the stock bike, no work or screw turning is done without a labor charge."

I think it would be worth driving to a shop that is willing to work with you.  You mention a Burley dealer is 100 miles away.  Given how rare Burley dealers are, I'm guessing this is a bigger town.  The parts swaps I am talking about are very simple and exact cost for cost part swaps.  The shop is not losing money in these swaps.  Just a few minutes of time.  If a shop is not willing to do that on a $1000+ bike sale, they are not a shop I would buy from.

   
"1.  GIANT OCR1 - 10 speed Shimano 105 group and 12-25 Cassette / FSA Gossamer Mega Exo 30/34/50T.
     (I am not sure I really want to buy a Giant but the bike really feels good and handles well so I guess the Geometry is right for me.  The shop is a small two man shop, easy to get along with, but I am not sure they really want to do a lot of parts swapping.)"

Giant makes fine bikes.  I like the 10 speed aspect of this bike due to 9 speed for road bikes, the STI levers, seeming to disappear.  Is this a triple or a compact (110mm bcd double crankset) since you list 50/34/30?  Part swapping would consist of a 24 tooth inner chainring and a 12-27 cassette.  10 minutes tops for like for like parts.


"2.  TREK PILOT 2.1  9 Speed Shimano 105/Sram PG950 12-26 Cassette/ Bontrager Race 52/42/30 Crank   ---OR---    PILOT 2.1  s.p.a.  which is a 10 speed Shimano STI shifter/ Shimano Ultegra Front & Rear/ Shimano 105 12-25 10 speed Cassette/ Bontrager Race 52/39/30.
     (Larger shop with a very nice service plan from which I have previously purchased an MTB.  They may be a little more willing to swap things around.)"

Trek makes fine bikes.  I like 10 speed for road bikes due to the STI 9 speed levers seeming to disappear.  Same parts swaps to get the lowest possible gears.  24 inner ring on crank and 12-27 rear cassette for the 10 speed bike.  With 9 speed you can of course put on a mountain bike rear derailleur to clear the 32 or 34 big cog on the 11-32, 11-34, 12-34 9 speed rear cassette you choose.  Really low gears then.  But I don't think 9 speed for road bikes is the future.  But if you go 9 speed, swapping to a mountain bike rear derailleur to clear the big cog and putting on a different cassette and putting on a 24 inner ring is 20 minutes or less total time and like for like parts so is a no money exchange.

"3.  SPECIALIZED SEQUOIA ELITE  9 speed Shimano105 group/ Shimano HG50 12-25t Cassette/ Sugino Direct Drive 2 piece Crank set with 50/39/30t.  
     (Also a smaller shop with mixed experiences when visiting.  I have also had very little experience with Specialized bikes other than their good reputation.  I have not yet talked to them about a parts swap.)"

Specialized makes fine bikes.  Comments on 9 speed and parts swapping apply here too.


"As I understand them, your recommendations are (do I have them correct?) &
     A.  I should buy and install a chainwather which will solve any problems with STI shifting to a 24 tooth front chainring.  I like the looks of the N Gear Jump Stop."

I'm partial to chain watchers on all bikes to keep the chain from dropping to the inside.  Doesn't happen often when the front derailleur is adjusted right, but it can happen no matter what.  STI throws the chain to the inner ring very suddenly.  With a 24 tooth inner ring, there is more open air for the chain to find the right spot to miss the 24 ring.  A chain watcher is good insurance.  When shifting to a 24 inner ring, plan ahead and get onto it before you are putting all of your pressure into the pedals.

"     B.  Rear Cassette  For 10 speed Shimano STI Shifter, I will be limited to 12-27 in Shimano and for one or two teeth it is probably not worth changing the rear.   For a 9 Speed Shimano STI Shifter I can probably go up to 32 or 34."

I think it is worth it to go to a 12-27 instead of a 12-25 cassette.  Particularly with 10 speed since that is the biggest cassette.  The 10 speed gearing is 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-24-27 or 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-25.  I have no idea why Shimano even makes a 12-25 when you want bigger jumps when you get to bigger cogs.  A 24x27 is 23.5".  A 24x25 is 25.4".  You will notice a 2" difference in gears at the low end.  Not a huge difference but enough if you really need the lowest gears possible.

For 9 speed low gears are easy to get because of the 11-32, 11-34, 12-34 cassettes.  STI will shift these just fine.


"     C.  Front Inside Chainring  For any of the above bikes, the inside chain ring can be changed to a 24 tooth ring.  You provided several sources for availability."

I think all of the triple cranksets you listed use a 130mm bcd for the two outer chainrings and a 74mm bcd for the inner chainring.  Very, very common.  24 tooth inner ring will fit just fine.


"     D.  I will need to change the Rear Derailleur to a Deore LX or XT."

Not really need but highly recommended if you go with a 10 speed bike.  The longer cage mountain bike rear derailleur will take up more chain wrap.  By going to a 24 inner ring instead of 30 inner ring, you have more chain to wrap up when using the inner ring.  By increasing the biggest rear cog size, you may/will need a longer chain, thus more to wrap up when using the inner ring.  Its best to not have the chain hanging loose when using the inner ring with the smaller cogs.  You won't use the inner ring with the smallest cogs much or often but its not a problem if the rear derailleur keeps the chain taut.  The longer mountain bike rear derailleurs can wrap up more chain because they have a longer cage.  And they will shift 9 or 10 speed cassettes the same.  Rear derailleurs don't care about how many cogs there are in back.  Except 8 speed Dura Ace but that is not relevant here.

On the 9 speed bikes you need to go to a mountain bike rear derailleur to allow the rear derailleur to clear 32 or 34 tooth rear cogs.  The 105, Ultegra, Dura Ace long(medium) cage rear derailleurs will not clear anything above a 30 unless your bike has a very low mounted derailleur hanger.  And you would want the extra chain wrap of the longer mountain bike rear derailleurs as eplained above anyway.


"Points for clarification &
     1.   You do not mention the Front Derailleur.  With these changes, am I ok with the stock front Derailleur or is there also a change necessary in the front.  You did mention in one of your points that with STI shifters the front derailleur will/may not work well.  I believe this was in reference to changing to a whole mountain bike crankset.  I am a little confused here."

STI shifters for road and the Shimano shifters for mountain bikes have a different cable pull to index the front derailleur.  Shimano indexes the front derailleur.  But since the bikes you list all have road cranks with road front derailleurs and STI road shifters, you will not have any problems with the front derailleurs as they come on the bike.  Leave it alone.  You may have some chain dragging on the bottom of the front derailleur when you try to use the new smaller 24 tooth inner chainring with the smallest cogs in back.  Not a problem since you won't use the smallest cogs in back when using the inner chainring.


"     2.  You also do not mention the chain.  Because they advertise a 12-27 on an OCR1 and the one in the shop had a 12-25, one of the things I did when first considering a Giant was to call their customer service.  When I spoke to them about lower gearing they also recommended the mountain derailleur but this was in reference to changing the rear cassette, and they recommended first checking with the crank mfr.  So, I then called Full Speed Ahead FSA.  They told me their cranks were compatible with a mountain derailleur and gearing, but they recommended staying away from Shimano chains due to their lack of sideways movement.  They suggested a Wipperman or Connex Stainless Steel chain (???).  Will I also need to consider changing the chain?"

Chains are chains.  Get a 9 speed one if using a 9 speed cassette.  Get a 10 speed one if using a 10 speed cassette.  Shimano, SRAM, KMC, etc. all make decent enough chains.  If you really think it matters, chains can be bought cheap from mail order catalogs and can experiment to your heart's content.  Take whatever comes on the bike.  BUT make sure the bike shop puts one of a suitable length(longer) on the bike if they put on a cassette with a bigger rear cog.  Test it by shifting to the biggest cog in back and the outer/biggest chainring.  For safety the chain MUST be long enough to work on this big-big combination.


"     3.  I would like to end up with the smoothest and most trouble free shifting possible.  In the Shimano long cage derailleur I have three levels to choose from.  Can I expect better performance and less problems from the higher grade Shimano Devore LX?"

I have XT on my mountain bike because that is what came with it.  I have cheap Deore on my touring bike because that is what I could find cheap mail order.  My Mom has XT on her Trek WSD 2000 road bike from 2000 because that is what the shop switched the 105 rear derailleur to when they switched the cassette to a 12-34 when she bought the bike.  Only cost was the price difference in levels of rear derailleurs and cassettes.  No labor charge for switching.  I have no idea if there is any performance difference or longevity difference in the different levels of rear derailleurs.



"     4.  On your point Number 9 you say, You can go with 9 speed on a road bike.  But the STI levers seem to be disappearing in the higher priced ranges.   I would not advise this option for a road bike due to the disappearance of 9 speed STI levers.  I am confused here because most of the Bikes (including 2 of the 3 models I am considering) seem to be 9 speed.  Could you please clarify this for me?  Without consideration of other plus factors and based on wanting lower gearing alone, would I not be better off with a 9 speed, considering the better selection of rear cassettes, etc?"

9 speed STI shifters do not seem to be available mail order.  For a year or two now.  I assume Shimano is still making them and they are available special order at full 100%+ retail MSRP through bike shops.  For awhile anyway.  Big bike factories can still get them OEM this year, and maybe, maybe next year too.  8 speed is only available in Sora STI levers now.  The very lowest cost model.  No more 7 speed STI anywhere.  Tiagra is 9 speed this year, it used to be 8 speed.  Will there be any STI levers made in 9 speed in 5 years?  5 years is not too long of a time frame.  If you crash and completely break the right side STI lever, how difficult will it be to find a new one?  Can you buy any 2006 model bikes with 9 speed Dura Ace or 9 speed Ultegra?  These are Shimano's higher road lines.

The 9 speed cassettes are available in choices much better suited to touring and/or lower gearing than 10 speed cassettes.  So far Shimano and SRAM and Campagnolo and IRD are not making 10 speed cassettes with 30 or 32 or 34 tooth big cogs.  Shame.  Hopefully this will change very soon.  Hopefully.  Seems to me there is a big niche a smart company would fill.  Recreational road bicyclists who want really low gears because they live in really hilly or mountainous parts of the world and like riding new, fast, racy, light bikes.


"     5.  One other question dealing with the TREK 2.1 and 2.1 s.p.a.  Do you (or anyone else) have any experience with the Suspension Performance Advantage (s.p.a.) and the Buzz Kill handlebar offered by Trek in this model?  I note the Derailleur are also upgraded to Ultegra, but I would be changing them anyway.  So, I am wondering if the $200 increase in price is worth it."

No knowledge of the suspension stuff listed.  You list the 2.1 SPA bike as having 10 speed shifters and gears.  This could account for the $200 difference from a 9 speed bike.


Offline Bowdrie

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2006, 06:54:11 pm »
Thanks RussellSeaton for all the help and information.  I plan to do a little more bike shopping at some point when I can work it into my schedule next week.  I will let you know how I make out.  


Offline Rwutt

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2006, 02:34:13 pm »
Aside from the bike itself, there are some 'custom' 9-speed cassettes with good gearing from Sheldon Brown at Harris Cyclery:
His 'Big Dozen' has both a 28 and a 32 cog,
The 'Century Special'has a 27 and a 30,
and the two 'Cyclotouriste'models have 27, 30 and 34.
Prices range up to about $100
Check out http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/k7.html#9cassettes
Includes info on compatibility, why 10-speed cassettes can't be as easily customized, etc.



Offline RussellSeaton

Lower Gearing on Road Bike
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2006, 06:10:42 pm »
"His 'Big Dozen' has both a 28 and a 32 cog,
The 'Century Special'has a 27 and a 30,
and the two 'Cyclotouriste'models have 27, 30 and 34.
Prices range up to about $100"

That price is the big problem with those custom cassettes.  Anyone can buy the required two cassettes from Nashbar for about $60 total and build the exact same cassettes.  Taking cassettes apart that have loose cogs and spacers is very easy.  You don't need to pay a 100% premium to someone else to do this.  And by doing it yourself you end up with all of the cogs, even the ones you don't use now.  You still have another 9 brand new cogs to mix and match in the future.

13-23 9 speed Shimano 105 cassette.  $27 after 10% discount.  Use the 13-14-15-17 from this cassette with the 11-34 below.  Or use the 13-14-15-16 from this cassette with the 11-32 below.
http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?category=87&subcategory=1109&brand=&sku=2936&storetype=&estoreid=&pagename=

11-32 or 11-34 SRAM 9 speed cassette.  $29 after 10% discount.  Use the 20-23-26-30-34 from the 11-34 cassette and you have a 13-34 9 speed cassette.  Use the 18-21-24-28-32 and you get a 13-32 cassette.
http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?category=87&subcategory=1109&brand=&sku=11025&storetype=&estoreid=&pagename=

This message was edited by RussellSeaton on 6-27-06 @ 2:12 PM