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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few years ago, I realized that I wasn't getting any lighter and I was never going to get any younger. I got an upright exercise bike of CL and was able to drop 40 lbs over about six months. Long story short, I have a Diamondback Edgewood that has worked well over the last couple years for the occasional trip up north (to get my exercise in) or the occasional ride with my son around town, but this summer, I started riding on the road in earnest (I've started riding with a group and I'm the ONLY guy with flat bars and flat pedals) and think it's time for an upgrade.

For starters, the Edgewood came with a 14-34T 7-speed Shimano Megarange, and a 28-38-48 front gear and 700x40c wheels. But going up the biggest hill in my neighborhood (10% grade), dropping into that 34 tooth rear gear just felt like I was pedaling my but off an not going anywhere. And quite often on the flats or smaller hills, I felt the gearing just wasn't right for my cadence. So I got a 13-28T 7speed and that seemed to solve both the hill climbing and the cadence issues.

So, looking at new entry level road bikes, they pretty much all have a compact 34/50 front crank and 11-25, 11-28, 11-32 eight or nine speed rear cassette and that has me a bit concerned for the hills. To be fair, these days I'm not often dropping to 28/28 except on the really long hills or near the end of a long (for me) ride (up to 32 miles), but there are time and I worry that an 11-28T (which seems quite popular) may not be big enough on the rear.

Anyone go from a hybrid to a road bike? Should I be concerned about the different gearing? What were your experiences?
 

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Cycling induced anoesis
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Yours is a gearing question, not a hybrid to road bike question.

At a cadence of ~80, a 28/28 combo will net you 6.3 MPH. For comparison, a 34/32 will get you to 6.7 MPH.

That given, and the fact that gearing used for cruising/ downhills would fall into place on the remainder of 8,9,10 speeds, you'd be fine running a 50/34 compact crankset and a 12-32 cassette, as one example.
 

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So your concern is that you'll run out of gear? Or is it not enough gear to get up a steep hill? Assuming the latter, a 50/34 will give you more gear to climb than the standard 53/39, but the difference isn't huge and you can always change the cassette pretty cheaply if you find an 11x25 isn't giving you enough gear. I've got bikes with both set ups and there's not a large difference. If I'm going on a really hilly ride, I usually opt for the 50/34
 

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The 52/36 that most new bikes are coming with nowadays is best of both worlds. With a 52/36 up front and 11-28 in the rear, you likely won't run out of gears in any direction.

Sounds to me like you've been biking plenty, a 52/36 is probably not going to be too hard for you...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks all. It's not the 50/34 that bothers me, it's the 11-28 on the rear. Looking at prices, I can get a Shimano 11-32T in the $40 range and replace whatever the bike comes with if I find it is too difficult on the hills.

And yes, it is that I will run out of gear on the steep hills (or long hills into the wind). I'm not too worried about the high end, although I've found some hills where I could go faster down them if I had a bigger front gear and/or smaller rear gear.

As for hybrid vs road bike. Yes it's true that this is more a gear issue, but on a hybrid, you sit more upright and present more surface area to the wind. And my current 40mm wide tires are quite a bit wider than the 25s and 28s that the road bikes come with. I know narrow tires are faster, but does that translate into going up hills easier?

I should also add that I'm 50 now and after 25 years off the bike, while I'm not the hill climbing monster I used to be when I was in my early 20s (on a 10 speed Itoh, no less), after hitting the pedals for over three years now, I'd rather not suffer the indignity of walking my first road bike up a hill ;-)

Maybe it's just a confidence thing.
 

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From what you've said I would recommend a compact (50/34) with an 11-32 cassette.

If the bike you want has the 11-28 ask the shop to swap out the cassette for the 11-32. I would think most shops would do this at no charge.
 

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Thanks all. It's not the 50/34 that bothers me, it's the 11-28 on the rear. Looking at prices, I can get a Shimano 11-32T in the $40 range and replace whatever the bike comes with if I find it is too difficult on the hills.
Most reputable shops will swap out cassettes at no charge. They can resell the OE cassette, so price-wise, it's pretty much a wash to them.

And yes, it is that I will run out of gear on the steep hills (or long hills into the wind). I'm not too worried about the high end, although I've found some hills where I could go faster down them if I had a bigger front gear and/or smaller rear gear.
The example I gave you earlier shows that a 34/32 combo is very close to the 28/28 you're now running, so you'll be fine.

As to going faster downhill, my question would be... why pedal? You'll go faster getting down in the drops to cut wind resistance and coast. If you don't believe me, watch the pro's - or try it sometime....

As for hybrid vs road bike. Yes it's true that this is more a gear issue, but on a hybrid, you sit more upright and present more surface area to the wind. And my current 40mm wide tires are quite a bit wider than the 25s and 28s that the road bikes come with. I know narrow tires are faster, but does that translate into going up hills easier?
Because you posed your question to those coming from a hybrid, my point was that yours was fundamentally a gear question, but your points are valid on some differences between hybrids and drop bar road bikes.

Upright, the rider serves as a brick in the wind, wider tires weigh more (as do hybrids, in general), and when climbing, it's all about power to weight, so the lower weight of a road bike will help. On descents, (wind) resistance and aerodynamics matter more as speed increases (~27 MPH+).

I should also add that I'm 50 now and after 25 years off the bike, while I'm not the hill climbing monster I used to be when I was in my early 20s (on a 10 speed Itoh, no less), after hitting the pedals for over three years now, I'd rather not suffer the indignity of walking my first road bike up a hill ;-)

Maybe it's just a confidence thing.
That could well be it. I suggest taking some bikes out for test rides.. preferably on roads you'll navigate. Once you decide on THE one, work with the LBS on getting the gearing that suites your fitness and the terrain. But I think you'd be fine on the lower end with 34/32 - and it can always be changed at a later date.
 

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From what you've said I would recommend a compact (50/34) with an 11-32 cassette.

If the bike you want has the 11-28 ask the shop to swap out the cassette for the 11-32. I would think most shops would do this at no charge.
i'll +1 this. Using a 12-30T hasn't let me down yet climbing wise and it has given me just enough on the flats.
 

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Some of the local bike club riders have switched to 11-32 from their older 11-27 or 11-28. It's a big help on steep hills. But the tradeoff is wider gaps between shifts on flatter roads. So a rider that doesn't really need it for steep climbs would be better off with a narrower range cassette.

Here's your current triple with your 13-28 7-speed, at typical flat road cadences. Each chainring is a different color.

View attachment 315300


Here's the same cadences on a typical 11-28 & 34/50 road bike. Note that the chart goes to 35 mph here, instead of 30 mph.

Many bikes are 11-speed now, so I charted that.
View attachment 315301

And the same thing in 11-32. See the bigger jump between gears at 20 to 25 mph (and around 15 mph on the small chainring). But the rest of the range looks good. And those shifts are closer together than your 7-speed bike, too.
View attachment 315302
 

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There is some debate as to whether or not this is true, but keep in mind that a 32T cog in the back may require different (long cage) derailleur. Some mechanically inclined people will say you can make it work without, but on the other hand some Shimano documentation says you must change derailleurs.

With 34-30 or 34-32, you can almost ride your bike vertically, but to get a gear that low consider what cog you might be giving up in the middle which could lead to less smooth shifting due to gaps (as another poster mentioned)...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
As to going faster downhill, my question would be... why pedal? You'll go faster getting down in the drops to cut wind resistance and coast. If you don't believe me, watch the pro's - or try it sometime....
Well, for one, I bike as much for exercise more than anything else, so I like to keep the legs moving. But I also like to have some resistance. But I do tuck and coast on the big slopes (although I'm not even going to attempt to sit on my top tube and pedal like Froom in the TDF) and get some decent speed (faster than I can pedal). Also, on the shallow downhills, I can coast at 12-14mph (or slower if I'm going into the wind) or I can pedal and get into the mid-20s and occasionally higher and run out of gear (depends on how I'm feeling that day).

I would love to get an 11-speed. But I don't think my wife is willing to let me spend that much. My budget has me more in the Sora 9-speed range (or maybe a used or last years model with Tiagra 10-speed).

I definitely plan on supporting the LBS. There was a time when I did all my wrench turning myself. But that was a long time ago and some things, like shifters, have changed quite a bit. And disc brakes? And whatever happened to banana seats? ;-)

Thanks again for all of your comments and feedback.

EDIT: I should add that while I bike for exercise, my goal is to do at least a few days of RAGBRAI or Bike across Kansas or a complete Biking Across Minnesota within the next couple of years.
 

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Well, for one, I bike as much for exercise more than anything else, so I like to keep the legs moving. But I also like to have some resistance. But I do tuck and coast on the big slopes (although I'm not even going to attempt to sit on my top tube and pedal like Froom in the TDF) and get some decent speed (faster than I can pedal). Also, on the shallow downhills, I can coast at 12-14mph (or slower if I'm going into the wind) or I can pedal and get into the mid-20s and occasionally higher and run out of gear (depends on how I'm feeling that day).
Yes, Froome definitely broke some ground on that descent. Amazing bike rider and worthy of that TdF win, IMHO.

If you want to spin on the downhill, have at it, but keep in mind that (one example) spinning at a cadence of 80 in a 50/12 combo gets you to over 26 MPH. I think at that point, you could stop pedaling and coast, so you won't be spinning out running a 12-32 cassette.

I would love to get an 11-speed. But I don't think my wife is willing to let me spend that much. My budget has me more in the Sora 9-speed range (or maybe a used or last years model with Tiagra 10-speed).
All the talk of gearing options is valid and helps you become an educated buyer, but yes, you have to first set a budget, then go bike shopping, then whittle choices. At that point you'll better know your options.

Assuming you're somewhere in the $1K range and buying from a reputable LBS, I don't see where buying 9 or 10 speed is going to hinder your gearing choices. As was mentioned, as you widen gearing, gaps enlarge. But the differences/ compromises will be negligible between 9-10 speeds.

I definitely plan on supporting the LBS. There was a time when I did all my wrench turning myself. But that was a long time ago and some things, like shifters, have changed quite a bit. And disc brakes? And whatever happened to banana seats? ;-)
I do my own wrenching as well. Things haven't changed all that much. Most shifters are not really serviceable, but they last a long time and integrated headsets are (generally) pretty well designed.

I'm 'old school', so tend to avoid internal cable routing, OSBB's and (on road bikes) disc brakes. With the added weight and cost, I see no benefit.
 

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Thanks all. It's not the 50/34 that bothers me, it's the 11-28 on the rear. Looking at prices, I can get a Shimano 11-32T in the $40 range and replace whatever the bike comes with if I find it is too difficult on the hills.
If you have a short cage rear derailleur, changing to an 11-32T cassette will mean you will need to change to a mid-cage rear derailleur. Also must be same generation or pull ratios won't be right.

As for hybrid vs road bike. Yes it's true that this is more a gear issue, but on a hybrid, you sit more upright and present more surface area to the wind. And my current 40mm wide tires are quite a bit wider than the 25s and 28s that the road bikes come with. I know narrow tires are faster, but does that translate into going up hills easier?
It is a popular misconception that narrower tires are faster. It is true that wider tires weigh more due to more tire material. However, wider tires actually have less rolling resistance than narrow tires given the same pressure. Naturally, you won't need as high pressure on a wider tire. Still, the weight vs. rolling resistance virtually cancel each other out. Now, if your 40mm tires have a tread, that is a totally different story. Smooth tires will be faster on pavement than anything with a tread.
 

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I just went from a 50/39/30 triple with 11-30 on the cassette to a Trek Domane with 50/34 and an 11-32 on the cassette. If you have a lot of hills like me you will want the 11-32 on the back to get up the hills. The spread in gearing doesnt seem to bother me on the flats as well.
 

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I just went from a 50/39/30 triple with 11-30 on the cassette to a Trek Domane with 50/34 and an 11-32 on the cassette. If you have a lot of hills like me you will want the 11-32 on the back to get up the hills. The spread in gearing doesnt seem to bother me on the flats as well.
The spread in gearing is a non-issue unless you are racing competitively - especially now that we have 11-speeds.
 

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The spread in gearing is a non-issue unless you are racing competitively - especially now that we have 11-speeds.
I agree that 11 speeds lessens the effect of wider gearing, but some (including me) like to maintain what I call a rhythm (cadence range), especially while climbing. So going from, say a 23 to 25 to 27T cog is preferable to the 3-4 cog differences with wider gearing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The spread in gearing is a non-issue unless you are racing competitively - especially now that we have 11-speeds.
I'm going to have to agree with shanabit and PJ352. There are times when I'm on the big ring in front and 3th gear in back and pedaling is just a bit too easy, and shifting up to 4th gear is just a bit to hard to maintain cadence, I can drop to the middle ring in front and up to 5th gear in back and find the right cadence.

I'm sure with more cogs in the back the jumps will be smaller and this will be less of an issue, but I am likely going to end up with a 9-speed instead of an 11 and I think it will still be noticeable.

I suppose I could try to find a bike with a 30-39-50, but most of the LBS in my area sell road bikes with 34-50 compact cranks.

I think I really need to find a time (really an issue of when they are open and I'm not at work) when I can get one of the LBS' to let me take out a demo model an a 20 mile ride to see how the gaps in the gear ratios are for me. How did I ever survive with just a ten-speed (over 25 years ago)?
 

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I suppose I could try to find a bike with a 30-39-50, but most of the LBS in my area sell road bikes with 34-50 compact cranks.
Triples are pretty much extinct on road bikes. They are now only found on hybrid, fitness and touring bikes as well as some entry level mountain bikes.

How did I ever survive with just a ten-speed (over 25 years ago)?
You have to wonder. And you guys are complaining about big gaps between cogs on a 11x2? :rolleyes:
 

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The spread in gearing is a non-issue unless you are racing competitively - especially now that we have 11-speeds.
Where did you come up with that one? Would that be because only racers would care about being as efficient or comfortable in a cadence as possible?

Personally I find just the opposite. When I'm racing it's all instinct and I never think about gears or wish away big gaps between them. But if I'm out alone on a long ride I often find myself wishing there was a gear between two certain gears when I'm on long flat stretches so I could get the perfect pedaling feel. That NEVER happens when racing for me.
 
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