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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I come from a MTB background, with triple cranks (or doubles and a guard) and very low gearing available at all times. I've picked up road biking as an enjoyable companion to MTB, for times when I can't (or don't feel like) hitting the trail.

After trying a large number of bikes, I ended up finding a great deal on a bike that fits me perfectly and rode wonderfully (at least to my newb self), a Scattante CFR Race from Performance. I've now put a few hundred miles on it (just breaking it in), and in that time, even riding in relatively flat Northern Illinois, I've had a few instances where I've been going up a relatively steep hill for a reasonably long period (at least for around here...that means probably 1/2 mile or so), and have been in my lowest gear (small crank, big cassette), and have wanted a lower gear. I haven't stalled out yet, but I've come close to it.

The bike currently has Shimano CS-5600 10 speed cassette; 11-23T, and a FSA/SLK Lite carbon crankset with 39/53T chainrings. So my low gear is 39/23.

The question is: do I keep the bike as-is and assume that my skill will improve over the next few thousand miles to the point where this will be low enough gearing, or is there a reasonable (and cost-efficient) way of regearing a bit that makes sense. 39/23 seems, in retrospect, pretty high gearing compared to some of the other, comparable bikes. My current plans probably don't involve travel to mountainous areas or SF with this bike, but I'm curious what your opinions are...
 

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Still On Steel
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An 11-23 cassette is a fairly high range for most riders, especially newer riders. Okay for strong, fast riders who live where it's very flat but pretty stout elsewhere. Based on your description, you'd be better served by at least a 12-25, or even a 12-27 or -28.

In my area the terrain is a mix of flats and rollers, with lots of short, choppy hills and a fair number of longer, more gradual climbs. My 8sp bike has a 13-26 cassette and my 10sp has a 13-29. I don't use the 29 a lot, but I do make frequent use of the 26t on both bikes.
 

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What he said. Easiest and cheapest switch is to get a cassette with a lower bottom, lke 12-27. You lowest gear would then be about 17% lower, a significant difference, and maybe enough for your needs. For example, if you bogged down to 8 mph, in your current low you'd be turning 59 rpm. With a 39x27 you'd be at 70.

You do know that it's acceptable, and standard practice, to stand up to power over short hills? You can make it up very steep stuff at low rpms that way, and it means you don't need to carry around the super-low gear that would allow you to do your toughest climbs seated. On the MTB, standing is problematical, because shifting the weight forward reduces traction in the back. But that's rarely an issue on pavement.

So I'd try a 12-27 cassette. If tha'ts not low enough, the other options are more expensive, because you'd need a new crankset. Your standard 130mm bcd crank won't accept a ring smaller than 38 teeth.
 

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JCavilia said:
What he said. Easiest and cheapest switch is to get a cassette with a lower bottom, lke 12-27. You lowest gear would then be about 17% lower, a significant difference, and maybe enough for your needs. For example, if you bogged down to 8 mph, in your current low you'd be turning 59 rpm. With a 39x27 you'd be at 70.

You do know that it's acceptable, and standard practice, to stand up to power over short hills? You can make it up very steep stuff at low rpms that way, and it means you don't need to carry around the super-low gear that would allow you to do your toughest climbs seated. On the MTB, standing is problematical, because shifting the weight forward reduces traction in the back. But that's rarely an issue on pavement.

So I'd try a 12-27 cassette. If tha'ts not low enough, the other options are more expensive, because you'd need a new crankset. Your standard 130mm bcd crank won't accept a ring smaller than 38 teeth.

wouldn't a short cage RD still work OK with a 28t rear cassette???
 

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Resident Curmudgeon
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Try a new cassette 1st. Your derailleur will accomodate it just fine. If that doesn't work you'll have to but a new crank which is $$$$.
 

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For my road bike, I just made a 10-speed cassette change from 12-23 to 12-25 looking for lower gearing / hill climbing benefits. I just gave it the first trial ride last night and it felt like a subtle improvement, not a significant improvement.

This leads me to start thinking of going on to a 12-27 build. My question is, should I feather in the ramp up to a 27 tooth over an adjacent gear or two? or is jump to the 27 tooth ok to occur just at that last gear point?

Thanks
Kenreau
 

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Still On Steel
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kenreau said:
My question is, should I feather in the ramp up to a 27 tooth over an adjacent gear or two? or is jump to the 27 tooth ok to occur just at that last gear point?
Ideally the increments across the entire range will be as gradual as possible. Typically the adjacent gears go up one tooth per step for the smallest sizes, two out in the middle, and three when you get to the granny end of the cassette.

Cassette on my 8sp bike: 13-14-15-17-19-21-23-26

Cassette on my 10sp bike: 13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-26-29

Some brands of cassettes (Shimano, don't know about SRAM) have some of the cogs riveted together, which limits what you can do. Others have the various cogs all loose (Campy) which gives you more latitude. My 10sp bike is Campy. I'm not a really fast rider so I don't use the 13t much, and most of my rides aren't hilly enough to require the 29t. I'm thinking of putting together a cassette that goes 14-15-16-17-18-19-20-21-23-26. That would be just about perfect for the mix of flats and rollers I typically ride over.
 

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Allez Rouge said:
Ideally the increments across the entire range will be as gradual as possible. Typically the adjacent gears go up one tooth per step for the smallest sizes, two out in the middle, and three when you get to the granny end of the cassette.

Cassette on my 10sp bike: 13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-26-29

(Campy) which gives you more latitude. My 10sp bike is Campy. I'm thinking of putting together a cassette that goes 14-15-16-17-18-19-20-21-23-26. That would be just about perfect for the mix of flats and rollers I typically ride over.
Excellent, that is exactly what I was looking for. Mine is also a Campy, so I will map out the last cog or two to follow this info.

Thanks
Kenreau
 

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huvia ja hyötyä
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If you put on a bigger cassette, a longer chain might be a good idea too (just a link more probably), just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just upgraded from a 105 cassette (11-23) to an ultra cassette (11-28). Chain length looks good without a change. I've only ridden a few miles (testing) but the difference is HUGE. Was on sale at performance for $70. Seems like a great upgrade. Thanks for the advice!!!
 
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