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I am purchasing a new cross bike which comes with a 46/34 crankset and 12-25 cassette. I ride in an area with lots of sharp steep hills. What combination do most people ride when there are steeper hills rather than rolling hills. I was thinking of switching to a 12-27 cassette in the back.
 

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My cross bike has 36,26 as its lowest gear. With a little effort, i was able to climb all of the hills on the local MTB race course. With a 34,27 you should be able to climb some pretty steep hills. IMHO, there is very little disadvantage to switching to a 12-26 or 12-27 cassette. I am used to MTB gearing, so i don't feel i need so many ratios so close together.

You may not need such a low gear for a cross race, but when you're a few hours into a ride, and get slapped with a big climb, you might appreciate the lower gears.
 

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I have a MTB long cage der. and an 11- 34 rear cassette, and a 48, 34 chainring. Use the bike mainly for riding fire roads and mountain trails. I started out with an 11- 28, but the guys I ride with had the setup I now have and they just gutted me. I don't race, and can't imagine going back to a smaller cassette. Not saying that everyone needs this gearing, but on a 6 hour 90 mile ride on a mix of paved, gravel, and dirt roads with 10,000 feet of climbing, it makes the ride really enjoyable. It really is set up as a go anywhere bike.

YMMV........
 

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will2007 said:
I am purchasing a new cross bike which comes with a 46/34 crankset and 12-25 cassette. I ride in an area with lots of sharp steep hills. What combination do most people ride when there are steeper hills rather than rolling hills. I was thinking of switching to a 12-27 cassette in the back.
Ride what the bike comes with first.
 

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pretender said:
Ride what the bike comes with first.
When i got my bike, it did not cost me anything to change the gearing before the bike left the floor. But, if i used the parts, then changed, I would have had to pay for the new parts. The folks at your LBS may be able to advise you on what works well in the area. The guy who sold me my rocky also had a rocky cross bike, and his advice was helpful.
 

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will2007 said:
I am purchasing a new cross bike which comes with a 46/34 crankset and 12-25 cassette. I ride in an area with lots of sharp steep hills. What combination do most people ride when there are steeper hills rather than rolling hills. I was thinking of switching to a 12-27 cassette in the back.
Thats a hard question to provide a useful answer to without knowledge of your strength and definition of "sharp steep hills". 34:25 is already pretty low for road gearing, but high compared to the lowest MTB gears.

For me, climbing paved roads that I think are steep with min. 42:25, 34:25 sounds plenty low. For someone else. . .?
 
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