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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm getting ready to move and will probably need to change the gearing on my bikes to accommodate the new terrain (well, I don't HAVE to, but it will be a heck of a lot more pleasant if I do).

Right now I'm runnnig 11-23 (10 speed) in the rear and 39-53 (double) up front. I ride 2,000-3,000 miles per year and the area where I currently live (Bridgewater, MA) is pretty flat, some hills, but not too bad. This gearing works great for most of my rides here. I'm moving to an area (Acton/Stow/Littleton, MA) which is much hillier, I've done one ride out there and was definitely wishing I had slightly lower gearing. I also do the occasional ride up in VT and my current gearing makes those climbs pretty miserable.

I'm debating between just going to 12-25 in the rear, OR going with compact cranks up front. Which would you reccomend?

Thanks for your comments.
 

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Wait till you get there then ask at the Local Bike Shop.

Either that or just get a fixed gear bike and don't worry about it.
 

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why not...

...switch to a triple? I've ridden both and the triple comes in very handy when I visit my retired parents in TN. Sure I never use the granny in IL but I also never have to swap parts for travel. Mike
 

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cassette

Considering that a new cassette (Shimano) costs about $45 and takes about 10 minutes to replace, that would be the common sense approach. Try a 12-25 or 12-27. If that doesn't do the trick, then start considering more expensive options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Good idea on checking with the local shop, I'll ask around.

I'm definitely leaning towards the cassette (not a huge bargain since I've got Campy, but definitely a lot cheaper than going compact), it's not like I'm living in the mountains, and I have done some nasty climbs in VT in 39-23 (wishing I had a lower gear with every agonizing turn of the crank).

Not ready to go single speed just yet. I ride in one gear for the whole ride sometimes where I am today (usually about 39-17 I think), but don't think I could handle much larger hills in that...of course it would eventually lead to much stronger legs. Maybe I'll build up a single speed after upgrading my old Bianchi from 7 speed and getting a mountain bike for the stable.
 

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New thinking

So, have you EVER actually needed the 11t cog for anything but pedalling slowly down a hill? With Campy, you can get the 13-26 or 13-29 cassette, learn to spin, and coast in a tight tuck, and unless you do a lot of downhill sprints, never miss either the 11 or the 12. 110 rpm in a 53/13 is about 35 mph, at which point you can go just as fast while coasting. It is a rare situation where someone who needs a 12 t cog (nearly 38 mph at 110 rpm) needs lower than a 39/26.
 

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Kerry Irons said:
So, have you EVER actually needed the 11t cog for anything but pedalling slowly down a hill? With Campy, you can get the 13-26 or 13-29 cassette, learn to spin, and coast in a tight tuck, and unless you do a lot of downhill sprints, never miss either the 11 or the 12. 110 rpm in a 53/13 is about 35 mph, at which point you can go just as fast while coasting. It is a rare situation where someone who needs a 12 t cog (nearly 38 mph at 110 rpm) needs lower than a 39/26.
I would've doubted you two months ago, but I wanted to set up one of my bikes with a lower gear (as cheaply as possible) for some mountainous centuries this year. Thought about a compact, but that gets expensive because you're probably buying a new BB and front derailleur in addition to the crankset. Or if you keep it all Campy (in my case Record) you have to mortgage the house to get a compact crankset (although it will work with the existing double BB). I went from an 11-23 to a 13-29, which required a mid-cage rear derailleur. You can buy just the derailleur cages from Branford Bike for about $50 and rebuild the old one to a mid-cage. You can use a Centaur or Veloce cassette for less than $100. Throw in a new chain, and for $200 you'll have 36"-109" which is the same gearing as a 12-25 with a 34-50 compact.

And indeed, I haven't missed the 11 or 12 any!!
 

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I'm a fan of low gearing and spinning- it works for me. But where I live we have multi-mile climbs. There's a common summit-and-back ride that's done on summer weekday evenings. I'll typically be one of the first to the top, where we regroup and descend the way we came. I often get dropped in my 52-13 on my triple. It sucks to school your buddies on the climb and get dropped on the descent.
 

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I'm also a believer that 11 and 12 in the back is not a good idea (irregardless of what you're running up front). Yes there are exceptions to the rule but for 99.5% of us no need.
 

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hrspear said:
(Acton/Stow/Littleton, MA)
My old stomping grounds. I've logged ~10K miles in and around the area you're talking about. The hills around there really aren't that bad. The steep ones are short. Back in my racing days, I did it all on a 42/52X12-21.

If you do head for Manadnock (spelling?) or the Greens or the Whites, that's a different story, but if 99% of your riding is going to be in and around the Metro-West area, and you are in decent shape, a 39X25 should be plenty for you. A 39X27 would be even plusher. In either case, it would be a relatively inexpensive experiment for you to undertake. You could set up either a 12-25 or a 12-27 and ride the heck out of it. 6 months from now, if you felt like you needed a easier gear, you could make the change.

But I don't think that would be necessary.

Yours,

Forbes B-Black
Former Shop Manager, Lincoln Guide Service, Lincoln, MA (R.I.P.)
 

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Centaur or Veloce

Kerry Irons said:
...With Campy, you can get the 13-26 or 13-29 cassette...
Buy the Centaur or Veloce level cassettes and save a boat load of money too. In addition they are loose cogs so if you wanted to get really creative you could mix and match and get yourself an 11-26 although it would take a lot for me to give up a 16t and 18t cog just to have a rarely used 11t cog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
fbagatelleblack said:
My old stomping grounds. I've logged ~10K miles in and around the area you're talking about. The hills around there really aren't that bad. The steep ones are short. Back in my racing days, I did it all on a 42/52X12-21.

If you do head for Manadnock (spelling?) or the Greens or the Whites, that's a different story, but if 99% of your riding is going to be in and around the Metro-West area, and you are in decent shape, a 39X25 should be plenty for you. A 39X27 would be even plusher. In either case, it would be a relatively inexpensive experiment for you to undertake. You could set up either a 12-25 or a 12-27 and ride the heck out of it. 6 months from now, if you felt like you needed a easier gear, you could make the change.

But I don't think that would be necessary.

Yours,

Forbes B-Black
Former Shop Manager, Lincoln Guide Service, Lincoln, MA (R.I.P.)
Thanks, I'll be starting with the 12-25, and see how that goes...should be fine.

Since you're familiar with the area, can you reccomend a good bike shop and/or group to get together with for fast paced recreational rides?
 

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hrspear said:
Thanks, I'll be starting with the 12-25, and see how that goes...should be fine.
I'd go Veloce and buy a 12-25 and a 13-26 for the cost of one Chorus cassette. The extra grams aren't noticable, and as Kerry said, with the loose cogs you can make your own 12-26 if you want.

11speed.com has Veloce cassettes for something like $45!
 
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