What has four thumbs and loves climbing in big gears? Those guys!

What has four thumbs and loves climbing in big gears? Those guys!

And the 39 Was Clean as a Whistle

by / / 116 posts

I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn’t it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft… As for me, give me a fixed gear!

— Henri Desgrange

I like to think that any time a rider running a compact punctures, Henri’s spirit is brought just that little bit closer to finding peace; I can only imagine what he might have said about the advent of these sorts of chainsets, let alone the wide-range cassettes we see in wide use today.

The thing that bothers me most about wide-range cassettes is the gaps between the gears. Growing up riding in Minnesota, I trained on a 12-23 and raced on an 12-21 because they were basically a straight block until you got to the lowest gears. Going to the mountains I would reluctantly use a 12-27 but I had to stop myself looking at the back wheel too much because I hated the sight of that 27t dinner plate. I’ve gotten used to what my bikes look like with the 12-25 I’m training on these days, but there are definitely times when I simply can’t find the right gear ratio for the terrain.

Growing up, I was considered a spinner for riding at 80-90 rpm; the thinking at the time was that mashing big gears at low cadences was more efficient. We are greatly influenced by what the Pros are doing, and the famous Cyclists at the time like Hinault and LeMond rode at 60 rpm, so that’s what we punters did, too. Today, I’m still riding at the same cadence, but now people consider me to be a bit of a gear pusher in our modern 100+ rpm climate. I like to flatter myself that the size of my climbing gear intimidates the spinners I ride with; my favorite question to ask them is why they are riding in the little ring already. I usually already know the answer (they are sissies) but I like to ask anyway because I enjoy their slightly bewildered expression before looking at my chainset and realizing that I’m still in the 53. I always give them that special look that makes them wonder whether or not I have noticed that the climb is steep already.

Before spinning high cadences became popular and, shortly after, the abominable 11-28 block became the mainstream choice in gearing, climbers would seek to intimidate one another by how tight they could keep their gearing and how few teeth they needed to use to get over a climb. Climbers like Manuel Fuentes would make sure to always ride in a slightly bigger gear than the rest of the group as a show of defiance to the ferocity of the gradient. In The Rider, Tim Krabbé recounts his suffering on the climbs of the Tour de Mont Aigoual in the South of France. His lowest gear was a 19, one which he considered his “bail out” gear. He was confident he could win the race, and throughout he imagines the onlookers admiring the fact that his 19 never saw the chain, “And his 19 was clean as a whistle,” he imagined them saying.

I personally can’t imagine climbing anything steeper than an overpass in a 19, but I do like to challenge myself to stay off my 39 and ride an entire training route in the 53. And his 39 was clean as a whistle.

// Accessories and Gear // Nostalgia // Technique // Technology // Tradition

  1. @lonefrontranger

    I grew up riding in the late 80s through 90s in the Midwest and only ever had a 5242 or 53/39 up front.

    then I moved to Colorado, got heavily into CX, got old, quit road racing and became a mostly adventure rider/graveur.

    I run a 50/36 (compromise on my CX bike / all-rounder) and an 11/32 out back.

    oh and I race both CX and MTB XC on a 1×11 setup. 38×11-32 for cross, 30×10-46 for MTB.

    Are you using a MTB rear mech on that 32 out back or are you getting that done with a standard road mech? I’d love to get lower than my 27…but it hardly seems like the 28 is going to be that much shorter of a gear.

  2. @frank

    @lonefrontranger

    I grew up riding in the late 80s through 90s in the Midwest and only ever had a 5242 or 53/39 up front.

    then I moved to Colorado, got heavily into CX, got old, quit road racing and became a mostly adventure rider/graveur.

    I run a 50/36 (compromise on my CX bike / all-rounder) and an 11/32 out back.

    oh and I race both CX and MTB XC on a 1×11 setup. 38×11-32 for cross, 30×10-46 for MTB.

    Are you using a MTB rear mech on that 32 out back or are you getting that done with a standard road mech? I’d love to get lower than my 27…but it hardly seems like the 28 is going to be that much shorter of a gear.

    You can certainly go 29, 2 teeth is a fair difference on a cassette.

    @frank – on the other hand has your account been hacked?

  3. @Buck Rogers

    @Haldy

    @frank

    You know how I feel on the subject of spinning being a trackie-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVbwngNoHm0

    Holy SHITE!!! That was MESMERIZING! What cadence do they hit? Insane.

    They probably peak out somewhere in the 220’s since they are holding the effort. I know Francois Pervis( french sprinter/kilo racer) has hit 275 rpms in one ripped effort on rollers. Fastest I have ever managed to peak out at is 232. Can hold 200..for a bit. My natural range on the road is between 100-110. So yes, @frank always chuckles when we ride together.

  4. @frank

    Are you using a MTB rear mech on that 32 out back or are you getting that done with a standard road mech? I’d love to get lower than my 27…but it hardly seems like the 28 is going to be that much shorter of a gear.

    I don’t know what components you’re running (I know I probably should, but …), but I know my wife’s 10-speed 105 short cage rear derailleur is capable of going up to 30T on the cassette (hers is 12-30). 30 would definitely be a shorter gear than 27.

  5. Other than esthetics, I see little issue whether you ride a 11-28 or a corncob cassette. Just ride them as hard as you can muster. However, you may discover, as I have, that you might be faster up hill with a few more teeth. Leg speed and the correct ratio will result in a faster summit than trying to grind out that macho gear and blowing up. The one climbing route I do every week has climbs of 9.6km, 5.6km, 12km, and 6km in that order. Total ascent is 6461ft. I am running 11-25 rear and semi-compact (confused-pro) up front. My 25 is clean as a whistle. But I am faster overall than when I run a standard crank. My group broke my balls real good when I went semi-compact, but as I rode away from them week after week, they changed their tune.

  6. @Teocalli

    I have said it elsewhere that, gear spacing aside, but 50/x with 11-y is a higher gear than 53/x and 12-y. Of course if you ride 53/x and 11-y they you are a) very young b) beasting it.

    The thing is that no one can tell you are riding 11-y vs 12-y but having 52/36 is visibly more V than 50/34.

    That’s a good point yes. 53×12 at 90rpm w/25c tires = 31.3 mph and a 50×11 = 32.23 mph.

    That’s according to this cool BikeCalc

  7. @LawnCzar

    @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot

    Oh Mate! If you have not read The Rider, just fucking drop everything, call in sick, go home and read it. Fucking fantastic. Seriously, the best book on sport I have ever read, esp if you were a road racer in the past (or still are–and I mean real racing, not comparing fucking strava segments).

    So good. Worth the day off from work. (But set aside some time to ride after you’re done.)

    —–

    “Jacques Anquetil, five-time winner of the Tour de France, used to take his water bottle out of its holder before every climb and stick it in the back pocket of his jersey. Ab Geldermans, his Dutch lieutenant, watched him do that for years, until finally he couldn’t stand it any more and asked him why. And Anquetil explained.

    A rider, said Anquetil, is made up of two parts, a person and a bike. The bike, of course, is the instrument the person uses to go faster, but it’s weight also slows him down. That really counts when the going gets tough, and in climbing the thing is to make sure the bike is as light as possible. A good way to do that is: take the bidon out of its holder.
    So, at the start of every climb, Anquetil moved his water bottle from its holder to his back pocket. Clear enough.”
    It may not be accurate, but it’s True.

    The Rider is a fantastic read, so many details, nuances. Arguably the definitive desert island cycling book.

  8. @teleguy57

    @Buck Rogers

    @The Pressure

    @chuckp

    shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiet, if @Frank keeps the site running long enough I might be in the running to inherit some pretty sweet quivers when you old fogies kick the bucket! Still closer to 30 than 40 for this guy!

  9. Yes age is the fatal flaw in the premise of this article.

    I’m in Masters E this year 50-54) but I have ridden a compact for years. Plus since breaking my hip I find it very hard to push a big gear and will flip the switch sooner rather than later.

    But there’s not many people here who will drop me on a climb so stick that in your big rings.

  10. @Ccos

    @Dave

    Experiment with gears and cadence options while riding a long steady grade with an experienced group. I imagine everyone’s different, but my most efficient cadence is clearly not 100+. Probably more like 60 – 70. This is not obvious unless the group pace is very even and you are well up the grade so everything (HR, breathing, blood flow, etc.) has reached equilibrium

    GCN (I think) has a video on this: having people ride on a treadmill at different cadences and gearing but at the same speed. Surprisingly they required less power at lower cadences (surprising to the guys doing it).

    I’d post it but that would require looking for it, making the link, etc… It’s better to leave a small aspect of suspicion that I’m making it up.

    Good video! Easy to find. Thanks! Pretty much matches what my legs tell me on long climbs when hunting for the right gear to stay with the group.

  11. @ChrisO

    Yes age is the fatal flaw in the premise of this article.

    I’m in Masters E this year 50-54) but I have ridden a compact for years. Plus since breaking my hip I find it very hard to push a big gear and will flip the switch sooner rather than later.

    But there’s not many people here who will drop me on a climb so stick that in your big rings.

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about, 53/39 and 12/23 worked fine for me on the hilly bits in the Chilterns and I’m not exactly young either.

  12. @Mikael Liddy

    @teleguy57

    @Buck Rogers

    @The Pressure

    @chuckp

    shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiet, if @Frank keeps the site running long enough I might be in the running to inherit some pretty sweet quivers when you old fogies kick the bucket! Still closer to 30 than 40 for this guy!

    You’re but a mere pup, only 5 to go to half a ton here. Must be the sea air that keeps me looking so young.

  13. I am currently riding a 52-36 with an 11-25 cassette. This suits my pedaling style of 95-100 RPM very well. I now find myself climbing moderate gradients ( 7.2%) in the 36 and a 17/19 on the back. I am still able to spin this ratio at 90-95 RPM and get to the top fairly comfortably.

    This is a far cry from my early riding days when I thought mashing a big gear uphill was macho. The problem was the 100 RPM grind to the top in my lowest gear more than offset the big gear machismo. Marty Jemison suggested that I try lower gears and a higher cadence. Thanks to Marty, I can now ride faster longer by increasing RPM by 15-20.

    Call me a sissy or whatever you want for employing lower gears, but it increases my speed and enjoyment on the bike. It also gets me to the top faster and more comfortably.

    If this makes me a Rule #90 violator so be it, and blame Marty Jemison.

  14. I recently upgraded from the 50×34 compact that came with the bike to a 53×39 Flemish Compact. Still have the 12×25 on the back. I’ve actually found that it’s easier to hit climbs in the big ring and towards the top of the cassette (not yet crosschaining) than it is to hit them in the little ring at the lower end of the cassette. Not sure why that is.

    It took me a few weeks of Rule #5 to convince myself that my skinny pins weren’t going to get any bigger spinning around in the little ring, but now I’m back to spinning ~90 RPM in the big ring. I just wish I didn’t crosschain so early on the cassette in either chainring – it definitely prefers the middle gears.

  15. @Owen

    I recently upgraded from the 50×34 compact that came with the bike to a 53×39 Flemish Compact. Still have the 12×25 on the back. I’ve actually found that it’s easier to hit climbs in the big ring and towards the top of the cassette (not yet crosschaining) than it is to hit them in the little ring at the lower end of the cassette. Not sure why that is.

    It took me a few weeks of Rule #5 to convince myself that my skinny pins weren’t going to get any bigger spinning around in the little ring, but now I’m back to spinning ~90 RPM in the big ring. I just wish I didn’t crosschain so early on the cassette in either chainring – it definitely prefers the middle gears.

    Ha! I think you just made a case for 52/36.

  16. @Rick

    Call me a sissy or whatever you want for employing lower gears, but it increases my speed and enjoyment on the bike. It also gets me to the top faster and more comfortably.

    Rule #10 trumps anything else in my book.

    It’s a balance though – I’m pretty confident on steep climbs (like 12% plus) I’d be slower riding 36×25 than my current 36×28 setup. But I’m also confident that I’m faster riding 36×28 than I would be spinning a 34×28.

  17. Rode the Hollands today. Bigger gears, fewer of them, and narrower gear range (53-39, 12×23, 8-speed) Definitely felt it in the quads afterwards. On the longer hills/climbs at moderate incline, I was fine. Could “spin.” But the steeper stuff was tougher. More out of the saddle riding. Not ashamed to admit that on a few occasions, my riding partners (one old guy and one young gun) just sailed away from me (but, thankfully, waited). And to think I could ride 53-39 with 12×21 in the mountains when I was a much younger pup!

  18. 52×36, 12-25 does me fine over everything I’ve had to climb over thus far (Scotland, French Alps, Teide, Gran Canaria) and I’m over 45. 53 x 39 when I was under 45.

  19. @ChrisO

    But there’s not many people here who will drop me on a climb so stick that in your big rings.

    I can attest to that. I was convinced there was a moto on the climb ahead of us.

  20. @kixsand

    I think everyone has a self selected sweet spot for cadence – mine is 93 rpm +/- a couple of spins per minute.

    I also think it is a good idea to force yourself to work either side of your sweet spot on a regular basis so that you can adapt to whatever the road may throw at you. When you turn the pedals slower you’re leaning on leg muscles and easing the load on your cardiovascular systems. Your heart rate comes down a few beats per minute.

    I can sometimes get leg cramps if I spin too fast for too long – bringing my cadence down for a spell can help.

    Something I learned from William on the last Keepers Tour was whenever I was really, truly buggered to drop into the biggest gear and ride out of the saddle in the drops. It really was amazing how well you can keep a good pace rolling without jacking yourself too much further.

    @RobSandy

    @Buck Rogers

    @RobSandy

    This climb is one of a few reasons why I wouldn’t run a 39…

    https://www.strava.com/segments/1026043?filter=overall

    Isn’t there a Rule against posting strava segments/data?

    By the way, just looked at my strava data for the last time I rode that hill and for the steep bit (avg 14%) I managed an average cadence of 50. Can’t imagine what it’d be like with a 39×25 instead of a 36×28.

    You can’t imagine yourself riding faster?

  21. @wiscot

    Back in the day, 52-42 and a 12 straight through were about the norm. TA did crazy stuff for cyclotouristes. Now, for me being on the wrong side of 50 and cherishing my healthy knees, it’s 50-36 and 11-23. I can get up anything in my neighborhood on that combo. Aesthetically, I’ll take the smaller chainring for a smaller cassette.

    That’s the first thing that’s been said about compacts that isn’t bat shit crazy!

    https://www.getyarn.io/yarn-clip/ed1ec0b6-5d73-40e2-a149-0900336cadce

  22. @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot

    Oh Mate! If you have not read The Rider, just fucking drop everything, call in sick, go home and read it. Fucking fantastic. Seriously, the best book on sport I have ever read, esp if you were a road racer in the past (or still are–and I mean real racing, not comparing fucking strava segments).

    This. @wiscot, I cannot express how disappointed I am in you that you have not read it yet. FFS.

    @LawnCzar

    @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot

    Oh Mate! If you have not read The Rider, just fucking drop everything, call in sick, go home and read it. Fucking fantastic. Seriously, the best book on sport I have ever read, esp if you were a road racer in the past (or still are–and I mean real racing, not comparing fucking strava segments).

    So good. Worth the day off from work. (But set aside some time to ride after you’re done.)

    —–

    “Jacques Anquetil, five-time winner of the Tour de France, used to take his water bottle out of its holder before every climb and stick it in the back pocket of his jersey. Ab Geldermans, his Dutch lieutenant, watched him do that for years, until finally he couldn’t stand it any more and asked him why. And Anquetil explained.

    A rider, said Anquetil, is made up of two parts, a person and a bike. The bike, of course, is the instrument the person uses to go faster, but it’s weight also slows him down. That really counts when the going gets tough, and in climbing the thing is to make sure the bike is as light as possible. A good way to do that is: take the bidon out of its holder.
    So, at the start of every climb, Anquetil moved his water bottle from its holder to his back pocket. Clear enough.”
    It may not be accurate, but it’s True.

    You missed the best part: “If Anquetil hadn’t moved his bidon, he would never have won a Tour de France.

  23. Froome dog looks to be turning a much bigger gear these days. Looks much less like a spider humping a lightbulb.

  24. @Teocalli

    Maybe so, but then Frahnk would make merciless fun of me for dropping a T on the big ring. Can’t do it.

  25. @frank

    I’m still going to call him a spider humping a lightbulb, because damn that’s catchy.

  26. @frank

    Strength training. He’ll be spinning up a storm come July, don’t worry about that.

  27. @frank

    —–

    “Jacques Anquetil, five-time winner of the Tour de France, used to take his water bottle out of its holder before every climb and stick it in the back pocket of his jersey. Ab Geldermans, his Dutch lieutenant, watched him do that for years, until finally he couldn’t stand it any more and asked him why. And Anquetil explained.

    A rider, said Anquetil, is made up of two parts, a person and a bike. The bike, of course, is the instrument the person uses to go faster, but it’s weight also slows him down. That really counts when the going gets tough, and in climbing the thing is to make sure the bike is as light as possible. A good way to do that is: take the bidon out of its holder.
    So, at the start of every climb, Anquetil moved his water bottle from its holder to his back pocket. Clear enough.”
    It may not be accurate, but it’s True.

    You missed the best part: “If Anquetil hadn’t moved his bidon, he would never have won a Tour de France.

    This is also a very good argument for not having a saddle bag.

  28. @frank

    By the way, just looked at my strava data for the last time I rode that hill and for the steep bit (avg 14%) I managed an average cadence of 50. Can’t imagine what it’d be like with a 39×25 instead of a 36×28.

    You can’t imagine yourself riding faster?

    Hah. Good point.

    Actually, I can imagine what it’d be like – me grinding up a very steep hill at 40rpm with my lungs trying to escape out of my mouth. Great, hey?

  29. Interesting take on USA Cycling’s Junior’s gearing for all racers thru 18 years of age:

    The max roll out is 26′. So, one turn of cranks and bike distance traveled must be under 26′.

    If you want to run a 53,52 or 50 big ring your min cog in the back would be a 15 for the 53 and a 14 for the 52 or 50. Good luck finding an 11 sp cassette that starts at 14 or 15. So, the usual solution was to simply block off the smaller cogs using the derailleur set screw (and that’s not allowed in nat’s events) So, you end up with a ten or eleven speed cassette and wasted cogs/weight and eight or nine speeds to use.

    There is a junior’s team I came across when performing roll outs for our local race that runs the usual big rings and gets their cassettes custom made in Italy. Uhh… okay.

    Two better solutions are 44×12 with a roll out of 25.4′ on 25c tires or, if want to run an 11 on back one would need a 41×11 (25.8′). The 44 is easy enough CX chainring to use and match up with 12×25 or 12×28 cassettes. Plus, get the weight benefit of smaller rings. Checking out the very cool BikeCalc I can see what my daughter has to spin to keep up with our Tuesday club ride pushing 27+mph avg on a 6-7 mile stretch of flat road. On her 44×13 she’s spinning approx 105 rpm when using 23c tires. I haven’t seen her drop in to full 44×12 yet. And so far she’s made it just over 4 miles before spinning out and having to drop off. I’m always happy to drop off with her as that little run is always a bi***.

    Anyways, kids are getting trained early nowadays to spin.

    Cheers all

  30. @Randy C

    All the juniors who ride with us use blocks with a 13, 14 or 15t smallest cog (depending on their age). The fact that some of them keep up with the paceline when we’re hammering it with those gears is pretty amazing to me.

    In fact, one of the junior girls has been finishing with the bunch in vets races (because they stick the women and vets in together and she’s good enough to race against senior women), on junior gears, in fast races. And her max speed for her sprint isn’t much behind mine. Chap-eau!

  31. @RobSandy

    @frank

    —–

    “Jacques Anquetil, five-time winner of the Tour de France, used to take his water bottle out of its holder before every climb and stick it in the back pocket of his jersey. Ab Geldermans, his Dutch lieutenant, watched him do that for years, until finally he couldn’t stand it any more and asked him why. And Anquetil explained.

    A rider, said Anquetil, is made up of two parts, a person and a bike. The bike, of course, is the instrument the person uses to go faster, but it’s weight also slows him down. That really counts when the going gets tough, and in climbing the thing is to make sure the bike is as light as possible. A good way to do that is: take the bidon out of its holder.
    So, at the start of every climb, Anquetil moved his water bottle from its holder to his back pocket. Clear enough.”
    It may not be accurate, but it’s True.

    You missed the best part: “If Anquetil hadn’t moved his bidon, he would never have won a Tour de France.

    This is also a very good argument for not having a saddle bag.

    I need to try that Anquetil technique. Particularly if climbing out of the saddle, anything on the bike becomes reciprocating weight wasting energy.

  32. @RobSandy

    @Randy C

    All the juniors who ride with us use blocks with a 13, 14 or 15t smallest cog (depending on their age). The fact that some of them keep up with the paceline when we’re hammering it with those gears is pretty amazing to me.

    In fact, one of the junior girls has been finishing with the bunch in vets races (because they stick the women and vets in together and she’s good enough to race against senior women), on junior gears, in fast races. And her max speed for her sprint isn’t much behind mine. Chap-eau!

    Outa curiosity I was looking at the British Cycling rules re: Jr’s gearing and talk about a little complicated ?!? Anyways, there was a link to an outfit: BBB Cycling I found that is putting together 11-sp cassettes like 13/25 and 14/27. That’s a 14 straight thru to 21 then 23, 25, 27. That’s pretty cool! It’s not the bro-sets or group-sans that are taking care of juniors. This is very interesting.

    But you’re right about these kids learning to spin. When they get the strength imagine what they’ll do spinning the bigger gears some day as adults. Yowza.

  33. @Oli

    @frank

    Strength training. He’ll be spinning up a storm come July, don’t worry about that.

    Jesus that looks so much better though. Holy crap balls.

    @RobSandy

    @frank

    By the way, just looked at my strava data for the last time I rode that hill and for the steep bit (avg 14%) I managed an average cadence of 50. Can’t imagine what it’d be like with a 39×25 instead of a 36×28.

    You can’t imagine yourself riding faster?

    Hah. Good point.

    Actually, I can imagine what it’d be like – me grinding up a very steep hill at 40rpm with my lungs trying to escape out of my mouth. Great, hey?

    I had a light day today, and what really amazes me is that riding climbs at a slower pace in lower gears feels 80-90% as hard as climbing at a higher speed/intensity. Lower gears to do not really make climbs as easy as they should, it seems. Weird.

    @RobSandy

    Yes!

  34. @Randy C

    There have always been gear restrictions on juniors and while they could build their cassettes more easily back then than they can now, the restrictions were the same. Kids learn to spin, and then they grow up and become hard men and women who push monster gears up grades.

  35. @JohnB

    @ChrisO

    But there’s not many people here who will drop me on a climb so stick that in your big rings.

    I can attest to that. I was convinced there was a moto on the climb ahead of us.

    I can 2nd that, flew past me on the lower slopes of the Bealach and it was like my school report card all over again, “must try harder.”

    On the subject of gearing I think I had a compact of sorts long before it became common. I had an old Giant TCR, one of the 1st carbon frames. chunky alu lugs and straight carbon tubes with a 53/39 up front and not enough at the back. I must have been smoking too much hash or something but the 53 was useless unless it was a tailwind or downhill. At great expense I changed it for a 50t and rode it happily for many years.

    To this day I’m a spinner rather than a masher, churning a big gear makes my left knee throb and that sends a message to my brain that goes something like, “H’min arsehole, yer names nae Cancellara, drop a cog or two NOW!”

  36. @frank

    I had a light day today, and what really amazes me is that riding climbs at a slower pace in lower gears feels 80-90% as hard as climbing at a higher speed/intensity. Lower gears to do not really make climbs as easy as they should, it seems. Weird.

    Yep – know what you mean. There are several local climbs that just hurt – you’re much better to beast yourself up them as it will shorten the suffering.

  37. @RobSandy

    Totally agree – I often feel that if I try to spin up certain climbs I’m in far worse shape at the top than if I try to beast it up said climbs.

    The added benefit of beasting up an incline is that, if done properly, come the top you have a higher speed and are in the right gear (or at least in the right neighborhood on the cassette) for making the descent.

    But then again I think everyone here knows this, right?

  38. @frank

    I had a light day today, and what really amazes me is that riding climbs at a slower pace in lower gears feels 80-90% as hard as climbing at a higher speed/intensity. Lower gears to do not really make climbs as easy as they should, it seems. Weird.

    Rule #10 buddy!

  39. @Teocalli

    @frank

    I had a light day today, and what really amazes me is that riding climbs at a slower pace in lower gears feels 80-90% as hard as climbing at a higher speed/intensity. Lower gears to do not really make climbs as easy as they should, it seems. Weird.

    Rule #10 buddy!

    I’m going to have to jump to Frank’s defence and quote Rule #71.

    Although I must admit it’s a puzzle how to have an easy day/recovery ride which goes over any hills. How do you stay in zones 1 or 2 over a hill?

  40. @RobSandy

    Its really tough to find a flat route in Seattle; you just have to really control the effort.

  41. @RobSandy

    @Teocalli

    @frank

    I had a light day today, and what really amazes me is that riding climbs at a slower pace in lower gears feels 80-90% as hard as climbing at a higher speed/intensity. Lower gears to do not really make climbs as easy as they should, it seems. Weird.

    Rule #10 buddy!

    I’m going to have to jump to Frank’s defence and quote Rule #71.

    Although I must admit it’s a puzzle how to have an easy day/recovery ride which goes over any hills. How do you stay in zones 1 or 2 over a hill?

    You are overlooking that the unwritten rule on having a go at @frohnk at every opportunity trumps Rule #71 in this case.

    You perhaps are also a fellow sufferer of this.

  42. @chuckp

    I’v got an 11-32 on my 105 10 speed short cage with a 39/50 up front, and I have run an 11-34 with the 10 speed 105 medium cage. I usually run an 11-25 with a short cage on that bike, and I can put the 11-32 on without even swapping out the chain (provided it’s newish/matched) and just screw the B screw all the way. As long as I don’t fully cross-chain it, which I never do, it’s fine.

    I always ran a short range as a youngster (40 now), partly because that’s what I had, and partly because that’s what all my mates did. But much knee damage, and long periods of more time on the MTB than a road bike, shifted my pedaling style naturally and now I prefer to have more teeth on the back than I think I might absolutely need.

  43. @Teocalli

    @RobSandy

    @Teocalli

    @frank

    I had a light day today, and what really amazes me is that riding climbs at a slower pace in lower gears feels 80-90% as hard as climbing at a higher speed/intensity. Lower gears to do not really make climbs as easy as they should, it seems. Weird.

    Rule #10 buddy!

    I’m going to have to jump to Frank’s defence and quote Rule #71.

    Although I must admit it’s a puzzle how to have an easy day/recovery ride which goes over any hills. How do you stay in zones 1 or 2 over a hill?

    You are overlooking that the unwritten rule on having a go at @frohnk at every opportunity trumps Rule #71 in this case.

    Touche.

  44. @frank

    @RobSandy

    Its really tough to find a flat route in Seattle; you just have to really control the effort.

    It’s the same around here – you can ride on the flat if you’re happy riding on dual carriageways. The nice quiet roads all point uphill.

  45. @chuckp @frank

    I think it was Frank that asked whether it was a MTB rear mech. Anyway, thought I’d explain those weird gearing setups. I’m aiming at doing the Perth-Albany-Perth Audax in 2018. It’s a way aways yet, but it’s 1200km over 4 days, and an imperial century is right on my limit right now, without a load. I igure I’ll need a setup allowing for reasonable speed for long downhills and/or good tailwinds, and ability to spin through big headwinds and big hills, whilst carrying some load. Early days yet, so just experimenting.

  46. @frank

    Still looks TERRIBLE!

  47. Food for thought: Merckx set the Hour Record in Mexico City using a 52 x14.

  48. @fignons barber

    Food for thought: Merckx set the Hour Record in Mexico City using a 52 x14.

    That would put his avg. cadence somewhere around the 103-104 rpm range

  49. @Haldy

    @fignons barber

    Food for thought: Merckx set the Hour Record in Mexico City using a 52 x14.

    That would put his avg. cadence somewhere around the 103-104 rpm range

    yes, according to Ernesto Colnago’s biography by P.A. Stagi, Merckx hit the target at 104.6rpm. Colnago devotes a whole chapter to the hour record. They were going to go with a 52×15, but switched at the last moment. ……and Merckx’s pre hour record meal consisted of bread with jam, cooked ham, and black coffee. All the details,baby. Great book if you can find it.

  50. I have been running 52/36 on both my 10sp and 11sp Campag bikes, the 10 I have two or three spare cassettes which I mess about with between commuting and winter ‘training’. Living amongst the South Downs of the U.K. means I can always find some awful little short sharp thrutch at nearly no notice around every corner. So I have set my chain length to run either 12-25 or 13-29 with that 52/36, so I can put on my std if I feel manly with no adjustments and only running a short cage.

    Campag say that this does not work i.e. 52 to 29 cannot run smooth AND go around 36 to 12 (on the other block) on the 10 speed on short cage. But they say the 11speed can do it.

    They’re right, the chain is either too long or too short, yet the 11sp runs 12/27 with lots to spare… The difference is, that the 11sp RD is the same size; 55mm to the cog centres, but the cogs are 11t on the 11sp and 10t on the 10sp, so to solve it I fitted the 11t cogs to the 10sp mech et voila! Runs lovely and shifts all combinations without issues. Highly recommended!

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