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Climbing cassette 11-32t or 12-30t
11-32t 13%  13%  [ 4 ]
12-32t 33%  33%  [ 10 ]
12-30t 53%  53%  [ 16 ]
Total votes : 30
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:20 pm 
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Props for using a proper crankset; nice to see someone not hiding behind a compact :thumbup: Crankset-sized cassettes however belong on a mountain bike in my eyes. Don't compensate for lack of strength/training with gears.

My 2 pence: Stick with what you had last year. Your extra training since then will have made the difference. besides, since when is cycling supposed to be easy? :D

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:59 pm 
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Devon, thanks for your input. If I was running a compact crank I wouldn't worry about getting a bigger cassette. I do like the standard 53/39 and with the Q rings I get the best of both worlds. It's not really about compensating for lack of strength or anything like that. It's about being smart and prepared for the route one will ride. With two gravel climbs (4 miles and 9 miles long) and some steep grades, especially at switchbacks, I'll have to remain seated in order not to loose traction. I also climb better by spinning a higher cadence. I could use the same set up as last year but my goal is too better my time and not over cook too early. Plus on a tough ride like that it's always nice to have a bailout gear :) Heck even some pro riders use bigger cassettes if that suits their riding style. And true, it never gets easier, you just go faster :thumbup:

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Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:59 pm 


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:50 pm 
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I'd say for sure a 11t does not have much use in average conditions for average users. So that leaves the 12-30 and 12-32. I know you're not keen to a switch to compact but let's say you considered it. A compact 50/34 with a 11-27 would provide a bigger gear than the 53/12 combo, a smaller gear than the 39/30 (stick with current 11-28 for 34/28, if you want the equivalent of a 39/32), much more actual usable gears (less overlap), and a lot less gaps between cassettes. Oh and not to mention you save weight in the crankset, cassette, and even chain. Making for a better weight weenie set-up to boot.

The idea that we need the same gearing as pros (specifically the chainrings) is silly. We're lucky if average riders can put out half to two thirds of what they put out. Save the knees and keep your cadence high where you like it with the proper gearing ratios.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:14 am 
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Devon wrote:
Props for using a proper crankset; nice to see someone not hiding behind a compact :thumbup: Crankset-sized cassettes however belong on a mountain bike in my eyes. Don't compensate for lack of strength/training with gears.

My 2 pence: Stick with what you had last year. Your extra training since then will have made the difference. besides, since when is cycling supposed to be easy? :D



This is typical of old school macho gear thinking.

When the Pros are happy winning Grand Tours riding compacts with 11-28 or bigger cassettes, people need to revisit their out dated prejudices. Either that or put up with the likes of me sailing past them on climbs whilst they grind their knees into powder trying to keep their cranks turning over. :lol:

Just for an example, using an optimum cadence of 90 rpm (for example) on a 10% gradient, you will achieve a VAM of 1350 using a 34/29. Very few people can maintain that level of VAM in the mountains.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:39 am 
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Valid point. It completely depends on your riding style I guess. I personally find spinning to be much slower and often more tiring (perhaps perceived), but for sure, there are underlying knee threats to the way I do things. I do need to improve leg speed to be honest; just a bit hard with a lowest gear of 39-22.

Under normal riding however I still feel that too low a gear is unnecessary. Okay maybe a larger cassette (and maybe a compact) in the alps is fine; but there's just no need for a 28+ in 'normal' terrain. I apreciate this is deviating from the original topic however.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:57 am 
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I think the requirements of the South of England are very different to those of the mountains.

If I'm riding in the South of England, I'll rarely need to get out of the big ring to power up the short climbs, then recover over the top. That approach just doesn't work in bigger terrain as can be evidenced by so many struggling after going too hard at the bottom of cols around here.

So it's very much a case of selecting the right tools for the job at hand.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:02 am 
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That was my point. My views are often swayed strongly with the largest climb around here being a measly 500m.

Back to the OP, I'd say that from the choices you have selected a 12-30 would be best, I wouldn't go too crazy with it. However it's hard to advise such to someone I've never met/seen riding.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:39 am 
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Agreed that it's very dependent on terrain and riding style. But it's actually pretty easy to advise someone I've never met when they say they are doing a 104 mile ride, with 11,500 feet of climbing, inwhich 4 and 9 mile steep switchbacked gravel climbs is included, that they like to keep a high cadence, and in the past their set-up was lacking. With the style stated, the terrain being described and being far from "normal", and even rider history with the same situation, the standard chainrings and/or 11-28 is almost without a doubt inadequate in this case.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:04 pm 
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DCnoJ wrote:
I'd say for sure a 11t does not have much use in average conditions for average users. So that leaves the 12-30 and 12-32. I know you're not keen to a switch to compact but let's say you considered it........

....The idea that we need the same gearing as pros (specifically the chainrings) is silly. We're lucky if average riders can put out half to two thirds of what they put out. Save the knees and keep your cadence high where you like it with the proper gearing ratios.


Good stuff there! So it looks like it's between 12-32 and 12-30. I'm starting to lean toward the 12-30 setup. The reason I'd like to keep the standard ring setup is partially budget and also the Rotor Q rings I have on there. They have really helped me climb a lot better by keeping a smoother pedal stroke on the hills (no more pedaling squares!) and give me a compact when my legs are at 12 or 6 o'clock and gradually increase to standard size when I turn over towards 3 and 9 o'clock position.

Weight wise the bike is just right so the marginal weight loss probably won't matter much. I totally agree about our gearing vs pro and just grinding it out. My knees have some miles on them from years of competitive rowing and running so I'd like to save them for as long as possible :thumbup:

Devon wrote:
I do need to improve leg speed to be honest; just a bit hard with a lowest gear of 39-22.

Under normal riding however I still feel that too low a gear is unnecessary. Okay maybe a larger cassette (and maybe a compact) in the alps is fine; but there's just no need for a 28+ in 'normal' terrain.


Leg speed > power to pedals. I used to try to power up hills with lower gearing but in the end my legs will just overcook with lactic acid and I would burn out much faster. At 163lbs I'm not a climber but not overly heavy either so I usually try to spin up hills and sometimes get out of saddle to switch things up. Just my style. I think the terrain for the granfondo I'll be riding is anything but normal :)

FYI - this is the route http://ridewithgps.com/routes/1475830

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:14 pm 
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Not huge in terms of distance or total elevation, but of course the individual climbs are where it gets you! Looks like a good ride. Hope all goes well for you. :thumbup:

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:26 pm 
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if youre having to buy a cassette AND a rear mech, surely its got to be cheaper to buy an entry level compact chainset?

You can always recoup most of the cost by bunging it on fleabay afterwards...

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:12 pm 
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Thanks Devon! The climbs do hurt, especially the gravel ones!

I think I should be able to get both the cassette and a Rival RD if needed for under $130 so it's not too bad and I like the standard rings on descends. It's where I make up the time lost on hills :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:49 pm 
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Are these SRAM or Shimano cassettes? road or mountain bike cassettes?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:29 pm 
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plpete wrote:
I'm trying to decide which cassette I should go with for a climbing granfondo I will be riding this september, the Alpine Loop Granfondo. It will feature 11,500ft of climbing over 104 miles with two climbs being gravel with quite steep switch-backs. I rode the ride last year with a 11-28t last year and although I finished it got quite tough, especially with steep gravel climbs where I had to sit so I don't spin out. I'm more of a seated climber as is anyway. In the front I will be running a plan on keeping a 53/39 Rotor Q-Ring set up. I've been very happy with them and shifting is perfect so no compacts. I'm also aware that I will have to get a WiFli RD for either option.

It seems like 11-32t will give me slightly more range at the cost of bigger gaps between cogs. There is also the 12-32t. The 12-30t will have closer ratios but top out at 30t as the largest cog. Will the difference from 28t to 30t be that noticeable?

12-30t = Gears: 12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-27-30
12-32t = Gears: 12-13-14-15-17-19-22-25-28-32
11-32t = Gears: 11-12-13-15-17-19-22-25-28-32

Thoughts, tips, opinions? :beerchug:


I've ridden that Grand Fondo. Get a compact. Stupid to not. Shifting will be fine. I use a 52-36 year round and have zero issues of any sort.

I ran my normal 11-25, but am strong enough to where it wasn't a big deal. I think there was one road that was super steep where a 27 would've been nice, but the other climbs aren't that hard if you're decently strong. The lowest anyone I knew ran was a 34 with an 11-28, but the 28 was only used for the one gravel climb. You aren't going to be on this climbing worrying about steps in gears since you will be at your lowest gear. And, as I said, the rest aren't too hard if you're strong.

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Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:29 pm 


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:30 pm 
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plpete wrote:
Thanks Devon! The climbs do hurt, especially the gravel ones!

I think I should be able to get both the cassette and a Rival RD if needed for under $130 so it's not too bad and I like the standard rings on descends. It's where I make up the time lost on hills :lol:

This won't matter when you come in hours behind the leaders. Even JB uses a compact for his own grand fondo.

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