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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 3:48 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 4:54 pm
Posts: 76
I've been riding my 9-speed Trek 5200 for over a decade. Still love it. But as I re-enter the sport (i.e. have money to buy) and transition to 11-speed, I'm wondering what ratios to get.

I'm currently on classic 53-39 crank with a 12-25 in back (9 speed). Now, I can get up all Cat 3 climbs in my area with no prob and have to get out of saddle for steeper parts of Cat 2. It's not 'fun' though there is an exhilarating feel to grunting and powering through something like that. That said, I'm in my mid-30s, do not race anymore, so now it's just me and Strava. My aim is to do Cat 1 climbs 'well'.

Obviously any 11-speed is going to be an improvement and an upgrade (planning to get Campag Record). But from the point of view of balancing fitness with fun, would you guys recommend a 27 or 29 tooth in back? I'm in a hilly / New England mountains and gap roads area. Or, get a closer ratios in back to smooth out gaps and work on increasing my power, watts, vo2 max, etc.?

(The easy answer is 'both', but I'm hoping to get training / gear tips for climbing, which I love despite being over 190 cm!)


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Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 3:48 pm 


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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 8:47 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:08 pm
Posts: 85
FWIW: I ride a compact 50/34 with an 11-28 in the back. I have won local HC TTs and even some RRs that came down to sprints, none downhill though.


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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 10:59 pm 
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Bigger cogs is a decent approach. I'd suggest 52/36 in the front with 12-28 in the back. The 36:28 combo should be enough for most climbs. And IMO a 28 is as big as you can put on a road bike without it looking Fredly.

If you opt for an 11-28 instead then you actually get a taller top gear than 53:12. Although I prefer the 16 cog instead. It seems more likely to be in 52:16 or 36:16 than to be in 52:11.

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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 11:32 pm 
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Location: LA
You're re-entering the sport, and have money to spend.

50/34 w/ 11-28, then 52/36 later on once you have the fitness and if you NEED something steeper.

BUT then again, compact rings do look funk on a big bike, so if looks are important, I'd go 52/36.

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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 11:49 pm 
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I have never liked the 34/50 combo. Always switching between big and small front rings way too frequently. Only scenario I'd opt for the 34/50 would be if if I was climbing all day long and rarely getting out of the 34. I would agree with @Kurets suggestion above... 36/52 up front and 11 or 12/28 if Shimano and 11 or 12/29 if Campy.

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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 5:19 am 
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Posts: 190
if you stay on 53-39, then get a 13-26 cassette.

If you switch to compact, get 50-36 chainrings.

50-11 is a bit stronger than 53-12, therefore, if you do not feel yourself strong enough to manage 53-12, then you obviously won't be satisfied with a 11-28 cassette with huge jumps.

I speak from personal experience, that the less strength one has, the more sensible to 2t jumps in the cassette.

I would opt for either 50-36&12-25, or 53-39&13-26 when the cluster is nine speed. If you move up to 11, you can even opt for 13-29 and 12-28 as well. :) Just make sure the jumps are not huge, as that tend to be annoying and taxing on the flats.

The reason why I am recommending 36t small chainring is that you can buy one for quite reasonable prices, and the smoother transition between 36-50, as opposed to 50-34 is nicer.


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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 4:17 pm 
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Posts: 226
To the OP: I live in New England too and would say that it to some degree depends on if you tend to choose routes that are more climb/descent focused, or if you do a lot of rides on flattish river valleys too.

If your rides are climb/descent focused, then you won't be spending as much time in "intermediate" gears, and it can make sense to have a 34t up front with a closer ratio cassette in the back. That way you get the overall low ratio that is nice on long and steep climbs from the chaining, but the cassette gives you your closely spaced gears for tuning your cadence.

The problem with that setup is that on flattish river valley rides you will find yourself spending more time in the crossover type gears, especially on the false flats or into headwinds, as there is less overlap between the big and small ring ranges. Those conditions are where it pays to have more closely spaced chain rings with a 39t small ring. Not that I would suggest this, but back when I used to have a bike with a triple ring up front the 42t middle ring was perfect for those conditions.

Bottom line is that if you have been OK with a 39t ring so far, then you can't go wrong in terms of versatility with a 52/36 or, if you rarely or never top out your current high gear, then consider a 50/36 for a less abrupt transition between rings while still giving you the expanded low range. Then, either get the 29t cassette, or, better yet, get both the 29t and 27t and swap between them as your fitness progresses deeper into the riding season or terrain dictates.


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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 4:42 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 4:54 pm
Posts: 76
Thanks guys this is helpful. I'm quite excited to eventually get two sets of wheels cassettes etc and switch out accordingly. But one thing at a time.

@rheosibal to qualify my statement: I'm not going out of my way to spend money, just grateful that I'm at a time in my life when I can finally upgrade my bike :)

@TheKaiser: I do love mountains. I haven't done Mount Washington yet, but it's on my list. I've done most of the gap roads in VT. Mind you, at 6'4" and 200 pounds I'll never be Pantani, and at the very steep sections I'm stomping 39 x 25 and pushing my max heart rate, but it's fun. Ultimately my aim is to get faster and fitter on the mountains. I think you are all right that a 28 or 29 will be a welcome addition (remember I'm still on 9 speed Shimano) to help with the steep sections.

For what it's worth I'm more of a spinner than a masher--more Froome and less Jan Ulrich--but without the speed of either ;) I'll look into the 52/36 crank too... I have been curious to try that.


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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 8:21 am 
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Posts: 1584
Location: Vienna Austria
I'm in my 40s with decent fitness - came 33rd out of 650+ in a recent sportive in Vienna, on a bad day - and I ride a compact with an 11-30 cassette. Would prefer 11-32 actually.

I like to switch between seated spinning and standing when climbing, and on the steeper climbs (over 12%) there's no way I can stay seated with less than a 30 in the rear. I feel gear jumps are not really an issue anymore with 11s.

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 5:21 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 9:39 pm
Posts: 612
Kurets wrote:
Bigger cogs is a decent approach. I'd suggest 52/36 in the front with 12-28 in the back. The 36:28 combo should be enough for most climbs. And IMO a 28 is as big as you can put on a road bike without it looking Fredly.

If you opt for an 11-28 instead then you actually get a taller top gear than 53:12. Although I prefer the 16 cog instead. It seems more likely to be in 52:16 or 36:16 than to be in 52:11.

Sent from mTalk



^^ this.

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 5:39 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:36 pm
Posts: 325
Location: NY USA
50-34 up front with 11-28 in back. And a rear derailleur that can handle 11-32 when you want it.

The new "mid-compact" 52-36 is an option as well, but why bother? The top-speed you get isn't worth it (based on your description), while you give up usable low-end.

Too many choices these days.

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 11:52 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:47 pm
Posts: 2196
Location: Santa Cruz, California, USA
If you want to do more climbing, 50/34 and an 11-28 cassette. If you want to do Mt Washington, take BikeAnon's sugestion of a derailleur that can handle an 11-32. Almost all bikes can handle a 30t large cog on a short cage Sram/Shimano derailleur. Derailleur hanger length is the determing factor). I've used an 11-30 with short cage Sram and Shimano derailleurs for some extreme climbing events.

With 11sp there's not many gaps in the gearing even with 11-28. With 11sp you're not limited by the cassette- Shimano, Sram and Campy cog spacing is very close so you can interchange (depending on the wheels freehub of course).

Also more training, of course. And don't forget that just because you have lower gearing you don't have to use the lowest gear. If it doesn't hurt enough shift up.


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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 8:18 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:48 am
Posts: 1584
Location: Vienna Austria
Play around here: http://ritzelrechner.de/?GR=DERS&KB=34, ... 8&UF2=2150

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godzuki26 wrote:
She is not allowed to run spacers under the stem. It must look good. It must be slammed. She does Yoga and Crossfit so she is getting into a pro position whether she likes it or not. Lol. She thinks cycling is easy. She needs to be schooled.


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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 9:12 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 2:28 pm
Posts: 182
Location: Kaiserslautern, DE
11-28 Ultegra is what I would recommend anyone, I rock this if using Shimano wheels or a 12-27/12-29 campy cassette.


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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 10:16 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:06 am
Posts: 35
I would personally go with 53/39 - 11/28 rather dan 52/36, I always feel like missing a gear when cruising around 30kmh on the flats, on the small ring it is to much spinning, the big ring feels to heavy for me. At lower and higher speeds it isn't any problem, but between 30kmh and 32kmh.. horrible!

Although that is 52/36 with an 11/25 cassette, maybe with an 12/28 cassette that problem doesn't occur. However, I absolutely don't need an 36/28 combination where I live (the netherlands).

Best solution for me personally? 53/39 - 11/25 on normal circumstances, with an extra 11/28 cassette when I'm going to the Ardennes where there are short but steep climbs, and an extra 36 inner ring for when I'm going to area's with long climbs, like the alps. In area's like that a 36 inner ring is fine since there is not much cruising the flat at 30/32kmh, it is either ascending or descending at respectively very low or very high speed.


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Posted: Wed May 25, 2016 10:16 am 


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