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Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:56 am
by pp186515
I am from Houston, so not many mountains here. I have been advised that the best way to convert my road bike into a better mountain bike is by putting a mountain bike cassette on the rear wheel and getting a rear derailer that fits the new cassette. My current front sprocket is probably at 34 – 50 and my rear is a 11 – 28 (approximate). Does a mountain bike cassette sound like a good plan? Is there any information that you think would be relevant to my situation? Thank you.

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:35 am
by mytrot
Well, for starters, it would be good to know the actual configuration you have. If it is what you show below you should be fine depending on your training. If you want to get some lower gearing there are road compact double options that will help. You may need to change your rear derailleur to handle the larger cassette.

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:34 pm
by Force 5 Robert
Depends on a lot of factors, but that advice is an easy swap.

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:52 pm
by D/CUTTER
for the hilly cycle Oregon rides I have been using a 11 36 cassette and a long cage rear derailleur with a triple crank 52-39-30 works great for hills and flats.

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:06 pm
by Firebucks
I will be riding with a compact crank. For me it's all about getting some hill training in beforehand

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:26 pm
by rambobikeman
We've done a number of what we call "low gear" conversions on compact double equipped bikes over the years.

As stated in earlier posts, what you've got on your bike (brand wise) is important as they are generally only marginally cross-compatible (the rear derailleurs are not cross-compatible).

If you've got SRAM equipment, you can get a long-cage Apex derailleur that will handle up to at least a 11-34 cogset (you'll need a longer chain as well).

If you've got a Shimano drivetrain, your best bet is to get a Deore SGS 9spd (the 10spd MTB derailleurs won't work with 10spd road shifters)rear derailleur, a Shimano 11-34 (or 11-36 cogset), and a Shimano chain. Also, it's important to make sure to avoid the Shimano "Shadow" rear derailleurs as they have a stronger return spring (than the non-Shadow) derailleurs and don't work well in this application.

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:50 pm
by raftersteve
I ride 50x34 and 11x28, and have done a lot of hill climbing without issue. Though I live at the base of a hill…
You can still get simulated hill training even on flat land.
1) Ride into the wind
2) Work on endurance rides over 100 miles
3) Work on interval training, 5 minute speed interval followed by 1-2 minutes rest, 3 sets of 5, build up from there.
4) If you can run, try 300 yard intervals followed by 100 yard walk lot of repeats
5) Another alternative is to get a bike trailer and put 40+lbs of water in it, pull that around 2-3 times a week.
6) Don’t use your 2 lowest gears that way went you get to CO you magically have 2 you never knew where there.
7) Parking garage climbs (be careful dangerous!)
8.) Climbing stairs, or using the stair climber in the gym with a heavy back pack. Alternate ½ hour of climbing and ½ hour of spin for as much as you can take.
9) Lunges

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:48 pm
by David R
The problem with coming here and asking for configuration advice is you will get uninformed opinions. To suggest a correct answer there are a lot more questions to be asked. You need to have this discussion with your local mechanic who can look at your bike and talk to you about your riding needs to determine the best answer. 15 years ago I couldn't talk anyone into a compact crank even though it gave better shifting and the same gear ratio spread as a triple, today compacts are all the rage. Before you go down the mountain bike path, take a look at cyclecross cranks. I'm not saying this is the answer but it might be a better solution than adding mountain bike equipment to your road bike.

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:15 pm
by mytrot
The good thing about coming here for opinions is there are a lot of knowledgeable individuals with good advice. But all who ask should also realize that that there riding style and actual equipment will affect the best options. And I have got incorrect info from bike shops. Although compacts can provide close (no, not the same without some sacrifice) to the same spread and have less front derailleur shifting problems there are downsides. The change between ratios tend to be greater in the lower ranges. Having recently switched to a double the middle gear on a triple can used for most riding eliminating a decent amount of shifting. Without careful review of ratios and riding style you may find yourself shifting the front a lot more and making larges shifts on the rear. That being said as raftersteve says. Train. I rode CO 2012 and the Deathride 2013 on my double after many years of triples and did just fine. There are couple times I would have liked a lower gear, but I do not have the large spread cassette.

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:37 am
by Penguin
It looks like you already have a compact crank. The 11-28 cassette you have offers a pretty broad range of gearing. If your rear hub is Shimano, you can get an 11-speed 11-32 cassette from the Ultegra group. If you have a 10-speed system, there are no Shimano road cassettes available with lower gearing than you already have. SRAM has a couple of 11-32 road cassettes that may work on the Shimano freehub body.

If you change to an 11-32 cassette, be aware that you may have to change your rear derailleur and chain to accommodate the wider gear range.

As has already been said, the equipment you have should be adequate for all the grades you will encounter on this year's ride (except for the 14% grade on day 4). The determining factor will be the quality of the training you put in getting ready for the ride.

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:39 am
by Force 5 Robert
All good. I would second that training is key and if you do a lot of it you will be fine.

But getting lower gearing is possible, worst case a full component swap ($$) might be needed.

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:55 am
by StarlightPurpleIF
I ride SRAM Force. 50-34 compact up front. Think I had a 28 in the rear. Last year for a trip in Italy I converted to a SRAM X9 long cage RD. Think I put on a new cassette with a 32. Believe you can go even lower. Relatively inexpensive for parts. Worked fine with no shifting problems.

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:13 pm
by pp186515
Howdy.

First of all, I would like to say thank you for all the advice from those that replied. I read all of the postings and appreciated your recommendations/advice.

When I got down and actually counted the teeth on my rear cassette, I determined that I had an 11–25, not the 11–28 as I was told by the bike store folks. Always good to check things yourself.

I decided to go with the 11–34 on the rear cassette to complement my 34-50 on the front. I love it!! No problems shifting or with the difference between the gears. I rode a hilly ride for the Houston area (Chappell Hill; don’t laugh, there is not much to choose from down here on the Gulf Coast) and did not even use the two largest gears. I like that I have some extra gears for when I get to Oregon, especially when the thin air slows me down (going from 43 feet to 5,000 feet above sea level may be one of my common excuses).

I considered going with an 11 – 32, but decided as long as I was being a wimp, go all the way. Especially giving the lack of experience with something like Cycle Oregon.

Ride safe,
Pat

Re: Bike Configuration Recommendations

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:36 pm
by rambobikeman
Pat (pp186518): I don't think you'll regret having some nice, low gears.

While I will admit that training is important, I have also seen plenty of riders from the Gulf States suffer from inadequately low gearing when the biggest "hill" they have to train on at home is a freeway overpass!