/ Bike manufacturers

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Chay - on 22 Nov 2012
Hi All,

Had a few people recently asking me for advice on cheap road bikes, many of which come with ridiculous chainsets! why?!

I've not been cycling that long, and next year will be my first really serious year road racing. On my road bike, I have a 50,39,30 triple crankset and I'm pretty happy with that- The bikes they showed me had some really silly chain rings on them, some had the smallest ring as 42!!!! How many newbie cyclist can push those sorts of gears up hills! Even a compact 50,34 would be tough for a first bike!


Anyone understand the thinking behind manufacturers doing this on bikes that are obviously aimed at newbies? Once you upgrade, I found that you don't so many bikes with strange set ups on.

GB
a lakeland climber on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

The cheaper bikes tend to have the "old" kit on them - a 52-42 chainset is what most road bikes had back in the 1980s. Compacts are comparatively recent so will be targeted at the medium to higher end of the market.

However it also depends what the cassette is: an 11-25 isn't going to be much use, something like a 14-32 might be better if they make such a thing.

ALC
Chay - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to a lakeland climber: I see your point, but a 48,38,28 cranksets are pretty cheap for a basic entry level road bike quality (that's what my first road bike had).

Yea, these Group sets were 11-25. I certainly couldn't push 42-25 up hills, though some guys on here may be able to.

I just think a 48,38,28 would be a better "standard" for bikes aimed at newbies.

GB
Liam M - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: 42 (or 39) for the small chainring is normal for a traditional standard double. If you predominantly lived in the flatlands, then it probably wouldn't be a problem.

If they're mainly manufacturing bikes for those in such flat areas, it may make sense to have such gears. If they're selling them to lumpy areas, then supplying a compact or a triple may make more sense - where I was cycling last week it was very difficult to find anything other than high end bikes for sale or rental without a triple, due to the long and often very steep nature of the hills.
Chay - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to Liam M: That's a valid point. I have got a hilly location mindset, pushing a 42 or 39 in flat areas is less than an issue.
Monk - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

I ride old bikes, and I think all of my previous and current road bikes have a 42 small ring (52ish big ring). Obviously they are not compacts. I can't really see the problem (and I used some of these bikes when I was living in the peak district).
Chay - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to Monk: What group set did/do you have?

I think a lot of people would struggle with a 42 small ring and something like a 11-25!!
Dave B on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

42x17... its my only gear. 42x17.. listen; can you hear? my knees really complaining up that 1 in 3. I think I need another stop to have a cup of tea!

Seriously though, I used a 42x19 in Exeter and Yorkshire for several years round the hills there until I got a 42x23 in the sales about 10 years later
Monk - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
> (In reply to Monk) What group set did/do you have?
>
> I think a lot of people would struggle with a 42 small ring and something like a 11-25!!

Think it is/was 11-25, although I did once have a 28 for really steep bits. I guess it was just normal so we learnt to ride up hills with what we had. I rarely used to use the lower gears either! I'm more of a spinner now though. I seem to remember from a previous post of yours that you rarely use your big ring, (which many people are rarely out of), so I guess it's partially down to a matter of opinion.
JLS on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

>"I think a lot of people would struggle with a 42 small ring and something like a 11-25!!"

It is true that back in the 1980's no-one every took up cycling as the high gearing on bikes of the day made starting out impossible.

If you hadn't developed the required strength and fitness by 1979 it really wasn't worth trying.

However, few foolishly did try. Oh how we laughed as they topped over side ways on finding out 42x24 was impossible to turn on the 10% Gasworks Brae.

Thank goodness for compact chainsets. Without them there would be no Cav, no Wiggo and no British Cycling renaissance.
Timmd on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
> (In reply to Monk) What group set did/do you have?
>
> I think a lot of people would struggle with a 42 small ring and something like a 11-25!!

I used to ride that all the time as a teenager, though it might have been a 26.

I ended up with dodgy knees, but that's not totally down to that I don't think, more the manner in which in which I cycled. Sheffield's steeper hills didn't half feel steep though. Eee when I were a lad etc...i'm only 32.

Now I happily spin with a triple at the front and a 28 at the back and have happier knees, could possibly go back to a 42 but I don't want to risk it, and it'd be more money to spend, there's not much motivation for me.

Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
>
>
> I just think a 48,38,28 would be a better "standard" for bikes aimed at newbies.
>

I've just built a bike for Mrs. Ent with a 50-34 on the front and a 32-13 on the back. it's perfect for her and much less hassle than a triple.

I'd be interested to see a link to a new modern bike for sale from a big manufacturer with a 52-42 up front.

E

Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty:

The way forward:

http://jedi-sports.de/images/product_images/popup_images/3464_0.jpg

50-34
11-32 or 12-32
Long Cage Mech.

E
Dave Kerr - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

Ive always been baffled by this too. Why do low end bikes come with such high gearing? You've only got to look at any mag or forum to know its true as there are constantly people asking 'how can make my gearing lower'. but then I'm a mountain biker, 22 front 34 rear. Oh yeah.
GrahamD - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty:

In what way less hassle than a triple ? genuinely interested as I'm just trying to get an idea what should matter to me if/when I upgrade from my entry level bike with triples.
Lord of Starkness - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

My first ever club run - age 14 - was on an old steel bike with 5 gears - 48 x 14-24. That was 'entry level' back then. I still managed to do 100 miles of Northumberlands prettiest ( and some of the lumpiest bits) in 8 hours, though some walking up the steepest bits was involved. As I progressed in to racing in the mid 60's I moved on to 12 gears with a 46-52 chainset and a 13 - 24 freewheel - with the option of a 26 for really hard events. Back then it was as wide a range as most derailleur mechs could cope with.

50 years later I'm thankful for compact chainsets and I now have 20 gears with a 50-34 x 13-29 setup (or 12-23 on my lighter wheels for TT's)
Ciro - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GrahamD:

I think a triple is mainly just extra weight and a bit more expensive to replace.

I have a compact on my "good" bike and a triple on my commuter/winter trainer/tourer, and although I tend to ride with a pretty high cadence, the *only* time I ever find myself using the small ring on the front is when I have fully loaded panniers on for touring.
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to Enty)
>
> In what way less hassle than a triple ? genuinely interested as I'm just trying to get an idea what should matter to me if/when I upgrade from my entry level bike with triples.

Well on the lower end stuff weight isn't much of an issue but even Mrs. Ent (not the most powerful climber!!) hardly ever used the granny ring ever.

But the main gripe, especially with lower end Shimano stuff, is getting the bloody front mech set up so there's no chain rub in the more extreme gear ratios - with only three clicks it's hard to trim the front mech perfectly.

Also, I just think that any set up where 2 things can do the job of 3 things has to be better. Reducing the number of times you need to change gear at the front just makes riding more pleasant.

E

GrahamD - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty:

I think Mrs Ent is a better climber than I am ! Every time I venture up to the Lakes from the flatlands of Cambridgeshire I definately need the granny ring.

Intersting what you say about chain rub though. I can't really say its something I noticed and my wifes new compact double seems more prone to it as you seem to end up with more extreme 'diagonal' gear combinations. Guess I just need to go and try one.
Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

Like you, pretty new to road cycling, and riding a nice Genesis singlespeed since I got it in March.

I read the Eddie Merkx biog shortly afterwards, and the standard set-up for junior racing when he was starting off was 52/17. That put my 46/18 set up into perspective for me, so I just got on with it.

MTFU
TimB - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty:
> I'd be interested to see a link to a new modern bike for sale from a big manufacturer with a 52-42 up front.
>

This comes with 52-36

http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/category/bikes/road/product/review-specialized-venge-comp-46716

Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to TimB:

I said 42.

E
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus:
> (In reply to GingerBread22)
>
>
>
> I read the Eddie Merkx biog shortly afterwards, and the standard set-up for junior racing when he was starting off was 52/17.
>

For Road racing - Merckx would have had a 42 inner ring as well.
52-42 with a 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 at the back.
Still pretty tough but 52-17 was not the lowest gear.

e


Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty:

I'd have to check, but pretty sure that was for a single speed set up. That was why it struck me as pretty hideous, even if Belgium is not the hilliest!
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus:

It wouldn't surprise me but I'm sure it would be more like 52-13 on the track.

E
Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty: Hmmm. Need more info before continuing in this vein.

However, key point is I got used to riding 46/18 as a result, and now change the rear cog for a 16 if I'm going to do a flat ride.

I don't really recognise the need for the super-low gear ratios being recommended here. Is this just because people have got used to having the granny ring on their mtn bikes rather?
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus:
> (In reply to Enty) Hmmm. Need more info before continuing in this vein.
>
> However, key point is I got used to riding 46/18 as a result, and now change the rear cog for a 16 if I'm going to do a flat ride.
>

I'm going to build a single speed in the spring.

> I don't really recognise the need for the super-low gear ratios being recommended here. Is this just because people have got used to having the granny ring on their mtn bikes rather?

No idea. But I can appreciate how a 32 front ring would be useful on the Hardknott pass.
Even the pros in the Vuelta this year had compacts for the Angliru.

E

webbo - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
If you are planning to race with a 50 tooth big ring you might find yourself under geared.Even most 3/4th cat races are big ring all the way round 53 that is.
Everybody used to ride 52/42 with 13 to 18 or 13 to 21 till the pros started using EPO. Then they came out with 53/39 I woner if the 2 are connected.
Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty:
But I can appreciate how a 32 front ring would be useful on the Hardknott pass.
> Even the pros in the Vuelta this year had compacts for the Angliru.
>
> E

Well, that is understandable given the steepest sections on Angliru are 1:4. And Hardknott pass? 1:8 overall with steeper sections? It's one of the hardest climbs in the country, isn't it? Especially given the terrain you have to cover from Ambleside first.

Re: building a singlespeed. Excellent! Only advice is to make sure the frame is perfect for you and put some nice light wheels on.
A9 - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to Hephaestus)
> [...]
>
> For Road racing - Merckx would have had a 42 inner ring as well.
> 52-42 with a 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 at the back.
> Still pretty tough but 52-17 was not the lowest gear.
>
> e

Merckx might've been turning bigger gears than that . .

i used to do a bit of cycling as a kid and the gearing amongst club cyclists back then was almost universal - 42/52 sometimes a 54, with a 13/18 "straight-up" block on the back. Juniors were limited to a 16up presumably to check road speeds and discourage attacks on the descents. Don't recall finding the gearing too tall and plenty good hills around the stirling area (crow road anyone?). The junior gearing was definitely a limiter tho.



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Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to A9:
> (In reply to Enty)
> [...]
>
> Merckx might've been turning bigger gears than that . .
>
Apparently not. His coach actually put a slightly lower gearing on his bike to prevent injury and encourage 'la souplesse'. That was in his early years, though. No doubt he pushed bigger gears aplenty futher down the road.
Chay - on 23 Nov 2012
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
> (In reply to Enty) Viking Roma comes with a 52/42 and a 12/23 at the back:
>
> http://www.rutlandcycling.com/34838/Viking-Roma-Gents-Road-Racing-Bike-2011.html?referrer=froogle1%3...

Crikey - I'd be mad if I found that ;-)

E
Chay - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty: I was stunned when my friend asked me if he should buy it, on the face of it it looks okay, nice shifters etc but totally ridiculous gearing.

Some of the websites it's listed on doesn't show the ring sizes. Would not want to buy that as a mistake and find out on a hill..

GrahamD - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus:

> I don't really recognise the need for the super-low gear ratios being recommended here. Is this just because people have got used to having the granny ring on their mtn bikes rather?

Its more because the thread is about (or originally about) entry level bikes ridden, presumably, by punters like me who are way below club cyclist standard. I know what gears I need to have any chance at all of getting up even 'easy' short hills in the Lakes.

What Eddie Mercks used is as irrelevent to me in cycling as Dave McClouds campus training regime is to me in climbing.

Chay - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: A lot of this topic is just willy wanging among most people.

Facts are, nearly all newbies wouldn't cope with a 52/42 or 50/34 (unless the group set compensated). The need for low end gears is to get into cycling enjoyably without hurting yourself, then progressing to a higher geared set up.

If you say you never needed low gears is bollocks. I'm happy to admit that have a small ring of 30 suits me for my second real road bike, in a year or so i might consider 50-34, it's all about enjoying it and getting better. Crucifying yourself just to be able to say, I don't need low gears is just ridiculous. Man points aren't that important.

GB
Chay - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to webbo: You say 50 wouldn't be big enough, but if i can't push anymore then it IS big enough. A 53 would be pointless, for a lot of the time, at present, i wouldn't be able to push it.
Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GrahamD:

I think you're being a bit perverse there, Graham.

The main point of my post was that I've only been riding on the road (on a road bike) since February and have been comfortable using higher ratios than the OP was talking about.

I only mentioned the Belgian standard ratio for youth races because it had interested me in the same context as the OP when I started - I was thinking about cadences and pedal strokes and different set-ups and up popped this fact in a book about Eddie Merkx.

In my limited experience (come on, educate me if you know better) the most efficient way of getting up the hill is neither the largest gear you can push without stopping or the smallest - it's a nuanced balance between power and endurance, and I reckon a lot of people go into too small a gear and actually make the hill harder than it is just by having to make so many pedal strokes.

Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:
> (In reply to GingerBread22) A lot of this topic is just willy wanging among most people.
>

Try "A lot of this topic is just [a comparison of different experiences] among people".

If you want to talk only to people who agree with you on this subject go and log onto thinscrawnythighs.com (although not at work) ;)
Chay - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus: I think you'll find most people would need lower gears than you're suggesting. Keep pushing the high gears you say you do and that you don't need low gears, you'll A) end up with bad knees B) Go riding somewhere hillier and or further and wish you had lower gears.

Riders do have different power, different experiences but I still say, most newbie riders would be better off with nice low gears. It'll make for a more enjoyable initiation at least, especially if the area is hilly.
Chay - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: By most people, I meant most newbies.
Dave Kerr - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus:
> (In reply to GingerBread22)
> [...]
>
> Try "A lot of this topic is just [a comparison of different experiences] among people".
>
> If you want to talk only to people who agree with you on this subject go and log onto thinscrawnythighs.com (although not at work) ;)

I agree with the OP on this one coming on to a thread about gearing on bikes for beginners and saying 'I ride Xbig at the front and Xsmall at the back' is definately willy waving. It might be your experience but its totally irrelevant.
Horatio on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus:
> (In reply to Enty)
> But I can appreciate how a 32 front ring would be useful on the Hardknott pass.
> [...]
>
> Well, that is understandable given the steepest sections on Angliru are 1:4. And Hardknott pass? 1:8 overall with steeper sections? It's one of the hardest climbs in the country, isn't it? Especially given the terrain you have to cover from Ambleside first.

It's not too bad, like doing Winnats pass twice with a steady climb in between. I did it on a 52-39 11-32 and really liked that gearing for the Lakes.
a lakeland climber on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

As I said in my first reply: 52/42 on the front and a five or six speed block, probably 12 -24 on the back was standard in the early 1980s. I'd really struggle with that set up now ( I run 50/34 and 11-28) - I'm older and quite a bit heavier and probably rarely get above 50 - 14 or about 90inch gearing.

ALc
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22:

No willy waving here - in fact I even race on a highest gear of 50-11 and a lowest gear of 34-27.

My point was what is the point of buying a triple when companies like SRAM are doing groupsets with compacts set up with a 32 rear sprocket and long cage mechs which run as smooth as silk.

Trust me if Mrs. Ent can get by on this anyone can. (sorry Mrs. Ent)

E
Chay - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty: That set up you posted a link to earlier in this thread looks great; I think I could manage with a 50-34 with a 32 rear sprocket.

I bought a Btwin Triban 3 based on price and the great reviews, saying it was as good as 500 bikes they've reviewed. It happened to come with 50,39,30 and a 12-25, which tbh I do like.

My next bike would definitely be similar to the set up you mentioned, Just price dictated my current bike. I guess i could have built one, just not really got the required knowledge.

GB
Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Kerr: it's a topic about gear ratios, the op initiated the quoting of numbers and 46:18 is not a ratio to justify willy-waving.

Why do you think my view is irrelevant. I'm genuinely amazed by your comment!
Dave Kerr - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus:
> (In reply to Dave Kerr) it's a topic about gear ratios, the op initiated the quoting of numbers and 46:18 is not a ratio to justify willy-waving.
>
> Why do you think my view is irrelevant. I'm genuinely amazed by your comment!

Because it came across as 'I got on ok with high gears so why can't everyone else?'

Obviously you didn't mean it that way or maybe I misread it.
Lord of Starkness - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to Hephaestus)
> [...]
>
> For Road racing - Merckx would have had a 42 inner ring as well.
> 52-42 with a 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 at the back.
> Still pretty tough but 52-17 was not the lowest gear.
>
> e

In my junior racing days we were limited to a 96 inch top gear.

My bike had a 52 - 46 chainset with a rather unusual freewheel - 13,14,17,18,22,24, - which allowed me an even gear increments - but it did mean jumping up and down the chainrings. For road races I had to 'stop' the rear mech so it would not let me use the 13 or 14. For the chaingang and TT's I used the full range of gearing.

Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Kerr:
perhaps I should have omitted the "MTFU", I admit.
Chay - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: You get on some hills in your 46:18, and ride all day and watch all the 'skinny thigh, weak people that need to MTFU' ride past you, stronger for longer on lower gears ;)

If you can, congrats. Though, my belief is that you A) would be knackered and B) would ruin your knees.
sleavesley on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: I tend to agree with Enty on this one.
A 50/34 set up with either an 11:28 shimano or 32/34 if using a long cage mech is suitable for most of what Britain can throw at you.
Had some guys do lejog that I changed their set up to just that with a mtb hg rear cassette and long cage mech and they were a lot happier than trying to push 34/25.
Horses for courses.
I'm sure if Mrs Ent can get up the hills were they live with a similar set up it would be fine for most people in this country.
Chay - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to sleavesley: I agree, a 50-34 with the correct group set is fine.

I was posting more about the 52/42 on some of the low end bikes or 50/34 with 11/25.
Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: Sorry if I've upset people - genuinely not my intention. I am interested in why riding styles have changed, though. If the gear ratios have changed on the bikes available is that because of science (it's more efficient to pedal that way) or is it market driven (acceptable effort has dropped in the consumer)?

I'm also not an elitist velo-snob, and I don't know much beyond my own experience and whatever little knowledge I've managed to scrabble together over the summer. Perhaps that is showing.
Chay - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus: Trouble is, I guess it's a lot to do with preference. I prefer to spin at a slightly higher cadence, pushing easier gears, whereas several of the people I ride with like to push harder gears slower.

There's always a tendency to like to do what the pro's do, perhaps that's why the gearing changes.
sleavesley on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: I think if I lived somewhere flat a 53/42 or 53/39 would be fine.
I suppose it depends on what size of the market the bikes are being sold.
Also pricing for the double chainset tend to be cheaper than a compact or triple, so probably even more so when purchased in bulk.
I think that price of components would be a significant reason in why.
Hephaestus - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to sleavesley:
Riding at that kind of ratio - virtually 1:1 - what kind of cadence would you keep up?
sleavesley on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus: ha ha, not a good one.
It was referring to the chain set ratios not chain ring and cassette or rear sprocket for single speed.
a lakeland climber on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Hephaestus:

I don't think riding *styles* have changed just that, like a lot of "alternative" sports, the average age of the practitioners has gone up. In general strength drops with age so pushing big gears doesn't have the allure that it once did.

I don't know what touring bikes from the 1970s and 80s used but I think it's likely that they had the same chainset as road bikes but rather than a 12-24 block would have something like a 15-32 with a longer cage derailleur. (May be wrong on this) So you'd need a capacity of (52-42) + (32 -15) = 27 teeth on the derailleur whereas with a compact (50, 34) set you'd need a capacity of 33teeth. You'd get a bottom gear of around 25 inches which is pretty low.

ALC
mark s - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to GingerBread22: i have a compact on mine,im only a beginner.its fine for anything ive been up in the peak district.only problem is once the compact has got you up the hill,its pretty useless on the way down.38mph + and you are in the hands of gravity
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