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  1. #1
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    Need More Climbing Gear! 38-22T?

    Folks,

    I could use some ​guidance. I have a Motobecane Fantom Team 2x10, which came with a Deore XT Crank 38x24T and and SLX 11-36T cassette.

    This seems to be the most common setup on most the 27.5 2x10's on the market.

    Everything runs crisp and smooth. However, I just need more climbing capability! Some of the more technical uphill Arizona trails are killing me and I hate not getting over what I could on my 26er (3x9).

    I cannot find any relevant information for the 27.5. I would like to try the Shimano XT M782 22T chainring with the current 38T large ring. Thoughts? Too spread and against the 14t rule? Need to change the 38 to a 36T? Suggestions on which Chainrings to make sure it all fits?

    The newbie appreciates any guidance and factual input!

    Thank you,
    Last edited by MSG44; 07-04-2015 at 04:20 PM.

  2. #2
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    42 tooth for the rear. It was my solution for the big grunt elevation days.


    42T GC Cog for Shimano ? wolftoothcomponents.com


    OneUp Components US - 42T Sprocket + 16T [ 1x10 ]
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  3. #3
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    Just get stronger. It does come with time and effort. How heavy are you/bike?
    "This is a male-dominated forum... there will be lots of Testosterone sword-shaming here" ~ Kenfucius

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    Just get stronger. It does come with time and effort.
    this^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    you got plenty of low gear already. force yerself to not use yer easiest gears and eventually those easy gears will feel too easy.

  5. #5
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    I was hoping to not get the "stronger" comments. I will reiterate "technical", were stronger isn't always what you need, but rather the right gear ratio to allow you to actually keep a reasonable cadence while orienteering through sharp and steep rocks, common on many AZ trails. Stronger usually means you finally get through something and spin out because you are pushing so hard and your traction gives. Cadence gives you the right give-and-take.

    Still hoping for more experienced insight for those riding 27.5 in technical climbs.

    I am 5'10", 160 with gear. Bike is heavier at around 30.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSG44 View Post
    I was hoping to not get the "stronger" comments. I will reiterate "technical", were stronger isn't always what you need, but rather the right gear ratio to allow you to actually keep a reasonable cadence while orienteering through sharp and steep rocks, common on many AZ trails. Stronger usually means you finally get through something and spin out because you are pushing so hard and your traction gives. Cadence gives you the right give-and-take.

    Still hoping for more experienced insight for those riding 27.5 in technical climbs.

    I am 5'10", 160 with gear. Bike is heavier at around 30.
    Your title should not say "more climbing power" rather "more climbing gear".

    Anyway, just get a 22/36 or 22/34 chainring set, or like was said modify the cassette with one of the big cog setups.

  7. #7
    I Tried Them ALL... SuperModerator
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    Not trying to bust your chops, OP. Conditioning only occurs when your body is so accustomed to doing something so much....it becomes easier. Known as homeostasis - it's basically why Greg LeMond quoted, "It doesn't ever get easier....you just become faster."

    Please don't misconstrue my advice as telling you to "man-up."
    "This is a male-dominated forum... there will be lots of Testosterone sword-shaming here" ~ Kenfucius

  8. #8
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    My uncle in-law, who's been riding for years and owns a bike shop says 'you'll get over more obstacles in a higher gear'

    Maybe your issue is gear choice?

    I'm a good technical climber and find choosing right gear + right line helps. Also having the ability to muscle it up when required.

    I'm a Clyde at 220 & 6ft... my strength and power suit technical climbing but are an Achilles heel on long drawn out grinds

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  9. #9
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    Not sure why so many people have issues answering a simple question. hahaha

    Everyone has different needs and desires. Same gears act differently on 26/27.5/29 (why I went the way I did on my 29 to get back close to what 26ers have as options). Man up is an easy (and often self indulgent answer), but there's always other variables at play; maybe he's a spinner rather than masher, and has a better riding experience with it. For me,that extra b**** gear sure feels nice when spending 7-9 hours with a chainsaw, clearing alpine trails.
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  10. #10
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    I just went from 38/26 to 38/24 but bought the 22t at the same time just in case. I ride the Canadian Rockies and the 26T was killing me. I hope if I have to use the 22T I won't have to change the big ring, but if needed I will.
    So to answer you, I would say go for it with the caveat that you may have to change the big ring as well if the shifting is not the best.

  11. #11
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    Thanks..

    Thanks Guys. I am not doubting being stronger and being in better shape isn't better! I ride road and mountain, once or twice a week as life permits.

    What I intended to say is I climbed real well with my 3x10 26" and now I am struggling to get through some of it and I don't feel comfortable with the gearing. I would personally prefer a little more spin through some of the more challenging areas. If I rode more (which I can't), that may have changed things.

    What I am hoping for is a technical discussion on who has actually added a 22T to their 38T combo chainring(s). I guess I will order the ring and just see how it works with my current XT setup. I just don't want to break something or cause any other damage that I am personally unaware of. I don't have the mula to mess around too much.

    Thanks to all those who commented.

  12. #12
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    MSG.
    I'm riding tomorrow and then I'll be doing the 38/22 switch after that for a try. I'll post up here on the change. My cranks are RF Turbine BTW.

  13. #13
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    What AZ trails are you talking about?
    South mountain climbing up National?
    I am also in AZ and try to ride as many trails as I can

    I always thought a lower gear was better when climbing, It's not. I have gone ( on a 30lb 160mm bike) from a 2x10 to a 1x10 with a 42t cog to now just a 1x10 cause I never used the 42T i just used my legs and went at it. I found when I went slower ( lower gear) I hard a harder time getting up the climbs. I also ride a lot of SS which helps I feel

    Even on my 1x11 Hardtail I hardly ever get into the upper 3 gears in the back.
    Too Many .

  14. #14
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    I ran a 22 tooth on my XT double with a 36 tooth big with no problems. I ran that setup for two years on two bikes. I was buying the SLX 22 tooth rings that are steel. The steel ones last twice as long as the aluminum xt level ones. I just switched to a single on both of my XC rigs and hope that I didn't make a mistake in loosing some of my low and high gears....

  15. #15
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    It's not useful to listen to others talk about gearing, particularly if you're experienced and you know how your body works.

    I ride in Phoenix and typically run a 1x11 setup with a little front ring; I'm a spinner, too.

    Just change the front granny and see what happens. I think it's a pretty big jump, but it might work. Worst that happens is you just won't be able to get it to shift properly. Or you break a chain.

  16. #16
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    You could go with a 40 or 42 on the rear.

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    Do a 40, you'll have less issues....

  18. #18
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    Yup 40 tooth praxis cassette. Or go super low and a wolf tooth 42, a 16, a goat link and you need a xt cassette to add the 16 inplace of the 15 and 17.

    Praxxis will be cheaper. May just need a longer b screw for a buck more.
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSG44 View Post
    What I intended to say is I climbed real well with my 3x10 26" and now I am struggling to get through some of it and I don't feel comfortable with the gearing.
    What was your low gear on the 3X10? With the same cassette, 2 teeth smaller on the front of the 27.5 will get you pretty close.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSG44 View Post
    Still hoping for more experienced insight for those riding 27.5 in technical climbs.
    I am 5'10", 160 with gear. Bike is heavier at around 30.
    I have a 22-36 on a 29er (so I have the same granny as your current setup, with a heavier bike, and I'm comfortably 75lb heavier before gear), and over technical stuff I don't use that gear because I'm having to back-crank and re-enengage the freehub (this destroys SLX hubs, I've discovered) over any technical climbing trails.

    Climb the same stuff in the taller gear, and until you hit the limit where you're pulling up on half the handlebar with each crank, you're usually making more usable power over technical stuff - which equates to more momentum to get up and over ledges and chunky bits. I'm usually in my 22-28 gear on technical stuff, and I'm actually getting to the top less tired because I can get enough momentum off a few pedal strokes to get up tricky stuff instead of trying to power-over monster truck everything. I will drop down to my granny and pedal the parts in between technical climbs if I'm in energy conservation mode, or just totally wiped after a few hours, but I've found that if I lack the energy to get up really chunky technical stuff in my 22-32 or 22-28 gears, I lack the strength to really be in my safety margin, so I'll hop off, carry the bike, and drink some water before moving on.

    The issues you're describing are software issues, not really hardware ones - but that's not to say that running a 24/38 double with a wider 11-40T cassette isn't an ideal approach. That really low granny for my uses is great for spinning long, slow, steep, uninteresting climbs while conserving energy for coming back down - if that gear can't pull it where I'm at (probably 400mi downwind) I'm most often traction limited.

    Focus on your technique too - if you're really relying on getting out of the saddle even in that gear (and consequently having traction issues), there's probably a big improvement to be made getting good at moving up to the nose of the saddle, bringing your chest over the bar, and engaging core muscles to make my pedaling position efficient (instead of moving my upper body around with that energy).
    It may still make sense to put a 40t big cog on it, (realize that with the SLX cassette you'll need a drill press or access to one to add a 16T replacement for the 15/17t cogs in order so smooth out that transition from the middle cassette cluster - or just buy a Praxis Works) as having a really low granny is still an amazing thing, and why I'm still running a 2x10 setup.

  21. #21
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    I received a great deal of advice like this when I started riding. It prevented me from making any progress for over a year, until I finally got the low gearing I needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    Just get stronger. It does come with time and effort....
    For some of us, it takes a lot of time, and what happens to our knees during that time? Climbing in too high a gear was really messing with my knees. I wasn't gettting any stronger, because I had to take so much time off the bike due to knee pain. I live in the mountains, there isn't much of anything flat here. It was either get lower gears or give up riding.

    Quote Originally Posted by newmarketrog View Post
    ...you got plenty of low gear already. force yerself to not use yer easiest gears and eventually those easy gears will feel too easy.
    If my lowest gear is too high, trying to use an even higher gear would only make matters worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    Not trying to bust your chops, OP. Conditioning only occurs when your body is so accustomed to doing something so much....it becomes easier. Known as homeostasis...
    That doesn't work for knees, they are not muscles.

  22. #22
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    yeah, "get stronger" guys, relax, having a lower low gear *available* doesn't stop you from upshifting whenever you want/need a higher gear.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    Not trying to bust your chops, OP. Conditioning only occurs when your body is so accustomed to doing something so much....it becomes easier. Known as homeostasis - it's basically why Greg LeMond quoted, "It doesn't ever get easier....you just become faster."

    Please don't misconstrue my advice as telling you to "man-up."
    When a guy says he wants advice on lower gear, he does not want to hear that he doesn't need a lower gear, and it is exactly like telling him to man up!

    Why don't you just ride a single speed? You don't need gears, you need to adapt, right?

    Not everyone is "in training" nor do they have the time or desire to put in the necessary effort to improve. Plenty of weekend warriors out there who have been riding for years and know what gearing they need, and know how much they will ride, and how much they will improve during the season, and degrade in the off season.

    People also have to deal with aging. I think everyone knows that being in better shape is great, but it's not helpful to point out the obvious like that.

    So, the question is about chain rings and cogs dot dot dot


    edit: Didn't meant o come off too strong, and I also see now that others have already expressed similar sentiments, so, carry on!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nuzzy View Post
    42 tooth for the rear. It was my solution for the big grunt elevation days.


    42T GC Cog for Shimano ? wolftoothcomponents.com


    OneUp Components US - 42T Sprocket + 16T [ 1x10 ]
    Is a 42 possible with a 2X set up? That seems like an awful lot of chain for the derailleur to wrap.

    Just looked it up - SRAM and Shimano long cages are spec'd at 45T capacity. 26x38 with an 11- 42 cassette is a 43 tooth difference so it would work.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    Is a 42 possible with a 2X set up? That seems like an awful lot of chain for the derailleur to wrap.

    Just looked it up - SRAM and Shimano long cages are spec'd at 45T capacity. 26x38 with an 11- 42 cassette is a 43 tooth difference so it would work.



    Well, it may not be the greatest posible thing, but it hasn't broken on me yet... haha

    2x10
    SRAM X9 Type II Mid-Cage
    SRAM PG-1050 11-36T

    I have the stock B screw substantially turned, but it has enough. Have heard turning it around so the head acts as a larger object against the stop is the way to go, and from looking at it, I can see the potential benefit, so will be getting around the that soon. Or maybe just getting the goat link, though it seems that's more important for the shimano stuff.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nuzzy View Post
    Well, it may not be the greatest posible thing, but it hasn't broken on me yet... haha

    2x10
    SRAM X9 Type II Mid-Cage
    SRAM PG-1050 11-36T

    I have the stock B screw substantially turned, but it has enough. Have heard turning it around so the head acts as a larger object against the stop is the way to go, and from looking at it, I can see the potential benefit, so will be getting around the that soon. Or maybe just getting the goat link, though it seems that's more important for the shimano stuff.
    What size chain rings?

  27. #27
    Sawyer Gnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    What size chain rings?

    Ha, guess that would've been pertinent info as well... 36/22


    I will say I've had it happen twice now where during awkward shifts, the derailleur has overextended and locked forward. I was attributing it to the need for an extra link or two... Haven't been able to replicate it on the stand.
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  28. #28
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    FYI a 22/36 (frt/rr) on a 2x10 is only 0.9% easier than a 26/42 on a 1x10 or 1x11. But if you go to a 1x??, you also lose 1.25 lbs off the bike, all things being equal. 1.25#/30# is a little more than 4%. You have a net benefit by going 1x??...

    And, if you need help climbing, ditch the clown and tweener wheelers and get wagon wheels. Yeah, they're harder to spin up to speed. But the efficiency of them rolling over stuff will easily make up for it. AND, there's the benefit of the added traction of a 29er's contact patch. You'll need to relearn turning, but that will actually make you BETTER at turning properly!

  29. #29
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    I'd give the wagon wheels a try if my legs were longer. Haven't seen a 29er that fit me yet.

  30. #30
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    I changed my 24t to a 22t... and it was harder to climb. I dont mean technically, I mean it literally felt like I had to push harder to climb steep. I know that makes no sense. It felt harder AND it was slower. I was more tired at the top as well. I cant explain why.

    I put the 24t back on. This was with a 34t 9spd cassette though.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    I'd give the wagon wheels a try if my legs were longer. Haven't seen a 29er that fit me yet.
    How tall? Something w/ a bit of legs like a Tallboy LT in a med can fit down to 5'8" or 7"...

  32. #32
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    I'm 5'6", and inseam is only around 28".

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nuzzy View Post
    Ha, guess that would've been pertinent info as well... 36/22


    I will say I've had it happen twice now where during awkward shifts, the derailleur has overextended and locked forward. I was attributing it to the need for an extra link or two... Haven't been able to replicate it on the stand.
    So your tooth difference or whatever you call it is 45 T which is the upper limit for long cage and well exceeds the mid cage spec of 37. I'm surprised a mid cage works for you.

    What normally happens is that you make the chain long enough for your big/big combo, and then when you shift into small/small. the chain sags because the cage isn't long enough to wrap the excess.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pau11y View Post
    FYI a 22/36 (frt/rr) on a 2x10 is only 0.9% easier than a 26/42 on a 1x10 or 1x11. But if you go to a 1x??, you also lose 1.25 lbs off the bike, all things being equal. 1.25#/30# is a little more than 4%. You have a net benefit by going 1x??...

    And, if you need help climbing, ditch the clown and tweener wheelers and get wagon wheels. Yeah, they're harder to spin up to speed. But the efficiency of them rolling over stuff will easily make up for it. AND, there's the benefit of the added traction of a 29er's contact patch. You'll need to relearn turning, but that will actually make you BETTER at turning properly!
    Last I checked, a bike requires a rider to move, so that 1.5lb difference means next to nothing to a rider/bike combo. Or were you being sarcastic?

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    Last I checked, a bike requires a rider to move, so that 1.5lb difference means next to nothing to a rider/bike combo. Or were you being sarcastic?
    You know what, just ignore it. You're right, what was I thinking. It's obvious you are too badass a rider or too well-off where money doesn't matter for me and any benefits I may have suggested. I should know better next time!

  36. #36
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    Are you really using the 38/11 gear ratio? We all ride different trails, but a lot of us are using 1x setups with 28 or 30t front rings. I dont really ever top out my 32/11. Its nice being able to run a shorter chain that slaps around a little less, but if you're really using the 38/11 combo its not a good compromise.

    Or just go SS. Rule 5, HTFU!

  37. #37
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    I'm gonna get a 32t n/w oval chainring ^^

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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    I'd give the wagon wheels a try if my legs were longer. Haven't seen a 29er that fit me yet.
    You're on the correct diameter wheels for most bikes - making a dialed wagon-wheeler for anybody under 5'9" is tricky, same way making any bike for somebody bigger than me (6'2" 235) also gets hard - a 650B makes sense.

    My experience mostly matches OnePivot's, especially with being tired when I used to try grinding all the way to the top of stuff in my 22/36 gear. I took some time to start deliberately ignoring the bottom couple of gears to try and see if I'd be able to get away with a 32T 1x10 with a conversion, and despite having given up on that idea (I'll use everything down to my 22/32 gear and then jump back to my 36/11 as soon as I'm coming back down) and deciding that I need a 2x10 for now, it forced me to get a lot stronger mentally and focus on smoothing out my own pedaling input - the traction came that way. I'm still keeping my setup as-is, because that 22/36 (on a 650b a 24/36) is a good fallback for when I'm wiped, and just need to cover ground uphill more efficiently than walking.

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    Bonking ... not feelin' well Updates?

    Quote Originally Posted by binrat View Post
    MSG.
    I'm riding tomorrow and then I'll be doing the 38/22 switch after that for a try. I'll post up here on the change. My cranks are RF Turbine BTW.
    Curious to know if you tried the 38/22. I am on company travel and haven't been out riding for a couple of weeks...sigh. Hope to get back in the saddle next week! Thanks.

  40. #40
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    I went from 26 to 24 to 22 while keeping the big ring at 38 on the front with a 36-11 cassette. I found that the 26 was way too steep for some of the climbs I was doing around here. The 24 was good for technical climbs and the 22 was good for the drop the head down and grunt it out climbs. I never needed to hit the 36 ring while doing the climbs,but it was there if needed.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by tehllama View Post
    You're on the correct diameter wheels for most bikes - making a dialed wagon-wheeler for anybody under 5'9" is tricky, same way making any bike for somebody bigger than me (6'2" 235) also gets hard - a 650B makes sense.
    and a 26er (what I actually have) even more so at my size.
    My lowest gear is 24x36 and I use it every day on the steepest parts.
    Would like to gear down to at least 22. Do they still make a 20?
    I'd certainly need that if I ever had to go to a larger wheel size.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    and a 26er (what I actually have) even more so at my size.
    My lowest gear is 24x36 and I use it every day on the steepest parts.
    Would like to gear down to at least 22. Do they still make a 20?
    I'd certainly need that if I ever had to go to a larger wheel size.
    I have a 20T ring on one of my 29ers. I think I bought it off Ebay. I had to do a little filing of the crank bolt posts to make room for the chain, but it works fine. It's a 9 speed, so there is no good 11-36 cassette option, but the 20x34 is a lower gear than 22x36!

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