gearing selection for commute/grocery getter- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    gearing selection for commute/grocery getter

    I am building up an old 26" mountain bike (frankenbike with old parts from the co-op) with slicks as an alternative to riding my Monocog and my BMX bike around town. both of my "good" bikes are not practical as commuters and i don't want to leave them locked up outside for long periods of time at risk of theft. i want something that i can paint obscene colors and not feel bad and leave outside in the rain without feeling that i am damaging an investment.

    I have always ridden BMX before getting a SS xc bike, so derailleurs are a new thing to me. I want something that will make my bike efficient on the road but not too complicated.

    the parts i have picked out so far are a chromo hardtail with a rigid fork, flat pedals, flat bars with bar ends, canti brakes, and a mtb crankset with three rings and a seven-speed rear cassette. what are the chances that i'll actually use the granny ring? can i just take it off and run a 2x7 with the limit screw set in? i doubt i will ride it more than ten miles at a time for practical rides, maybe longer on leisurely weekend rides.

  2. #2
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    It all depends... How much do you want to work pedaling, how hilly is it where you live, what loads you are going to carry, etc. Check out http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/ to see what your options are, and enter your current setup so you have a basis for comparison. It's basically a personal preference thing. If you have fun riding it, then you are good to go.

    For me, here in New Orleans, the roads are flat flat flat, so I've set up my commuter as a single speed (17 x 48). I can still get going from a red light with loaded panniers, and it doesn't let me slack off as I ride, and it's great fun. On the other extreme, I have a bebe bike that's a 1x9, 12-23 on the back, and 38 up front. I use it to transport my boy to and from daycare, and to take him on tours around the neighborhood. I end up using the full range, and enjoy leisurely time with my son.

  3. #3
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle
    can i just take it off and run a 2x7 with the limit screw set in?
    Certainly.
    In fact, if you get enough range out of just one ring, you could ditch the shifter and derailler as well as the rings. Whether it`s worth the trade off or not is entirely up to you, but there`s an easy way to find out- anything you can unbolt you can always bolt back on if you don`t like the change. Simple, eh?
    Recalculating....

  4. #4
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    Set it at 60 gear inches and call it even. SS for life.

  5. #5
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    FWIW I m an older rider and my errand bike is an old Schwinn tourer as a 1 x 9 (42 x 11-34). With my cheap heavy panniers, racks, fenders, locks, water, and lights, it is 60 pounds before I load it with groceries, 320-330 with a full load of groceries and rider. It is as aerodynamic as a barn door, so grades into 10-20 mph can need the 34 and downhills with wind behind can see me into the 11. I like not having to one up two down while keeping the load on the front carrier/panniers under control. An IGH hub would all be one handed. It was a 2 x 7 before. This is very much a function of your terrain, your fitness, the loads you plan on, and all these can change. Empty, the gear changes feel wide compared to my 3 x 10 but loaded, I like them, maybe a bit wide going up but not down.

    Still learning after all these years.

    Brian.

  6. #6
    Bedwards Of The West
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    My commuer is 1x8, 11-34 cassette on the rear. I have used a 44 tooth front and a 50 tooth front depending on the bike.

    What I do for simplicity is just run a rear derailleur and no front derailleur. I normally leave the chain on the big ring in the front for everything, but if you're hauling the kid trailer or groceries, or a heavy backpack, riding a big hill, whatever... you can just drop the chain down onto the smaller sprocket in front (I shift with my toe). Shifting back up requires a stop, but I typically don't do that until I'm at home anyway.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy
    My commuer is 1x8, 11-34 cassette on the rear. I have used a 44 tooth front and a 50 tooth front depending on the bike.

    What I do for simplicity is just run a rear derailleur and no front derailleur. I normally leave the chain on the big ring in the front for everything, but if you're hauling the kid trailer or groceries, or a heavy backpack, riding a big hill, whatever... you can just drop the chain down onto the smaller sprocket in front (I shift with my toe). Shifting back up requires a stop, but I typically don't do that until I'm at home anyway.
    That actually sounds like a fantastic idea. Right now I use my mountain bike (converted for street use) for commuting, and with the mostly flat terrain I never shift out of my 42t on the front. I use most of the 11-32 in the back, but I have been debating getting rid of the useless complexity of the front gears since that shifter hasn't seen use in years.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cambi
    That actually sounds like a fantastic idea. Right now I use my mountain bike (converted for street use) for commuting, and with the mostly flat terrain I never shift out of my 42t on the front. I use most of the 11-32 in the back, but I have been debating getting rid of the useless complexity of the front gears since that shifter hasn't seen use in years.
    Yep, basically the same except I had a 48/42 front and a 13-28 7 speed freewheel, 27 inch now 700C. An 11-34 9 speed cassette (new wheels) meant that the 42 gave me as high a top end as before and two ratios lower than 42-28 plus 9 better spaced ratios than the 9 unique, but hard to access ones that I had with 2 x 7 gearing.

    So far, I can still climb my steepest grades into the highest winds I'd use the large panniers in, with a full load, using low (34 gear inches). I can get into high (105 gear inches) on downhills, with the wind behind me but I am not worried about maxing out often (28 mph). The 48's place is now held by a chainguard, nice to not have greasy cuffs.

    I may steal Commuterboy's idea and mod it by swapping in my old 53-42-30 triple replacing the 53 with an old chainwheel refashioned as a chainguard and forego an FD. The 30-11 ratio is the same as 42-15, if it is that windy, I just move the chain before the return as I'll not be missing the top three ratios home bound. Saves maintaining a rarely used FD. Commuterboy!

    When you have a handful of bike to manhandle (wind and load) it is nice having one shifter giving all 9 ratios. Being able to shift those ratios up or down on rare occasions for a trip would add flexibility.

  9. #9
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle
    I am building up an old 26" mountain bike (frankenbike with old parts from the co-op) with slicks as an alternative to riding my Monocog and my BMX bike around town. both of my "good" bikes are not practical as commuters and i don't want to leave them locked up outside for long periods of time at risk of theft. i want something that i can paint obscene colors and not feel bad and leave outside in the rain without feeling that i am damaging an investment.

    I have always ridden BMX before getting a SS xc bike, so derailleurs are a new thing to me. I want something that will make my bike efficient on the road but not too complicated.

    the parts i have picked out so far are a chromo hardtail with a rigid fork, flat pedals, flat bars with bar ends, canti brakes, and a mtb crankset with three rings and a seven-speed rear cassette. what are the chances that i'll actually use the granny ring? can i just take it off and run a 2x7 with the limit screw set in? i doubt i will ride it more than ten miles at a time for practical rides, maybe longer on leisurely weekend rides.
    So much depends on where you live (how hilly is it) and how much you think you may carry. I live in a slightly hilly town surrounded by mountains (actually, Blacksburg is on a plateau). My commuter/cruiser/townie is a 26" rigid with slicks. It is 1x8 (40 x 12-32). I spin out going down steeper hills, but I don't really care. The gearing is a little lower than I need most of the time, but It is nice on the steeper hills when I have a load of groceries or such. When I lived down in the surrounding valley, the climb up to Blacksburg was an out of the saddle affair in some parts, but was doable, but if I were having to haul loads UP that hill I would likely have gone with a double up front.

    If I were you I would just run it as is, and then see what gearing you actually use.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  10. #10
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I wouldn't bother making a 2x7 by removing the granny ring, unless you're doing it for compatibility with a front derailleur for a double. The granny ring doesn't weigh very much, and the only advantage to removing it would be the weight loss.

    I would like to have those low gears on my commute bike (lowest is 40x28.) Going up a hill with a load, or even just late at night after a long work day, I use much lower ratios than I'd ever use for recreational riding.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
    d87
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    My ss is 52/18 with bobblies and it rides ok.

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