Best option to add more climbing gears - convert from 38/24 x 11/36 (rear)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Best option to add more climbing gears - convert from 38/24 x 11/36 (rear)

    Hey all - there are so many discussions on different gearing options in this forum but I was unable to really find what I was looking for so I'm sorry if this has been discussed elsewhere. I'm wondering what my best and cheapest option would be to add better climbing gears from my current set-up (Scott Spark 930 with SRAM GPX - I have a 38/24 up front and 11/36 cassette in the rear). I haven't converted to 1x because I typically do enough long rides/races that include gravel and pavement so I have liked having the higher gears in the front so I don't spin out. However, I have a big endurance race coming up (Pierre's Hole) that has over 10k feet climbing and it would be really nice to add a few more gears for my old knees. Would it be possible to add a cassette with a 40 tooth in the rear without having to change my entire set-up to a x1? I guess I could always shop around for a used x1 group but I'm assuming it would be lots of $$$ plus I would need to pay my LBS to switch it over which would be more $$$. Any suggestions??

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    Why would you want a 1x drivetrain if you want lower climbing gears? You're going to need that granny ring.

    You could get a cassette with a 40 or 42t but shifting will be compromised and you'd likely need a longer chain. You could also go with a 22t up front.

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    As I'm researching, it looks like I could just buy the Praxis 40 tooth cassette which appears to be compatible with 2x drivetrains. I would need a new chain too it looks like

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    How many cogs do you have on your cassette? If you are looking to have a cassette with more sprockets on it then you will need to swap out your casssette, rear derailleur, shifters and chain. (in most cases).

    Putting a smaller granny on the front will be the easiest way to get a lower gear. Putting on a cassette with a wider range but the same amount of sprockets will also get you another gear or two.

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    I currently have 10 speed set-up and would plan on sticking with that. Would switching the granny gear up front from a 24 to 22 be "somewhat" comparable to changing the 36 to 40 tooth Praxis rear?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MHCBH View Post
    I currently have 10 speed set-up and would plan on sticking with that. Would switching the granny gear up front from a 24 to 22 be "somewhat" comparable to changing the 36 to 40 tooth Praxis rear?
    yes...do it yesterday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MHCBH View Post
    I currently have 10 speed set-up and would plan on sticking with that. Would switching the granny gear up front from a 24 to 22 be "somewhat" comparable to changing the 36 to 40 tooth Praxis rear?
    I read somewhere that lowering a tooth on the front is about the same as adding three teeth on the rear.

    My bike came with 22/36 chainrings on the front and 11/36 cogs on the cassette, and I added an IRD 11/40 tooth cassette on the rear and I can climb just about anything. I've read about cog failures on the larger Praxis cogs, so I bought an all steel IRD for the longevity.

    Sometimes you can find the IRD cassettes on eBay for about $70 cheaper than they normally sell for on bicycle websites.
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    My wife's bike has 22/36 front and a sunracer 11-40 rear.
    A goat link on the xt 10 speed deraillure and everything shifts well. With a 22/40 she's more worried about balance than effort.

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    I switched my XC bike from basically your drivetrain to a 22/36 crank a couple years ago. I mostly felt fine about the 24t granny ring but had trouble when I was a few laps into an endurance race with a stiff climb at the beginning, and on a particularly nasty bit of fire road doing a second lap on one of our mountains. So that small change made those sorts of things more comfortable.

    Check out Shimano's current offerings, though. You can put together as low as a 22/46 if you want to.

    I don't know what the entry fee and travel costs are going to be like for your race. For me, events like that are expensive enough that it feels silly to try to economize on equipment, especially since I'll be riding that same stuff quite a lot the rest of the year too.

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    Best option to add more climbing gears - convert from 38/24 x 11/36 (rear)

    http://www.gear-calculator.com allows you to easily compare different upgrade options. If you want to keep 38 tooth chainring then 38/22 might give some troubles. At least it is not officially supported and it might be bad idea to check it out at the race.

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    Per the recommendation of my LBS I decided to go with an 11-40 Wolftooth rear cassette and keep the 38/24 up front (thinking that going to a 38/22 up front would cause shifting issues, as well as trying to go a low as an 11/42 rear, which was also a consideration). I'll test it out next week to see how it works! I'm hoping that the switch from x36 to x40 in the rear will save me and my knees on those long climbs! Thanks for all the replies.

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    On my 2x9, I went titanium 20 tooth - expensive, but worth it. It's an Action-tec and has probably outlasted 2 or 3 34-tooth rings and is still pushing my boy uphill today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawseman View Post
    On my 2x9, I went titanium 20 tooth - expensive, but worth it. It's an Action-tec and has probably outlasted 2 or 3 34-tooth rings and is still pushing my boy uphill today.
    What is your 20 tooth paired with up front? We thought a 22 tooth wouldn't work well with the 38 crankset that I currently have.

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    Paired with a 34. 38t to 20t is, most likely, asking too much of the FD.

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    OP,

    Good luck at Pierre's Hole! I hope the Wolftooth works well for your knees.

    FWIW for others considering lower gearing, I have had good results (several years of great shifting) by putting that 22t on my X9 2x10 crank with an 11-36 in the back.

    The 38-22 combo is not supported by SRAM, but when I was going through the same decision process as OP, the Wolftooth, etc. pie plates were not available. It was easy enough to put a $15 XT (!) ring up there to test it out. No need to make any adjustments to my X7 front der, it has been working beautifully for me on XC/endurance-type terrain.

    YMMV, but they'll be easier miles whether a 40 in back or a 22 up front is the answer!

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    You could look into wickwerks for new chainrings up front. I think they offer a few combos with 22T grannys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MHCBH View Post
    Hey all - there are so many discussions on different gearing options in this forum but I was unable to really find what I was looking for so I'm sorry if this has been discussed elsewhere. I'm wondering what my best and cheapest option would be to add better climbing gears from my current set-up (Scott Spark 930 with SRAM GPX - I have a 38/24 up front and 11/36 cassette in the rear). I haven't converted to 1x because I typically do enough long rides/races that include gravel and pavement so I have liked having the higher gears in the front so I don't spin out. However, I have a big endurance race coming up (Pierre's Hole) that has over 10k feet climbing and it would be really nice to add a few more gears for my old knees. Would it be possible to add a cassette with a 40 tooth in the rear without having to change my entire set-up to a x1? I guess I could always shop around for a used x1 group but I'm assuming it would be lots of $$$ plus I would need to pay my LBS to switch it over which would be more $$$. Any suggestions??
    So I've been in your boat for so many years because I feel that bikes are designed for less climbing (then most of us want to do) and more cross country. This to me is defined as "I want the challenge of the climb" even if it means riding and it's slower than someone could walk it. It takes more than being able to turn the cranks at such a slow pace. Weight balance and side to side balance is a skill.

    So that being said, I am assuming you are at a 2x10 set up. So without incuring a lot of costs, you're first option would be throwing one of those 40 tooth gear at it. My method for several years was TOTALLY CUSTOM of which I built up a wheel with a 9-40 cassette and then adapting "old school" 5 bolt chainrings (20, 29). Again, this was custom and built up when I built the bike. Unfortunately, this set up was not light and has become obsolete because Canfield Brothers decided to not support that set up they have.

    On my spare bike (Santa Cruz 5010), I have the same 2x up front with a Shimano 10 speed set up with a 40 tooth chainring added. This gives an 11-40 spread. Works for this "loaner" bike.

    So that'd probably be the cheapest and easiest approach. From there the prices start to go up significantly. What you gain though, is weight savings and wider range (closer gear spacing as well if you're going wider). I find it extremely difficult to go to a 1x if you are looking for road riding and climbing like I think you are describing.

    If you want to stay at 10 speed, there are various options that will require a hub or freehub change which will bring costs up. If you want, I can elaborate on those.

    And then going to 11 speed only increases costs more because you'll almost require a new wheel build (maybe not) but will certainly need to upgrade your drivetrain parts.

    I did all the math from my original 2x10 set up to what I have now. I tried to see if I could make a compromise to climbing or road gears (in the spread sheet) and then tried to implement it. In the end, even going with the 11 speed set up, I have a 2x and it's still slanted toward the climbing end of the spectrum.

    If you want a copy of the spread sheet, you're welcome to PM me your email address, I can send it to you. There are a number of gear-calcs out there that can help you as well. This spread sheet I have calculates all kinds of information based on gearing and tire size and I've updated it from my days running 26" tires and 3x9 set up.

  18. #18
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    I find myself having a bit of a reaction to the idea of a bike being "less climbing and more cross country." If the soul of cycling is in the mountains, I think that goes double for cross country. And good climbing efficiency and handling is something I prize in a XC bike.

    That being said, I think high-end XC bikes sometimes tend toward more aspirational gearing. I like to think I'm good at being a mechanical engineer but I may only ever be a mid-pack Cat. 2 racer. Looking at some of those bike check articles and also at the race-winning times in the Open class, it's pretty clear that for the pointy end of races, a 26t small ring and 11-32 cassette is totally reasonable for big climbs.

    I'm not too proud to put lower gears on mine, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I find myself having a bit of a reaction to the idea of a bike being "less climbing and more cross country." If the soul of cycling is in the mountains, I think that goes double for cross country. And good climbing efficiency and handling is something I prize in a XC bike.

    That being said, I think high-end XC bikes sometimes tend toward more aspirational gearing. I like to think I'm good at being a mechanical engineer but I may only ever be a mid-pack Cat. 2 racer. Looking at some of those bike check articles and also at the race-winning times in the Open class, it's pretty clear that for the pointy end of races, a 26t small ring and 11-32 cassette is totally reasonable for big climbs.

    I'm not too proud to put lower gears on mine, though.

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    Well said. I have one bike and I try to never push my bike. No matter how steep or how long I've been running. For me, it's the challenge. I'm not concerned with racing or speed like many others out there. That's the bottom line, it's not a one size fits all. So again, my bike is biased to be in my "big" ring and still be able to do most climbing (30 chainring with 10-42 cassette). But I have kept the front derailleur with a 20 tooth chainring for that ultra log gear. Think 4x4 rock crawler.

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    20x42? That's pretty low even on a 29er.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Markiel View Post
    20x42? That's pretty low even on a 29er.
    Yeah, again, it's not a gear I use often but out on my mountain bike travels with my one bike does it all, I've climbed some amazing stuff. And it's a great achievement to say I rode it all instead of getting off and pushing the bike. Under the right conditions, it is useful. Again, it's not for everyone. I am an engineer and I love tinkering. I do totally enjoy building a bike that works for my needs.

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    The add-a-cog 40s or 42s out there may require that you use either a 1) longer b-tension screw or 2) a goat link to drop the derailleur down a bit to make room for that big ol' cog. www.wolftoothcompoents.com can hook you up. A 24/40 is a very low gear. There are also the Sunrace 11-40/42 cassettes that should give smoother jumps between gears. Still may need what I mentioned to keep the upper pulley from contacting the largest cog. Good luck!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markiel View Post
    20x42? That's pretty low even on a 29er.
    Agreed...mind blown (22t delta front to rear). But to each their own!
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    Agreed...mind blown (22t delta front to rear). But to each their own!
    Hehe. I'm one of those that tries to never ask "why would you want to do that?" because I can often be the one wondering how to do this or that just to answer questions. Innovation, inventing is fun. Not all experiments work out. But that's OK.

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    On my bike running 22/36 chainrings and 11/40 cassette I found by going to a Shimano 11 speed derailleur I could get the shifting perfect - and when I'm finally ready to go to an 11 speed set-up I'll only need the shifter and cassette. I don't use the 40 tooth all that much, but it sure is nice when I do need it.
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    The OP has a SRAM crankset, but I'm not sure if it has the removable spider or not. Anyway, SRAM triples are 22/33/44. On my 2x10 setup I replaced the big ring on mine with a bash ring, so it was 22/33/bash. I was able to ride in the middle ring most of the time, similar to a 1x10 setup, but I had that 22t granny ring when I needed it.

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    Itís always an interesting conversation on here regarding gearing and folksí perspectives on what constitutes appropriate gearing. Obviously, its related to 1) fitness 2) pain/suck threshold and 3) where you ride (mountains vs. flatlands). Also, folks can ride whatever the @#[email protected]# they want but itís still fun to discuss. I always think about where we came from in terms of gearing starting when I did in the early Ď90s. My first ďrealĒ mtb had a 7-spd triple with a 24/34/42 (I think..I know it wasnít a 22 granny before compact cranksets came out..hellÖit may have had a 26) and a 11-28 out back. Thatís a 4 tooth delta on the granny from front to rear. I somehow managed to ride everywhere on that gearing including the mountains. Then I had a bike with a XT triple that I seem to recall was compact and had a 22/32/42 with a 11-28 so a 6 tooth delta front to back for the granny. That was a low gear and I remember appreciating it in the mountains of WV. So that would be like a 30/36 now on a 1x10 conversion. Itís all relative. Somehow we all rode with low gearing that was higher on average than a lot of what is coming on the newer 1x drivetrains so just something to keep in mindÖnot saying the newer stuff is bad or that people are wusses (ok..maybe I am ). Itís hard to imagine changing gearing until you do it and most folks, I think, will find that a slightly higher granny isnít a huge deal and that after a few rides you just donít notice it anymore. You can't nerd-out and talk your way into gearing...you just have to ride it to see. I have had lots of different gearing on bikes including riding SS so I guess I have a taste of suck and easy and I think the 1x stuff is plenty of range for most folks. That being said, I would be happy with a 2x XT Di2 on my next bike..front derailleurs (Shimano for sure) work great if you know how to shift them and certainly give you more range than all but the most extreme 1x stuff (Sram Eagle).
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    Maybe take a look at the e13 cassette. That 44 tooth has come in handy when really needed. Although I rarely use it, when i do need it...heaven. I am running 1x with a 32 up front but I would think you could use it with a 2x. No reason why not.


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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    Itís always an interesting conversation on here regarding gearing and folksí perspectives on what constitutes appropriate gearing. Obviously, its related to 1) fitness 2) pain/suck threshold and 3) where you ride (mountains vs. flatlands). Also, folks can ride whatever the @#[email protected]# they want but itís still fun to discuss. I always think about where we came from in terms of gearing starting when I did in the early Ď90s. My first ďrealĒ mtb had a 7-spd triple with a 24/34/42 (I think..I know it wasnít a 22 granny before compact cranksets came out..hellÖit may have had a 26) and a 11-28 out back. Thatís a 4 tooth delta on the granny from front to rear. I somehow managed to ride everywhere on that gearing including the mountains. Then I had a bike with a XT triple that I seem to recall was compact and had a 22/32/42 with a 11-28 so a 6 tooth delta front to back for the granny. That was a low gear and I remember appreciating it in the mountains of WV. So that would be like a 30/36 now on a 1x10 conversion. Itís all relative. Somehow we all rode with low gearing that was higher on average than a lot of what is coming on the newer 1x drivetrains so just something to keep in mindÖnot saying the newer stuff is bad or that people are wusses (ok..maybe I am ). Itís hard to imagine changing gearing until you do it and most folks, I think, will find that a slightly higher granny isnít a huge deal and that after a few rides you just donít notice it anymore. You can't nerd-out and talk your way into gearing...you just have to ride it to see. I have had lots of different gearing on bikes including riding SS so I guess I have a taste of suck and easy and I think the 1x stuff is plenty of range for most folks. That being said, I would be happy with a 2x XT Di2 on my next bike..front derailleurs (Shimano for sure) work great if you know how to shift them and certainly give you more range than all but the most extreme 1x stuff (Sram Eagle).
    I started in the 80's with 6 speed, crappy tires, crappy brakes and no suspension. Even back then I tried to climb everything. And even back then I was trying to find ways to package better gears and tweak what was off the shelf.

    I certainly like your points 1, 2 and 3. In the end, it all comes down to having fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    Itís always an interesting conversation on here regarding gearing and folksí perspectives on what constitutes appropriate gearing. Obviously, its related to 1) fitness 2) pain/suck threshold and 3) where you ride (mountains vs. flatlands). Also, folks can ride whatever the @#[email protected]# they want but itís still fun to discuss. I always think about where we came from in terms of gearing starting when I did in the early Ď90s. My first ďrealĒ mtb had a 7-spd triple with a 24/34/42 (I think..I know it wasnít a 22 granny before compact cranksets came out..hellÖit may have had a 26) and a 11-28 out back. Thatís a 4 tooth delta on the granny from front to rear. I somehow managed to ride everywhere on that gearing including the mountains. Then I had a bike with a XT triple that I seem to recall was compact and had a 22/32/42 with a 11-28 so a 6 tooth delta front to back for the granny. That was a low gear and I remember appreciating it in the mountains of WV. So that would be like a 30/36 now on a 1x10 conversion. Itís all relative. Somehow we all rode with low gearing that was higher on average than a lot of what is coming on the newer 1x drivetrains so just something to keep in mindÖnot saying the newer stuff is bad or that people are wusses (ok..maybe I am ). Itís hard to imagine changing gearing until you do it and most folks, I think, will find that a slightly higher granny isnít a huge deal and that after a few rides you just donít notice it anymore. You can't nerd-out and talk your way into gearing...you just have to ride it to see. I have had lots of different gearing on bikes including riding SS so I guess I have a taste of suck and easy and I think the 1x stuff is plenty of range for most folks. That being said, I would be happy with a 2x XT Di2 on my next bike..front derailleurs (Shimano for sure) work great if you know how to shift them and certainly give you more range than all but the most extreme 1x stuff (Sram Eagle).
    Hmm... first bike had a 28/38/48 crank and a 15/28 5spd freehub....

    Anyway, when comparing gearing back then to now you have to take diameter into consideration too, a typical 29/2.3 might be 10" longer in circumference than a typical 26/1.95! I just got back from a week of riding my new 27.5+ with 30x42 and I pushed far too much, doing the math this gearing is 15% higher than the 22x32 26er I came from. That's going to change.
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    ^^^yes...I know the wheel diameters were smaller but the point twas gearing was higher and people survived.

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    I sometimes think about that, and suspension, and the idea of hedonistic adjustment.

    My first mountain bike was a 26" hardtail with a 3x8 drivetrain and elastomer fork. I think it had a 22/32 or so for the granny, so that's not really a change for me. But people now "need" rear suspension, more front travel, disc brakes, etc. and suspension forks are a lot stiffer.

    I had a lot of fun on that bike.

    My new bikes are more fun, but what does that even mean? I doubt I'm having more fun now, although I certainly appreciate the better reliability of my current bikes.

    On the other hand, I do think that some of the changes in technology have made the sport accessible for more people. In general, I think that's good.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    ^^^yes...I know the wheel diameters were smaller but the point twas gearing was higher and people survived.
    Yeah we survived and had a load of fun because that's all there was BITD. I pushed lots of steep climbs then that are 100% rideable with a 22/32. 20t was the rage for a while but balance was a problem even if you could maintain traction.

    I agree with whoever said they want to climb everything, bikes have pedals not carry handles! Not sold on the 1x deal, doing a spreadsheet now to see how to get the low I need, these + tires have the traction just need the gearing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by azjeff View Post
    Not sold on the 1x deal, doing a spreadsheet now to see how to get the low I need, these + tires have the traction just need the gearing.

    Here's a good one that's easily customizable for different wheel/tire sizes and gear ranges. BikeCalc.com - Bicycle Gear Inches Chart

    The new wide range 1x's can easily get you the low (~18 inch) gear that you had on the old 26'er. SRAM's Eagle 10-50 gives a 500% range that equals most 3x systems. Pricy though, which is why I don't own it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by azjeff View Post
    Yeah we survived and had a load of fun because that's all there was BITD. I pushed lots of steep climbs then that are 100% rideable with a 22/32. 20t was the rage for a while but balance was a problem even if you could maintain traction.

    I agree with whoever said they want to climb everything, bikes have pedals not carry handles! Not sold on the 1x deal, doing a spreadsheet now to see how to get the low I need, these + tires have the traction just need the gearing.
    I tried one of those 20s...it was terrible on terms of traction and chain derailments I recall.

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    Maybe what I am getting at is this - folks come on here and debate going to 1x and the fear of not having enough low gearing until the cows come home when in reality, they can just do the 1x conversion and try it. The worst that can happen is that you end up walking a climb that you used to be able to ride and you make a decision to gear down - so many options to give you more low-end grunt with 1x now. Its not that scary..again..you are talking about ratios that are often better than what everyone rode 20 years ago and those folks, as has been mentioned several times, had a blast even if they walked a few steepies. Yes, the newer stuff is WAY better than what we rode 20 years ago and I wouldn't go back to my 26" w/ 7 speed thumbies and 1.5" front elastomer suspension fork. You can always try a SS and that will 100% guarantee that you appreciate a 32/36 granny.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2018 Niner RKT 9 RDO - enduro AF

  37. #37
    just 1 more
    Reputation: azjeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    1,153
    Yeah, a little math will tell you where you'll be compared to what you ride now. I've got to get closer, pushing what you should ride sucks.
    bikes, guns, dogs....perfect

  38. #38
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    18,453
    Just for the low and without changing wheel sizes, it's a really simple - like, back-of-the-envelope calculation.

    You don't say how big a cassette you have. I have a 11-42. So if I was switching a bike with a 22/32 granny I liked to 1x, I could say I want

    22/32 = x/42.

    Then,
    x = 42(22/32)

    It does get a little harder when changing wheel sizes mean all else isn't equal. And the nominal sizes are somewhat notoriously wrong, so I get a little more rigorous about gear inches. I have a spreadsheet of my own comparing top and bottom gears in gear inches and in speeds at 70-100 rpm cadence. That helped me choose a chain ring size for my 27.5"-wheeled 1x bike based on knowing what I like on my 2x10 29er. The dropper post still messed things up a bit, but whatever.

    Sent from my E5803 using Tapatalk
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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