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  1. #1
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    53x42 with a 11-34 cassette yay or nay

    Hello,

    Anyone using this set up?

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    I doubt you'll find anyone doing that. 42s are out of fashion, but more importantly using narrow chainring gearing and wide cassette gearing doesn't make much sense. You would be shifting both derailleurs constantly and still have a lot of gearing gaps because of the big rear steps.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gall View Post
    Hello,

    Anyone using this set up?
    I've never used anything less than 42 in front. It's a great gear for all purposes, not too low for the flats, not too high for the climbs. The 24# commuter has 43-28 lowest gear and I have yet to need anything lower. The 43 has just a little more oomphh!! than the 42. The legs adapt.

    On a sub 20# bike and rider under 200#, you'll never use the 34, hardly ever the 30. So replace them with gears you could use in the 14-28 tooth range. Two closely spaced rings in front are fine to modulate leg speeds. Gear overlap? So what? The legs get used to working at different leg speeds and intensities having to make larger jumps between gears. One day, it'll be a nice spin in the 42, the next day a heavier workout in the 53. This is good for fitness, versatility. The body doesn't learn much plodding along, shifting endlessly to maintain the same perceived effort. Boring. Some grind it out, true Strava slaves, always hoping for the best. What fun is that?

    Go with the bigger rings. They'll make the legs stronger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    I've never used anything less than 42 in front. It's a great gear for all purposes, not too low for the flats, not too high for the climbs. The 24# commuter has 43-28 lowest gear and I have yet to need anything lower. The 43 has just a little more oomphh!! than the 42. The legs adapt.

    On a sub 20# bike and rider under 200#, you'll never use the 34, hardly ever the 30. So replace them with gears you could use in the 14-28 tooth range. Two closely spaced rings in front are fine to modulate leg speeds. Gear overlap? So what? The legs get used to working at different leg speeds and intensities having to make larger jumps between gears. One day, it'll be a nice spin in the 42, the next day a heavier workout in the 53. This is good for fitness, versatility. The body doesn't learn much plodding along, shifting endlessly to maintain the same perceived effort. Boring. Some grind it out, true Strava slaves, always hoping for the best. What fun is that?

    Go with the bigger rings. They'll make the legs stronger.
    Did you notice that he's talking about pairing it with a 11-34?


    I like the 53x42 crankset, but I wouldn't use it with an 11-34. If I wanted a lower gear there are better ways to get there.
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    A 52/36 and 11/28 would give you almost the same spread without the chain length issues and slightly smaller gaps between gears.

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    Generally speaking the goal should be to use the tightest cassette you can and still get the gears you want/need. Then expand the cassette once you run out of options to make a tight(er) cassette work by changing the front rings (financial considerations aside).

    11-34 is a cassette that should be avoided on a road bike if you have the choice. You do have that choice and that is to use a crank ring smaller than 42.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    On a sub 20# bike and rider under 200#, you'll never use the 34, hardly ever the 30.
    Really? And you know this how? You're making the classic mistake of assuming that somebody else is as strong as you and rides on hills like the ones you use. Don't do that.

    To the OP: if you think you need a gear as low as provided by a 42/34, you really should consider a compact crankset. A 28t large cog would give you a (very) slightly lower gear, much better shifting, and a much more closely spaced cassette, which is an advantage for all of your riding.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    I've never used anything less than 42 in front. It's a great gear for all purposes, not too low for the flats, not too high for the climbs. The 24# commuter has 43-28 lowest gear and I have yet to need anything lower. The 43 has just a little more oomphh!! than the 42. The legs adapt.

    On a sub 20# bike and rider under 200#, you'll never use the 34, hardly ever the 30. So replace them with gears you could use in the 14-28 tooth range. Two closely spaced rings in front are fine to modulate leg speeds. Gear overlap? So what? The legs get used to working at different leg speeds and intensities having to make larger jumps between gears. One day, it'll be a nice spin in the 42, the next day a heavier workout in the 53. This is good for fitness, versatility. The body doesn't learn much plodding along, shifting endlessly to maintain the same perceived effort. Boring. Some grind it out, true Strava slaves, always hoping for the best. What fun is that?

    Go with the bigger rings. They'll make the legs stronger.
    So you know the OP? Ride w/ him all the time? What does his weight have to do w/ anything?
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Really? And you know this how? You're making the classic mistake of assuming that somebody else is as strong as you and rides on hills like the ones you use. Don't do that.
    This is just Fredrico's way of letting all of us know how big his Johnson is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    To the OP: if you think you need a gear as low as provided by a 42/34, you really should consider a compact crankset. A 28t large cog would give you a (very) slightly lower gear, much better shifting, and a much more closely spaced cassette, which is an advantage for all of your riding.
    ^This.^ And problems with front shifting due to the large 16 tooth gap have been virtually eliminated with Shimano's last two generations of group sets. I have been over 2,000 miles without a chain drop on my 5800 and 6800 groupos with 50/34 compact cranksets.
    Last edited by Lombard; 12-01-2017 at 05:58 AM.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    So you know the OP? Ride w/ him all the time? What does his weight have to do w/ anything?
    Can't deny weight, rider being at least 80%, is pretty important when climbing. I can feel the difference not carrying one water bottle. So yeah, if rider is heavy, 34-30 at 5 mph might do it well. But what I find every time I gear down, in my case from 42-22 to 42-28, cadences increase nicely, but gravity pulls the same and its still a beotch depending on the grade, no matter what gear you're in. Overcoming gravity requires the same heart pounding effort, whether at 60 rpm or 90 rpm [if rider is capable of sustaining 90 rpm]. Usually he'll slow down to a lower cadence the legs can sustain. In 34-30, that will produce a slower speed than in 42-28.

    The climbs around here, DC Metro, are all short, few over a mile long, so by the time the legs are screaming, I'm over the top. Extended climbing up mountains is a matter of finding the sweet spot, the steeper the grade, the lower the cadence. The pull of gravity is the same, so going 6 mph in 42-28 at 60 rpm requires no more effort, really, than 34-30 going 6 mph at 90 rpm, IME. At 90 rpm, the legs will recover faster once over the top, but the higher gear shortens the time, therefore the pain, on short climbs. If rider attacks at the bottom, he doesn't have to work all that hard to maintain momentum before reaching the top. Most riders don't do that, from what I've seen.

    Cranking out taller gears at lower cadences increases leg strength fine. Which in turn demands more out of the heart and lungs, so rider elevates lactate threshold and can ride stronger, too, rewarded on the climbs.

    I was surprised revisiting some of the dreaded climbs out of Rock Creek Park, that after 30 years, they don't seem so horrible anymore. Just crank it out in a sustained cadence anywhere from 50-70 rpm. Pain's always there, no matter what gear you're in or what cadence you can manage. Rider can't cheat gravity with momentum, like on a flat. It'll take several years of practice to climb at 90 rpm. The legs aren't used to delivering climbing power at high cadences, going in and out of anaerobic threshold. They instinctively slow down to handle the load. Fast twitch anaerobic muscles don't like fast cadences. Not enough time to recover on the upstrokes.

    The other problem with 53, 52, 50-34 is the shift is so wide there's no gear overlap, and worse, the two gear ranges presented by the 53 and 34 are separated more than the steps in each range, so require a larger jump right in the speed range, around 17-18 mph, your legs would most value a very close shift. Eddy used to climb in 44 t. inner ring. I tried it one year and discovered how nice it is to make a tight shift at a wide range of speeds, and always have a new range of closely spaced gears in back, just slightly easier or harder, never a need to double shift to pick up the cadence.

    52 and 42 in front is all fit riders who aren't overweight need. Those gears handle anything on graded roads, and a 30, much less 32, would never be used after a year or so of regular weekly riding, largely because most riders don't learn how to spin at power. They find it unnatural, so slow to 60-70 rpms and crank it out. Gravity cancels out momentum on each pedal stroke.

    So who likes to climb in 34-30? How often? How fast are you going? What are your typical cadences? I strongly suspect these uber low gears on lightweight road bikes is, like disc brakes, market driven to satisfy middle aged men who are getting fat and out of shape and avoid the hills out of terror. They don't want to suffer, forgetting the axiom, "no pain, no gain!"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Can't deny weight, rider being at least 80%, is pretty important when climbing. I can feel the difference not carrying one water bottle. So yeah, if rider is heavy, 34-30 at 5 mph might do it well. But what I find every time I gear down, in my case from 42-22 to 42-28, cadences increase nicely, but gravity pulls the same and its still a beotch depending on the grade, no matter what gear you're in. Overcoming gravity requires the same heart pounding effort, whether at 60 rpm or 90 rpm [if rider is capable of sustaining 90 rpm]. Usually he'll slow down to a lower cadence the legs can sustain. In 34-30, that will produce a slower speed than in 42-28.

    The climbs around here, DC Metro, are all short, few over a mile long, so by the time the legs are screaming, I'm over the top. Extended climbing up mountains is a matter of finding the sweet spot, the steeper the grade, the lower the cadence. The pull of gravity is the same, so going 6 mph in 42-28 at 60 rpm requires no more effort, really, than 34-30 going 6 mph at 90 rpm, IME. At 90 rpm, the legs will recover faster once over the top, but the higher gear shortens the time, therefore the pain, on short climbs. If rider attacks at the bottom, he doesn't have to work all that hard to maintain momentum before reaching the top. Most riders don't do that, from what I've seen.

    Cranking out taller gears at lower cadences increases leg strength fine. Which in turn demands more out of the heart and lungs, so rider elevates lactate threshold and can ride stronger, too, rewarded on the climbs.

    I was surprised revisiting some of the dreaded climbs out of Rock Creek Park, that after 30 years, they don't seem so horrible anymore. Just crank it out in a sustained cadence anywhere from 50-70 rpm. Pain's always there, no matter what gear you're in or what cadence you can manage. Rider can't cheat gravity with momentum, like on a flat. It'll take several years of practice to climb at 90 rpm. The legs aren't used to delivering climbing power at high cadences, going in and out of anaerobic threshold. They instinctively slow down to handle the load. Fast twitch anaerobic muscles don't like fast cadences. Not enough time to recover on the upstrokes.

    The other problem with 53, 52, 50-34 is the shift is so wide there's no gear overlap, and worse, the two gear ranges presented by the 53 and 34 are separated more than the steps in each range, so require a larger jump right in the speed range, around 17-18 mph, your legs would most value a very close shift. Eddy used to climb in 44 t. inner ring. I tried it one year and discovered how nice it is to make a tight shift at a wide range of speeds, and always have a new range of closely spaced gears in back, just slightly easier or harder, never a need to double shift to pick up the cadence.

    52 and 42 in front is all fit riders who aren't overweight need. Those gears handle anything on graded roads, and a 30, much less 32, would never be used after a year or so of regular weekly riding, largely because most riders don't learn how to spin at power. They find it unnatural, so slow to 60-70 rpms and crank it out. Gravity cancels out momentum on each pedal stroke.

    So who likes to climb in 34-30? How often? How fast are you going? What are your typical cadences? I strongly suspect these uber low gears on lightweight road bikes is, like disc brakes, market driven to satisfy middle aged men who are getting fat and out of shape and avoid the hills out of terror. They don't want to suffer, forgetting the axiom, "no pain, no gain!"
    All of this misses what the OP is trying to do.

    You've turned a thread about wide range gearing into your platform on a largely unrelated subject and made it more confusing, not less.

    Specifically, the benefit of narrow range chainwheels is pretty meaningless to shift patterns if you have huge jumps in the rear.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Can't deny weight, rider being at least 80%, is pretty important when climbing. I can feel the difference not carrying one water bottle. So yeah, if rider is heavy, 34-30 at 5 mph might do it well. But what I find every time I gear down, in my case from 42-22 to 42-28, cadences increase nicely, but gravity pulls the same and its still a beotch depending on the grade, no matter what gear you're in. Overcoming gravity requires the same heart pounding effort, whether at 60 rpm or 90 rpm [if rider is capable of sustaining 90 rpm]. Usually he'll slow down to a lower cadence the legs can sustain. In 34-30, that will produce a slower speed than in 42-28.

    The climbs around here, DC Metro, are all short, few over a mile long, so by the time the legs are screaming, I'm over the top. Extended climbing up mountains is a matter of finding the sweet spot, the steeper the grade, the lower the cadence. The pull of gravity is the same, so going 6 mph in 42-28 at 60 rpm requires no more effort, really, than 34-30 going 6 mph at 90 rpm, IME. At 90 rpm, the legs will recover faster once over the top, but the higher gear shortens the time, therefore the pain, on short climbs. If rider attacks at the bottom, he doesn't have to work all that hard to maintain momentum before reaching the top. Most riders don't do that, from what I've seen.

    Cranking out taller gears at lower cadences increases leg strength fine. Which in turn demands more out of the heart and lungs, so rider elevates lactate threshold and can ride stronger, too, rewarded on the climbs.

    I was surprised revisiting some of the dreaded climbs out of Rock Creek Park, that after 30 years, they don't seem so horrible anymore. Just crank it out in a sustained cadence anywhere from 50-70 rpm. Pain's always there, no matter what gear you're in or what cadence you can manage. Rider can't cheat gravity with momentum, like on a flat. It'll take several years of practice to climb at 90 rpm. The legs aren't used to delivering climbing power at high cadences, going in and out of anaerobic threshold. They instinctively slow down to handle the load. Fast twitch anaerobic muscles don't like fast cadences. Not enough time to recover on the upstrokes.

    The other problem with 53, 52, 50-34 is the shift is so wide there's no gear overlap, and worse, the two gear ranges presented by the 53 and 34 are separated more than the steps in each range, so require a larger jump right in the speed range, around 17-18 mph, your legs would most value a very close shift. Eddy used to climb in 44 t. inner ring. I tried it one year and discovered how nice it is to make a tight shift at a wide range of speeds, and always have a new range of closely spaced gears in back, just slightly easier or harder, never a need to double shift to pick up the cadence.

    52 and 42 in front is all fit riders who aren't overweight need. Those gears handle anything on graded roads, and a 30, much less 32, would never be used after a year or so of regular weekly riding, largely because most riders don't learn how to spin at power. They find it unnatural, so slow to 60-70 rpms and crank it out. Gravity cancels out momentum on each pedal stroke.

    So who likes to climb in 34-30? How often? How fast are you going? What are your typical cadences? I strongly suspect these uber low gears on lightweight road bikes is, like disc brakes, market driven to satisfy middle aged men who are getting fat and out of shape and avoid the hills out of terror. They don't want to suffer, forgetting the axiom, "no pain, no gain!"
    The important thing isn't 'weight'...it's the power to weight ratio. A stronger rider will put out more power than a less strong rider. Doesn't matter how much they weigh. You compare watts per kilo, not just weight.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
    All of this misses what the OP is trying to do.

    You've turned a thread about wide range gearing into your platform on a largely unrelated subject and made it more confusing, not less.

    Specifically, the benefit of narrow range chainwheels is pretty meaningless to shift patterns if you have huge jumps in the rear.
    But you're not going to have "huge" jumps in the rear, all single tooth jumps, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, if lucky 16, 17, and then two tooth jumps, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 at the slower speeds at which the legs can handle a two tooth jump without spinning out or going anaerobic. The slower the speed, the easier the legs pick up the cadences.

    Sure, if rider thinks he needs a 30 or 34 in back, he should go to compact crank. But then, he's giving up a nice gear, the 42, for riding on the flats, and reducing the large ring to a wimpy 50 teeth which will spin out once the group starts going 30 mph on the downgrades. Still have the 50 used many years ago, but missed the high end, so put the 52 or 53 back on. So I would advise OP to keep the 53 and 42, and eliminate the 32 or 30, like I said, unless he's old, overweight, and lives in the mountains.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    But you're not going to have "huge" jumps in the rear, all single tooth jumps, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, if lucky 16, 17, and then two tooth jumps, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 at the slower speeds at which the legs can handle a two tooth jump without spinning out or going anaerobic. The slower the speed, the easier the legs pick up the cadences.

    Sure, if rider thinks he needs a 30 or 34 in back, he should go to compact crank. But then, he's giving up a nice gear, the 42, for riding on the flats, and reducing the large ring to a wimpy 50 teeth which will spin out once the group starts going 30 mph on the downgrades. Still have the 50 used many years ago, but missed the high end, so put the 52 or 53 back on. So I would advise OP to keep the 53 and 42, and eliminate the 32 or 30, like I said, unless he's old, overweight, and lives in the mountains.
    42 isn't a nicer gear if the steps are large in back. 42s are great paired with appropriate cassettes. Outside of that they are inappropriate. Talking about them in a vacuum is just confusing, not helpful.

    You have no idea what low gear the OP requires.
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    Here is where I got the ideas from. Was inquiring to see if anyone here agrees with this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7FxZ1kFIW0
    Last edited by Gall; 11-30-2017 at 02:57 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    The important thing isn't 'weight'...it's the power to weight ratio. A stronger rider will put out more power than a less strong rider. Doesn't matter how much they weigh. You compare watts per kilo, not just weight.
    Exactly.

    Heavier weights still require more power to overcome gravity, which is compensated for by increasing leg strength or adding lower gears, or both. Riding a year or two will increase power while hopefully reducing weight, so ergo, power to weight ratio is reduced such that rider's legs can handle the average climb in higher gears.

    Hardly ever see a rider on a nice road bike going up hills in his lowest gear. On the club rides out in ETX, they'd be hacking up the climbs in 39-17 or 19, pushing cadences so low, my legs hurt just thinking about it. A few of the bikes didn't even show wear on the inner cogs in back, the climbing cogs that usually wear out first. That nice 25 or 27 never got used. Rider would have been better off with a 16, filling in that mid range blank space where it could do the most good. Once down in the 25 or 26, even a 3 tooth jump wouldn't be too much to pick up cadence.

    I do fine with 20, 24, 28, four tooth jumps, no problem. Varying leg speeds teaches how to deliver power at varying cadences, demanded by the grade and how rider's feeling at the moment. I also don't insist on maintaining the same speed when down shifting. I'lll accept slowing down to the point the legs can handle the gear, so a 3 or 4 tooth jump is acceptable. Racing, I'd want a straight block, which I'm getting anyway in the highest gears where it matters.
    Last edited by Fredrico; 11-30-2017 at 06:08 PM.

  17. #17
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    Fourty-three nineteen. My gear lever feels like a scab on a wound. During our reconnaissance ride I was using forty-three twenty here. Now I’m sticking to the nineteen, a matter of willpower. My twenty was still as clean as a whistle. Shifting is a kind of painkiller, and therefore the same as giving up. After all, if I wanted to kill my pain, why not choose the most effective method? Road racing is all about generating pain.

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gall View Post
    Here is where I got the ideas from. Was inquiring to see if anyone here agrees with this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7FxZ1kFIW0
    Aha, the GCN guy said Tony Martin time trials in 55/42 and big cogs in back, saying he thinks the larger gears are more efficient. How about that? Years ago Moser broke the hour record on 55-17. Eddy had done it on 52-14. Moser decided the larger rings were easier to spin at max. intensity than smaller rings.

    Try it. Go at a certain speed in 34-14. Then do it again in 50-17, roughly the same gear, and see if the larger rings turn easier. Sure do for me. I missed the perceived leverage downsizing to the 50. The 53 pulled the bike faster. The legs could adjust to make up the difference. Same with the 43 on the commuter. It has one tooth more scoot than the 42, without the sensation of added resistance except on the steepest grades.

    Moser was riding fixed gear in a straight chain line. On a multi-gear bike the 17 t. cog is in the middle, providing optimum chain line. That 3 watt saving of drive train resistance GCN mentions could make the difference between winning and losing an hour record attempt. With we mortals, it'll just add a little pleasure when the hills come up.

    Another case for keeping the 53 and 42 and also larger cogs in back. The more teeth in play, the less wear, and 3 watts more in power. Nothing to sneeze at.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gall View Post
    Here is where I got the ideas from. Was inquiring to see if anyone here agrees with this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7FxZ1kFIW0
    I don't think the suggestion in the video of using a 53x42 with a 12-30, in preference to a 53x39 with a 12-28 or a 50x34 with a 1-25 is the same as going to a 11-34.
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  20. #20
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    I was thinking that for me, an old recreation rider, the 11-34 with a 53-42 would be more efficient vs. the 55-42 with a 12-30....

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    I've never used anything less than 42 in front. It's a great gear for all purposes, not too low for the flats, not too high for the climbs. The 24# commuter has 43-28 lowest gear and I have yet to need anything lower. The 43 has just a little more oomphh!! than the 42. The legs adapt.

    On a sub 20# bike and rider under 200#, you'll never use the 34, hardly ever the 30. So replace them with gears you could use in the 14-28 tooth range. Two closely spaced rings in front are fine to modulate leg speeds. Gear overlap? So what? The legs get used to working at different leg speeds and intensities having to make larger jumps between gears. One day, it'll be a nice spin in the 42, the next day a heavier workout in the 53. This is good for fitness, versatility. The body doesn't learn much plodding along, shifting endlessly to maintain the same perceived effort. Boring. Some grind it out, true Strava slaves, always hoping for the best. What fun is that?

    Go with the bigger rings. They'll make the legs stronger.

    So laughably wrong it is funny....at least if you live anywhere that isn't Florida.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    So laughably wrong it is funny....at least if you live anywhere that isn't Florida.
    Speak for yourself, Marc. I'm just going by 35 years of riding out of the Potomac River valley, a stint in So Cal, good mountains there. And a spell in the rolling hills of ETX.

    In the 80s and before, the pros put on a 26 for the mountains and 42-26 would do it for them. Heck, until Shimano brought out slant parallelogram, Campy derailleurs could only handle up to a 26 on a standard 52/42 chainring setup. Nobody complained. The bikes were 5# heavier.

    What is your experience in the mountains of Nebraska? When do you go into the 34-30; what's the cadence; how fast are you going? Then we have some comparisons to debate. "So laughably wrong it is funny..." ain't a great opening line.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gall View Post
    I was thinking that for me, an old recreation rider, the 11-34 with a 53-42 would be more efficient vs. the 55-42 with a 12-30....
    Those aren't comparable gear ranges. How can you compare the efficiency of two completely different things?
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Speak for yourself, Marc.
    As far as pointing out you are wrong goes he can definitely speak for me and I'm guessing also speak for anyone else familiar with your macho gear grinder comedy act.

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    I'll go with a simple 'nay'.
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