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  1. #1
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    Changing Dura ace triple chain rings

    OK, I have 10yr old 9 speed Dura ace triple components on my new to me bike. (bike bought used). The components work flawlessly, the issue I have is climbing.
    I was on the Blueridge Parkway two weeks ago grinding my way up 10 - 15% grades and I was running out breath and gear.

    To remedy this I can improve my level of fitness...change the rear section of drive train, front section of drive train or the whole mechanical she-bang.
    I've decided not to improve my level of fitness, so that leaves drive train modifications.

    The cassette I believe is a 11 -27, the chain rings are 53-39-30.

    A new 12 -30 Ultegra cassette/mid cage derailler and 10 speed shifters will run me about $500 - 600. I think that set up would give me roughly what I need to survive 60 - 75 miles. But it's a bit expensive.

    My question is chain rings. Can I get say 50- 36- 26 or something similar in Shimano gear/Shimano compatible gear so I don't have to spend quite as much money, use most of my components and still keep my lungs/heart/legs on the Blueridge Parkway?

  2. #2
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    30x27 is not enough? I'd work on the fitness, and the climbing technique, frankly. If you really need a lower low now, I'd just change the little ring -- that's the only one that matters for your steep climbs. I think you can get a 26, or even a 24. And you can get a 9-speed cassette with a 32, or even a 36. No need to change all that other stuff and spend all that money.
    Eppur si muove.

  3. #3
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    get a 9 speed mtb rr derailleur and whatever 9 speed cassette will give you the low gear you want (do the math). you won't be able to use anything more than a 28 w/ the derailleur you now w/ any certainty. don't bother changing chainrings, the difference is small compared to what you can do w/ the rear and the shifting will most likely suck.
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
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    oh, those belong in another forum

  4. #4
    wim
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    Agree—stay with 9-speed and just get the cassette and/or smallest front ring you think you need. But you need to consider that there comes a point when smaller gearing doesn't help much anymore. Your speed will drop so low that just keeping the bike upright and going in a reasonably straight line becomes tedious, and that walking your bike would actually be the better (and sometimes faster!) alternative.

    For me, that point has always been around the 1:1 gear ratio. If I can't climb a stretch of road in a 30 x 30 or 24 x 24 or any other 1:1 ratio, I'm just going to walk it if I feel the need to make it all the way to the top of a climb. Since you say you're not interested in increasing your fitness, there really is no other alternative.

  5. #5
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    So 1 x 1 ratio is a good place to start walking. Thinking back to my MB days, that sounds right, on a steep hill with my 29er I would use 34 x 32, I'm at 30 x 27 on the road. A 28 - ? cassette with a MB derailler doesn't seem worth the money and work. If I'm serious about a cassette change I have to go to a 30t cog, and that means changing to a newer 10 speed system... I think I've talked myself into riding more, spending and wrenching less. Funny how that happened.

    Thanks for the input.

    Todd

  6. #6
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    A 9 speed MTB cassette with a 32t/34t big sprocket can be found cheaply enough. A 9speed SLX or what have you (non dynasis) rear derailleur shouldn't be all that expensive either. You should be able to find both in brand new condition for under $100 if you search around... cheaper if you buy used.

    There's absolutely no need to switch to a 10speed system unless you want an extra gear somewhere in the middle or because you simply can't find the parts for a 9speed set up. The parts are out there and 9speed is way cheaper.

    Still the best bet is to just throw on a smaller granny gear on the front chain ring. With some front derailleurs it will work without any problems. Granted, this works better with a friction type of shifter such as a Shimano Ultegra 9speed bar end.

  7. #7
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flexnuphill View Post
    If I'm serious about a cassette change I have to go to a 30t cog, and that means changing to a newer 10 speed system..
    I don't quite follow the logic how a 30-cog necessitates a change to 10-speed, but I'm not as sharp as I used to be and too lazy to read trough the whole thread again.

    For what it's worth: when I went to the Blue Ridge to do some serious climbing, I just took off the 53-42 Ultegra crank and put on the 48-36-26 Sugino triple. There was no need to change the 9-speed 12-27 cassette, and sometimes I didn't even change the short-cage derailleur—just made sure I stayed out of certain gears. Of course, what made this conversion (and the return to flatland gears) easy was friction front shifting. Point being: think outside the box a bit as others have suggested and you'll find a way to get lower gears without spending big bucks. Good luck, maybe I'll see you at Wintergreen? :-)

  8. #8
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    Somehow you got the idea that getting a cassette with a 30 or larger cog means going to a 10-speed system. As several people have pointed out, it ain't so.

    I've decided not to improve my level of fitness
    I missed this statement in your first post. No offense, but why would anyone say or think this? I can conceive of someone concluding after some effort that, given his age and body type and available training time, he might not be capable of much improvement. But deciding not to? Why are you bothering to ride a bicycle up and down a hilly road?

    I think I've talked myself into riding more, spending and wrenching less.
    How about that? In the space of a couple of hours you've changed your mind. I think this is progress ;-) Good luck.
    Eppur si muove.

  9. #9
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    The 30t cog and 10 speed was something I picked up here. I was under the impression that my older RD 7703 derailleur would not work well with a 30T -? cassette. It seems like I got the wrong impression. Now using a 48 - 36 -26 crank or something similar is what I was thinking, although I thought that changing the chain rings on my current crank would be easier, hence the 50 - 36 - 26 choice in the original post.

    In terms of my fitness, I commute 10 miles a day, throw in the occasional 50 - 60 flat miler and get to climb once a month. That's what my life permits at the moment.

    For reference I have ridden the Blueridge Parkway on my 29er with commuter pedals and sneakers. The gearing for the steepest climb was 34x30 and I was quite happy grinding along at 8mph. Hey, I'm not a pro racer by any means but I enjoy a challenge.

    Hey Wim, I've pedaled my butt up the other side (Sherando)of Wintergreen a year ago. That's some steep stuff.

    Todd
    Last edited by Flexnuphill; 05-21-2013 at 12:26 PM. Reason: spelling

  10. #10
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    Sounds like you know what you want to do now. But now I'm confused about something else.
    First you said this:
    I was on the Blueridge Parkway two weeks ago grinding my way up 10 - 15% grades and I was running out breath and gear.
    The cassette I believe is a 11 -27, the chain rings are 53-39-30.
    Later you said this:
    For reference I have ridden the Blueridge Parkway on my 29er with commuter pedals and sneakers. The gearing for the steepest climb was 34x30 and I was quite happy grinding along at 8mph.
    The 34x30 that you were quite happy on is a HIGHER gear than the 30x27 that had you running out of breath and gear.

    Hence my confusion.
    Eppur si muove.

  11. #11
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    My newest bike came with a Shimano 105 50-39-30 triple. I removed the 30-tooth chain ring and replaced it with a 28-tooth chain ring. It's a TA chain ring, French. It works well and allows me to do a little better on the hills than I could with the 30-tooth granny ring.

  12. #12
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    Hello JCavilla,

    I'm giving myself way too much credit with quoting 34X30 gearing. I just checked the specs on the cassette I have on the 29er, the largest cog is a 36t. I'm pretty sure I was cranking with the 36t cog in gauged. That would explain the difference in effort between the two bikes, hence my post. Sorry for the confusion, I'll get my technical crap straight next time I post.

    Todd

  13. #13
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    Hello Gearloose,

    Sounds like it might be worth a try. Pardon my nativity, But what does the abbreviation TA mean and is 'French' a bolt pattern configuration?

    Todd

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flexnuphill View Post
    Hello JCavilla,

    I'm giving myself way too much credit with quoting 34X30 gearing. I just checked the specs on the cassette I have on the 29er, the largest cog is a 36t. I'm pretty sure I was cranking with the 36t cog in gauged. That would explain the difference in effort between the two bikes, hence my post. Sorry for the confusion, I'll get my technical crap straight next time I post.

    Todd
    That's cool. Makes sense now.

    "T.A." is a brand name, a French component company. Been around for decades. Known for quality cranksets, especially triples. There's no special French bolt pattern; he was just referring to the national origin.

    I do think a slightly smaller granny ring might address your issue. Changing that 30 to a 26, while keeping that 27 cassette, would give you about the same low you have on the 29er.
    Eppur si muove.

  15. #15
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    The 7703 deralleur will handle a 30t cog. I've done that on a couple bikes, for extreme climbing races. I used the 7703s specifially for that, albeit with 10sp shifters.

    Your 29er's tires have a significantly larger rollout than 700c road tires, raising the effective gearing. So it's not adirect comparison unless you measure it and take it into account.

    The 7703 crank can't take anything other than the Shimano chain rings- the granny ring mounts to the middle ring using a proprietary BCD. So 30t is what you get.

    With 9sp cassettes you can easily make a cassette with larger cogs. Buy a 30t cog from Harris Cyclery and remove one of the smaller cogs (or get a 13t smallest cog if you don't need the 12t). Unlike 10sp, the largest cog on 9sp is not cantilevered over the hub, so a plain flat single cog will work. You can't use it on an aluminium freehub body however as the torque on a large cog will eat into the freehub.

  16. #16
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    OK now we're getting somewhere. So, unless I want to spring for a new crank I'm limited to 30t up front. The 7703 will handle 30t in the rear with 10 speed shifters for sure. If I pick up a 9 speed, 30t cassette sounds like it should work and I don't particularly care what the tooth count is on the smaller cog, I like to coast down steep hills. (That's my reward for making it to the top)

    Since the wheels are Dura Ace, I suspect the hub is Al++. I think I'm going to spring for a 30t -? MB cassette. I'll see if it helps with the climbing.

    The 29er rolls on 36c slicks not the stock 44c knobbies (It's my commuter).

    Thanks for the technical insight on the crank Eric.

    Todd

  17. #17
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    "TA" refers to the French company that produces this chainring. I believe the full name of the company is "Specialites TA".

  18. #18
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    Sorry, but your riding isn't far off mine. 10 mile commute & limited weekend rides with the occasional ride in the Italian Lakes. 10%+ grades with frequent sections of 12-15% are common. Despite 2 plates, 10 pins and no cartilage in my right ankle i can ride using a 34X25. I rode the Col de La Bonette 2600M at in September on 34X29. Although it doesn't exceed 10% for the first 40km, averaging 7%, it has a 15% sting in the tail at 2650M. All dropping your gearing further is going to do is make you grind along at a slower pace. It won't make it easier, just slower. HTFU.

  19. #19
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    So I have one camp calling me a whimp and another camp giving some decent technical information, I can live with that. I appreciate the opinions and facts from all angles, the most important thing to me is that I ride and I have a hell of a time doing it the way I see fit..... pardon the pun.


    Todd

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flexnuphill View Post
    For reference I have ridden the Blueridge Parkway on my 29er with commuter pedals and sneakers. The gearing for the steepest climb was 34x30 and I was quite happy grinding along at 8mph. Hey, I'm not a pro racer by any means but I enjoy a challenge.
    Quote Originally Posted by Flexnuphill View Post
    I'm giving myself way too much credit with quoting 34X30 gearing. I just checked the specs on the cassette I have on the 29er, the largest cog is a 36t. I'm pretty sure I was cranking with the 36t cog in gauged. That would explain the difference in effort between the two bikes, hence my post. Sorry for the confusion, I'll get my technical crap straight next time I post.
    A 29er with 30 (crankset) x 36 (cog) at 8mph is a cadence of 110 RPM. That's not grinding along, that's spinning like a pro. Also 8mph on a 15% grade would be about 450W, also climbing like a pro. I'm guessing that realistically you are probably more at 4-5mph on those steep sections.
    Old La Honda in less than 20 minutes! Or you can watch race video from the low-key hill climb on Welch Creek. More at www.biketelemetry.com.

    "I think," said Christopher Robin, "that we ought to eat all our Provisions now, so that we shan't have so much to carry.", Winnie-the-Pooh, A. A. Milne.

  21. #21
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukbloke View Post
    Also 8mph on a 15% grade would be about 450W, also climbing like a pro. I'm guessing that realistically you are probably more at 4-5mph on those steep sections.
    The maximum grade on the Blue Ridge Parkway is 7%. So when people say "I've ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway" and mean "that very road," they couldn't have been riding up a 15% grade. Many roads leading to or branching off the Blue Ridge Parkway do have sections of double-digit percentages, but those are not "the Blue Ridge Parkway."

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    get a 9 speed mtb rr derailleur and whatever 9 speed cassette will give you the low gear you want (do the math). you won't be able to use anything more than a 28 w/ the derailleur you now w/ any certainty. don't bother changing chainrings, the difference is small compared to what you can do w/ the rear and the shifting will most likely suck.
    I would start with the cassette change. The rear derailleur for a triple is already a medium/long cage. It very well may work with a 32T cassette.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by wim View Post
    The maximum grade on the Blue Ridge Parkway is 7%. So when people say "I've ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway" and mean "that very road," they couldn't have been riding up a 15% grade. Many roads leading to or branching off the Blue Ridge Parkway do have sections of double-digit percentages, but those are not "the Blue Ridge Parkway."
    OK educate me. Assuming one of the grades I ride is around 7%, give me the math and the answers to 'grinding along' at approx 8mph. Sounds like a 'little' less than 110rpm and less than half of 450W.

    Does anyone know what the maximum grade is along the Skyline Drive stretch between exit 99 and 25 miles north to the gas station ?

    What about Wintergreen stretch to the Parkway?

    Todd

  24. #24
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flexnuphill View Post
    Assuming one of the grades I ride is around 7%, give me the math and the answers to 'grinding along' at approx 8mph.
    Not sure about your weight, but it takes about 230 watt to pedal a 180 lb bicycle-plus-rider combo up a 7% grade. Cadence depends on your gears, and it does not influence that 230 watt figure in any way. Your 110 cadence sounds awfully high for a sustained climb. I used to be a fairly good climber in my day, but would never have been able to climb for long at such a high cadence.

    I know nothing about the Skyline Drive. And the only Wintergreen climb I've ridden and know well is the climb from Beech Grove Road (Rt. 664) to the resort ("Wintergreen Ascent Time Trial"). That 6.7 mile climb has an average grade of 7%, with shorter sections at a maximum 15%. There are some who claim that this ascent has a 23% section, but I don't believe it.
    Last edited by wim; 05-23-2013 at 06:54 AM.

  25. #25
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    I weigh 150, the bike weighs 23 lbs. The gears were 34 crank and 36 cassette. When I looked and according to my wired Cateye, my speed hovered between 7 & 8 mph depending upon the direction/break of the climb.

    I rode up the opposite side of the 644 from lake Sherando to the parkway. The same bike, my same weight gearing 24 crank and 36 cassette. I managed 5- 6 mph up the steep sections, 2 1/2 miles took about 25 minutes... I refused to stop and walk, damn near coughed up a lung.

    Todd

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