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Thread: Very low gears?

  1. #1
    Tourist
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    Very low gears?

    What are recent options to have very low gears?

    I am aware that the latest Ultegra has 11-34 rear, and I could use a sub-compact crankset, 30/46. So here's my question for the wise folks here: WHAT ARE OTHER OPTIONS FOR LOWER GEARS ? What setup would allow larger than 34t in the back? Would the Ultegra front der. work with XX 28/42 crankset that I'm using in the second pic below? (this is well out of their specified teeth count) Shimano 11spd mechanical doesn't look very promising for lower gears, how about Sram road shifters with mtb derailleurs, is there some cable pull compatibility?

    - for the bike I use in the Alps, I have 30/39/53 with 11-36. Old Dura-Ace Triple 7803 10 spd, using an XTR 9-spd rear derailleur as they used to have the same cable pull. I don't care all that much about a triple as I never use the 53. I changed it to a 48, I don't use it much either. Everything works perfectly fine but the components are 10-15y old. And next build I'd like something with hidden front cables, so that I have the option to attach a handlebar bag (7803 still has the shifter cables running in front of the handlebar)
    - latest build is with 11spd Di2. I put XTR Di2 derailleurs, and XX 28/42 crankset, with a 11-40 rear XT cassette. This is quite awesome, apart from the large gaps between gears. Feels like no mountain can stop me!
    (Photos of these two setups are below)

    Very low gears?-climb.jpgVery low gears?-climb2.jpg
    Last edited by Pierre; 04-25-2018 at 11:12 AM.

  2. #2
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    Wow, where are those pics? Looks like someplace I would definitely want to visit!

    Would an Ultegra front derailleur work with a 28/42 crank set? Well, as long as the bike fram will let you lower it low enough to be withing 1-3mm of the large ring, it may work, but it probably won't work well. Keep in mind that road front derailleurs that are designed to work with road crank sets which have a 50, 52 or 53 large ring. The arc of that derailleur is larger than a derailleur that is designed for a smaller large ring. So shifting may be clunky.

    The good news is that front derailleurs are cheap. Just be absolutely sure the shift ratios match your shifters. But it looks like you're already in the know about that.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Wow, where are those pics? Looks like someplace I would definitely want to visit!
    Those little flowers gave away.

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvber View Post
    Those little flowers gave away.

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    Cute.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  5. #5
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    Ha - First pic is taken from near the top of the Iseran Pass in France, this is the highest road mountain pass in the Alps. I recommend. Haven't seen Heidi, but it's super scenic. Second pic is here in San Jose in California, not far from a very nice park where they used to mine mercury, Almaden-Quicksilver park.

    Yes I know the front ders are optimized for a certain shape of the rings, which determines what sizes are supposed to work. But note that Ultegra front der works with top rings between 46-53. XTR front der works with top rings between 34-38. What are you supposed to do between 38 and 46? Which incidentally is exactly what I'm interested in? In practice, the bike in the bottom pic, with XTR Di2 and 28/42, shifts perfectly fine. Part of it might be due to the amazing quality of Di2 though, I don't know.

  6. #6
    Rouleur
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    Okay I've just gone through this in preparation for a 155km gravel grinder with 18% hills. There are basically 3 options that will work with 11speed shimano road shifters, each with their own pros and cons.

    1) Add a wolf tooth roadlink(https://www.wolftoothcomponents.com/products/roadlink), which will let you run an 11-40 on the back and a 1x on the front with a short cage rear (33t capacity) or a 2x with a medium cage rear derailleur (37t capacity) or even better r8000 medium cage which has 39t capacity. You can add 2 teeth more than shimano's recommended capacity in practice.

    Pros:
    -relatively cheap ($25 US)
    -super easy to install, you don't even need to undo the deraileur cable in most cases
    -you can fairly easily swap between regular road gearing and super low gearing by simply removing the road link, swapping out the cassette and resizing your chain (maybe with a couple quick links if you plan on doing it often).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVmC79Yx8TA

    Cons:
    -Shifting isn't optimal on the way down in the highest gears because guide pulley will be a bit further away from the cassette than it should be, but it works fine

    2) Add a Wolftooth tanpan + 11-40 mountain cassette + mountain bike derailleur like m7000 or m8000 which will change the pull ratio to allow a road shifters to interoperate perfectly with mountain derailleurs

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNW2hGjeMwc


    Pros:
    -Perfect shifting
    -A long cage mountain bike derailleur (Eg M8000 SGS) will give you an enormous 47t capacity so you could run a 34-50 up front no problem.
    -Mountain deraiileurs come with a clutch to avoid chain slap and dropped chains on bumpy roads (upcoming ultegra rx800 will also have this)

    Cons:
    -Requires a bit more effort to install because you have to cut a piece of cable out to install the pulley and rerun the cable.
    -11 speed mountain bike derailleur geometry is optimized for a wide range cassette so this would be less than ideal if you wanted to swap back to a 11-28 without recabling and swapping derailleurs

    3) Use a wide range crank. You can even run mountain cranks, although it's a bit of a bodge. You are still limited by your derailleur capacity but a 30t chain ring + a 32 large cog is pretty low

    Easton Gravel Shifting Rings, The Gravel Double - BIKEPACKING.com
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfHkhwu56P8


    Pros:
    -Arguably simpler to install

    Cons:
    -Average to poor front shifting

    Here's my gear calculator spreadsheet if you want to compare a few with the different ranges:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing
    Don’t buy upgrades. Ride up grades.
    -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cj2smith View Post
    Okay I've just gone through this in preparation for a 155km gravel grinder with 18% hills. There are basically 3 options that will work with 11speed shimano road shifters, each with their own pros and cons.

    1) Add a wolf tooth roadlink(https://www.wolftoothcomponents.com/products/roadlink), which will let you run an 11-40 on the back and a 1x on the front with a short cage rear (33t capacity) or a 2x with a medium cage rear derailleur (37t capacity) or even better r8000 medium cage which has 39t capacity. You can add 2 teeth more than shimano's recommended capacity in practice.

    Pros:
    -relatively cheap ($25 US)
    -super easy to install, you don't even need to undo the deraileur cable in most cases
    -you can fairly easily swap between regular road gearing and super low gearing by simply removing the road link, swapping out the cassette and resizing your chain (maybe with a couple quick links if you plan on doing it often).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVmC79Yx8TA

    Cons:
    -Shifting isn't optimal on the way down in the highest gears because guide pulley will be a bit further away from the cassette than it should be, but it works fine.
    Please watch this video carefully. Notice that when he does the second run through the gears with a double crankset, he does not go all the way to the largest cog. The second largest cog already stretches the cage to its full extension. So going up to the largest cog would obviously cause the chain to bind.

    Binding is bad, mmmkay? Remember, a Wolf Tooth Road Link cannot and will not compensate for a cage that is too short. It's a hack at best and a disaster at worst unless you can be absolutely 100% sure you will NEVER shift into the large/large combo. Face vs. Earth. Face loses. NOT ACCEPTABLE.

    Quote Originally Posted by cj2smith View Post
    2) Add a Wolftooth tanpan + 11-40 mountain cassette + mountain bike derailleur like m7000 or m8000 which will change the pull ratio to allow a road shifters to interoperate perfectly with mountain derailleurs

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNW2hGjeMwc


    Pros:
    -Perfect shifting
    -A long cage mountain bike derailleur (Eg M8000 SGS) will give you an enormous 47t capacity so you could run a 34-50 up front no problem.
    -Mountain deraiileurs come with a clutch to avoid chain slap and dropped chains on bumpy roads (upcoming ultegra rx800 will also have this)

    Cons:
    -Requires a bit more effort to install because you have to cut a piece of cable out to install the pulley and rerun the cable.
    -11 speed mountain bike derailleur geometry is optimized for a wide range cassette so this would be less than ideal if you wanted to swap back to a 11-28 without recabling and swapping derailleurs

    3) Use a wide range crank. You can even run mountain cranks, although it's a bit of a bodge. You are still limited by your derailleur capacity but a 30t chain ring + a 32 large cog is pretty low

    Easton Gravel Shifting Rings, The Gravel Double - BIKEPACKING.com
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfHkhwu56P8


    Pros:
    -Arguably simpler to install

    Cons:
    -Average to poor front shifting

    Here's my gear calculator spreadsheet if you want to compare a few with the different ranges:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing
    Oh dear. Here we have the opposite problem. That chain looks awfully slack in the smaller cogs. While this will not necessarily end your day as you know it, your shifting will be crappy - both front and back. It will not be a fun ride.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  8. #8
    Adorable Furry Hombre
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    IME: I run a 46/30 and 11-32 on my gravel/touring rig--9070Di2 FD and 8050Di2 RD

    A few problems going smaller than 46/30 cranksets:

    A) You cannot find 68mm ("roadie") based standard cranksets smaller than 46/30. They don't exist in retail or OEM space. In part because the FD cage clearing the chainstay gets problematic.

    B) Which leaves using an MTB 73mm crankset and shimming it to fit a 68mm std shell....which is a bit problematic as you need to shim it 2.5mm on each side.


    There are also a few Di2 compatibility issues to be aware of ATM:

    A) You CANNOT MIX road and MTB derailleurs. You just can't. You must use XT/XTR derailleurs, OR, Ultegra/DA derailleurs.

    B) The R785 brifters were agnostic WRT what derailleurs they paired with. AKA you could use either XT/XTR or Ultegra/DA. They don't care. Of course, these are hydro-disc controls which means a canti/rim-caliper rig is SOL.

    C) I honestly don't know if R8000/9000 (new stuff for 2018) is agnostic WRT brifter controls. Something to research before spending money.


    Another option....Shimano still sells triple Di2 for MTB, in XTR:

    https://www.texascyclesport.com/shim...inrings-trail/

    Which for touring would work pretty well with a 40/30/22, just replace the cassette with a more narrow range.


    Whereas SRAM is too busy hawking its 1x kludge to care about the needs of tourists who pine for the days of triples...and Campag is too busy sailing into irrelevance chasing racers.
    "Refreshingly Unconcerned With The Vulgar Exigencies Of Veracity "

  9. #9
    Rouleur
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Please watch this video carefully. Notice that when he does the second run through the gears with a double crankset, he does not go all the way to the largest cog. The second largest cog already stretches the cage to its full extension. So going up to the largest cog would obviously cause the chain to bind.

    Binding is bad, mmmkay? Remember, a Wolf Tooth Road Link cannot and will not compensate for a cage that is too short. It's a hack at best and a disaster at worst unless you can be absolutely 100% sure you will NEVER shift into the large/large combo. Face vs. Earth. Face loses. NOT ACCEPTABLE.



    Oh dear. Here we have the opposite problem. That chain looks awfully slack in the smaller cogs. While this will not necessarily end your day as you know it, your shifting will be crappy - both front and back. It will not be a fun ride.
    I posted those videos to illustrate what the device looked like not to illustrate perfect setups. Obviously you need to be aware of the limitations of the chain capacity of your rear derailleur, but there is no reason you can’t run a 1x with a road link and a short cage 11speed derailleur and an 11-40, as 29t is less than the 33t capacity, or a 11-40 in 2x with a medium r8000 and a 36/46 for example. Lots of people run mediums with medium cage and 2xs and road links. Sure it’s a hack, but it works fine. See the road link tech doc for details

    https://www.wolftoothcomponents.com/...link-tech-page

    With the WT tanpan you could have 39 or 47t of chain capacity so you should have no problems getting the chain sized to work fine in big big or small small.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Don’t buy upgrades. Ride up grades.
    -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    I opted for barcon shifters and a mtb RD-

    - bs-m11 microshift 11sp mountain shifters
    - rd-m8000 sgs XT long cage derailleur
    -cs-m8000 XT 11-40 cassette

    Unlike the tampan, roadlink, etc all the parts are designed to work with each other from the start; no kludges. I refused to spend the silly money for 'adventure' cranks, and it's nice to be able to run whatever brake levers i want. With an 50/34 compact crankset there is enough chain wrap to handle the wide range gearing.

    As far as going back to barcon shifters... meh. They're fine. For my riding they're not a handicap, but i can't say i prefer them. I don't dislike them.


    I think the 9/10sp triple set up is still the best option for some applications.


    Hello fellow san jose resident!

  11. #11
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    Do a 1x di2 with drop bars. With a 36t front chainring you can run an 11-46 shimano or 10-42 SRAM 11spd cassette and have ridiculously low gearing. You'll pedal out between 25 and 30 depending on the exact setup, but you'll have way low gears.

    You could probably get an even wider range by running a double

  12. #12
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    I run an 11-42 on my cross bike:
    https://youtu.be/2hhGlwSeFSI

    It has a 20-32-42 up front for a 13.3" low gear:
    https://youtu.be/tPbru0dAdmU

    With the RoadLink and an extra link of chain, I can actually shift into all 30 combinations. In the small front ring, I get a slack chain in cogs 6-10. Running 10sp barcon shifters in a set of RetroShift (Gevenalle) brakes, that works very well:
    https://youtu.be/XXqWR9Zw2us?t=111

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4Crawler View Post
    I run an 11-42 on my cross bike:
    https://youtu.be/2hhGlwSeFSI

    It has a 20-32-42 up front for a 13.3" low gear:
    https://youtu.be/tPbru0dAdmU

    With the RoadLink and an extra link of chain, I can actually shift into all 30 combinations. In the small front ring, I get a slack chain in cogs 6-10. Running 10sp barcon shifters in a set of RetroShift (Gevenalle) brakes, that works very well:
    https://youtu.be/XXqWR9Zw2us?t=111
    A 20/42 combo? I don't think I could stay on the bike that slow!
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    A 20/42 combo? I don't think I could stay on the bike that slow!
    It's a bit of a challenge. You need to keep the cadence up in the 80-90 range and you can maintain a walking speed. On super steep dirt climbs it's great. And if you get stuck behind hikers on a narrow single track with no place to pass, you can ride along for a ways until the trail widens out. Shifting into the big cogs (36 and 42) is slow because you need a full crank rotation to pull the chain up onto them.

  15. #15
    Adorable Furry Hombre
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    A 20/42 combo? I don't think I could stay on the bike that slow!
    It is all about gear inches and traction
    "Refreshingly Unconcerned With The Vulgar Exigencies Of Veracity "

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    It is all about gear inches and traction
    Well, OK, I guess if the bike is a 29er fat bike, the low gearing isn't quite as low.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    It is all about gear inches and traction
    That's true. With the somewhat skinny 40C tires I run, sometimes the 20-42 is too low and I spin out. Most of the time I run the 36 or 32 tooth cog in back, the 42 gets used only on the very steep ramps on fire roads, etc.

  18. #18
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    Too old to ride plastic

  19. #19
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    Yeah, no matter your age riding is no fun if you run out of gears for any meaningful distance.

    I've been losing power the past two years and at 72, 6'4 and 238 pounds swamping out my rear cassette and derailleur to an 11 speed 11-40t matched with my 50/34 compact was the smartest thing I've done in quite a while when it comes to my bike.

    Even got a bonus. I got the new setup originally for steep short climbs, less than a mile, or moderate steep long climbs, 5-10 miles 5-8 percent average grade, but I was pleased to see the benefits of riding in the big ring and in the top half of the cassette on modest grade climbs.

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