Riding 53/39 front and 11-23 rear. Is 11-25 worthwhile?
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  1. #1
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    Riding 53/39 front and 11-23 rear. Is 11-25 worthwhile?

    I’m old school. I have the smallest cassette on my bike that I possibly can (11-23). And although most of my rides consist of hills and descents with interspersed flat terrain, I still like to be able to fine-tune my gears and control my cadence.

    But I do find that on some of the steeper hills, even in the smallest gear, I’m really huffing and puffing and unable to maintain a brisk cadence. At other times (infrequently) I simply have to get out of the saddle.

    Some of it could be conditioning. Some of it could be the fact that my bike weighs 18lbs (I built it for durability, not lightness). But I’m wondering how much difference an 11-25 cassette would make... both in terms of climbs and in terms of fine-tuning my cadence.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    25 will certainly make things a bit easier than 23. But it's not really about start-end sizes, but rather what's in between. If you're old school, are you talking about 7, 8, 9, or 10 speed? Fewer speed will need greater jump to 25, so it may be missing your preferred middle ratios.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nova_rider View Post
    25 will certainly make things a bit easier than 23. But it's not really about start-end sizes, but rather what's in between. If you're old school, are you talking about 7, 8, 9, or 10 speed? Fewer speed will need greater jump to 25, so it may be missing your preferred middle ratios.

    ^^ This.... and if your considering a jump to 25, go to a 28 instead. I'm riding 53/39 with a 11/28 (although an 11spd) it was the best move I ever made and where I live (Central/North NJ) I climb a lot hills!
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    My buddy & I are "old school" as well. When we raced we used gearing like 12-21, 12-23 & the biggest freewheel I had was a 12-25 for hilly races. We used skinny tires because that was tradition.

    Now we now better because not everything that was traditional was better. Bigger tires give a smoother ride without sacrificing speed. If you live in a hilly area, I would even suggest getting a 52/36 for the front as well as 11-28 cassette which is pretty much the standard gearing these days. Spinning is better than grinding. Even back when I was racing, I was grinding more than I would have liked but that was tradition. Science has helped to overcome these traditions & I'm glad for it.

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    Glad you folks can ride a 52/36. At my age, 50/34 is perfect for me....

  6. #6
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    I used to have 12-21 cassettes in the 8-speed days. And back then, a 20 lbs bike was gee-whiz light. These days with compact cranks and 12-32 cassettes, we wonder how people did it back then.

    If you're really huffing it up the hills, you aren't doing your knees any favors. I'd consider a 12-25, or even 12-27. When cassettes were 7 or even 8 speeds, bigger cassettes had fairly far apart gears compared to smaller ones. With 11-speeds, there's a lot more room.

  7. #7
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    Well if it's not 'worthwhile', meaning you can't tell a difference, that would also mean that sticking with 23 isn't 'worthwhile' either because you think the feel the same. So why not try it. Cassettes don't last for ever anyway.

    There's really nothing we can tell you that a gear inch chart can't. Sheldon Brown's is good. Can tell you the impact on cadence to go the same speed with different gears.

  8. #8
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    I think you know the answer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by stan01 View Post
    My buddy & I are "old school" as well. When we raced we used gearing like 12-21, 12-23 & the biggest freewheel I had was a 12-25 for hilly races. We used skinny tires because that was tradition.

    Now we now better because not everything that was traditional was better. Bigger tires give a smoother ride without sacrificing speed. If you live in a hilly area, I would even suggest getting a 52/36 for the front as well as 11-28 cassette which is pretty much the standard gearing these days. Spinning is better than grinding. Even back when I was racing, I was grinding more than I would have liked but that was tradition. Science has helped to overcome these traditions & I'm glad for it.
    ah, the good old days when anything lower than a 39/23 was for sissies. If someone on RBR had suggested 20 years ago that we'd now be riding 34/32 drive-trains, they'd have been mocked mercilessly

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    Quote Originally Posted by nova_rider View Post
    25 will certainly make things a bit easier than 23. But it's not really about start-end sizes, but rather what's in between. If you're old school, are you talking about 7, 8, 9, or 10 speed? Fewer speed will need greater jump to 25, so it may be missing your preferred middle ratios.
    Dura-Ace 9100, 11 speed.

    When I say “huffing and puffing” up steeper hills, I mean roughly one revolution of the crank a second, give or take. I’m definitely not doing the He-Man thing, at any point in my ride. It’s not requiring more force to pedal than I can sustain. It’s simply that my cadence is significantly slower up these hills.

    I guess my question boils down to this: how slow a cadence can one have uphill before a smaller gear is warranted?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waspinator View Post
    Dura-Ace 9100, 11 speed.

    When I say “huffing and puffing” up steeper hills, I mean roughly one revolution of the crank a second, give or take. I’m definitely not doing the He-Man thing, at any point in my ride. It’s not requiring more force to pedal than I can sustain. It’s simply that my cadence is significantly slower up these hills.

    I guess my question boils down to this: how slow a cadence can one have uphill before a smaller gear is warranted?
    Get a 12-27 Ultegra cassette. Don't buy a Dura Ace one. They cost 2x more, wear out more quickly and don't really amount to much weight savings. Its easy to replace yourself. Get the Shimano tool, a pair of vice grips and a chain whip. 23 vs 27 is a big difference in gear inches. I bet you'll think WTF was I using a 12-23 all this time.

    Been riding my 1999 Litespeed Ultimate lately.

  12. #12
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    Campagnolo's smallest offering is now a 11-29, so they definitely agree that larger cogs are better. Plus they just released a subcompact crank. If you ask me it's a sign of an aging roadie population. As I'm in that aging population I now own that subcompact crank!
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrSmile View Post
    Campagnolo's smallest offering is now a 11-29, so they definitely agree that larger cogs are better. Plus they just released a subcompact crank. If you ask me it's a sign of an aging roadie population. As I'm in that aging population I now own that subcompact crank!
    I am running 50/34 with an 11-32 cassette on my Lynskey with a Potenza group. I dont know if the 32 low is available on the other Campy groups

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    I am running 50/34 with an 11-32 cassette on my Lynskey with a Potenza group. I dont know if the 32 low is available on the other Campy groups
    By smallest I mean smallest cog. 29 is the smallest, they also have 11-32 and 11-34. You can't get an 11-27 in 12 speed Campy
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    I used to have 12-21 cassettes in the 8-speed days. And back then, a 20 lbs bike was gee-whiz light. These days with compact cranks and 12-32 cassettes, we wonder how people did it back then.
    I figure I rode a 42-21 from 1985 thru 1998, and there are lots of hills in East TN. I figure I rode 42k road miles in that time span. And probably smoked 102k cigarettes during that span (pack a day). I now use my 34-28 quite often, tho I weigh 30 lbs more.

    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    If you're really huffing it up the hills, you aren't doing your knees any favors. I'd consider a 12-25, or even 12-27. When cassettes were 7 or even 8 speeds, bigger cassettes had fairly far apart gears compared to smaller ones. With 11-speeds, there's a lot more room.
    This is good advice.

    And to answer this question "I guess my question boils down to this: how slow a cadence can one have uphill before a smaller gear is warranted?" you haven't found a climb that is steep and/or long enough. Go try to find that climb.

  16. #16
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    By calling yourself old school I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that you are at least middle aged. That’s me too...54 and not getting younger. I am still in good shape but just don’t mash the gears like I did 20 years ago. I favor lower gears and a higher cadence. It won’t win me any races but I enjoy riding still and my knees are doing fine. For me it’s about enjoying the ride rather than worrying about speed and power.

  17. #17
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    I ride 53/39 and 11/23 on one bike, and on the other extreme one is set up for 50/34 and 11/36. The low gearing bike is a gravel bike which on steep climbs you really need to stay seated or the tire will spin on the gravel. The tall gearing bike I can stand and grind up steep hills at a 50 cadence comfortably when I need to for long enough to get up any of the hills around here. I would not take the tall gearing set up to an area with long climbs like the Smokies, Ozarks or Rockies though. I tried an 11/25 and it helps but I did notice the missing cog and wanted it back. The missing cog only matters if you are really trying to hit best times on a climb and you are fairly cadence sensitive.
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  18. #18
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrSmile View Post
    By smallest I mean smallest cog. 29 is the smallest, they also have 11-32 and 11-34. You can't get an 11-27 in 12 speed Campy
    Really? That's silly. Another example of Campy doing themselves in. I think its a mistake reducing alternatives. I've got five Campy equipped 11-speed bikes. They all have 12-27 cassettes on them. I have a couple 12-29's that I'll put on for really steep hilly rides. Most of my bikes have a 50-34 crank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    Really? That's silly. Another example of Campy doing themselves in. I think its a mistake reducing alternatives. I've got five Campy equipped 11-speed bikes. They all have 12-27 cassettes on them. I have a couple 12-29's that I'll put on for really steep hilly rides. Most of my bikes have a 50-34 crank.
    Don't forget they are 12 speed now.
    11-29 12 speed gives you effectively 11-26 11 speed.

    I think it's smart to make use of the extra speed by adding a bail out. If someone never needs it the other 11 should be fine so nothing lost. Seems a lot smarter than using the additional gear to offer a 10 instead of 11 cog like I believe Sram does.
    You'd have to pretty darn finicky about jumps to want 11-25, for example, 12 speed so why not throw the bail out on there. I don't think any time trialists use campy so I can't really think of a reason to not have cassettes like they have with 12 cogs.
    Last edited by Jay Strongbow; 1 Week Ago at 04:54 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    Really? That's silly. Another example of Campy doing themselves in. I think its a mistake reducing alternatives. I've got five Campy equipped 11-speed bikes. They all have 12-27 cassettes on them. I have a couple 12-29's that I'll put on for really steep hilly rides. Most of my bikes have a 50-34 crank.
    If riding Campagnolo and want a cassette other than what is available a Miche cassette can be assembled into what you want. Individual cassettes can also be gotten if fine tuning is wanted\needed. I have a Miche cassette and it shifts as well as my Campagnolo cassettes.

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    If riding Campagnolo and want a cassette other than what is available a Miche cassette can be assembled into what you want. Individual cassettes can also be gotten if fine tuning is wanted\needed. I have a Miche cassette and it shifts as well as my Campagnolo cassettes.

    https://thecycleclinic.co.uk/collect...inal-sprockets
    Do they fit on a Campy cassette body wheel? I'm assuming yes.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    Do they fit on a Campy cassette body wheel? I'm assuming yes.
    Yes.

    I'm very happy with mine and wouldn't hesitate to get another. But I don't know if their individual cogs are compatible on a Campagnolo cassette(shifting ramp placement). I don't think that they offer 12spd yet, but I think they do 10\9 and maybe 8.

    They also do shimano\sram if one is so inclined.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waspinator View Post
    I guess my question boils down to this: how slow a cadence can one have uphill before a smaller gear is warranted?
    Seems to me that is a question best answered by you, gearing choices are highly individual. You seem to value a tightly spaced cluster, to me that doesn't matter so much, I prefer a wider range of gears so I can go more places more comfortably (I'm only an average enthusiast, fitness-wise, so I appreciate lower gearing). It also depends on the terrain - 10 minutes here in the East at 70 rpm or so is one thing, 70 rpm for an hour climbing a pass in the Rockies is something else again.

    For me, if my cadence falls below about 80 rpm I'm looking for an easier gear, but I can go for a while down to around 70 rpm. Much below that, I can only last a few minutes (maybe 15 min. max at 60 rpm or below?) before I'm out of the saddle. When I was commuting by bike, there was a steep bit where I'd spend a minute or two out of the saddle in the 40-45 rpm range. I'd definitely have appreciated lower gearing at that point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stan01 View Post
    If you live in a hilly area, I would even suggest getting a 52/36 for the front as well as 11-28 cassette
    +1.
    I live in a flat area and have 52/36 front 11-23 rear on my commuter bike. I often end up shifting the front up and down. It would be better suited for hilly area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Waspinator View Post
    Dura-Ace 9100, 11 speed.

    When I say “huffing and puffing” up steeper hills, I mean roughly one revolution of the crank a second, give or take. I’m definitely not doing the He-Man thing, at any point in my ride. It’s not requiring more force to pedal than I can sustain. It’s simply that my cadence is significantly slower up these hills.

    I guess my question boils down to this: how slow a cadence can one have uphill before a smaller gear is warranted?
    I think you meant "lower" gear, unless you are referring to the chainring. The answer to your question is highly personal, rather than relying on cadence, if the amount of effort is more than you care (or capable) to expend on a climb, then a lower (larger) cassette is warranted. For DA9100, ratio choices are limited, but going with the widest range available is the new "old school".

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