Additional Gearing Worth it?



J

John L. Lucci

Guest
I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing combinations on
today's new bikes. Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
and triple chain wheels on the front? How does it stack up in shift
reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?
 
A

A Muzi

Guest
John L. Lucci wrote:
> I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
> component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing combinations on
> today's new bikes. Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
> and triple chain wheels on the front? How does it stack up in shift
> reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


There's no magic to it. As a 2x6 guy myself, I like my 17
and an 18 together. 15-17-19 didn't work for me.

On a new bike with 30 selections, gearing gaps are just not
a problem. Older riders report they like not having to plan
a shift - there's always another available on a new machine.

One might say that if you have the gears you need (my three
speed does, for the riding I do with it), there's no need to
carry more along.

Negatives? There's not much downside on a new vehicle - it
costs very little to add a few extra choices and the
marketing guys know how to run with that concept. Sure
skinny chain wears faster. But then again all modern chain
wears faster, they are made differently now. That's a very
very small point in this broad subject.

New stuff works. Old stuff works. We build with new and we
build with NOS vintage. But for most riders with typical
riding habits, a modern 3x10 is reasonable, useful,
available, affordable. Ride one and write back!
--
Andrew Muzi
www.yellowjersey.org
Open every day since 1 April, 1971
 
John L. Lucci wrote:
> I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
> component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing combinations on
> today's new bikes. Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
> and triple chain wheels on the front? How does it stack up in shift
> reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


I think the key is that with more gears you can have the same (or
greater) range and keep small intervals between the gears. In the days
I used to live where it was flat, I was strong so old-school
53-42x13-18 worked fine on my old bike. Nice and tight. If I ever went
to a race that was hilly, I'd change the freewheel for more range, but
the gaps would be irritatingly big. Now I'm overweight, and I live
where it is hilly, so I use a modern 53-39x12-25. It is still nice and
tight and gives a good range.

But in my opinion it is the brifters that make more of a difference
between an old bike and a new one.

Joseph
 
N

Nate Knutson

Guest
John L. Lucci wrote:
> I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
> component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing combinations on
> today's new bikes. Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
> and triple chain wheels on the front? How does it stack up in shift
> reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


Triples are pretty good. They make a lot of sense in a lot of ways for
the way most people ride. Current road triples have a stupidly large
biggest chainring for most people. Most road triples have a 52 tooth
ring to match a small rear cog of usually 11 or 12 teeth. If you're of
the religion that higher cadence is always good, this makes it so the
upper gears are only particularly useful when you're pedaling your
heart out on a downhill going very, very fast already. It makes no
sense for most people. Also, the 30 tooth small ring on road triples
makes for a pretty low gear but one that could also stand to be lower
for most people. This is complicated by the fact that indexed front
shifting, a la Shimano but not Campy, is somewhat finicky about mixing
chainring sizes if it's going to work really well. Front indexing is
bad, bad, bad and is one of the stupidest things about modern bike
components.

Whether triples make sense at all for race-level road riding is another
debate. I'm not a racer nor do I really care about it. Most people who
ride bikes aren't racers.

Mountain triples, OTOH, are pretty ideal for riding offroad but
generally the high gears aren't quite high enough for regular use on
road, where a lot of mountain-style bikes get ridden exclusively.

With each increase in rear gearing, drivetrains became more finicky and
things got more expensive. All nice current drivetrain setups work fine
and are reliable if they're set up and maintained correctly. That's a
pretty big if when it's put into the hands of the mainstream, however.
Additionally, rear cogs with Hyperglide-style ramping don't wear as
long as chunky freewheel cogs. There's a lot less material and some
would have us believe that Shimano noticed that worn cogs shift better,
and designed the starting shape of Hyperglide cogs to somewhat emulate
this. OTOH, there's also more cogs to get worn, and I haven't ridden
freewheels very much so I don't really have much of a feel for the
comparison in terms of wear.

More speeds in back makes a difference for high-perfomance riding. It
makes a lot of sense for it. For utilitarian, touring, and more general
purposes, it really doesn't matter. It's kinda cool, but I'm a pretty
serious non-race cyclist and I'd be totally happy riding 5 and 6 speed
freewheels on a Phil hub for the rest of my life if I could count on
wide-range freewheel cogsets always being available. Total range
matters a lot but hasn't really changed in terms of what's available,
except for the rise of the 11 tooth cog, which some people hate
passionately but I don't how much of a difference it really makes in
terms of wear over a 12 or 13. 11 tooth cogs are probably pretty dumb,
all in all.

The huge, gaping, stupid, terrible thing about 8/9/10 speed wheels, and
7 speed to a lesser extent, is how unequal the spoke tensions are and
how much increased lateral weakness/instability the wheels have. This
is a never-ending debate exacerbated greatly by the fact that hardly
anyone understands how wheels work very well. I dare to admit that my
personal understanding regarding aspects of the problem is fuzzy, but I
know it's a problem. It's just not a system that's slanted in any way
towards what most people need and want their bikes to be like (ie, most
people want stuff that's reliable and solid until advertising and
fuzzy/wrong technical comprehension persuades them differently).

Again, this is all speaking pretty strictly in terms of the needs and
wants of many or most people who either ride bikes for utilitarian
reasons, for the pleasure of riding, or for fitness - not racers or
those who explicity seek to emulate them. And even for the
utilitarian/pleasure set, modern drivetrains have advantages, but
they're not critical ones and they come at considerable cost in terms
of both money and functionality/reliability.
One reply to this is that indexing in general makes bikes a lot more
accessible to people. This is sort of true, but it's based almost
entirely in their own lack of confidence/competence, and could also be
seen as an argument that plays along with the social reasons why people
are unconfindent/incompetent. And there's also the counter-argument
that there are plenty of things about modern drivetrains that reduce
the approachability of bikes for similar reasons, such as how put off
some people are by the pure idea of 20+ speeds and how the bikes are in
fact a bit more mechanically complicated than friction shifters and
5-speed freewheels.

One really big advantage of modern stuff is that freehubs solved the
problem of bent axles. The importance of this is again debatable. I
wasn't around when freewheels were the norm and have no doubt that
serious, smart cyclists can get along fine without bending axles
regularly. They'll also be riding quality axles. However, for the most
part, bent axles on common freewheel hubs is a huge, ubiquitous
problem. And how exactly touring with weight or mountain biking on a
non-Phil freewheel hub without trashing the axle is supposed to work is
something I still haven't figured out.
 
R

Ron Ruff

Guest
Nate Knutson wrote:

> One really big advantage of modern stuff is that freehubs solved the
> problem of bent axles.


Well... sort of.

Having hollow skinny axles with major stress risers (threads) and a
cantilevered load is not very smart. When freewheels started getting
wider it was even dumber. But Bullseye hubs used an *aluminum* axle
that didn't break because the design was better.

Freehubs didn't solve any problems that couldn't have been solved in
other (better) ways.
 
J

John Forrest Tomlinson

Guest
On Thu, 23 Feb 2006 06:11:37 GMT, "John L. Lucci"
<[email protected]> wrote:

> Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
>and triple chain wheels on the front?


It might take a few years for this to happen with 10-speed, but at the
moment 9-speed is probably cheaper in real money than 6 speed in the
late 80s. So if you're buying something new, then the answer is "yes"
for 9 and probably yes for 10 too.

If your old bike works for you, there is no reason to change though.

> How does it stack up in shift
> reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


Better, but the improvements are mainly from newer cog profiles and
chains. If you could apply that stuff to a six-speed, it would be at
least as good.

JT

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J

John Forrest Tomlinson

Guest
On 23 Feb 2006 02:50:39 -0800, "Ron Ruff" <[email protected]>
wrote:
>
>Having hollow skinny axles with major stress risers (threads) and a
>cantilevered load is not very smart.


Is that more than a theoretical issue -- that is, in practice do they
ever break or bend? I've been using Shimano freehubs for 13 or 15
years with no problems.

JT


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P

Peter Cole

Guest
John Forrest Tomlinson wrote:
> On 23 Feb 2006 02:50:39 -0800, "Ron Ruff" <[email protected]>
> wrote:
>
>>Having hollow skinny axles with major stress risers (threads) and a
>>cantilevered load is not very smart.


I think freewheel axles were more prone to bending than breaking. Hollow
axles don't give up much in strength over solids, and the skewer helps
to hold things together if & when they do break.

>
> Is that more than a theoretical issue -- that is, in practice do they
> ever break or bend? I've been using Shimano freehubs for 13 or 15
> years with no problems.


I broke the hollow 10mm freehub body fixing bolt on one Shimano rear
hub, but I've had more problems bending freewheel axles.
 
Q

Qui si parla Campagnolo

Guest
John L. Lucci wrote:
> I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
> component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing combinations on
> today's new bikes. Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
> and triple chain wheels on the front? How does it stack up in shift
> reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


"Worth it' is a BIG phrase. What may be worth it to you may not be for
others. Lots of cogs in the back and 3 rings up front has it's own
problems and whether or not those issues make it worth it, I just can't
answer for you. A friction shifting front and rear really is harrd to
beat for reliability, if you have the shifting finesse and skill to go
up and down w/o problems. Clicj shifting rears are in the nice to have
catagory, but has it's own finnickyness and expense.

A road triple is great, if it makes you ride more and often. This from
a guy that has a 2 by 7 friction setup and just built another one, a
Mondonico, with Centaur century grey stuff BUT big barrell friction
shifters and a respaced 9s cogset in the rear.
 
D

Dave Larrington

Guest
In article <[email protected]>, John Forrest
Tomlinson ([email protected]) wrote:
> On 23 Feb 2006 02:50:39 -0800, "Ron Ruff" <[email protected]>
> wrote:
> >
> >Having hollow skinny axles with major stress risers (threads) and a
> >cantilevered load is not very smart.

>
> Is that more than a theoretical issue -- that is, in practice do they
> ever break or bend? I've been using Shimano freehubs for 13 or 15
> years with no problems.


The rear axle on my '86 Rockhopper broke when it was two or three years
old - freewheel hub and solid axle. But it broke in the middle, which
was unthreaded.

--
Dave Larrington - <http://www.legslarry.beerdrinkers.co.uk/>
Never trust a man with more than one moustache.
 
H

Helmut Springer

Guest
John Forrest Tomlinson <[email protected]> wrote:
> Is that more than a theoretical issue -- that is, in practice do
> they ever break or bend? I've been using Shimano freehubs for 13
> or 15 years with no problems.


Tandems kill standard freehubs easily with their high torque, the
axle usually survives (for Huegi it migt bend sufficiently to let
the ratched fail but still survives).

--
MfG/Best regards
helmut springer
 
P

(PeteCresswell)

Guest
Per John L. Lucci:
>I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
>component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing combinations on
>today's new bikes. Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
>and triple chain wheels on the front? How does it stack up in shift
>reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


For reliability, I would compare an original StumpJumper (now my utility bike)
with six on the rear cog and friction shifters with my loaner FS that has SRAM
click shifters and 9 on the rear cog.

In that comparison, the StumpJumper wins. You just cannot mess the thing up.
It *always* shifts and once your thumb gets educated, it never misses a shift.
The SRAM, OTOH, works when it's adjusted just-so, but has problems if it's the
least bit out of adjustment. Probably not such an issue in road riding, but
just get a little grass in the thing or bang it on a rock....

For range and granularity, I'd opine that it depends on your riding.

I've gone over to 14-speed internal hubs on both of my "real" bikes. For me, I
cannot imagine needing more range than these things give me (something like 525%
or 17-91 inches on the FS and 20-105 on the hard tail).

For somebody who rides hard, though, the spacing might be too wide and they'd
want two or three choices between some of my hears. In that case, they would
probably trade off a little reliability/maintenance for a nine-cog cluster.
--
PeteCresswell
 
T

Tim McNamara

Guest
"John L. Lucci" <[email protected]> writes:

> I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
> component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing
> combinations on today's new bikes.


Consensus? ROFL! Ain't no such beast on rec.bicycles.tech on just
about any subject.

> Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear and triple
> chain wheels on the front?


It's a matter of personal taste. I didn't think that 6 speed was a
huge improvement over 5 speed, nor 7 a bit improvement over 6 and so
on. But you will hear lots of disagreement with me on that point. My
current favorite gearing arrangement is 46/34 x 11-28.

> How does it stack up in shift reliability compared to the classic 2
> X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


The current systems shift reliably. They are a little more fragile
and more finicky about adjustment. From what I have seen, Shimano STI
systems are more likely to drop the chain when shifting down in front.

My favorite benefit of "modern" shifting systems is that the brake
lever bodies are much more comfortable. The downside is that it has
provoked a change in handlebar design, where the reach of the bar is
much shorter (because the brake levers are larger). For someone with
big mitts like mine, though, this has resulted in less comfort. I try
to source bars with a lot of reach like the Nitto 175, but those bars
are no longer made. Come to think of it, I think I saw some hanging
in Andy Muzi's shop...
 
B

bill

Guest
John L. Lucci wrote:
> I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
> component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing combinations on
> today's new bikes. Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
> and triple chain wheels on the front? How does it stack up in shift
> reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


It is ridiculous overkill. And if you use the new equipment, you have
to keep it in perfect adjustment or it does not work at all. If you use
it with friction shifters, you have to be really precise with your
positioning, else you have unintended shifts, especially under load.

But if you have a lot of terrain changes, and you are not young
anymore, having all those gear possibilites will help you maintain your
best speed both up and down the mountain and on the slight upgrades.

Sure is wonderful compared to the compromises we used to have to make.
For instance, I always liked straight blocks as a kid--much better for
a time trial, or a criterieum, especially if you like to break away.
The straight block gives fine ratio adjustment. But with a 15-19
straight block, and 42-53 chainrings, if you have to do a race with any
steep hills, that 42x19 was a problem that required a compromise. Now,
you can have it all--a straight block and low gears! Frankly, it is
the "racing triple" that baffles me. Already have 39 tooth or 38 on
Shimano, with a 28 or 29 rear. That is a mightly low gear! You'd need
a load of panniers and a 25% grade to need a 30 in the front ;-)
 
W

Werehatrack

Guest
On Thu, 23 Feb 2006 06:11:37 GMT, "John L. Lucci"
<[email protected]> wrote:

>I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
>component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing combinations on
>today's new bikes. Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
>and triple chain wheels on the front? How does it stack up in shift
>reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


IMO:

Triple front, if your terrain isn't fairly flat, is a good thing.
It's irrelevant if you don't need climbing gears.

9s or 10s on the rear, unless you're involved in awfully close
competition at a high level of performance, is just gadgetry gone
berserk. 640K, erm, 8s should be enough for anyone.

Newer ders shift better than older ders in most cases, but that's
independent of the number of gears involved; the tech has improved
which allows accurate indexing across 9s and 10s cassettes, and the
ramping, pinning and other sprocket tooth optimization has smoothed
the shifts. Reliability? My old '70s roadie is as reliable as they
come; I check the air, lube the chain once in a while, and ride.
Sure, it's heavy by modern standards, the shifting is slower and
noisier and it has fewer gear ratio choices, but it gets me where I
want to go and didn't cost me the price of a down payment on an SUV.
--
Typoes are a feature, not a bug.
Some gardening required to reply via email.
Words processed in a facility that contains nuts.
 
B

bill

Guest

> One really big advantage of modern stuff is that freehubs solved the
> problem of bent axles. The importance of this is again debatable. I
> wasn't around when freewheels were the norm and have no doubt that
> serious, smart cyclists can get along fine without bending axles
> regularly. They'll also be riding quality axles. However, for the most
> part, bent axles on common freewheel hubs is a huge, ubiquitous
> problem. And how exactly touring with weight or mountain biking on a
> non-Phil freewheel hub without trashing the axle is supposed to work is
> something I still haven't figured out.


Bet or broken axles were a pain in the neck in the old days for
everyone, including high level riders. The shop that sponsored my
junior team kept a good stock of axles and the joke of it was, "who
came up with this axle diameter, anyway?!"
 
B

bill

Guest
Helmut Springer wrote:
> John Forrest Tomlinson <[email protected]> wrote:
> > Is that more than a theoretical issue -- that is, in practice do
> > they ever break or bend? I've been using Shimano freehubs for 13
> > or 15 years with no problems.

>
> Tandems kill standard freehubs easily with their high torque, the
> axle usually survives (for Huegi it migt bend sufficiently to let
> the ratched fail but still survives).
>

Building a tandem using standard bicycle parts (for the double-loaded
parts) is bordering on criminal. It is quite simply, unacceptable
loading.
 
H

Helmut Springer

Guest
bill <[email protected]> wrote:
>> Tandems kill standard freehubs easily with their high torque, the
>> axle usually survives (for Huegi it migt bend sufficiently to let
>> the ratched fail but still survives).
>>

> Building a tandem using standard bicycle parts (for the
> double-loaded parts) is bordering on criminal. It is quite
> simply, unacceptable loading.


You miss the point of discussion, which was that axles on freehub
hubs usually survive what the freehub already does not.

--
MfG/Best regards
helmut springer
 
J

Jeff Starr

Guest
On Thu, 23 Feb 2006 06:11:37 GMT, "John L. Lucci"
<[email protected]> wrote:

>I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
>component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing combinations on
>today's new bikes. Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
>and triple chain wheels on the front? How does it stack up in shift
>reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


About 5 years ago, I got back into riding after a 25 year lay off. I
put new tubes and tires on my French 10-speed and rode it for the
season. The next spring I had my LBS add index shifting with a 6-speed
rear freewheel. I loved having the indexed shifting. Midseason, the
bike started giving me headset problems, the new one the LBS installed
kept coming loose.

I bought a 2002 LeMond triple 9-speed, 27 gears. I love it. I have
since upgraded the Tiagra components to mostly Dura-ace, with the DA
triple being 30/39/53. I went to a 14-25 cassette and last year
changed that to a 14-28 [14,15,16,17,18,19,21,24,28].

I really like the tight ratios. If you want to fool around with gear
combinations, download GearCalc, it is great for seeing what can be
done.
http://www.income-software.com/index.htm?GearCalc/gc_index.asp

Jeffrey Starr
All rights to the above text is reserved. No use
outside of rec.bicycle.tech, without express written
permission.
 
M

Michael Press

Guest
In article <[email protected]>,
"John L. Lucci" <[email protected]> wrote:

> I was wondering what the consensus was on the trend for bicycle and
> component manufacturers to increase the number of gearing combinations on
> today's new bikes. Is it worth it to have a 10 speed cassette on the rear
> and triple chain wheels on the front? How does it stack up in shift
> reliability compared to the classic 2 X 6 of the late 80s bikes?


This is a technical subject. The advantage of more gear
combinations is having smaller gaps. Some of us notice the
gaps and like having closely spaced gears. Others will
tell us to `man-up' and learn how to mash and spin. I can
manage very well with limited gear selection; and still
prefer a closely spaced gear configuration. On 2x6
combinations the means of obtaining close gearing was to
interleave gears by using two close chain wheels; say 50
and 46, with rear cogwheels like 13-24 say. Result:
closely spaced gears and narrow overall range. Now you can
have closely spaced gears _and_ wide overall gears.
26-39-50 chain wheels and 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23
rear cogs.

If you consider your terrain flat, then two chain wheels
and a 12-25 cassette is proper. Otherwise use a triple
chain wheel with a 26 or 24 tooth granny gear, and a 12-23
cassette.

--
Michael Press
 

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