Beginners help please: Replacing my gear cassette?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by tzucon, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. tzucon

    tzucon New Member

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    I bought a Giant Escape 3 about 2 months ago, but I'm finding both the hills and flats too easy. I've been told to replace the gear cassette with something lower. However, I'm not too sure what I should be buying, as I'm not very good at this bike thing.

    http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-gb/bikes/model/2013.giant.escape.3.black/11838/56825/#specifications

    The above is the exact specs for my bike, it has a 14-34 7s cassette. I was looking for a 12-32 cassette that was compatible.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shimano-Cass-7SPD-HG20-12-32T/dp/B00518ELM4/ref=sr_1_3?s=cycling&ie=UTF8&qid=1381077364&sr=1-3

    Can anyone please confirm whether I've got this right, or point me towards something better?

    Thanks.
     
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  2. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    No, you haven't got it right.

    According to the spec, what's on your bike isn't a freehub - which takes replaceable cassettes - but a freewheel.
    On freewheels, you usually not replace the sprockets, you replace the whole lot.
    Even if you were to try, I don't think they're generally available with less than 14T as the smallest sprocket.

    The good thing is that it's probably not the root cause of your limitation anyhow.

    Keep in mind that road cycling is a lot more about stamina than strength. Looks like you're falling into the rookie mistake of working on what's easy - strength - rather than on what's trickier - pedalling/ride technique.

    Pushing hard-and-slow is a lot more likely to upset your knees than spinning light-and-fast.
    'Course, there's been a few successful riders using slow cadences, but they're a definite minority. Do you feel lucky?

    With your wheels, and the crankset according to spec, you should be able to hit 25 MPH with no trouble at all. +30 MPH should be within reach of a modest investment in pedalling technique.
    Unless you're spending plenty of time above or around 25MPH, work on the engine - not the bike.
    If you're spending a lot of time above 25MPH, treat yourself to a road bike - you deserve it.
     
  3. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Here's a 13-28 freewheel that should swap out with yours: http://www.jensonusa.com/Freewheels/Shimano-7-SPEED-Freewheel
     
  4. tzucon

    tzucon New Member

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    dabac, you suggest that I learn to ride at 25MPH consistently on the flats before I start messing with the spec?

    And what do you mean by pedalling technique? I do alot of cycling at the moment, so I'm getting fitter. But could you please link to, or explain what you mean?

    Thanks CampyBob, I'll bookmark that for later on.
     
  5. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Some folks feel a 48 x 14 top gear is sufficient for people to top out with.

    I do not.

    Rider's choice.
     
  6. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by tzucon .
    dabac, you suggest that I learn to ride at 25MPH consistently on the flats before I start messing with the spec?

    And what do you mean by pedalling technique? I do alot of cycling at the moment, so I'm getting fitter. But could you please link to, or explain what you mean?

    Thanks CampyBob, I'll bookmark that for later on.



    You've figured out that the rate you turn the cranks together with your bike's configuration - biggest chainring, smallest sprocket and wheel size - will decide how fast you go.
    Now, a well accepted rule-of-thumb says that a cadence(pedal-turns-per-minute) of 80-100 is a good value to shoot for. Most people will do well there and won't have any problems of getting there.
    Feeding the spec of your bike - 48T front, 14T rear and 700x32C tires - into a gear calculator comes up with 80-100 cadence corresponding to 22-27 MPH.
    So, unless you're spending a fair amount in that speed range, work in the engine, not the bike.

    Now, If you've been riding on strength primarily, you'll probably find it a bit strange to go for higher cadences at first, you may begin to bounce a bit in the saddle for instance. Here's where pedaling technique training comes in.

    A net search will yield plenty, here's one http://beta.active.com/triathlon/Articles/4-Drills-to-Improve-Pedaling-Technique
     
  7. tzucon

    tzucon New Member

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    OK, I think I understand: Aim to stick between 20-25MPH consistently when riding? And try to do some work to smooth out my pedalling movement? I can certainly try, but I'll find the speed easier to work on than the technique.

    Thanks.
     
  8. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    I think you misunderstand. He's not telling you that you have to pedal or strive to pedal between 20-25mph but rather that your gearing will allow you to do that at a pretty average cadence..
     
  9. mpre53

    mpre53 Well-Known Member

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    I think what he's saying is that when you can spin 100 bpm on the flats in 48/14, and feel like you're under-geared, then it's time to invest in a cog set with a 13 or 12 small cog. I don't ride hybrids, so I have no clue how yours handles on a descent. IMO you'd be better off coasting when you hit 27 mph on a downhill, rather than trying to hammer a smaller cog. Most hybrids don't corner or handle as well as drop bar road bikes.

    I certainly would be limited, especially on a descent, with 50/14, but that's me. I replaced my 11-28 stock cassette with a 12-25, primarily because there aren't any hills in my area that I can't get up with a 25 granny cog and wanted to have a 16t cog for the flats, but to be honest, I find myself reaching for one more click on the shifter when I'm bombing down a hill, and it ain't there. I was going to swap it out for an 11-23 until my bike got wrecked by a careless driver who T-boned me after running a stop sign.

    So now I'm relegated to an ancient steel with a 6 speed 13-28 cogset, with a 52/42 crank. And am even more limited on a downhill. If you do the math 50/12 is a taller gear than 52/13.
     
  10. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by tzucon .
    OK, I think I understand: Aim to stick between 20-25MPH consistently when riding? And try to do some work to smooth out my pedalling movement? I can certainly try, but I'll find the speed easier to work on than the technique.

    Thanks.


    No.

    What I'm saying is that in the hands of a perfectly average rider, your bike is good for about 27 MPH before "spinning out" - where the cranks begin to move too fast for the rider's legs.
    So until you're regularly hitting those speeds you don't need to look at upgrading your bike.
    There's more risk to riding on strength than there is to ride on technique, so you're doing yourself and your knees a favor if you put some effort into getting this right.

    Bike shoes and clipless pedals is a good thing to smooth out your stride and get the cadence up. With that, you don't need any downward pressure on the upbound pedal to keep your feet in place.
     
  11. tzucon

    tzucon New Member

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    Right, I think. I've got some toe-clips, but I don't want to buy a new pair of shoes just for cycling right now. I'm still a beginner at cycling and I don't have much money to spare.

    The website you linked too regarding biking technique had several exercises, but not much on actual technique. I appreciate that I have stuff to learn, but I don't know WHAT to learn.
     
  12. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    "So now I'm relegated to an ancient steel with a 6 speed 13-28 cogset, with a 52/42 crank."

    You're lucky we aren't taking up a collection for flowers...just sayin'!

    "And am even more limited on a downhill."

    Seriously. Even on a good downwind downgrade and I would screaming for more gears (someone queue up Chief Engineer Scotty giving 'er all he's got). Life ain't flat and neither is Ohio!



    "I appreciate that I have stuff to learn, but I don't know WHAT to learn."

    What to learn the easy way? Join a local cycling club and put in your miles with folks that will gladly give you the benefit of their years in the saddle. Distill their advice to suit and you'll be a road ace in no time.

    What to learn? You'll figure that out as you ride with more skilled or better conditioned riders. I'm sure you'll learn a lot with every ride you do.
     
  13. Volnix

    Volnix Well-Known Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by CAMPYBOB .

    You're lucky we aren't taking up a collection for flowers...just sayin'!



    "He who lives by the bicycle, shall..." [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] (Just kidding but I had a crash recently too and I am still a bit "upset and philosophical" about it... )

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CAMPYBOB .

    What to learn the easy way? Join a local cycling club and put in your miles with folks that will gladly give you the benefit of their years in the saddle. Distill their advice to suit and you'll be a road ace in no time.

    What to learn? You'll figure that out as you ride with more skilled or better conditioned riders. I'm sure you'll learn a lot with every ride you do.

    Try to find some nice people to ride with... There are alot of a-holes in cycling... People with issues, mid age crisis, lots of people that wont be as much fun to ride with. If you can find one or two other people to go riding with that have some cycling background (not of the CMR type...) you will have lots more fun and learn faster IMO. Its like private tutoring instead of class. [​IMG]
     
  14. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Quote:Originally Posted by tzucon .Right, I think. I've got some toe-clips, but I don't want to buy a new pair of shoes just for cycling right now. I'm still a beginner at cycling and I don't have much money to spare.

    The website you linked too regarding biking technique had several exercises, but not much on actual technique. I appreciate that I have stuff to learn, but I don't know WHAT to learn.


    The link was just a quick example. Do a net search on "pedaling technique" or "ride technique" or "bicycling technique" and you're bound to find plenty of material to sift through. Bicyclists tend to look at their bodies like engines that works best in a certain range of rate-of-turns - usually held to be between 80-100 RPM at the pedals. So what you'll want to learn is to turn the cranks at that rate (or a bit higher) while still sitting nicely in the saddle. Many people not used to dedicated riding will feel that they begin to bounce in the saddle as the pedaling pace begins to quicken, and bouncing is bad. One important step to avoid bouncing , and still be able to keep the RPMs in the recommended range is to learn to pedal smoothly. You shouldn't only be pushing down on the pedal during the downward arc, you should also be pulling back a little at the bottom of the stroke and pulling up as the pedal travels upwards. Here's where a foot-retention system - clips, cleats, power straps is really helpful.
     
  15. tzucon

    tzucon New Member

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    Unfortunately my free time isn't regular at the moment, so I can't join a club. Perhaps at the start of next year.

    http://www.bicycling.com/training-nutrition/training-fitness/perfect-pedal-stroke
    http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/insightzone/techniques/pedalling/article/izn20121231-Sportive-how-to-pedal-0

    Your descriptions seem to rely on using clips+shoes. I'm not sure how to pull back on the pedals when I'm just using normal toe clips.
     
  16. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Quote:Originally Posted by tzucon .Unfortunately my free time isn't regular at the moment, so I can't join a club. Perhaps at the start of next year.

    http://www.bicycling.com/training-nutrition/training-fitness/perfect-pedal-stroke
    http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/insightzone/techniques/pedalling/article/izn20121231-Sportive-how-to-pedal-0

    Your descriptions seem to rely on using clips+shoes. I'm not sure how to pull back on the pedals when I'm just using normal toe clips.


    Don't worry about it. The bulk part of the improvement comes from getting the upward bound leg out of the way under its own power rather than having it resist the downward bound leg. Even a tiny bit of pull on the upward bound leg is enough to keep you from bouncing in the saddle when the cadence begins to increase.
     
  17. tzucon

    tzucon New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by dabac .

    Don't worry about it. The bulk part of the improvement comes from getting the upward bound leg out of the way under its own power rather than having it resist the downward bound leg. Even a tiny bit of pull on the upward bound leg is enough to keep you from bouncing in the saddle when the cadence begins to increase.

    I understand. For the moment I'll focus on increasing my overall average speed and my technique. As I'm currently cruising at 18mph on average, getting to 25 will be a 3-6 month target.
     
  18. mpre53

    mpre53 Well-Known Member

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    While it's nice to have goals, upping your average speed from 18 to 25 in 3-6 months is a very tall order.
     
  19. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Yup. It will require increasing power output by about 270%.
     
  20. tzucon

    tzucon New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by alienator .


    Yup. It will require increasing power output by about 270%.

    Yeah, don't make me feel inadequate or anything.
     
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