Cassette Question



RT0870

New Member
Sep 8, 2013
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Hello all,

Forum newbie here, and I have a tech question about my newer Cannondale Bad Boy Disc with the Leftie front fork.

The bike is standard with a 9 speed, 11-32 cassette, and it has worked well for me thus far, BUT, I would like to get more top speed out of it, as well as less fatigue on steeper inclines.

Guys on true road bikes fly by me, and don't appear to experience the difficulty I do when going up moderate climbs. While I have no interest in buying a road bike, I figured I could do some tweaking to the Bad Boy so as to get similar performance.

What cassette do you guys recommend me going to?

Thanks!
 

alienator

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2004
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First, you're not going to get any more "top speed" out of that cassette as it already has the smallest cog available, an 11T cog. You could possibly get more speed if you changed to slick tires, if you're not already using them. The reality, however, is that it's likely those roadies are in better shape than you. As such, the key to climbing better/faster and going faster over all is to ride more and improve your conditioning.
 

RT0870

New Member
Sep 8, 2013
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Great assumption on your part......they ARE in better shape/conditioning than I
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, ergo, the reason I'm riding.

I'm running the stock Schwalbe Kojak slicks, so, no real room for improvement there. Guess I'll have to just keep at it. I thought FOR SURE there were some gearing tweaks that I could perform that would offer more of what I wanted, and less of what I didn't.

I have another question, but I'll post it later this evening.....gotta go ride now!

Thanks for the info!
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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If your bike's crankset has a 42-32-22 104BCD Chainring set or 44-32-22 104BCD Chainring set or something-along-those-lines, then get a 46t or 48t Chainring for it.
I think that you can run 700x28 tires & tubes on your bike's rims, BTW.
Also, a more aero riding position will help you ride a couple of miles faster for the same relative effort than the upright position which one normally has with FLAT/MTB-type handlebars.
 

RT0870

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Sep 8, 2013
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The stock crankset is a Shimano M431 48/36/26. What exactly is the benefit of the 44/32/22 or 42/32/22 setup? Forgive me, I'm having to learn as I go.....so, bear with me.

The stock tires are already 700C, and, you're right, my riding position is more upright than not.
 

alfeng

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Jul 23, 2005
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Quote: Originally Posted by RT0870 .
The stock crankset is a Shimano M431 48/36/26. What exactly is the benefit of the 44/32/22 or 42/32/22 setup? Forgive me, I'm having to learn as I go.....so, bear with me.

The stock tires are already 700C, and, you're right, my riding position is more upright than not.


For what you indicated, you may want a 50t or 52t or 53t outer chainring ... those would require a different crankset ... regardless, YOU still have to be the one pedaling the bike ...

The 44/32/22 & 42/32/22 are just common MTB Chainring combinations which I supposed your bike might have despite your Bad Boy being what may be classified as a Hybrid bike ...

you can change the 26t to a smaller Chainring OR you can buy a Cassette whose largest cog which has more teeth ... 34t & 36t are currently the largest readily available teeth on "regular" MTB Cassettes ... but, you may be moving at a painfully slow pace if you are using those in combination with your Granny.

I don't know the tire size you have. 700c tires come in a variety of sizes ... typically from 700x20 to 700x58 with truly mega sized (something like 700x100+++) tires for bikes like the SURLY PUGSLEY ...

700x28 is the largest size that used to be considered a regular "Road" tire size.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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RT0870 said:
The stock crankset is a Shimano M431 48/36/26.  What exactly is the benefit of the 44/32/22 or 42/32/22 setup?  Forgive me, I'm having to learn as I go.....so, bear with me. The stock tires are already 700C, and, you're right, my riding position is more upright than not.
The benefit to a 44/32/22 or 42/32/22 setup is that you'll gain lower gearing in all three chainrings. At the low end the gearing will be about 15% lower for a given cassette cog, while on the middle ring, gearing will be about 11% lower. That's all great for going up hill. If you find a climb on a road that you can't do in a 22/32 (i.e. a 22T chainring and a 32T cassette cog), that climb is likely not meant to be climbed. On the top end you'll lose a little bit: 4 percent with the 44T chainring and about 9% with the 42, but gearing is likely what is not holding back your top end.
 

RT0870

New Member
Sep 8, 2013
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The tires are 700x28, so you are spot on.

You are correct, the Bad Boy is considered an "Urban" or "Hybrid" bike. I chose it because I'm just not comfortable in the more aggressive, leaned over position that the road bikes require. I ride for fitness, as I've gotten out of shape and I'm getting older. So, I try to ride as fast and as far as I can in 1 - 1.5 hours, three nights a week (which correlates to 20 miles or so each evening).

Let me preface by saying that I am in southern West Virginia, and there aren't many flat, straight roads to ride on. With that being said, here's the skinny, and I have two issues I hope to get addressed here:

1) More speed/less fatigue - while on flats and going downhill, I will have the chain on the large crankset chainring and the smallest cog in the cassette. I can pedal as fast as I possibly can, but only achieve 30-32 mph......but the feeling in the crank is that I could go faster (if that makes any sense). Conversely, when I reach an incline, I encounter the resistance quite early in the ascent. I'll shift down on the crankset, up through the cassette, but I can't seem to find the sweet spot where I'm not wearing myself out prematurely. Which, brings me to....

2) Shifting - let me throw an example out there that I frequently do, and have you advise me on how to shift properly: Paced run on semi-flat, 25mph, chain is on large ring on crankset/small cog on cassette. Coming up the incline, feeling the resistance, I will shift up on the cassette one or two times, pedal as far as I can, then shift down on the crankset to the middle chainring. Pedal as far as I can while sitting, then stand to get up the final ascent. By the time I get to the top, my speed has gone from 25mph to 8mph in a relatively short distance.

Should I shift down on the crankset first, then shift up through the cassette second in order to halfway maintain the speed/effort I am working with? When I shift as I described in the example, it appears that I lose my momentum really quickly, and struggle.

Granted, I'm not in shape yet, and I'm unable to ride every evening due to job constraints and weather, but, I have ridden over 500 miles since April and I have come a long way since then......going from 7 miles per evening @ 10 - 12mph to over 20 miles per evening, maintaining an average speed of 15.5 - 16.5mph.

Bottom line, I just want to be able to ride for 1 - 2 hours and maintain consistent speed/effort, so as to build up my cardio and lose weight.

Sorry for the drawn out response, but, I felt the background info was needed......


Thanks for the info and insight.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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RT0870 said:
The tires are 700x28, so you are spot on. You are correct, the Bad Boy is considered an "Urban" or "Hybrid" bike.  I chose it because I'm just not comfortable in the more aggressive, leaned over position that the road bikes require.  I ride for fitness, as I've gotten out of shape and I'm getting older.  So, I try to ride as fast and as far as I can in 1 - 1.5 hours, three nights a week (which correlates to 20 miles or so each evening).
Right off the bat you should understand the vast majority of the power you put into your cranks is used to overcome aero drag. So, riding a hybrid in an upright position, immediately puts you at a disadvantage. Somewhere between 70-90% of your effort is spent as such, with the amount of power required to overcome drag going up with the cube of the velocity. That means to go twice as fast requires 8 times (23) as much power.
1)  More speed/less fatigue - while on flats and going downhill, I will have the chain on the large crankset chainring and the smallest cog in the cassette.  I can pedal as fast as I possibly can, but only achieve 30-32 mph......but the feeling in the crank is that I could go faster (if that makes any sense).  Conversely, when I reach an incline, I encounter the resistance quite early in the ascent.  I'll shift down on the crankset, up through the cassette, but I can't seem to find the sweet spot where I'm not wearing myself out prematurely.  Which, brings me to....
Alright, assuming you're going 32 mph in a 46/11 gear and your 700x28 tires are a standard circumference, that means you're pedaling at about 96 rpm. Now cadence is highly personal, but it seems as if most people are comfortable pedaling in the 90-100 rpm range. That range is just regular ol' pedaling, not sprinting. Sprinting or wanting to go as fast you can means increasing your cadence. For instance, if you increased your max cadence to 105rpm, your speed would go up to 35mph (in that 46/11 gear), assuming you're not power limited. How do you develop a faster cadence? By practicing and putting in the miles. Of course the other way to go faster at the same cadence (or faster yet at a higher cadence) would be to put on a larger big chain ring. However, that requires more force to turn over (than a smaller chain ring at a given cadence) which requires more strength from your legs. How do you get stronger? By riding more and working on developing more power. As you can see, at least part of the solution to your concerns involves riding more. If you're interested in the specifics of getting stronger on the bike, developing a faster cadence, and etc., I'd advise you to visit the Cycling Training sub-forum. That sub-forum is also a great place to go to learn how to make the most of the limited time you have available to ride.
2)  Shifting - let me throw an example out there that I frequently do, and have you advise me on how to shift properly:  Paced run on semi-flat, 25mph, chain is on large ring on crankset/small cog on cassette.  Coming up the incline, feeling the resistance, I will shift up on the cassette one or two times, pedal as far as I can, then shift down on the crankset to the middle chainring.  Pedal as far as I can while sitting, then stand to get up the final ascent.  By the time I get to the top, my speed has gone from 25mph to 8mph in a relatively short distance. Should I shift down on the crankset first, then shift up through the cassette second in order to halfway maintain the speed/effort I am working with?  When I shift as I described in the example, it appears that I lose my momentum really quickly, and struggle.
Instead of shifting to a gear that requires spinning very quickly (much more quickly than you can sustain) and instead of pedaling as fast as you can up a climb, work on finding a cadence that you can sustain for the entirety of the climb. You have to anticipate changes in road grade and shift a bit early but not so early that you're pedaling really fast when you don't need to be. Work on using your gears to maintain a given cadence.
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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"Guys on true road bikes fly by me, and don't appear to experience the difficulty I do when going up moderate climbs. While I have no interest in buying a road bike, I figured I could do some tweaking to the Bad Boy so as to get similar performance."

There is a reason the road bike riders are flying by you.

They are on road bikes.

You could close the performance gap with $$$ worth of upgrades and XXXX miles of training, but drop bar road bikes are built for speed and handling. A flat bar city bike? Not so much.
 

oldbobcat

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Aug 31, 2003
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Quote: Originally Posted by alfeng .

For what you indicated, you may want a 50t or 52t or 53t outer chainring ... those would require a different crankset ... regardless, YOU still have to be the one pedaling the bike ...

And of course, when you convert to the road triple crankset, you will lose the 32t and 22t middle and small chainrings at your low end. You might also need a bottom bracket with a longer spindle so the larger chainrings will clear the chainstay, and that will likely lead to chain line problems that will preclude using the outer and middle rings with the slower (larger inner cogs) of the cassette. Also, the MTB front derailleur that's contoured for a 44-32t big-middle combination will not work, so will you will need a road triple front derailleur, and that will not index properly with the MTB shifter on the hybrid. That would require a flat-bar road shifter or a friction lever. And it's very likely that that any front derailleur won't extend far enough to reach the big ring with the longer spindle anyway.

Hey, is there any way we can put Campy Ergo levers on this thing?

I like Campybob's advice.
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldbobcat .
And of course, when you convert to the road triple crankset, you will lose the 32t and 22t middle and small chainrings at your low end. You might also need a bottom bracket with a longer spindle so the larger chainrings will clear the chainstay, and that will likely lead to chain line problems that will preclude using the outer and middle rings with the slower (larger inner cogs) of the cassette. Also, the MTB front derailleur that's contoured for a 44-32t big-middle combination will not work, so will you will need a road triple front derailleur, and that will not index properly with the MTB shifter on the hybrid. That would require a flat-bar road shifter or a friction lever. And it's very likely that that any front derailleur won't extend far enough to reach the big ring with the longer spindle anyway.

Hey, is there any way we can put Campy Ergo levers on this thing?

I like Campybob's advice.


ALMOST absolutely correct ....

For the OP to transition to another crankset, there would indeed be a limit to how small the middle chainring's size would be ...

But, most vintage, square taper 110BCD cranksets were Triple-capable ...
So, the OP/anyone could have a 34t middle (33t if he wants to pony up for a TA chainring) ...
PLUS, a spindle with an adequately long spindle

I know someone who used a Triplizer (130BCD) + 22t (?!?) (or, whatever the smallest 74BCD chainring size is!!!).

BTW. I was NOT recommending that the OP change to a different crank, only pointing out that is what he would need if he wanted to change the high end ... but, he would still need to be doing the pedaling ... and so, I hoped it was inferred that a slightly larger chainring isn't a cure-all ...

Quote: Originally Posted by oldbobcat .
And of course, when you convert to the road triple crankset, you will lose the 32t and 22t middle and small chainrings at your low end. You might also need a bottom bracket with a longer spindle so the larger chainrings will clear the chainstay, and that will likely lead to chain line problems that will preclude using the outer and middle rings with the slower (larger inner cogs) of the cassette. Also, the MTB front derailleur that's contoured for a 44-32t big-middle combination will not work, so will you will need a road triple front derailleur, and that will not index properly with the MTB shifter on the hybrid. That would require a flat-bar road shifter or a friction lever. And it's very likely that that any front derailleur won't extend far enough to reach the big ring with the longer spindle anyway.

Hey, is there any way we can put Campy Ergo levers on this thing?

I like Campybob's advice.


Well, Drop handlebars are a prerequisite ...

... which the OP is apparently not inclined toward having on his bike ...

Now, of course, I realize that you are trying to be humorous ...

  • Presuming his Bad Boy has Hydraulic calipers, then he either has to wait for the apparently inevitable or you/he/someone can throw a lot of money at me & I will modify a set ...
  • If his Bad Boy has mechanical disc calipers, then anyone who is handy (okay, perhaps REALLY HANDY ... certainly, handier than alienator & his ilk appparently are) can mate the a set of Tektro linear pull Road levers with a set of Campagnolo shifters (again, NOT for the faint of heart) as a DIY project ...

In other words, it can be done.

Quote: Originally Posted by oldbobcat .
And of course, when you convert to the road triple crankset, you will lose the 32t and 22t middle and small chainrings at your low end. You might also need a bottom bracket with a longer spindle so the larger chainrings will clear the chainstay, and that will likely lead to chain line problems that will preclude using the outer and middle rings with the slower (larger inner cogs) of the cassette. Also, the MTB front derailleur that's contoured for a 44-32t big-middle combination will not work, so will you will need a road triple front derailleur, and that will not index properly with the MTB shifter on the hybrid. That would require a flat-bar road shifter or a friction lever. And it's very likely that that any front derailleur won't extend far enough to reach the big ring with the longer spindle anyway.

Hey, is there any way we can put Campy Ergo levers on this thing?

I like Campybob's advice.


Of course!

And, of course, I hoped that my indication that "a more aero riding position will help you ride a couple of miles faster for the same relative effort than the upright position which one normally has with FLAT/MTB-type handlebars" inferred Drop handlebars ... but, I guess not for everyone.
 

RT0870

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Sep 8, 2013
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WOW.......I had NO IDEA that what I felt was probably a quick fix would be so out of reach or complicated!! It was a true eye opener to say the least.

After reading the posts and giving much thought into the issue, I may just have to reconsider my position on moving to a roadie. It just doesn't make good sense to invest a lot of time and money in a project like what has been described above, when I could go ahead and get a true road bike and build on what I have already started, with regards to my fitness goals and such.

With that being said, I really appreciate all the input you all have taken the time to send my way!


Well.....I guess I'll start my research and due diligence on the purchase of a road bike now!!


I KNOW you all have some input on that topic........
wink.png
 

dabac

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Sep 16, 2003
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Asking for bigger gears is a regular thing on forums like this, and I have some general comments: - many people(incl me) find going for strength is easier than working on technique - so yeah, I can see the attraction - looking at the biomechanics, knees are far more likely to take upset at pedalling hard-and-slow than at spinning fast-and-light - bicycle related knee problems tend to be cumulative in nature. You may have a grace period of glorious rides where you remain on power thoughout the ride before the aches set in - but maybe you're one of those anatomical freaks that thrive on low-and-hard. Are you feeling lucky? - there usually isn't much to gain in terms of average speed by upping your top speed a notch. Let's say you are really cadence restricted for 10% of your ride, and that a rework of your bike can boost your cadence restricted average speed by 10% You're basically looking at an improvement of 0.1 x 0.1= 0.01 or 1%. That's probably well within the error margin of headwind/tailwind, your nutrition/sleep the day before and things like that. - while maybe not impossible, I think finding a ride where that bike would leave you cadence restricted for 10% would be a bit of a challenge. My guess is that you're looking at a much smaller number. The key to being overall faster is to be overall faster, boosting the tops won't help much. I'm with Alienator here, work on staying in your sweet spot instead, maybe get a tighter ratio cassette to help with that. Anticipate you gear changes and work on the engine. A bike computer showing your cadence can be a useful training aid.
 

RT0870

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Sep 8, 2013
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Quote: Originally Posted by dabac .

- looking at the biomechanics, knees are far more likely to take upset at pedalling hard-and-slow than at spinning fast-and-light
- bicycle related knee problems tend to be cumulative in nature. You may have a grace period of glorious rides where you remain on power thoughout the ride before the aches set in


That is what pushes my desire to be able to get up to speed, and stay there for as long as I can. Two arthroscopic procedures on my right knee and one on my left, thanks to football, and Osgood-Schlatter's disease in my right knee prohibit me from really getting down and dirty with the low cadence, really strenuous pedaling. I've tried on more than one occasion, but it's so taxing on my knees, it discourages me from trying the same terrain again.
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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If you have chronic knee problems (yours sound pretty torn up), you may want to look into the lighter bikes with 11-speed close-ratio gearing. I know you said you have no desire to get a road bike, but it will likely help your speed issue. I'm happy to hear you are considering road bikes as part of the solution. They aren't for everyone, but they are the Ferrari's of the bicycle world.

Lighter, going up hills, is always better. Close ratio gearing may get you down-shifting earlier and getting some stress off the knee joint. The more gears you have, the more ratio choices you can use to reduce torque while still staying in an RPM range that gives you at least some speed.

I don't know what your age is, if you wear a brace or braces, pain level, etc., but have you considered implants? I've got two ex-team mates with three implants/replacements among them and they are both riding strong and pain free. One is age 60 and the other is about 63-64. Motocross killed their knees during their misspent youths. They both had been thru multiple arthroscopic procedures.

Good luck with your knee issues, no matter what bike you ride and keep training. Those West Virginia climbs will get you in shape fast! And watch out for deer and groundhogs on the descents!