What to know about drivetrains?

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by Brandon Clark, Dec 24, 2019.

  1. Brandon Clark

    Brandon Clark New Member

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    Hey all, let me introduce myself a bit here....

    The year is 2014, I'm an alcoholic and fat as hell. My wife will leave me early in the following year, and take the children with. She had no choice. I weighed a stunning 290lbs!

    Well, I attended AA and stopped drinking, and eventually won her and kids back by summer. How?

    While on a dog walk in April I saw a neighbor was throwing out an old bicycle, and it looked JUST like the one I rode as a child in the 90's!, an MTB! So, I took it! I started riding it! OMG, I felt like a kid again on two wheels! It was amazing. "Lynda, Lynda! I just rode 5 miles! Can you believe it?" (haha)

    Shortly after realizing that the bike should've been thrown out I went to the local Trek store and purchased a 7.2fx fitness bike. It's been great. I got in shape and dropped 50 pounds, down to 240. Now, I'm not a huge guy at 6 feet 1.5 inches but I used to lift weights a lot and at 240lbs look athletically built. Certainly not a climber, heh.

    Anyways, despite a busted ankle from basketball in 2017-2018, I have ridden my 7.2fx a lot (for me) and have accrued just over 1750 miles on it this year as well as some significant Zwift time. Hey, that's a lot for a guy who works 60 hours a week with five kids.

    Anyways, I feel like I'm outgrowing the hybrid. I want a road bike. I want a road bike because I'm starting to hit hills now and it feels like my gearing just isn't right on the 7.2fx. I know hills should be hard, and that my weight has EVERYTHING to do with this (I'm working on this, I am), but I can't help but notice that I have trouble keeping up with my roadie friends who average around 20mph while I'm at 16-17mph on my hybrid.

    Now, the hybrid has an 8-speed cassette. I'm thinking that a bump to an 11-speed cassette (by switching to a road bike) will make a difference, as I'll have "Taller" gearing? Does this sound right?

    Also, with my fatness reduced, I'm finding myself leaning on the bars (bent over in an aero position) for more speed and on the 7.2fx the front end is just wobbly-bad, very unstable. The geometry of a road bike will improve this stability, yes?

    So, what do I need to know about drive trains? I hear numbers like 11-28 and I have no idea what that means. Is there a good primer written up somewhere on this? Could you link it or explain?

    I'll probably only spend $1k-$2k on a new to me road bike this spring (sticking with the hybrid during the cold winter here in Wisconsin). Can you recommend something?

    *btw, four years without a drop
     


  2. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    First off a HUGE CONGRATS for turning off the buzz and turning off the fat button, great job, I love hearing stories like yours!

    The next thing is STOP comparing yourself to others, this will only frustrate you and maybe even frustrate you so badly you'll throw your bike back in the trash where you found it! Give yourself time to improve, look, not everyone is the same, I use to race CAT 3 level but I wasn't good enough to go to the next level not alone go pro! I seriously believe it's genetic, look when Eddie Merckx was retired from racing for 30 years and had gained a lot of weight was approached by a group of reporters wanting to do a story on his life and what he was doing currently, when they saw how big he had gotten they were stunned and one of the guys asked if he could even ride a bike anymore! LOL!! That sort of pissed off Eddie so since he owns a bike business he got several bikes together and went for a joy ride with the much younger reporters...after 30 years of not riding, and gaining a lot of weight the reporters, who the ones who went were riders themselves, couldn't keep up with him!! This is all due to genetics, if I had done that I would been lucky to go 8 mph for a 1/2 a mile! Some people are more genetically built better than others to do all sorts of different things, some people never even realize or discover they have a genetic gift in a certain area, and some, like your friend, maybe slightly better than you genetically OR he has a lot more training time then you do and he could actually be genetically inferior to you but you haven't come to that level yet to find out.

    I know people who have been riding or running for years and are just plain slow, and I've known others who just started doing this stuff and are faster out the gate, again it's genetics. I'm kind of in the middle of the road I think, not superior and not inferior, just average rider who with training was able to push myself to the cat 3 level when I raced. That racing was 30 years ago so I'm older and now I live in climate less favorable to riding all year round as well, usually by about mid fall my average speed is up to around 20 to 21 mph, after a winter hiatus and spring starts my average speed falls to about 13 to 14 mph and I have to start all over again; this year I'm hoping to correct some of that hiatus stuff by going to a gym.

    Yes a road bike will be more stable for that aero position you want, and you'll probably want aero bars to maximize the benefit.

    The gear part is more tricky because we don't know what kind of roads your ride, is it mostly mountainous or mostly flat, or somewhere in the middle? Do you have any knee issues or ankle issues while pedaling? If so you want to pedal at a slightly higher cadence in an easier gear, if your cadence is currently around 60 you want to work that up to around 75 to 80, that doesn't mean you need to go faster, it means you need to drop your gears down so that you spin slightly faster but you're still going the same speed you were before at slower cadences. Understand that? Mashing gears at slower cadences will hurt joints, so ease up if that's the case. And when you climb hills keep that spinning ratio up high and use your gears to accomplish that.

    So in that light I think you should go with starting out with compact gears, this is where the chainrings are 50 and 34 teeth, that ratio will make it a tad easier than standard which are 53 and 39. The larger that outside ring gear is the faster you can go but you also need to strong enough to push those gears and with time you will be but for right now the compact gearing is your best option. Also the lower number is the inside gear, the 34 tooth gear is easier to push up hills then the 39 would be. There are other gears too like 46 and 36 which is more of a cross bike gearing and 48 32 which is now becoming popular on gravel bikes.

    Now let's look at the cassette, the less teeth it has the harder but faster you can go and vice a versa for the more teeth. For your particular skill level I would be looking at a ratio of 11-28 range which is typical I believe on most bikes.

    To show you an example of how these gear ratios work here's a handy dandy gear calculator that can vividly show you what a change in gears and cadence can do: http://www.bikecalc.com/gear_speed So if I enter your tire size as 700x25c with a cadence of 70, and a chainring of min of 34 and a max of 50, and a cog (cassette) of a min of 11 and a max of 28, then hit calculate and follow the graph you see that if you were climbing a steep grade for example and were in the 34 front chainring and a 28 rear gear you would be going at about 6.7 mph at 70 cadence, and if you change to the direct opposite gears your top speed would be 25 at 70 cadence (assuming of course you were fit enough to go that fast). Now if you change the gears to say a standard chainring of 53 and 39 and leave the cog alone you'll notice the speed jumps up about 1 mph more, that's because that range is more difficult to pedal in and is made more for the advance rider which means it would be more difficult for a beginner to use. I hope that made sense. As you get better and you find you are maxing out your top end for the gears you have, which I doubt that will happen because averaging 25 mph for 20 miles is somewhat of feat, but if you do then you simply change your chainring gears. Personally I think you should have put on any bike you buy a rear cog with 12-32 ratio with compact chainrings, plug that into the calculator and you'll see why, this will make it easier to pedal in while your strength improves. Like I said gears are relatively cheap to replace, and the best time to do that is when you think you have outgrown your gears and you need to replace your worn out ones anyways.
     
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  3. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I think the price range you're looking at is a good range for a bike at your level, right around the $1,500 dollar mark is where you can find great bikes. Bikes like the Cannondale CAAD 12 that has a fantastic and very durable Shimano 105 groupset. Of course there are other bikes on the market but the Cannondale is easy to find in a lot of bike shops and I didn't want to type out a bunch of bikes, but you need to go look of course and find the one that speaks to you. While the 105 groupset is extremely durable the cheaper Tiagra is nothing to sneeze at either, but there is absolutely no need or reason for you to go with Ultegra unless you find a year end close out sale significantly marked down that floats your boat, otherwise don't waste your money on expensive components, your not racing and the lighter weight will do nothing for you...by the way, the total lighter weight between the 105 and Ultegra isn't even noticeable! it's like 7 ounces, that's it! BUT the 105 will save you about $500! I don't believe that 7 ounces is worth $500 for a non racer. Tiagra will only save you about $100 but will cost you about 12 ounces more than the 105 and the Tiagra brakes are noticeably not as good which could be improved by throwing away the stock pads and going with Kool Stop Salmon pads...but it's a good groupset and very durable so don't dismiss it.
     
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  4. Brandon Clark

    Brandon Clark New Member

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    First of all, thank you VERY much for responding, Froze. Each word in response is greatly appreciated. I am looking at the Caad12 now due to your suggestion and it seems like really good bike, really fast.

    One of the things I'm reading online is that the CAAD12 has a squeaky bottom bracket. Is this something you've heard? It's probably only a problem after a lot of miles, right? I don't think Cannondale would sell a bike that squeaks when brand new.

    My wife has signed me up for a race (xmas present) in August. It's an 88-mile race around Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. So, I have a LOT of training to do and a lot of weight to lose (around 30lbs). I'm only averaging 20 miles per ride on the weekdays and maybe 40-60 on the weekends. I've only ridden a century once, this year in September. Can I even do this 88-mile race?
     
  5. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    The Cannondale CAAD12, or for 2020 it's been changed to CAAD 13; uses a BB30 bottom bracket and that's what squeaks as the miles roll on, and there are fixes and when the time comes a better replacement unit. I'm not going to lie to you tell you everyone loves the BB30, some people actually hate bb30, but there are others who say it's fine. If you go on the internet there are those who like the BB30 and blame the lazy shop mechanics for being unable or unwilling to research Shimano. I've also read about people who have ridden and raced many miles on a BB30 and never had one squeak, so it must be a hit and miss situation for some reason.

    The bad, or should I say the creaking ones were the ones made by FSA, my understanding is that Cannondale now makes their own BB's and no longer use the FSA, whether or not the Cannondale made BB is better than the FSA has not be reviewed fully.

    Some of the fixes are as simple as regreasing by pulling the seal out of the bearing and regrease it.

    There are sites that show you how to fix it, it maybe a good idea to read ALL of the replies as well after you watched the videos:

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci06p8IIlzU



    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRpgfr9HzDY


    Still others say to replace the BB with what's called a collet style BB, see: https://praxiscycles.com/technology/praxis-collet/

    https://www.bbinfinite.com/products/bb30-directfit-shimano?variant=9864658307

    If the factory stock BB30 starts to creak you can try the fixes, if worse comes to worse you buy a better engineered BB30 instead.

    A lot of people love the CAAD12 (now known as CAAD13), so I can't imagine that all of those people would love that bike if they all have frustrating creaking going on.
     
  6. Brandon Clark

    Brandon Clark New Member

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    Ok, you're really helping me narrow this down. THANK YOU!

    I agree that it must be a damn fine bike if people are buying it so much.

    Next question, should I opt for an Ultegra version of this or put on Ultegra or just wear out the 105's?

    Is Ultegra more durable in the long run than 105 groupset?
     
  7. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Save yourself some money and go with 105, 105 is trickle down technology from Dura Ace, it's great stuff and it's also considered to be the most reliable of the Shimano stuff, so reliable it's considered to be the workhorse group for Shimano.

    Look I bought a Lynskey Peloton titanium bike, I had the option to go with all Ultegra but I chose not to and instead went with 105, I did however, before I took possession of the bike and that is a key point, swapped for just the price difference between 105 and Ultegra and had the Ultegra rear derailleur put on instead of 105, I felt the Ultegra was a tad quicker and a tad smoother in it's shift, and it only cost me $36 to do so, so why not? Otherwise I would have no problem going with 100% 105. The other thing too is that if you break something, say a brifter lever, Ultegra would be a lot more expensive for replacement parts then 105.

    So save yourself money and go with 105, you only gain about 7 ounces of weight on the bike by doing so...7 ounces is nothing!

    By the way, when the stock cables wear out, if you switch to the more expensive DA9000 cables, those cables are so slick that you'll think you got a new drive system! I put those on my bike and it was a noticeable difference, in fact a friend of mine who had DA on his bike rode mine and couldn't even tell the difference between my 105 and his DA stuff because the components all worked so smoothly.

    Another area of improvement that I think is critical with CF forks is the headset, so far only Cane Creek 110 headset is made in such a way to reinforce the fork tube and the head tube, I had one of those put on also before I took possession of the bike.
     
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