Gears for numpties

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
MrsHJ
Posts: 855
Joined: 19 Aug 2010, 1:03pm
Location: Dartmouth, Devon.

Gears for numpties

Post by MrsHJ »

Ok, silly question time. I’ve been touring for 25 plus years on and off and some idiot bike mechanic mansplained me my new drivetrain (renewed most of it before my last tour) which is unquestionably not a direct replacement of the previous sizes of gears (which is what I’d asked for). Ie “that’ll do you fine”- he knew I was off touring.

I’ve now toured twice on it and my granny gear is missing and I can’t hardly push the biggest gear at all even on a downhill. I’ve had to walk a couple of times, obviously swearing at the mechanic as I do it. It’s ok without luggage and some of the touring I’ve been doing down rivers etc hasn’t required anything else. I’m currently in the alps…..I honestly have legs of steel like a lot here even though I’m unfit and overweight but I’d be unhappy with this set up even if I were fit and unfat.

I’m in the category of fix tyres and easy stuff on brakes, tweak gears, can fix a broken chain in a crisis and that’s about it- I depend on the bike mechanic to do what he’s told not substitute I presume the rear block with a not quite right set.

So when I come back from tour next time what is the classic touring set size of back block with a decent granny gear for a 27 speed? I’m going to treat myself to a new one for Xmas on the basis of lesson learnt. If you’re going to ask questions keep it simple please.
Jdsk
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Joined: 5 Mar 2019, 5:42pm

Re: Gears for numpties

Post by Jdsk »

What are your current gears, front and rear? And what is your wheel size?

Thanks

Jonathan

PS: I hope that it isn't taking too much pleasure away from being up there and out and touring.
slowster
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Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Gears for numpties

Post by slowster »

Achieving what you want is potentially dependent upon a number of factors*, so it's best if you can provide all the information below.

* For example, many 9 speed components have been largely discontinued by Shimano and are now difficult/impossible to get hold of, especially the cassettes and rear derailleurs needed for wide range touring triples. If you already have suitable 9 speed derailleurs and shifters on your bike, finding suitable cassettes and/or suggesting suitable chainrings might well be fairly straightforward. However, if the bike shop fitted a 10 speed drivetrain, replacing it now with a complete 9 speed wide range touring triple drivetrain is probably no longer possible (or even desirable if you don't also have a few spare cassettes to keep it running). Similarly if the bike shop fitted a short cage 9 speed rear derailleur (something which does not provide enough capacity for a wide range touring triple drivetrain), we need to know.

1. What are your current chainrings, e.g. 46/36/26 etc.? The number of teeth should be stamped on each chainring, but if not count them.

2. What are the smallest and largest sprockets on your cassette?

3. What is the rear derailleur? If Shimano, it will be stamped somewhere - probably on the underside of the main body (i.e. not on the jockey cage), e.g. RD-M592.

4. What is the front derailleur? Again it will be stamped on if Shimano.

5. What shifters are you using, i.e. STIs, bar end or down tube?

If you cannot identify the derailleurs (especially the rear, which is the one that matters most), post a photograph of them viewed side on.
Last edited by slowster on 14 Sep 2021, 7:48pm, edited 3 times in total.
thirdcrank
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Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Gears for numpties

Post by thirdcrank »

I take it 27 speed = front triple and 9 speed cassette. I suspect your problems may arise from your mechanic fitting what's still available / in stock in what is now edging into "legacy" equipment. Recent changes for off-road equipment mean it's now possible to get a cassette with a big sprocket in what was once chainwheel size. This means, for instance that ultra-low gears are common, but "not necessarily in the right order." I can't offer much of a solution by way of advice, other than to try traditional touring shops eg Spa Cycles (when the moon is in the right quarter) or St John Street Cycles.
MrsHJ
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Joined: 19 Aug 2010, 1:03pm
Location: Dartmouth, Devon.

Re: Gears for numpties

Post by MrsHJ »

Will come back with answers soon- bike is currently locked away in my B&B accommodation and the owner is out so I’ll get the info as soon as poss.

NB on the easy question - it’s 700c size wheels and darn-

I wondered if there might be legacy issues on the parts- I wished that I’d had a decent conversation about it rather than them just giving me what there was.
Stevek76
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Joined: 28 Jul 2015, 11:23am

Re: Gears for numpties

Post by Stevek76 »

slowster wrote: 14 Sep 2021, 3:04pm
* For example, many 9 speed components have been largely discontinued by Shimano and are now difficult/impossible to get hold of, especially the cassettes and rear derailleurs needed for wide range touring triples.
I wasn't aware such things had been entirely discontinued? Sora & alivio remain as current 9 spd groupsets. The latter had a new release only last year.

Not much available but I was under the impression that was manufacturing capacity. Everything's in short stock right now and aftermarket generally is suffering in favour of supplies for complete bikes.
The contents of this post, unless otherwise stated, are opinions of the author and may actually be complete codswallop
simonhill
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Location: Essex

Re: Gears for numpties

Post by simonhill »

I run 11-32 cassettes on my two 9 speed Surlys. A check on the web, shows that these are available at Spa (Shimano) and I see Decathalon also have their own in stock. Hopefully my LBS will have no problem sourcing in readiness for my next trip.

I think the demise of 26" and 9 speed may(?) be greatly exaggerated, bolstered by general shortage due to C & B. Although there is a downgrading of the level of the groupsets.
slowster
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Re: Gears for numpties

Post by slowster »

Stevek76 wrote: 14 Sep 2021, 5:20pm
slowster wrote: 14 Sep 2021, 3:04pm
* For example, many 9 speed components have been largely discontinued by Shimano and are now difficult/impossible to get hold of, especially the cassettes and rear derailleurs needed for wide range touring triples.
I wasn't aware such things had been entirely discontinued? Sora & alivio remain as current 9 spd groupsets. The latter had a new release only last year.
You are better informed than me, but the higher quality components, i.e. XT and Deore rear derailleurs, are no longer available, and the choice of available cassette ratios is less. Sora is a road groupset, and therefore its rear derailleur might not have sufficient capacity for what the OP seeks. An Alivio rear derailleur might be a good choice since I think it is one of those that is compatible with 36t cassettes, but it is precisely that cassette, i.e. 11-36 or 12-36, that I think the OP would struggle to buy now. It might still be possible to hunt down all the components for a complete new wide range 9 speed triple drivetrain, but I am not sure it would be the best option unless the OP also bought spare cassettes and ideally a spare rear derailleur as well. It's a different matter if the OP's bike is already fitted with mostly suitable 9 speed parts, and if it's just a case of finding a suitable cassette or replacing a standard 50/39/30 Shimano triple chainset with something more suitable.
MrsHJ wrote: 14 Sep 2021, 4:58pm I wondered if there might be legacy issues on the parts- I wished that I’d had a decent conversation about it rather than them just giving me what there was.
Console yourself with the fact that most of us are going to encounter the same problem sooner or later.

Something to think about is what are your minimum requirements other than the gear range. If you are someone who considers STI shifters absolutely indispensible, that will limit and dictate your choices. At the other extreme if you are happy to use friction shifters, you give yourself a lot of leeway to use whatever derailleurs and cassettes you prefer/are in stock.
biketips666
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Re: Gears for numpties

Post by biketips666 »

slowster wrote: 14 Sep 2021, 6:27pmSora is a road groupset, and therefore its rear derailleur might not have sufficient capacity for what the OP seeks.
I ran a current Sora RD:

https://bike.shimano.com/en-EU/product/ ... 00-GS.html

with an 11-34 cassette just fine.

It was perfectly happy, paired with 48-38-26 chainrings, which is strictly speaking outside the specs. I even ran it with 48-38-24 for a while, but didn't like the big gap from inner to middle. I expect that pairing that RD with a 46-36-24 chainring would be fine, and gives a 19" granny gear.
Stevek76
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Re: Gears for numpties

Post by Stevek76 »

Well 9spd XT has been discontinued for very many moons! :D However the general shortage has done a good number on clearing out much of the new old stock that was hanging about.

As such yes lower speeds are now only in the lower tiers though I'm a little sceptical as to whether a modern alivio derailleur would really last significantly less than an old xt one, it certainly won't perform any worse. And while I've not done a thorough assessment of stock levels I was under the impression that it was fairly hard to get hold of any tier right now and what is for sale is usually going at full price which was almost unheard of before the pandemic.

I'd read Shimano were investing in more manufacturing capacity, they've obviously decided that the bike boom is here to stay and not just a blip of covid. I don't believe there will be any legacy issues with lower speed kit. They still make some 6 spd freewheel stuff after all!

Just looking can see a few 36-12 hg400 cassettes in stock around, most places at full RRP of £32ish (ouch!). Did see this one though for £23

https://www.bikeparts.co.uk/products/sh ... tte-12-36t

(Never bought from them so can't comment on shop reliability)

Would not recommend the 11-36 variant, though it was rare to find even in the pre shortage days, the shifting seems a little compromised, particularly the 30-36 jump at the bottom.
The contents of this post, unless otherwise stated, are opinions of the author and may actually be complete codswallop
slowster
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Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Gears for numpties

Post by slowster »

Stevek76 wrote: 14 Sep 2021, 8:13pm Just looking can see a few 36-12 hg400 cassettes in stock around, most places at full RRP of £32ish (ouch!). Did see this one though for £23

https://www.bikeparts.co.uk/products/sh ... tte-12-36t
That is a good price (and another 5% off if buying more than one). The last time I did a search no shops had a 12-36 9 speed cassette and it looked like they had been discontinued, but presumably it was just a Covid related temporary shortage. As you say, the full RRP is ouch!
nirakaro
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Joined: 22 Dec 2007, 2:01am

Re: Gears for numpties

Post by nirakaro »

Hehe – "legs of steel" is a very relative term, and doesn't tell us much about what you need. Personally I have legs of fluff (depends who you're comparing me with of course), and my lowest gear is 22f/36r, which on 26" wheels give me about 16 gear inches (I think) and lets me troddle up alpine passes at about 3mph. That may be a bit extreme for you, but you might want at least 24f/32r.
Bike mechanics, btw, can be clueless about long-distance touring. When I mentioned in my LBS that I was riding to Italy, the bloke said, There's a perfectly good train you know. This in a bike shop for heavens sake!
thirdcrank
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Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Gears for numpties

Post by thirdcrank »

Going only by MrsHJ's own comments, they may not know with any certainty what was the range of gears which was replaced with the current unsatisfactory stuff and it is now hoped to replicate. We can speculate what caused things to go wrong but it's not easy to ... er ... pedal back to the unknown
LittleGreyCat
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Re: Gears for numpties

Post by LittleGreyCat »

Had my Spa Wayfarer down geared to make the hills slightly easier.

700C wheels
44/34/24 front
11/36 rear

Any lack of hill climbing ability is now strictly down to my legs.

I can spin out in top gear going down hill but that tends to be around 30 mph so is sufficient for me.

As others have said, you need to check that the derailleurs will handle the gear range.
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Sweep
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Re: Gears for numpties

Post by Sweep »

LittleGreyCat wrote: 16 Sep 2021, 6:19pm Had my Spa Wayfarer down geared to make the hills slightly easier.

700C wheels
44/34/24 front
11/36 rear

Any lack of hill climbing ability is now strictly down to my legs.

I can spin out in top gear going down hill but that tends to be around 30 mph so is sufficient for me.

As others have said, you need to check that the derailleurs will handle the gear range.
Can I ask what rear mech you use to handle that capacity?
I seem to be having trouble getting a build of mine to run properly with 44/32/22 and 12-36 - I thought it should work as was under the impression that it just mirrored my Hewitt but then I found that Mr Hewitt had actually put an 11-34 on the back and this may have skewed things.

Hope my question isn't too ignorant - haven't redone my maths/double checked shimanospecs before posting - but still interested in your mech, particularly as I know there is SOMETIMES a bit of leeway with some shimano bits.
Sweep
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