Standard versus compact gears

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
hamster
Posts: 3148
Joined: 2 Feb 2007, 12:42pm

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby hamster » 21 Nov 2018, 3:27pm

Mick F wrote:I'm lighter now than I have been for decades.
For years, I was 13st as well as being a fit fast cyclist. I have Garmin records dating back to 2004 and if I compare my speeds and times to now - same bike, same gearing - I'm much slower even though I'm just under 12st.
Maybe I'm less strong as I've become older.


Not simply less strong so much as the body's ability to transport oxygen decreases with age (a combination of lung capacity and the heart's ability to pump blood). However muscles naturally waste with age. As a regular cyclist, Mick, you will doubtless have a metabolic age younger than your calendar age.

User avatar
Cugel
Posts: 2226
Joined: 13 Nov 2017, 11:14am

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby Cugel » 21 Nov 2018, 3:49pm

bigjim wrote:.....
I've only got better at hill climbing by constantly finding local hills to climb. It does work. Like most things. The more you do it, the better you become.


This is true, although there comes a point where no matter how hard you "train" (for hills or anything else) it's impossible to overcome physics and biology. Then there's that other limiting factor of one's psychological state. Most of us can't work as hard as we might, for all sorts of reasons, including the thought, "what's the point".

I know (because physics tells me) that if I lost one stone in weight, so I weighed what I did when I raced, I would go faster up the hills. I can hang on now to most of the club on the Sunday runs (the hardest of the week - I can't face the chain gangs) with only the skinny, younger, fitter lads getting ahead. So, do I need to keep up with the latter too? Not really. After all, I'm just cycling, not racing.

There is a strange meme in the heads of many British cyclists - that they must be "fast" or in some way "trying hard". This is a thing put about by the dominant cycling media in Britain but it's a thing which is rather silly really. And I say this as one who has succumbed! (It's the racing club traditions and habits, now built-in from my youth).

So, one answer to the OP is that alternative gears should not necessarily be to enable faster climbing but more comfortable climbing. And perhaps a kindness to the knee and hip joints.

Cugel

thelawnet
Posts: 2133
Joined: 27 Aug 2010, 12:56am

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby thelawnet » 21 Nov 2018, 7:10pm

bigjim wrote:I think spinning is the answer to hill climbing. Once the weight and fitness have been sorted. 34/34 is not low enough for me on some 15% hills.


I like my 22/36 :lol:

Probably would get me up here https://www.strava.com/segments/6677392

Don't think I could do it on 34/34!

BigG
Posts: 984
Joined: 7 Jun 2010, 4:29pm
Location: Devon

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby BigG » 22 Nov 2018, 10:34pm

+1 for your 22/36. I ride a comparable 22/38 on my old Freddie Grubb (a 5 x 3 triple) and use it quite often on the mid-Devon hills. The low gear does nothing to increase my speed which is controlled by my heart and lungs, but it does allow me to remain seated with a cadence of 60 or more (about 3 mph) in much greater comfort than I would have pushing a higher gear up the same hill. It is kinder to the old joints and muscles and puts less strain on at least some parts of the old bike.

Heating
Posts: 18
Joined: 26 Sep 2018, 9:46pm

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby Heating » 28 Nov 2018, 12:08pm

hamster wrote:
Mick F wrote:I'm lighter now than I have been for decades.
For years, I was 13st as well as being a fit fast cyclist. I have Garmin records dating back to 2004 and if I compare my speeds and times to now - same bike, same gearing - I'm much slower even though I'm just under 12st.
Maybe I'm less strong as I've become older.


Not simply less strong so much as the body's ability to transport oxygen decreases with age (a combination of lung capacity and the heart's ability to pump blood). However muscles naturally waste with age. As a regular cyclist, Mick, you will doubtless have a metabolic age younger than your calendar age.

Everything you say makes sense. All this happens to apply to me too!!

pwa
Posts: 9885
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby pwa » 28 Nov 2018, 12:11pm

thelawnet wrote:
bigjim wrote:I think spinning is the answer to hill climbing. Once the weight and fitness have been sorted. 34/34 is not low enough for me on some 15% hills.


I like my 22/36 :lol:

Probably would get me up here https://www.strava.com/segments/6677392

Don't think I could do it on 34/34!

I'd want crampons and a rope for that.

User avatar
Sweep
Posts: 5390
Joined: 20 Oct 2011, 4:57pm
Location: London

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby Sweep » 28 Nov 2018, 1:11pm

Cugel wrote:

So, one answer to the OP is that alternative gears should not necessarily be to enable faster climbing but more comfortable climbing. And perhaps a kindness to the knee and hip joints.

Cugel


And to be able to cover more miles in the cycling day by spinning lightly?
Sweep

Heating
Posts: 18
Joined: 26 Sep 2018, 9:46pm

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby Heating » 28 Nov 2018, 1:27pm

I've read all the comments then came across this video.
Please have a look and give me your views.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S9qeEPR3UU

User avatar
Cugel
Posts: 2226
Joined: 13 Nov 2017, 11:14am

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby Cugel » 28 Nov 2018, 4:29pm

Heating wrote:I've read all the comments then came across this video.
Please have a look and give me your views.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S9qeEPR3UU

Yes, you can have lower gears that enable more comfortable climbing. If the comfort also means you suffer less than when heaving, you might even go a tad faster as you can get all your watts out at the faster cadence, for a longer-sustained period. But it will be "a tad" since the limit is your power. It's just that your full power can't necessarily be developed at a low cadence, especially over longer climbs/times.

Isn't that what we've been saying all-thread (but with some knobs on)?

Cugel

peetee
Posts: 1320
Joined: 4 May 2010, 10:20pm

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby peetee » 28 Nov 2018, 10:25pm

Many of the compact gears can be replicated on a standard set up. Its not until you get to the largest sprockets on a compact system that the standard system can't replicate the gears you may need for steep hills.
Gear ratios are generally referred to as a measure of inches. The equation is chain wheel teeth divided by cog teeth multiplied by wheel size. Therefore selecting a modern 34+17 pairing will give the same ratio as an old-school 42+21 pairing and either will require the same effort from the rider for a given speed.
I have always favoured compact cassettes and as I get older I have gone from an 8 speed system with a 21 top cog to a 10 speed system with a 25 top cog. This has given me easier gears for my tired legs in addition to all the gears I used to have. Now as I get even less inclined to give it a bit of welly i have chosen to ditch my 39/48 double cranks in favour of a 30/39/48 triple. This gives me a 32" bottom gear equivalent to a 32 sprocket with my double cranks and, all the gears I used to have plus a few easy ones in reserve.
Current status report:
Latter side of fifty and feeling less than nifty.
Too many bikes on pegs and too few miles in the legs.

User avatar
Mick F
Spambuster
Posts: 45881
Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Tamar Valley, Cornwall

Re: Standard versus compact gears

Postby Mick F » 30 Nov 2018, 11:23am

Heating wrote:
hamster wrote:
Mick F wrote:I'm lighter now than I have been for decades.
For years, I was 13st as well as being a fit fast cyclist. I have Garmin records dating back to 2004 and if I compare my speeds and times to now - same bike, same gearing - I'm much slower even though I'm just under 12st.
Maybe I'm less strong as I've become older.


Not simply less strong so much as the body's ability to transport oxygen decreases with age (a combination of lung capacity and the heart's ability to pump blood). However muscles naturally waste with age. As a regular cyclist, Mick, you will doubtless have a metabolic age younger than your calendar age.

Everything you say makes sense. All this happens to apply to me too!!
Yes, that makes complete sense.

Just turned 66 last week.
Mick F. Cornwall