pwa wrote:Some people create gear tables for their multi chain ring bikes and work out the best path through the options. I have never done that. I don't know how I get from the lowest to the highest gear, and I get along just fine not knowing. So for me having three chain rings is easy and simple.
I can use the middle ring with all nine sprockets if I want to, though I tend to use it only with the central seven. The smallest ring will work fine with about six sprockets, as will the largest. When the gradient is changing and I think I may be going to one extreme or the other on the cassette I consider a change of ring, then just stick with that ring for as long as possible. Very often on rolling terrain I find myself just staying on the middle ring (36 on my tourer) for mile after mile, so using it as a 1x system. But as using the three rings is so relaxed and easy I would not want to give up the option of a ring change when the gradient changes significantly.
I do use bar end levers with non-indexed front shifting so my front mech can be trimmed perfectly and easily for any sprocket, which I think makes front changing much easier than with STI. And I have used both.
That's my experience too. Why give up the two extra sets of low/high ratios for use in very hilly/fast terrain respectively? Even though one is often single-ringing most of the time in the middle ring, those two sets of low/high ratios are very useful in highly variable terrain. And the sprockets can be close-ratio. The Surfer has got used to the gaps; I'd rather not.
Once I spent winters on the ultimate single ring which also had a single sprocket, aka fixed-wheel winter bike. It did grow vast quads straining up hills at 39rpm. It did teach me to spin at up to 120rpm without bouncing when going down them. Nevertheless, these were just learning periods and now I use gears to better-get the benefit of the vast quads and spinning ability.
On the summer bike I now have an STI lever working well with the front triple changer (Ultgera 6703 cage with a Dura-Ace triple 30-39-52). Once set up carefully it works perfectly for all changes and trimming. It does take quite a bit of tweeking and trying to get it just right but it's stayed just-right for months with only a teeny twiddle of the barrel adjuster to compensate for the stretch of the new cable.
This triple works with a Frankenstein 13-30 or 15-36 10-speed cassette. The higher gears have 1-toof jumps, which means no vast change in cadence between gears when at speed (which is when even a slight change in velocity can require vastly more or less power). I use all the sprockets - no redundant 11,12 etc.. I put the wheel and sprocket on suitable for either super-hills (15-36) or flatter-faster (13-30). The 39 ring works well with all 10 sprockets - no graunch or bad chainline in the extremes (although the bike does have long chainstays, which helps a lot). I'm in the 39 a lot of the time (at 10-20mph, which covers most riding).
1X gearing will suit some. Many will adapt to the big gaps between ratios. After all, if we can go through winter with just a single-gear fixed wheel .......
But personally I've come to find both close ratios and very low gears the best for my style of cycling. What is amusing is that many who claimed they "needed" 52X11 are now "very happy" with a top gear of 40X11. The power of advertising, fashion and the herd mentality, eh!?