audax bikes; gearing too high

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jawaka
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audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby jawaka » 31 Jul 2012, 5:13pm

I have had a Dawes audax and have found the gearing insufficiently low. Yes I can get up a 20% hill on the 30/25 combination but only with the wheel slipping on damp stretches and frankly it is no fun and kills the knees. Basically anything more than 10% needs a lower gear than it's got. So I note the ctc mag looks at the Dawes clubman and the ridgeback mercury, both Audax bikes and comes to exactly that conclusion.
I also find that the highest gear at 110 is just too high.
You wonder whether manufacurers ever seek customer feedback.

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Claireysmurf
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby Claireysmurf » 31 Jul 2012, 5:33pm

I have a Dawes Clubman and often find myself in the 30/25 combination you mention. I have also asked for suggestions for lowering gearing in two recent threads "Shiny Syndrome" and "Dawes Clubman - can I modify". I guess that any gearing is a compromise between how high and low, how well it shifts, its cost, its durability etc.
As an 'off the shelf' solution isn't it actually pretty good really? I am wary of lowering the overall gearing as I think I would find the taller rations too low. I say this without any real knowledge or research but aren't Audax bikes a nice way of combining elements of touring and more 'full on' road riding? Does your wheel spin have more to do with tyre choice? Low rolling resistance in the form of skinny tyres with little tread cannot be conducive to decent grip

BigG
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby BigG » 31 Jul 2012, 5:39pm

Wheel slip would occur with any gear as a lower gear increases the torque in the rear wheel by exactly the same proportion as it reduces the force needed on the pedals. Having said that, I agree that lower gears are useful. I guess that Dawes have discovered that people buying "Audax" bikes want something that looks a bit like a racing bike. But Audax rides are not races and it is better to have a wide enough range of gears for comfort than to have the closest of ratios. The advice given several times before in this forum is:
1 determine the lowest gear you need to get up the steepest hill you are likely to meet even when tired at the end of a ride
2 estimate the highest gear you would like (need doesn't come into this) above which you are prepared to freewheel
3 get as many gears as possible in between these extremes with a concentration (depending on your fitness) in the 40" to 80" range.

mattheus
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby mattheus » 31 Jul 2012, 6:32pm

The trouble here is that "Audax" is a broad church; just looking at speeds, the allowed range is (typically) 15kph-30kph.

A rider struggling to meet the min will want a very different gear-range to those with the opposite problem. [And a 15st rider will need different gears to a 7st-er ... etc ... ]

As a vague benchmark, I rode the Welsh 1000k (loads of climbing) at the minimum speed with a 26x28 gear. (And something like 96" top). I was very happy with this choice, having optimised my setup over many long/hilly rides. I'm fairly light.

______________________________
Wheelspin is a different issue - I only suffer on damp surfaces, but ride with slicks mostly. On a hard/smooth surface, tread doesn't help you - unless someone has dumped leaf mulch on it! I THINK lower gears help avoid wheelspin as you can remain seated on steeper gradients, giving a smoother torque output. But it's complicated ...

uphillbothways
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby uphillbothways » 31 Jul 2012, 7:12pm

There's an enormous amount of machismo about gearing and a lot of bike buyers just won't touch something they perceive to have 'old man' gears. The whole market is biased to cater for fast riders, because few men are secure enough in their masculinity to walk into a bike shop and say "I'm old and slow and a bit podgy, please sell me a bike that has nice low gears and won't do my back in". The marketing of Audax/Sportive/Roubaix bikes relies on euphemism and innuendo, to preserve the illusions of youth and virility that sells sporting goods.

Sram Apex is an obvious example - a 50/34 compact paired with an 11-32 cassette serves nobody well, except for vain Sportive riders who want the range of a triple without the stigma of a granny ring. A compact crankset paired with an 11-25 makes perfect sense for your average Cat 4, but an 11-32 cassette is useless to roadies because the gaps are too big to maintain your speed properly in a paceline. Nearly all Apex users would be better off with a triple, but the groupset has sold like hotcakes because it looks the part.

Boys and their toys etc.

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Claireysmurf
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby Claireysmurf » 31 Jul 2012, 7:17pm

My Clubman has a triple and is marketed as an Audax bike. Is that unusual?

Brucey
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby Brucey » 31 Jul 2012, 7:35pm

I guess a typical Audax bike is;

- a racing bike with slightly lower gears and provision for mudguards

or-

-a touring bike with lower weight and a sprightlier outlook.

The latter might well have a triple, and the former might well have a double. However compact doubles are becoming specced on more and more bikes; heaven knows why, but they are....but either way, this only yields a really good gear range if a long-arm (say MTB) rear mech and matching block are used, since somewhere, someone decided that a 30T or 32T inner chainring was small enough on a 'road' chainset.

Audax riders vary a lot, too. You might cadence at 70 or 100, weigh 70 or 90kg, and be happy on short climbs pushing out 200W or 400W. If you are a 100/90/200 rider then you will want a much lower gear than a 70/70/400 rider.

The daft thing is that wide range rear mechs used to be a bit hit and miss, but I reckon ever since 9 speed came out they have been darned good, shifting over a wider range (3T and 4T shifts) as sweet or sweeter than 8 speed does on 2T and 3T shifts. Long-arm mechs don't even weigh very much more, either. Somethng that goes 21-25-30 at the bottom would keep the closer ratio gears in the middle nicely.

If I was speccing an audax bike it might go out the factory door with (say) a 13-25 block on it, but with a mech that would take a 13-30, so that it could easily be changed by the owner or at the point of sale.

Oh, hang on, maybe they are a bit like that already?

I note that the Ridgeback Mercury is sold as a 'touring bike' and the rear mech has a bit in hand- you can indeed fit a 30T cassette. The Dawes will also take a lower gear, certainly a 28T sprocket maybe a 29 or 30 is possible with the OE rear mech. Maybe it is not so bad after all.

cheers
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531colin
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby 531colin » 31 Jul 2012, 7:40pm

jawaka wrote:................................You wonder whether manufacurers ever seek customer feedback.



Customer feedback is fairly easy to find......it doesn't even matter whose customers they are......
....If you just skim this forum, you will find many, many people wanting their handlebars higher and their gears lower.....never the other way round.
You will also find plenty of people trying to fit mudguards to bikes with inadequate clearance, and luggage to bikes with no fitments for a carrier.

Oddly enough, I don't remember reading any posts along the lines of........."I am a vain and foolish person, I allowed myself to be seduced by the greyhound good looks of bike X when I really needed bike Y which is comfortable and practical, and looks a right mongrel." :wink:

The fact is that glamour sells, practical is boring. Its been a lousy "summer" which is very bad for bike sales. The T de F and women's Olympic roadrace successes will give bike sales a bit of a boost, I expect a few shiny overgeared uncomfortable bikes will be sold (by shiny bike shops) to wannabee racers. Most will be ridden twice before being consigned to the back of the garage when the purchaser realises it isn't as easy as it looks on the telly. A tiny number of such bikes will be transported by car to the local proper bike shop, where the customer will be dismayed how expensive it is to get them somewhere near practical.

AND too many bikes have steering so fierce that people can't hold a straight line when they get a bit tired, or distracted by changing gear, etc.

Damn! thats spoiled my evening! :evil: :evil: :evil:

uphillbothways
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby uphillbothways » 31 Jul 2012, 7:43pm

Claireysmurf wrote:My Clubman has a triple and is marketed as an Audax bike. Is that unusual?


Not at all, but it's a relatively high gearing setup in spite of being a triple. The current Clubman has 50/39/30 chainrings and a 12-26 cassette. By contrast, the Galaxy uses 48/38/26 with an 11-32 cassette. The Clubman is ideally suited to a relatively fast rider who spends a lot of time on someone's wheel, but it's higher than ideal for the vast majority of Audax riders.

Road racers have some quite odd requirements that have trickled out to the rest of the bike trade. Racers need a very high 52/11 or 53/11 top ratio in order to contest sprint finishes and very close ratios across the cassette in order to moderate their speed in the close quarters of a paceline. The vast majority of cyclists have neither of these requirements and would be much better served with a lower and wider range of gears. If you search these forums, you'll find that people asking how to lower their gear range outnumber people asking how to raise their gear range by at least 20:1.

As Colin531 so eloquently described, the trade makes bikes that are easy to sell, not easy to ride.

Brucey
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby Brucey » 31 Jul 2012, 7:59pm

buying a 'racing bike' has always been an aspirational activity though... the aspiration being in many cases 'as fast as possible'.

Of course once the shine goes off that idea out come the mudguards, lower gears higher bars etc etc. But until it does, anything that 'makes the bike slower' is simply not allowed.

The two mentalities are very different, ne'er the twain shall meet and all that. One of my chums asked why there were so many punctures in the women's olympic road race, and why it was that they didn't use puncture proof tyres.

No point in never puncturing if you are always going to get beaten by someone who might be slower than you, but has worked less hard on easier rolling tyres....

I guess if you went on a racing forum you might find a load of people asking how they can go racing on a converted touring bike- an equally valid enquiry as the other way round.

cheers
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reohn2
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby reohn2 » 31 Jul 2012, 8:41pm

jawaka wrote:I have had a Dawes audax and have found the gearing insufficiently low. Yes I can get up a 20% hill on the 30/25 combination but only with the wheel slipping on damp stretches and frankly it is no fun and kills the knees. Basically anything more than 10% needs a lower gear than it's got. So I note the ctc mag looks at the Dawes clubman and the ridgeback mercury, both Audax bikes and comes to exactly that conclusion.
I also find that the highest gear at 110 is just too high.
You wonder whether manufacurers ever seek customer feedback.


I agree with commnents made about the completely impractical gearing fitted to most bikes,it's a fact that most reasonably fit human beings cannot pedal a bike faster than 30mph on a level road even with a good tailwind.
It's also impactical to expect that same human to climb a gradient steeper than 12% on the bottom gear you mention,so it remains a mystery to me why manufacturers continue to sell bikes that aren't fitted with reasonable low gearing.
To remedy the completely useless gear range you currently have you have two options:-
1)fit an 11-32 cassette(£25),you will need a new chain to suit(£15).
2)fit a Spa Cycles touring chainset with 48-38-28 rings (£35) replace the 28t inner with a steel 26t Stronglight one,you will need a suitable BB (Shimano UN55 @ £15)
The first option solves the lower gearing issue but doesn't tackle the (over the) top gear.
The second option option solves both and still leaves you with a close ratio cassette.
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Whippet
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby Whippet » 31 Jul 2012, 9:21pm

Apologies for the semi-hijack:

What are the options for Campag Chorus / Speed Triple 9 speed? I have 13-26 cassette and 52-42-30 chain ring. Would ideally like closer to 30 teeth on the rear as found that I was grinding up a few hard climbs this year.

Brucey
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby Brucey » 31 Jul 2012, 9:25pm

IIRC (and maybe I don't so please check) campag say 28T sprocket max but there are folk running 29T (and maybe 30T on some frames).

cheers
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RickH
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby RickH » 1 Aug 2012, 12:46am

I don't know if the 10 speed mechs have different clearance/capacity but Campag do a 13-29 10s cassette (& will soon have a 12-30 in the 2013 triple sets).

Rick.

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cycleruk
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Re: audax bikes; gearing too high

Postby cycleruk » 1 Aug 2012, 9:56am

I'm running a 10 speed 13-29 cassette on a standard rear derailleur (Centaur) and compact 50/34 chainset.
I have used this on two bikes with no problems.
There's no such thing as a tailwind.
It's either a headwind, or you're going well.