Forgive my bike mechanic naivety.

It was the end of the century when I was last riding regularly and even then hills were always the enemy. I'm no whippet at 92k (but not blubber) so I always used to try and power up them then ease up a bit. Well that all worked for a while but as the miles went on it became somewhat harder and eventually something really nasty could have me on my feet.

So, here I am, a month back in and think I need a change of approach. The mechanical world seems to have moved on from my mid 90's Campag 9 speed (Chorus) with 52/42 rings 13-26 cassette.

What I'd like to achieve are some lower gears to avoid the prospect of being a bike pusher and I see that 52/36 and 50/34 are now available but they all seem to be 10/11 speed.

I've done a lot of reading but am still confused. The question is what do I need to change? Will I end up changing everything from b bracket, chainset, chain, cassette, rear mech and shifters or is there a simple route that I can't see for looking.

Whatever I do the cassette has to remain campag as I've just got a Powertap.

I don't have to do it myself as LBS are understanding that they cant compete with internet prices on components and are happy to do the work at suitable remuneration.



Flying Scot [908 posts] 1 year ago

I'm old, fat(ish) , live on the hills and have an older bike than you.

Get a 39 chainring for the front and a 13-28 cassette throw in a new chain, cables and brake blocks with the service.

That gets me up virtually everything, like you, I'm too old for a 42.

Both are readily available, maybe buy some chainring bolts though, as yours might need drilled out after a long period laid up.

domofarmfrites [20 posts] 1 year ago

The easiest way is a new casette with 28t and 39t chainring but bear in mind the capacity of your rear mechs. I think that for 10sp campag mechs 29t cassettes are ok but i cant find the old 9sp capacity. For the current Xenon 9sp off Ribble's site they say this :

Campagnolo Xenon 9 Speed Rear Derailleur

- Short (254g) for double chainset and sprocket set up to 13-26.

- Medium (258g) for double chainset and sprocket set up to 13-28 or for triple chainset and sprocket set up to 13-26

- Long (263g) for triple chainset and sprocket set up to 13-28

Or a 10sp chainset may work ok in your set up. There are probably some old square taper compact campag chainsets floating about in shops or you could get a new JIS BB and a compact.

You may be ok with something like this 7/8sp chainset:

or this 9/10:

Flying Scot [908 posts] 1 year ago

I've got a short cage Record 9 speed and although officially it won't do a 28, it actually does, also have a Veloce that copes OK too.

Perhaps it just doesn't make the 52 with the 28 with ease, but I wouldn't do that for very often, if at all.

Eebijeebi [102 posts] 1 year ago

Thanks chaps, you sure got me studying. Cage? JIS? I got there!
In short, swapping to a 39 inner should be ok but going to a 28 cassette may (officially but not definitely) need a change in rear mech?
Getting down to a 39/28 (37.6") should give a lot more leeway than my current lowest 43.6" and can be achieved at moderate cost.

The 50/34s are catching my eye though - can't see me racing or TTing unles there's a supervet category. My target after recovering from illness is to complete a century this summer - and be able to walk afterwards!
I know that would really cost me as it will involve the whole caboodle, £350/450 for 10 speed, £540/£870 for 11 speed. Once at the 11 speed there's a 52/36 option too. All plus fitting of course.
Then there're triples, or are they not for real men  1

I could end up with Trigger's broom but I need to make a change pronto, so will give it much thought and run it by the LBS (lovely people).

mattsccm [324 posts] 1 year ago

Anything longer than a short mech will do 29 and even then it can be persuaded. I use Comp and Race triple rear mechs with a 30t shimergo set up with no issues. Pretty cheap 2nd hand.
Why not keep your eye open for a used compact chainset. 50/34. Plenty of square taper stuff out there. Even some Campag. One snag is that they will mostly be JIS taper which Campag isn't. Not probs, a cheaper Shimano square taper BB will be well under 2o quid.
Drop the front mech a tad and it will work.
Forget the 10 speed bit with chainsets.
9 speed Campag is very tolerant of mismatches. Its also worth selling and I bet you could shift a complete 9 speed groupset if tidy for nearly enough to by a complete Veloce 10 speed groupset if you wanted to.
Try retrobike.com for more info

Daveyraveygravey [367 posts] 1 year ago

52-36 is a new-ish combo and not that easy to get hold of.

Changing the cassette (and usually the chain) is the cheapest and easiest option; changing the crankset will cost lots and you'll probably have to change lots of other bits too.

I've got a 9 speed Campag set up, and recently went from a 12-25 to a 12-27 and find it helps my climbing a lot. I think there are only 4 options though, not sure how much bigger you can go. There are Campag-compatible parts, mine is a BBS (something like that) but Miche also make them, and it works fine. A proper Campag cassette might run a little smoother I guess.