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I read frequent comments on threads here proclaiming that people are "undergeared" or "spinning out" and generally complaining about the gearing.

For example just now someone with a top gear of 48x11 said they were generally undergeared.

A quick calculation shows 48x11 to be a gear of around 120" in the traditional British system.

Now when I watched the likes of Hinault, Lemond, Roche, Indurain et.al. there was no such thing as an 11 tooth sprocket. And when Cippolini was winning the sprints the smallest cog was a 12. Admitedly they may have had slightly larger chainrings with the norm being either a 53 or a 52; but those riders had top gears of no higher than 119" on their road bikes.

I find it odd that in the current era when people are pedalling uphill at pretty good high cadences we still here so many stories of not being able to pedal fast enough.

If you are "undergeared" or "spinning out" on a gear of more that 120" then either you routinely ride on the flat at over 40mph, downhill at over 50mph or you really need to learn to pedal properly.

Is it only me, or do I have a point?

 

3 comments

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Boatsie [230 posts] 4 months ago
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I don't spin well.
I like labouring the crank. Nice slow long strokes. Especially having started a descent and wanting little effort. I found last ride I had 20km in an hour with gain of 200m yet resting on the down the average dropped to 17kmph.
3.5 ratio, a 4.5 -5 would have been lovely to do not much besides gather some wind.
On the flat a 48-14 usually to high for me! Flatbar.
Slightly higher if I'm lower.
I haven't ridden a dropbar in years, I remember liking under gearing on descents because by then, the cars being overtaken are sitting in an 80 zone and I'm enjoying the scare.
New tires new era? Are they really that confident at 110 now days?
How's the head stem cope?
I'm old and slow now! I hope this bike smooth!

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CXR94Di2 [2081 posts] 4 months ago
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Its a sales trend for new bikes, we all bike to have the same groupset as the pros, it isnt the case for the majority of riders

   I built a bike for touring/mountain climbing and sportives. 

I spent a bit of time using BikeCalc to workout the speeds I would like to travel at the cadence range I wanted 80-110rpm .  I ended up with a mtb groupset 40/28 crank and 11-32 cass.  I change the cass for an 11-40 when climbing alpine mountain routes. 

I can climb 30% hills whilst spinning at 80rpm, also travel along the flat at 26 mph with the above gearing.  

I recently experienced a ride on Military Road on the IOW where I was chasing my co riders.  I couldnt keep up on the 1-2% gradient descent with 40*11. My cadence was 110rpm, therefore my heart rate hit maximum.  Ive now changed the outer chainring to a 44t.  This allows a theoretical top pedalling speed of 32mph, allowing me to keep the cadence and HR down a little.  Once gradients go to 4% and above, I stop pedalling let gravity accelerate me .  

Ive never seen a rider on the road spinning out a 53*11, even the pros very rarely get to go flat out (120rpm) in top gear, except on a mountain descent. 

Freewheel is much nicer, thats what I did coming down Mont Ventoux, 12 miles with hardly any pedalling.

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Boatsie [230 posts] 4 months ago
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CXR94Di2 wrote:

Its a sales trend for new bikes, we all bike to have the same groupset as the pros, it isnt the case for the majority of riders

   I built a bike for touring/mountain climbing and sportives. 

I spent a bit of time using BikeCalc to workout the speeds I would like to travel at the cadence range I wanted 80-110rpm .  I ended up with a mtb groupset 40/28 crank and 11-32 cass.  I change the cass for an 11-40 when climbing alpine mountain routes. .

I swear some of them racers have fluent, flexible tree stumps pumping pressure upon the pedals.
I went a different route, couldn't be bothered doing mathematics, just wanting to kayak and bicycle. While cheap I bought my cassettes thinking that they'll go up or be made redundant. Close ratio 9 speed boxes. Final sitting between 13-25. Starting on 53 and figured chainwheels will stay available and easy to obtain.
Cheap bikes, 2 hours a day, love under gearing because that's my best excuse from exercise while having a descent ride.
Instead of gear selected per certain routes, I'll ride where the ratios allow.
Ps. 1 slow rider... Just riding due to fun.