Author Topic: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?  (Read 4654 times)

Thegoblinchief

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Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« on: August 19, 2014, 12:55:47 PM »
I have a Trek FX 7500 and I'm very close to maxing out the gears when biking on level terrain without the goblins.

Finally counted the teeth on my gears and the highest ratio I have is 50:14. Is it more a matter of higher and higher cadence or should I look at replacing my chainrings?

Also, do you replace just one or all 3? I can post pictures if need be. It looks like I can replace just the outer chainring but I've never messed with the gearing on a bike before.

Shor

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2014, 01:34:38 PM »
I too am interested in the answer as I feel like I am hitting a similar point on my bike.
General perusing of the internet though says otherwise.

Even though I am pedaling at max gear, I am not cycling at my upper tempo. This is evident by downshifting just one or two, and I am pedaling at a higher, more effective, more sustainable cadence. This probably means I am putting my legs under a higher strain by pedaling at max gear/slower pace,
and until I can hold the upper tempo while at max gears for the entire desired duration,
then I'm not really at the point where I am maxing my gear,
and thus am not at the point where I would need to up my gears to a higher ratio.

One other thing to note though is that even though I am not at the highest limits of my bike, I am also not using the lower limits of bike at all ever. Half of the gears on the lower end are completely unused, but that's probably due to my type of commute which avoids any major elevation climbs. I don't use the lower half of my gears and I'm commonly running on the uppermost 2-3 gear setups makes it intuitively feel like I'm probably pacing beyond the limits of my bike, but that is simply a mental (and probably amateurish) misconception since I'm not riding up large mountainsides(?)

You might or not be at a similar spot for your bike. But typically, if general reading is any indicator, unless your legs are spinning freely when they shouldn't be, it could just be a lack of cadence thus a physical limitation well before it's a gear limitation.

YMMV, as you are quite the bike miler rockstar around here, and this is just what I have gathered when inquiring about this exact same question with a much (much) cheaper bike.

Matt K

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2014, 01:39:48 PM »
Easiest thing to do is replace the rear cassette with one having an 11 tooth cog as the final cog. I don't know enough about cassettes to tell you if yours requires a complete replacement or if just the final cog needs to be swapped out. Your local bike shop will be happy to help with that.

Since removing the cassette takes special tools, unless you can borrow that tool, or plan on changing multiple cassettes over time, it is probably best to have the shop do the work (lots of shops will include the installation free with the purchase of the cog or cassette).

Russ

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2014, 01:42:30 PM »
can you list your derailleur and min/max teeth on both chainrings and cassette? you may or may not be able to change things depending on how much of the derailleur's range you already use.

If you are able to do this, changing your cassette will make a bigger impact on the overall ratio, is cheaper to change, and will probably have to be done relatively soon anyway. Buy the tools if you don't already have them (you will use them often), and change the whole thing so you don't mess up the steps between teeth. Simply replacing the 14T with a 12 or 11 will result in a 3-4 tooth jump which is biiiig on that end.

nicoli20

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2014, 02:18:11 PM »
What is your current cadence at?

I try to be at around 75-90 a minute. If you currently have a low cadence, speeding this up may help you gain some speed and allow you to ride longer as well.

Changing up your gear ratio will also be a help.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2014, 02:18:34 PM »
It's a Shimano Deore derailer. And I counted wrong the first time. It is 11T min, 30T max cassette.

Also a Deore front. Chainring is 48T max, 28T min. I really need that minimum. I use the 28:30 ratio quite a bit when fully loaded up grades.

The rear cassette will need replacing after this winter for sure.

Russ

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2014, 02:34:40 PM »
If you're spinning out a 48x11, pedal faster. I run a 42x12 and can still comfortably cruise around 30 mph on tailwindy days. You ought to be good up to 35 at least, and past that there's not much point pedaling anyway (wind resistance and diminishing returns and all).

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2014, 04:30:14 PM »
If you're spinning out a 48x11, pedal faster. I run a 42x12 and can still comfortably cruise around 30 mph on tailwindy days. You ought to be good up to 35 at least, and past that there's not much point pedaling anyway (wind resistance and diminishing returns and all).

Okay, I figured I was going fast, but I didn't know how fast!

skyrefuge

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2014, 05:22:36 PM »
One other thing to note though is that even though I am not at the highest limits of my bike, I am also not using the lower limits of bike at all ever. Half of the gears on the lower end are completely unused, but that's probably due to my type of commute which avoids any major elevation climbs. I don't use the lower half of my gears and I'm commonly running on the uppermost 2-3 gear setups makes it intuitively feel like I'm probably pacing beyond the limits of my bike, but that is simply a mental (and probably amateurish) misconception since I'm not riding up large mountainsides(?)

It's probably a combination of two things: yes, you don't encounter hills/headwinds that would require your lowest gears, but also with your slow cadence, you're likely used to grinding away with high pedal pressure rather than spinning easily. When you're more comfortable grinding away like that, you have less need for lower gears because you can force yourself up hills (at least if the hills don't go on for longer than your anaerobic muscle activity can).

My girlfriend has the opposite "problem". I taught her to spin at an efficient cadence (90 rpm) immediately when she learned to ride, and that means that I just had to swap out her crank to get her *lower* gears, since at 90 rpm, her original gearing wouldn't let her get low enough to continue comfortably spinning up any grades over 5%. And even with her lowered max gear (she went from 48/11 to 42/11), she can still go 27.6 mph @ 90 rpm, and that's plenty fast.

In general, bikes are geared too high for people riding at an ideal cadence IMO, but since most people mash away and spin too slowly, I guess it works out for the majority.

skyrefuge

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2014, 05:30:41 PM »
If you're spinning out a 48x11, pedal faster.

Yep.  It only takes 100 rpm to get a 48x11 up 35mph (and 100 rpm is my normal cadence, so  while that's higher than the average Joe I see out there, it's possible for normal humans). From Sheldon Brown's gear calculator, here are what various cadences with a 48x11 gear translate into:

60 rpm: 21 mph
80 rpm: 28 mph
90 rpm: 32 mph
100 rpm: 35 mph
120 rpm: 42 mph
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 11:23:34 PM by skyrefuge »

darkadams00

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2014, 08:29:43 PM »
Choose longer, hilly routes and pedal faster. If you need a bigger challenge, always ride uphill into a headwind. If that's still not enough, drop an 80-lb bag of Quikrete into the Goblin Chariot (the 60-lb bags are for the women). Problem solved. No upgrades needed.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2014, 09:11:58 PM »
Choose longer, hilly routes and pedal faster. If you need a bigger challenge, always ride uphill into a headwind. If that's still not enough, drop an 80-lb bag of Quikrete into the Goblin Chariot (the 60-lb bags are for the women). Problem solved. No upgrades needed.

To really push myself, it'd have to be 300 pounds... :P

Glad there's no upgrades needed, as I didn't particularly WANT to do anything to the bike, but I wasn't sure how handicapped I was compared to, say, a race bike. (Obviously there's aero advantages from drops and whatnot, but with the loads I carry, flat bars are really the only option for stability.)

Grid

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Re: Starting to max out my current bike - advice?
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2014, 10:03:19 PM »
If you're spinning out a 48x11, pedal faster.

Yep.  It only takes 100 rpm to get a 48x11 up 35mph (and 100 mph is my normal cadence, so  while that's higher than the average Joe I see out there, it's possible for normal humans). From Sheldon Brown's gear calculator, here are what various cadences with a 48x11 gear translate into:

60 rpm: 21 mph
80 rpm: 28 mph
90 rpm: 32 mph
100 rpm: 35 mph
120 rpm: 42 mph

I had to do a double-take to recognize that you meant rpm instead.  I was thinking you could be one of the few bikers that has gotten a speeding ticket. 

To everyone, thanks for the info.