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Cassette/ compact chainset for Haywards Heath Howler

northonortho Posts: 18
edited August 2013 in Road buying advice
Need some advice on this please chaps.

I'm doing the Haywards Heath Howler in August, and I'm reliably informed it has a couple of hill including something called the Ditchling Beacon.

The scenario is this. I have an old heavy (11.5kg) road bike with a standard (bare with me here as today has been the first time I've looked into this....) 52/38 chainset and a 9 speed 14/25 cassette. I live in easy rolling country, so the gear ratios are not a problem but on a recent trip to Herefordshire I was out of the saddle for a lot of the time while the other riders were happily pedalling whilst seated. I'm used to riding out of the saddle while my compact equipped mates don't need to, so this in itself isn't a problem.

However..... I'm reckoning that my legs will be feeling it over the last 50 miles, so am considering changing my gear ratios accordingly. Options I'm considering are a new compact chainset or a new rear cassette -this would only be for really hilly rides. I've got no idea what difference losing or gaining an extra couple of teeth at each end will make so am a little stick.

Any feedback greatly appreciated. :)

Ed

Posts

  • Wirral_paulWirral_paul Posts: 2,476
    Well even on the flat, there arent many that will really need a standard chainset with a 52 or 53 chainring, and a 13 -23 cassette with a compact would give you pretty much the same spread of gears as you have now anyway. I'd say go for it and then leave it on after the ride. I run a compact on both my bikes now and i'm not exactly slow with 17mph+ averages on solo 100 mile + rides, and 18-20mph average on typical shorter rides of 40 - 60 miles. Its doing me no harm at all - probably helped me go quicker if anything, by having a better spread of useful gears.
  • northonortho Posts: 18
    Thanks for the reply Paul. Sounds like I need a compact.

    But what gear ratios, this is the one that really flummoxes me. I've only ever ridden this road bike, so I have no clue what I need for these hills. Any ideas? Would I get away with keeping the rear cassette and changing the chainset, or vice versa?
  • Wirral_paulWirral_paul Posts: 2,476
    Well i'd change the chainset, and then see how you get on with it. Best way to work out what you need is to ride it and see. You will lose in effect one high gear but gain a couple of lower gears for those hills with the current cassette. I run an 11spd with 12-27 and that gets me up anything in N Wales and better get me up Ventoux in Sept as i'm not spending £100 to get a 29 tooth sprocket :)
  • jamesesjameses Posts: 653
    You should be fine with what you've got. I've ridden that sportive a couple of times, and there's not much in the way of long, steep hills. Ditchling Beacon might be a bit of an effort, but it's pretty close to the start of the ride and there's a feed station at the top, so a chance to get your breath back (unless they've changed the route). Aside from that, there are a couple of long drags around the middle and some short, sharp climbs towards the end (if memory serves) but all should be do-able on a 38/25.
  • northonortho Posts: 18
    Hi James.

    I'd love to think I could do it (and probably can), but I don't want to blow my legs up at the 50 mile mark which is where Ditchling Beacon comes in and then suffer for the rest of the ride. Did you have to ride out of the saddle for these hills? I definitely will!
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    While I see why folk use compacts I personnally can't stand them. When I had one I was forever switching between chain rings as my rolling speed meant I was generally at near the bottom of the cassette in the inner ring and span out (120 rpm) all to often.

    Now I ride with a 12-21T rear cassette and 53/39T chainrings. 10% gradients are not an issue so close ratio gearing and a standard double are not a barrier to hill work. I do not know the course you are doing though or how steep or long the hills are. A 14-25T cassette wouls get me most things with a 38T inner. change the cassette if you are really worried but not the chainset.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • northonortho Posts: 18
    Thanks @thecycleclinic, although I rather feel that I've been I've been told that I should be able to run the 100m in under 10 seconds no problem because Usain Bolt can.

    I'm just a weekend warrior and not much of a hill climber - did my first Sportive less than a year ago. It sounds like, with my current set up, that Ditchling could be 10 minutes of standing on my pedals. Ouch.

    So, a change of rear cassette may be in order. To what? I still cant get my head around the fact that a couple of extra teeth will make a difference...
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 27,675
    I think you'll be fine... investing in a chain set for one climb seems a bit excessive and a 38 x 25 is adequate to take you anywhere. It's not a "hill climb", even if you don't go up it at your optimum, you will still go up it ten-twenty seconds slower and save your self 100 pounds or so
  • 8000ft over 96 miles.
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • northonortho Posts: 18
    I think you'll be fine... investing in a chain set for one climb seems a bit excessive and a 38 x 25 is adequate to take you anywhere. It's not a "hill climb", even if you don't go up it at your optimum, you will still go up it ten-twenty seconds slower and save your self 100 pounds or so

    OK - fair comment. Is it normal that I'm having to ride out of the saddle so often on a 38x25? I have no idea how steep the hills I'm riding are. I don't think I'm that bad - did my first 100 mile sportive at an average of 17-and-a-bit mph, but I definitely seem to have to put more effort in on the hills than my contemporaries. May it's because I'm a fat [email protected] and my bike weighs more than my car....
  • northonortho Posts: 18
    8000ft over 96 miles.

    I'm guessing that this isn't a lot.

    Just a newbie.
  • jamesesjameses Posts: 653
    northo wrote:
    Hi James.

    I'd love to think I could do it (and probably can), but I don't want to blow my legs up at the 50 mile mark which is where Ditchling Beacon comes in and then suffer for the rest of the ride. Did you have to ride out of the saddle for these hills? I definitely will!

    A couple of them, yes, but I tend to be an out-of-saddle climber when things get a bit steep anyway.
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,826
    I've got 34x27 and used it for Ditchling Beacon. I'm a more "in the saddle" kind of climber and I don't think I got out of the saddle on this climb. If you're more of an " out of the saddle" type you can probably get away with a higher low gear.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • northonortho Posts: 18
    drlodge wrote:
    I've got 34x27 and used it for Ditchling Beacon. I'm a more "in the saddle" kind of climber and I don't think I got out of the saddle on this climb. If you're more of an " out of the saddle" type you can probably get away with a higher low gear.

    I'm guessing there's quite a difference between a 38x25 and a 34x27?

    Great feedback though - thanks. I think the mist is slowly clearing :)
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,826
    northo wrote:
    drlodge wrote:
    I've got 34x27 and used it for Ditchling Beacon. I'm a more "in the saddle" kind of climber and I don't think I got out of the saddle on this climb. If you're more of an " out of the saddle" type you can probably get away with a higher low gear.

    I'm guessing there's quite a difference between a 38x25 and a 34x27?

    Great feedback though - thanks. I think the mist is slowly clearing :)

    38x25 is about the same as 34x22 or actually how my old bike used to be configured 42 x 28. I would find that very touch up Ditchling which I think ramps up to 15% in places. I might get up it, but I would certainly struggle.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • jimmurrayjimmurray Posts: 130
    I did it last year and found it a lot harder than the distance and climbing figurs would suggest. A lot of the climbing comes in the second half of the route where if feels as though they are taking you up and straight back down any hill they can find.
  • northonortho Posts: 18
    Thanks Jim,

    Did you enjoy it? What was your gear setup?

    I want to enjoy it rather than set any new personal records for pain endurance.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 27,675
    In September I am doing the Etape Cymru... I am sure there is plenty of climbing and plenty of steep climbing too, as it's often the case in Wales. I have a 42 x 26... I could go through the hassle of fitting a different chain set for the day, but then I think... why? I enter the events in search of a challenge and then I try to dodge the challenge by fitting lighter gears... I think I'll stick with what I've got and make do... there is something romantic in the struggle...
  • flasherflasher Posts: 1,734
    ... there is something romantic in the struggle...

    But not in walking up!
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 27,675
    Flasher wrote:
    ... there is something romantic in the struggle...

    But not in walking up!

    There is something romantic even in defeat... :wink:
  • According to 'Strava' that Ditchling Beacon hill is .9 mile and 9% gradient.

    If you are walking up that, you need to be spending more time cycling and less time on the internet :wink:
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • Wirral_paulWirral_paul Posts: 2,476
    In September I am doing the Etape Cymru... I am sure there is plenty of climbing and plenty of steep climbing too, as it's often the case in Wales. I have a 42 x 26... I could go through the hassle of fitting a different chain set for the day, but then I think... why? I enter the events in search of a challenge and then I try to dodge the challenge by fitting lighter gears... I think I'll stick with what I've got and make do... there is something romantic in the struggle...

    I did 2 of the climbs on the route last Sunday - Worlds End and the Panorama (from Llangollen end). I was glad of the 34x 25 and 34x27 gears on those two - thats for sure!! :)

    To the OP - if you arent a climber then why make life impossible for yourself. I wont be trying to ride up Ventoux in the same gear as the pro's - but saying that, there are a few pro's who will use a compact and a long cage mech with a 32 cassette if needed in the mountains (ie Contador). Clearly many are saying you dont need lower gears............ but quite frankly if you struggle up hills on the lowest gear then clearly you do. There's nothing big or clever about riding gears that are unsuitable - so if you can afford a spare chainset then you will get the use from it if doing more sportives i'm sure.
  • jimmurrayjimmurray Posts: 130
    I used 34*28 but then I'm toot heavy to be climber. Was definitely a lot harder route than I thought it would be.
  • northonortho Posts: 18
    Great comment, Paul.

    Fact of the matter is, I don't know if I'm a good climber or not. No real hiils around here, and all the guys I ride with are lighter than me and have lovely light bikes with compact chain sets. I always have to out more effort in on the hills, but get up them fast enough. I guess I'll find out soon enough what sort of a climber I am.

    I leaning towards a 12-28 cassette to make the ride a bit more relaxing.
  • northonortho Posts: 18
    Well, completed it yesterday in a not particularly fast 7:01, but could have nicked five minutes or so off that with ease.

    It was a great route and not too hard until the last twenty miles where they hit you with hill after hill, many of them short but sharp. I noticed no one was going that fast in that twenty miles, and I didn't get passed.

    Ditchling Beacon - It wold have been very unpleasant on my 38/25, but I borrowed a 12-28 cassette with made a significant difference, particularly on the long climbs which were much easier than on my 25. Ditchling was tougher than I expected - there is no way to train for that kind of hill in Essex!

    Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. Was pretty knackered at the end, but will be back again next year.
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,826
    In September I am doing the Etape Cymru... I am sure there is plenty of climbing and plenty of steep climbing too, as it's often the case in Wales. I have a 42 x 26... I could go through the hassle of fitting a different chain set for the day, but then I think... why? I enter the events in search of a challenge and then I try to dodge the challenge by fitting lighter gears... I think I'll stick with what I've got and make do... there is something romantic in the struggle...

    You're a machine Ugo! I used to have 42x28 on my Condor and swapped the old 42/52 chainset for a compact as it was just too hard getting up those steep hills. May be those Welsh hills aren't quite as steep as the steepest in Surrey (20%), or you have stronger legs than me :wink:
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    drlodge wrote:
    In September I am doing the Etape Cymru... I am sure there is plenty of climbing and plenty of steep climbing too, as it's often the case in Wales. I have a 42 x 26... I could go through the hassle of fitting a different chain set for the day, but then I think... why? I enter the events in search of a challenge and then I try to dodge the challenge by fitting lighter gears... I think I'll stick with what I've got and make do... there is something romantic in the struggle...

    You're a machine Ugo! I used to have 42x28 on my Condor and swapped the old 42/52 chainset for a compact as it was just too hard getting up those steep hills. May be those Welsh hills aren't quite as steep as the steepest in Surrey (20%), or you have stronger legs than me :wink:

    It's a good argument to ditch the gears altogether and go single speed! For the Alps last week I spent £60 on a medium cage rear mech and ran 11-29 to give me good climbing and fast descending. It worked a treat. I was almost always in the right gear maintaining a decent cadence all the time. It just made it more fun. But climbing for an hour is a bit different to climbing for ten minutes so there is a case to just stick with what you have. That said, I ride around that part of Sussex quite a lot - usually on an old Raleigh with rather unforgiving gears. I can do what I have to do but it does tend to feel like hard work!

    Of course, it also depends on whether you regard fitting chainsets etc as a hassle. I often remove mine anyway to clean them and I like fiddling around with the bikes so a cassette swap is a useful excuse to clean and fettle anyway.
    Faster than a tent.......
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