Gravel & touring gears — BikeRadar
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Gravel & touring gears
Does a 46/30 and a 11-34 combination work well for gravel and road touring
edited November 2020
It would work reasonably well if you are not heavily loaded but bottom gear could be lower for more serious gravel stuff.
A 46/11 top gear is more than you need for touring and would only really be used for riding downhill on roads. It’s around 109 inches, if you are familiar with gear charts in inches, and the sort of top gear found on lightweight road bikes. I’ve found for touring with camping stuff in panniers that a top gear of 95 to 100 inches is fine. For example, I have used a top gear of 48 or 46 big ring with a 13-tooth little cog over many years of touring, letting me pedal at 20-25 mph on the flat. My bottom gear on my triple chain set tourer is 24 inner ring and 28 biggest cassette cog. That’s around a 23 inch gear (the same as your potential gearing) and it has got me up all the big road passes in the Alps and Pyrenees with camping gear in four panniers. But I could have done with an even lower bottom gear for off-road stuff. My 13-28 nine-speed cassette gives small jumps between ratios, which I feel is an advantage over a very wide range cassette with its big jumps.
Your suggested set-up would be fine if you are willing to get off and walk on steeper off-road stuff. But I would personally consider smaller chain rings such as 44/28 and/or go for a cassette with a 12 tooth smallest cog, maybe a 12-36.
I have GRX with this combo on and I like it, for a bit of bike packing Im gonna stick a bigger cassette on.
^ agree. Use GRX rx400 2x10 with 46/30 and 11-34 on my graveller. But unloaded. So for bikepacking I'd get lower ratios fitted.
In my experience gravel would be fine, you generally run out of grip on wet steep gravel climbs before gears, I have 32-48 and 32-11 cassette.
But fully loaded on steep ramps could be walking, which isn’t the end of the world really.
Looks a good combo to me. Anything lower and you're going at walking pace so may as well walk
I agree with Roger that anything lower on gravel and you're probably running out of grip more and just end up kicking up gravel.
It also depends on the bikepacking that you're doing, there quite a weight difference between using racks and panniers and the more modern packing bags. Both have their upsides and downsides but with the more modern bags that gearing will be fine.