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I'm planning a trip to France for the usual hills. I currently use Ultegra Di2, 53-39 and a 12-25 when riding around Sydney and with this combination I have never struggled for gearing on any of the hills such as Akuna, Bobbin, Galston, Mount White, West Head wall etc.
Obviously the hills in France are in another league so I have just bought a 50-34 compact and an 11-28 cassette but am wondering which combination to use.
Some friends have told me the 53-39 with the 11-28 would be enough, others say combine the 50-34 with the 12-25, and others say go the whole hog and combine the 50-34 and the 11-28. I'm not a huge fan of the 11-28 though given the 4 teeth spacing from the 24 to the 28. What if I want something in between?
Anyone recommendations appreciated!
Last edited by Arlberg on Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Why don't you try running the compact with the 11-25 on and pack the 11-28 and take it with you.
If you find you're struggling on the 34/25 and want the 28 on the back it shouldn't be too hard to find someone who can swap out the rear cassette for you.
With the right tools it's only a 2 minute job to do...
2012 Felt F75 | 105 | ProLite Braccianos | GP4000S
Just go the whole hog... If you think the 34/25 will probably be fine then the 34/24 will be too... Except you will have the bail out 28 gear if you need it.
Imagine climbing the steep part of Akuna for an hour or 90 minutes solid
IIRC, Contador for example has used compacts with the 32 tooth sprocket, and Wiggins won the Tour with a 36. Di2 had to be hacked in software to understand a cog as big as a disc brake.
I suppose they're not real men, though.
You could get a SRAM 11-28. They end with ...22,25,28.
Or 2 hours even.
Mont Ventoux was the hardest 2 hours of my life. Well the first 6 kilometres wasn't hard, but from the 15 kilometre mark to the Chalet Reynard was tortuous, and then the final kilometre hurt. If you can, the descent down the back way to Sault is awesome and so to the ride through this gorge back Bedoin makes all the pain and suffering of the climb worth it.
Take as much water as you can, as well as bars, fruit and gels. I lost 3 kilograms on the day, and it would have all been in sweat. It was hot through the forest, but the temperature cooled on the bare slopes as the clouds moved in. There is a natural spring past Chalet Reynard on the side of the road, with the sweetest tasting water to be found.
In the Alps around Alpe d'huez and Col du Galibier, you can be hot and sweaty on the ascents, and then rather chilly on the descents. I definitely recommend taking warm weather/rain gear for descending.
And as one of our tour guides said, if you lose control, lay the bike down, as there is no coming back if you go off over some of the roads. It's better to lose some skin, than the alternative.
Opps We rode with 53/39 and a 11/28 cassette.
Assuming it's 10 speed you're talking about, Sram has a better spacing;
The gaps up the top are not too bad and the last 5 are a 1 tooth spacing where you need it.
Take it from me, when climbing the mountains in France and Italy there is no "something in between". Going up you will be in the largest rear cog and your right hand will develop a twitch as you try and change down "just one more". You would sell your grandmother for one of those in-between gears to be one lower than what you actually have.
Take a 34-28 combo or even a 34-30 unless you particularly enjoy suffering up 14km of 9-10% at 50 rpm.
Hehe ... Ventoux was my hardest day on a bike ever as well... put it this way I payed the price for doing the 150kms / 2000m of climbing at 35 av before even hitting Ventoux, hunger flatted in epic proportions, ran out of fluids half way up... it was pitiful.
Most French roads are relatively mild in angle compared to those in Italy for instance, as they supposedly weren't meant to be > 7% for long stretches so oxen could pull carts. Even Mont Ventoux steep middle third is under 10% average, the Galibier 8.4% for the last section from Plan La Chat. But what they are is long and numerous!
Gearing really depends on what type of rider you are and how you want to approach these climbs? Around Vic I usually ride an 11-23 and was thinking a 12-25 would be fine in France, but after strong suggestions from friends I ended up fitting a medium cage derailleur so I could run a 13-29 with my 53-39. Even then I was sceptical thinking the 29 would only be an emergency gear... First afternoon in France I stubbornly sat in the 26 for the first few steeper km up Alpe D'Huez - pumping out Wattage far greater than I could sustain and finally conceeded and shifted into the 29. In the end the 29 got alot of use that trip! Probably was light enough, though I may once or twice tried to shift down one more gear...
Especially important to have the easier gearing as you will be backing up day after day of long climbs in the mountains. Having the lighter gear means on some rides you can cruise and enjoy the amazing scenery.
Thanks for the suggestions. I will take the compact and ditch the Shimano 11-28 for a Sram 12-27 for its better gear spread. It's got me stuffed why Shimano discontinued the 12-27 in their Ultegra range, as everyone seems to think this is the best all round cassette combination. Shimano are surely losing sales to Sram here.
You can always get a Shimano 5700 (105) 12-27 - very little difference.
Here's my blog - A bit of fun
"Riding not racing...."
as some one that runs an mtb triple touring set up on my cx style road bike because it will get me up anything albeit very slowly I enjoyed that comment
I am struggling to think where Contador or Wiggins would have used such enormous cassettes during a TDF... The stages are never crazy steep like some in the Vuelta and Giro.
Yeah, the pros don't need them because they can sit on 400W for the hour or so it takes them to get up a typical big French col. So even with a 39/25 they are spinning properly and efficiently at 80+ rpm.
The other 99.99% of the population who suck as bad as most of us posting here would be down to 50 rpm on the same climbs with the same gearing, which only masochists could enjoy.
It wouldn't so much be a case of hacking the Di2 software to make it work, 'cos the gear spacing is the same as a narrower-range cassette, rather the mechanical components of the derailleur would need hacking in order to fit the huge sprocket (unless it was a prototype 6870 Ultegra, which is designed for wall-climbers).
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.
You're right, Duck, the article I was trying to recall used the hack phrase, but it was referring to the derailleur, not the software:
Interesting... I like his reasoning
From Ride magazine, issue 61 has a spread on cycling tours at the TDF. Quite a few of my photos made it in the magazine. One line from the magazine;
I've ridden most of the well-known French mountains (Ventoux, Alpe 'd'Huez, Galibier, Tourmalet, d'Aubisque) with whatever road bike I could hire at the village below, so I'm sorry I can't help with actual gearing. But certainly always pack a jacket (no matter what the weather in the village) and energy bars. The mountain climbs are so beautiful, I tended to switch off and rode them very slowly to enjoy the view (not that i had a choice re: speed!).
My book has a few chapters on the French Alps.
http://www.amazon.com/baguettes-and-bic ... d+bicycles
oh yeah, rode Passo Dello Stelvio on a hybrid... it nearly killed me
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