Bents on the Alpine Classic

Recumbents and all feet forward machines

Bents on the Alpine Classic

Postby dhat » Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:31 am

I did 130km of the Alpine Classic on the weekend. Made it to Falls Creek and back to Bright twice over Tawonga Gap with my MTB. I took a lot of gear, so my total bike weight was easily 20kg. I was not yet game enought for the bent up the hills.

I spotted 3 recumbents on the way. 2 low racers and 1 trike. I think only the trike went on the Falls Creek - the others must have done a shorter route. Anyone the owner of one these?
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by BNA » Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:40 am

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Postby europa » Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:40 am

Trikes have it easy on hills :D

I reckon I could make use of a lower gear but at the moment, I'm weaving on a steep hill in bottom thanks to the low speed I'm doing. I need to be more skilled to use a lower gear ... by which time I'll strong enough not to need it :roll:

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Postby Hotdog » Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:33 pm

What is the gearing on the Toscana, Richard? The Comfy Chair goes down to 30/34, I reckon I can ride slow enough to use it (in a straight line) but I very rarely go near a hill steep enough to need my bottom grannies.

There are a few hills round here where I might be able to use even lower gearing though. I'm thinking of Kissing Point Road, which starts off with a climb of 100m in 2km (including a short pinch at the start at over 10%), levels off for another 1km, climbs at 2% for another 1km then finishes off with a twisty climb of 50m ascent over a distance of around 400m including a maximum gradient of 17%. I've ridden the last bit on the Trusty Steed, but on the two occasions I've tried it on the Comfy Chair I haven't been able to muster the strength to get through the 17%.

If I do follow Grame's lead and install 700C wheels on the Comfy Chair I'll probably look at getting some smaller inner and middle chainrings, to offset the increase in effective gearing from the bigger wheels. Dropping from 42T to 38T on the middle would almost exactly compensate for the wheel size change, and also increase my chances of being able to shift reliably to and from a smaller granny. A 24T would fit, and enable me to cycle up cliff faces :wink:, but I reckon my chances of getting it to work with my front derailluer would be slim. A 26T or 28T is probably more sensible.
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Postby Kalgrm » Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:01 pm

Hotdog, it sounds like you want a mountain bike crankset, something like 22-32-44. That's a pretty common chain ring combo for MTB cranks.

I'm finding the loss of my lowest two gears only rarely a problem, although I do need to drop down to the small chain ring more often on one hill that I previously cleaned easily in middle. I'm toying with chucking on a 26t small myself.

Cheers,
Graeme

(PS - I don't have many killer hills around here.)
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Postby Hotdog » Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:56 pm

Kalgrm wrote:Hotdog, it sounds like you want a mountain bike crankset, something like 22-32-44. That's a pretty common chain ring combo for MTB cranks.

That would be good except I don't want to lose the top end. When I am given some fairly flat or descending terrain and the open road I do make good use of the 52T big ring I currently have. If I did go with the 700C wheels a 48T would give roughly equivalent gearing but isn't that still too big for MTB cranks? Anyway, I'd probably prefer to stick with the 52T even with the bigger wheels and get an even higher top end. Where's the fun in spinning out on big descents? Faster, faster! :twisted:

For the bulk of my riding (commuting) I find my current 42T middle ring just about ideal, so if I did change the wheels I probably would fit a 38T middle (which would fit on my current cranks) to keep the gearing there the same. Doing that would keep me on the middle ring most of the time, saving the granny for the properly steep bits (or when I'm having a bad day) and avoiding the need for overly frequent chainring shifts.

As I do occasionally ride some big hills I think going with the smallest granny I can get to work would be the way forward when I've got the 700C wheels. A 24T maybe, or a 26T. I may find I never use the bottom granny but if that also means I never have to get off and walk then I'd be happy with that :)

A 24/26-38-52 combination of course officially exceeds the capacity of both my derailleurs, but I know other recumbent riders on the forums have made similar sets work in the pursuit of ultra wide ranging gearing. Inner chain stops seem to help.

This will remain purely theoretical for the time being though, I've already spent a fortune on other upgrades for the Comfy Chair this month so the 700C wheels and associated chainring changes will have to wait :oops:
I'm finding the loss of my lowest two gears only rarely a problem, although I do need to drop down to the small chain ring more often on one hill that I previously cleaned easily in middle. I'm toying with chucking on a 26t small myself.

If you're not using the bottom end of your current granny maybe leaving it for now but changing the middle ring instead might be better? That way you'll have to shift less. Or change both like I describe above and be a guinea pig for my plans :wink:
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Postby Kalgrm » Wed Jan 30, 2008 5:20 pm

Hotdog wrote: <snip>
A 24/26-38-52 combination of course officially exceeds the capacity of both my derailleurs, .....
<snip>

If you're not using the bottom end of your current granny maybe leaving it for now but changing the middle ring instead might be better? That way you'll have to shift less. Or change both like I describe above and be a guinea pig for my plans :wink:


Bah - those official capacity numbers for the rear are crap. They assume the rider is stupid, and I know that you aren't (you ride a 'bent ....;)). Stay in the middle chain ring and use the big and small rings for extreme hills (down and up) and you'll be fine with the rear derailleur's capacity. Don't use big x big or small x small and those numbers are meaningless.

The front one could get tricky, but I'm sure you'll work it out.

As I noted earlier, most of my riding is very flat, so dropping down to the small chain ring is a rarity. For instance, on my ride into the city from home (26km) I have one hill of about 100m length where I drop down to the small ring. On the way home, it's only 50m of small chain ring use. The other side of that hill, I'm happy to coast down each way, since I need the rest anyway by then (that means no big chain ring is required on my ride into the city)

I should also mention I have a 44t Q-ring as my middle and I'm using a 12-26 9 speed cassette, so that "hill" is certainly nothing like you encounter! ;)

Hey, I've done my bit as your guinea pig. Your turn now! :)

Cheers,
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Postby europa » Wed Jan 30, 2008 5:22 pm

The Toscana granny is 30/32, a little higher than yours, but you need to remember that I've only done about 220kms on the thing and am still very much in the learning curve. I expect my low speed riding to improve as I climb more hills.

I've also got very heavy thighs and calves (no, it's not fat), always have had. All that beef flapping around up front moves the bike around quite a bit. Again, experience and fine tuned muscles will smooth out my technique. She's a horribly twitchy bike to ride though, you never feel as though she's on rails and that only gets worse when you start pedalling. A real blast to ride though, especially down hills.

The beauty of my large thighs is that my baggy shorts aren't all that baggy and I can still wear them without them feeling like parachutes or any real chance of copping something bitey up them :D

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Postby Hotdog » Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:58 am

Kalgrm wrote:Bah - those official capacity numbers for the rear are crap. They assume the rider is stupid, and I know that you aren't (you ride a 'bent ....;)). Stay in the middle chain ring and use the big and small rings for extreme hills (down and up) and you'll be fine with the rear derailleur's capacity. Don't use big x big or small x small and those numbers are meaningless. The front one could get tricky, but I'm sure you'll work it out.


Yeah, that's what I figured, unless I'm cross chaining to a ridiculous degree the rear derailuer will be fine. Just a question of how wide a range I can tweak out of the front derailleur, and the stated capacities of those are really conservative. Searching bentrideronline reveals a bunch of people running 24-something-52 with a range of different front deraillleurs and all claiming 'no problems'.

I should also mention I have a 44t Q-ring as my middle and I'm using a 12-26 9 speed cassette, so that "hill" is certainly nothing like you encounter! ;)


Q-rings, eh? They certainly get talked up pretty often on the recumbent forums. How are you finding them?

Hey, I've done my bit as your guinea pig. Your turn now! :)


Indeed you have, I'm expecting some XT dual control levers and rapid-rise rear derailleur to turn up in the post soon, along with some Avid BB7s :) I've also got some Evo Lite mirrors that Richard has trialled for me :wink:

There is one small change that I'm trying out myself though, I've bought some Bacchetta Aero/Corsa handlebars. These differ from the Giro/Strada bars in that the grip sections aren't flared outwards but instead point straight backwards. This puts your arms closer to your sides, improving your aerodynamics slightly at the expense of a slight reduction in leg clearance. I figured that as I'll be taking my shifters, levers and grips off anyway I may as well give them a go now.
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Postby europa » Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:03 am

Hotdog wrote: unless I'm cross chaining to a ridiculous degree the rear derailuer will be fine.


'Twas thinking about this yesterday during my ride. I don't think you can cross chain a rear wheel drive bent. The chainline is that long that the chain will be essentially straight no matter what cog you're on.

And stop bragging about upgrades, I'm having enough trouble resisting the urge as it is :roll:

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Postby Hotdog » Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:12 am

europa wrote:'Twas thinking about this yesterday during my ride. I don't think you can cross chain a rear wheel drive bent. The chainline is that long that the chain will be essentially straight no matter what cog you're on.

As far as the chainline goes, I think you're right. The extreme length of the chain means it's never at much of an angle, and the idler(s)/chaintubes in the middle effectively isolate the front and rear parts of the chain from each other anyway. The only potential issue is slack/tight chain in the small-small/big-big combinations, and then only if your gearing allows you to exceed the capacity of the rear derailleur (unlikely with a stock specced bike).
And stop bragging about upgrades, I'm having enough trouble resisting the urge as it is :roll:

Hey, you bought those fancy mirrors, didn't you?
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Postby europa » Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:24 am

Hotdog wrote:Hey, you bought those fancy mirrors, didn't you?


Yes, but I want to go to USS eventually :D

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Postby Mulger bill » Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:34 am

europa wrote:Yes, but I want to go to USS eventually :D

Richard


Shoulda bought the trike and saved your bum at the same time... :wink:

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Postby Leigh_caines » Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:25 pm

Gearing is personal
so saying :)
I went though all till on the tourer I decided
"Go low even if you hardly ever use it... and keep a good high"
So ended with [by useing sram hub with 8 cogs pluss 2 out front been 48 in all] 16 gear inch low with 115 gear inch high
True I could of walked the only two hills [mountains] where I've needed to use the low low...but I didn't have to :D
And there has been once or twice where I've been on a long down hill with a tail wind where I could of used a higher high.
Sure on the Fixy one gear is just right but on the recumbent there is no such thing as to many gears :)
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Postby europa » Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:24 pm

Hotdog wrote:Indeed you have, I'm expecting some XT dual control levers


Does this mean you'll have a set of brake levers you don't need?

I bought a new set of Deore levers for the Black Beast and they are horrible - lever too short for three fingers and not really set up for two, grating feel when you use them, lots of stiction. It feels like your'e squeezing a brick. Sheesh. Utter rubbish.

By comparison the Avid levers on the bent are long enough to use with three fingers, work well with two, are comfortable and smooth.

Sooo, if you've got a pair of nice levers coming off, and would like to get rid of them ... :wink:

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Postby Hotdog » Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:54 pm

europa wrote:
Hotdog wrote:Indeed you have, I'm expecting some XT dual control levers


Does this mean you'll have a set of brake levers you don't need?

I bought a new set of Deore levers for the Black Beast and they are horrible - lever too short for three fingers and not really set up for two, grating feel when you use them, lots of stiction. It feels like your'e squeezing a brick. Sheesh. Utter rubbish.

By comparison the Avid levers on the bent are long enough to use with three fingers, work well with two, are comfortable and smooth.

Sooo, if you've got a pair of nice levers coming off, and would like to get rid of them ... :wink:

Yep, assuming I get on with the new-fangled dual control business I'll have a spare set of brake levers (and twist shifters) lying around. If memory serves correctly they're Tektro MT 4 .0, not top end levers I think but not too shabby either.
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