Gravel bike gearing

Talk about anything.

Moderators: Bearbonesnorm, Taylor, Chew

User avatar
Charliecres
Posts: 1075
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:28 pm

Gravel bike gearing

Post by Charliecres » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:05 am

Pondering a new bike to replace my Ridley X-bow. It would be used about 50/50 on/off road for both quick woodland blasts and loaded multi-day road and easy off-road rides.

I have a rigid 29er for anything lumpier and bumpier than proper gravel.

My main question is about gearing. I don’t want to spin out on the road or have to push up off-road hills at the end of a long day, if I can avoid it.

1x11 seems to limit gear range and road 2x11 doesn’t seem to offer much more, with 34/32 the lowest ratio on offer. Am I missing something?

WWBBD?

User avatar
Bearbonesnorm
Posts: 18334
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:53 pm
Location: my own little world

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:20 am

I've found that a MTB double makes a reasonable half-way house without too much compromise. Obviously, I tend to ride where it's hilly but something like a 38/28 with a wide range cassette works well for me ... I think gearing is the thing that really limits many 'gravel' bikes.
#corporate shill for hire

User avatar
ScotRoutes
Posts: 5776
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:56 am
Location: Cairngorms
Contact:

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by ScotRoutes » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:34 am

Thinking ahead to the day when I replace the Ultegra triple crankset on my Amazon, I was thinking of a super compact crankset, a wide range 11 speed MTB cassette and whatever Roadlink is required to get it working.

restlessshawn
Posts: 1396
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:04 pm
Location: Scottish Borders

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by restlessshawn » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:37 am

I built mine with a 38 x 11-40 (9 speed) it's fine till you are bikepacking then it's a struggle. Rather than rebuild it all I will probably just get a 36 chainring to fit for a longer tour next spring.

Really a 30-40 crank (triple with a ring taken off) up front would have been ideal

User avatar
Mariner
Posts: 1521
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2015 2:37 pm
Location: East Devon

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Mariner » Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:01 pm

42-28 front with 11-40 rear 10 speed on my Fargo.
I have an XT 11 speed groupset waiting to go on over winter but I think I prefer the 10 speed and I don't have to try and bodge an 11 speed shifting system.
The SRAM X9 long cage will handle up to 47T without a link.

jameso
Posts: 3416
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:48 pm
Location: Chilterns

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by jameso » Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:12 pm

Bar-end shifters, MTB 2x10 or 2x11. 28-40 or 28-42 up front, 11-32 or 11-36 at the back. Covers 16mph av speed unloaded hilly 2-4hr rides as well as loaded multi-days in the Alps. These days I prefer bar-enders to STIs.

Shimano and SRAM don't seem to do the same riding as I do though. Things will happen but you may be waiting 18 months+.

1x11 can cover the range but I don't need the chain retention, mech prices etc and the gearing gaps and chain line compromises bother me. I wear through drivetrains enough as it is. 1x was made for MTBs to handle really rough ground at speed, it just wasn't made with long distance all-road stuff in mind. Doesn't mean it doesn't work, just not my personal preference.
Really a 30-40 crank (triple with a ring taken off) up front would have been ideal
Seen a few of these in the last couple of years. 105 triples with a 30-42 ratio, mech limited and a nice looking outer guard in place of the ring. Perfect ratios when combined with a smaller 11-32 on the back, or 11-36 for BP.

Landslide
Posts: 753
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2017 5:00 pm

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Landslide » Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:23 pm

I'm riding the rougher end of the gravel spectrum, and I'm not bothered about going super fast on tarmac.
Running 8 speed Claris 11-34 at the back, with a 40/28 XT double chainset. I reckon 40/11 top gear letsme pedal up to about 30mph (downhill, with a following wind); after that, I find I'm better off concentrating on my aero tuck.

User avatar
Bearbonesnorm
Posts: 18334
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:53 pm
Location: my own little world

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:06 pm

These days I prefer bar-enders to STIs.
Most certainly. All mine are friction, so work with any ill conceived gear set I throw together :-bd
#corporate shill for hire

Al
Posts: 387
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2016 9:53 pm

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Al » Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:45 pm

Slx chainset running 44 -28 rings and a 10speed 11-36 cassette for me.
I’m using an XT 9 speed mech and cx series front mech to make it all work with 105 sti.
It’s pretty hilly round here and it deals with most things.

restlessshawn
Posts: 1396
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:04 pm
Location: Scottish Borders

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by restlessshawn » Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:53 pm

These days I prefer bar-enders to STIs.
2 bikes with Gevenalle and 1 with a single bar end here. Don't like STI at all...I could be tempted by Campagnolo ergos again but nothing they do ever seems wide range enough

pistonbroke
Posts: 1384
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:39 am
Location: Southern Cataluña

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by pistonbroke » Sat Nov 03, 2018 6:14 pm

My setup for the TNR was based around having Ultegra hydro levers fitted already. I bought an Absolute Black 46/30 oval chainring combo off here fitted them to a 105 chainset and married them to a 11/40 11 speed Sunrace cassette and long cage 105 derailleur with roadlink widget. This seemed to be the ideal setup for the steep rocky climbs and fast tarmac decents.

Asposium
Posts: 1312
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:39 pm
Location: Hull

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Asposium » Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:01 pm

I have a sequoia that is used for gravel (fireroad, disused railway tracks, easy single track, local roads)

the standard gearing on the bike is fine

32/48 on front
11/36 on back

was over geared for BB200; then again, for some sections I was under biked.

User avatar
Charliecres
Posts: 1075
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:28 pm

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Charliecres » Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:59 pm

Blimey, it’s not simple, is it? I’m looking at complete bikes, as that seems much cheaper. The Arkose 3 appears to have a super-compact chainset, and looks appealing.

Asposium
Posts: 1312
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:39 pm
Location: Hull

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Asposium » Sat Nov 03, 2018 8:08 pm

Charliecres wrote:Blimey, it’s not simple, is it? I’m looking at complete bikes, as that seems much cheaper. The Arkose 3 appears to have a super-compact chainset, and looks appealing.
a gravel bike is a compromise; between a road bike and a mountain bike
suppose it depends where one sits (no pun intended) on the compromise

for me and my riding the gravel bike seems ideal

User avatar
ZeroDarkBivi
Posts: 1251
Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2014 9:18 am
Location: Somerset

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by ZeroDarkBivi » Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:19 pm

Sram Force 1x with a 10-42 Cassette. Either 36 or 38 oval chainring, depending on the ride / load, wheels / tyres / etc.
Landslide wrote:I'm riding the rougher end of the gravel spectrum, and I'm not bothered about going super fast on tarmac.
I reckon 40/11 top gear letsme pedal up to about 30mph (downhill, with a following wind); after that, I find I'm better off concentrating on my aero tuck.
Always focus on the lowest gear that I will need; I don't understand why people get worried about 'spinning out' on 1x, unless they are short course racing. The extra speed gained by pedalling above 30mph Vs the extra power required really isn't worth - drag curve physics!

That said, I would have considered e-tap 2x if it wasn't for the front derailleur / rear tyre interference problem.

User avatar
Rich3rd
Posts: 167
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:03 am
Location: Chilterns

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Rich3rd » Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:03 am

Just built a gravel bike 1x11 with oval 38 up front on e-thirteen 9-46 cassette, bloody amazing , if a tad pricey. Works with Sram long cage Rival rear mech
Never knowingly under biked...

User avatar
gairym
Posts: 2722
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:05 am
Location: Chamonix, France (but a Yorkshire lad).

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by gairym » Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:06 am

I live in a place with some rather pointy hills and so I took my gravel bike out with a 32t up front and a shiny new Eagle 12sp 10-50t drivetrain and saw what the hardest gear I could sensibly maintain up a local Col was (Col de la Colombiere).

I then calculated the chain ring size needed to have that gearing when in the 50t sprocket.

Means I've got things as sensibly set up for combining climbing and flat pedalling as I can for around here.

Now riding a 38t oval up front and it works for the most part. I spin-out on long flat road sections but not until I'm already moving as fast as I'll likely want to bother going on any normal ride and so it's all good.

Seemed a logical approach.

rufus748
Posts: 903
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:36 pm

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by rufus748 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:37 pm

My 'gravel bike' was set up as a compromise and currently used mainly on the road. Running 650b with wtb horizons and a 39t oval with a 10-42 cassette.
Yes it spins out on the road but I'm not a 'roady' and 28mph is fast enough for the type of riding I'm doing on it. 39-42 is rarely used with the exception of a couple of hills out on my coastal rides.
Built with the intention of dropping on a 36 if I do TNR (or similar) again for the gravel climbs or maybe a 10-46.

User avatar
Laurensdad
Posts: 175
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:46 pm
Location: Hampshire

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Laurensdad » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:52 pm

38t oval up front, 11-40 11spd works nicely on the South downs, iow wether loaded or not and not too gappy for road/faster gravel sections.
@philg1971 Instagram

cycleofaddiction
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:00 pm

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by cycleofaddiction » Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:55 pm

If your riding is more akin to mtbing and you're reasonably fit then you're maybe best off with a 1x set-up where you can get away with a larger chainring and still be able to get up the climbs? But if a good proportion of your mixed surface riding includes more road then you're probably best with a sub compact 2x set-up! I have a Praxis Zayante 48-32 chainset with Ultegra R8000 group and the RX805 clutch rear mech on a XT M8000 11-40 cassette and I love having the ability to put the hammer down on the road sections but still be able to spin up steep off-road sections too!

Scud
Posts: 446
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:18 pm
Location: North Norfolk

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by Scud » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:30 am

There are some new chainsets and chainrings about, Easton do a 46/30 front and coupled with 11-34 or 11-36 cassette, it gives a very good range.

For Torino-Nice i used a MTB crankset with a butchered 38/22 chain set and 11-36 cassette and that worked well for the long hard climbs, but spun out easily going downhill.

User avatar
PaulB2
Posts: 852
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:32 pm
Location: Stafford

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by PaulB2 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:38 am

cycleofaddiction wrote:If your riding is more akin to mtbing and you're reasonably fit then you're maybe best off with a 1x set-up where you can get away with a larger chainring and still be able to get up the climbs? But if a good proportion of your mixed surface riding includes more road then you're probably best with a sub compact 2x set-up! I have a Praxis Zayante 48-32 chainset with Ultegra R8000 group and the RX805 clutch rear mech on a XT M8000 11-40 cassette and I love having the ability to put the hammer down on the road sections but still be able to spin up steep off-road sections too!
Did you have to anything special to get the big cassette to work? I've got an Alba / 105 setup which is great for general riding but want some lower gears when loaded and was looking at either the RX rear mech or the new 105 mech but they're only officially rated at a max of 34 teeth on the cassette.

pistonbroke
Posts: 1384
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:39 am
Location: Southern Cataluña

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by pistonbroke » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:26 am

105 chainset and married them to a 11/40 11 speed Sunrace cassette and long cage 105 derailleur with roadlink widge
I found that a 105 derailleur wouldn't work with a 40t cassette but could just be persuaded to get onto a 36t. The Wolftooth roadlink allowed it to sit further away from the hanger so the top jockey wheel wasn't clicking. The front derailleur needed a lot of fine tuning to avoid rubbing on the chain but I think that was more to do with the oval chainring which is quite pronounced. That said, as long as you use the trim on the front shifter, it all works really well. Bear in mind that some frames have longer mech hangers so it's worth trying in a stand, not under load as experimenting half way up a 1 in 4 hill could get expensive. Best source for a Roadlink is 18 bikes in Hope.

JoseMcTavish
Posts: 149
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:08 pm
Contact:

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by JoseMcTavish » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:32 am

I went 1x on my Amazon a couple of years back and haven't regretted it a bit. I've got a 42 up front and either an 11-40 or 11-42 cassette, depending on my wheels/plans. It's used loaded and unloaded, on and off road without ever feeling too limited. I think any climb that is too steep and loose to manage with the gearing I have is probably mountain bike terrain anyway. This replaced the full triple setup I had before and I'm haven't failed on anything I managed with the previous setup.

Image

User avatar
johnnystorm
Posts: 3369
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:55 pm
Location: Eastern (Anglia) Front

Re: Gravel bike gearing

Post by johnnystorm » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:34 am

I'm riding about on a Surly Bridge club at the mo and that's got a 36/24 up front and 11-40 at the back with a SRAM X5 mech. I think that SRAM road and MTB parts work together so a compact chainset and MTB rear mech and cassette should see you up most things. The 650b MTB wheels are a similar diameter to a 700c gravel bike.
Image
Blog, News, Reviews, Opinions, Routes: http://www.advntr.cc

Post Reply