Custom Gearing is Here!

For any of those who don’t know, the Sport Check in the Scarborough Town Centre is going out of business… and so they are having a closeout sale. No, this is not a promotion for the store – I simply saw a 7 speed wide-range cassette on sale at that store for 30% off, dropping the price to $15. Knowing that my bicycle’s gearing is a bit high for fully loaded touring up big hills (I’m not super strong, either), I took the opportunity and bought the SRAM 12-32 gear cluster to customize my ride.

Unboxing

 I didn’t have what one would call a “high” low gear before this upgrade – with 700c wheels, an 11-28t cluster in back and a 22-32-42t front crankset allowed for a lowest gear of  21.5 in, and a high of 104 in. I almost never used that high a gear, bust still had some trouble up hills with that low gear (especially on tour/ with load). The new 12-32 casette drops a little high-end, in return for a greater low-end; a gear of 18.8 in to 95.6 in. Strangely enough, the % change from one gear to another among the first 5 cogs is actually closer than before, meaning more comfortable control over cadences on the road. The lost two cogs have jumps much greater, but the absolute change in the gear value is small, making it nearly unnoticeable.

New = shiny… my old cassette was once like that…

Two problems: Firstly, my now-16 year old Shimano Alivio rear derailleur has a bit of trouble reaching the 32t cog, and sometimes hits… I’ll fiddle with the b-tension adjuster, and see if this improves. After all, they were rated (I believe) to 34t max cog. Secondly, because I didn’t replace the chain, and the derailleur is nearly at max take-up capacity, cross-over gears have now become a real danger on the 42t chainring/ 32t cog. Other than that, all is well.

Mounted on wheel. Notice how the last two cogs
grow in size quickly; keeps the majority of gears within useful  % change.

I hope to give it a greater test in the weeks to come, but everything is looking good so far!

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