Sunday, March 14, 2021

Finished gravel bike with super low gears

I blame (or maybe credit) Russ Roca of Path Less Pedaled and his “Cave of Bad Ideas” videos on his Youtube Channel.

I have plans to do a week-long ride on forest service roads along the Continental Divide. But I'm a roadie with a road bike, and also a bike commuter with a gravel-ish bike I turned into a commuter bike. Though my commuter bike was sold as a gravel bike, it was more marketing than function. But it did make a great commuter bike with a rack and panniers and lots of lights.

But COVID-19 put an end to commuting. It's all work from home now. So I converted my “commuter bike-gravel bike” to a useable gravel bike.
The first thing to go on my bike with the nice Ultra compact (50-32) crankset, replaced by an FSA 46-30 that’s a lot more realistic for me. Why this ratio isn't standard, or at least an option on all gravel bikes is a mystery. Maybe the rest of the world is just stronger than me, but I don't think that's it.
Russ is a fan of larger tires, and also 650 B wheels, particularly for shorter riders like myself. To that end I purchased a set of FSA 650 B wheels and a Soma Cazadaro 42mm tire for the rear with a Specialized Pathfinder 48mm for the front. (I’d actually purchased a set of Pathfinders only to discover that it I couldn’t fit a 48 on the back with reasonable clearance.)
I followed that up with a Red Shift suspension stem, again recommended by You-Know-Who. It works, and I don't notice it's there. It doesn't bob at all, but seems to be helpful on big wacking bumps.

The gearing was still a bit tall for me. Unfortunately the bike industry doesn't seem to want to make derailers that will handle large cassettes and work with road-style brake shifters.

Again, it's Russ to the rescue. His Path Less Pedaled Cave of Bad Ideas YouTube channel reviewed a new derailer by a company named S Ride that magically works with Shimano Ultegra 11-speed brake-shifters and will handle huge cassettes.
I ordered one, along with a Shimano 11-40 11-speed cassette and miraculously it actually works. And I like the shifting. It's a bit more effort to push the lever when the gears get really low, but the shifting is very crisp.

Now I have a bike that may be ready for serious gravel roads and some hills. As an old roadie this new thing feels a little odd ,and a little heavy, but what the heck. It works; it’s a bike, and let’s go!

1 comment:

  1. >I have plans to do a week-long ride on forest service roads along the Continental Divide.

    Real plans? Or just dreamy plans?


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