I think it's pretty easy to get classic gearing as low as you want it, provided you are willing to use a classic crank like TA Cyclotourist or Stronglight 99 that will take a very small inner ring. But if you still want a resonably large top gear, you have to pair it with a long cage derailleur like Huret Duopar, Campy Rally or one of several long cage Suntours.
What is much more difficult is to getting a sufficiently low gear when using a Campy Nuovo Record RD or one of its many clones. To get a low enough lowest gear with an NR RD, you have to compromise on the high gear. The most I've been able to wrap wth an NR is 52-42 with a 14-28 FW. This requires getting the chain length just right, and even then it helps to have long chainstays and long horizonal DO's with the wheel pushed all the way to the back. With Campy short DO's I've had to resort to removing the DO adjustors to get the wheel just a little further back. However, if you are willing to accept that you don't need to try to win a sprint on the same bike you climb on, then you can improve things considerably by reducing the top gear, going to a 15T small FW cog and a 50T or even 49T large chainring. This can allow a Campy RD to handle a 30T large FW cog and a 41T small chainring, with can be fitted to a Campy NR crank, although genuine Campy 41T rings are rather rare and expensive.
I find even an old fart like me can climb a fair hill in a 41x30, although I admit I wouldn't want to do it at the end of 500 miles. And once you get over the macho thing, most people will find they seldom need a gear larger than 50x15, or even 49x15 unless they are actually racing. And since most of us have more than one bike, you can always have a different bike for races involving sprints.
Lately I find my preferred large chainring size is 50T or sometimes 49T rather than 52T or 53T as in the past, as I have found I simply never need the larger rings. One bonus of this is that 50T and especially 49T rings are not considered "prime" size, and therefore can often be had NOS for less than half what a 52T or 53T would cost. Maybe fitting a 50T chainring would ruin some guys' pleasure in riding a bike like "just like" Merckx's, or Hinault's or Lance's. But I long ago stopped deluding myself that I am in the same universe with those guys, cycling-wise. Merckx at his present age can no doubt still generate much more pedaling power than I did in my prime.
So if anyone out there has a nice 50T chainring you want to trade for a 52T or 53T of the same model and condition, there is a real good chance I can accomodate you.
Jerry Moos Big Spring, Texas, USA
John Wood <email@example.com> wrote: I hear ya' Steve. I can handle a 42 small ring in my new locale, but the biggest climb is about 50 feet. In my old stomping grounds of Montana, I ran a 46/29 double (TA cyclotourist) with a off-topic 13-29 10 speed Campy cluster on my KOF "go fast" bike. For period correct, wide range drivetrains though, my personal favorite is a half-step with granny (46/42/26) paired with a 13-30 6 speed freewheel. This gives me the same number of distinct gears as your standard modern triple with a 9 or 10 speed cassette. If it were me, I'd leave the Colnago and Trek the way they are, and build up that Fuji with SunTour Cyclone GT derailleurs, SunTour 13-30 freewheel, and to keep the Japanese theme, a Sugino AT or similar crank set up in half-step plus granny configuration. I'd also throw on a pair of SunTour BarCon's just cause I really like 'em. Good luck!
-- John Wood Washington Island, Wisconsin, USA
On Wed, May 14, 2008 at 11:58 AM, wrote:
> Last week I received my entry confirmation for the CR class for the 508
> race this October. I've read the archived posts about the new CR class and I
> appreciate the comments about being true to the intent and not simply
> removing a few cogs and brifters from a new bike. As much as possible I want
> to be period correct pre '83 for the race. Earlier this year I purchased an
> early '80's Trek 959 and a Colnago (maybe a Super?) that both meet the specs
> of the class. I thought it would be good to start training with friction
> shifting and all and so far they have both been very sweet rides.
> Both the Trek and Colnago are my first Campy bikes and both have NR double
> cranks. My concern is attempting 500+ miles with 35K climbing with a 42t
> chainring and reasonably small (26) freewheel in the back. The last time I
> did this race I had a dedicated climbing bike with (don't laugh) a 24t
> chainring and an 11-34 cassette. I know that sounds excessive, but my knees
> are not what they were in the '80's and at mile 400 I was happy to sit and
> spin the last few 20+ miles climbs. My question is; would anybody have any
> advice as to how to lower my gearing and still be more or less properly
> vintage? I've seen a few add-on chainrings for Campy cranks to do a triple
> conversion, but I wonder about their performance. Also, I've seen older
> freewheels with big gears, but not anything Campy that will shift it.
> I would appreciate any suggestions or if someone has an early '80's steel
> lugged bike already set-up for long distance or brevets I would be
> interested in swapping or purchasing outright something that is already
> configured with lower gearing. I'm not opposed to sucking it up and just
> riding the 42, but I'm sure I'll be kicking myself for that call 40 hours
> into the race. I do have a NOS Fuji America that I could build as I would
> think in the day that would have had a fairly low gear touring set-up and
> might be a good candidate. However, with the longer wheelbase it might be a
> little slower uphill, but at the speed I ride that's maybe not a big deal.
> Comments and/or advice are more than welcome. Thanks!
> Steve Gray
> Las Vegas, Nevada