Gearing up for spring. 30 days of biking, #22

Just realized this Giant Escape is the first 10-speed I’ve owned since a Motobecane Champion Team in the late ’70s.

The Giant has one chainring and a cassette with 10 cogs. One times 10 equals 10. The Moto had two chainrings and a freewheel with five cogs. Two times five equals 10.

How many gears on some of the other bikes around here?

  • Coffee bike: 1
  • Bianchi Pista: 1
  • Schwinn Corvette: 2
  • Bike Friday tikit: 8
  • Giant Escape: 10
  • Specialized Diverge: 11
  • Paisley trike: 12
  • Trek 1420: 16
  • Trek 614(?): 18
  • Comotion tandem: 27

If this list included bikes I no longer own, I could fill in at least three of the gear gaps:

  • Raleigh International: 3 (It didn’t start life with a Sturmey-Archer AW hub—or cantilever brakes—but the Raleigh outlived its original Campy derailleurs.)
  • Peugeot: 4 (Four cogs on a freewheel; it also sported 650B wheels, and steel Rigida rims that would go through a set of Mafac cantilever shoes every month. Every single month.)
  • Schwinn Collegiate: 5 (The steel-pan seat with thin open-cell foam ensured rider discomfort in every gear.)
  • Raleigh International: 6 (Same bike as the three-speed above. For a short time I ran two cogs on the Sturmey’s driver. I don’t think I used the Campy derailleur for that particular experiment, but who knows. It was a crazy time. Case in point: The rear hub was laced to the rim 3-cross on the drive side; radial on the other. Did I mention I brazed cantilever bosses to the bike? To a Raleigh International?)

How many gears do you need?

The first Tour de France was in 1903. Contenders weren’t allowed to use derailleurs until 1937. That’s 34 years of single-speeding it, and that single speed was fast.

But maybe you don’t think racing is the best source of information on appropriate gearing. How many gears do you need if you’re parked in front of the forsythia?

Oh, that’s easy. Ten will do fine. Or 1. Or 18. Or…

April 22, 12.4 miles plus 1

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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