SRAM Apex: the perfect gruppo for Pittsburgh?

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netviln
Participant
#

After seeing it first on Urban Velo, I started looking into SRAM’s new apex group. 50-34 compact crankset with an awesome 10 speed 11-32 cassette. Seems to be street priced about $650 for the full group.

Seems to be the perfect road groupset for commuters in pittsburgh, from my pov anyway.

Product Page:

http://www.sram.com/taxonomy/term/254/brand/sram-road/src/series

Reviewed:

http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/04/bikes-tech/riding-the-new-sram-apex_112357


reddan
Keymaster
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I still think SRAM XX is pretty tasty. 11-36 cassette, and you could swap out the 28/42 crankset for a typical road compact double to end up with a nice wide gear range.

But I wouldn’t turn up my nose at Apex, either…


Mick
Participant
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I like my 22t small chainring with an 11-30 cassette. Sometimes I would like a lower gear, but I can deal with what I have.

34 chainring with 10-32 cassette? That’s 20 speeds without the two speeds I need the most.


netviln
Participant
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I do mcclure now (8-10% grade) with a 30 chainring and a 25 sprocket if im feeling a little tired and lazy.

According to Sheldon, im using a 2.3 gain ratio now (31.7 gear inches). The apex would give me a 2.0 gain ratio (28 gear inches) for my low gear.

if your were running a 22 chainring and a 34 big sprocket on 26in wheels, you would be looking at a gain ratio of 1.2(gear inches 18.3).

I guess it all depends on your riding style, fitness level, equipment, etc.

If you are used to road gears, I think this is a good set. If you are used to mountain gears, this would be tough.


BradQ
Participant
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I hope to get my hands on one of these groups.

That 34×32 is pretty low, and should be fine for just about anything.

22×30 is really low and unless you feel you really want gears that low, not necessary. I rarely had mountain bikes with gears that low even.

That said, if you want even lower gears Mick you may be able to find an old Mountain Tamer Quad out there if you look hard enough. It was a bolt-on spider that added a fourth ring to your crankset, allowing a ring down to 18 teeth or so with the used of a Suntour splined cassette cog. I’m guessing there are similar hacks that use more up to date equipment out there today in the recumbent sector.


BradQ
Participant
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Assuming this page is still current, it looks like the Mountain Tamer Quad still exists.

http://abundantadventures.com/quads.html


netviln
Participant
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If you need a volunteer for testing Brad, im game ;)


Ohiojeff
Participant
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I recently moved from 11-25 to 11-28 in back and it has been very nice to have those extra three cog teeth. A 34×32 low gear is probably ideal for some of those Dirty Dozen type hills though.


reddan
Keymaster
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RE: the MT Quad. I think Gerry Kraynick has some hack to do similar things.

RE: recumbent sector. Quad rings are horribly out of fashion. ;-) People seem to be digging more on Rohloff hubs and Schlumpf bottom brackets, rather than the “let’s put 81 or 96 or 108 gear combinations on one bike” mindset of yesteryear. Heck, if I had stupid money to throw at my commuter, I’d love to try the Rohloff/Schlumpf combo.


Ohiojeff
Participant
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I’d love to try the Rohloff/Schlumpf combo.

Aren’t you pretty much always Schlumpf’d when you Rohloff on a ‘bent?

:-)


Ohiojeff
Participant
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On a more serious note, I’ve seen people riding bikes in gears so low they are just not getting anywhere at all when they pedal. Legs going around furiously, bike creeping forward at a mile or two an hour. Those super low gears are good towing/cargo gears but at some point it pays to shift up a bit.


BradQ
Participant
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Rohloff/Schlumpf combo. Talk about some internal efficiency losses in that small gear.

I’ve been on a Schlumpf and it felt awesome. The only Rohloff I’ve pedaled around kind of felt like the brakes were always rubbing in the lowest gear.


pratt
Participant
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A friend of mine has a Rohloff on his mountain bike, feels great to me. Granted I haven’t had a lot of time on it, but…


BradQ
Participant
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I’m willing to admit it may have been abused or way out of adjustment. It was quite a long time ago either way, things may have changed.


edmonds59
Participant
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I once rode across the country with an old Brit guy who had the first TA triple crank I ever saw, had like a 24-34 low gear, he just spun up every climb in the Rockies, full panniers etc, never walked an inch, and usually stopped at the top, found a comfy sit, and fired up his meerschaum. Awesome dude. I’ve never dissed the low gears since.


Ohiojeff
Participant
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spun up every climb in the Rockies

24-34 climbing a mountain? Tres Bien! 120 rpms in a 24-34 on Liberty Ave downtown at rush hour? Not so much.


Mick
Participant
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On a more serious note, I’ve seen people riding bikes in gears so low they are just not getting anywhere at all when they pedal. Legs going around furiously, bike creeping forward at a mile or two an hour.

In my lowest gear at 70 rpm on the pedals, I’m going about 4.2 mph. And my lowest is extreme.

I doubt you really see people pedally furiously and going 2 mph. That would need custom gearing. It just looks like that.

I sometimes count the slow-going, mad peddlers’ cadence and find that they aren’t pedalling that fast, usually only about 55-65 rpm.

If you are putting out enough energy to go 5 mph on flats, the power output might be 5-10% of your max output. The most effective cadence for that power output is really quite slow. Like 40 or so.

The advice about cadence that is good for folks going 15 mph is silly for those going 5 mph.

As I said, my lowest gear (22f/30r) is 70 rpm on the pedals for 4.2 mph. At much lower rpm, I lose power.

A very fast walking speed for going up a steep hill pushing a bike is about 3.5 mph. Walking is like a 20% shift below my lowest gear.

With 34 Chainring and 32 cassette? I’d start losing power at over 6 mph.

Between there and 3.5 mph, it’s the painful black hole of having too high a gear vs walking 50% slower than I would be going with the correct gearing.

Plenty of hills around here are just in that range, particularly when I tow a trailer or am exhausted.

So 34f/32r is a fine lowest gear ratio if you never are tempted to push your bike up a hill. Otherwise you are better off having something lower.

BTW, I know why my cadence goes up when I climb a hill, but it puzzles me that racers’ cadences go down when climbing. Any speculation?


netviln
Participant
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I agree that if you are loaded or towing.. it probably isnt low enough.. im looking to build a heavy touring bike at some point and will likely use a 28 cassette and a standard road triple (30-40-50). But I had been looking at doing a cross bike for my daily commuter and had been scoping out other compact road groups. I didnt like the idea of a 34f 26-28r being my lowest gear, but wanted to avoid a triple. I commute with a backpack, and like I said, currently with a 30f 25r as my low gear. Usually i never even use that gear, so I think for my uses, it the 34/32 would be plenty low. Again, all in what you are doing.


dwillen
Participant
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My rohloff’ed mountain bike is out of service at the moment. When I get it repaired you guys are welcome to come over and bike up the giant hill in front of my house.

I honestly don’t notice much loss of power. The connivence factor far outweighs whatever little there may be. The thing does weigh a ton though, so you are hauling a few extra pounds up those hills.


Mick
Participant
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@ Edmunds I once rode across the country with an old Brit guy

That “old” business might be part of this. I’m 57.


Ohiojeff
Participant
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I sometimes count the slow-going, mad peddlers’ cadence and find that they aren’t pedalling that fast, usually only about 55-65 rpm.

Well, I was engaging in some hyperpbole but if you are in a 22×32 at 90 rpm that is 4.6 mph. (26×1.5 tires, 165 mm cranks). Seems very slow for traffic.

I ride with a cadence counter and can tell the difference between 55 and 85 certainly. My point was that if you aren’t towing something or climbing a hill, it is perhaps more comfortable to shift to a smaller cog in back or perhaps the middle chainring. Also 10 mph in moving traffic is, in my mind, better than 5 mph.

On the other hand, everyone should ride the way that that feels right for them. I did not mean to offend.


Ohiojeff
Participant
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BTW, I know why my cadence goes up when I climb a hill, but it puzzles me that racers’ cadences go down when climbing. Any speculation?

Someone who races can undoubtedly answer this better but to the extent that their cadence does go down (and it’s still pretty darn fast if you watch a lot of racing) I suspect it’s just a matter of being out of gear inches relative to your leg strength on a certain gradient of climb. At some point it gets harder and your cadence goes down because you don’t have a lower gear into which to shift. That’s what happens to me anyway. I can spin pretty well up grades up to maybe 7 or 8% in the 34×28 but get to 10% and it starts to fall off.


edmonds59
Participant
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Mick, the dude would never tell me, but I’d guess he was another tenner over you, at the time. Retired civil servant, and all that.


Mick
Participant
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[on lower cadences for climbing]

@jeffinpgh At some point it gets harder and your cadence goes down because you don’t have a lower gear into which to shift

As a practical matter for an individual, I could see this. On the other hand, If it’s that way for everyone? Then a guy with a lower gear could clean up.

It’s not like those guys can’t buy the chainrings they need.


Ohiojeff
Participant
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Then a guy with a lower gear could clean up.

The difference, perhaps, between the polka dot and yellow jerseys? The gears get used for more than climbing.

Of course, Lance Armstrong was famed for climbing at a high cadence.


rsprake
Participant
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Gears on bikes. How do they work? And I don’t want to talk to a scientist, yall mother fuckers lyin, and gettin me pissed


Mick
Participant
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<emGears on bikes. How do they work?

They go round and round.


mark
Participant
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lol @ rsprake


robjdlc
Participant
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So many numbers.


dmtroyer
Participant
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@netviln how is a $650 drivetrain perfect for a commuter?? sounds like bikesnob fodder to me.


netviln
Participant
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The $650 is the current street price. I would guess as supply get higher you can expext that price to drop maybe another hundred. It may not be a group that people riding budget bikes would ride, but it is a group you will see show up on ~$1000 bikes. Thats the price point for most decent entry level road and cross bikes and pretty much any touring bike sold at retail.

Price wise, this falls about the same as the Shimano Tiagra, and offer better controls (My opinion, I like the double tap better), wider range, less weight, and its an American company.

Is it right for everyone? No, of course not. I think its right to fill a niche. I am in that niche.


reddan
Keymaster
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Is it right for everyone? No, of course not. I think its right to fill a niche. I am in that niche.

Nicely put.


Lyle
Participant
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I suspect it’s just a matter of being out of gear inches relative to your leg strength on a certain gradient of climb

It’s because you want to go anaerobic on the uphills — for two reasons. One, because even if you’re riding alone, the energy you put into fighting gravity comes back to you on the other side of the hill. But the energy that goes into fighting the wind is gone forever. So you hammer on the uphill and recover on the downhill. The other reason is that riding with the pack is so much easier than riding alone, that you just can’t afford to get dropped. (and the third reason is that if you’ve got the strength to spare, you can open a gap at the crest of the hill and deny the following rider(s) your draft).

So you spin for a while, then upshift and hammer over the crest.

Or did I just explain something that is completely obvious?


edmonds59
Participant
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No, you just described my all-time favorite move, maintain on the climb, and jump at the crest, that is, back when I could pull off that shit.


quizbot
Participant
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I got a good deal on a shimano R700 compact crankset ($150 new with the outboard bottom bracket included, 50/34 chainrings), installed it tonight at Freeride. Swapped out a 12-23 rear cassette for a 12-27 about a month ago to help in the hills… all of this for my big ride in the Pyrenees in July. Even with 39f 27r I find it really hard to maintain anything over 60 to 65 cadence on hills over 8%… which around here we’re lucky to find anything like that for a mile in length. Going anaerobic on our 10 minute local climbs is fine… not so much a good idea when they’re one to two hour climbs. Looking forward to testing out the compact, but I’m not going to let it make me lazy.

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