Monday, October 21, 2013

#1 Rebecca's Stable

Here it is -- the first submission in response to our request to see your bikes!  (Although maybe Tom's posts on his Torker Cargo-T and his Handsome Devil should count as #1 and #2? )

Here's Rebecca with the scoop on her bikes:

I have three in my "stable" at the moment.

1. 1970s Motobecane; it is rideable, but needs work. I love mixte frames, though find them impractical in dressier clothes due to very short legs. Road bike option. 

2. 1990s Trek with Rock Shox. In fantastic shape, though there is a crack in the Shox. MTB option.

3. 2013 Linus Dutchi-3. This is my everyday "commuter". I am considering adding gears (3-speed) because my commute is hillier than anticipated and I often wish for additional gears.

My goal is to make each a commuting option (via back rack and fenders), but my attention is focused on getting the Linus into prime commuting shape by addressing gearing issues.


Tom said...

Thanks for sharing! I have a three speed too and I'm torn about it. On one hand I would prefer more gears (easier on the knees, better efficiency), but I really like the 3 speed simplicity. Building a new wheel with a nexus 8 hub will likely cost more than $200. Do I really need to spend that kind of money? I'm really only in the "wrong" gear 25% of the time, so I just slow down or speed up a little.

Rebecca said...

Tom, I appreciate your thoughts, as they echo my own pretty closely. I go back and forth. I've talked to my LBS about tweaking the gear range of the 3-speed (less distance from granny to 2), but I also want more power before I'm all spinny in 3. I rode my 21-speed MTB this weekend and, while I don't need 21 gears, I kind of miss being able to dial in to the gear that feels best... especially since my work commute is close to an hour long and can get fairly hilly in spots.

I find myself wondering if it's possible to just order a near rear wheel (26" from the Dutchi-8) and accompanying thumb shifter. I could pretty easily go back to the three if I want to. Or I could pony up and strengthen those legs. Or stand up more!

Cafn8 said...

I love the simplicity of a nice 3 speed. I'll admit, though, in order to really have a good riding experience you have to get the range in just the right place for your personal preference.

Caution: numbers and nerdiness ahead.

I like to gear it so that the middle gear (direct drive) is just right for a comfortable cruising gear. For me that's around 2.5:1 chainring to cog tooth ratio with a 700C wheel, which gives me around 66 gear inches in gear 2. That's about 48 gear inches in first, which is decent for mild hills and stop-and-go traffic. It also gives me a nice 90 gear inches in third, which I rarely out-spin, even on downhills.

Find out what you like to cruise at on a multi-speed bike, and go from there.

Note: Some people like to use gear 3 as their "just right" cruising gear, giving them more climbing potential, but I find it a little frustrating running out of top gears.

Rebecca said...

@cafn8 Good thoughts. I just shared Linus Bike's tweet to a rider asking about large-frame Mixte 8; they didn't recommend swapping 3 for 8 (medium to large) due to different sizes, but I wonder if that is true when the bikes are otherwise the same size? (Dutchi, my bike, comes in small in both 3 and 8 speed models). My LBS suggested this for the Dutchi 3-speed:

"As far as adjusting the gears in the hub, the best thing to do is switch out the rear sprocket. There is a 22 tooth on there now. For a higher gear, I'd recommend going to a 20t or maybe even an 18t. I've got several in the shop and they are cheap, ($6-$8) so your best bet is to try one out and either keep it or change accordingly."

I am thinking about trying this, since it seems to be pretty inexpensive and flexible; I could go back easily enough. I do need a fairly low gear for hills, but I'm not sure I need the granny as much as I want 2nd to be a little meatier.

I love the feedback and welcome additional! Thanks all!

Cafn8 said...

Yes, I agree, changing the rear sprocket is the way to go. Reading back through my comment I now realize that I *ahem* kinda left that out. Sorry.

My current 3-speed, a Raleigh Tripper, came with a 39 tooth chainring and a 20 tooth cog, which didn't suit me. I consulted Sheldon Brown's gear calculator ( and based on that switched to a 16 tooth sprocket which I find to be just about right. The switch did require that I shorten the chain one link, so I can't switch back on a whim, but you might get lucky.

Based on wanting 2nd gear to be "a little meatier", a smaller sprocket should do the trick, and your chain length probably won't have to change for a couple of teeth. Then once it's right you'll never have to think about it again. Enjoy your 3-speed.

Rebecca said...

Thank you all for your comments. It feels good to have a game-plan.

Looking forward to seeing what your other readers are riding!