I ride 3 different bikes, each with different gearing –
- The Louis Garneau – a full carbon road racing bike setup for speed, primarily on the flats with a standard double crankset
- The Roberts – a c. 1980 steel touring touring/training bike with a compact double crankset for climbing
- The Kuwahara – a c. 1990 steel frame commuter bike primarily but also used for touring and off road rides with a triple crankset
The first question you may ask is “Why do you need more than one bike?”.
This is a fair question. I certainly didn’t begin cycling with multiple bikes. In fact, for years I would only have 1 bike – a general purpose machine used for commuting, training and touring. I had several of these but they kept getting stolen and I replaced each of them with a better, more expensive bike. And, over time, I acquired several sets of wheels – an inexpensive set for commuting and a lighter set for training. But this bike wasn’t good off road, not even gravel trails let alone the forested, mountainous trails in my neighbourhood. I needed a mountain bike. And, I needed an inexpensive commuter that I didn’t have to worry about, a bike I could lock up without fear of it being stolen.
So, over the years, I acquired several bikes. One for commuting, one for touring and training and another for racing (I am not a racer but I do like to go fast). And, several sets of wheels depending on the nature of the ride. Some lighter. Some stronger.
You see, I learned that the better the bike fit me and the terrain I was riding, the more I cycled and, the more I cycled, the better I felt.
The next question you may ask is “Why would you setup the gearing differently?”.
This is also a fair question. After all, a bike is a bike. Or, is it? Not all bikes are made equal. Not all rides are the same. Not all cyclists are the same. Each bike needs to fit the riders ability and terrain.
This took me several years to fully appreciate. I made do with the gearing on the bike for the longest time. After all, 10 gears was a lot. 18 gears more than I would need. 20 gears more than anyone needs. So I thought. That is until I moved to the Pacific Northwest. It is hilly here. Mountainous. No matter the route, there is always a hill to climb with grades ranging from a modest 3-5% to more demanding 25-30% inclines.
This is where I learned about compact and triple cranksets. They have both been available for touring and mountain bikes for many years but you would seldom see them on road bikes. Today, compact cranks are popular in the professional stage races. They do not have as wide a range of gears as a triple but they are lighter and the shifting is smoother and more positive. And, with the 11 speed cassettes that are available today, cyclists have 22 gears at their disposal.
So, if you think you only need one bike, think again. The more you ride, the more you will want to travel different routes and road surfaces. And, I am all about riding more.