Four clicks on a 7 speed shifter

I bought a used 7 speed set of bar-end shifters in preparation for gearing up the Gravel Roadster. I also got a nice set of clamp-on downtube shifters for the Ross at the same time, but realized that I don’t have a cassette-able wheel that will work with the 120mm spacing it has now, after 13 years as a fixed gear. The Kogswell singlespeed hub I’ve got on there is only suitable for fixed use (and offroad fixed, at that), because the nut (or something) makes it unpossible to remove a freewheel with our normal Earth tools.

I digress, but the gist is, “hey I might have zero single-geared bikes by the end of the summer.” Unlikely, but possible. I might do it just to freak myself out. I have an automatic Sachs two speed coaster brake wheel and a Sturmey-Archer S3X three speed fixed I can put on the Quickbeam in about four minutes (that’s half an hour in biketinker time).

Back to the matter at hand. I did indeed install the cassette and (just the right) shifter on the Gravel Roadster, and I rode it 10 miles with some friends from work, on their normal road loop (Lakeville, Stage Gulch, Adobe Rd). If we were to judge on tire size, I was the clear winner, with 54mm Big Apples, to their 25mm whatevers (volume increases by the cube, too, so… yeah). If we were to judge on usable gears, though, I was by far the loser. I had two chainrings, but no front mech (that’s English for “derailleur,” which is French for “derailer“), they were only 4 teeth apart, and of the nine cogs in back, I had maybe 5, since I could only get 4 clicks out of the indexing. The smallest cog (biggest gear), and the top three (easiest) cogs were unreachable with the shifter. My hardest available gear was about perfect for the ride leader’s pace, which was steady, just shy of brisk. The cassette is by no means a tourist’s friend, or a mountain bike cluster. It might even be a straight-block (it’s not). The limited range cog set is the funniest thing about the bike, even counting the Cyclone derailleur and the pink fenders. It is a roadster, though, not a jeep.

So I was rolling along Lakeville, getting parched on Stage Gulch and spinning out on Adobe Road, with cogs ranging from 13 to 18 teeth on a 32 tooth ring. About 72″ to 54″ of development, WHICH IS THE SAME RANGE I HAVE ON MY FIXED BIKES.

I had a good time, and my only embarrassment was failing to call out a black foam-wrapped 2×4 laying across the bike lane. “It looked like asphalt! I never ride with people! Ride fatter tires! Geez… ”

But. For all the fun, and the adequacy of the gear, it wasn’t working like it ought, which irks my OCD, and I don’t see the point of having shifters if they don’t give you more range than you can get with a dingle setup.

Why didn’t the Shimano 7 speed shifters give me a full derailleur’s swing of travel? My full friction Suntours on the Bontrager give me all 9 cogs. My friends on the RBW (Rivendell) list told me how to fix it (and more interestingly, why it was broken), which is a post for another day.

(I’m learning a bit from Paul McGowan, not just about musical reproduction, but about blog posting. Set the stage., String the punters along, and give ’em their money’s worth…) ;^)



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UI/UX Designer, bike nerd, artist.

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