Bicycles, jerseys, and gears. Oh my!

I suppose my questions are half opinion and half factual. If a mod decides this would be better in IMHO, feel free to move it.

a) I’m looking for a good online store because I’m searching for a nice bicycling jersey.
My Googling attempts have been unsuccessful. My wife and I have been simply wearing cotton t-shirts, but would like to get something made of more modern material that wicks the perspiration better. We don’t want to look like NASCAR drivers though. One or two color jerseys would be preferred. I haven’t been able to find anything I like at our local bicycle stores.

**b) We’ve gotten to the point in our riding that our hybrid bikes aren’t geared quite fast enough. **
We ride primarily on a paved bike trail that is relatively flat. Our top speed in the fastest gear is about 20 mph. More importantly, we spend 90 percent of our rides in the top 3-4 gears. (both our bikes have three sized gears on the pedal, and seven sized gears on the rear wheel) We don’t want to buy new road bikes because we love our Trek hybrids. Is it possible to replace the pedal gears, or the rear wheel gears on our bikes? I assume the chain would also need to be replaced. Would we have to completely replace the derailleur too?

I’ll take the first one.
Supergo, REI, Performance Bike , and Mountain Equipment Co-Op all sell jerseys online.
As far as gears go, talk to your local bike shop.

I had the local bike shop replace the cassette, chain-ring, and chain on a Trek Hybrid. I had a choice of parts so that I could pick different gear-ratios. The whole procedure was a lot cheaper than I expected ($50 sticks in my mind, but it was a few summers ago). Unfortunately, I stuck with the standard ratios and I still have the same issue that you have - the gears don’t quite match my riding habits.

a) If you want something simple, get a Coolmax or Dristar shirt. These are synthetic wicking fabric very similar to those used in expensive bicycle jerseys. Most outdoor sport stores carry Coolmax shirts. Dristar is Walmart’s house brand, I believe, and cost even less.

b) You didn’t say what gear you have now, but it’s highly unlikely that you are running out of gears at 20 mph. More likely, you just need to learn to pedal faster. If you are trying to achieve top speed at 60 rpm or lower (which I think you are), you are straining your legs unnecessarily and not achieving your full potential. Human legs are more efficient around 80 to 90 rpm. (60 rpm means the crank rotates once a second.)

Of course it’s also possible that your bike has unusually low gearing. How many teeth does the big chainring (the largest of the gears in front) have, and how many does the smallest sprocket (rear gear) have?

Rick, I’ll check out your links. Thanks.

CaveMike, I’d be thrilled if it only costs me $50. I hope you’re right.

a) Thanks for the hint of less expensive jersey alternatives
b) While I’m probably not at 90 rpm, I am pedaling at over 60 rpm at top speed. (I try to pedal as fast as possible for efficiency, while my wife deliberately “under gears” to, in her words, provide a more strenuous workout.) I had a feeling someone would ask me how many teeth were on each gear. :slight_smile: I’ll have to go home and count them. Do you have a sense of what would be an “unusually low” count?

I buy most of my stuff from Colorado Cyclist.. If you call them up, chances are the person you talk to on the phone knows a lot about bicycles and can you give great advice.

If want higher gears, the easiest thing to do is the change the rear cassette. It’s pretty esay to do yourself, and a new one won’t cost more than about $50. But if you have 7 gears on the back, that’s a pretty old set-up and you might have trouble finding replacements. It’s a little harder to change the chainrings (the front gears), but that can be done also. Chances are, your hybrid is set up with the gearing for a Mt Bike, which is considerably lower than a road bike set-up. Change your biggest front gear to a 53-tooth gear, and that should help. I’d guess the one you have now is 48-teeth.

Jerseys are friggin’ expensive a lot of the time. I second Peformance Bike. Look in their clearance section online and you can get some pretty good deals. Another online/mail order store I order a lot of things from is Colorado Cyclist.

Ooooh. A simulpost for Colorado Cyclist. :slight_smile: Good Karma there. Thanks guys.

I’ve been very pleased with Bike Nashbar and the clearance prices at Sierra Trading Post.

I second the suggestions on changing out the rear cassette. Back in my hybrid riding days, I had two sets of wheels. One set had the heavier, wider rims the bike came with, with knobby tires and the original lower gearing for trail riding. The other set had narrow rims like you’d find on a road bike, with road tires and higher gearing. That way, simply by swapping the wheels (which took less time than pumping up the tires), I could go back and forth. The original wheels did well off-road and climbing old jeep roads, while the road wheels were geared higher, with dramatically lower rolling resistance and better handling on pavement. I put a lot of miles on that bike, both on road and off, before I finally moved on to two separate bikes.

While you’re at it Algernon, ya might as well learn the lingo, and Sheldon can help you out. Especially when you’re talking to the gear-heads at your LBS (Local Bike Shop).
For instance, “three pedal gears” = a triple chain ring, “and 7 sized gears on the rear wheel” = with a 7 speed cassette. If you clean off the rings, you should be able to see a number stamped on each one, telling you the number of teeth, same for the cassette, without having to count each one. Good luck.

SuperNelson, that’s not a bad idea to have two different rear wheels to keep my off-road option available.

BF, I know that I’m embarrassingly ignorant of proper terminology, but I knew my fellow Dopers would be kind in this forum. :slight_smile: And I’ll check for a stamp before counting the teeth.

Check out velowear for jerseys.

As for the cassette, I suspect that on a hybrid 7 speed something with a wide range was used, perhaps a 13-28 or 13-32. If you are happy with higher gearing, I would switch to a 12 for the small cog and perhaps a 21 or 23 for the large cog. It sounds a bit high, but you do have the granny ring in front.

The upside of this is that you will have a 12 for speed, and closer spacing on the rest of the cogs (that is, the diffence in teeth between ajacent cogs will be less). A two tooth jump is all you should have. A three tooth jump is ok for occasional riding or if you need it for mountain biking, but it’s a bit much on flat roads.

A new cassette for your bikes will probably cost around 30 although you can blow a lot more money. If you have ridden the bikes much you will need to swap the chain (15 or 20) and possibly the chainrings (my shop sells cheap one piece crank/chainrings for 25$). Individual chain rings (the big ones in the front) go for 20 or 30. If you don’t replace the chain or chain rings and they need it the drive train will skip.

If you have trek hybrids you probably have a 42, 32, 22 chainrings (the front gears) and a 13 to 28 (or something close) for the gears in the back. If the bikes are only 2 or 3 years old they are probably 9 speed.

Changing just the cog set (the gears in the back) is an easy job so the shop shouldn’t charge you much. Fifty bucks sounds about right. However if the chain needs to go that adds a bit. If the chain rings are worn out it could get expensive. Where it is flat most people use a 12-23

Here is a gear calculator which will help you pick new cogs.


For wheel size you probably have like a 700*35 and crank 165.

  1. For your wife, look at Shebeest - their jerseys tend to not look horrible. tends to be a good online store (but they only carry the really ugly Shebeest jerseys - hmmmm…)

  2. I wish I had the same problem that you do (for some reason, cycling completely eludes me), but I had a horrid time trying to do anything with my Trek Hybrid. (There’s a moment when the guy at the bike shop says “We’ll need to reweld that because it’s a non-standard size” that you realize there are problems.)

good luck.

Dag Otto and bannerrefugee, I have some research to do tonight on my chain ring (including the Granny Ring :slight_smile: ) and cassette. As Arnold said – “I’ll be back.”

amarinth, what modifications were you trying to do with your bike? You’re making me a little nervous.
Sizing question.
To all of you, thanks for your nice links to online stores that stock biking jerseys. I’ve given them a cursury overview and Performance seems to have the biggest selection, but I saw some nice ones at Nashbar and Velowear too. Should I purchase a size that will be tight on me, or to fit loosely?

Everyone’s done a great job on a and b, I guess I’ll try my hand at c …

Bicycle clothing should be tight, but not too tight; you gotta breathe! If your bicycle jersey is loose, you may as well be wearing a t-shirt. A damned expensive t-shirt. The reason it needs to be tight is so that you can properly sweat and the special material jerseys are made of can whisk that moisture away from your skin.

Same theory applies to shorts as well. And if you’re self-conscious about body shape or looking dorky – don’t be! Noone wears bicycle clothes for the style! :wink:

OK, here are my sizes…

My bike:
Chain Rings: D-48, D-38, D-28
Cassette: 30-26-23-20-17-15-13

Wife’s bike:
Chain Rings: E-50, E-40, E-30
Cassette: 28-24-21-18-16-14-12

Based on the information people have provided, it doesn’t seem like these setups are unusually low.

I played around with the “gears” link that bannerrefugee provided, and calculated the gain ratios* for each bike. (on my bike the gain ratio goes from 7.5 to 8.2 by going to a 53 Chain Ring and keeping the cassette the same)

Or, again from that link, it appears that there are standard cassette sizes that range from 11-28 or 11-30. (on my bike the gain ratio goes from 7.5 to 8.8 by going to an 11 on the smallest cassette gear, and keeping the chain ring the same).

Or, do both? If I’d switch my bike’s largest Chain Ring to a 53 from 48, and the Cassette to an 11 from 13, the associated gain ratio moves from 7.5 to 9.7 (about a 30% increase).

What do you knowledgeable Doper Bikers think?

Oh, and thanks for the jersey sizing advice Ponder. I appreciate it.
*the gain ratio is the number of inches forward the bike goes when the pedal rotates one inch.

If you change the cassette, be sure you get a 7-gear one. They haven’t been made for quite some time, so they might be hard to get new.

A 53/11 is a really big gear. You’d only use that gear on a pretty steep down-hill grade-- going well over 30 mph if you spin it up to 90 rpm.

I’d change the large chainring to a 53 (or 52) and see how that works, and if you still need bigger gears, change the cassette. But you should be spinning at close to 90 rpm when your riding. If you doing only 60, you’re being very inefficient.

I was having problems with the rear wheel & brakes - I ended up needing to replace the rear wheel - and that was nigh impossible. But it was a Trek 700 - which is quite old.

Ok, since you are primarily riding on flat paths, I’m going to assume that you don’t need a really low gear for climbing steep hills. Since you have triple chainrings with little rings or 28 and 30, you can use these for the times when you are climbing.

Looking at the high gears, your bike seems like it could benefit from a 52 (or 53) tooth big ring and maybe a new cassette with a 12. But I’d hold off on the chainring and get the cassette first.

Your wife’s bike, with a 50 tooth big ring, is probably ok. Since she has a 12 already, she doesn’t need a new cassette either, unless she wants to get a cassette with closer ratios.

Here is my advice for doing this on the cheap. First, get a new cassette for your bike a 12-13-14-15-17-19-21. Give it it try and see if the 48-12 works for you or not. I think it will. If not, get the 52 or 53 front ring.

Then, swap rear wheels on the bikes so your wife can try the 12-13-14-15-17-19-21. If she likes it, then buy one for her.

I’d bother with new front chainrings only if you find the 48-12 not big enough, but that should be good for 28 mph, and that’s a high speed for racers. You won’t be at 25 mph or more for very long unless you are going downhill or have a nice tailwind.

You might need a new chain, in fact I’d put new one on with the new cassettes. Otherwise you might get some skipping. At the very least, with a smaller rear cassette you’ll probably need a slightly shorter chain than what you have now. Take a link or two off the old one, or have the bike shop install a new on that is the right length for your new gears. Depending on how many miles the bikes have, you