Muggaccinos’ 1st Commandment is “Hills are your friends”. Alas, hills are only your friends if your bike has a gear combination which enables you to climb them without popping your kneecaps and self-immolating your quads.
After an all too painful slow learning curve, many cyclists, including Bank Teller, have a triple front chain ring with 28 teeth on the smallest “granny” front sprocket and a nine speed 12 / 28 rear cassette. Bank Teller's lowest ratio is a 28 / 28 which is “one to one”. For each pedal revolution, his rear wheel only turns 1.00 times. So he can almost climb up walls.
Some cyclists have only a double chain ring 52 / 39 on the front. Unfortunately, many bikes are sold with a rear cassette with 23 or 25 as the biggest chainring. Even if a bike has a Shimano Ultegra 12 / 27 rear cassette, the lowest ratio they can achieve is 39 / 27, whereby each revolution of the pedals turns the rear wheel 1.44 times. On a steep climb, that 44% increased load, between 1.00 to 1.44, places a much greater strain on the knees/quads and will waste a cyclist faster.
It costs an arm and a leg to replace a double front chain ring with a triple front chain ring. However, you can replace your road bike –
(i) rear derailleur with a long-arm mountain bike rear derailleur,
(ii) 9 or 10 speed cassette of 12/34; and
from between –
* $190 “all-up parts” for the lower end of the below quality range, such as Shimano Deore, or
* $260 “all up parts” if you change to the upper-end grade, namely Shimano XT.
If your chain has less than 4,000km and your cassette less than 9,000km, changing only the rear derailleur will cost approx 45% of the above forecast costs.
Siggy Hoffmann aka Smiling Assassin has worked on several cyclists bikes who ride with Muggaccinos, incl Bank Teller, Arno aka The Kaiser and Robert H. aka California Death Ride. When it comes to bicycles, Siggy has a fastidious preoccupation with mechanical technical detail, and knows all the nuances/vagaries of the plethora of models Shimano, Campagnolo, BBB, Miche, Mavic, SRAM etc stock.
Siggy has provided the following details of mountain bike components which he can readily fit to your road bike if you have a 52 / 39 double chain ring:
mountain bike rear derailleur is equal grade to Shimano Tiagra road bike
Shimano LX mountain bike rear
derailleur is equal grade to Shimano 105 or 600 Series road bike
(ii) Model CS-M580 11 / 34 teeth cassette
(iii) Wipperman Connex 908 chain
Shimano XT mountain bike rear derailleur is equal grade
Shimano Ultegra road bike derailleur:
Model CS-M760 11 / 34 teeth cassette
If you have an older style 8 speed gear change, the largest rear cassette is 11 / 32 which is still a big improvement from a road bike derailleur reaching 27 teeth.
If your small chain ring on the front is the older style Shimano 42 teeth, you can replace the chainring with a FSA 38 teeth for about $50 thereby achieving a material improvement.
Sig lives at Campbelltown and knows all the bargains, particularly those in the western subs ie. from ABC Cycles Liverpool.
Siggy can provide similar info if you have Campagnolo componentary and you want to save your legs for more hills. Sig is happy to chat about all sorts of compatibility issues which occur when you mix Shimano, Campagnolo, BBB, Mavic, SRAM, Miche etc.
Scribe is happy to similarly list the bicycle savvy of any other bike mechanic(s) who keep abreast of prices and product range and assist fellow cyclists with bike mechanical work at reasonable labour prices.