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Half Step Gears

Duncan Summers2018-12-12 21:49:36

We have just returned from a summer trip which included a number of long even grade hills, one of which was 42 miles long! Any gear always seemed a little high or low

Our gear set up was as follows front 26/39/48 and rear ten speed11to 36. 

We only used the 39 tooth chainring, it gave us sufficient speed but needed more intermediate gears. A 42 tooth chainring exactly splits the gap between those 10 speed gears given by the 39 tooth chainring

I decided to change the 48 for a 42 chainring.  The existing front derailleur will not change between chainrings with such a small difference in chainring size due to the depth of the inside plate. I have purchased a mountain bike front changer with a shallow inside plate and shorter tail

This arrangement was used “I understand” in the 1980’s when rear cassettes had 5 or 6 gears to give intermediate gears . This was known as half step gearing

I would be interested to hear from anybody who has used half step on a solo or tandem bike.

Tim Dowson2018-12-13 21:43:35

It's frustrating not quite having the right gear for a long haul like that, but the problem we would have is that we like slightly different gears - so if it is just right for one, it's not quite right for the other.  This might not matter too much when the road is varying as normal but would not be solved even by a half step on a long steady incline. I wonder how many crews are exactly matched in this sense, rather than rougly so - but guess poor matching is one of the reasons that otherwise keen cyclists don't ride tandems.

Barry Wilson2018-12-18 15:49:39

Hi Duncan.  I can see what you are saying but I have never heard of the Half-Step-Gearing. 

However, I fail to understand why your actual gear ratios are problematic unless it is caused by large gaps on the cassette. 

We use a 22/34/46 set of chainrings and have recently changed to a 11-30 cassette in order to have closer gear ratios. We are both very fussy about cadence but luckily we both prefer the high 80's or low 90's. and we are never in a situation where the ideal ratio is unavailable.  We cope with 30% hills but on decents where we exceed 30mph we are freewheeling. 

Sorry to be unhelpful

Barry