I’ve only been cycling for just over a year, so there’s still much I don’t know. And my nature is to dig into “how it works” to understand it, so I can make better choices. Bear with me as I make a mountain out of a molehill here… this is how I learn.
The questions are simple:
For recreational gravel riding in flat Florida, how low a gear ratio am I likely to need?
Which of the available gearing options would you recommend, and can you point to any specific pros/cons?
In the chart, on the left in gray are the gears and ratios for my Synapse. In orange is the range of gears where I spend most of my time. In yellow are the two gearing options available for the Diverge. And in white are the three 2x options I could create on the Diverge using SRAM Force AXS components.
Chart note: In the 2x columns, I eliminated all the gear ratios from the smaller chainring that would be redundant to another in the big ring. So 24 possible gears become 15 viable ratios… 3-4 from the small ring and the rest from the big ring.
For background: I’m 48, 225 lbs, roughly 2W/kg, usually on the road at around 27 kph (~16.5 mph) – so very much a MAMIL – trying to get faster and get in better shape by cycling. I only ride on the road right now, on a 2018 Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Red eTap, and I generally buy one nice thing then keep it for a long time. So I’d like to buy a really nice gravel bike (2021 Specialized Diverge), but I’m trying to understand and define which drivetrain components I should get.
Based on my experience with the Synapse, I’m in love with eTap and would love to stick with SRAM electronic shifting. The Shimano in yellow is still in consideration because it’s $1900 cheaper than the factory SRAM option, and maybe I should just keep the change.
My current thinking is that the ideal setup is the second white one: 46/33 up front, 10-36 in the back. All the speed of my Synapse (not that I’m strong enough to use it yet!), a MUCH lower gear at the low end (0.92x versus my current 1.06x), and smaller steps between gears.
BUT… should I maybe just leave the 1x SRAM Force AXS setup I get from Specialized (second yellow) in peace? How much more reliable is 1x? How big a deal is it really to have that super-low gear when my state (especially around Miami) is flat as a pancake?
Seems to me my techie, gadget-loving brain wants all the theoretical benefits of the SRAM 2x12 option… but that’ll cost about $7500 total. Just keeping the SRAM 1x12 saves me nearly a thousand bucks at $6700. As for the Shimano, it costs me quite a bit on the top end… but the bike then costs $4800 and I’m not that fast (yet!) anyway. Maybe I should just be happy that I’ve got a cheaper option? Am I likely to be able to outgrow it within the next 4-5 years?
Budget note: I can afford this comfortably, but I try to be responsible with money. I’m trying to make the “right choice” here: quality and fun that will last me a long time, without needing to upgrade as I grow faster and stronger, but without overbuying and just wasting money.
Yes, I’m massively overthinking this.
Which setup, and why?