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Gearing Question
I'm a newbee here, and have a mid/late 90s touring bike with the Shimano RSX components. I got it to use in my first triathlon last summer, and now have done a few. I feel that I'm not getting enough speed from this bike (pedaling at same cadence as others in my highest gear, and still getting passed). Also, I don't use the lowest gear, as even on hills, I feel like I'm just spinning too much and not going forward enough when in the lowest gear combo.
So, my question is: if I replace the crankset to a higher range (currently its 46-36-26), what else needs replacing? Chain? Derailler? etc. I read somewhere that this RSX derailler is "matched" to the 46 tooth large ring?
My concern is that if I need to replace too many components, I may be better off changing to a newer bike for this use.

What gear range do you plan to install with the new crankset?

I haven't quite figured that out. It seems that the new standard (or maybe the road/race std) is 52-42-x, and I'm not sure what is in between. My goal is to increase speed and I'm trying to figure out if changing out components is the way to do it.

If you plan to use the bike for primarily triathlons, it might be worthwhile asking in related forums what crankset and clusters are commonly used. I don't know much about triathlons but assume that they are mainly flat time trial style rides. Would that be right? If so, I assume the focus is on speed so, a 11-x rear cluster would be desirable and I guess a double or compact double crankset on the front. I wouldn't think a triple is necessary.
Once you have determined this aspect, then you can look to see what other changes are required.
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You should be able to buy individual chainrings for the RSX cranks. This may be cheaper than buying a whole new crank. Especially if your LBS has some miscellaneous ones lying around. It may be a good way to try going up to a 48-50-52 to see how you like it.
The fr derail is probably designed for the smaller 46 ring. But you may still get OK shifting with it. You'll have to move the derailleur higher on the frame to clear the new ring and readjust. But I'd try it, before spending money on a new one.
depending on what you have in the back, it may be easier to get smaller cogs there than mess with the front. Remember that a 1 tooth change on the back has a bigger impact than 1 on the front.
If you do go substantially bigger in the front, you may need to lengthen your chain, or at least be very careful to avoid the big/big combination. Also if you have a lot of miles on this bike, you may get slipping after changing just one part of the drivetrain as all the parts "wear into" each other.
But I'd play with this one a little with cheaper parts to get a feel for what you like. Then splurge for a real race bike when you've narrowed down what you want.


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