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So the rear wheel (26x2) on my Electra Townie 7d broke its axle, and I ended up replacing it with a new 26x1.5 wheel, that being what the LBS had in stock. The bike seems a bit faster, which is nice, BUT I find myself cruising in sixth gear (of seven) on flat terrain, and sissy gear is no longer usable at all, even on hills -- the gear doesn't seem to bite.

Is there anything I can do about this, short of replacing the new wheel with another 26x2?

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Just to be clear, you're not complaining about not being able to shift gears properly, just that the "easier" gears are "too easy"? –  Daniel R Hicks Mar 11 '12 at 20:54
    
That's right. The shifting is fine; it's just that 1st gear is entirely unusable, and all the other gears feel as though they're the next lower gear. I've lost some power at the top -- and I did use it! –  dsalo Mar 11 '12 at 20:59
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One thing to double-check is that you're actually shifting through all of your gears. It may be that the derailer isn't hitting the innermost and/or outermost cogs. –  Daniel R Hicks Mar 11 '12 at 21:21
    
I'll check on this, thanks! If it's not hitting the cogs correctly, what's the fix like? –  dsalo Mar 11 '12 at 21:24
    
Most likely a simple (free) adjustment at the shop that replaced the axle. –  Daniel R Hicks Mar 11 '12 at 22:41
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2 Answers

I am not sure if I got it wrong, but to me it seems that what you describe as a problem is in fact a solution.

It is expected to get a SUBSTANTIALLY faster bike if you replace a tire, because of tire quality, rubber compound, thread pattern, pressure, etc. 1.5 size, comparing to 2.0, is a specially much more efficient tire measure, which would for sure make the difference you mentioned.

If you are getting "the result" (bicycle is moving) with less effort, and the old gearing seems inadequate, I would suggest you to update the gearing, for example, getting a bigger chainring (not TOO bigger), and keep going faster.

If you don't want to spend, you can just enjoy less effort for the same speed.

Keep in mind wider tires might be more comfortable due to cushion, and more resistant to impact-induced flat tires, because they have larger air volumes. But except if you don't feel the bike right, consider to keep the narrow tire (perhaps exchange also the front one) and enjoy a new level of cruise speed at lower efforts.

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Thanks! How do I tell what my current chainring size is? –  dsalo Mar 11 '12 at 20:13
    
@dsalo: Count the teeth. –  freiheit Mar 11 '12 at 23:53
    
Oh, is that all? It's a 44T. What would be the next up? –  dsalo Mar 12 '12 at 0:08
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Anything higher than 44T :) I would look into something around a 48T — that should significantly increase your top end speeds and bring your bottom end more into line with what you're expecting. –  Stephen Touset Mar 12 '12 at 2:13
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A 44t is typical on an MTB crank, for which 46t is usually largest that will fit the crank, without changing the arms. Also, you will need to ensure that there is enough clearance on the frame, which I expect will be a problem on the Townie, if you want to go bigger than 44 tooth, or possibly 46 tooth. –  zenbike Mar 12 '12 at 6:28
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When the axle broke did it damage the freewheel or cassette?I believe the original cassette was a 14-34,14 teeth on the smallest gear-34teeth on the largest. When they replaced your wheel did you get a new cassette that was different?There is also the possibility that the bearings were bad, causing the axle failure and producing so much drag that now it feels like there is much less effort to pedal.You could relace the cassette with one tha has better road gearing such as 11-28 or 12-32.

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No new cassette, no new freewheel. I wouldn't be surprised at the bad bearings. –  dsalo Mar 11 '12 at 20:36
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