I am just about to buy a boardman comp 2012 hybrid bike which I want to use bikepacking. The gearing will be a little high as standard, it's a flat bar setup with Sram X5 9 speed shifters and rear derailleur I think perhaps shorter cage, and microshift front derailleur and 50/34 compact crank with I believe a power drive cartridge bottom bracket. Current cassette looks like 11/32.

If possible I would like to switch out the front derailleur (if necessary) and then change the BB/chainset to something like a deore double or something similar with much lower gearing that can be picked up for fairly good value secondhand. Its a clip front derilleur rather than braize on so the smaller cogs shouldn't be a problem I'm hoping.

Any suggestions on a good value swap that should work etc with the shifters and BB fitment? If you need more specifics on the BB I should have it tonight. Thanks in advance.

2 Answers 2


If your numbers are correct, you have a 34:32 gear combo, which gives you 28.9 gear inches assuming 622mm wheels at 35mm diameter. You have 123 gear inches in 50:11.

If you have a current bike, work out its gear-inches values at https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gear-calc.html to compare.

A 34:32 is just-about one-to-one ratio so one crank rotation drives you just over one wheel rotation. That is already extremely low by modern standards, but a fully-laden touring bike could weigh a lot, and endurance-grinding on steep slopes is about the only way to get up.

Depending on your derailleur, you may be able to switch to a 34 or 36 large for approximately 10% decrease in lowest gear. Much more is likely to need a new rear derailleur, at which time you start contemplating that 10 speed is only a replacement shifter away.

You may benefit from switching to a triple crankset, with a wide range of gears, like 50/40/28. This gives you 9 gears in each range, and yes they do overlap but you can pick the range based on upcoming terrain.

A valid option is to just ride it as-is. Do a couple rides loaded and unloaded, and see what works for you. Chains and cassettes etc can be fitted later, you might find that what is comes with is adequate.


The X5 is a good derailleur and should be able to handle up to a 36t cassette without any problem. If you want to avoid changing the chain length (perhaps if it's new and you don't want to waste it), also change your outer chainring to a 46t.

This avoids having to buy a whole new chainset and front derailleur, which is an expensive combination. Rear cassettes are quite cheap especially in a 9speed variant.

I would also consider looking at a 48/32t or 46/30 chainset as a nice option so as not to go too low. You will still want to produce some speed on a bikepacking rig -- this is not fully loaded touring (i.e. 4 full panniers+)

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