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  1. #1
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Index and Comparison of 2-piece Road Triple Cranksets / Chainsets

    [Text and index last updated December 2012.]

    I do a lot of long rides on Alpine roads (I live in Switzerland), frequently doing multiple passes in one day. The only way to achieve this comfortably (given that I'm not a pro' rider) is to have a decent low gear - grinding up the hill in an unnecessarily high gear seems more tiring / less efficient and can hurt your knees. The 33 tooth minimum chainring size on road compact cranksets (110 mm BCD) is not low enough to do my kind of riding (multiple bouts of several kms at >7% gradient) at a decent cadence (>80 rpm). I could use a compact crankset with a mountain-bike cassette, but I don't like that option due to the large difference in tooth counts between adjacent cogs. Hopefully this has negated all of the "tiples are stupid / unnecessary / for wimps" comments.

    First, I'll present an index of all two-piece road triple cranks that I'm aware of, then make some notes about some aspects of this list and compare the available cranksets and give my opinion on which are the best in which situations. The purpose of this is to make comparisons and choices between the options a lot simpler, and it may result in people telling me about options that I'm not currently aware of.

    Criteria:
    The index below contains all cranksets that I am aware of that have the following three properties:
    (1) An inner BCD (bolt circle diameter) of no more than 94mm (so that the minimum inner ring size is no larger than 30 teeth),
    (2) A chainline appropriate for a road bike, and
    (3) A 2-piece / integrated axle design.

    Click the image below to download the attached pdf. I've tried to make all of the information as accurate as possible, but there are still a few missing data points. I'm happy to receive any input regarding additions or corrections.

    Cranksets_2-piece_road_triples_Dec12.pdf

    Links to manufacturers' websites:
    Campagnolo, Driveline, FSA, Lightning, Samox (Chuan Wei), Shimano, Specialized, Stronglight, Sugino, Truvativ, Zinn.

    Nearly all of these cranks come stock with a 30 tooth inner ring. With the 74 mm inner BCD that most of them have, chainrings down to 24 teeth are possible. These are quite easily and cheaply obtainable for about US$20, and changing the inner chainring is not difficult. Using a ring smaller than 30 teeth may remove the ability to use the small-small gear combinations even more than usual, due to the chain rubbing on the middle ring and the rear derailleur not have enough capacity to take up the slack in the chain, but it works fine if you avoid those gear combinations, which you should be doing regardless of the size of the inner ring. My favorite size of inner ring is 26 teeth - if you're going to have some low gears, then they may as well be low enough for all situations. When installing such a small ring, it is a good idea to also add a chain retention device so that the chain doesn't drop off the inside of the inner ring when you shift down to it, such options include a Third Eye Chain Watcher, a Deda Dog Fang, an N-Gear JumpStop, or a Jtek DropStop (the N-Gear is my favorite because it is the most solid).

    A tripleizer middle chainring can be used in place of a normal inner ring on many double cranksets (both 130 mm and 110 mm BCD versions are available), which then allows a third, inner ring to be mounted (normally 74 mm BCD). However, with a two-piece crankset, the chainline would again be very wrong, and the inner ring may not even clear a lot of frames. Tripleizers are therefore only really options for 3-piece cranksets where a bottom bracket of the appropriate width can be used to achieve the appropriate chainline.

    The Ultegra 6703, Dura Ace 7803 (plus the older, 3-piece 7703), and the Zinntegrated cranks use a standard 130 mm spider and have a tripleizer middle ring with a special BCD (92 mm) to mount the inner chainring. To obtain the correct chainline, the axle length is longer than for the equivalent double crank, and there are a couple of extra spacers. Unfortunately, the only available inner ring for these cranks is Shimano's 30-tooth model; if you want to go smaller then you'll also have to change the middle ring to a tripleizer that has a 74 mm BCD for the inner.

    Nearly all of the cranksets currently available that fit my three criteria are triples. There are now two exceptions to this. The Sugino "Compact Plus" or "Compact+", which has a BCD for the outer chainring of 110mm, but the inner chainring is either a 110mm or 74mm BCD ring; one of the available versions is a 46/30 setup which is very useful. See this thread for more details. Also, the Lightning crank can take a 94mm BCD spider, allowing you to use down to a 29-toth inner ring (and the same spider can also be mounted on a Speciliazed crank). This type of double chainring combination is often called a super compact, and has similarities to the "half-step-plus-granny" setup that was common when cassettes/freewheels only had 5 to 7 cogs (the half-step gearing is no longer needed when using a cassette with 9 to 11 cogs). Super compact cranksets can be shifted with road front derailleurs designed for standard or compact doubles (it tends to work fine even though the chainring sizes exceed the recommended guidelines) and integrated shifters designed for doubles (thereby allowing the use of SRAM Double-Tap levers or Shimano Di2 equipment with very low gearing). Having a frame with a braze-on mount for a front derailleur can cause problems in getting the front derailleur low enough on this kind of setup, but aside from that there shouldn't be any compatibility issues. Such setups can also be created by using only the inner and middle positions of a crankset designed to have three rings.

    I always recommend Shimano cranksets: they have the best-shifting chainrings and are a competitive weight for a decent price. The Shimano 105, 5703 is my current favorite because it is the only current Shimano crankset that has the proper mounting posts for the inner chainring (which the Ultegra 6703 does not have) and has hollow crank-arms (to make it reasonably light).

    The best lightweight triple crankset that has the proper mounting posts for the inner chainring is probably the FSA SL-K. The Lightning and the Stronglight X-Wing cranksets are even lighter, but are more expensive and are not as readily available as the FSA. However, I've found that FSA chainrings don't shift as well as Shimano's.

    If you want extra-long cranks, then the Stronglight Z-Light is the only stock crankset that is listed as going up to 180mm, but someone responding below reports that the FSA Gossamer may be available in a 180mm version. The custom Lightning and Zinn-tegrated cranks go longer but are probably outside of most people's budgets. The larger manufacturers list several stock models as being available in 165 mm sizes, but often those lengths are difficult to find.

    Campagnolo makes the only triple crank that is officially compatible with an 11-speed chain. However, most of the other options that are listed as 10-speed compatible will probably work fine with an 11-speed chain (or with a 9-speed chain) - the differences in the spacing between the rings is minute.

    The Truvativ cranks (made by SRAM) are sometimes re-branded as Bontrager. These have the worst-shifting chainrings that I've tried.

    It's very hard to find much information about the Samox and Driveline cranksets. There are websites showing the models and I've seen one Samox crank at their booth at Eurobike, but they don't appear to be for sale anywhere and I cannot find the complete spec's for them. Samox and Driveline may be the same cranks, just re-branded, but again I'm not sure about this.

    I've been told that Stronglight are discontinuing their 2-piece cranksets, but they are still listed on the company's website, so I'm not sure what is happening there.

    There are still lots of 3-piece cranksets available with road triple chainrings. My criteria of having a two-piece / integrated axle crankset makes this list much shorter. If you are happy with a 3-piece crankset, in addition to the road triples then even on a road bike you can also use most cranksets that are designed for mountain bikes by using a bottom bracket with the correct width, but you may still end up with a wider than necessary Q-factor / tread. It's not ideal to use a two-piece crankset designed for a mountain bike on a road bike because the chainline will be too large.
    Last edited by Chris_W; 12-12-12 at 12:35 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Germany_chris's Avatar
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    I don't know that I would ever use the information but it it now saved and THANK YOU!!

  3. #3
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    Nice list of triple cranks. FWIW, the majority of modern triple cranks should work just fine with an 11 speed chain.
    The problem is there is no medium or long cage 11 speed RD. That is not such a big problem. I've found that the
    difference in the actuation ratio between 10 and 11 speed RDs is very small. I've done a simple fix to shorten the
    lever arm on a 10 speed RD to increase the actutation ratio. All I did was grind the threads on the shift cable clamp
    bolt down to the root of the thread, just in the area where the cable touches the bolt. That small change is all it takes.
    Just don't use a Centaur or Veloce RD from '07-'08. Those may have a weak return spring that will not work with the new shifters.
    Last edited by DaveSSS; 01-27-10 at 08:11 AM.

  4. #4
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    Very interesting summary. I use triples on EVERY bike I own. Most are 130/74 road triples in both square taper and Octalink designs and one is a 110/74 old MTB crank, also square taper. Actually I see no reason to limit the list to 2-piece designs but, at least there are some.

  5. #5
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I had wondered about extending this or making a second list to also include all three-piece road triple cranks. However, that task sounded a lot bigger and more difficult. I would have to first decide on a definition for something to qualify as a road triple rather than a mountain triple. I could go with the criteria that it must have a BCD for the middle & outer rings of at least 110 mm. However, there are 46- and 48-tooth outer rings easily available for MTB cranksets with 94 or 104 mm BCDs, so those might be worth including as they could be set up with decent road gearing (and some are even sold that way already) and used with a narrower BB could work fine on a road bike. Therefore, the extended list would probably need to include every three-piece crankset that exists. Then, why wouldn't I also include the two-piece MTB cranksets for completeness? How about tandem cranksets? It could quickly get out of hand, so I decided to keep my task manageable for now and use the three criteria that I stated above. Maybe if I'm bored in the future, I'll relax my criteria in some way and expand the list accordingly. For now, I'd just like to make sure that I haven't missed anything that should be included given my current criteria.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Drakonchik's Avatar
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    Small error to note on your excellent table. The FSA Gossamer Triple MegaExo comes in a 180mm. I know because I own one.

  7. #7
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    The 180mm Gossamer isn't listed on the FSA website, so maybe they discontinued it? I've added it to the list anyway.

    While looking that up, I discovered that there are two FSA BB30 triples! I missed them before because they are not listed under the "triple" heading on their site, but are instead listed with the standard road cranks under "BB30" here. So, I've added those to the list, as well as giving the Stronglight X-Wing BB30 version it's own line, so I'll now happily retract my comment about road triples not being available in the BB30 standard. Even so, it looks like you would have to special order them if you did want one - Google didn't find any online retailers offering either of the FSA BB30 triples. However, I did find an eBay seller in the US who has two FSA Gossamer triple BB30s taken off of new bikes that he's selling for $100 each - bargain! See the eBay listing here; just two days left, but it looks like he hasn't sold either yet.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Drakonchik's Avatar
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    I just double-checked my cranks & original FSA packaging and it is indeed as I said. The FSA material appears to designate mine as "S-10" variant. I picked it up on eBay early last year IIRC, when some large outfit appeared to be liquidating a bunch of them. Which was perhaps the end of the line since as you mention the FSA website appears to no longer offer it.

  9. #9
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    I've now added three tandem cranksets: FSA Gossamer, FSA SL-K, and Truvativ Elita, with spec's for both captain and stoker cranks, and drive and timing chainrings.

  10. #10
    headtube. zzyzx_xyzzy's Avatar
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    I also got the 180mm Gossamer from an eBay seller who seems to specialize in manufacturer closeouts. The q-factor is wide for a road crank, somewhere around 170mm, and the chainline is wide too.

    Does anyone do a 110/74 2-piece triple? What happened to Sugino's "Direct drive" cranks?

    Might also want to add the Surly Mr. Whirly crank system. (though it is 3 pieces, uses the same bearings as Shimano 2-piece) It can use a 110 bcd spider and it comes in up to 185mm arm lengths.

  11. #11
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zzyzx_xyzzy View Post
    I also got the 180mm Gossamer from an eBay seller who seems to specialize in manufacturer closeouts. The q-factor is wide for a road crank, somewhere around 170mm, and the chainline is wide too.
    Any chance you could measure these values? Do you know if they are wider on the 180mm version than on the standard length Gossamers?

    Quote Originally Posted by zzyzx_xyzzy View Post
    Does anyone do a 110/74 2-piece triple?
    The Stronglight Fission is a 110/74 2-piece triple, it's already in the table; there was also a two-piece version of the Stronglight Impact (also 110 / 74), but that appears to have been discontinued.

    Quote Originally Posted by zzyzx_xyzzy View Post
    What happened to Sugino's "Direct drive" cranks?
    Thanks, I didn't know about that one, even though I did try to find something from Sugino. I can't find much info on any Sugino Direct Drive cranks except that they came on a few mid-level Specialized Road bikes (Allez Elite and Dolce Elite) in 2006 & '07. Any other details would be much appreciated. I would have thought that the integrated axle technology would have taken Sugino a while to develop, so I'm surprised that they stopped production of all 'Direct Drive' models so quickly. Maybe there was a major problem with them?

    Quote Originally Posted by zzyzx_xyzzy View Post
    Might also want to add the Surly Mr. Whirly crank system. (though it is 3 pieces, uses the same bearings as Shimano 2-piece) It can use a 110 bcd spider and it comes in up to 185mm arm lengths.
    The external BB cups & oversize axle could allow it to qualify, but from what I've seen, the chainline of the Surly Mr. Whirly is designed for a MTB: Surly list the chainline as 50 mm, one other source I found lists it as 47.5 mm, so it wouldn't fit my chainline criteria.
    Last edited by Chris_W; 01-29-10 at 05:32 AM.

  12. #12
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Lightning cranksets now added. The 130/74 mm BCD spider for a triple crankset is not listed on their main web-page, but it is mentioned in a couple of places on the WeightWeenies forum. [UPDATE: I got in touch with Lightning and they said that the 130/74mm spider that they currently offer is a modified version of one from TA Specialites, but they plan to soon offer one of their own making.] The tandem version of this crankset was discussed extensively in this thread and this one, which shows the 130/74 mm BCD spider being used on the prototype tandem version.
    Last edited by Chris_W; 02-03-10 at 12:33 AM.

  13. #13
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    I just updated the spreadsheet (see original post above for complete info). You can download it as a pdf or xls file, here's a jpg version:

    Jpeg version:
    Attachment 182956

    Pdf version:
    Attachment 182957

    Links to manufacturers' websites:
    FSA, Lightning, Samox (Chuan Wei), Shimano, Stronglight, Sugino, Truvativ, Zinn.

    Additions/changes included (October 2010):

    I added the new Shimano 105 (5703) triple crankset. I was very pleased to learn that this crankset retained the proper inner mounting posts for the inner chainring, which have been left off of the new Ultegra, 6703, and previous Dura Ace, 7803. This therefore becomes the best mid-priced triple crankset available IMO. I could not find any weight information for the 5703, so if anyone has one and can give me the weight (with or without the 5700 bottom bracket, which is 90 grams according to BikeRumor) then that would be great (weight for the 170mm crank length version would be the best, but a weight for another length would be OK, too).

    Details of the Sugino Compact+ added, which is a road double crankset where the inner ring can be a 74mm BCD or a 110mm BCD (outer is always 110mm BCD). I had some info about this from some rumors before, but no official spec's were available until now.

    Samox triple crank added. It's very hard to find much information about this crankset. I found it while wandering the halls at Eurobike, and they do have a website showing it (see here), but it doesn't appear to be for sale anywhere and I cannot find the complete spec's for it.

    Stronglight Pulsion added, even though it is discontinued and very few details are available - it is still mentioned in at least one tech' doc' on the Stronglight website.

    I also added comments about my opinion of SRAM's Apex approach (using a compact double with a wide-range cassette and a compatible RD) to offering an alternative to a triple crankset. Basically, I think that the wide spacing between gears in the cassette make it not ideal for serious road riding, so I would not recommend it except in special circumstances.
    Last edited by Chris_W; 12-21-10 at 02:06 AM.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    2 piece suggests indicates External bearing type, and several on that list are good old square taper or 3 piece ..

    Indications in BB column shows that , exo will suggest the Fsa ones as external ..
    [Stronglight mygal came on my Koga as a single 39t cog with a chainguard, they're discontinued , perhaps name got recycled]

    I have been satisfied with my last upgrade of Campag race triples in 50-40-30, then as the 30 is on a 74mm BCD
    substituting a 24 t for the 30, or in the case of the 52-42, a 26t.. in a Campag 111 square taper BB.

    But its a new part of an older , friction shifted drive train , so lots of combinations work fine
    because I dont expect electric switch like instantaneous gear changes like the post industrial
    computerized child has been given [advertising] to expect.

    My Go to bike has a Swiss made 2 speed planetary gear crankset, it happens to install like a 2 piece ,
    but both crank-arms are removable, and the bearings are internal in the frame when installed.
    Herr Schlumpf turned the humble 3 speed into a mountain climber..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-17-10 at 11:04 AM.

  15. #15
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    2 piece suggests indicates External bearing type, and several on that list are good old square taper or 3 piece ..

    Indications in BB column shows that , exo will suggest the Fsa ones as external ..
    [Stronglight mygal came on my Koga as a single 39t cog with a chainguard, they're discontinued , perhaps name got recycled]
    There may be some models listed that were previously offered as 3-piece cranksets under the same model name, but I assure you that all those listed are available (or were previously available) as 2-piece / external bearing designs. The 2-piece version of the Stronglight Mygal (called Activ Link) is indeed one for which I haven't found many mentions. I previously found something about it on the Stronglight website, but cannot locate that now. However, here is an online retailer selling it (although they're out of stock), and here's an image:

    p8816_250..jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    I have been satisfied with my last upgrade of Campag race triples in 50-40-30, then as the 30 is on a 74mm BCD
    substituting a 24 t for the 30, or in the case of the 52-42, a 26t.. in a Campag 111 square taper BB.
    As for replacing the stock inner ring with something less than 30 teeth, then that is something I've done to every crankset I own (I'm currently using 24-, 26-, and 28-tooth inner rings on a monster-cross, touring, and race bike, respectively), and have done the same for many of my friends (the default being to give them a 26-tooth ring when the middle is 39).

    BTW, I'm still looking for the weight on the new Shimano 105 5703 crankset. If anyone has one that they can weigh for me then that would be great.
    Last edited by Chris_W; 11-12-10 at 01:10 AM.

  16. #16
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Could be another machining batch using the same dies, right arm spider certainly looks similar.
    here's the Stronglight Mygal that came as OEM part on my Koga WTR, as a double, no bolt circle for 3rd chainring.
    http://www.cyclofiend.com/working/20...clark1008.html
    Their self extractor proved to be a cruel hoax ,it just stripped out the threads in the crankarm when I tried to use it, as designed.

    I now have a Shimano M730 crank on it, it ended up with same chainline without changing the BB.

  17. #17
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Index updated again. Highlights include:

    FSA have updated a bunch of info about the latest versions of their cranks, so weights, chainlines, Q-factors have changed slightly.

    Shimano have announced that the 4600-series, 10-speed, Tiagra, will be launched in Summer 2011.

    Truvativ have some info about an "OCT" version of the Rouleur triple on their website. This has hollow crank arms, and so is 50 grams lighter than the standard Rouleur triple. No information on availability for that one yet, though.

    I moved a few more older models to "discontinued" status because it's increasinaly difficult to find anyone with any stock.

    According to this report on the road.cc website, Shimano plan to release two new tandem cranksets. There's no more info yet, so I haven't added them to the index, but I will when I hear more.



    PDF file:
    Cranksets_2-piece_road_triples.pdf

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    Does anyone know if SRAM will ever make a Double-Tap shifter for a 3-ring crank?

  19. #19
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    SRAM seem to be completely against road triples, instead promoting the compact crank plus MTB cassette option. Since they just made a big deal about this when launching Apex not too long ago, I think it's very unlikely that they will introdcue road triple components any time in the near future. Of course, your two levers don't have to match - you could always use a SRAM double-tap lever for the right hand and a Shimano or Campy lever for the left hand; or go with a simple brake lever only (which SRAM also make) for the left hand plus a bar-end shifter on the left side.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    SRAM seem to be completely against road triples, instead promoting the compact crank plus MTB cassette option. Since they just made a big deal about this when launching Apex not too long ago, I think it's very unlikely that they will introdcue road triple components any time in the near future. Of course, your two levers don't have to match - you could always use a SRAM double-tap lever for the right hand and a Shimano or Campy lever for the left hand; or go with a simple brake lever only (which SRAM also make) for the left hand plus a bar-end shifter on the left side.

    simple brake lever would be the way to go.

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    Do you think that we will ever see the day that a man lands on Mary Poppins?

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    Hi, I am impressed by the work done on the main table but I must admit that most of the data is beyond my interest level. What DOES interest me is to find the center to center chainring spacings for road bikes with the corresponding cable pulls of their shifters for tabulation purposes. Rear shifting is well tabulated (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Bicycle...ing_Dimensions) but front shifting is not.

    My own casual observations, (no road bike of my own), note that triple chainrings are often at about 1cm centers, but that some others look more like 6mm. Any ideas where spacings and cable pulls are to be had? Honestron, London.

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    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    Thanks for taking the time to measure and document all this information. I actually used the chart to confirm some measurements before ordering a Shimano FC-4503 crankset today.

    I have no use for the aforementioned crankset's 50t ring, and was going to replace it with a 46t or 48t ring. I did the same thing on my 4550 double, and was wondering there were any gotcha's with the 4503 that would prevent installing standard rings such as those sold by Specialites T.A.
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    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    You should have no problems replacing the large ring on a 4503 crankset. The one issue might come in the placement of the front derailleur - to get the inner plate of the derailleur to clear the middle ring, then the outer plate will be quite a bit higher than the big ring. It should still shift OK, but there will be a slightly increased chance of overshifting the chain to fall off the outside of the big ring. However, if you dial in the upper limit screw just perfectly then it should be OK. Certainly don't use an Ultegra FD (because the difference in height between the inner and outer plates is even larger); if you're using a 9-speed chain then go for the 4503 FD, if it is a 10-speed chain then use the 4603, 5603, and 5703 FDs - they should all work equally well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    You should have no problems replacing the large ring on a 4503 crankset. The one issue might come in the placement of the front derailleur - to get the inner plate of the derailleur to clear the middle ring, then the outer plate will be quite a bit higher than the big ring. It should still shift OK, but there will be a slightly increased chance of overshifting the chain to fall off the outside of the big ring. However, if you dial in the upper limit screw just perfectly then it should be OK. Certainly don't use an Ultegra FD (because the difference in height between the inner and outer plates is even larger); if you're using a 9-speed chain then go for the 4503 FD, if it is a 10-speed chain then use the 4603, 5603, and 5703 FDs - they should all work equally well.
    Thanks for the reply. For the time being, I'm going to run the stock middle/outer rings. The 30t granny will get replaced with a 24t or 26t chainring, though. Shifters are bar-cons, so I'm not concerned with maintaining indexing up front. I have a couple of FSA Gossamer front mechs, and if those don't shift too well, I'll grab a 4503 FD.
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