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  1. #1
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Compact or no... seek advice

    I read the 10/27/05 posts in this fourm from folks with a compact crank. I'm currently considering one and wondered if those who posted two years ago as still happy with the compact (or, folks who didn't post but are running one.) My biggest concern is what I've read about the sometimes difficult front shift. I hate throwing chains. Currently I'm running a 52/39 and 12/25. I can deal with most hills in our area pretty well, however, toward the end of longer rides (i.e. 60+ miles) some hills really take it out of me. I've found myself trying to figure out how to re-route some rides to avoid some hills, a practice in which I really don't want to engage. My LBS says they can swap out my current FSA Carbon Pro for the same thing in the compact for less than $150. So any input folks?
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  2. #2
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    There's a device that mounts to your seat tube that prevents the chain from being thrown to the inside. It works and weighs nothing. If you're worried about chain coming off the big ring, see the chain keeper ring(s) on my "Flatland-Tourer" in the Rouge's gallery (page 2).

  3. #3
    Semper Fidelis
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    go to zinn cycles and scroll and you will find some different chain ring guides if i remember correctly.

    if you have shimano
    you can use
    12/25 Cass.
    12/23Cass.
    with 50/39 chain rings
    50/38 chain rings.
    50/36
    also you can use chain rings by salsa/sugino and others to customize your own configurations.
    there needs to be no more than a 14 tooth difference if you want to use your existing crank and front derr.
    i don't know how hilly the area is that you live but just some ideas of possible changes without spending alot of money.


    also check this site out you can configure your own and see if they will work
    www.jbarrm.com or

    gear inch & shifting calculator
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

  4. #4
    Senior Member Raketmensch's Avatar
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    I've got a compact that I've been using for several months now, and I really like it. It's very hilly where I ride. There are lots of rollers -- it's almost impossible to ride more than a couple of hundred yards anywhere without having to shift -- and there are some very steep hills, with gradients of up to 15% or so.

    After some experimentation, the gearing I've settled on is 50/34 and 12/27 (it's a 10-speed cassette). For me, this is perfect. I had a triple on my previous bike, and I don't miss it. I personally like to spin in a high gear rather than mash in a low one (easier on the knees). On group rides, when everybody else is standing on the pedals and huffing and puffing, I'm usually sitting in the saddle and happily spinning away. In fact, with this gearing, I've found that hill climbing has become one of the more enjoyable aspects of cycling for me. And a steep hill near the end of a long ride is no longer the impediment that it once was.

    As for the downsides, there's one that I have experienced and one that I have not. The one that I haven't experienced is difficulty in shifting. Even with the 16-tooth difference between the 50 and the 34, a D/A front derailleur handles the shifts very smoothly. Some combinations of chainrings and derailleurs work well and others don't, so get good advice from your LBS. But it simply hasn't been a problem for me with my setup.

    The one negative that I do experience, and it's unavoidable with a compact, is that the difference between 34 and 50 is large enough that you have to double shift more than with other setups. In other words, when you go from 50 to 34 or 34 to 50 in the front, you very commonly have to shift a click or two in the other direction in the back to get the gearing you're looking for. I don't find this particularly bothersome -- it becomes habit very quickly -- but it bugs some people.

    Anyway, if you've got big hills to climb, if you like to spin, and if you don't want to deal with the hassle/weight/stigma/whatever of a triple, I have found that a compact can be a very nice option.

  5. #5
    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    Me 54, 6'1" 165 lbs; 5000 miles per year all above 7200 feet. I run a 50, 36 FSA SLK Megaexo front and 12-25 rear. I am very happy with it. I tend to pedal about 4-6 rpm faster and I feel its easier on my knees. When properly set up there is no trouble shifting (I kept my regular Campy Record FD). If you want to keep two on the front and make those hills a bit easier then you might benefit from a compact. And (as pointed out above) you don't have to "settle" for a 50-34. There are a number of websites that will let you see what changing the chainrings will do to your gearing. Look at one and see what happens when you compare 50/36 or 50/34 to your current rig.

  6. #6
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    Here's Sheldon Brown's gear calculator:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/

    I am considering a switch to compact from my 52/39 and would also like to hear others' experiences and advice.
    ..... "I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time." Mark Twain, Speeches
    .

  7. #7
    Yes it is a paradox
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    $150 is a cheap experiment to help defeat the hills. Saves ware and tear on knees. Would allow you to be a spinner! I love my compact Durace crankset with Ultegra cassets. Have had no problems with chain throws or shifting. Did have troubles with chain being thrown from a tripple crankset. Go for it!

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlowSpinner
    $150 is a cheap experiment to help defeat the hills. Saves ware and tear on knees. Would allow you to be a spinner! I love my compact Durace crankset with Ultegra cassets. Have had no problems with chain throws or shifting. Did have troubles with chain being thrown from a tripple crankset. Go for it!
    Compact to me means different on a mountain bike but Similar principles apply. Many moons ago we had ATB cranksets (48/38/28t) on mountain bikes. For the more severe hills this left the gearing just a bit too high for unfit riders or tired legs- Then our "Compact" came out that was smaller- so less weight- and offered the ability to get lower gearing. I have been riding the Compact gearing ever since- but it does have a drawback. Speed is not a possibility with 44/11 as your highest gearing.
    Then I have the Tandem- still an off road machine as that is where it is mainly used. Gearing on that using the the old ATB Crankset, but with a lower small ring of 24 instead of 28, and the rear cassette of 11/32. We do use it on the road, and speed is comparable to the road riders. Front sprockets of 48/36/24 will seem low to you- but I can assure you that for us it is just right- We do stay with the roadies with their 54/52 rings and 12/13 smallest rear sprocket. The only time we run out of gears is downhill and stop pedalling at around 40 mph- then Mass takes over and I would like to find a kami-kazi that could stay with us on any downhill. Even on road rides- It surprises us how many times we will use that 36/32 gearing and with our abundance of steep hills we find that 24 sprocket on quite a few occasions.

    If you are finding that your Highest gear is rarely used- or only downhill- then you do not have a gear range that is usable enough. Then find a 15% hill and see if you have a low enough gear.

    A seemingly simple way to increase your lower gearing is to put on an 11/32 rear cassette. Seems obvious but will necessitate a change to a Long reach rear Derailler, so is not as cheap an option as originally intended. Still cheaper than changing a Crankset, and is worth doing if you do not want to lose your top end gearing but do require a lower gear for the hills.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  9. #9
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    I'm building up a frame now with Shimano compact and 12/25. Haven't finished yet, but I have spent some time thinking about it (and of course, reading the myriad of posts here). A 10% grade isn't all that uncommon in my neighborhood, and a regular double w/12-25 is okay for me if it's not too long (like maybe 1/2 mile or so) - I can always stand. But if I have to sustain it for longer distance, my cadence will drop way low (like 40) and I'll be a suffering puppy. I considered just getting a 12-27 but I really wanted a low gear beyond that. I'll let you know what happens soon...

  10. #10
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    My two cents.......

    I'm putting a Compact Crank on my new lightweight bike that will be used for rides in the mountains. I had purchased a 50/34 FSA SLK megaexo (just like RockyMtnMerlin) but after talking with my LBS I'm going to install a Shimano 50/34. He is one of the top mechanics in the Southeast and he strongly recommended the Shimano over the FSA. He said that the Shimano shifts twice as smoothly as a FSA and is also less likely to drop chains. Plus it is designed to be used with a standard DuraAce/Ultegra double front derailleur.

    I've been riding a 52/42/30 with a 12/27 cassette in the mountains. I'm concerned the 34/27 will be a little too hard for me when I'm cooked on some of these 100 mile rides. I should have it all set up and give it a test ride within a couple weeks. I will be happy to provide my firsthand experience afterwards.

  11. #11
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    Been riding a 50/34 for the last eight months and love it, beats using a triple and lets me use a 12/23 nine speed. Little easier on the hills if you like to spin but I find downhills I wished I had a 53/12. Maybe I'll go with a 11/23.

  12. #12
    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe
    My two cents.......

    I'm putting a Compact Crank on my new lightweight bike that will be used for rides in the mountains. I had purchased a 50/34 FSA SLK megaexo (just like RockyMtnMerlin) but after talking with my LBS I'm going to install a Shimano 50/34. He is one of the top mechanics in the Southeast and he strongly recommended the Shimano over the FSA. He said that the Shimano shifts twice as smoothly as a FSA and is also less likely to drop chains. Plus it is designed to be used with a standard DuraAce/Ultegra double front derailleur.

    I've been riding a 52/42/30 with a 12/27 cassette in the mountains. I'm concerned the 34/27 will be a little too hard for me when I'm cooked on some of these 100 mile rides. I should have it all set up and give it a test ride within a couple weeks. I will be happy to provide my firsthand experience afterwards.
    Hmm, I've not had any more dropped chains than with the Campy Record that I had before the FSA. Maybe its because I'm running a 50/36. Seems to shift quite smoothly too. I'm using the same Campy Record FD as I did with the Campy Record Crankset.

  13. #13
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    How about going to a rear 12-27? With your 39 that gives you basically the same gearing as a compact with a 12-25. Lots cheaper to boot.

  14. #14
    Mmmm, Blue Salsa.... BubbaDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Paulie
    http://www.gvtc.com/~ngear/

    This device really works great!
    I just got two of them to try on my touring bike and MTB, the quality looks great and the price is cheap. They even ship them to you free to try, pay if you like it or send it back. Even includes the hex key to install it with ....

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  15. #15
    Hello from Canuckistan! saanichbc's Avatar
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    Try a Jump Stop by N-Gear.
    They're only about 10bux.
    I've been using them for a number of years now, and refuse to build a bike without one.

    http://www.gvtc.com/~ngear/

    I used to ride with a compact crankset with 20/32/44 rings.
    However, I'm now riding with 22/32/44 rings on a Raceface Deus crankset, and works very well.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88
    I read the 10/27/05 posts in this fourm from folks with a compact crank.
    I've been using a 50/34 crankset with a 12/25 cassette for about a year and it works great for me. I think that the key to how well you will like a compact double on a road bike hinges on what gear you normally use on a dead flat road.

    The drawback to a 50/34 compact crank is that, when you shift front chainrings, you may have to shift two rear gears to get the next gear in sequence. If the gears that you like to use on a flat road happen to fall on the cassette such that you find yourself doing a lot of front shifting, that would be a major PITA. Mine generally allows me to do my flat road riding on the big ring and only shift into the small ring for climbing hills.

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