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Old 08-30-06, 06:20 AM   #1
iks
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Compact double for the 50+ crowd

I posted this in another forum and haven't really decided yet between buying a new Trek 1500 with a triple, double or compact double crankset. I ride 12 miles a day over some hills in central mass on my current bike, a Trek 720. and don't use the small ring of the triple. I think the extra top end for the double is not worth losing some low gears, but the compact intrigues me - because of the crisper shifting and extra gearings on the low end. I compared gear-inches for the lowest gear I ride on the Trek 720 to the lowest gears for a compact double and find that I would only lose, by a fraction, the lowest gear. In summary, I am leaning towards the compact, the area I ride in is hilly but not mountainous, and I'm 55. Oh yes, I probably will upgrade in a few years to a more top of the line bike.

Thanks
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Old 08-30-06, 06:43 AM   #2
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My favorite bike has a 50/39 double - with downtube shifters. I love it, it's a cross between the simplicity of a single speed and the advantages of multiple gears.
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Old 08-30-06, 07:33 AM   #3
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I put a compact 50/34 on my bike this year and have been able to tame some hills vs the 50/39 setup before. The compact was a less expensive upgrade vs the triple.
If I had a choice on a new bike I may lean towards the triple vs compact but having said that with the compact every gear is useable, there is no duplication of gears that you could get with a triple. I imagine if you search the road riding forum you will find some info and comments on compacts. To each his/her own as we all have different riding styles and goals.
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Old 08-30-06, 07:38 AM   #4
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If you "ever" have to ask the question about cranksets - you might as well choose a triple. People who ride regular cranksets know they don't need anything else.
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Old 08-30-06, 07:45 AM   #5
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Like my new compact so far

I am new to this site and have only been road biking for about a year. But I have ridden a century and like to get in a 40-50 mile ride at least once a week. I like to spin and try to keep my cadence in the upper 80's - lower 90's and try to average over 17mph. I also like to attack hills by spinning as fast as I can for as long as I can. My mph and fast spinning depends on the hills as I ride in the rolling hills of Northern Virginia. I am not sure why they are called rolling hills because some of them are steep but anyway I wanted to improve my climbing. I have a 12/27 cassette and very recently changed from a 53/39 to a compact 50/34 crankset. I also did some analysis, but I used development instead (distance the bike travels for one crank revolution). I found that the 50-12 combination was between the 53-12 and 53-13 combinations. And since I was never in the 53-12 even when going downhill, it was a no brainer for me. I also found that a compact eliminates a couple of redundant gear combinations.

I have only ridden my compact a couple of times, but I have found that shifting in the front takes a little getting used to because of the 16 tooth jump verses the 14 tooth jump I had before. I find at times when I shift into the small chainring that I am spinning a bit too fast, so I just need to find a back-front or front-back shifting methodology that works for me. I also find that I was "lving" in the large chainring of my compact more than before and using more of my cassette, which I really like.

As I mentioned earlier, I have only ridden it a couple of time, but so far I do like it! Before I got my compact, I talked a number of people who had made the switch and only one regretted it and switched back. She races and wanted the extra speed the 53 gave her.
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Old 08-30-06, 07:49 AM   #6
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I recently went from a 30-40-50 triple to a 34-50 compact double. I rarely miss the lost lowest gears. If I know I'll be doing some extreme climbing I can switch to a larger rear freewheel to compensate. What is taking some getting used to is the lack of duplicate gear ratios. I'm having to think a little more about when to go from the large to small ring and vice versa. But it is becoming less of a problem as I get more miles in. Front shifting is definitely sharper with a double.
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Old 08-30-06, 07:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iks
... haven't really decided yet between buying a new Trek 1500 with a triple, double or compact double crankset.
...current bike, a Trek 720. and don't use the small ring of the triple.

1) I think the extra top end for the double is not worth losing some low gears, but the compact intrigues me - because of the crisper shifting and extra gearings on the low end.

2) I compared gear-inches for the lowest gear I ride on the Trek 720 to the lowest gears for a compact double and find that I would only lose, by a fraction, the lowest gear.

3) In summary, I am leaning towards the compact, the area I ride in is hilly but not mountainous, and I'm 55. Oh yes, I probably will upgrade in a few years to a more top of the line bike.
Thanks
I've gone to compact (50/34) on 3 of my machines, them being the newest, including the one I now race on. Compact works fine for me. But I use reasonably closely spaced cassettes on all of them (12-21 or 13-23) so I have no real experience on 'function' with a greater gear spread.

1) STD double 53/39 - doesn't work for me anymore cause any real climbing finds me needing a mid40s and lower gear. I could do that with more spread in the cassette, but then I lose more choices in the ranges from 85 to 65, which is where I spend most of my riding time. Compact gives me a good low end (38 inch) and keeps the mid range well geared.
1a) I find the compact least 'crisp' out of STD double (3 bikes currently), triple (2 bikes currently) and compact. The throw from 34 to 50 is a tough one for any FD to handle 'crisply'. My Triples all shift as well as any STD double, course that could be cause I use either a BArcon or DT shifter for the Front - Brifters are an annoyance and 'overkill' for front shifting - IMO.
That said, I do have one bike with Full brifters and with a compact, and it shifts fine.
If front shifting becomes an issue, then something isn't right.

2) If that lowest gear is NEVER used, then forget it - but is there a chance that you'll want it at some future ride?
Not sure why so many put the knock on triples, as if ridng a triple is '2nd class'. Hardly... one still needs the motor to do the work.
And, of course, the terrain you ride in has everything to do with what will work best.
The modern triples, and the associated drivetrain parts are tops in performance. My only reason for not using them more is 'Q-factor' - I'm somewhat knockkneed and the wider spread is very noticeable and sometimes uncomfortable on real long rides, otherwise modern triples are very cool. Didn't figure it out for some time until I noticed the issue whenever I did any 80+ mi rides on my triples. But that was before going to Eggbeaters which have lotz of 'float', that may change things... I'll have to revisit the 'Triple on a long ride' thing.

3) Best might be to do a solid ride on a 'compact' setup before buying. Many of the bike shops around here will have bikes you can do a solid ride on before making a decision. It doesn't even have to be the bike you;re intending to buy. As long as its close in intent (road v mtb) and a decent 'fit', then you can get a feel for 'compact' - if the shop will set you up with a 'loaner'.
'Upgrading' - what you 'PLAN' to buy in the future has no real bearing on what gearing you might need/want now, unless you're a multi-bike person.
My best day in the last 10 years was the day I no longer had only a STD double to pull off the rack for a ride. YMMV

Last edited by cyclezen; 08-30-06 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 08-30-06, 08:09 AM   #8
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Mrs. M.'s favourite has a 50/40, my roadie has a 52/39...both give a nice range for most roads we ride up here, but my favourite asphalt bike is a triple...48/36/26 with a 9 spd 11-32 cassette
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Old 08-30-06, 10:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
If you "ever" have to ask the question about cranksets - you might as well choose a triple. People who ride regular cranksets know they don't need anything else.
While I agree in principle, those principles go right out the window when I am tackling Mt. Mofo on my fully loaded touring bike.
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Old 08-30-06, 10:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7.rider
I am not sure why they are called rolling hills because some of them are steep
Rolling = you roll over one hill and right into another.
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Old 08-30-06, 10:36 AM   #11
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Who needs a 53 ring if you're running an 11 cog....or even a 12?
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Old 08-30-06, 10:54 AM   #12
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A question that only you can really answer. I've got a 50/34 double on my Klein and I love it. YMMV.
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Old 08-30-06, 11:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
If you "ever" have to ask the question about cranksets - you might as well choose a triple. People who ride regular cranksets know they don't need anything else.
Why so negative? Why not be helpful? And if not helpful, why post in the first place?

iks, please ignore RC. You could always try a relatively inexpensive test to find out if the compact is suited to your area. Buy a smaller middle ring for your triple and see if it, without ever using the granny, takes you up all the hills in your area. If so, unmount the granny and reset your FD limit stops to work with just the middle and large rings.
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Old 08-30-06, 11:08 AM   #14
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one thing I'm not likin about the compact setup (with my current 8 spd cassettes) is

shifting from '63 in.' to the next gear down, '59 in.'
'63' is 50/21, chain on the #7 cog
to get to '59' I have to drop to the 34 ring and move back down to the #3 cog, very awkward.

I could do the double shift one earlier, when going from '69' to '60', means double shift 50 to 34 and #6 cog to #2 cog, same same as above and then I lose the 63 in gear, which I use often on short hills.

So as much as I like almost all things about compact, that double shift location is a PITA! It comes right on the run up to a climbing section when you want to carry momentum at the start of the climb, and not be fiddlin with a double shift.
Different cog range setup? nope, can't afford to lose those important gears.
solution might be to finally go to a 9 spd cassette and thereby move the shift point further out to a lower gear...
any other thoughts out there?
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Old 08-30-06, 11:11 AM   #15
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Why so negative? Why not be helpful? And if not helpful, why post in the first place?
I think that is the point...to get a rise..
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Old 08-30-06, 11:15 AM   #16
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maybe it's just me, but I find my 50/39/30 12/27 road bike doesn't climb as well as my 48/38/28 12/26 hybrid. I know quite a few people around here who ride compact doubles and there are SERIOUS hills in the area.
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Old 08-30-06, 11:23 AM   #17
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here in the flats of central illinois, i find my 50/34 perfect for me. i run a 11/23 cass. and hardly ever use the small ring locally, but on a trip to southern il. i used the 34 a lot. i like the compact setup..

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Old 08-30-06, 01:40 PM   #18
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Hi iks (you must be a neighbor - I'm in Pepperell)...

I have two bikes, one with a std double (53/39 + 12/25 cassette) and another with compact (50/34 + 12/25 cassette). One of the reasons I built up the second bike was to try this setup out.

Both bikes are good in my neighborhood. One reason I got the compact is for more climbing-oriented rides. For example, when I head North towards the White Mountains, the std is definitely tough for me on some of the hills. The compact is better (although it's not a huge difference). Ironically, I thought I would spin more with the compact, but I find that I stay in the big ring most of the time - because I can. If I were to race (an apparition that appears from time to time), I think that I would use the std double.

Central Mass has some pretty good hills. Seems the settlers were cognizant of floods - at least that's what I tell myself when I'm riding into a town like Rutland that just seems to keep going up...

Triples can be good too -- although I haven't had one, it must be a very secure feeling to know that you could get up any hill!
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Old 08-30-06, 02:24 PM   #19
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Triples can be good too -- although I haven't had one, it must be a very secure feeling to know that you could get up any hill!
I ride a mountain bike with 44/32/22 and 11/32 on it and believe me- offroad you use the whole range of gears. On the road on the mountain bike- I may not use the 32 rear but the rest still come into play. Then the Tandem- offroad beast and a triple again- 48/36/24 and 11/32. All of the gears are used offroad but surprisingly- on the road the only time the 48/11 gets used is downhill, and this thing is not slow on the road. Perhaps it is the number of 15% and the odd 20%er road hills that dictates that we use this low a gearing but must admit that Mountain bikes are not light.

So when I got the Road bike-I got a triple 52/42/30 and 12/26. Took it up the 20% hill afew weeks ago and into a stiff headwind. That 30 /26 was used for most of it. At the other end- I rarely get into the 52. We have those rolling hills and lots of short sharp rises and not a great deal of flat stuff to get into.

I think you have to look at your terrain- look at your body strength and decide which way you want to go. Hate to say it but at my age- on our hills- There is no shame in me taking my granny out for a ride. That way I do not have to push the bike up the STEEP hills- which last year I saw several roadies with 53/42 and small rear cassettes doing.
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Old 08-30-06, 02:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezen
one thing I'm not likin about the compact setup (with my current 8 spd cassettes) is

shifting from '63 in.' to the next gear down, '59 in.'
'63' is 50/21, chain on the #7 cog
to get to '59' I have to drop to the 34 ring and move back down to the #3 cog, very awkward.
Could you not replace the 34 with a 36 to reduce the ratio jump when shifting the front? Possibly make a cassette change to take care of your lowest gear needs?

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Old 08-30-06, 03:47 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stapfam
So when I got the Road bike-I got a triple 52/42/30 and 12/26. Took it up the 20% hill afew weeks ago and into a stiff headwind. That 30 /26 was used for most of it. At the other end- I rarely get into the 52. We have those rolling hills and lots of short sharp rises and not a great deal of flat stuff to get into.

I think you have to look at your terrain- look at your body strength and decide which way you want to go. Hate to say it but at my age- on our hills- There is no shame in me taking my granny out for a ride. That way I do not have to push the bike up the STEEP hills- which last year I saw several roadies with 53/42 and small rear cassettes doing.
I assume that you are in the Granny (30) and the biggest cog (26) in the cassette. How long is that 20% climb and for how much of it did you have to stand?
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Old 08-30-06, 04:11 PM   #22
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Could you not replace the 34 with a 36 to reduce the ratio jump when shifting the front? Possibly make a cassette change to take care of your lowest gear needs?
Al
thought of that - goin with a 36 means I now shift on 62" and that would save a jump by only having to double shift down to the #4 cog at 55" (and skip the 60" cog at #3). But then the lowest gear is 41", and I'd hate to give up the 38" low - I use it an awful lot these days - 3" inches doesn;t sound like much, but where the rubber meets the road it a big diff.
If I go 9 spd cassette, with 13-25, then I get the 38" back. That then means at least 2 new righthand STI brifters to replace the 8 spd stuff. Gonna try it, a new 9 spd 13-25 cassette, on the one bike with a 9 spd brifter and see if it helps/makes a diff. before I jump in for a bunch of new Brifters.
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Old 08-30-06, 05:49 PM   #23
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Doesn't bother me. Notice what his name translates to?
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Old 08-30-06, 07:11 PM   #24
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I seem to have all the different cranks over the past year!! I rode a 52/42/30 triple the last 4 years. It is a very good setup and allows you to have one bike that does it all.

This year I bought a different bike with a 53/39 double and I'm finding it's excellent for rolling terrain and a very good training setup. With the 53/39, it forces me to use a little harder gear than I'd like which helps to strengthen my legs and better prepare them for climbing rides. The 39 being slightly easier than the 42 helps me on some routes around my house that have little steeper and longer hills.

I changed the triple on my original bike to a 50/34 compact several months ago. With having ridden the Compact a good bit this year, if I were to just have one setup it would be the 50/34. It saves some weight. Then there's the better utilization of the gears. While it has fewer total gears than a triple, you have a pretty large duplication of gears on a triple so the Compact allows you to have just what you need. Better utilization of the gears you have is probably what I'm driving at. You can still get the same range of gears on a Compact as a triple by selecting a cassette and derailleur that provides that range. I also happen to think a Compact Crank looks better than a triple. Just a cleaner, simpler look.......

The 50 is a perfect gear for general purpose use. Like some others, I stay in the 50 most of the time on rolling terrain. There are times when I might "spin out" on a 50/12 but usually it's with a large group and they just wind up sucking me along anyway......If I'm out on my own a 50/12 is plenty of gear on the high end for me.

The Shimano R700 seems to have solved some of the shifting issues the first Compact Cranks had as it performs very well. While there's a need to "double shift" with the Compact, it's become second nature to me but I was actually already doing that most of the time with the triple when shifting gears on the chainring.

Just my opinion but if I had a bike with a triple, I couldn't justify the expense of going to a Compact (even though I did) but I wouldn't consider anything else if I were purchasing a new road bike (except a Time Trial bike).
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Old 08-31-06, 06:03 AM   #25
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Hi Stapfam! Sorry we couldn't get together. I'm back in Florida now. BTW, where is there a 20% on-road hill around the Downs?
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