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Thread: Compact Crank

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    Senior Moment Litespeed's Avatar
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    Compact Crank

    My husband just put a compact crank on my bike for me -- Thanks Honey! I have only had a chance to ride the bike up and down the street a couple of times (with a hill) and it felt like I had one more lower gear then before. I will see how the weather is tomorrow and see if I can test it out further. The only problem with my bike is that my shifters are for a triple crank, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. Before I had a double on my bike and the shifters worked fine. (Shimano XTR). My bike is a road bike frame with mountain bike components.
    Does anyone else have a compact crank -- what do you think of it??
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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    My Klein came with a double crankset that really didn't suit me very well. It had too many fast gears and didn't have a low enough hill climb gear. I spent about a year looking for somebody local who had a bike with an Ultegra triple crankset who wanted to switch the other way. When I couldn't find anybody like that I bought an FSA Energy 50/34 compact crankset.

    From the first ride I felt it was one of the best equipment changes that I've ever made. Two years later I still feel that way.

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Changing to a compact double was one of the smartest things I've done in a while. The 50-tooth big ring is still maybe a little too big - I might change it to a 48, which I think will be about perfect.

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    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    I have a 34/50 on of all things my TT bike. I'm just not able to pull a bigger gear than that. I still have to ride it on hills if I'm going to get any training at all so for me a 39/53 is just too much gear.

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    I have a 34/50 on of all things my TT bike. I'm just not able to pull a bigger gear than that. I still have to ride it on hills if I'm going to get any training at all so for me a 39/53 is just too much gear.
    That's the whole point! It doesn't matter what gears anybody else uses. Each rider should take the time to figure out what gears suit their personal needs and equip their bike accordingly.

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Sheldon Brown's gear calulator is one of the most useful toolsaround. If you record your rides with a good cycle computer (like an Edge 305), you can analyse not jsut your average speed, but also how much time you spend at speeds both higher and lower than your average. Using the gear calculator, you can experiment with different gear ratios, and find a combination that puts your "sweet spot" in just the right place, with plenty of gears above and below the speed where you are most comfortable. Getting a bike that fits is important, but getting a drive train with gears that fit is also important. The typical road bike is made for folks with younger legs than those attached to most of us.

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    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I have non-compact cranksets, but I prefer a smaller-than-fashionable outer chainring. My combinations include:
    Bianchi -- 50-42 / 14-16-18-20-23-26 (44 to 96 gear-inches)
    Capo #1 -- 47-38 / 13-15-17-19-21-23 (45 to 98)
    Capo #2 -- 49-46 / 14-16-18-21-24-26 (47 to 94.5)
    Peugeot -- 45-42 / 13-15-17-20-23-26 (44 to 92.5)

    I almost never wish I had a higher top gear and see no point to today's fashionable 130-inchers.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E View Post
    I have non-compact cranksets, but I prefer a smaller-than-fashionable outer chainring. My combinations include:
    Bianchi -- 50-42 / 14-16-18-20-23-26 (44 to 96 gear-inches)
    Capo #1 -- 47-38 / 13-15-17-19-21-23 (45 to 98)
    Capo #2 -- 49-46 / 14-16-18-21-24-26 (47 to 94.5)
    Peugeot -- 45-42 / 13-15-17-20-23-26 (44 to 92.5)

    I almost never wish I had a higher top gear and see no point to today's fashionable 130-inchers.
    One of the problems I had with the triple was that I rarely used the Big Ring on the 52/42/30 set up. Went Compact and I use that 50 most of the time----On the Flatlands. This may be due to the inner ring being a 34- but I do find that I use 50/12 in places other than Downhill.

    But then comes the slopes and there is no way I could get by without that 34 ring. In fact I am even looking at the next bike having 9 speed so I can fit the MTB cassette of 12/34 with a 50/34 compact up front for if I ever find a hill.
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    This thread explains it quite well.
    Compact Crank Question
    Last edited by pharding; 07-15-08 at 04:14 AM.
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    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    I ride 50/34 on my road bikes (2) -- I think they should make that the 'standard'... I go just as fast as before, and have a better climbing gear. I mnade the switch when I turned 50, and have had no regrets. The only time I wish I had a steeper gear is on some steep downhills, but all I have to do is tuck, and fly

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    Gilpin County Wheelman SKYLAB's Avatar
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    I went from a triple to a 50/34 compact crank this year. I've never ridden a standard double. Too many serious climbs on my every day rides. I have yet to miss the small ring from the triple. Hammering into a climb on the big ring and the dropping onto the 34 is like a joly of adrenalin to my legs. I'm very happy with this setup. I can see using the triple on some very long multi-day rides that include several big climbs. But then again I'm not doing any very long multi-day rides that include several big climbs.
    And you know that notion just crossed my mind.

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buelito View Post
    I ride 50/34 on my road bikes (2) -- I think they should make that the 'standard'
    The drawback to a compact double isn't the gear range, it's the lack of overlap between the two chainrings and where you happen to be when you are forced to shift chainrings.

    If the combination of gearing and your preferred cadence finds you making a lot of front chainring shifts on a relatively flat road, a compact double would be a PITA. In my case I generally ride with a cadence in the 70's or in the 80's if I'm pushing. That has me riding in the big ring most of the time and only switching to the small ring at the base of a hill. Consequently I love it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    The drawback to a compact double isn't the gear range, it's the lack of overlap between the two chainrings and where you happen to be when you are forced to shift chainrings.

    If the combination of gearing and your preferred cadence finds you making a lot of front chainring shifts on a relatively flat road, a compact double would be a PITA. In my case I generally ride with a cadence in the 70's or in the 80's if I'm pushing. That has me riding in the big ring most of the time and only switching to the small ring at the base of a hill. Consequently I love it.
    An interesting observation. Having cut my teeth on 5 cog rear clusters, I find that I rarely need to shift front chainrings. When I riding the flats or downhill I'm on the big chainring. When I'm riding up hill, I'm on the small chainring.

    Currently all of my bikes have either a compact or a triple.
    Oh I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused. But since their wings have got rusted, you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes. But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain, that's when I knew that I could not refuse. And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

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    I have compact cranks on almost everything I own. Here is hilly Sw. PA it was the only way to go. My latest bike is set up 50/34 on the front and 12/27 on the rear. The only place I find the compact to be a minus is when trying to push the big ring with the big dogs it is pretty hard. My motto is "I don't want to finish first, just finish".

    Compact cranks are actually an old idea that the bike companies dropped and then revived.

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oilman_15106 View Post
    Compact cranks are actually an old idea that the bike companies dropped and then revived.
    I don't know much about bike history, but I suspect you're right. Putting on a triple allows the manufacturer to say the bike has 27 gears, which must be better than 18, which is better than 15, whihc was better than 10, and so forth. I'm sure there are folks who actually need triples, people who are young and ride very fast and ride up very big hills overlong distances, but for more moderate speeds with easier climbs, a compact double is clearly the better choice. I wish I had learned that earlier.

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    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litespeed View Post
    My husband just put a compact crank on my bike for me -- Thanks Honey! I have only had a chance to ride the bike up and down the street a couple of times (with a hill) and it felt like I had one more lower gear then before. I will see how the weather is tomorrow and see if I can test it out further. The only problem with my bike is that my shifters are for a triple crank, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. Before I had a double on my bike and the shifters worked fine. (Shimano XTR). My bike is a road bike frame with mountain bike components.
    Does anyone else have a compact crank -- what do you think of it??
    Compact crank here as well. 50/34 crank with an XTR rear derailleur-normally use an 11/32 on hillier routes and a 12/27 otherwise. A really, really sweet and simple combination.

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    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
    Sheldon Brown's gear calulator is one of the most useful toolsaround. If you record your rides with a good cycle computer (like an Edge 305), you can analyse not jsut your average speed, but also how much time you spend at speeds both higher and lower than your average. Using the gear calculator, you can experiment with different gear ratios, and find a combination that puts your "sweet spot" in just the right place, with plenty of gears above and below the speed where you are most comfortable. Getting a bike that fits is important, but getting a drive train with gears that fit is also important. The typical road bike is made for folks with younger legs than those attached to most of us.
    When you need a lower gear, you need a lower gear!
    Even if it's < 1% of the time.

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    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    While I am really, really intrigued by the compact crank, I am a weenie.
    For my hills, I need that 30T up front
    '13 Felt Z3 - '08 Jamis Aurora Elite - ('07 Giant OCR C2)

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    Senior Moment Litespeed's Avatar
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    Tried out my new compact crank today on one good hill. I like it but my husband will have to adjust the shifters because the only way it will go to the big chain ring is if I hit the shift twice. Hopefully it's just a matter of a minor adjustment. Even on the hill I did coming home, it almost seemed like the lowest gear was to low, but I think that's just me, I'm use to grinding up that particular hill.
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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litespeed View Post
    Tried out my new compact crank today on one good hill. I like it but my husband will have to adjust the shifters because the only way it will go to the big chain ring is if I hit the shift twice. Hopefully it's just a matter of a minor adjustment. Even on the hill I did coming home, it almost seemed like the lowest gear was to low, but I think that's just me, I'm use to grinding up that particular hill.
    Did you go from a triple to a compact double? Usually, but not always, the triple has the lowest gear.

    FYI...I have a compact double 50/34 with an 11/26 10 speed cassette. Also, I have an 11/28 10 speed cassette that I can install if I think I need a lower gear. On my TT bike, I have a 54/44 double and run a 12/25 10 speed cassette. One additional point is the "Q" factor i.e. the distance between the pedals. Typically, the triple has more distance and feels like ones feet are farther apart. Going from a triple to a double reduces the Q. Impact...depends on the individual. In the book Armstrong's War, Trek made a special narrow TT bike that reduced the Q and was supposed to be faster - less drag. In practice, Armstrong was slower because of a hip alignment problem that cause him to produce less power over time. The project was abandoned.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litespeed View Post
    I like it but my husband will have to adjust the shifters because the only way it will go to the big chain ring is if I hit the shift twice.
    What kind of shifters? It's possible that it's supposed to be that way.

    My Ultegra brifters are several years old. They have 4 shift positions. On my tandem triple they work with one shift position for the granny, two for the middle ring and one for the big ring. On my Klein double they have two shift positions for each ring. I'm pretty sure that's the way that Shimano intended because I have Flight Deck computers on both bikes and they both always indicate the correct chainring.

  22. #22
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Timely thread for me - as I am putting together my shopping list for the rebuild of my Simoncini I had settled on a compact as well. I will be going from a triple. I was worried about having to shift chain rings more but looking at how I ride that bike now I don't think that will be a problem. It is equipped with a 52/42/32 combination - going to a 50/34 and from a 9 spd to 10 (or 11) spd cassett should allow me the range very close to what i have now. I suspect I will faovor the 50 most of the time and use the 34 for climbing. Although I am happy to have the 32 on the triple I only use it for those long steep climbs - and there are only two routes that I hit hills like that on. I also only find myself using the top end of the bike on the downhills.
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  23. #23
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai View Post
    While I am really, really intrigued by the compact crank, I am a weenie.
    For my hills, I need that 30T up front

    I'm pretty sure the gear inches on my 34/32 setup are "easier" than than a 30/27 if that is what you normally run.........a little lighter, less clunky with a little easier gear. Nice!

  24. #24
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclinfool View Post
    Timely thread for me - as I am putting together my shopping list for the rebuild of my Simoncini I had settled on a compact as well. I will be going from a triple. I was worried about having to shift chain rings more but looking at how I ride that bike now I don't think that will be a problem. It is equipped with a 52/42/32 combination - going to a 50/34 and from a 9 spd to 10 (or 11) spd cassett should allow me the range very close to what i have now. I suspect I will faovor the 50 most of the time and use the 34 for climbing. Although I am happy to have the 32 on the triple I only use it for those long steep climbs - and there are only two routes that I hit hills like that on. I also only find myself using the top end of the bike on the downhills.
    I did a nice rolling 65 miler this weekend using my 50/34 that had one good climb and several more "hills". I bet I was in the 50 chain ring for 63 of the 65 miles.........Granted I was in a pack and rode wheels a lot but I didn't have any issue climbing in the 50-and I was not using the two easiest gears on a 12/27 cassette. Depending on the terrain, if your experience is like mine you will not need to be too concerned about too much shifting between chain rings.

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    I have a 50/36 compact on mine and I almost never use the small ring here in NYC. The only hills I climb are the bridges and the small hill in the park, but even those don't require the small ring. When I leave the city I use the small one, and it isn't ever small enough for the big hills but I refuse to give in.

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