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Old 05-23-09, 11:18 AM   #1
Tom Bombadil
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Fred Triple Crank

My Fuji Absolute 1.0 flat bar road bike w/105 group set, came with a 52/39/30 triple crank. I nearly always ride on the 39 and only had it on the 52t ring one time, just to test it for a mile. No use having a ring that one never uses, so I looked around for a smaller ring. I found a 46t that was made to be a part of a 46/38 cyclo double crank. It fit perfectly, looked like a matched set.

However it goofed up my front derailleur and I couldn't adjust it to get it to work.

So as my bike still had a free tuneup coming and it needed a few other adjustments, I took it back to the LBS and let them adjust everything. Now it shifts pretty well.

Thus I now have an odd 46/39/30 triple crank, paired with a 10-speed 12-27 rear cassette. I think this will work well for me. At least I might use the "big" ring once in a while. This gearing isn't much different than a lot of hybrids that have 48/38/28 triples, but most of those don't have GXP external bearings.
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Old 05-23-09, 12:31 PM   #2
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Sounds like a good combination to me. Unless you go down some long hills or ride in a pace line you can pretty easily get along without a 52. My commuter has a 46/38 which seems a little odd. I would prefer a little more spread like a 48/34. My ride is pretty flat but there is one hill on the way home that I spin out on the way down and a slightly bigger ring would be better.
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Old 05-23-09, 01:49 PM   #3
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I have put a Deore Hollowtech II 48-36-26 crank w/ external BB on two bikes, so far. The crank set is getting kind of scarce to find. The first one cost me $70, the last one cost $130. I plan to buy a couple more to keep for a while. The front D/R is a little trickier and has to be compatible with the arc but I really like that crank set combination.
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Old 05-23-09, 02:17 PM   #4
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I've seen that Deore on eBay. That is a nice crankset. In my case, everything else about my Truvativ crankset was fine, it had 170mm crank arms, decent quality, GXP bearings, and the 39/30 rings were fine. When I found the 46t that matched it for $22, it seemed a lot simpler to just swap the big rings than to change out the entire crankset.

In my case, I doubt I will ever spin out at 46:12. I haven't topped 29 mph since getting back into riding. I usually start easing on the brakes at around 27. I'll probably let it get up to 30 sometime just because that sounds better as a top speed.

The bigger question is if the chain will ever be on both the 46 front and 12 rear at the same time.
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Old 05-23-09, 02:27 PM   #5
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What I've got my eye out for right now is a road triple with 165mm crank arms, for my RANS recumbent. I love this bike, except that it has 175mm crank arms. Sure wish there was a way to easily swap the arms for shorter ones. I have 155mm crank arms on my Sun recumbent, and I like those better than 175 arms.
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Old 05-23-09, 05:24 PM   #6
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Tom, your routes must be a lot gentler than mine.

My Jamis wears 52/39/26 on the front and 11-32 on the back and every time I ride to work or uni or a soccer game or anything that involves heading north, I use every gear! Mind you, only one hill is responsible for that, the infamous Flagstaff Hill, all 3km of it. There's no bike lane going down so you have to ride with the cars ... which explains my max recorded speed every trip of something in excess of 60km/hr and then coming home, I have to get back up it - I flick onto the 26 ring at the bottom (literally, the first 400m is a killer) and stay there till I hit the top with most of the trip done on the 32 cog as well.

Mind you, darned near everything else outside of those 3km is done on the middle and top ring with the middle ring doing most of the work.

Like you, I'd like to change my cranks to something more sensible. Both my Europa and the Trek have 170mm cranks and while the Jamis is only 172.5, the difference is still noticeable in a negative way.

I spent a happy half hour playing with my front dr last night. The cable had shifted in its clamp which stuffed up the adjustment somewhat and I'd had to ride home holding the front shifter lever over so the chain wouldn't rub - that increases the 'grump index' rather quickly. I took the opportunity to give the entire gear system a tune up (you shouldn't adjust the front dr without adjusting the rear first anyway) and she's possibly perfect - I say 'possibly' because, of course, it's pithing down with rain outside and I'm too old and grumpy to choose to ride in the rain.

Richard
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Old 05-23-09, 07:33 PM   #7
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I ran a 26/36/48 triple for several years, ususlly with a 12/26 rear gear. This worked equally well for my road bikes and my flat/fast dirt road MTB bikes.

The new flatbar road bike is set up with a 50/34 compact double and next week will get its new 11/34 cassette. Where some will not like the "wide range" transmission for pace line work, I find this gear spread to be just about perfect. It has everything from a 50-11 top gear to a 34-34 hillclimber.

I guess we could call it the Fred Double
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Old 05-23-09, 09:21 PM   #8
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Sounds fine.

I use 30-40-50 for long-distance. I have 24-36-46 on my tourer.
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Old 05-23-09, 09:22 PM   #9
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I've played around with different gear combinations quite a bit over the past few years. My best results have come from the 30/40/50 Campy triple with 12/24 rear and my current Sugino 26/36/48 triple. Right now I'm running a 12/28 cassette which has been good while I am rebuilding my strength. But I find myself using the 26 tooth ring less and less. Today I rode 51 miles of moderately hilly roads without ever using the 26. I think that after BRAG I will switch back to the 12/21 cassette which gives me a wide range of gears and a nice and tight spacing between ratios. I use all three rings on most rides with that setup. It is worth noting that these combinations are with a 7 speed rear. Eventually I plan to join the 21st century and get a new bike with a 10 speed rear end. I think a 34/48 or 34/50 compact double and a 11/27 cassette will work very well for me with the 10 speed setup.
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Old 05-23-09, 09:53 PM   #10
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I've been using a 46-36-26 on my Atlantis for five years. I've found that I shift the front d. probably a third less than I used to, because i used to feel like I SHOULD be using the 52, so I'd go into it, but I didn't need it. Any time I can turn a 52-12, I'm going to be coasting. The bike's much more useful and versatile since I switched.
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Old 05-24-09, 11:16 AM   #11
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I have put a Deore Hollowtech II 48-36-26 crank w/ external BB on two bikes, so far. The crank set is getting kind of scarce to find. The first one cost me $70, the last one cost $130. I plan to buy a couple more to keep for a while. The front D/R is a little trickier and has to be compatible with the arc but I really like that crank set combination.
I have an XT version of this which was a special order item from Shimano in March 2007. It came with a matched front derailleur and is the smoothest, most reliable triple in my stable (I have three different triples. Four if you count my wife's) although they are all pretty much flawless. Apparently, Shimano has "downgraded" it to LX and this year sells it only in Europe.

Indeed, a hard crank to get but 48/36/26 is a great range for ultra-distance or touring. Just can't understand why these types of cranks aren't more popular.
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Old 05-24-09, 01:00 PM   #12
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OK, I'll argue the other side.

I don't have anything against having lower gears, but it doesn't look to me like you've gained anything.

It looks to me like you dropped a couple of gear ratios that you'd probably never use. You replaced them with a couple of other ratios that are duplicates, or near duplicates, of ratios that you already had. I'm thinking that you may never use the new ratios either.

10-speed rear cassettes can combine both a wide range and pretty close ratio spacing. It seems unlikely to me to improve your gearing options very much through a single chainring swap.
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Old 05-24-09, 01:44 PM   #13
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OK, I'll argue the other side.

I don't have anything against having lower gears, but it doesn't look to me like you've gained anything.

It looks to me like you dropped a couple of gear ratios that you'd probably never use. You replaced them with a couple of other ratios that are duplicates, or near duplicates, of ratios that you already had...
I look at the different front rings as giving access to different "ranges" of gearing. Level and down hill is for the biggest front ring for the high range; A long uphill grade or into the wind, it's on to the middle ring for the middle range; A long, steep hill then bring on the granny gear for the low range. The rear cassette is for "fine tuning" within a range.
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Old 05-24-09, 01:54 PM   #14
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Duplicate gears can be a very nice thing to have. If I am cruising along in the big ring and I come upon a slight incline or a headwind that slows me down a bit, it is nice if my gearing allows me to go low enough in the big ring to maintain a good cadence until the road flattens or the headwind subsides. I hate when I have to downshift the front ring just to get one ratio for a short time and then have to upshift the front ring to resume my previous pace. It's not the end of the world, but it is better when I can avoid it.
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Old 05-24-09, 02:23 PM   #15
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I look at the different front rings as giving access to different "ranges" of gearing.
That's my point.

Tom's 39 chainring with the 12/27 cassette pretty well has him covered for most situations. His granny ring gives him 2 or 3 (if you don't use the 39/27) additional hill climb ratios. The 52 gave him 4 additional downhill ratios including one with 117 gear inches that he would almost surely never use.

Swapping the 52 for a 46 cut the number of additional downhill ratios to 2 the biggest being 103 gear inches which is probably still plenty. That part is fine. His other 8 ratios, however, are all near duplicates. He got rid of some gears that were irrevelant, but I don't see that he's gained anything.

Then again, his bike isn't responsible for making me happy so I guess it's OK.
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Old 05-24-09, 04:23 PM   #16
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I still like my 1.5-step gearing: 50-42 / 14-16-18-20-23-26, but I could use one additional cog to fill the gap at 90 gear-inches, viz: 50-42 / 14-15-16-18-20-23-26. I find a top gear in the upper 90s to be perfectly adequate and have no need whatsoever for something like a 53/11.
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Old 05-24-09, 05:11 PM   #17
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What it does is give me more gears that I can use when I'm on the 46t. So that I can switch to it and ride a wider range of terrains.

Let's say the highest gear I tend to use runs into the high 80s in gear inches. With a 52t, that leaves me with 5 usable gears (can't use the smallest one as that is cross-chaining). With the 46t, I now have 7 usable gears if I'm on that ring, and still have two taller ones should I ever need to use them. In particular, I now have two lower gears that will entice me up onto the "big" ring more often.

At the least, I can now switch off the middle ring and decrease the wear on both it, and the rear cogs that I tend to use the most with it. I can spread the wear around a bit. On one of my other bikes, I had to replace the rear cassette because two cogs wore out.

All I gave up was two gears that I was never, ever going to use.

I grant you that it is not a big change, but it is one that makes my bike more usable to me.
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Old 05-24-09, 06:41 PM   #18
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What it does is give me more gears that I can use when I'm on the 46t. So that I can switch to it and ride a wider range of terrains.

Let's say the highest gear I tend to use runs into the high 80s in gear inches. With a 52t, that leaves me with 5 usable gears (can't use the smallest one as that is cross-chaining). With the 46t, I now have 7 usable gears if I'm on that ring, and still have two taller ones should I ever need to use them. In particular, I now have two lower gears that will entice me up onto the "big" ring more often.

At the least, I can now switch off the middle ring and decrease the wear on both it, and the rear cogs that I tend to use the most with it. I can spread the wear around a bit. On one of my other bikes, I had to replace the rear cassette because two cogs wore out.

All I gave up was two gears that I was never, ever going to use.

I grant you that it is not a big change, but it is one that makes my bike more usable to me.
You have a point. I hadn't considered the possibility of minimizing individual cog wear by using different combinations to yield the same ratio. Regardless of how much importance one puts on that factor, the fact is you didn't really have to surrender anything that you valued to get it.
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Old 05-24-09, 08:06 PM   #19
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True. But in that sense, it didn't matter what I did to the big ring in any case. I could have removed it and it still would not have impacted my rides, because I was never using it.

I seriously considered putting a sheath of some sort around it, like a stretchy nylon belt. That would have turned it into a chain guard. That would probably be the best use for it. Guess I could still do that with the 46t, if it turns out that I'm not using it anymore than the 52t.

But since I believe I will now use it a bit, I'll feel better about having a "big" ring.
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Old 05-24-09, 08:47 PM   #20
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You have a point. I hadn't considered the possibility of minimizing individual cog wear by using different combinations to yield the same ratio. Regardless of how much importance one puts on that factor, the fact is you didn't really have to surrender anything that you valued to get it.
That is a theoretical advantage, I guess, but the real advantage of overlapping duplicate gear ratios is the convenience of not having to shift out of the middle ring for that one higher gear or out of the big ring for that one lower gear.
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Old 05-24-09, 10:40 PM   #21
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Indeed, a hard crank to get but 48/36/26 is a great range for ultra-distance or touring. Just can't understand why these types of cranks aren't more popular.
You can get all the cranks you want right here: http://www.rivbike.com/products/list...product=12-190
I have these on two bikes, and they're terrific, especially for the cost.
As for why they aren't more popular, I've said for years (at least 20) that they ought to be, but pro racing is what drives sales, and the pros run 53-39 or so. That's what marketing people put on bikes, and most casual (and many semi-serious) riders don't know enough to protest. Check the gears people are actually riding in on your next group ride, and you'll see a lot of fresh, shiny, barely touched big rings.
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Old 05-24-09, 10:47 PM   #22
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Duplicate gears can be a very nice thing to have. If I am cruising along in the big ring and I come upon a slight incline or a headwind that slows me down a bit, it is nice if my gearing allows me to go low enough in the big ring to maintain a good cadence until the road flattens or the headwind subsides. .
This is what I was talking about in my first post. I'm not embarrassed to ride in any gear I need (my early-season cassette is the size of a personal pizza), but with a 46-36-26 I shift the front a lot less, whether I'm in the large or middle ring. There probably are some duplicate gears, but it doesn't bother me and I've never cared enough to check.
And I still say not one cyclist in 50, tops, can turn a 53-12 on the flat without straining. For 90++ percent of riders, the top two or three gears, at least, are useless.
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Old 05-24-09, 11:00 PM   #23
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You can get all the cranks you want right here: http://www.rivbike.com/products/list...product=12-190
I have these on two bikes, and they're terrific, especially for the cost.

Even better when you can get them for even less.
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Old 05-24-09, 11:31 PM   #24
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Yeah, I've seen that Sugino XD600 w/165 crank arms. It tempts me.

Trouble is, on my recumbent, I like the 52t ring and use it. 26" rear wheel. And this is where I want 165mm arms.

But I should probably give it some thought. That would probably serve me fine.
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Old 05-25-09, 06:51 AM   #25
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True. But in that sense, it didn't matter what I did to the big ring in any case. I could have removed it and it still would not have impacted my rides, because I was never using it.

I seriously considered putting a sheath of some sort around it, like a stretchy nylon belt. That would have turned it into a chain guard. That would probably be the best use for it. Guess I could still do that with the 46t, if it turns out that I'm not using it anymore than the 52t.

But since I believe I will now use it a bit, I'll feel better about having a "big" ring.
Maybe replace the big ring with a bash guard? You could even take the old 53 ring, grind all of the teeth off, and readjust your high limit screw to match. That's the kind of experimental thing I like to do.

10-speed cassettes make me rethink the need for triple cranksets. My retro grouch bike has a 52/42/30 triple with a 12/32 8-speed on the back. I very seldom use the big ring and I can't remember the last time that I used the granny. It clearly has more range than I need but the gaps in the wide range cassette don't offend me either. I've toyed with the idea of switching to a different crankset, maybe a compact double. When I start to think about it, however, I always come back to "What's the point?"
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