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Old 03-30-11, 10:59 AM   #1
metalheart44
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Future-Proofing Decision on Triple or Compact Double Gearing for New Bike

I am getting a new frame and making decisions about the drive train. I am trying to "future proof" the decision, anticipating that five years into the future things might change with my already compromised knees causing more issues.

My choices are to get a compact double (Shimano 7950) or a Campy triple with a compatible cassette. I am assuming that for riding the hills where I live (average ride is 2-3K of climbing) either will be fine now, but in the future the triple may be the best option. However, the 7950 might offer an upgrade path to electronic shifting that the Campy triple does not.

For a five year decision .... what would you do?
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Old 03-30-11, 11:09 AM   #2
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metalheart44, Prudence says a triple, either standard or compact.

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Old 03-30-11, 11:15 AM   #3
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If you future proof it with Apex rather than a triple you actually get more "protection".

34/32 = 1.06
30/26 = 1.15
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Old 03-30-11, 11:22 AM   #4
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If you future proof it with Apex rather than a triple you actually get more "protection".

34/32 = 1.06
30/26 = 1.15
What about 30/32, 28/32, 26/32? Still more potential range with a triple. Also, Apex is not the only option for a wide range compact. But it really comes down to preferences. Go with what you like best now. If your priorities change in 5 years, you can change then.
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Old 03-30-11, 11:34 AM   #5
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Why would you not want a triple?
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Old 03-30-11, 11:52 AM   #6
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IMO, it's probably best to take advantage of the abilities you now have, the way you now want to, and worry about accommodating future decreases in abilities when they inevitably get here. If you want a double and it has a sufficient gearing range for your current capabilities, go for it, because at some point in the future you will undoubtedly no longer have the option.
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Old 03-30-11, 11:53 AM   #7
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Why would you not want a triple?
If the OP wanted a triple, he wouldn't be wanting to future proof a compact double.

Why would you assume your subjective preferences are universal standards?
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Old 03-30-11, 12:15 PM   #8
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2-3k of climbing is not much but what about the grade? If you have in excess of 10% then I would say triple but would that suit you now? Can you ride the hills ar present with a compact with gears to spare?

If I were to buy another bike right now I would get a compact 50/34 with a 12/27 cassette- The same as I have right now on my main ride. But 2nd ride has a 50/39/30 triple with a 12/25 cassette. Same hills at up to 15% for about a mile and the compact will do them. Only thing I would do is get the brifters and front derailler for a triple but still run a compact. Then at a later date- say 5 years time- I could change the Crank to a triple if required. The triple FD and brifter can be set up for a double in the meantime with no compatability problem.

Reason I say get a compact is that I like compacts. I do find that I have to use the granny on the triple- but that is due to the 39t middle ring not being as low as the 34t for the 15% slopes. The reason I got the triple is for mountains which I hope to get back to shortly. 10 miles uphill at an average of 8% and I do need that 30/27.
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Old 03-30-11, 12:26 PM   #9
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Here's my take on it FWIW. I've had standard double, a triple (30/27 low gear) and now a compact double (both 34/28 and 34/32). What I've been able to learn is, for me, the triple with its wider stance (q factor) is a problem for both my knee and hip on the right. I find a narrower q factor works better for me. The gear range I am able to use with a compact is better for climbing. It shifts marginally better and the steps between the gears are really not much different than the triple. I have the option to use the bike with the 11/32 cassette (requires a mtb rear der.) for the really steep stuff. That gear is lower than the 30/27 I used to have. I can in the future add an 11/34 or 36 cassette for even lower gears. 34/36 would actually be too low I think. It would be better to lose weight IMO. lol

What I give up with wide range cassette is a 16 gear. I do miss it at times on the flats. But, I could just replace the cassette (11/21) and chain for a flat ride if I wanted, though I almost never ride the flats. A 50/11 gear is taller than a 53/12. So, to summarize , I think the compact geared bike can be setup however you wanted it to be. Having a few spare parts would allow it to be tailored to just about any ride.

Since you are looking at DA 7950 I guess money isn't as much an issue. My wife's bike has SRAM Red with a compact and XX rear der. and an 11/32 cassette. She loves it. My Di2 bike has the compact crank and an 11/28 cassette. Works great!
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Old 03-30-11, 12:32 PM   #10
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I have considered Apex ... but it is a fancy Titanium frame and vanity has me desiring a blingy drive train to match the bike. If Apex offers the best gearing option, I am not opposed, but would prefer something like a Shimano 7900 or Campy. As to why a triple ... the gearing chart below shows that a triple offers lots of options in the lower and middle range that I find attractive now and possibly in the future. Regarding the grades, they are 9-12% and at times there is more climbing than 2-3K, but that is an average. A constant flat spot is hard to find where I live, unless I go down to the valley to ride where the bike trail offers miles of flats.

From what I can tell, Campy is not making it easy to buy a triple ... they prefer selling customers a compact double and 13-29 cassette and then it seems one has to buy a NOS 50,40,30 crankset and chorus level shifers and derailleurs. The Campy compact may offer a better current option with the 13-29 cassette, but a longer derailleur on a 7900 group would allow using the Apex cassette, or so I am told

Sorry, can't seem to paste in the gear chart
http://www.kstoerz.com/gearcalc/comp...50,34&ighid2=1

Last edited by metalheart44; 03-30-11 at 12:34 PM. Reason: trying to add the chart
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Old 03-30-11, 12:35 PM   #11
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One more thing to consider. I believe, though I have no insider info, that triples will soon go the way of the dinosaur. SRAM doesn't make a road triple and many if not most new mtbs are now doubles. If mtbs are going to wide range doubles, as my 2011 Epic Expert 29er has, what does that mean for road bikes? Just something to keep in mind when looking a few years down the road.
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Old 03-30-11, 12:46 PM   #12
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9 to 12% and there are still the two options. Think I would go for the triple though as although you can get a wider range cassette (11/34) to go with the 50/34 on a compact- The spacing of the cassette gears is too wide for my comfort. I even get annoyed at the 21-24-27 on the 12/27 cassette and why I fitted a 12/25 on the triple cranked bike.

Depends on whether you can take the wide ratios on the MTB type cassette- I can't on the road but never even notice them when offroad.

Although I am suggesting the triple for you--I am still staying with my compact on my main ride.
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Old 03-30-11, 01:13 PM   #13
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Since you are looking at DA 7950 I guess money isn't as much an issue. My wife's bike has SRAM Red with a compact and XX rear der. and an 11/32 cassette. She loves it. My Di2 bike has the compact crank and an 11/28 cassette. Works great!
Another option I wasn't aware even existed.
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Old 03-30-11, 02:29 PM   #14
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I run a Ultegra double crankset in front (50/34) a SRAM 12-30 cassette in the rear with a Ultegra mid-cage rear derailuer. The RD is speced for 27t max rear cog, but the spec. seems conservative as the RD clears the 30t cog I am running just fine and my shifting is crisp. This derailuer has a 34 tooth take-up capacity which is right where I am (50-34)+(30-12).

I do 2000 feet ascent round trip on my daily commute (including two 10% grades) and have done many long mountain climbs with this bike and never once wished for a triple. Occasionally wish for a little more granularity between gears, but usually only when I am riding into the wind.
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Old 03-30-11, 05:23 PM   #15
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If the OP wanted a triple, he wouldn't be wanting to future proof a compact double.

Why would you assume your subjective preferences are universal standards?
Actually, I don't have a horse in this race. I asked an open ended question with the sole objective of listening to the OP's reasoning.
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Old 03-30-11, 05:29 PM   #16
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First, I don't think there is such a thing a "future-proofing". Especially if the manufacturers have their way. And if you're planning to go to Di2, the only part of the drivetrain the doesn't get thrown away in the upgrade is the crank. So worrying about at a fairly inexpensive item as compared to the rest of the 7900 stuff you'd be throwing away, isn't future proofing anything but Shimano's share price.

Either drivetrain will get you up a climb. What makes the difference for me is ordinary everyday riding. I've come to really like close-ratio cassettes for the "granularity" woodway speaks of above--especially into the winds around here. The only way I can have that granularity, and wide range is with a triple. Both my commuting bikes are triples.

Both my fun/club/century ride bikes are standard doubles, so I understand the attraction to doubles. I'm not yet to the point where tossing a 12-28 on the back and standing to climb is problem. When it does become an issue, those bikes will be getting triples too. Actually, one of them already has a left shifter for a triple. It's just pulling two rings now.
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Old 03-30-11, 05:42 PM   #17
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If I were spec'ing a hill-riding bike right now, I would try an "ultra-compact" double crankset. SRAM has some mountain cranksets that you can mix and match with road cassettes.

They have a 28 x 42 crankset in this line:


http://sram2x10.com/?page_id=1044

...which, matched with a 11/32 rear cassette gives you a low of 23 gear inches (plenty low) and a high gear of 102 gear inches (plenty high for an old guy like me).

There are other cranksets available from Velo Orange and others that will yield similar set-ups. This is just an example.
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Old 03-30-11, 06:18 PM   #18
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First, I don't think there is such a thing a "future-proofing".

+1
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Old 03-30-11, 06:46 PM   #19
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10 miles uphill at an average of 8% and I do need that 30/27.
I'm glad I'm not the only one.
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Old 03-30-11, 07:54 PM   #20
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For a five year decision .... what would you do?
go with the compact double-- if in 5 years you need something else, you can always sell your bike on CL or ebay and buy another one that fits your needs, whatever they may be, 5 years from now... and remember, there's nothing wrong with "n+1"

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Old 03-30-11, 07:55 PM   #21
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First, I don't think there is such a thing a "future-proofing".
He didn't mean future proofing against the vagaries of the industry, he meant future proofing against his own diminishing fitness and knee condition.

But other than that, it's another useful point of view :-)
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Old 03-30-11, 08:18 PM   #22
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He didn't mean future proofing against the vagaries of the industry, he meant future proofing against his own diminishing fitness and knee condition.

But other than that, it's another useful point of view :-)
I would still suggest there is some folly in trying to predict what one's physical condtion will be in five year. Five years ago I was not as fit as I am today. And who knows, I might not make it another five years. I'd make my decison on what would give me the most pleasure/function right now. If we were talking about a really significant amount of money, say for a new home, I'd be much more inclined to try to envision the future. The stakes are simply higher, but for the drive train on a bicycle, I'd go with "now" as the determining factor.

Oh, yes and one other thing I would consider. In five years I would hope to have put enough miles and wear on drive train that all of it would need major overhauling.
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Old 03-30-11, 08:21 PM   #23
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I have a Campag race triple 50, 40 and took off the 30 and substituted a 24t cog.

I'm just a tourist , its a touring combination in spite of being on a Road bike ..

singing .. when I'm 64, since it kicks in this autumn.

[frankly I ride my IG hub bikes the most these days ...
... Brompton goes into the Bar with me]

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Old 03-30-11, 08:59 PM   #24
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I would still suggest there is some folly in trying to predict what one's physical condtion will be in five year. Five years ago I was not as fit as I am today. And who knows, I might not make it another five years. I'd make my decison on what would give me the most pleasure/function right now. If we were talking about a really significant amount of money, say for a new home, I'd be much more inclined to try to envision the future. The stakes are simply higher, but for the drive train on a bicycle, I'd go with "now" as the determining factor.
I dunno if you've noticed, but for about what some people spend on a bike, you can buy a house in Detroit.

http://www.trulia.com/property/30463...troit-MI-48206
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Old 03-30-11, 09:47 PM   #25
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I'm 56 and can get up anything I need to with a 41 tooth chainring and a 23 tooth cog (but then again the "mountains" here in south Louisiana aren't very steep or long). Hopefully, I'll still be able to accomplish the same when I'm 61, but only time will tell.
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