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  1. #1
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    crank vs compact crank

    wondering how many of you use a compact crank or a triple for that matter.I still can't stand getting my handle bars handed to me on a climb,on a road bike.

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    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    When I got back into cycling at age 58 I rode a standard crank set with 12X25 cogs. I also struggled with climbs thanks to age, weight and that set up. but, the macho part of me wouldn't let me give it up. I always told myself I just had to get in shape. Eventually I realized that all the fast riders in my club were using compacts. I switched over and it was a great decision.

  3. #3
    Back in the Saddle
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    triple. a 50-39-30. Ego attached to what chainrings we have seems darn silly. If can't pedal up the hill, and have to walk, then it isn't fun any more, not is it a ride
    Indianapolis IN
    2012 Salsa Vaya 3

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    Thanks i am switching one of my bikes

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    Senior Member longbeachgary's Avatar
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    I started using a compact crank when I bought the CAAD10. I have favorite gears that I like and the compact puts the chain in the middle of the cassette. I use the 12x23 cassette which is 12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,21,23. It's flat here so this combination works for me.

  6. #6
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shamrock View Post
    Thanks i am switching one of my bikes
    Velo Orange old school compact.jpg
    If you are looking for one for the Le Tour Here's an old school lookin' compact that I'll probably be using on a lugged steel build this winter.

    Velo Orange also has a bunch more including a nice more streamlined modern one on sale for $100 that I wish I'd seen before buying a Sugino from "Yellow Jersey" for my '86 Trek. The Sugino is also nice for a late '80s vintage though. I haven't put it on yet though as I'm going through the whole bike this winter anyway as well as the new build.

    As far as hurrying up hills goes I do better at it standing on heavier gears. But since so many kids are "handing me my handlebars" anyway nowadays I'm putting on the compact so I can have more in the tank after cresting them.
    Last edited by Zinger; 09-07-13 at 10:04 PM.
    "I never lost a race because my bike was too heavy".......George Mount

  7. #7
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shamrock View Post
    wondering how many of you use a compact crank or a triple for that matter.I still can't stand getting my handle bars handed to me on a climb,on a road bike.
    Gearing does not change power production capability unless the gearing is ridiculously hard i.e. too big. With lower gearing, you will probably still get your handle bars handed to you but your feet will be moving faster.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  8. #8
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Except for the young Cat 1/2 riders, all the guys use compact cranks where I live. Some of those guys are pretty darn fast.
    FS: Shimano DA 7900 brake calipers, DA 7900 Crankset 50/34 175mm and BB

  9. #9
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shamrock View Post
    I still can't stand getting my handle bars handed to me on a climb,on a road bike.
    I'm clueless. What does this mean?
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

  10. #10
    Senior Member h2oxtc's Avatar
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    Rode the Whistler Granfondo today with 1700 meters of climbing - my observation of all the guys passing me on the hills was that many were riding with compact cranks. They're now officially on the Christmas wish list.

  11. #11
    tsl
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    I'm with Hermes.

    No matter what your gearing, it takes the same amount of power to get up the hill. It takes X watts to lift Y pounds up Z elevation. All that gearing changes is how you portion it out, and when you have to just plain HTFU. In the end, you've expended the same.

    To the question the OP asks, I own all three: Triple, standard double, and compact double. Each has its place, although if forced to own only one, it would be the triple.

    I live in the flatlands. The 39 ring of my triples and standard double get most of the use. The big rings come in second. I like close-ratio cassettes. The 53 or 52 and the 39 with a 12-23 out back is the perfect combination for my power output and typical terrain. On my commute, I run the cassette end-to-end and back between stoplights.

    The compact and a 12-27 goes on my Litespeed a couple of times a year, for particularly hilly rides, like the Highlander Cycle Tour I rode today. The route I took was 70 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing, with grades up to 12%. The compact works nicely on rolling hills. Most of the time, as I crest a hill, I just shift the front. At the base of a hill, I shift the front again.

    In the flatlands around home I find the compact to be the most frustrating piece of equipment ever invented. At my typical cruising speeds, I'm cross-chained in either ring I pick. If I decide start in the 34, I have to shift the front mid-block. If I start in the 50, I'm cross-chaining away from every stoplight. Great for Shimano--they'll sell more chains and those oh-so-expensive big rings. But just the thought of it makes me cringe. I flat out can't stand the compact in the flatlands.

    Both my commuters have triples. I use the granny when hauling stuff uphill. One grocery store is under a railway underpass with a hill on the other side. And on Mondays, I haul the week's worth of lunches, snacks, work clothes and library books to work, frequently on my hilly route.

    But wait! I said I'm flatlander and I have a hilly route?

    To get any sort of climbing into my legs at all, I have to actively seek out hills. And what we have around here are mere speedbumps compared to most places. My longest training hill is a half-mile at 4%-6%. I string together a bunch of little hills like that for my hills route. The elevation profile looks impressive, until you look at the scale. Repeats help, but I get a rest coasting down between each one.

    Since my training hills are either not steep, or not long, or both, I can get away with the standard double and 12-23 on my training rides. But given the profile of my training route vs a genuine hilly route, you can see why I swap to the compact when I get out to hill country.

    My experience getting passed on the climbs today is that the other guys were better trained. And I was better trained than the guys I passed. We were all running compacts. It's not about the gears.
    Last edited by tsl; 09-07-13 at 10:01 PM.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  12. #12
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    In the flatlands around home I find the compact to be the most frustrating piece of equipment ever invented. At my typical cruising speeds, I'm cross-chained in either ring I pick.
    See that's what I'm wondering about myself before I've even tried mine and this sort of verifies my concerns. That's why I'm trying one out on my Trek before I decide on one for my new build.
    "I never lost a race because my bike was too heavy".......George Mount

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    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    Lot's and lot's of hill here. Triple's a no brainer and it's easy to stay away from all that cross chain business.

  14. #14
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Gearing does not change power production capability unless the gearing is ridiculously hard i.e. too big. With lower gearing, you will probably still get your handle bars handed to you but your feet will be moving faster.
    Lots of respect, and you've been helpfull to me in the past, but I gotta dissagree. You're not a clyde. For someone big like me on some of the major hills we have out here on the left coast, with out lower gearing I can't help but totally mash my way up some of them. My first, and still current, road bike is a Masi Partenza, 16 speed Aluminum. These come stock compact crank and 11-25 cassette. I got mine from a LBS where it had been traded in with a 52/39 crank. After a couple hundred miles, I took it in and had a megarange 11-34 MTB cassette and deraileir installed. It made a world of difference.

    I have lost forty pounds since I got it, almost 6000 miles ago, and have been testing Carbon Bikes. I was looking to get into a 105 groupset with 11-28 cassette, but rode a couple with 11-25 and feel that may work. Decisions, decisions.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    I got rid of my last triple a few months ago. I have one standard or OE crank with a 52-39 and a compact with a 50-34. I had another compact with a 50-36 but I couldn't tell much of a difference. I have several wheel sets set up with different Cassettes. 11-25, 12-27, 11-28, 11-32, 11-36. I prefer SRAM so it is unlikely I will ever go back to a triple. On any climb over three miles I bring the compact, long flat rides with a few rollers and I drag out the 52-39. Big long climbs like Towne Pass or Idyllwild also gets the 11-32 or 36. I could more than likely get by with the 11-28 but having the granny if the legs get tired is a nice option on those warmer days. In my younger days I tried the climb to Lake Arrowhead from San Bernardino with a 39x25 and I had to mash all the way from Waterman Canyon to Highway 138, and I thought I was going to die.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

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    If you're only going 50-60 rpm up the hill, time for some better gearing. Even maintaining 70-80 rpm for a long time can be tough as hell for me, although I've found a lot of people like to practice their low cadence stuff. I like to have the option of going 80-100 rpm up the hill myself so it's 50-34 w/ 11-32 for me.

  17. #17
    Senior Member loneviking61's Avatar
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    A double isn't going to be a panacea, it's just gears spaced differently from a triple. I've got a buddy that has a compact and I have a triple. Spinning at the same rate going uphill, we are at the same ratio but he just has to shift less. If you don't have the gas, you don't have the gas whether you have a double or a triple. I'd suggest if you're having to mash to get up a hill, put a lower geared chainring on like a mountain triple.

  18. #18
    Senior Member GFish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    No matter what your gearing, it takes the same amount of power to get up the hill. It takes X watts to lift Y pounds up Z elevation. All that gearing changes is how you portion it out, and when you have to just plain HTFU. In the end, you've expended the same.
    Gearing needs to match a persons level of fitness, regardless of the total energy expended. Some of us can't turn over or mash high gears on hills without exploding. We need the lower gearing to spin up hills.

    I ride a compact 50/34 with an 11-34 cassette. Hill, rollers and flats, the gearing and wide spacing really works great for me. I spend almost all my time in the big 50 chainring and only switch to the 34 on long or really steep grades. Also, cross-chaining on a compact isn't a big issue, but it is a bigger problem on a triple.
    http://thedailygrind.robdamanii.com/...of-the-triple/

  19. #19
    Senior Member GFish's Avatar
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    Speaking of compacts, did anyone notice that the new Shimano 11 speed Ultegra comes in compact group with a long cage rear derailleur and 11-32 cassette? Looks like Shimano is finally addressing Srams wide range compact group.

  20. #20
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GFish View Post

    Also, cross-chaining on a compact isn't a big issue, but it is a bigger problem on a triple.
    http://thedailygrind.robdamanii.com/...of-the-triple/
    Those two charts in that site are very interesting and with a cassette setup you could pretty easily change chains and cogs just to see what works best for different terrain. I'm kind of thinking that a wider ratio might help keeping cross chaining to a minimum. I've never run a triple. Use a 50/39 & 14-26 freewheel presently.
    Last edited by Zinger; 09-08-13 at 03:45 AM.
    "I never lost a race because my bike was too heavy".......George Mount

  21. #21
    Senior Member GFish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zinger View Post
    I'm kind of thinking that a wider ratio might help keeping cross chaining to a minimum. I've never run a triple. Use a 50/39 & 14-26 freewheel presently.
    Don't know about that. But I read somewhere that cross-chaining on a compact is only a problem in the big/big and small/small combinations. And even that was marginal.

    I like wide range cassette for other reason. I started with a 12-25 cassette and was always shifting up two or down two riding over small rollers and into the wind trying to maintain my preferred speed and cadence. If I only up or down shifted once, if often didn't make enough difference to offset the elevation change or wind speed. Changing to a wide range 11-34 cassette means I'll usually only need to shift once to maintain cadence and speed. I'm actually shifting less, not more.

  22. #22
    Trek 500 Kid Zinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GFish View Post
    Don't know about that. But I read somewhere that cross-chaining on a compact is only a problem in the big/big and small/small combinations. And even that was marginal.

    I like wide range cassette for other reason. I started with a 12-25 cassette and was always shifting up two or down two riding over small rollers and into the wind trying to maintain my preferred speed and cadence. If I only up or down shifted once, if often didn't make enough difference to offset the elevation change or wind speed. Changing to a wide range 11-34 cassette means I'll usually only need to shift once to maintain cadence and speed. I'm actually shifting less, not more.
    For myself I already bought a short cage mid '90s Campy Chorus RD, with a 26 max chain wrap cap, which rules out a 13-26 in lieu of a 13-23 so I guess that's the path I'm on with a 48/34 compact.....This is for an 8 speed build.

    So according to Sheldon Brown's gear calculator I'm going to have a jump from a 4.1 to 4.9 gear ratio, from small ring to the large, to keep from cross chaining .....ideally. That might just make tsl right in my case.

    But since I'm running a wider chain and the 15 cog would be a little more inside than on a 10 speed I might be able to get away with the 34 x 15 which would give me a ratio of 4.4.
    Last edited by Zinger; 09-08-13 at 06:32 AM.
    "I never lost a race because my bike was too heavy".......George Mount

  23. #23
    Senior Member osco53's Avatar
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    52-42-30

    11-34

    Finding hills is hard for me, Central Florida.
    Scott Spark 760, Tour Easy LE, Sun EZ-3 sx, Walmart Thruster :P

  24. #24
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
    When I got back into cycling at age 58 I rode a standard crank set with 12X25 cogs. I also struggled with climbs thanks to age, weight and that set up. but, the macho part of me wouldn't let me give it up. I always told myself I just had to get in shape. Eventually I realized that all the fast riders in my club were using compacts. I switched over and it was a great decision.
    I did the opposite riding in a hilly area of NJ. I did end up putting a 27 cog on my designated climbing bike. I also cross chain all the time and don't have any problems. Cross chaining is not much of a problem on modern, good quality gruppos.

    My NM road bike is a cyclocross bike and has CX gearing. It's nice going up miles long hills at 7-10k ft., but I miss bigger gearing all the time in other areas.
    "It could be anything. Scrap booking, high-stakes poker, or the Santa Fe lifestyle. Just pick a dead-end and chill out 'till you die."

  25. #25
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terex View Post
    I did the opposite riding in a hilly area of NJ.
    NW NJ? Hackensack HS Class of '64. I still go visit my BF from HS. He now lives in Ramsey.

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