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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 09-24-12, 10:00 PM   #1
bpettet
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triple ring question

Hello all. My first post on this forum. I did some archive searches and read through many of the older posts first...I've got a Fuji Gran Fondo with a compact double. It's a 50/34 with a 12-28 cassette. We just recently finished a ride across New Mexico (500 miles in 5 days). I'm enjoying the long distance rides and multiple centuries and looking forward to more long rides.

My question...what are my options to switch to a triple ring setup? I don't understand all of the gear ratio discussions but an added plus would be closer ratios for some of the longer hills. I don't need them often but there are times when I would like to have a lower gear or two. FWIW, I'm more of a spinner than a masher. My cadence is usually higher than others around me but I'm comfortable there and making good time, if not leading my group.

I was reading about SRAM's Apex 11-32 cassette and how it gives you the range of a triple with the narrowness of a double. I don't understand all of that but perhaps that is an option?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Last edited by bpettet; 09-25-12 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 09-25-12, 12:28 AM   #2
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If you go with a larger cassette in the back, you may need to upgrade the rear derailleur to a long cage. I have an 10-speed 11-34 in the back and I'm using a 9-speed Deore mountain bike derailleur. Works great.

If you go with a triple, you'll need to replace the crank and perhaps the shifter. With this option, you can potentially get more range, and your gears will be closer together, so you can fine tune your cadence better.

The shifter and crank are usually the most expensive items in this equation, so cheaper to go with a cassette.
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Old 09-25-12, 06:58 AM   #3
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Shifters are 105s and the rear derailleur is Ultegra I think. I'm not opposed to options within the double ring. Obviously that would be cheaper but I thought I would see what kind of recommendations I would get here overall.

The motor is clearly the main factor and I'm getting stronger but would like a bit more gearing for the steeps. Maybe the best option is the compact double...maybe it's the triple? I don't have enough experience to know the answer.
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Old 09-25-12, 07:52 AM   #4
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To switch from a double to a triple chainring is not simple. Unless your left 105 shifter can accommodate triple shifts, and I don't think those do, then you will have to acquire another one of those in triple format.

The front derailleur then becomes problematic, and you would need to acquire one that accommodates the wider dimensions of the triple.

Then you can start looking at the triple crank itself, which shouldn't be too much of a problem if you are using the Shimano Hollowtech II with the external BB bearings.

As to the cassette, you can probably add an 11-32 cassette and maybe get away with your current rear derailleur, seeing it can already handle the 28. But generally a long-cage cassette would be advisable.

If you do go the long-cage version (SGS, and say Deore), you would then have the flexibility, I think, to retain your compact double (saving the cost on the shifter and FD), but fit one of the 11-32, 11-34 or 11-36 cassette to give you a pretty good bail-out gear.

FWIW I've found the 11-34 to be nicely spaced compared with the other two cassettes.

Well done, incidentally, on completing your ride. Multiple back-to-back centuries are a challenge and I can understand why you look back with enjoyment at the them.
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Old 09-25-12, 08:08 AM   #5
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If you want to better understand your gearing options, the thing to do is to create a spreadsheet of them. On a spreadsheet page, using Excel or whatever, create several charts of different gearing options. A gear ratio is measured in "gear-inches." This number is the teeth in a front ring, divided by the teeth on a cassette cog, and this ratio multiplied by the wheel diameter. For 700c bikes, it is usual to use 27".

So have the teeth in the cassette cogs go across the top, the teeth in the chainrings go down the left side and create formulas in each cell of the matrix. Just make one formula and copy it into each cell. It's easier than it sounds. The teeth on various cassettes is published by the manufacturer online in tech docs. Then you'll have the information to make informed choices about gearing. I much prefer a triple because of the more closely spaced ratios, especially in the granny ring, and the reduced numbers of shifts in front. OTOH, there's the cost.
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Old 09-25-12, 09:40 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies and well wishes. It was kind of funny...after the ride was over, I drove back across the state to get home. My legs tightened up on the drive so I got home, got my bike out of the truck and went for a ride. Did the same the next day. I would have guessed that I would want to take a break from the bike but that wasn't the case. Felt good to ride and stretch out again. That was 2 weeks ago and we are riding 2 more centuries in the next 4 weeks. Guess it's kind of addicting, eh?

I do need to make a gearing spreadsheet. That's good advice.

Thanks Rowan for the recommendations. It sounds like getting a long cage SGS or Deore and then an 11-34 cassette would be a good option. I'll do some thinking on that. Other thoughts?
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Old 09-25-12, 09:43 AM   #7
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Is this the correct derailleur?

http://www.amazon.com/Deore-M591-SGS.../dp/B0064QND30
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Old 09-25-12, 11:12 AM   #8
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You might also look at the SLX line.
[h=1]http://www.amazon.com/Shimano-Americ...pr_product_top[/h]

Gear Calculator:
http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/
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Old 09-25-12, 11:30 AM   #9
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Thanks for the further recommendations and calculator. I've not used 9 speed components before. Do you mix & match with 10 speed? Pros & cons?
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Old 09-25-12, 12:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bpettet View Post
Thanks for the further recommendations and calculator. I've not used 9 speed components before. Do you mix & match with 10 speed? Pros & cons?
The only thing I've tested is that the 10-speed 39T middle ring works fine with 9-speed equipment.
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Old 09-25-12, 12:24 PM   #11
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Thanks for the replies and well wishes. It was kind of funny...after the ride was over, I drove back across the state to get home. My legs tightened up on the drive so I got home, got my bike out of the truck and went for a ride. Did the same the next day. I would have guessed that I would want to take a break from the bike but that wasn't the case. Felt good to ride and stretch out again. That was 2 weeks ago and we are riding 2 more centuries in the next 4 weeks. Guess it's kind of addicting, eh?

I do need to make a gearing spreadsheet. That's good advice.

Thanks Rowan for the recommendations. It sounds like getting a long cage SGS or Deore and then an 11-34 cassette would be a good option. I'll do some thinking on that. Other thoughts?
I should clarify that SGS is the Shimano designation for their long-cage derailleurs. The Deore one will be SGS anyway.
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Old 09-25-12, 12:41 PM   #12
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If you're running a compact with a 12-28 you might want to check and make sure you don't already have a long cage DR on there before you go spending money on a new one.
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Old 09-25-12, 01:10 PM   #13
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I like this gearing calculator a little more than Sheldon's -- it's interactive: www.gear-calculator.com

FWIW, I tend to like triples more than compact doubles because the middle ring works for about 95% of my riding, and I rarely need to make a front shift. My experience with a 50/34 double (and an 11-32 cassette IIRC) was of frustration, having to run extreme chain angles to get the gears I wanted, and then needing to do all those rear shifts to get back on track after a front shift. Perhaps with a smaller big chainring and a bigger starting cog on the cassette, I wouldn't have been so eager to give the bike back to my friend.
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Old 09-25-12, 03:48 PM   #14
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The derailleurs are interchangeable (I'm sure there are exceptions - but not many). The rear shifter, chain, and cassette, are the parts that are 9 or 10 speed specific. You can probably use a 10 speed chain on a 9 speed system, but not vice versa.
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Old 09-25-12, 05:33 PM   #15
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Yes. 9-speed is supposed to work better with road shifters. Don't know for sure if that's the case, but it works great for me.
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Old 09-25-12, 05:40 PM   #16
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Awesome responses. Thanks all! I will check my DR tonight and check back if I have questions.
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Old 09-25-12, 07:46 PM   #17
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My DR is a Shimano 105. So, I would need a longer one correct? Which of the recommended ones above would be best? I'll run the spreadsheet on the 11-34.
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Old 09-25-12, 09:43 PM   #18
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The 105 can be a long cage or a short cage. He's a picture of two XT DR's that are the same model with the exception of the cage length so you can tell.
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Old 09-25-12, 09:54 PM   #19
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My DR is a Shimano 105. So, I would need a longer one correct? Which of the recommended ones above would be best? I'll run the spreadsheet on the 11-34.
Here are the Shimano component groups they all (except new DA) come in a long cage version :
Road (with DA the highest quality and 2300 the lowest)
  • Dura-Ace (10-speed)
  • Ultegra (10-speed)
  • 105 (10-speed)
  • Tiagra (9-speed)
  • Sora (9-speed)
  • 2300 (8-speed)

Mtn Bike (with Altus the lowest and XTR the highest quality)

  • XTR (9-speed)
  • XT (9-speed)
  • Deore (9-speed)
  • Alivio (8-speed)
  • Acera (8-speed)
  • Altus (8-speed)
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Old 09-25-12, 10:08 PM   #20
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Which one do I have?
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Old 09-25-12, 10:09 PM   #21
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Old 09-25-12, 10:12 PM   #22
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So you've heard the other side of the story, double compacts with big spread cassettes are crap. Triples have that great 40ish tooth ring that allows you to stay in one ring and work it up and down. If you have to bail, then you can do the same in the granny gear.

Gear spreadsheets are crap, unless you like being a shift bunny chasing gear inch cells.

OK, some balance has been restored.
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Old 09-25-12, 10:15 PM   #23
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I appreciate all the replies. What would it cost in parts to convert to triple ring...ballpark?
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Old 09-25-12, 10:20 PM   #24
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Thanks for the replies and well wishes. It was kind of funny...after the ride was over, I drove back across the state to get home. My legs tightened up on the drive so I got home, got my bike out of the truck and went for a ride. Did the same the next day. I would have guessed that I would want to take a break from the bike but that wasn't the case. Felt good to ride and stretch out again. That was 2 weeks ago and we are riding 2 more centuries in the next 4 weeks. Guess it's kind of addicting, eh?

I do need to make a gearing spreadsheet. That's good advice.

Thanks Rowan for the recommendations. It sounds like getting a long cage SGS or Deore and then an 11-34 cassette would be a good option. I'll do some thinking on that. Other thoughts?

I just did that on a new bike maybe a month ago. It's great. I find it just as good as my bikes with triples.
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Old 09-25-12, 10:47 PM   #25
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Which one do I have?
It's hard to tell because your picture is dark.

Here is the deal. Your cheapest alternative is to stay with the compact and go to a wider range cassette. The only cost is a long range cage if you don't have one, $100+/- depending on the model and a new cassette/chain($100+/-).

The only disadvantage is the big jumps between gears and not as wide of a range of gears. For a lot of people that isn't a big deal at all and for others it is. You'll have to make that decision.

The other alternative is switching to a triple. That's going to be more expensive because you will need at least one new brifter ($300+/-), a front DR($40+/-), a new Crank($175+/-) and a cassette/chain($100+/-). Cost will depend on what level (the numbers I gave are 105 level averages) you get but it's going to be well into the hundreds no matter what.

The advantage is a tight gear cluster and a wider range of gears.

Nobody here knows you, your strengths and weaknesses so we're in no position to tell you anything other than what works best for us. You need to look at yourself and your pocket book and decide which way to go.
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