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  1. #1
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    Rethinking the cyclocross crankset

    My CX rig runs a pretty standard 46/36 but I'm seriously considering swapping it for a compact 50/34 and wanted to get your thoughts. I'm just looking to maximize the utility for cross racing, trails, and road riding and it see the 50/34 may work better all around.

    First, when I race cross, I'm usually always in my 36 except for rare occasions on a flat, fast course. So, I don't think a 34 would be much different. I use my CX bike for road riding too(not racing) and sometimes feel the 46 isn't high enough. I was also thinking that the 34 would help with the steep rolling hills I have where I live on the road and maybe even in races up those gnarly inclines.

    I don't want to sacrifice anything for racing, so do you think I could use the 50/34 for racing?

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    I think that your logic is sound. The only danger that I would have is using my lower gear too much. A larger small ring forces you to grow a pair instead of soft pedaling around the course.

    I also wouldn't want a gear that encourages me to ride something I shouldn't. I see lots of mountain bike guys spinning up steep inclines while other people run past them.

  3. #3
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    I don't think 50-34 is a good option for racing. The large gap makes it even less likely that you'd switch between rings than usual, so you'd kind of be going 1xN with a 34T ring. I think a better option is switching your crank or rings in the off-season.
    Last edited by Andy_K; 11-22-11 at 07:45 AM.

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Ought to be simple to change chainrings given all 4 are 110 BCD,
    and bag up and label the chain for the set.
    quick connector links
    and the Park special pliers tool makes that a fast change,
    during the pre and post race mechanics session.

    estimate: it would not take more than 20 minutes in the repair stand.

    including moving the FD up and down..

  5. #5
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    I'm surprised no one has asked this yet....but what cassette are you running?

    It is far easier to swap a cassette than chainrings on race day.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonaway427 View Post
    I'm surprised no one has asked this yet....but what cassette are you running?

    It is far easier to swap a cassette than chainrings on race day.
    I'm running a 12/27. My current set up with the 36/46 crank works fine in races and trail riding. After doing some research, I may go with a 39/50 crank and keep it in the small gear for cross races and use a cassette up to a 28 or 30 tooth cog.

  7. #7
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    easier said than done - now you're looking at a potential derailler swap.

  8. #8
    cs1
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    At one time Campy made a 34/48. That seems ideal for what you want. The 14T jump could still shift well. Good luck on whatever you choose.
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
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  9. #9
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    You could install a 50 & 39 and a 12-30 ten-speed cassette and keep your Ultegra or 105 SS derailleur.

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  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    46-27 chain would come off , and the 50-30 length chain goes on with the chain ring swap.

    of course the N+1 and another bike is the ultimate cure.

  11. #11
    Bicycle Hoarder Holden McNeil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1 View Post
    At one time Campy made a 34/48. That seems ideal for what you want. The 14T jump could still shift well. Good luck on whatever you choose.
    Velo Orange makes a 34/48: http://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...et-34x48t.html

  12. #12
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    why not 11/28 cassette? If you aren't racing on road, 46x11 should be plenty for all but descents...

  13. #13
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holden McNeil View Post
    Almost too pretty to use.
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
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  14. #14
    Ice Bites Cycocross's Avatar
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    I run a 50/34 , 11/32. The only problem is zero excuses for not being able to climb the steepest of hills or keeping up with the roadies.
    splitting hairs or spitting hairs? you need a new hobby

  15. #15
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I'd never upshift from the 34 to the 50, anywhere but at the summit of a climb.
    smaller difference can be shifted between more readily..

    just sticking to the 34 in a CX race, great.

    of course, some consideration of the lap the course designer
    has laid out for the race itself , matters a lot..

    lots of people run a single 42t with chain-guards.

    because the course is fast , between climbs
    that can be run more efficiently than ridden ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-26-12 at 01:39 PM.

  16. #16
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    Installed a 34-50 crankset today. Hope to test it out this week. Its an older gossamer isis BB version but it was still lighter than the Ultegra version it replaced.
    Want to make it my hill training bike as its the lightest one I have. All the lightest goodies get to go on it. Hope to pick up a modern light weight set soon. RD is next in line as well.

    Gears to keep my knees happy on long drags up to the top and CX so I can rip down the dirt trails just as easily.
    My other bike will stay traditional road gearing. I think this'll also avoid the overlap in bikes that i have since they are currently geared the same.
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
    Installed a 34-50 crankset today. Hope to test it out this week. Its an older gossamer isis BB version but it was still lighter than the Ultegra version it replaced.
    Want to make it my hill training bike as its the lightest one I have. All the lightest goodies get to go on it. Hope to pick up a modern light weight set soon. RD is next in line as well.

    Gears to keep my knees happy on long drags up to the top and CX so I can rip down the dirt trails just as easily.
    My other bike will stay traditional road gearing. I think this'll also avoid the overlap in bikes that i have since they are currently geared the same.
    Let me know what you think about that combo

  18. #18
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    I will let you know. I stalled out on the install as I still need to adjust the FD lower and tune it up.
    Got them on though, lighter weight than the Ultegra double they replaced.
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

  19. #19
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    Thinking of throwing a 34 small ring on my crankset too, currently have a 36/46 with a 14-28 7 speed freewheel. I don't think the 34 would really hurt me, just move the range of gears I use down one, and give me a better total low end. I'm new to cx racing, but don't see myself ever getting into the big ring during a race. Have a spare 34, have to see if it's the same bcd that's on my bike now.

  20. #20
    cycle-dog spot DinoShepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adam_mac84 View Post
    why not 11/28 cassette? If you aren't racing on road, 46x11 should be plenty for all but descents...
    You might want to listen to this guy. Or you could look at a gear inches calculator and realize he is a super-genius.

    - Z

  21. #21
    Senior Member telebianchi's Avatar
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    My CX bike gets used for commuting, trail ride, some mtn bike trails, and a couple of races in the fall. I used to run a 50x34 but bought a new chainring to go 46x34 (11x32 cassette). I don't miss the four extra teeth because I am never screaming down long &/or steep hills on this bike where I would need it. Love the quicker shift between the 46 & 34. Used the 46 in races whereas I never used the 50.
    May your tires or beer never be flat.

  22. #22
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    I use my cross bike similarly to you and want it to be good at everything. It currently has a standard 38/52 crankset with a mountain bike cassette (11-32 8-speed). I raced it that way, and it's all right on trails, and good for road rides, even if the jumps are a bit large with that cassette.

    I want to run compact cranks with the mountain cassette, which will give me acceptable road gearing, a wide range with a nice low gear for technical singletrack, and be fine for racing. If I feel like taking the time I'll set it up as a 1x8 for race season.
    Bikin' far-off places with the wife: http://peacocksride.wordpress.com

  23. #23
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    It's been a while since I originally posted on this thread - so I thought I'd update everyone. I had been using my standard Cross cranks with an 11-28 Cassette. It worked pretty well but I still felt like I was always in the lower end of the gearing with all the hills I have where I live, or I ran out gear on some fast road rides. I just switched out my chainrings from FSA 46/36 to FSA 48/34. So far, I'm extremely happy with the decision. The 34 chainring is perfect for trail riding and gets me up just about any hill I encounter while remaining seated. The 48 provides a very good gear for the road too. Shifting is perfect - leave it to FSA. I'll see how it performs this year in cross races - but for my level, I don't really think it will make that much of a difference - and 80% of my yearly riding is on the road anyway - so I feel I have the best mix now.

  24. #24
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by ambro View Post
    It's been a while since I originally posted on this thread - so I thought I'd update everyone. I had been using my standard Cross cranks with an 11-28 Cassette. It worked pretty well but I still felt like I was always in the lower end of the gearing with all the hills I have where I live, or I ran out gear on some fast road rides. I just switched out my chainrings from FSA 46/36 to FSA 48/34. So far, I'm extremely happy with the decision. The 34 chainring is perfect for trail riding and gets me up just about any hill I encounter while remaining seated. The 48 provides a very good gear for the road too. Shifting is perfect - leave it to FSA. I'll see how it performs this year in cross races - but for my level, I don't really think it will make that much of a difference - and 80% of my yearly riding is on the road anyway - so I feel I have the best mix now.
    See, somebody listened to me. How do you like the FSA crank? The only thing that scared me was all the reports on loose left crank arms. Congratulations on the swap.
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
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  25. #25
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    Have been using a 50-36 that I finally finihed up the install on.
    Nice because it makes me use the upper end of the cassette with the 50 (opposed to 53) and has a better lower end with the 36 (opposed to 39). The 34 small ring seemed almost unuseable just because it made me jump to the 50 on anything over 16mph (exaggeration) but 34-27 would certainly get me up any hill.
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

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