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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 08-28-05, 08:37 PM   #1
bob the nailer
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compact crank?

Am considering the purchase of a new bike, likely a look585, very very light, mostly to use as a climbing but also a lot of general purpose riding. currently i ride a trek 5200, 6 yrs old, with a 53/39- am considering a compact crank on the new one, perhaps a 50/36- would be interested to hear anyones experience with compact cranks good or bad, or for that matter with look bicycles. thanks.
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Old 08-28-05, 08:49 PM   #2
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Can't tell you anything about Look bikes, but I've been running a Ritchey WCS 50/34 compact crank on one of my bikes for a couple of months now and it's great. I run it with a 12/27 DA cassette and the only thing I've lost is gearing I only use on down hills, like 53/12. I have not slowed down on the flats and climbing is very nice, giving me choices that approach those of a triple.
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Old 08-28-05, 08:52 PM   #3
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Went from 53/39 on old bike to 50/36 on new one. No problems at all with standard Dura-Ace FD, some have had problems with 50/34, but others have no issues at all with the smaller ring.

Depending what you're trying to accomplish / reasons for moving away from 53/39, it can be a sweet thing. I love mine, although I still find I get cross-chained more than I did on the other rig - I need to get a more intuitive feel for the overlap.

Sorry no experience with Look.
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Old 08-28-05, 09:10 PM   #4
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Used a Ritchey compact since 1999 and recently switched to a Record compat. Both are 50 / 34 and I switch between a 12-23, 12-25 or 12-29 for the long really steep stuff (campy drivetrain). I am 48 and pretty fit but not the grind it out guy that I was 20 years ago so the compact gearing works for me. I use to use a 53-39 with a 12-16 or 13-28 (Shimano) that the 13-28 did give me a real bail out gear. But, this was 7 speed stuff and the jump between cogs was anoying.

I think that you will like the compact. Keep in mind that you will loose some down hill gearing with a 50 - 12 ratio. But, frankly, the number of times that I used the 53 - 12 were limited. You could put a cassette with an 11 tooth on, coupled with your compact crank, you will have some good down hill gearnig.
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Old 08-28-05, 09:17 PM   #5
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I use a 50/34 with a 13/29. Works great, I really like it. Lots of hills around here, lots of climbing.
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Old 08-28-05, 09:40 PM   #6
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One of my bikes has a compact crankset. This is my first experience with compact cranks and I think I like it. I have only ridden my bike with the compact crank once but plan on training on it everyday this week. My initial reaction was WOW, I want this setup on my other bike (which I may end up doing).
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Old 08-28-05, 10:06 PM   #7
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Just another thought on compact cranks - if you live in an area where you really need more hill climbing gear than a 53-39 with a 12-27 (shimano) or 12-26 (campy), then yes, get a compact crank set up or go with a triple - there is no shame in being kind to your knees! With my older Ritchey, I could also install some 53-38 or 53-42 chain rings for flatter terrain. It in fact came with 53-38 and I was living in south east Michigan at that time and I took the 38 off and put a 42 on. Quality bike parts made a 110mm spider 42 tooth chain ring.

If you are sort of testing this compact stuff out, you don't have to spend lots of money. Ritchey and others, FSA included, offer a compact crank for middle $150s. I think that there is an IRD front derailure, braze on mounting, for cheap too, but I actually used a regular front derailure with my compact for many years with not many problems.
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Old 08-28-05, 10:19 PM   #8
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I have never personally owned a compact but have riden several bikes with them. You as you probably know have several options on this type of bike.

1. 52-36 with a 11-12/23 or 12-25/27 (rare combination)
2. 50-36 with a 11-21/23 or 12-25/27
3. 50-34 with a 11-21/23 or 12-25/27

Of the three I would be more likely to want the first combination with a 12-27 out back, for the climbing gears. Adding a 11-23 and racing is a big possability. BTW a 50-11 is about the same as a 53-12. Personally the shifting on the front of a compact system can be a bit rougher with the 50-34 combination but I personally have not encountered it in my "limited" experience with them.

On my new commuter bike I am building I am going with a 50-36, 12-27 combo... ready for those 22+ percent grades I am planning for next season
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Old 08-29-05, 09:02 AM   #9
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I use a compact crank (50/34 FSA Gossamer Mega Exo) and a 12-25 cassette on my bike currently and like the setup a lot. The lower gears allow me to keep my cadence higher on the hills, and helps me to get over some of the hills more comfortably. I have a 12-27 cassette that I can use if I head up to the mountains at all as well. I started out using the standard DA derailleur with my setup, and eventually switched to the FSA compact derailleur as I was having problems with throwing the chain every once in a while. After getting the FSA der. set up, I haven't had any issues since.
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Old 08-29-05, 09:06 AM   #10
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I am also running the Ritchey WCS compact on my Salsa...switched over from a Ultegra triple. I love it. I can still climb about anything (12-27 cassette) and I don't have to shift the front nearly as much. Big thumbs up for the compact crank for much of the biking population rather than a 53/39.
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Old 08-29-05, 09:35 AM   #11
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I just converted over last week to a Ritchey 50/34 - Ultegra 12/27 combo. So far I love it. If you live in a hilly area I would certainly think about a compact. The only consideration in performance is that compacts "can sometimes" drop the chain inside if you don't pay attention to your shifting. Most of the people I know that run them have had it happen at least once or twice. I dropped mine on Saturday. I think that it is all a matter of getting the feel for how the new setup likes to be handled and getting the final adjustments and breakin made. FWIW, I've seen more people with regular doubles drop chains than people on compacts. As for usable range, I haven't run an all-out long descent yet so I haven't missed the 52/12 combo that my old triple had.

On the low range, crosschaining the 34/13 and of course 34/12 are not good ideas with my bike. The chain will rub the inside of the 50 ring at those angles besides the accelerated wear of twisting the chain that much. I would never use a small/small combo anyway. Although I haven't had mine long, I can already say that if I bought a new bike tomorrow it would be a compact setup.
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Old 08-29-05, 09:45 AM   #12
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Compact Crank Overload

I have one FSA energy and it works fine. Love the 50/34 with a 11/27 cog set.

I also have a Look kg281 and it is very very nice. If the bike fits you'll be a happy man!
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Old 08-29-05, 11:33 AM   #13
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I've got a FSA Gossamer Mega EXO 50/34 and Ultegra 12-25 cassette. I've been riding for just two months and I did manage to drop the chain a couple of times when downshifting to the small ring. I was mashing too hard on the pedals; just a bit lighter and shifting's no problem. When I get around 3000 miles on the cassette I'll probably swap it for the 12-27 Ultegra; there's a couple of steep climbs where it would come in handy.

On most roads I'm in the middle of the cassette with the big ring; rarely go the small ring except on long or steep hills.
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