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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 05-27-13, 03:55 AM   #251
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On Saturday's group ride, for the first time, I found myself wishing I had a bigger gear than 50-11. Big bunch hammering along a long stretch with a tailwind and slight downhill grade, we were hitting 36mph and I kept pushing my gear lever something bigger. I think my cadence was around 110. Other than that though, I like it: I can use the big ring for most of a ride, only switching to the little ring for steeper stuff.
Someone who does aggressive group rides and pacelines like that is one of the few amateur cases where I do agree that a 50t is inadequate. I don't think it's nearly as common as it's made out to be.
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Old 05-27-13, 05:28 AM   #252
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Huh? You won't have any problems getting into the big/big if you size the chain correctly. The only place you run into issues is the small/small combos, and all that happens is that there wont be enough tension on the chain causing the chain to rub on itself. This doesnt' lead to a catastrophic failure like too short of a chain.
A few thread back I talked about Campy's chain wrap spec for their short cage derailleur. It is what it is. You can challenge their spec either way...with tight chain for Big Big or loose chain for small small. I do agree that is best to size for Big big. I always do as it is the most catastrophic as you state if the chain doesn't have enough length and you shift to Big big. Riding in small small is X chained and ill advised anyway so we agree.
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Old 05-27-13, 05:38 AM   #253
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On Saturday's group ride, for the first time, I found myself wishing I had a bigger gear than 50-11. Big bunch hammering along a long stretch with a tailwind and slight downhill grade, we were hitting 36mph and I kept pushing my gear lever something bigger. I think my cadence was around 110. Other than that though, I like it: I can use the big ring for most of a ride, only switching to the little ring for steeper stuff.
Feel ya there. Gearing is one big tradeoff basically. Can't have super tight spacing + big cassette spread. A triple does help tho if you want to deal with 3 chainrings. As discussed, I am going to 50-38 w/13-29. I know I will miss 50-12 for descending. I gave my rational earlier. If riding a paceline on roads you don't know where you have obstructed vision of the pavement and riding over 30 mph....believe you are at risk. Many accept this however. I have routinely descended at 35 mph on a road where I know every bump. But the dynamic changes in a paceline where you don't know the road and pot holes loom. This happened on my century a week ago but was lucky. I do like 50-12 however which I think is a good gear for an average rider like myself. For a racer? I agree with you that 50-11 is good and if say a Cat 1-2, likely will want a full size crank. Gearing should match a rider's strength and if routinely riding over 25 mph then likely a full size crank is best and you will have enough power to get up the hills.
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Old 05-27-13, 05:57 AM   #254
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Feel ya there. Gearing is one big tradeoff basically. Can't have super tight spacing + big cassette spread. A triple does help tho if you want to deal with 3 chainrings. As discussed, I am going to 50-38 w/13-29. I know I will miss 50-12 for descending. I gave my rational earlier. If riding a paceline on roads you don't know where you have obstructed vision of the pavement and riding over 30 mph....believe you are at risk. Many accept this however. I have routinely descended at 35 mph on a road where I know every bump. But the dynamic changes in a paceline where you don't know the road and pot holes loom. This happened on my century a week ago but was lucky. I do like 50-12 however which I think is a good gear for an average rider like myself. For a racer? I agree with you that 50-11 is good and if say a Cat 1-2, likely will want a full size crank. Gearing should match a rider's strength and if routinely riding over 25 mph then likely a full size crank is best and you will have enough power to get up the hills.
Yeah, but now we are at the consideration of the "1% solution". What BOBONES is describing-tailwind, downhill, aggressive pack riding-represents a tiny fraction (perhaps) of his riding experience. As he said himself, it was the first time he needed a bigger gear. So the question is which extreme do you want to prepare for if you can't have both? Which is the more likely situation and the one that his harder to handle with inappropriate gearing? Spinning out or not being able to make it up the hill? Everybody has to answer this for himself. It makes no sense to go back and forth based on the last bad situation you experienced, i.e. run a compact for hills until you spin out and then run a standard until you struggle on a tough climb and so on. You have to decide what problem you want to be prepared for and stick with that. The triple saves one from having to make the choice, but not everyone needs that.
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Old 05-27-13, 06:48 AM   #255
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Yeah, but now we are at the consideration of the "1% solution". What BOBONES is describing-tailwind, downhill, aggressive pack riding-represents a tiny fraction (perhaps) of his riding experience. As he said himself, it was the first time he needed a bigger gear. So the question is which extreme do you want to prepare for if you can't have both? Which is the more likely situation and the one that his harder to handle with inappropriate gearing? Spinning out or not being able to make it up the hill? Everybody has to answer this for himself. It makes no sense to go back and forth based on the last bad situation you experienced, i.e. run a compact for hills until you spin out and then run a standard until you struggle on a tough climb and so on. You have to decide what problem you want to be prepared for and stick with that. The triple saves one from having to make the choice, but not everyone needs that.
True. Believe the point is, gearing is personal...based upon strength, tendency to mash versus spin and riding conditions. I have ridden in Florida with their notorious high winds and its pretty easy to spin out down wind in a paceline even without a mild downhill grade. My riding buddies are an example. Most ride full size cranks. I beat them up the hills and I am 190# and they suffered over the hilly century over the last 20 miles while I waited for them up top. I told them to change their gearing...I was actually running about the same climbing inches, but don't think they will. Point is, a lot if not most guys that ride in the A group where speeds average around 25 mph...ride a full size crank. This is pretty common. So many didn't have the same problem spinning out down wind and downhill slightly...but quite right...pick which side of the gearing spectrum you want to protect. For me, this is an easy decision and I have made it. I want short climbing inches for the simple reason after 80 miles, I don't want to walk up hill.
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Old 05-28-13, 08:18 AM   #256
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At the CapTex tri yesterday, I did zero front shifting on my 50-36 compact by staying in the 50t for the entire race. There was one big hill that many people with 53+t fronts had to drop to their small rings for, so in certain cases (and an important one for me), a compact involves less front shifting, not more. Which one is superior depends primarily on fitness level, terrain, and purpose.
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Old 05-28-13, 08:59 AM   #257
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At the CapTex tri yesterday, I did zero front shifting on my 50-36 compact by staying in the 50t for the entire race. There was one big hill that many people with 53+t fronts had to drop to their small rings for, so in certain cases (and an important one for me), a compact involves less front shifting, not more. Which one is superior depends primarily on fitness level, terrain, and purpose.
You basically counterdict yourself. People choose compacts because of the larger differential in gear inches...they need the smaller ring. You didn't use your small ring. You would be better served to run only one 50t ring...lol. Where is that dude that runs just one ring in front?
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Old 05-28-13, 09:43 AM   #258
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. I have ridden in Florida with their notorious high winds and its pretty easy to spin out down wind in a paceline even without a mild downhill grade.
Agreed that gearing choices are inherently personal. But if you're spinning out on a compact in Florida, you may want to work on cadence.

I race Cat 3 in Florida. My current set up is 50/34 and 11/23. I never feel like I need more gear. That gets you to 36 mph at 100 RPM, which is my preferred cadence when you're flying, and 43mph in a sprint at 120 rpm ( a speed I cn only sprint at in rare circumstances)

Admittedly, I didn't spec the compact for Florida, and will likely go to a 52/36 when I get around to it. But you don't need the 52 to not spin out.
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Old 05-28-13, 09:49 AM   #259
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Agreed that gearing choices are inherently personal. But if you're spinning out on a compact in Florida, you may want to work on cadence.

I race Cat 3 in Florida. My current set up is 50/34 and 11/23. I never feel like I need more gear. That gets you to 36 mph at 100 RPM, which is my preferred cadence when you're flying, and 43mph in a sprint at 120 rpm ( a speed I cn only sprint at in rare circumstances)

Admittedly, I didn't spec the compact for Florida, and will likely go to a 52/36 when I get around to it. But you don't need the 52 to not spin out.
Merlin, you are a pretty enlightened guy and curious how you ride your 50/34 compact? Do you basically stick to the 50 ring and use the 34 for climbing only? In other words, are you non-plussed by all the fussy shifting with 50/34 in the 18-20mph range?
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Old 05-28-13, 10:08 AM   #260
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Merlin, you are a pretty enlightened guy and curious how you ride your 50/34 compact? Do you basically stick to the 50 ring and use the 34 for climbing only? In other words, are you non-plussed by all the fussy shifting with 50/34 in the 18-20mph range?
Unless its a recovery ride, I'm almost always on the 50.

I spec'd the bike specifically for the US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado last year, with tons of climbing.

For just Florida, I'd go with a conventional crank.

My plan was to swap rings on the compact to 52/36 for around here.

But I haven't found the 50/34 setup to be enough of an issue to bother changing to the 52/36.
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Old 05-28-13, 10:36 AM   #261
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Unless its a recovery ride, I'm almost always on the 50.

I spec'd the bike specifically for the US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado last year, with tons of climbing.

For just Florida, I'd go with a conventional crank.

My plan was to swap rings on the compact to 52/36 for around here.

But I haven't found the 50/34 setup to be enough of an issue to bother changing to the 52/36.
I see...thanks. Its probably your strength that allows living on the 50t to not be an issue. For me, I found myself X-chaining too much with the 34t inner ring and gearing just a bit too tall for general flat riding on the 50t. If in a more aggressive riding mode, no problem staying on the 50t but I don't always ride like that.
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Old 05-29-13, 08:15 PM   #262
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. A couple years ago, I had a Rival shifter break off in my hand which sucked because it was windy, dark, and rainy and I had a long way to go. But that was poor design on SRAM's part
Hi Ban, Likely you already know that SRAM will replace your brifter with the newer model that has the beefier paddle carrier - the part with the pawls on it - that broke at the lil' skinny part. Mine was over a year out of warranty; they replaced both, and it was 2nd time on the right/rear, no questions asked. I recommend cleaning and reassembling with better grease, which isn't terribly difficult. Too bad SRAM doesn't offer parts, that's a drawback.
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Old 05-29-13, 08:53 PM   #263
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50/39 with an 11-28 cassette works great here in MN. There are some 18-22% grade hills, but they're only 800 ft max, usually much less.
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Old 05-30-13, 09:31 AM   #264
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I see...thanks. Its probably your strength that allows living on the 50t to not be an issue. For me, I found myself X-chaining too much with the 34t inner ring and gearing just a bit too tall for general flat riding on the 50t. If in a more aggressive riding mode, no problem staying on the 50t but I don't always ride like that.
This sums it up nicely. Yesterday I rode two of my bikes; one with the 52/42/30 triple and the other with the 50/34 compact. 42t is the magic number partially because it is exactly halfway between your compact range. From there, we make compromises.

50 is ok except for speed on downhills.
52 can be too much for flatlanders.
36 just doesn't seem that much better than 34.
39 is too close to 42 depending on your cassette.
52/42 is ideal, except for steep hills and has the same problem as cross ratios - too tight (only 10t).

These are all just my personal opinions.

We all ride differently and on different terrain. We also have different tolerances for things like tight range on the cassette, cross-chaining and whatnot. Good dialogue with no real 'best' answer.
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Old 05-30-13, 10:51 AM   #265
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This sums it up nicely. Yesterday I rode two of my bikes; one with the 52/42/30 triple and the other with the 50/34 compact. 42t is the magic number partially because it is exactly halfway between your compact range. From there, we make compromises.

50 is ok except for speed on downhills.
52 can be too much for flatlanders.
36 just doesn't seem that much better than 34.
39 is too close to 42 depending on your cassette.
52/42 is ideal, except for steep hills and has the same problem as cross ratios - too tight (only 10t).

These are all just my personal opinions.

We all ride differently and on different terrain. We also have different tolerances for things like tight range on the cassette, cross-chaining and whatnot. Good dialogue with no real 'best' answer.
A good review. Since you like the 52 42...and who doesn't, except for no short climbing gear inches, you basically describe a triple without the granny ring. If a lot of elevation, I like a triple. With less vertical, I like 50/38 and a wide range cassette to deal with long medium hills late in a long ride. Some diss triples for clunky shifting but my experience is the opposite. Since the 42t middle ring is ideal for most riding as you mention, I find one front shift up or down depending on what you need. Pretty hard to beat really.
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Old 05-30-13, 11:44 AM   #266
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Very good,long lived, thread and actually civil the entire time. I am in Florida so take my set up with that pound of salt. I use a 50/36 SRAM compact with an 11-26 on back, bike is a CAAD 10 4. With the relatively flat terrain I am never looking for anything lower, rarely much on the low end of the small ring for that fact. I am an old guy so not looking at keeping a cadence like some are able to spin or racing at all anymore. I rode Road Doubles all my life, save a triple on my old R500 that I swapped out for a standard, and they were fine in this area. I've seen the "mid-compact" with 52-36 or 34 on a few bikes and thought about swapping my 50 for the 52, the hills here would not be a challenge with this, even for my level of fitness, so I would say that switching to the compact 50/34 has suited me just fine, to answer the OP from Campag. Thanks for all the information in this thread, it gives you something to think about and to compare in my mind.

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Old 05-30-13, 11:48 AM   #267
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All this is very confusing...I cant decide which way to go. Seems like there isnt enough difference between a 36 (which I have) and a 34 when coupled with a 12-28. I have a 52 and was going to go back to a 50 and all I think I'll really gain from that is a little easier gearing on small to medium grades and a loss of overall speed. It might cut my quads some slack though....
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Old 05-30-13, 11:56 AM   #268
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All this is very confusing...I cant decide which way to go. Seems like there isnt enough difference between a 36 (which I have) and a 34 when coupled with a 12-28. I have a 52 and was going to go back to a 50 and all I think I'll really gain from that is a little easier gearing on small to medium grades and a loss of overall speed. It might cut my quads some slack though....
I would say there is a huge difference between a 34 and 36 for the strong recreational rider. 3 major things:
1. The 34x13 maxes out around 24.5 mph@120rpm. The 36x13 gets you to 26mph.
2. At 90rpm, the 34x13 is only going 19mph, while the 36x13 gets you up to 20mph, the magical flat cruising speed for most recreational cyclists.
3. Shifts between the big and small ring usually require 1 less shift, for the 34 often times you need 2-3 shifts to get a similar gear, while with the 36t you only need 1-2.
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Old 05-30-13, 12:02 PM   #269
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Why would I ride in the 34x13? If Im in the 13 cog ill be in the big ring. 34 or 36 Ill be in the lower cogs.
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Old 05-30-13, 12:12 PM   #270
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Why would I ride in the 34x13? If Im in the 13 cog ill be in the big ring. 34 or 36 Ill be in the lower cogs.
The point is that controls how fast you can go in the small ring without cross-chaining and thus before you need to shift the front. I go the other way: I use the 50t for the bulk of my work and only drop to my 36t for climbs I can't do in 50x24. That usually doesn't happen on tri courses but certainly does on training.
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Old 05-30-13, 12:13 PM   #271
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All this is very confusing...I cant decide which way to go. Seems like there isnt enough difference between a 36 (which I have) and a 34 when coupled with a 12-28. I have a 52 and was going to go back to a 50 and all I think I'll really gain from that is a little easier gearing on small to medium grades and a loss of overall speed. It might cut my quads some slack though....
Not addressing your point about 36t chainrings, but they have the advantage that, when paired with a 50t large ring, the 14t difference makes for nicer front shifting.
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Old 05-30-13, 12:29 PM   #272
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50/36 is my favorite crankset combo, with an 11-25 on the back. (11-23 on really flat areas.)

Why?

Less gap in front.

50-11 is PLENTY tall combo for me to push (I think I finally "spun out" at about 42mph on a downhill the other day).

36-25 gives me enough to climb most things.

A "standard" double would require me to upsize my cassette (increasing the jump-size in back), and 52-11 is really getting ridiculous for mere mortals anyway.
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Old 05-30-13, 12:58 PM   #273
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Not only do I like 50/34 I have 11-32 in the back. Love Sram Apex. You can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting some major hills.
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Old 05-30-13, 01:00 PM   #274
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Thanks Bah....Im not a gearing expert.
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Old 05-30-13, 01:01 PM   #275
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Why would I ride in the 34x13? If Im in the 13 cog ill be in the big ring. 34 or 36 Ill be in the lower cogs.
So you don't ever use any of the overlap between your rings? Its not always convenient to shift the front and the rear to get that one higher gear you need. Arbitrarily limiting yourself to like 16 out of your 20 gears seems silly. There is only 2 gears I don't use regularly. 36x12 and 50x27. Everything else is fair game.
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