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  1. #1
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Who really likes 50-34?

    Been an awful spring for training/riding in the Midwest and my miles are way down for mid May. Kept my weight decent over the winter but didn't do a lot of cardio...rather some light weight training. I don't seem to lose a lot of cardio for some reason over the winter though. Have only done three to four 40-50 mile rides this season and did my first century over the weekend. Went well and was pretty happy with my fitness all considered but admit at mile 80 when the road was pointing up for what seemed to be long stretches, it was quite a test in and out of the saddle. I ride 50-38 with 25-12 cassette...in other words a Campy 50/34 compact but with 38t inner ring pasted on. I could make it up the hills that were killing my buddies with full size cranks with tired legs but would have been even better with 34t inner ring for a bit more spin/RPM. So considering giving the 50/34 combo another go. Stuff I normally ride doesn't need it and long miles as you guys know changes things. . On a long ride quads can get a bit crampy late into a ride when another hill presents itself. I never really like the 50/34 big gulf in gear inches in front...but maybe it is my riding technique....need to learn to hang out more on the 50t ring and use the 34t more for bail out. I think at the end of the day for needing short climbing gear inches, I may still prefer a triple because of the nice close gear spacing versus the 50/34, but would have to change my Campy short cage derailleur if I switched to a triple crank.

    Opinions on 50/34 compacts? Believe I will put the 34t back on as an experiment.

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    Where I ride and at my age I really like the 50/34 combination. I moved to it last year from a standard crankset in preparation for a century ride. I liked it enough that when I ordered my new 9000 group that I stuck with it. Like you mentioned I spend most of my time in the 50 and then use the 34 for more bail out type stuff but I ramp back up to the 50 while using a full spread of gears in the 34. With interchangeability no longer being a problem I may try a 52/36 combo as well. There are times when I drop from the 50 to the 34 and have to up shift 3 cogs where I find the spread may be a little high.

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    Throw the stick!!!! LowCel's Avatar
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    I am very happy with my 50/34. I still think had I put my pride aside and switched to a compact a few years ago I could have avoided my four knee surgeries.
    I may be fat but I'm slow enough to make up for it.

  4. #4
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    50/34 is great in hilly areas. You're either going up or down so the gap in the middle is no big deal. In fact, the mid range gets in the way.

    However, I don't think it's such a great combo for places where there is not so much climbing because a moderate headwind puts you in a situation where the big ring is too big and the small ring is too small. For flatter terrain, I think most recreational cyclists would be far better served with a 46/36. You'll can stay in the middle of 46 most of the time and the 36 gives a nice low end with plenty of overlapping gear ratios. Those needing a bit lower could drop to a 34 without having such a massive gap as with the 50T.

    Everyone seems to be obsessed with spinning out. In a 46-11 combo, this doesn't happen until 40mph -- hardly a problem for most people. Meanwhile, they don't take care of the low end.

    One thing I don't understand is why so many people run 12/25's and 11/23's with compacts. Because of the huge gap between the rings, a wider cassette is called for. A 12/27 or 11/26 make a lot more sense because it increases overlap and improves the low end without changing spacing between the gears that get used the most.

  5. #5
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    I rode a 50/34 for a lot of miles here in eastern Massachusetts. It's certainly not "flat", but it's not one of the hilliest areas either. Just sort of constantly rolling.

    I found I was cross-chaining a lot with a 50/34. I don't have the legs to turn the 50+mid-range on the cassette for long (because the next "up" is never very far away) but I didn't need the low gears on the 34 either to get up it.

    So last year I switched over to 36/46 12/25. For me, it works better in terms of the shifting patterns. I can still pedal up to ~35mph in a 46x12, which is plenty fast for a non-racer like me. 36x25 gearing gets me up everything in New England. Sometimes I wish there was a "one lower gear", but I've learned that you can always find a hill that will make you wish that you had "one lower gear".
    "There is more to life than increasing its speed" -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    RT
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    50/34 is great in hilly areas. You're either going up or down so the gap in the middle is no big deal. In fact, the mid range gets in the way.
    This is not my experience, at least it is not now.

    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    However, I don't think it's such a great combo for places where there is not so much climbing because a moderate headwind puts you in a situation where the big ring is too big and the small ring is too small.
    This is my experience.



    I have ridden the compact for a while now and with improvement in strength and endurance have found that my sweet spot has moved, unfortunately, to a place where more shifting is involved.

    With a climbing cassette (12-30), it is better for me to almost cross-chain on the big ring and the top of the cassette (which I do not like to do) as the jumps at the end are bigger. If I am small up front and on the speedy end of the cassette, the shifting benefit is not as significant. There is no 'flat' here, so hills cause the bike to perpetually be at or near a whole lot of shifting up front.

    All that being said, I miss the 52 on the downhills - two teeth up front is noticeable enough. My other two rigs have standard triples, which I have been favoring more and more. The 42t ring works great with a standard 12-25, and the 30t bail out ring is great for the steep climbs. Around town I find myself 80% of the time in the 42t ring and can use the entire cassette without threat of cross-chaining.
    Last edited by RT; 05-21-13 at 06:33 AM.

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    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    50/34 is great in hilly areas. You're either going up or down so the gap in the middle is no big deal. In fact, the mid range gets in the way.

    However, I don't think it's such a great combo for places where there is not so much climbing because a moderate headwind puts you in a situation where the big ring is too big and the small ring is too small. For flatter terrain, I think most recreational cyclists would be far better served with a 46/36. You'll can stay in the middle of 46 most of the time and the 36 gives a nice low end with plenty of overlapping gear ratios. Those needing a bit lower could drop to a 34 without having such a massive gap as with the 50T.

    Everyone seems to be obsessed with spinning out. In a 46-11 combo, this doesn't happen until 40mph -- hardly a problem for most people. Meanwhile, they don't take care of the low end.

    One thing I don't understand is why so many people run 12/25's and 11/23's with compacts. Because of the huge gap between the rings, a wider cassette is called for. A 12/27 or 11/26 make a lot more sense because it increases overlap and improves the low end without changing spacing between the gears that get used the most.
    Thanks for the validation guys...it is likely a bit more my technique I suppose than the compact. And LowCel, the manliness factor to me is complete BS and I could care less. Its all about the performance out on the road. I was dropping my friends with full size cranks and waiting for them at the top. There isn't much difference between them and me in overall riding or manliness...lol. Gearing helps and yes, I am into preserving my knees as well.

    And Banerjek...many good points. I don't know about your assertion relative to the cassette being even more widely spaced...I guess a matter of philosophy...as I like as small and tight a rear cassette as possible to tune cadence...but an astute point about increase gear overlap between large chainring spacing of a compact. Decisions.

    Thanks guys.

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    Throw the stick!!!! LowCel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
    Thanks for the validation guys...it is likely a bit more my technique I suppose than the compact. And LowCel, the manliness factor to me is complete BS and I could care less. Its all about the performance out on the road. I was dropping my friends with full size cranks and waiting for them at the top. There isn't much difference between them and me in overall riding or manliness...lol. Gearing helps and yes, I am into preserving my knees as well.

    And Banerjek...many good points. I don't know about your assertion relative to the cassette being even more widely spaced...I guess a matter of philosophy...as I like as small and tight a rear cassette as possible to tune cadence...but an astute point about increase gear overlap between large chainring spacing of a compact. Decisions.

    Thanks guys.
    I apologize if it seemed like I was saying that you weren't switching due to your "manliness", I was just stating that it had an effect on me. I was younger and dumber than I am now, hard to believe the latter is possible.
    I may be fat but I'm slow enough to make up for it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Will G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    50/34 is great in hilly areas. You're either going up or down so the gap in the middle is no big deal. In fact, the mid range gets in the way.

    However, I don't think it's such a great combo for places where there is not so much climbing because a moderate headwind puts you in a situation where the big ring is too big and the small ring is too small. For flatter terrain, I think most recreational cyclists would be far better served with a 46/36. You'll can stay in the middle of 46 most of the time and the 36 gives a nice low end with plenty of overlapping gear ratios. Those needing a bit lower could drop to a 34 without having such a massive gap as with the 50T.
    Where were you with this great information a couple years ago?? I took my bike with a 50/34 23-11 setup to Florida. I was on either end of the cassette the whole time. Drove me nuts.
    Flying a jet is no different than riding a bicycle. It's just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.

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    I like the 50/34 in early spring and late autumn when we typically have winds of 15-25 mph and I'm either spooling my fitness up or kind of winding it down.

    For summer riding, I prefer a 39 as my do-most gear. If I had a dream gearset it might be a 48/39, though 48 just isn't quite enough for those rare but really fantastic conditions with a really long gentle descent and a stupendous tailwind -- I like to be able to keep around 90 rpm and just fly and the 50 or 52 is necessary for that.

    I am partial to the gearing of my Ultegra triple (52/39/30 with 11/28) but am giving a 52/36 with 11/26 a shot on my 110bcd crank to see if I like it any better than 50/34 as my fitness hits midseason form. I expect to spend most of my time in the big ring on the less windy days out here in the flatlands because 36 isn't quite tall enough. Maybe a 52/39 110BCD chainring set would be perfect for that bike.
    Last edited by svtmike; 05-21-13 at 06:47 AM.

  11. #11
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RT View Post
    This is not my experience, at least it is not now.



    This is my experience.



    I have ridden the compact for a while now and with improvement in strength and endurance have found that my sweet spot has moved, unfortunately, to a place where more shifting is involved.

    With a climbing cassette (12-30), it is better for me to almost cross-chain on the big ring and the top of the cassette (which I do not like to do) as the jumps at the end are bigger. If I am small up front and on the speedy end of the cassette, the shifting benefit is not as significant. There is no 'flat' here, so hills cause the bike to perpetually be at or near a whole lot of shifting up front.

    All that being said, I miss the 52 on the downhills - two teeth up front is noticeable enough. My other two rigs have standard triples, which I have been favoring more and more. The 42t ring works great with a standard 12-25, and the 30t bail out ring is great for the steep climbs. Around town I find myself 80% of the time in the 42t ring and can use the entire cassette without threat of cross-chaining.

    I am more or less with RT here. I run a 50/34 with a 11/28 on one bike and a 12/30 on my second bike. I do often find myself cross chaining in the 50/28. With di2 its not as much of an issues as mech, but still, its not how its designed to work. I do try and force myself to anticipate having to switch and dropping a few cogs in the back and dropping to the 34 before I need it.

    I can say with all the climbing, I dont want to try a standard crankset.
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    I have a standard crankset and find 39 is more than low enough around here (Southern Ontario). I did swap out the 53 to a 50 though and find myself almost never going to the smaller ring anyway....

  13. #13
    RT
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    42t is the new 34t. Cassettes give you a wider range of options when it comes to dialing in your riding style.

    Embrace the triple.

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    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    I tried it for about six months with an 11-26 in the back. I hated it. I could never find a gear combination I liked. I was constantly changing gears. Even when I took it to the mountains, I could not get comfortable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RT View Post
    42t is the new 34t. Cassettes give you a wider range of options when it comes to dialing in your riding style.

    Embrace the triple.
    Now that you mention it that would be an improvement in the gearing of my Ultegra triple.

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    50/34 and similar compact setups are really meant to solve a specific problem, getting up that hill that is just a little bit too tough for you on a 53/39. Just because they are showing up on every mid-level and lower bike sold today doesn't mean that is what they are best for or are even needed by most folks. So the first consideration in "liking" the 50/34 is do you need it? Will it help you? If yes, keep reading, if not forget about it.

    So now you have a tool for easier climbing on slopes that would normally defeat you. How to use it? My thinking is that most people shift the FD way too much. My philosophy is that with 10 or 11 cogs in the rear, one front ring is for riding almost always, and the other is for solving a problem or difficult situation. So pick the ring that does the most for you and stay on it. If that is the big ring, then just use the small one for monster head winds and those big climbs. If you like the small ring better for most of your riding, then just use the big one for...um...uh...well maybe big tail winds or when riding with a faster than normal group and you need the top end room. The former case is more likely, riding the 50 front unless you see Pike's Peak up ahead.

    IMO you will like the compact crank a lot better if you are not shifting back and forth. Unless you are on a medium length rear derailleur like SRAM WiFli with a 32 tooth largest rear cog, your cassette shouldn't be much different than you would have on a 39/53. Maybe you will go one cog lower to let you stay mostly on the big ring and to give you even more climbing capability. So instead of an 11 or 12/25, you might have an 11/28. That is not so bad.

    Bottom line is, if you need it, then take advantage of it. If you don't, don't.

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    I think 50/34 is appropriate for most people...I think 50/34 should be "standard". And 53/39 for strong riders/racers and real flatlanders.

  18. #18
    RT
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
    50/34 and similar compact setups are really meant to solve a specific problem, getting up that hill that is just a little bit too tough for you on a 53/39. Just because they are showing up on every mid-level and lower bike sold today doesn't mean that is what they are best for or are even needed by most folks. So the first consideration in "liking" the 50/34 is do you need it? Will it help you? If yes, keep reading, if not forget about it.

    So now you have a tool for easier climbing on slopes that would normally defeat you. How to use it? My thinking is that most people shift the FD way too much. My philosophy is that with 10 or 11 cogs in the rear, one front ring is for riding almost always, and the other is for solving a problem or difficult situation. So pick the ring that does the most for you and stay on it. If that is the big ring, then just use the small one for monster head winds and those big climbs. If you like the small ring better for most of your riding, then just use the big one for...um...uh...well maybe big tail winds or when riding with a faster than normal group and you need the top end room. The former case is more likely, riding the 50 front unless you see Pike's Peak up ahead.

    IMO you will like the compact crank a lot better if you are not shifting back and forth. Unless you are on a medium length rear derailleur like SRAM WiFli with a 32 tooth largest rear cog, your cassette shouldn't be much different than you would have on a 39/53. Maybe you will go one cog lower to let you stay mostly on the big ring and to give you even more climbing capability. So instead of an 11 or 12/25, you might have an 11/28. That is not so bad.

    Bottom line is, if you need it, then take advantage of it. If you don't, don't.

    Robert
    Agree with all of this for the most part, but assuming 10 or 11 at the back really is moot. What is important, be it 7, 8, 9 or higher, is the range. Everyone has a different tolerance for cog jumps, but a 50/34 paired with an 11-23 is much different than a 12-30 on the same crank. I prefer 8 and 9 speeds as I don't mind the slightly larger jumps in between cogs.

  19. #19
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    what about these "mid-compacts"??? 52/36 i believe, how well do they fit in to this conversation?
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    I love the set up and am not sure what is meant by there are no mid range gears. I have a 10spd 11-28 on the back 50 34 up front. when changing the front I click 2 either up or down on the back depending on which way I am going. I find it has plenty of top end plenty of low end and lots of choice in between.

    While I am not stellar at I do some climbing and during some climbs I have dreamed of a quad I have not found the low end to be lacking to get me through some tough climbs
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    Senior Member Nick Bain's Avatar
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    50/34 AKA defered success gearing, makes you weaker. When I do early season rides, the compact crowd is faster, but when the pace picks up in summer I am blowing the group away.
    Quote Originally Posted by toddles View Post
    Nick, I don't necessarily like agreeing with you -- but your spot on.

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    I find 50/34 to be perfect for me. I run a 12/27 (Campy, 11sp) in back. I tend toward a very high cadence or 115 on the flats, and even keep it high on the hills. The only time I get dropped on a down is when the speed tops 46, that's about where I spin out. This gear range really does suit me well and keeps my knees happy.
    -------

    Some sort of pithy irrelevant one-liner should go here.

  23. #23
    Throw the stick!!!! LowCel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoelS View Post
    I find 50/34 to be perfect for me. I run a 12/27 (Campy, 11sp) in back. I tend toward a very high cadence or 115 on the flats, and even keep it high on the hills. The only time I get dropped on a down is when the speed tops 46, that's about where I spin out. This gear range really does suit me well and keeps my knees happy.
    Holy crap that's a high cadence!!!
    I may be fat but I'm slow enough to make up for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LowCel View Post
    Holy crap that's a high cadence!!!
    kinda what I was thinking. at 115 my technique would be so poor I would probably bounce myself right off the bike!!!
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    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LowCel View Post
    I apologize if it seemed like I was saying that you weren't switching due to your "manliness", I was just stating that it had an effect on me. I was younger and dumber than I am now, hard to believe the latter is possible.
    It is me who should apologize. Poor choice of words on my part. I understood the tone of your original comment. I should have written, I agree with you...to me the maniless thing is irrelevant. Besides, I would never win a cage fight anyway...lol. Besides, I like being a bit of a sleeper. A compact is perfect. Cheers brother.

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