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  1. #1
    Eat. Lift. Ride. Drink. Sinfield's Avatar
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    Compact cranks for touring?

    Just wanted to pop in with a quick question for you all.
    I'm slowly collecting parts for my ultimate mutant bike (cyclocross frame w/ rack braze on's) that I'll be able to ride on fire roads, commute on, hit up spirited road rides, and also tour on in a year or so (A friend and I are going to do the east coast of australia) and as I sit around perusing component choices, I began to wonder about a crankset.

    Compacts seem to be all the rage in the road world because they give you most(all?) the gearing choices that a road triple does with the added benefit of being lighter weight and in many cases crisper shifting. My question is, would a compact be worth it for touring, or do triples tend to work better. I realize that a big part of the equation is cassette selection. This bike is going to be my all around bike, and will most likely replace both my dedicated road bike and maybe my xc mountain bike. I like the idea of lighter weight wherever possible to help make up for some of the other components that will out of necessity be heavier (possibly going with disc brakes) but I want to find out whether I'd be shooting myself in the foot in regards to a future tour. Thanks.

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    I'd like to know as well if anyone has input. I'm considering buying a Specialized Tricross which has a 48x36 up front. It comes with a 12-25 in the rear that I'd probably replace with a 12-32 or 34. I am only going to be doing credit card touring for now as thats all I can convince the wife into. What does everyone think.

    I'm not going to be in the mountains as some of you guys/gals do. Probably only shorter trips around here(Dallas,TX) which is pretty flat so I'm hoping this should be sufficient enough.

    Sinfield, sorry to interrupt your thread.

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    Assuming you'll be doing quite a bit fully-loaded touring on dirt roads (in Aus) then you'll almost certainly need a triple with something like a 22 or 26 smallest front chainring. That ring should also be steel - adds to weight, but will last much longer than an alu ring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tajsss
    I'd like to know as well if anyone has input. I'm considering buying a Specialized Tricross which has a 48x36 up front. It comes with a 12-25 in the rear that I'd probably replace with a 12-32 or 34. I am only going to be doing credit card touring for now as thats all I can convince the wife into. What does everyone think.
    <snip>
    I bought a Specialized Tricross. It actually comes with a 48x34. I swapped the cassette for an 11-28 to make it a little easier to get up the hills on the trails. I live in a hilly area and a 34x25 low gear is low enough for any paved road I can find around here. To put a cassette with a 32 or 34 tooth cog I think that you'll have to change the rear derailleur. The bike comes with a short cage 105.
    I think that the 34 small ring will work well for credit card touring. Eventually I figure that I'll put a triple on it but I'll wait until I have a fully loaded trip planned.

    By the way, I love the bike. I ride it everywhere, paved roads, dirt roads, trails, etc. I think that it will make a good touring bike also. I'm going to sell my Trek 520 as I like the Tricross much better.

    Jeff

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    Thanks gobes. Thats right, it is a 48x34. I think I already ruled out the cannondale cx bike I rode as it had a 50x36 and I'm trying to change as little as possible. I'm still young and in good shape so I'm thinking a 34x34 or 34x32 low gear should be fine for what hills are around here with a cc tour load. I will have my wife to share the load as well so I'm hoping it will be ok. I have shopped around and done some comparing and it seems the tricross has some of the longer chainstays for clearance and it was mighty comfortable when I test rode one. I do know about the rear derailleur, but the shop I'm dealing with says it will only cost me the parts when I buy the bike and labor is free. I figure cost should be about the same say with an LX derailleur or so.

    I really appreciate the response. I'm glad you are liking the bike and am looking forward to buying one myself soon.

    Sinfield, sorry to hijack your thread again. We're kinda after the same answers though so hopefully this helps you a little too.

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    I've got a single speed, an internally geared three speed, a six speed with a road double, a touring triple eight speed with 24-36-48 chainrings, a road triple with 30-40-50 chainrings and a compact crankset with, I think 50-34. My least favorite is the compact.

    The reason is that the shift point between the chainrings seems to be right in the middle of the most used gears so I'm constantly shifting in the front. It's way too much fiddling with gears. Furthermore, they are notorious for chain rub on the inside of the big ring when in the small ring reducing usable gearing even more. And you can't even trim it out with a friction front shifter.

    I'm convinced the real reason compacts are so popular on road bikes is purely cosmetic. People who need lower gears can get a compact and not have to fear the "stigma" of having a double.

  7. #7
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    go for a triple
    I toured last year on a Felt f-65
    Nice bike, but it's a road/performance lycra speedster bike (I was romanced by the great closeout price and the cachet of Ultegra and 'under 20 pounds' and CF forks. it was not quite a compact but by the end of the week of riding, I was half shot. The hills were a chore that I gladly accepted, but over the long haul, a triple with a few hill gears woulda made the whole deal more fun.

    I now have a Jamis Aurora from a few years back with a nice granny gear and it's sweet to drop that baby on the steep hills and just spin easy

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    It all really comes down to gear inches and what gearing you really need on your bike. A compact double crank, with 48/34 or 50/34 chainring,. and a MTB cassette (11-34) would have a low gear of 34X34 (27 gear inches) and a high of 48X11 (117 gear inches). Most cyclists should find that range very useful for everyday riding or light touring (carrying under 25 lbs or so).

    For loaded touring, some cyclists might want a 3rd chainring (a 28-24T) for lower gears.

    Lucky for us, there are lots of old MTB 110 BCD cranks that can be used for either a compact double or touring triple. Read Sheldon Brown's wesite and consult your LBS for the nitty gritty.

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    The above sums it up pretty well.

    I built an identical CX/Touring bike with 50/34 and 32-11 in the back and couldn't be happier. I'm used to road double gearing and I find the setup ideal for light off-roading, light-to-medium touring, and just every day riding. I love the gear range and I've yet to find a hill my 34x30 can't get me up even with a load.

    It really depends on whether you like to shift the front derailleur often or not. I just stay in my 50 until I need to climb something serious. With the MTB cassette, I never need the small ring when riding unloaded in this area. I you do like shifitng it often, the triple does provide more useable gears and if you're doin heavy touring, you're going to need them all.

  10. #10
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    i changed the crank on my trek 520 from the stock 105sc triple with 42/42/30 to an LX one with 44/32/22 ... this gives me lower gears for the hills when fully loaded, and i have used them quite often ...

    when i built up my nomad, i went for an XT crankset 44/32/22 which works great ...

    how often are you gonna use really high gears when fully laden??? going down hills ... i coast and give the legs a break ...

    do i miss not having high gears on the trek or my nomad ... nope, when i want to go fast i use my racing bike or my recumbent, for touring and general rides, i just cruise and i don't think i have ever used the top gears on either of the bikes yet ...
    thought for today: "Does my ass look fast on this bike?"

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    Thanks for all the advice guys. I know I'm not the OP but I was interested to. I'm looking for an all-around kinda bike that I know will see credit card touring. I'm interested in getting something that will require the least amount of changes and satisfy my other needs of a fast commuter. The compact crank on the tricross with a new rear derailleur and mountain cassette looks like it will serve me well.

    I'm still looking for a Volpe to test ride as I really like it, just not sure if I'm going to like a steel frame. I have always ridden aluminum and really like the stiffness. I'm scared I'm going to hate steel once its loaded. If I can ever find one in a store to test ride I'll be ready to make a decision I think.

  12. #12
    Eat. Lift. Ride. Drink. Sinfield's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies guys. Sounds like a triple is definitely the way to go w/ this build. I didn't even consider the whole having to shift back and forth between the two rings on the compact as a factor but now that you mention it, I could see that getting very annoying. I think I'll probably go with a road triple since this will most likely become my full time all around road bike and I still want to have some speed while riding it unloaded. I may live to regret not going with a mountain triple when I'm struggling up the Blue Mountains fully loaded, but hey, experiences like that build character right? right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinfield
    I may live to regret not going with a mountain triple when I'm struggling up the Blue Mountains fully loaded, but hey, experiences like that build character right? right?
    If you get a 110 BCD crankset, you'll pretty much be covered on both ends with 48/36/24. No sense limiting yourself to a road triple. A 48-11 should give you enough top end.
    Last edited by roadfix; 04-17-06 at 07:08 PM.
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  14. #14
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinfield
    Just wanted to pop in with a quick question for you all.
    I'm slowly collecting parts for my ultimate mutant bike (cyclocross frame w/ rack braze on's) that I'll be able to ride on fire roads, commute on, hit up spirited road rides, and also tour on in a year or so (A friend and I are going to do the east coast of australia)

    Why go mutant when you can get a Specialized Tricross Comp? It's got the compact crank you're looking for (actually it is 48x34). It's got all the braze-ons for fenders, front and rear racks and even 3rd bottle bosses! And it'll fit tires up to 38c.

    As for the compact crank question, I think it'll be fine for credit card/light touring, but for fully loaded touring, I think a triple would be best.

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    Eat. Lift. Ride. Drink. Sinfield's Avatar
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    I actually really like the tricross pro. But my wallet likes the idea of building up a bike a little more. With my proposed build the total cost should be just under 800 bucks and have some pretty decent components on it. I kinda buy parts for it when I've got extra cash and when I find a good deal. I also like building bikes.

  16. #16
    Senior Member TimArchy's Avatar
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    A slight bump on this thread...
    As I was reading I was thinking that having a compact with a 46 or 48 big ring would allow one to use the big ring almost exclusively until a big climb came about. But that would be best if you could use the big ring with the entire cass range, something possible but not the best idea for the chainline provided by a standard double (especially with 8spd or greater cassettes where the bend in the chain in the big big position can put undue stree/wear on the chain and cassette).
    What would happen if you used the middle and inside positions on a triple crank as a compact double. This would put the large ring in the exact middle of the cassette and give equal access to the entire range. Then, when needed, the inside ring and the larger cogs would give the gears neccessary to get you over the passes.
    And, since a compact double gives you up to a 16 tooth gear difference, you could run a 46/30, or something close, With a 11-27 road cassette, allowing you to use a med cage road der for better shifting and closer spacing on the cogs. I wonder if a mtb front der could throw a 20 tooth difference, then I could have a 47/12 combo up front?
    I guess what I'm loking for is a way to have the shifting performance of a double crank while getting the most useful range for touring. I figured, after some minimal experiance, that I won't ever really need a 50 or 52 x anything. and having something close to a 1-1 would be as low as I would really need (if I'm carrying more than 30lb I'm doing something wrong).
    This is just my bored brainstorming as I sit on the computer as the rest of my family watches some ball game on TV after eating copious ammounts of dead animals. Is it thanksgiving again already?

    Kyle
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    I will derive power from their cries of despair. My crank a speedy dervish, spinning and spinning through the darkest night that anyone with the audacity to try and suck my wheel will ever see...

  17. #17
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    I carry a fairly light load (two large rear panniers) and tent on rear rack, but I camp and I carry a lot of foul/cold weather gear. On a recent tour in the mountains I only used my granny twice and if I didn't mind walking a short stretch each time I could have gotten away with my middle ring 38 x 34 on my cassette. I don't mind the weight of my extra chain ring and with 4 panniers I would need it in the mtns, but I don't plan on carrying 4 panniers anytime soon!
    safe riding - Vik
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    Hi TimArchy,

    it's the bottom bracket spindle that determines your chainline. Use a shorter spindle for a double to keep the chain straighter.

    a 16 tooth jump is huge--- it's hard to get a bigger jump to work without tossing off the chain. I try to keep the chainrings 14 apart at the very most, 12 is even better.

    Just find some 110 BDC crankarms (you can buy them without chainrings) pick your gearing (34X46 or 34X48) assemble your crankset, get ready to ride!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinfield
    Thanks for all the replies guys. Sounds like a triple is definitely the way to go w/ this build. I didn't even consider the whole having to shift back and forth between the two rings on the compact as a factor but now that you mention it, I could see that getting very annoying. I think I'll probably go with a road triple since this will most likely become my full time all around road bike and I still want to have some speed while riding it unloaded. I may live to regret not going with a mountain triple when I'm struggling up the Blue Mountains fully loaded, but hey, experiences like that build character right? right?
    As someone whose home country is Australia, I think you should go the MTB triple. Your road triple might build character, but it could bust your knees. If you are doing the east coast, the corridor between the coast and the Great Dividing Range is not that big, especially taking into account the main arterial roads. I definitely feel that the grades in the Great Dividing Range generally are steeper and more relenting that just about anything I have come across in the Canadian Rockies; some of the hills in Vermont/NH/NY come closer. If you're in pdx, then you can probably check out those, fully loaded, on a weekend trip, just to see.

    The rivers also flow to the coast with often substantial valleys. Unless you are a superman, I cannot conceive anyone using the big ring/small cog on a road triple to maximum effect with a load except going downhill. I run out at 110 cadence on my 44-11 combination around 45-48km/h, at around 120 cadence it's 51-52km/h. Why go any faster... and if you did, you wouldn't be doing for long.

    My feeling is the 24-36-48 with a 32-11 cogset might be the best for your parameters, rather than the super-low 22-32-44 with 34-11 or 32-11.

    I note that you are touring with your partner. Just bear this in mind... speed is not everything when touring. And you haven't mentioned a word about what set-up she might run with, which I think might be a good thing to bring into the equation, because your lower gear range might equalise the speed differences between you (unless she already whips ya butt! )
    Last edited by Rowan; 11-23-06 at 06:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    As someone whose home country is Australia, I think you should go the MTB triple. Your road triple might build character, but it could bust your knees.
    One thing I like about Aussies is that they've their heads on straight.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    My feeling is the 24-36-48 with a 32-11 cogset might be the best for your parameters, rather than the super-low 22-32-44 with 34-11 or 32-11.
    I like the 48 and only wish that there was a 13-32 9-speed that was readily available. In my opinion you cannot really tour without a 24 ring.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    I note that you are touring with your partner. Just bear this in mind... speed is not everything when touring. And you haven't mentioned a word about what set-up she might run with, which I think might be a good thing to bring into the equation, because your lower gear range might equalise the speed differences between you (unless she already whips ya butt! )
    Of course I've only toured where there's a reasonable amount of climbing, but endurance has always been my goal and only enough speed to make it in at a reasonable hour. I prefer to trade distance for speed since what you speed past you've never seen. Nevertheless I average over 12 mph most of the time and I consider that pretty good on a fully loaded touring bike.

  21. #21
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinfield
    Just wanted to pop in with a quick question for you all.
    I'm slowly collecting parts for my ultimate mutant bike (cyclocross frame w/ rack braze on's) that I'll be able to ride on fire roads, commute on, hit up spirited road rides, and also tour on in a year or so (A friend and I are going to do the east coast of australia) and as I sit around perusing component choices, I began to wonder about a crankset.

    Compacts seem to be all the rage in the road world because they give you most(all?) the gearing choices that a road triple does with the added benefit of being lighter weight and in many cases crisper shifting. My question is, would a compact be worth it for touring, or do triples tend to work better. I realize that a big part of the equation is cassette selection. This bike is going to be my all around bike, and will most likely replace both my dedicated road bike and maybe my xc mountain bike. I like the idea of lighter weight wherever possible to help make up for some of the other components that will out of necessity be heavier (possibly going with disc brakes) but I want to find out whether I'd be shooting myself in the foot in regards to a future tour. Thanks.
    Compacts are nice. I am planning on getting one for my road bike this winter. With that said, triples have a greater range. Try a Sugino triple crank. They have the 110 BCD. You can get them in 48/36/26 or something like that. A traditional 130 BCD crank is limited in it's gearing. I always like having a 48 or 46 big gear up front. It isn't cool when you hang with your roadie friends but it is practical. Good luck I know you will do well.

    Tim
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    I agree with Rowan on both the realistic use of upper gears when touring, and the wife factor. There are a lot of strong cyclists out there, but anyone who is objecting on cycling grounds (vs. say camping grounds) to loaded touring does not want to follow some a-hole with 50 x 34 chainrings.

    My own feeling is that if you really want to run hard and fast out on the road, that set-up looks more like a tight cluster in the rear topping out at whatever your legs will allow, like maybe 13-26, with 46, 42, 26 in the front. or 46, 36, 26. If you want to go easier on yourself shove in the 14-34. Anything with an 11 in it seems like a wasted opportunity, though maybe I am just having trouble seing it through the other guy's legs. But my feeling is speed comes from having the right gears which means tight ratios, rather than really big gears and big gear jumps.

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    Like cs1, I'm a big Sugino 110 BDC triple fan (46X36X26) with the tradtional square taper bottom bracket (JIS) This is really the crankset to buy. It's cheap, has a long and good performance history.....and most all, it's easy to modify to your personal needs.

    Want a loaded tour bike crank? Use the Sugino triple stock or get a smaller granny ring. Use a MTB rear cassette.

    Want a cross bike crank? Drop the granny ring and run someting like a 46X36 double. Use a road cassette in the rear.

    Want a light touring bike crank? run a 48X34 double and a MTB casette.

    Or maybe a compact road crank? 50x36 + road cassette.

    Whatever gearing you need, you can build it yourself--- and change it if you want.

    It's also possible to buy the Sugino crankarms without chainrings (often as trandem cranks) and pick whatever chainrings you want. There are some problems with BBs and chainline, (113mm and 118m are the magic numbers for your spindle length most of the time, I believe) but this is pretty easy DIY stuff for the most part.

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