I am riding a compact double crankset with 50-34 chainrings, which seems to be the normal road replacement for a road triple. I have an 11-32 cassette in back. I live in a mountainous, and more importantly, a windy area, and find that the 34 is not low enough for uphill-into the wind climbs. Add any load to the bike, and considering I am a Clydesdale, I need a lower option. I rarely spin out the 50x11 or -12, or even -13, unless downhill. I spend most time in my 50, but usually in the middle or bigger cogs on my cassette. Loaded I will never be able to push existing gearing up hills into the wind, at least not without losing 50 pounds or adding an engine.
I checked my gear inch charts and ran a few scenarios, and believe that a 48-32 or even 46-30 chainring set would serve me well and make better use of my smaller rear cogs. Is this a possible setup? I am using a SRAM Apex 50-34, and would like to just swap chainrings. But I am wondering if I will need new arms and bottom bracket, too. Any suggestions, experiences, or (dare I say) opinions out there? I see that SRAM offers a 42-28 mountain double, maybe that is an option? Thoughts?