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Old 06-13-13, 06:26 AM
  #11  
tsl
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
If you need low gears a triple is much the better solution, in my opinion. You can get the range with a compact plus a big cassette, of course, but the price you pay is big steps between the gears. The triple allows you to have the range and retain nice tight ratios, which makes for a much more pleasing and, to a degree, more efficient riding experience.

Plus, with the typical 50/39/30 triple you'll find yourself using the 50/39 rings most of the time, and that's a nicer combination on flatter terrain than is a 50/34 compact. You can always go lower than 30 for the granny ring, too, if you need to.
I agree with you for those of us who are flatlanders (or flat to rolling) with only the occasional long or steep hill. The OP lives in San Francisco (or thereabouts as I recall) so close-ratio flatlander cassettes don't carry the same benefit.

My two commuters run triples with 12-23s in back. The 12-27 goes on when the studded snow tires do. When it came time to add club ride bikes to the stable, I went with standards on the front and 12-23s out back. I own a compact and 12-27 for those bikes and swap them on as conditions warrant. But with my flatlander legs, that's not always enough.

The ride this past weekend included one hill, 750 feet in about a mile, for a 13-14% average grade. I stopped after the first third to let my heart rate settle, rode some more, then walked the last third because I couldn't keep my heart rate down. The rest of the ride was flat to gently rolling and the compact and 12-27 were a real pain for that, since my usual power output puts me cross-chained in either ring. Next time I do that ride, I'm taking a triple.

For the OP, a compact and 11-30 will probably be the cat's meow. Me? I'd curse it with every shift.
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