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anyone use compact crankset for racing?

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anyone use compact crankset for racing?

Old 10-08-18, 09:33 PM
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spectastic
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anyone use compact crankset for racing?

I'm wondering if anyone has raced on compact craksets, and whether the lower top end has limited them. situations i can imagine are down hill and really fast sprint finishes, which i feel like are few and far in between, but are critical enough to make a big difference in races.
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Old 10-09-18, 09:31 AM
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40mph in 50/11 is 112rpm. 53/11 is 105rpm. For sure most racers could get by just fine with a compact. It's not too big of a difference. I have friends who do it, but it's few a far between. There's not much advantage to gain with a compact in the higher racing categories as the race isn't slow enough to make good use of the 34/28 granny gear.
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Old 10-09-18, 11:29 AM
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The latest Dura Ace crankset can fit 50/34 chain rings. I believe there are riders who use this crankset for racing. My guess is that they (or their mechanic) bolt on the appropriate chain rings for the course.

Last edited by gl98115; 10-09-18 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 10-09-18, 11:54 AM
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I raced a 50/34 my first year back and hated it. Spun out in a sprint once and a couple of other downhill situations, but the biggest issue was the 34. It was utterly useless at race speeds in the rollers and kickers around here. Just way too small and I'd be at the bottom of the cassette.

Only 53/39 for me.
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Old 10-09-18, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
I'm wondering if anyone has raced on compact craksets, and whether the lower top end has limited them. situations i can imagine are down hill and really fast sprint finishes, which i feel like are few and far in between, but are critical enough to make a big difference in races.
Plenty of people have raced on bikes with a lower top-end than 53-11. For example, a few people race on 12-25 cassettes, and 53-12 is a lower gear than 50-11.

Whether that top-end matters depends a lot on the kind of cyclist you are. How you pedal, and how you win.
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Old 10-09-18, 05:42 PM
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I agree with 50/34 being dumb and also lame. 52/36 is the hotness though. Loves me a 52/36 with an 11-28.
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Old 10-09-18, 08:48 PM
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I raced on my backup bike last year on a 50x34 and an 11-23 cassette. Raced also on a 53x39 and 11-25. Didn't event notice the difference during the race.

I can't remember the last time I shifted out of the 50 ring on my backup bike. I wonder if the front derailleur still works?
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Old 10-10-18, 08:55 AM
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I race with a compact and 12-28 cassette because I like to ride steep hills when possible and I'm too lazy to change chainrings ever. Was definitely nice at GMSR this year. I can't sprint at 40+mph so it really doesn't seem to affect me. Might start to become an issue in the 2's next year though? But I rarely spin out, and never had an issue with it in a race.
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Old 10-10-18, 01:00 PM
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I did my first race on my Motobecane with a triple. After the shop told me triples are out even though I really wanted one, I settled for compact.
With a compact you go 42 mph and still only be at 120 rpm which might be slightly uncomfortable but easily sustainable for several minutes. One time the district champs road race started with a long stretch of flat tailwind and we did 35 for like 15 minutes. Didn't notice the compact.

The only time it ever bothered me was one time my rear shifter was off and I couldn't get in the 11 or the 12, and I attacked solo with 3.5 minutes to go into a strong tailwind with rollers. Every time the road dipped and I'd spin up near 40 mph it was uncomfortable. But I won anyway.

I was never one to swap out my crankset or anything else just for a race. And around here you either need compact or you mash up 20-50 minute hills.
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Old 10-14-18, 07:18 PM
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53/38 here. Compact is cool, having a 38x32 for climbing days is even better without losing the top end.
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Old 10-15-18, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by spartanKid View Post
Plenty of people race in compacts, 50-34 w/ 11-XX, and win.
Do they? I don't think so. 52/36, sure, but not a 50/34.
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Old 10-15-18, 07:34 AM
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Confusing tossing about of absolutes. Wouldn’t the course dictate? I can think of a number of road races I’d prefer my compact crank on. Crits, not do
much. I’ve used a standard crank for some hill climbs as well.
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Old 10-15-18, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Do they? I don't think so. 52/36, sure, but not a 50/34.
I started racing in a compact in 2007. First 50x34, then 50x36 when I switched to Q-Rings. (They didn't have a 34 small ring at that time.)

I switched to 52x36 in 2015 when I ordered a new set of rings and through a screw up got a 52 instead of a 50. I figured WTF and have used the 52 ever since.

That said, I won two master's road championships on the 50x36 and placed 21st at elite nationals in 2015 on the 52x36 (at age 54). I also rode a national record 49:27 40km ITT on a 50 tooth big ring at the age of 51.

So yeah, you can do okay on compacts.
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Old 10-15-18, 12:29 PM
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Old 10-15-18, 12:42 PM
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The quote was "plenty of people". There's always an anecdote here and there, regardless of how small a minority they make up.
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Old 10-15-18, 02:01 PM
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A local guy who won a bunch of state and national track and road championships in the 1960s through the 1980s told me that his secret weapon in crits was that he was always using a 50 against guys with 52s and 53s. By the time they got up to speed he was gone.
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Old 10-15-18, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
Confusing tossing about of absolutes. Wouldn’t the course dictate? I can think of a number of road races I’d prefer my compact crank on. Crits, not do
much. I’ve used a standard crank for some hill climbs as well.
I believe that most of the UCI pro tour riders were using 50/34 in the recent World Road Race Championship that Valverde won. The race ended on a hideously steep climb.
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Old 10-16-18, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
I'm wondering if anyone has raced on compact craksets, and whether the lower top end has limited them. situations i can imagine are down hill and really fast sprint finishes, which i feel like are few and far in between, but are critical enough to make a big difference in races.
I got to cat 1 on 50/34. Phipps won national titles on 50/34. It doesn't really matter.
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Old 10-16-18, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Do they? I don't think so. 52/36, sure, but not a 50/34.
Lots of road bikes come with 50-34, and most people don't mess around much with their front gearing.

I don't understand why you'd be surprised by people using 50-34 if you considered 52-36 reasonable, either. The size of the front shift is almost the same between the two (only ~2% different), so they behave almost the same except that the latter is slightly higher.
I mean, if one rider prefers a 52-36, and a second cyclist pedals about the same but at a 5% lower torque and 5% higher cadence, the second rider would find a 50-34 to behave nearly the same for them as the 52-36 behaved for the first person. And the ability and pedaling-style spectrum of racers in general is much, much wider than this.
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Old 10-16-18, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Lots of road bikes come with 50-34, and most people don't mess around much with their front gearing.

I don't understand why you'd be surprised by people using 50-34 if you considered 52-36 reasonable, either. The size of the front shift is almost the same between the two (only ~2% different), so they behave almost the same except that the latter is slightly higher.
I mean, if one rider prefers a 52-36, and a second cyclist pedals about the same but at a 5% lower torque and 5% higher cadence, the second rider would find a 50-34 to behave nearly the same for them as the 52-36 behaved for the first person. And the ability and pedaling-style spectrum of racers in general is much, much wider than this.
It's not about being reasonable or not. I consider a 54-55 tooth chainring extremely reasonable for crit circuits, but I rarely ever see those, either.

It's about it just not being evident. Even among the cat 4s and 5s, I very rarely see 50-34s (I usually check out bikes and gear). Granted, this could be a regional thing as I don't live in the mountains, and my travel experiences are more related to elite fields in which they're almost nonexistant (again, I don't race up mountains, so that may play into it), but they just aren't commonplace.

And to take that a step further in relation to the original quote, I'd be even more surprised to see "plenty of people" winning races with them. Just isn't true in my region, and I'd hazard a guess it's not true in most.
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Old 10-16-18, 03:03 PM
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looks great!!
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Old 10-16-18, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
A local guy who won a bunch of state and national track and road championships in the 1960s through the 1980s told me that his secret weapon in crits was that he was always using a 50 against guys with 52s and 53s. By the time they got up to speed he was gone.
That doesn't make any sense. All you have to do is shift up a few gears in the back before hitting a turn.

That's something that's significantly helped me in crits, too, as I typically don't ever get out of the saddle coming out of corners, but I still race with a 53.
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Old 10-16-18, 08:03 PM
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i can only see compact being relevant for really steep stuff.. like >15%. besides that, i can really notice a difference, especially on descents, which is where a lot of the separation is made. i can definitely feel the difference between compact and semicompact. mind you, it's not a 2% difference, more like 4-6%. that's not small. that's the difference between spinning optimally at 37 vs 39 mph. it's not uncommon to get to those speeds in a p/1/2 race. sprinkle in some tailwind into the finishing straight, and I can see compact to be a real hindrance.

anyway, I ordered a 53/39
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Old 10-17-18, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
i can only see compact being relevant for really steep stuff.. like >15%. besides that, i can really notice a difference, especially on descents, which is where a lot of the separation is made. i can definitely feel the difference between compact and semicompact. mind you, it's not a 2% difference, more like 4-6%. that's not small. that's the difference between spinning optimally at 37 vs 39 mph. it's not uncommon to get to those speeds in a p/1/2 race. sprinkle in some tailwind into the finishing straight, and I can see compact to be a real hindrance.

anyway, I ordered a 53/39
While I take your point, your numbers are bit off. Mount Washington averages 12%. I reckon no one races that on a standard. I ride whiteface on a standard crank 10-15 times a year, but the gradient hardly varies a degree or two from 8%. though most folks I see riding it have compacts. Again, a lot of it has to do with the type of races one does, and the style in which one races. If you have a short punchy 15% section, yeah you can muscle over it with momentum. If it's extended and you're suited to higher cadence one might prefer lighter gears. If you're doing mainly flat races, or RRs without serious climbing it's mostly a non issue. I know lots of guys with 53x11s, and not a lot of guys who can effectively use them at the end of a crit for a solid placing. I used my 11 the sprint, but generally it was when I lacked popped at the end of the race to get on top of an easier gear. In the end it's totally dependent of individual preference and what's best suited to what you're doing.

Your original question:

I'm wondering if anyone has raced on compact craksets,
yes

and whether the lower top end has limited them.
some say yes, some say no. It's situational and personal. Kevin pointed out he set records on a compact in disciplines where many folks would use a standard. In the end gear inches are gear inches, and speed is speed. Get there however you get there.


situations i can imagine are down hill and really fast sprint finishes,
indeed, these would be limiters.

which i feel like are few and far in between,
And indeed rare. there are a number of ways to collect bike gear. Stuff that works over the widest variety of situations, and stuff for the outlier stuff. Pros can have a mechanic pull out a casette or ring for a one off stage. But mortals? Do I buy that 34 tooth cassette for Mount Washington? Do frankenstein my bike for that race to save some weight and get easier gears? The guy who beat me there for the age group win runs a 1X 22 front cassette. It's not why he beat me though, and had I not been sick that day I'd have probably won on a 34x32.
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Old 10-17-18, 08:23 AM
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The queen stage of GMSR is 100+ miles long and ends with a 3 mile climb where the last 500m is like 20%. 36/28 is NEVER enough for that, compacts have their place for sure.
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