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Big Chainring Size - What's your Preference?

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Big Chainring Size - What's your Preference?

Old 09-11-19, 11:04 AM
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Big Chainring Size - What's your Preference?

I'm really liking a 48T on my Superior. I have it paired with a 12-23 8sp on the back.

Seems like this combo is really good for headwinds as well and I find myself using all the gears on the cassette.

I was considering moving up to a 50T, but I think I'll stay put.
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Old 09-11-19, 11:09 AM
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One road bike, steel frame, has a 50 T with 14/25 cassette and another, titanium frame, has a 48 T with 12/27. I no longer have a need for 52/53 rings. They have plenty of high and enough low for my bicycle needs.
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Old 09-11-19, 11:12 AM
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46. With an 11t cog, that's higher than the old 53/13 top. And I've hit 50mph descending in the Oregon Cascades with a 46/13 top.
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Old 09-11-19, 11:46 AM
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Very similar to OP: on my Ross I have 39/48 x 13-23. A good 75% of the time I use the 48-17 or 48-19.
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Old 09-11-19, 11:55 AM
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On my rando bike, 45T and shrinking. In 2014/2015, I had a 50/13 top gear that I never used but once in a blue moon. From 2016 'til a week ago, I've had a 48/13 that I rarely shift to, its only use is to soft-pedal on downhills and begin pedalling a bit sooner when the hill points up again. But even then, it's not long before I'm shifting down again, so it hasn't proved to be a valuable gear to have with me all the time. A 45/13 top gear splits the difference between that and my former next lowest gear, a 48/15. As someone who also rides a fixed-gear a lot, it's not a big deal to spin up a 72" gear to 25+ if the situation calls for it, so my plan is to eventually settle on a 44/30 crank for this bike.

My "go-fast" Bianchi is set up with a 49/42 crank and 13-21 cassette. I bought the 49T so that I could satisfy some OCD and have a perfect 100" top gear. But I never spun out the 48/13 it had before, and here again, I could probably go a lot smaller. Heck, the 42T would be sufficient on its own.

The '88 Bianchi which I haven't ridden in a couple years is set up with an old 52/42 crankset, and I was running a 15-24 freewheel on it last. The 92" top gear seemed totally adequate. I feel like I'm starting to repeat myself, so I'll stop there.
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Old 09-11-19, 12:01 PM
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realistically, I should swap out my 53-42 for easier climbing, but those fluted Record cranks just look so nice...


what's everyone's preferred option for a 48/39 (or something similar) on a vintage frame?
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Old 09-11-19, 12:03 PM
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Now at 60 years old, but still strong and fit, I'm comfortable with a top gear of 100-106 inches. I don't need anything higher, because I appreciate the ability to coast sometimes.
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Old 09-11-19, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by sheddle View Post
realistically, I should swap out my 53-42 for easier climbing, but those fluted Record cranks just look so nice...

what's everyone's preferred option for a 48/39 (or something similar) on a vintage frame?
Early Shimano (130BCD) would get you there, easy. For a brief period, I ran 48/39 on an RX100 crank and 13-23 cassette. Not bad.




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Old 09-11-19, 12:06 PM
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If running 5, 6, or 7 on the back, there are always trade offs. I like a 48 on the outside as I can spin it with the lower 5 of 7 but there is no doubt that you will spin out from time to time. As far as I know there are no freewheels currently being made that go as low as even 12 on the outside so the highest gear I can get is a 48 running on a 13 which gives me a 99.7 inch high gear. That works for me.
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Old 09-11-19, 12:12 PM
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Well, I'm currently going to swap for a 7-speed 13-28 to see if I can get up longer hills easier on the 53-42 but if that doesn't work, yeah, it's probably one of those Shimano cranks for me.


either that or spread the frame and put a brand new Potenza 11-speed set on it...
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Old 09-11-19, 01:07 PM
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I still like going AFAP down hills and I have some long ones around here so I find that 52 or 53 - 12 comes in handy for that. 50 tooth + 11 also works but I have to go modern for that. If I lived on flatter roads I wouldn’t need more than a 48-13.

@sheddle - 42-28 gets me up most of my hills, even the 15% stuff as long as they’re not too long and I’m not trying to ride over too many of ‘em.
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Old 09-11-19, 01:11 PM
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Doesn't matter much to me. It's the final gear ratios that matter.

I like the current compact 50/34 with an 11-28 in the back. I was and still am also fine with the old standard 52/42 or 53/42 on old bikes with 5 or 6 speeds.

It is nice to have the increased range options of modern gearing. I almost never use my two lowest or two highest gears, but it's good to have them if needed. BITD with 6 speeds every gear had to be chosen carefully. No room for rarely used gears.
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Old 09-11-19, 01:13 PM
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52/42/30 triple except for SOTR ride. I put on a 50/36/28 for that one.
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Old 09-11-19, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by sheddle View Post
Well, I'm currently going to swap for a 7-speed 13-28 to see if I can get up longer hills easier on the 53-42 but if that doesn't work, yeah, it's probably one of those Shimano cranks for me.


either that or spread the frame and put a brand new Potenza 11-speed set on it...
There are options in between a $120 C&V crank and a new $1200 group, too.
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Old 09-11-19, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
There are options in between a $120 C&V crank and a new $1200 group, too.
Like a 110/74 or 86BCD crank.
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Old 09-11-19, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
There are options in between a $120 C&V crank and a new $1200 group, too.
hah, well, true, but it's more like doing that as an alternative to N+1ing a newer bike. I'm a big fan of modern groups on old frames, anyway.
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Old 09-11-19, 02:34 PM
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I have set up many of my bikes for L'Eroica-type rides, which means hills, gravel and vintage racing gear.

I can't handle the 49-21 low gear Fausto Coppi supposedly rode in the Alps, but do stick to the format of a short cage rear derailleur and a double chain ring. To get the desired gear range with those (max cog size and max chain wrap usually no more than 28T) and a 14-28 freewheel, I want either a 48/34 or a 50/36 up front.

When out riding with mrs non-fixie, I often find myself pedaling around all day in the 50-20 combo on those bikes, as long as it's not too hilly.
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Old 09-11-19, 04:47 PM
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I have a 28-38-48 setup, but the 38 is plenty big enough for me. Primarily because of bad knees, but I also like coasting on the downhills, when possible. 😉 Still, the 48 could prove useful coming down a mountain, so I'll leave it on.
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Old 09-11-19, 06:26 PM
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The largest ring I currently run is 50T, on my Trek 720 touring bike. I have several 48T rings, one on my S3X-equipped fixed gear, and two other road bikes. And 46T on my other fixed gear bike.
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Old 09-11-19, 06:52 PM
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I love my 52s. I have them on 4 vintage bikes, two have Megarange 34-14 6 speeds, and two are 28t-13 (I think) 6 speeds. I've tried 50s, but I like the 52t extended flat road cruising speed, while the 34t takes care of the hills. Of the two with 34t Megarange, one is a 52/40/32 triple, and the other is a 52/42 double. One of the 28t freewheels has a 52/42 the other is a 52/40. My modern bikes are 50t, one a compact 50/34, the other a 50/39/30 triple. Both modern bikes have 30-13 10 speed cassettes. For some reason, I feel the need for 52s when riding vintage, but don't miss them on the modern bikes. Back in the olden days I used to race on a 53/45 crank, and have never owned a bike with less than a 50t big ring.

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Old 09-11-19, 07:25 PM
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On a road bike, I like a top gear in the mid-90s:

50/14 (Bianchi), 46/13 (1959 Capo), 49/14 (the "keep it original" Sieger), TBD (the "restomod" Sieger project), 45/13 (Peugeot)

I do run a 104 on the mountain bike: 48/12
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Old 09-11-19, 07:32 PM
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50/12 here. I believe I have the only pre-10 speed era Campy 50T 135 BCD chainring...at least I can't find any others.
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Old 09-11-19, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by sheddle View Post
realistically, I should swap out my 53-42 for easier climbing, but those fluted Record cranks just look so nice...


what's everyone's preferred option for a 48/39 (or something similar) on a vintage frame?
I'm running 48/39 on a vintage Shimano Tri-color.

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Old 09-11-19, 08:43 PM
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As long as I have a hundred gear inches, give or take a few, I'm happy. Once I have that I'd rather add tight spacing than more top end I won't use. 53 or 52 up front with 13 or 14 out back is fine. 48 or 50 x 13 works too. I don't know why so many cassettes start with 11.
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Old 09-11-19, 08:50 PM
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My road bikes are all either 53T/39T or 52T/48T. I try to stay on the big wheel. My new Pista SS is a 48T with a 16 rear cog.
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