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Departure from the Compact crankset

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Departure from the Compact crankset

Old 04-28-20, 12:08 PM
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SethAZ 
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Departure from the Compact crankset

What I'm doing: Swapping my 50t large chainring for a 46t. Just ordered the new chainring. I'll have it in a week and be riding the 46t the day it arrives.

What I think I'll gain from this swap: According to the gearing calculators this swap from 50->46t up front will shift me approximately one cog to the right on my cassette for any given speed and cadence. It's not exactly one cog to the right at all speeds, but that's a very good approximation. This will straighten up my chainline at normal cruising speeds that cover 95%+ of my cycling. It will give me one more speed gear down the range where my shifting is a fine, one-tooth difference that disturbs the cadence the least. It will allow me to use one more gear at the smaller end of the cogs on the cassette which are unused the overwhelming majority of the time. It will reduce the jump to the large ring from the small ring, which should make front der. shifting slightly quicker and smoother.

What I'll give up dropping from 50t to 46t up front: I'll give up about 2-3mph top speed on steep-enough descents that I spin out in my highest gear. Since I will currently not spin out until well into the 30s, and this is on occasional group rides that include some climbing, I'm content to just drop into a more aero position once I spin out and enjoy the ride. This is an easy sacrifice to make to get a drivetrain with concrete advantages in 99% of my riding, which is typically on very flat roads in the area where I live.

Why I'm doing this: In the vast majority of my riding I currently (34/50 compact chainset with 12-25t 11-speed cassette) don't get any smaller than about the 4th or 5th smallest cog. My chainline at normal cruising speed is one cog to the left of straight, and at any lower speeds it's more to the left than this. I decided a long time ago that I didn't need an 11t cog, so by using a 12-whatever cassette I've already got a slightly improved chainline and more usable fine-shifting gear range, and this chainring swap would further improve this. Not being a racer with a need to guarantee absolutely top speed on steep descents, what I lose at the theoretical top speed range is more than made up for by the advantages I'll gain in my typical riding.

One side bonus I can see from shifting one cog to the right in my normal riding is that I could end up changing from a 12-25t cassette to a 12-28t cassette, keep all the one-tooth shifts I currently use, and get one more lower gear to help out on those occasional rides that do involve some climbing, but which aren't so aggressive of rides that I'd want to swap in the 11-34t cassette that originally came with my bike. All the climbs I've done in recent years I managed with 34t up front and 27t (this was with my old bike, current lowest gear is 25t) max in the rear, so having 28t in the rear would be a slight improvement, and I've still got that 11-34t cassette that came on my bike stored in the cupboard if I plan a ride with more challenging climbing.

I believe this move will be a very nice improvement that will give me some advantages on virtually all of my rides while giving up very little and only on a very small percentage of my rides.

This makes me wonder why it took the industry so long to move from 52/39t standard cranks to the compact 50/34t cranks, and I'm really wondering why they stopped there. Statistically, almost all cyclists aren't racers, and I'm having a hard time imagining that the reason bikes are coming stock now with 50/34 compact cranks and 11-whatever cassettes is to make sure that on steep descents your typical rider can still accelerate slightly past 35mph. I can only imagine that they're still marketing these gearings based on this notion that everyone fancies themselves a racer who demands absolutely top speed potential, even if that means they have to be going down a steep, straight descent to ever even use that potential. The downside to this marketing is that 99% of riders get less advantageous gearings for 99% of their riding. Their chainlines are almost always non-straight and shifted to the left so their chains, cassettes, and chainrings will wear out slightly faster and they lose some small wattage due to additional drivetrain friction, etc. I don't think that for typical non-racer cyclists the current typical stock gearings that come on most bikes are optimal at all.

Everyone's different in age, body composition, experience, and typical riding conditions. I'm 51 years old, an atypically large and heavy cyclist, who rides mostly on flat roads. I know that my views on this are filtered through my own particular lens. I'd be be very interested in hearing if anyone here has different views on this bike gearing topic, and why.
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Old 04-28-20, 01:20 PM
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Most of your riding is flat so that make sense to me. However I've been 53/39 on a 7x rear on my Raleigh and 52/36 on a 11x rear on my Paramount and Tarmac I've been thinking of going to 53/39 on my Tarmac. I'm generally going up or down most of the time. Short climbs of 30 to 40 ft elevation and 4% to 6% grades

It's not that I'm fast, but I like feeling some resistance in the pedals going downhill whether I'm adding to my speed or not. I just don't like keeping my legs still. If I am, it's a sign I'm worn out.
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Old 04-28-20, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Most of your riding is flat so that make sense to me. However I've been 53/39 on a 7x rear on my Raleigh and 52/36 on a 11x rear on my Paramount and Tarmac I've been thinking of going to 53/39 on my Tarmac. I'm generally going up or down most of the time. Short climbs of 30 to 40 ft elevation and 4% to 6% grades

It's not that I'm fast, but I like feeling some resistance in the pedals going downhill whether I'm adding to my speed or not. I just don't like keeping my legs still. If I am, it's a sign I'm worn out.
Thanks for your reply! I realize my own riding conditions aren't universal to everyone, so it helps to get other perspectives. If you don't mind me asking, what cassettes are you using with your 52/36 on the Tarmac? And at what cadence do you spin out? For me, the absolute spin-out cadence is around 105ish. My "threshold cruise" effort range typically has me spinning 92-95 or so, and for a slower cruise it'll often be high 80s - low 90s, depending on how much resistance there is. On group rides where folks were racing down a descent on my old bike, with a 50/13t combo, I spun out at around the 32mph or so range, give or take. Once I hit that speed it was time to just assume the most aggressive tuck I could manage and enjoy the ride.

You must be either really going fast, or have a much lower spin-out cadence, if a 52t large ring and either 11t or 12t rear cog still isn't fast enough to give you the resistance you want on your descents. On the other hand, since my riding is mostly flat I put probably much greater weight on fine gear shifting to keep my cadence as close to constant as I can. Given this sort of flat cruise style of riding, I really despise 2-tooth rear cog changes between gears while riding the flats, and even though I'm a fairly liberal guy, I hate that my chainline is left-of-center nearly all of the time. I imagine given the constant up-and-down nature of your riding, you probably put far less emphasis on the granularity of your shifts, particularly so if you're riding your 7-speed. :-) This gives me a lot to think about.

One way to look at it if I'm trying to figure out why manufacturers market the way they do is that a drivetrain like 50/34 with 11-34t cassette gives an enormous gear ratio range which covers just about anybody's needs, but at the cost of making the drivetrain suboptimal for just about everyone as well. I guess, considering that what's optimal for each rider isn't the same as it might be for the next rider, this is the best they can do. If that's the answer then I'd really be happier if they could make it cheaper for people to optimize their drivetrains for their needs. I'm a little torqued (around 4 Nm) that the price of replacement large rings is as high as it is. Most places advertise this 46t Ultegra 8000 large ring for like $160, which is 3/4 the cost of buying a whole brand-new crankset of the same model. That's outrageous. I found a bargain on this 46t ring at only $106, which is still fully half the price of a new crankset.

Last edited by SethAZ; 04-28-20 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 04-28-20, 03:29 PM
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Departure from a compact crankset

I went the other direction. I originally had a 50x34 with an 11-28 cassette but went to 52x36 when I started losing KOM's in the 75+ group on downhill Strava sections. I couldn't crank it up to 40+ and just spun out. I do have a 11-30 for climbing but can push up to 42+ mph now (downhill of course); I didn't want to return to the 53x39 we had for probably the last 20 years.
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Old 04-28-20, 03:48 PM
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The Tarmac came with a 11-30 in the back. If I do change to 52/39, then I'll probably have to change the rear to give me a 32 or 34 cog. However I haven't looked to see what an Ultegra Di2 GS cage DR will handle, nor have I compared ratios and gain yet. On my Paramount after I've got my legs back from my winter of laziness, there are times I feel a 53/39 with it's 11-32 would be ever so slightly nice at times when I have a longer downhill segment. But only ever so slightly.........

I also see more new bikes going away from the 50/34 in favor of the 52/36. Or at least from the bikes I considered purchasing recently, they all had 52/36 in the front. With 11-30 on the back, it lets me work the bike as a 1x and I only shift to the small ring when I need a lower combo than the 52/30. Which isn't often for the short hills here unless I'm worn out from a long ride.

Typically I'm 85 - 90ish RPM. Spin out.... that's a hard one to answer, while I can briefly maintain about 120 to 125 maybe better..... briefly, that's usually in the 13, 14 or more cog when I'm accelerating. By the time I get to the 12 and 11 cog I've only got enough oomph to do maybe 100 RPM or so. But yes I do get up to 38 or better mph on some downhills. But none of the long hills I ride here are smooth enough to allow pucker factor to not overwhelm me and limit my speed.

I also like a short crank. 165 mm on all my bikes. Even though my inseam is 34.5" from ground to snug in the crotch. I once tried a 170 or 172 crank on my Paramount for 3 maybe 4 months and didn't like it. It was a Shimano 105 5800. I found that chain wheels were almost as expensive as an entire crank set too. I also had trouble finding a 105 5800 in silver at that time in a 52/36, so I bought a 50/34 that had the 165 crank, swapped the rings and sold 50/34 with the longer cranks on ebay.

The Tarmac came with 172.5 Ultegra crank set. I had a 105 5800 with 165 mm cranks I was intending for an group set upgrade on my Raleigh that I've never gotten around to doing. Instead had them put it on the Tarmac when they built it.

The 58 cm Tarmac I test rode had a 175 mm crank. I rode it for 10 miles and it wore me out with all the thrashing I felt like I was doing. Immediately after that I rode the 56 cm frame Tarmac with the 172.5 cranks and I felt much better and wasn't nearly as worn out after the same 10 miles even though my times and stats were better.

Last edited by Iride01; 04-28-20 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 04-28-20, 06:00 PM
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Wow, so the common theme here is that folks prioritize the ability to maximize downhill speed on descents, and are willing to have coarser shifting across the rest of the range in order to get this. That's interesting to me. Given I have to take my bike in a car and go someplace to ride a descent that would spin me out I guess I don't get it, but it's just different strokes for different folks.

Speaking of KOMs, there was this dude around 34 or 35 years old about 3 or 4 years ago that got on Strava and would look up segments that I had a KOM on and go take them. He was primarily a mountain biker, but he had a road bike, and with his youth and his thin body he took most of the KOMs I had that were shorter distances, up to maybe 9 miles or so. He tried to take my KOM on a 32.5 mile route that I'd established, though, and failed by a few minutes. His youth and thin build just didn't fill in for the required endurance. On the KOM ride I'd averaged over 20mph despite missing two or three insections. I couldn't do that again today, but could work back up to it. It's those kinds of rides where I need to maintain that 92-95rpm high-effort cruise, and with intersections and curves and other little things causing speed changes, the close shifting and cadence maintenance are important to me. For group rides the 21-23mph range is important to me, because that's the range we'll keep up in the paceline. The descents where I spin out and have to hunker down in an aggressive tuck and just ride it out are few and far between.

I'm riding a 172.5mm crankset. My old bike has a 175 on it. I haven't got any experience that I can recall of riding shorter cranks, so I honestly have no idea if I'd prefer it or not. Come to think of it, my MTB probably has shorter cranks, but I have no idea what length they are, and that riding is so different that I don't know how to translate the "feel" of riding it compared to my road bikes. I went with the 175s on my old bike under the theory that at 6'2" and whatever inseam, and just my general build, I'd do better trying to act like a diesel rather than a short-stroke high-rpm engine. That was before I'd gotten up to 92-95 rpm cruising speeds. That's about what I can sustain right now. The 105ish rpm bursts aren't sustainable, that's more of a rapid acceleration move if I'm with the group and the young thin guys are doing jack-rabbit starts off a stoplight or something, or else spinning out on a descent on some group ride. My current crankset is a Stages L/R gen 3 power meter built onto an Ultegra 8000 crank, so that's why I'm limited to Ultegra 8000 chainrings (or worse, DA but in a different color and for even more silly money). I think Shimano is flat-out robbing people at $160 retail for a single large chainring.

I appreciate you all's thoughts on this. I'm glad to see other perspectives and hear about what things others prioritize and why. It's helping me grok why Shimano and others market the things they do.
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Old 04-28-20, 07:34 PM
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Why the change to compact crank sets? Because amateurs tend to use what the pros use. Since pro riders have not so easily been able to rely on "chemical assistance" to help their performance, speeds have fallen, and so has the necessity of the gearing necessary to achieve these speeds. Riders in the late 90's were flying on race courses using metal bikes with 16 and 18 speed drivelines quite a bit faster than they are today with carbon fiber bikes running 22 and 24 speed drivelines. For ordinary mortals a 50 tooth chainring is enough.
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Old 04-28-20, 07:53 PM
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i'm running 2 vintage bikes with 48/34, 1 with 46/30.

here's the 46/30
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Old 04-28-20, 07:54 PM
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I don't know that we are trying to maximize downhill speeds. I mainly just like to keep pedaling and not coast. As for coarser shifting, I don't see it on an 11 speed. Maybe on a 8 speed you'd have more coarser shifting if you had a range of 11-30, but for 11 speed there are lots of 1 tooth shifts for the flats. Shimano 11 speed 11-30 are 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-27-30T. And as you move to the cogs with more teeth the gear ratios tighten up so 2 tooth changes in the 15 or more and 3 tooth changes in the 20 plus tooth range aren't as big a change as just going by tooth count will lead one to believe.

In the 52 ring, a shift from 11 to 12 rear is only a difference in ratio of .3, the difference in 27 to 30 is .2 if I had to shift through 28 and 29 tooth cogs to get there, I'd only be making changes of less than .1 in ratio. So bigger tooth counts changes for the bigger cogs make sense for group sets with more cogs on the rear.
Back in the 5 speed rear day is when having a close spaced rear from high to low made sense. After all, the first five of most 11 speed cassettes are 1 tooth changes. Talk of needing to have close spaced min to max tooth is holdover speak from days of old once you get past 9 or 10 cogs on the rear. IMHO of course.

For those that can run a 11 speed 12-25, 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23-25T on a 2x front, then I'm envious. Those sort of days are gone for me since even before my 30's. With a 3x, I might be able to handle it, but 3x's don't like 11 on the back very well...I only think that, I admit, I've never tried a 3x11 setup.

I might have erroneously assumed that you were mostly riding flats, but even in hills, if your power to weight ratio isn't there yet, then what you are doing makes sense. My Raleigh is the bike that got me back in shape when life slowed down in my fifties and I could ride again. It was only 7 speed and I probably spent a lot of time in the small 39 front and the 14-28 in the back was sometimes not low enough. I had to walk a few hills in the early years.

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Old 04-28-20, 07:56 PM
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Personalizing bike gearing is fun! I've done it on almost every bike I've had.

I found the 50/34 to be most annoying. Too much time spent swapping between rings for me, so I did the math and went to only a 46 ring on my road bike. I'm a cheapskate so my cassette is only a 9 speed, and I customized it at 27-23-21-19-18-17-16-15-14. All one tooth jumps, with no front shifts once I hit cruising speed. This has been working perfect for me and I've been very happy with it.

Top end down hill? I've touched 30 mph on my 46x18 fixed gear, so it is rare that four gears higher than this is not enough. Actually, if you look, my favored 46x18 is my middle gear on the road bike, giving me a perfect chainline... with 4 gears higher and 4 lower.

Yes, gearing is a very personal matter, and many of us are quite particular about it.

Last edited by AlmostTrick; 04-28-20 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 04-29-20, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I don't know that we are trying to maximize downhill speeds. I mainly just like to keep pedaling and not coast. As for coarser shifting, I don't see it on an 11 speed. Maybe on a 8 speed you'd have more coarser shifting if you had a range of 11-30, but for 11 speed there are lots of 1 tooth shifts for the flats. Shimano 11 speed 11-30 are 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-27-30T.
Yes, lots of 1-tooth shifts on that 11-speed 12-25t cassette, most of which happen to be above the gear I'm riding when I'm cruising at 18-20 mph on the flats, unfortunately. I mean, I'm doing fine with the 12-25, don't get me wrong, but depending on what speed I'm at I'll still run into a 2-tooth shift, especially if I'm accelerating up from a stop. In the immediate vicinity of my cruising speed all my shifts are 1-tooth. A 2-tooth shift isn't the end of the world, either, it's just an annoyance if I'm accelerating at a higher cadence and drop cadence by 10 rpm instead of 5 or 6. It's more disruptive. Anyhow, you made some really good points about the difference in gear ratio being smaller for 2+ tooth shifts the higher you go in tooth count on the cogs.

When this 46t shows up I'll ride it for a while. It'll give me one more usable 1-tooth shift by moving me up a gear in the rear. If that makes my lowest 1-tooth shift redundant I'll probably switch to a 12-28t rear, giving myself one more low gear for those occasional climbs. Even on group rides where we did some climbing I managed with my 12-25t or my former 13-25t, but there are climbs where I've been mashing down into the 45-50rpm range, and that can be downright destructive. One more gear would have been nice.
For those that can run a 11 speed 12-25, 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23-25T on a 2x front, then I'm envious.
Isn't it funny how those who live in the hills often work on climbing, and those who live on flat land instead emphasize higher speed cruising endurance? :-) I don't know if I'm lucky to not have hills or unlucky that I don't have convenient access to hills, I guess that could go either way. I ride to the conditions I've got, and I love that 12-25t cassette for my purposes.


Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
Top end down hill? I've touched 30 mph on my 46x18 fixed gear, so it is rare that four gears higher than this is not enough. Actually, if you look, my favored 46x18 is my middle gear on the road bike, giving me a perfect chainline... with 4 gears higher and 4 lower.
There's a really steep climb I did with a couple of dudes a couple of times before where I recorded a max speed of 50.8mph going down it. That's the fastest I've ever been on a bike, and to be honest it scared the living bejeezus out of me. I was even more scared after I got down it, successfully slowed, and then thought about what could have gone wrong but didn't. I've never ridden to that climb again since then. It's too insane. The typical climbs I'll see in group rides around where I'm at involve me spinning out in the early 30 mph range and then tucking into a few more mph on gravity alone. That I can handle. That 50.8mph descent, though... What's funny is that I'd been riding the 53/39 Ultegra 6700 crankset that came on that bike right up until that ride, then I bought a Tiagra 50/34 compact crank the week before that ride, and used it in combination with a 12-27t cassette. I still suffered up that climb, but it would have been worse with the 53/39 and a 12-25. That was the time period where I was first learning about gearings and swapping cranks and cassettes and all that. I thought the 50/34 compact crank was the shiznit, and for years since. Now I'm really looking forward to this 46t, and I'll see if I like it as much as I think I will.
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Old 04-29-20, 08:00 AM
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A compact crank with a 12-25 11 speed cassette only works if you are strong enough to stay in the big ring almost all the time. When I had that setup I was constantly cross-chained and shifting between the rings. Worst setup I've ever had. I've come to the conclusion that most recreational cyclists don't care about narrow spacing and just run wide cassettes if they need lower gears. I put sub-compact cranks on my bikes with doubles and will sometimes even run a jr cassette. I also have triples on several bikes which really work the best for me.
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Old 04-29-20, 09:40 AM
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Speed is not my friend.
If a group wants to ride faster than 20+mph and frowns upon us old guys sucking wheels, then I cork out - if on a double geared for mountains/long steep hills. One has to pick his horses for the courses.

Downhill speeds faster than about 30mph have me considering brakes, not another cog.

But, to each his own. We all get our kicks a bit differently.

SethAZ - I've only been 50+mph a couple of times - and only when riding my tandem - as a single. Never on a 1/2 bike.

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Old 04-29-20, 07:26 PM
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The top gear on my mountain bike is 48/12 with 26" tires = 104 gear-inches, but I am perfectly happy with mid-90s on my road bikes, with 50/14 or 46/13 (~96) being my favorites. I go as low as 49/14 or 45/13 (~94) for a top gear on two of my other road bikes, but have spun out when I tried anything less, such as 52/16 (~88), in the past..
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Old 05-03-20, 01:30 AM
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I'm always piddling around with gear changes just to see what seems to work for me.

One problem I've found with the contemporary compact setup -- 50/34 or something similar, with 11 or 12 tooth small cog to compensate -- is that at least with my bikes and gear, I can feel some odd vibration and resistance. Some tech-minded folks attribute this to chordal action. Apparently combining some chains with tighter wraps around smaller cogs/gears causes inefficiencies that don't appear on charts.

On my older road bikes (all 7-speed, usual dual 130 BCD chainring) the smallest chainring to fit was 38T. With the 50T big ring I had to try several freewheels to find one that didn't grind in the 13T smallest rear cog. Finally, last year, I gave up on the 50T chainrings and switched back to 52. That way I can use the 14 or 15 rear cogs without that odd grinding/resistance. It's still there when I'm in the 52/13 combo, but that's only on downhills. I can't hold a 52/13 combo on flat terrain for any time unless there's a tailwind.

For the past year I've mostly ridden bikes with 52/42 Biopace chainrings and 13-28 freewheels and cassettes. A week or so ago I switched my Ironman back to 52/39 round rings (same 13-28 SunRace freewheel). So far that's been good enough for our climbs, even into headwinds. I'm a very middling climber and would take any advantage I could get. But I haven't really needed easier gears ... yet. Subject to change with age. A few years ago I was satisfied with a 42 small chainring and 24 largest rear cog. I wouldn't be happy with that now.

I'm about to build up a newer frame, a mid-2000s carbon fiber frame from a friend, as a 10 or 11 speed. It'll be interesting to see whether a new, high quality 11-32 or comparable cassette also has that grinding chordal action in the smallest cog -- although I doubt I'll use it very often anyway.

Anyway, I can understand why the pro teams are finessing lots of little things in pursuit of small advantages, including oversized pulleys.
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Old 05-04-20, 02:16 PM
  #16  
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I just don't like compacts. I've got something like your gearing on my CX bike that I bought to ride on crappy northern NM roads and I really dislike the gearing. We're all different, and just need to find what works on an individual basis. Hope you enjoy your new setup.
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Old 05-04-20, 06:01 PM
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Maybe I'm just out-of-sync with the rest of the world; but if I had no hills, I'd gear up, not down.
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Old 05-04-20, 06:24 PM
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Well I think he said it was to move him away from the lower gears while doing his normal rides. So it might actually put him in the sweet spot for a 11 or 10 speed cassette which IMO is the 6, 7 and 8 cog. Other's might think different, but that's my thinking and what I look for when in the big ring.

Of course at some point if legs get stronger and knees aren't hurting, then it'd make sense to go back to bigger rings if more average speed is desired.
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Old 05-04-20, 09:48 PM
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I have a compact double right now, and I would definitely think about sizing down to an adventure crankset, going forward, though I'd keep my 11-34,since we have some extended 10 percent climbs with 16 or 17 percent spikes. If I'm spinning out on a descent, it's time for me to rest a bit.
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Old 05-05-20, 05:04 AM
  #20  
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Couldn't you carry your concept further with a triple? My current favorite bike right now is a univega gran premio that I believe came stock with 52/42/32. The 42 to handles the bulk of the ride but 52 and 32 see plenty of time as well. For my area it really suits me to have a 'three speed' with some feathering.
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Old 05-05-20, 08:56 AM
  #21  
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Triples don't work as well with the 11 and 12 cogs on the back. Though some bikes with longer chain stay length might handle them well enough. But then you alter some of the geometry that others might be wanting to have for other aspects of performance.
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Old 05-05-20, 11:38 AM
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Ok, well yesterday I learned that there's a different style of outer chainring for the 46/36t set than there is for the compact and standard chainring sets. I had no idea. This wasn't helped by the fact the some of the websites I was looking at when I ordered the 46t chainring actually used an image of the 50t chainring in their advertising.

Still, I should have noticed that in some images of the 46t there were the four holes visible, while in the 50t chainring there aren't, because it's gut that sculpted 3D look that covers the holes and blends in to the spider where the crank is attached.

So the 46t showed up yesterday, I opened it excitedly next to my bike, ready to install it and take it for its maiden ride, and discovered that I can't. There's a set of bolt covers that I had to order yesterday. I'll show what I mean.

First, here's the 46t chainring held up next to the 50t chainring currently on my bike. You can see it has eschewed that sculpted 3D look of the 50t, and is much more like traditional flat chainrings that are just milled from plates of metal, rather than stamped or pressed into some 3D shape and bonded as the 50t and the other larger ones are.


46t chainring next to 50t on the Ultegra R8000 crankset.

I had to order this bolt cover kit to be able to mount the 46t chainring. The bolt covers will kinda/sorta blend into the ends of the crank spider.

The bolt cover kit looks like this. This is for Shimano Ultegra 6800, not 8000, but the 8000 kit looks about the same. This is just the first pic I found of it while posting this.



And the final look will be something like this, but of course with Ultegra R8000 cranks instead of Dura Ace:



I was a little put out when I opened the box and came to terms with what I got. I scoured the web and realized I'd just not been very careful when I was looking at this 46t chainring, which wasn't helped by at least half the vendors out there showing photos of the 50t hollow chainring even when you selected the 46t option. Still, had I been more observant I'd have caught this, so my bad.

Secondly, I'm a little miffed that the final look of this thing will be such a departure from the sculpted 3D look of the Ultegra R8000 crankset with the compact or standard chainrings. I guess Shimano has decided that these are "cyclocross" chainrings, and are made to fit some look they think is the cyclocross look. Unfortunately that means that on a road bike you lose the Ultegra 8000 road look by using this 46t with the bolt hole/cover adaptors.

I'm not going to let that look hold me back, though. After waffling a bit I decided that the function was more important to me than the look (as it is in most things for me), so I ordered the bolt covers and will just have to wait a few more days until this kit arrives before I can try out the 46t on the road.

I'm not happy that Shimano does this. They decide that they're only going to sell certain kits that they've predetermined fit a certain discipline in riding, and you either go with what they're marketing, or you have to use adaptors and whatnot, disturb the aesthetics that they've chosen for that discipline, and deal with it on your own. Hey, at least these adaptor bolt covers exist, so that's a start, but I would much rather have been able to pick up a 46t Ultegra R8000 chainring that actually fits the Ultegra R8000 cranks in both function and form, not paid a small fortune for it, and then not have to drop more coin on an adaptor kit just to fit it with my road crank. I'm not a businessman, and I'm sure this is what they think makes most financial sense for them, but it's definitely kind of crappy for riders who want to tune their drivetrain to fit their riding style and conditions.

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Old 05-05-20, 11:54 AM
  #23  
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As long as that crank's turning, no one will know.

I have similar with my Shimano 105 cranks in an Ultegra 52/36 ring on my Tarmac. The profile sculpting just doesn't quite match. However the Ultegra cranks in the 105 chain wheels matches much better. Go figure!
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Old 05-05-20, 12:05 PM
  #24  
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Hmm, I found this image out there of someone with a 46-36 MB-labeled chainring mated via bolt covers to an Ultegra 6800 generation road crank. I haven't looked it up, but I'm guessing that the 46-36 MB chainring pairing is just the 6800 generation version of the current 46-36 MT.

Other than the minor cosmetic differences in the 6800 vs 8000 generation crank, this is about how my bike should look once the bolt covers arrive and I get this 46t ring installed. I do lament the disruption of the Ultegra road crankset aesthetics, but not enough to make me not go with it.

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Old 05-05-20, 12:13 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
As long as that crank's turning, no one will know.

I have similar with my Shimano 105 cranks in an Ultegra 52/36 ring on my Tarmac. The profile sculpting just doesn't quite match. However the Ultegra cranks in the 105 chain wheels matches much better. Go figure!
I ran into a related issue while I was looking at power meters. I wanted crank based power, and I had to choose between either something entirely 3rd party, which would have required 3rd party rings and departed entirely from the Shimano Ultegra aesthetic, or something like the Quarq DFour which would mate up with Ultegra 6800 rings, or the DFour91 that would have mated up with the new Dura Ace generation rings (or apparently also R8000 Ultegra rings, albeit imperfectly). In the end the Stages L/R was my choice, being built on a bog-standard Ultegra R8000 crankset. Of course that means I'm locked into Shimano R8000 generation chainrings, but that's what I chose, and now I'm dealing with one of the ramifications of that choice. I'd still probably choose it again, knowing what I know now, despite my misgivings on Shimano's choices and offerings.
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