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A Triple No More?

Old 06-12-13, 09:18 PM
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A Triple No More?

When I bought my Giant OCR C2 6 years ago, I was year into this bike thing, fat and still getting into any kind of real shape.

Still too fat but, within my physically imposed limits, I wouldn't dare question my conditioning.
Still need that triple + 28t to get up the long, steep ones, though, dammit.

So, now it's summer, 6 years down the road (heh) and a gentleman's mind turns to a new steed and I've noticed that triples seem to be disappearing from everyone's lines - on bikes I would ride, anyway. Go compact, say you? If I can barely push a 30T/28t up a long 10%, what chance have I with a 34T/28t? Rumor has it that Shimano now offers a 30t cassette, not that I've seen any. But if I could find one, I could get a compact and replace the stock cassette. Hmmm..

But then, as if from the skies, above, I see that Felt and BMC (I hear they're pretty good frames) offer just that... the new bike of my dreams: a 50/34 up front and a 12-30 in the rear. Ultegra, no less!

I think I hear the drumming...
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Old 06-12-13, 11:12 PM
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If you just wanted a bail out gear, get a compact (w/ 34t inner) and stick a SRAM Apex with some monster cassette back there. There're some other options, too, but that's the easiest one that pops to mind.
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Old 06-12-13, 11:19 PM
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Yes, and If you get a SRAM with a WIFI derailleur you can get a 11x32 cassette and a 50-34 front. My best friend is now running a Shimano with a 11x34 cassette and a compact.
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Old 06-12-13, 11:34 PM
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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.
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Old 06-13-13, 12:13 AM
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Manufacturers seem to be rationalising their bikes with less options being available. Triples can be found but they are rarer than they used to be. I ride compacts but also use a 30t on one set of wheels for the hillier rides. However I still struggle up some of the steeper hills round here with 34/30 and have one bike set up with a triple. Normally ride it with a 12/25 cassette but there is always the option of a 12/27 or 12/30. And on that triple I have found that the 39 will not get me up many of the slopes round here and I am not ashamed to say that I will even take my granny out on some of the "Easy" rides round here to give me an easy time.

But it is down to the LBS. If they want to sell you a bike- then they will change the compact double for a triple for a nominal charge. If they won't then find the LBS that will.
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Old 06-13-13, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai View Post
When I bought my Giant OCR C2 6 years ago, I was year into this bike thing, fat and still getting into any kind of real shape.

Still too fat but, within my physically imposed limits, I wouldn't dare question my conditioning.
Still need that triple + 28t to get up the long, steep ones, though, dammit.

So, now it's summer, 6 years down the road (heh) and a gentleman's mind turns to a new steed and I've noticed that triples seem to be disappearing from everyone's lines - on bikes I would ride, anyway. Go compact, say you? If I can barely push a 30T/28t up a long 10%, what chance have I with a 34T/28t? Rumor has it that Shimano now offers a 30t cassette, not that I've seen any. But if I could find one, I could get a compact and replace the stock cassette. Hmmm..

But then, as if from the skies, above, I see that Felt and BMC (I hear they're pretty good frames) offer just that... the new bike of my dreams: a 50/34 up front and a 12-30 in the rear. Ultegra, no less!

I think I hear the drumming...
I went from a triple 48/38/28 to 50/34 with a 12-32t 2013 Fuji 1.1c Sportif. I hit some heavy hills that I used to slog up in my 28 with absolutely zero issues. In fact, I went up one particular hill with the 32t still in reserve.
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Old 06-13-13, 04:21 AM
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One thing to remember is that if you have hills you need low gears and SKT has hills. A Compact double would work but to get anywhere near the low gear on a triple he would need a large 12/34 or 32 rear cassette and that would also require a longer chain and a long reach rear derailleur. To convert a double crank to a Triple would require a new Crank set and a front derailleur and possibly gear changers. Neither would be cheap so if N+1 is involved it would be economic to get the bike that has a triple in the first place OR arrange with the LBS to convert before purchase at a nominal charge (OR FREE).

I do ride a compact that can have 34/30 as my lowest gear and I am used to hills but it is easier with 30/30 as on the triple for those long hills with 20% grades.

But it is true that come the steep hills and you will use the lowest gear fitted to the bike. Whether that be 30/30 or 34/28. Neither seems to be harder till later in the ride when you find out how much energy you have used up with the higher gearing.
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Old 06-13-13, 05:57 AM
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I like grannies and hate steep hills. DW and I recently had custom steel sport touring bikes built for us. We opted for SRAM Force with 50/34 CDs up front with SRAM 11/36 MTB cassettes and derailleurs in the back. We can climb a wall with these and that makes us happy. For racers looking for the perfect shift changes our setups would not be acceptable but for relaxed cruisers like us they are fine.
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Old 06-13-13, 06:12 AM
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I built my own bike up from all-new parts to allow me to keep a triple crankset with a 50, 39 & 26t chainring set. I had a 50 & 34t compact with an 11-32 ten-speed cassette, but hated the bigger steps between cogs. I also didn't like shifting from the big ring to the smaller ring every time I dropped below 18 mph.

Why buy a bike made for someone else when it's possible to select what you want?



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Old 06-13-13, 06:15 AM
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Some of you might like the custom 3x8 1.5-step + granny gearset I put on my mountain bike: 48-40-28/12-13-15-17-19-21-24-28. For steeper hills, I can swap in a 24T granny ring, as long as I am careful with the 24-40 upshifts, and my SunTour rear derailleur can easily handle a larger granny cog, if necessary.

Barrettscv has the right idea -- roll your own, as I have done with bicycle gearing systems since my college days. Back in the days of 2x5, 3x5, and rare 2x6 configurations, the big challenge was avoiding redundant ratios and covering just the range you really needed, to avoid large gaps in the ratiometric progression. With a 3x10 system, one can afford the luxury of a few redundancies and perhaps a rarely used overdrive and/or bail-out granny.
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Old 06-13-13, 06:26 AM
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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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Old 06-13-13, 06:46 AM
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Some compact double setups do indeed have the same problem as the 14-speed Rohloff internal hub, i.e,. that the most difficult gear changes (7-8 or 8-7 in the hub gear) and/or least efficient combinations (cross-chain) occur right in the most-used, most-critical ratio ranges. When riding my mountain bike on the road, I spend most of my time in the middle and outer rings in front and the four middle cogs in back (49.5 to 83.2 gear-inches), but I can go as low as 26 or as high as 104 gear inches.
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Old 06-13-13, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
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.
I don't think I agree. I'm not a flatlander - I don't live in SF, but most of my rides involve elevation gains of >50' per mile and the hills around here tend to be short, but steep. And if the OP wanted a real granny gear he could put a 24- tooth chainring on his triple, which when used with a fairly tight 12/25 cassette would give him a lower bottom gear than the 34/32 offers while still retaining the ability to move up and down in small increments.

My own triple is a 50-39-30 with a 12/25 at the back. I don't need anything lower. But like you, I really like the close ratios. The triple gives me racing bike gearing on the big and middle rings, and climbers' gearing on the small ring. It just seems to me to be superior to a mega-range compact in every way.
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Old 06-13-13, 08:05 AM
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My next bike will be something like the SRAM WiFli compact double with a 32 on the back. I've had a triple for the last couple of decades and I'm tired for constantly trimming the FD. As far as wide jumps on a compact double, come on! Many of us 50+ers remember when a 10-speed was 2 on the front and 5 on the back. That was some wide jumps on something like a 13-26 freewheel. Now there's 10 or 11 gears on the back plus 2 on the front.
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Old 06-13-13, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by JerrySTL View Post
My next bike will be something like the SRAM WiFli compact double with a 32 on the back. I've had a triple for the last couple of decades and I'm tired for constantly trimming the FD. As far as wide jumps on a compact double, come on! Many of us 50+ers remember when a 10-speed was 2 on the front and 5 on the back. That was some wide jumps on something like a 13-26 freewheel. Now there's 10 or 11 gears on the back plus 2 on the front.
Ughhh. My first 10 speed bike (2x5) has a 53 & 49T 144 bcd crankset and a 14-24 5-speed cassette. I was 18 years old and had strong legs, but I hated both the spacing and the range of that set-up.

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Old 06-13-13, 09:03 AM
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If I can barely push a 30T/28t up a long 10%, what chance have I with a 34T/28t?

You change the 30t for something smaller.. , dummy..

A mass produced bike is built up with mass produced components
the crank set is bought by the truckload to get the best price.

once its at the bike shop, the individual alters the build to suit their personal prefernces

I have 2 very nice Campag triples , 50,40, 24t (nee 30t)


Other compact double lovers went for MTB RDs and the 11-34t cassettes
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Old 06-13-13, 09:51 AM
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Yes, the OP does, indeed, live in the coastal SF Bay Area, where the San Andreas Fault (a mere 3/4 mile from my house) has made mincemeat of our topography. I can handle some pretty steep stuff (10-17% over 2 miles) in the middle ring if it's short (less than 1/2 mile or so).
We have one climb I've spoken of often (Sharp Park Road) which really kicks my hindquarters. Anything that gets me out of Dodge is like that and the exertion plus my HR restrictions (BP. Less of a problem) plus my asthma lead me to some really small gears. And even then, I need short breaks to let my breathing recover.
I mean, I could just keep the Giant and its triple (I did just replace the crankset and brifters last year) and try to find a 26T ring somewhere. Might be perfect. BUT I'M TALKING ABOUT A NEW BIKE, PEOPLE! Are ye trying to talk me out of it? I could get one with SRAM WiFli (I admit to being very, very curious about SRAM after years of Shimano) or the 30/30 Shiman set up. <sigh> Oh, I don't know... but that Felt Z3 really rings my bell on paper.
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Old 06-13-13, 09:54 AM
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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.
Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
I had a 50 & 34t compact with an 11-32 ten-speed cassette, but hated the bigger steps between cogs. I also didn't like shifting from the big ring to the smaller ring every time I dropped below 18 mph.
+1

If you like riding in the mountains, a triple is the way to go. The only reason to do a compact double is if you don't want to pony up for a conversion from double to triple. If you're buying a new bike at a good LBS, that should be a non-issue.

Better gear spacing. Less shifting between chainrings on the flats. All for a pittance of additional weight. Easy choice for me.
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Old 06-13-13, 10:02 AM
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I have a bike with 50-34 compact crank and 10 speed 11-34 casette. It's a 105 group with an LX mtb rear derailleur. It works ok, But I like the close ratios of my triple equipped bikes better. I like climbing a lot more with the triples. I agree with the others about bigger jumps in gears on the compact crank bike. My 11-34 cassett makes the jumps a little worse. I would not sell a compact crank set up just to go to a tripple.
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Old 06-13-13, 10:15 AM
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I think the OP isn't going to know if he likes one setup over the other until he has experience with them both. All of the opinions given so far are based on personal preference which is likely the combined sum of personality, type of riding, physical attributes, geography, etc. Only the OP can determine what best meets his needs. I’d encourage you to give the compact a try. You might even be able to get the LBS to let you ride it for a few weeks and if you don’t like it you can swap it out for the triple.

One cycling friend loathes triple setups simply because he hates having more than a single shift on the front. When he crests a hill on a triple he routinely wants to jump to the highest gear he can. I’m not sure why and I think it’s not all that complicated a process if that’s what you’re inclined to do. He hates it. And as he says, he’s doing this for him, not anyone else, and don’t have to understand, approve or even care why he likes it the way he does.
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Old 06-13-13, 10:36 AM
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I think road bikes aren't coming with triples because pros don't use triples. And for all of the reasons to not have a triple, that's one of the sillier ones.

To the OP, if you have issues with the gearing you have now, getting higher gearing isn't going to be any easier. If it were me, I'd have them put on a triple.

Is it possible that you'll fall in love the the compact double and never look back? Sure. Is it likely? ...
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Old 06-13-13, 10:38 AM
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I didn't think the point was what they should be making but rather what they are making and tend to offer at many, many, bike shops. If he can find the newest most wazoo machine from BMC or Specialized Venge, or Madone 6.9 in a triple more power to him. But if that is the kind of machine he wants and it doesn't come with a triple then the options are change the rear cassette and maybe a derailleur at a fraction of what it would cost to change over to a triple.

I used to hear things like this all the time in the car forums. Someone is considering getting a replacement for their Dino and trying a Enzo and then someone will chime in that it would be better to keep their old ride or get a different car because the new one only comes with a paddle shifter and not a H pattern.

If the OP can find a N+1 with the drive train so many have mentioned good for him. If the bike he wants doesn't come with a triple and he needs more gear there is no need to give up on the bike simply because it isn't a triple. And yes, the reality is many of the newest high end road bikes aren't being offered with Alpine gearing. That is just how it is.
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Old 06-13-13, 10:51 AM
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Lots of really good points, here. Having never ridden anything (in my current cycling iteration) other than a triple, I have no idea what a compact feels like. And, please do understand, I have no animosity towards a triple. Triples have served me well on all of my recent (since 2005) bikes, although with the close spacing in the back, sometimes I can't tell that I've shifted to a higher ratio. My old Lemond -which was a 9 speed 105 if memory serves- had a 30/30 and, as I recall, it made Sharp Park Road almost easy. I've made do with the 30/28 on my Giant but I can and do struggle with it. Back to square one, I could just buy a 12-30 cog set (if I can find one) for $100 or so and swap it out. Or I can try the Z3.
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Old 06-13-13, 11:27 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai View Post
Lots of really good points, here. Having never ridden anything (in my current cycling iteration) other than a triple, I have no idea what a compact feels like. And, please do understand, I have no animosity towards a triple. Triples have served me well on all of my recent (since 2005) bikes, although with the close spacing in the back, sometimes I can't tell that I've shifted to a higher ratio. My old Lemond -which was a 9 speed 105 if memory serves- had a 30/30 and, as I recall, it made Sharp Park Road almost easy. I've made do with the 30/28 on my Giant but I can and do struggle with it. Back to square one, I could just buy a 12-30 cog set (if I can find one) for $100 or so and swap it out. Or I can try the Z3.
Yes you can. There is no reason to be prisoner to the past even if you have the option of doing so. Road double, Compact, triple. I can not remember the last time I used the small ring on the triple and I am not a lightweight, 14 stone as my friend Stapfam would say. But my compact has a MTB cassette on the back and my 52x38 has a 11x28 on the back. Like you said many bikes are now coming with a compact and a 11x30 stock on the back. Some will and do take a 34 or even a 36. I don't know if it is because fewer people want triples they aren't making as many or because they aren't making as many fewer people are buying them. But as you said fewer of the newer road machines seem to be offered with the triple as an option on the shop floor. With the new derailleurs and rear cassettes it seems like fewer and fewer people need then, or should I say are exposed to them.
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Old 06-13-13, 11:30 AM
  #25  
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Your Defy 2 may be 6 years old but is still a pretty good bike. It hasn't had many miles on it either and the current Defy may be a different colour but that is about all,

Reckon you have to get down the shops and test ride a compact crank bike. Hopefully one with a 27 or 28T on the cassette and you will know if you need lower gearing that a triple would give.

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