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Changing chainring to a “non-traditional” gearing 50/34 —> 50/42

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Changing chainring to a “non-traditional” gearing 50/34 —> 50/42

Old 09-07-21, 02:06 PM
  #26  
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A 46-36 crankset might be right for you. This is a fairly standard CX set up for those of us who still have doubles.
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Old 09-07-21, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Kabuto View Post
Shift up two gears on the rear derailleur at the same time. Problem solved.
More like 3.
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Old 09-07-21, 03:32 PM
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Ahh, the appeal of the triple. You get to keep your standard chainrings, and have a granny as well.

Last edited by seypat; 09-07-21 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 09-07-21, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Ahh, the appeal of the triple. You get to keep your standard chainrings. and have a granny as well.
That's funny - I like more and larger cogs at the back to AVOID having a triple.
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Old 09-07-21, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
That's funny - I like more and larger cogs at the back to AVOID having a triple.
If you're a $hitty climber like me, you have a triple......... and a large cluster in back.
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Old 09-07-21, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Kabuto View Post
Shift up two gears on the rear derailleur at the same time. Problem solved.
Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Yeah, the drop from 50 to 34 means dropping 3 cogs to stay at the same cadence and effort, which is a lot.
Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
More like 3.
The OP is shifting to the smaller chainring I'm assuming because he wants to pedal in an easier gear, but the jump is so big its annoying. So shifting up 2 gears at the rear will lessen, but not eliminate, the jump. You still end up in an easier gear.

As you stated, shifting up 3 gears at the rear will just put you back where you started (same cadence and effort).
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Old 09-07-21, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Kabuto View Post
The OP is shifting to the smaller chainring I'm assuming because he wants to pedal in an easier gear, but the jump is so big its annoying. So shifting up 2 gears at the rear will lessen, but not eliminate, the jump. You still end up in an easier gear.

As you stated, shifting up 3 gears at the rear will just put you back where you started (same cadence and effort).
I looked it up, and I was mistaken. With the 50/34., dropping 3 still puts you in a smaller gear. You have to drop 4 to get the same gear. For me, dropping only 2 puts me in too small a gear and I spin like mad, while 3 feels right. With a 53/39, it's more like 3 to get to the same gear, so shifting 2 feels right. With a 52/42, 1 feels right.
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Old 09-07-21, 10:20 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
With the 50/34., dropping 3 still puts you in a smaller gear. You have to drop 4 to get the same gear.
It really depends on the cassette and when you shift between the front chain rings.

OP may need Di2 in full synchro shifting mode.
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Old 09-08-21, 03:54 AM
  #34  
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If you don't live in the mountains where you might need really low and high gears and if you're not a weak rider on non categorized climbs a 46/36 is perfect.
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Old 09-08-21, 06:18 AM
  #35  
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To be a bit contrary, why does it sound to me like the OP really needs to go with a 1x setup? The proposed chainring option he made, basically only allows his double to only add on at most 2-3 extra gears vs if if only had the 50T ring. While he doesn't like the 3-4 rear gear adjustments necessary with a 16T front difference, he might be pretty fine with some of the larger single gear gaps that exist with some 1x setups.
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Old 09-08-21, 07:11 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
To be a bit contrary, why does it sound to me like the OP really needs to go with a 1x setup? The proposed chainring option he made, basically only allows his double to only add on at most 2-3 extra gears vs if if only had the 50T ring. While he doesn't like the 3-4 rear gear adjustments necessary with a 16T front difference, he might be pretty fine with some of the larger single gear gaps that exist with some 1x setups.
More shifting. I've never figured out people's fascination with more shifting. Some would rather shift the back 5-10 times instead of shifting the front once or twice.

Last edited by seypat; 09-08-21 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 09-08-21, 08:47 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
More shifting. I've figured out people's fascination with more shifting. Some would rather shift the back 5-10 times instead of shifting the front once or twice.
Its all about maintaining a cadence/effort for best power/efficiency/pace. Some people don’t shift enough to yield the full benefits of the entire range of the drivetrain, some people do. As long as you’re out there riding, who cares what others do? Just make sure you’re wearing proper cycling attire and footwear.
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Old 09-08-21, 08:50 AM
  #38  
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It seems to me that the OP, who is used to something like a 52-42-32 triple and never used the 32, is simply unused to more modern, wider--range crank sets.

Back in the day, chains were too laterally stiff to handle that much sideways motion. Cassettes were smaller and riders either grew big legs or got triples. Nowadays with 11-speed cassettes and flexible chains, chain rings can cover wider range and hit both the highs and lows of the old triples. The OP is simply not used to modern chain rings.

That is one issue. And the simple solution, as many have noted, is learning to shift modern drive trains, where both ends need to be shifted at once (though I must say, having ridden back when 52-42 was considered standard and six cogs was considered sufficient) double-shifting a triple was still a useful technique to get the most out of the bike.)

What the OP doesn't address is whether he Needs higher gearing. if he can climb just fine , that's great (though he admits sometimes he shifts to the small ring.) What he never addresses is, is the big ring too small? if he likes 52x11, 50x12 isn't going to please him (though I like it personally.) if he never spins out his top two gears, then going to a 52-39 won't address his main issue (adapting to the larger gap between ring ratios) but might hurt his climbing.

@guapo337 :

To really help we would need to know what ratios you actually used and how much. Do you use all the biggest cogs in the small ring? Probably not---but do you use all the biggest cogs in the Big ring? If so (and it seems likely if you only rarely drop to the small ring) then you don't want to move to a lower-tooth-count big cog-- I believe you said you run a 11x30? if you find yourself using 50x30 a lot, then getting a tighter cassette won't help ...

UNLESS ......

You learn to shift a modern drivetrain.

What you need to do is look a the lowest gear you use---34x what? 50xwhat---and figure out what you can do without.

(You can cheat and use https://datacranker.com/calculate-gear-ratio-chart/---I cheated and used Excel.)

For instance (and I suck at math, but I Know a lot of people will correct me) 50x11 ratio is 50/11=4.55 ratio. 50x30= 1.67. 34x30=1.13.

I can't help much since I don't know what cassette you have. I will assume you have this--- Shimano 11t / 30t : 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 24, 27, 30

Whatever the case, figure the lowest ratio you use .... and make that your lowest gear. If you can climb all the hills in 50x30, then you are fine, but if you need to drop to 34x24 (1.4 ratio) then you need to keep that 24-tooth cog---so get a 12x25 or an 11x25 if they make one for your bike.

The benefit of a tighter cassette is that the step between each cog is smaller. For instance an 11-28 11-speed ahs the following cogs
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 28---whereas the 11x34 has
11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 25, 28, 32

The jump of one tooth at the small end is about the same, percentage-wise as the jump of two teeth in the middle. But you will see that on the 11-34, it starts jumping two teeth sooner and then three teeth and then four---which means (just as you found and disliked up front) a bigger change in effort between shifts.

Check out the 12t / 25t:
12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25. That is one-tooth jumps between the first Eight cogs. That gives you almost micro-adjusting ability through most of the range. If you discover that 34x25 will work for you on the hills, you will find that shifting the back could almost always get you a really good ratio for your needs at any time.

BUT .... we still haven't figured out if you need Higher top gears.

Do you regularly ride in 50x11 and spin at 100 or more rpm? Or do you mostly use it only going downhill for short spurts? Or do you get to 50x11 but not spin really fast? If you are regularly spinning 50x11 at 120 rpm or something ... then you might need a 53-39 chain set. Buyt ... that will involve Money. adding a few links to the chain is no big deal, but buying a quality 53-39 crankset might. (I will leave it to somebody else to research if you can just buy the rings and use your existing cranks, and how much that will cost or save---this post is long enough.)

Keep in mind that if you change the chain rings, you need to recalculate your ratios to figure what cassette suits you best.

Oaky ... I am tired, and you probably stopped reading 14 paragraphs ago. I am out.
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Old 09-08-21, 08:51 AM
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Is there a minimum chainring delta for the FD's? You generally set the location on the braze on by the largest ring. Then the FD design dictates the biggest jump down from big to small you can do given the parallelogram motion of the FD.

Either way, a 42 is my inner ring for my TT bike setup. A TT bike where if needing the 2x setup for a local club TT I will still average about 26mph for the event. So 42t is a lot of inner chainring for any bike. Much less a bike with only a 50t big ring.

I agree with the above poster, tighter rear cassette and keep the 50/34. If it bothers you that much try a 36 inner first. A 42 just sounds silly.

With a 50/34 in a flatter area I'd go either 12-25 or 11-25. A 50 and 12 will probably cause some high cadence on even modestly downhill stuff. If you coast mostly downhill, don't worry. I run bigger ring setups as not being able to hold my comfortable cadence downhill drives me nuts.
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Old 09-09-21, 06:54 AM
  #40  
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Sounds reasonable to me, but maybe try something like a 39t?
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Old 09-09-21, 07:37 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Kabuto View Post
Shift up two gears on the rear derailleur at the same time. Problem solved.
I'm surprised no one suggested to swapping to DI2 and putting it on semi synchro mode!
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Old 09-09-21, 10:40 PM
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Throw away both chainrings and the front derailleur.
Then put a 46t narrow/wide 1x chainring on it.
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Old 09-10-21, 06:38 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Kabuto View Post
The OP is shifting to the smaller chainring I'm assuming because he wants to pedal in an easier gear, but the jump is so big its annoying. So shifting up 2 gears at the rear will lessen, but not eliminate, the jump. You still end up in an easier gear.
Well, since he is shifting Down ... he Wants to end up in an easier gear.
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Old 09-10-21, 08:00 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by guapo337 View Post
I recently got a new road bike after having ridden my previous bike for 13 years. My previous bike had a triple chainring, where the middle and larger chainrings were 42 and 52t. I literally *never* used the smallest chainring, as I would often drop the chain if for some reason I did end up shifting down.

Anyway, shiny new bike arrives and it’s a double chainring 50/34t. I find this gearing to be really terrible. The 34t chainring is too small to be useful to me, and so I find myself riding in the larger chainring almost exclusively. Gut instinct is that changing the small from 34t to 42t (to be more like my older bike) would be great - I feel like I’d get a lot more out of the bike overall.

What are the downsides to replacing the small chainring? Why should I NOT do this?

I don’t know enough about gear ratios to really understand the potential downsides, so I’d love any input/suggestions folks have. Fwiw the rear cassette on the new bike is 11-30t, the old bike was 12-25t.
The only downside to swapping out your 34 for a 42 is losing out on the low-end gearing. If you are confident you can climb everything in your area in 42x30, and can find a 42t with a 110bcd to fit your crank, then yes, go for it. This is the end of the important part of this post, the rest is just filler.

FWIW, I grew up with 42/52 2x6, then later triples with a 30 added, 3x8/9. When I parked, I would always leave my bike in one of 42x16 or 42x17 (depending on which I had on that particular bike) and that was my go-anywhere gear. I would stay in that gear to commute, run errands, visit friends etc and never shift again until I was in full bike kit.
I have never found a gear in a 34 or 39t small ring that matches that 42x16 for all-purpose comfort, even replicating the ratio as close as possible. The nearest I've come is the 46x16 on my single speed. There just is something about the 42 that is comfortable for all circumstances, it just answers so many questions...
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Old 09-10-21, 08:13 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
FWIW, I grew up with 42/52 2x6, then later triples with a 30 added, 3x8/9. When I parked, I would always leave my bike in one of 42x16 or 42x17 (depending on which I had on that particular bike) and that was my go-anywhere gear. I would stay in that gear to commute, run errands, visit friends etc and never shift again until I was in full bike kit.
I have never found a gear in a 34 or 39t small ring that matches that 42x16 for all-purpose comfort, even replicating the ratio as close as possible. The nearest I've come is the 46x16 on my single speed. There just is something about the 42 that is comfortable for all circumstances, it just answers so many questions...
Re: my bike, I'm probably going to explore a 12-25 cassette and more shifting for now, rather than changing the crank. That said, your point about the 42 resonates for sure. And maybe I just got too comfortable with it, and as a result wasn't pushing myself. I don't know. But yeah, there's something about the 42 that is just perfect.
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Old 09-10-21, 08:20 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by guapo337 View Post
Re: my bike, I'm probably going to explore a 12-25 cassette and more shifting for now, rather than changing the crank. That said, your point about the 42 resonates for sure. And maybe I just got too comfortable with it, and as a result wasn't pushing myself. I don't know. But yeah, there's something about the 42 that is just perfect.
It's taken a few years, but 34x14 has kind of filled the go-anywhere-gear gap on my 2 bikes with compact cranks. But it's never been exactly the same.

That 46x16ss tho...
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Old 09-10-21, 09:56 AM
  #47  
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I'd have to start by seeing how/when the OP shifts and spins the pedals before I could suggest "solutions."
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Old 09-10-21, 10:08 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by guapo337 View Post
I recently got a new road bike after having ridden my previous bike for 13 years. My previous bike had a triple chainring, where the middle and larger chainrings were 42 and 52t. I literally *never* used the smallest chainring, as I would often drop the chain if for some reason I did end up shifting down.
Anyway, shiny new bike arrives and it’s a double chainring 50/34t. I find this gearing to be really terrible. The 34t chainring is too small to be useful to me, and so I find myself riding in the larger chainring almost exclusively. Gut instinct is that changing the small from 34t to 42t (to be more like my older bike) would be great - I feel like I’d get a lot more out of the bike overall.
What are the downsides to replacing the small chainring? Why should I NOT do this?
I don’t know enough about gear ratios to really understand the potential downsides, so I’d love any input/suggestions folks have. Fwiw the rear cassette on the new bike is 11-30t, the old bike was 12-25t.
You should try to understand gearing/gear ratios ... The 11-30 is a 'Fit-All' & "Not Great for many" solution - with a HUGE HOLE in the gearing that most riders will be using often... the Hole ??? jumping from a 15 to a 19 with only the 17 in between.... on a 50/34 the range from 15 to 19 is the MOST used for many riders...
I won't go into the all the gear/gearing tech involved, but recommend you learn more about gearing to better understand...
Honestly to really 'use' an 11 cog is the domain of Cat 3 racing or higher... 11s are mostly a joke for 95%+ of riders....

Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
@guapo337 :
To really help we would need to know what ratios you actually used and how much.
...
The benefit of a tighter cassette is that the step between each cog is smaller. For instance an 11-28 11-speed ahs the following cogs
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 28---whereas the 11x34 has
11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 25, 28, 32
The jump of one tooth at the small end is about the same, percentage-wise as the jump of two teeth in the middle. But you will see that on the 11-34, it starts jumping two teeth sooner and then three teeth and then four---which means (just as you found and disliked up front) a bigger change in effort between shifts.
Check out the 12t / 25t:
12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25. That is one-tooth jumps between the first Eight cogs. That gives you almost micro-adjusting ability through most of the range
. If you discover that 34x25 will work for you on the hills, you will find that shifting the back could almost always get you a really good ratio for your needs at any time.
Ok, the above... All 11-X cassettes have HOLES where you might ride most often.- again holes from 15 to 19 T.. unless you commonly do Big Gear intervals a lot, exclusively ride flat TTs, or do big climbs on every ride...
The 12-25 - 11 spd has the best spaced gearing for most riders riding at moderate/medium cadences of 75+ to 95 rpm.... speeds of 15 to 25 mph... rear cogs of 14 - 19 single step.
a 25 may not be enough for many riders, hence the 28, But the 11 for the majority of rec riders is a joke, a 'give-away' of gearing...
Of course EVERYONE will state they can't possibly LIVE without the 11 !!!! ROTFLMAO !!!!
BTW, the idea and nice advantage of a compact 50/34 with a 10 or 11 spd is that often double shifting back and forth from Big to small ring is no longer necessary.... With a compact and a tighter cog range cassette you stay in one ring for most of a ride section, run the gear range, and then go back to the other ring for a different terrain section.
If you mostly ride flat to rolling, you'll be in the Big ring most of the time, and only drop to small ring when you get to longer/steeper climbs... or just riding easy, recovery or slower...
I would not screw with changing the Chainrings...
Put on the 12-25 11spd cassette, 105 or Ultegra - I'd be surprised of you didn;t find the 50/34 to be a really nice setup... simple...

Thx
Yuri
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Old 09-10-21, 10:52 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by guapo337 View Post
Re: my bike, I'm probably going to explore a 12-25 cassette and more shifting for now, rather than changing the crank. .
The downside of the tighter cassette is that you have to make more rear shifts when changing chainrings. With my 13-26 cassette which has the same gaps as a 12 -25 cassette I have to make 3 rear shifts when changing chainrings. With the 12-29 on my other bike, I only make 2. Your 11-30 would be similar
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Old 09-10-21, 11:47 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by cyclezen View Post
You should try to understand gearing/gear ratios ... The 11-30 is a 'Fit-All' & "Not Great for many" solution - with a HUGE HOLE in the gearing that most riders will be using often... the Hole ??? jumping from a 15 to a 19 with only the 17 in between.... on a 50/34 the range from 15 to 19 is the MOST used for many riders...

Honestly to really 'use' an 11 cog is the domain of Cat 3 racing or higher... 11s are mostly a joke for 95%+ of riders....

The 12-25 - 11 spd has the best spaced gearing for most riders riding at moderate/medium cadences of 75+ to 95 rpm.... speeds of 15 to 25 mph... rear cogs of 14 - 19 single step.
a 25 may not be enough for many riders, hence the 28, But the 11 for the majority of rec riders is a joke, a 'give-away' of gearing...

Of course EVERYONE will state they can't possibly LIVE without the 11 !!!! ROTFLMAO !!!!

Put on the 12-25 11spd cassette, 105 or Ultegra - I'd be surprised of you didn;t find the 50/34 to be a really nice setup... simple...

Thx
Yuri
I love to argue, but I cannot argue with any of that. I run a 12-28 on my Raleigh, but i am a weak climber even when compared to people who cannot climb. Tight ratios are very useful.
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