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53t, 52t, or 50t Big Ring?

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

53t, 52t, or 50t Big Ring?

Old 03-12-07, 07:50 AM
  #1  
mpearson77
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53t, 52t, or 50t Big Ring?

Just upgraded to a 06 Lemond Tourmalet last October. I had been riding a 52t top ring prior and had really gotten used to it, being able to average 17 to 18 mph. The Lemond has a 53t big ring and I have had issues trying to get used to it. I never thought 1 tooth would make that much difference.

Should I stick it out with the 53 or go back to my 52 or possibly consider a compact?

Thanks!
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Old 03-12-07, 07:51 AM
  #2  
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do you need the compact for hills on your rides?? If not, I'd stick with the 53 or maybe the 52. But, if you don't have the larger hills, wouldn't go for compact.
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Old 03-12-07, 08:23 AM
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If your cruising speed is 17-18 mph, you're a strong candidate for a compact. If you run a 25/12 in the rear, with a 50 as your big ring, you'd have to go over 40mph before coming close to spinning out. At 90RPM, you'll only be in your 3rd cog in the front. Take a puff of wind or a slight incline, and you can't use the big ring unless you spin too slowly. You might do even better with a 48T since that would give you a bit more overlap between the rings.

Rather than making sure you have gears to mash when you're bombing down the side of a mountain, it's far more useful to have gears that you actually use.
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Old 03-12-07, 08:38 AM
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Yeah, thats kinda what I was thinking. I rarely use anything past 19 in my big chainring. I do however like my 39 x 17,15,14 combinations, but will the 50 make up for those?
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Old 03-12-07, 08:40 AM
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54t
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Old 03-12-07, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mpearson77
Just upgraded to a 06 Lemond Tourmalet last October. I had been riding a 52t top ring prior and had really gotten used to it, being able to average 17 to 18 mph. The Lemond has a 53t big ring and I have had issues trying to get used to it. I never thought 1 tooth would make that much difference.

Should I stick it out with the 53 or go back to my 52 or possibly consider a compact?

Thanks!
I have my compact equip'd with a 46-34. with a 12-25 on the rear. I like it much.
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Old 03-12-07, 08:44 AM
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54t...you are sick man...
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Old 03-12-07, 08:55 AM
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That's what's on my TT rig. It is beefy.
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Old 03-12-07, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by mpearson77
Yeah, thats kinda what I was thinking. I rarely use anything past 19 in my big chainring. I do however like my 39 x 17,15,14 combinations, but will the 50 make up for those?
A coupact would work well for you. If you run a 50T up front and a 12-25 in the back, you can stay in teh big ring nearly all the time. But, you could also get the same thing by just putting a 50T big ring on your current double and keep the 39T small ring. If you don't have an issue with the 39T, then I'd really just say get a 52T or 50T big ring. Heck get both and see what you like! Chainrings are cheap.
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Old 03-12-07, 09:29 AM
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Touring/fitness/century riders should have 50x34 and 13-26. You'll never need anything bigger if you are an efficient pedaler and the cassette is a good straight block with a bailout gear..

Racers will need more for sprints and usually get 53x12 or sometimes an 11 if they have 40+ mph sprinting ability.
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Old 03-12-07, 09:45 AM
  #11  
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Another way to get your flat ground speed closer to the middle of the rear cassette is to run a triple. A 42t ring may be just what you want for not having to shift the front on minor inclines or downhills.
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Old 03-12-07, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by mpearson77
Yeah, thats kinda what I was thinking. I rarely use anything past 19 in my big chainring. I do however like my 39 x 17,15,14 combinations, but will the 50 make up for those?
Here's the problem I think you're going to have -- a compact will put you in a situation where the small ring is too small a lot of the time and the big ring is a bit on the large side. When you're on your 39T, you have gears up and down to mess with. Switch that to a 34T and you'll be at the top of the range or the bottom of the 50T.

To alleviate this problem, I would recommend getting a bit more overlap between the rings. The 50/34 combo that's so popular gives an excellent range for climbing, but some combos that people find very useful will be at the top of one ring or the bottom of another.

Better to run 50/36 or 48/34 with a 27/12 in the back. This will give you some actual choice because there will be more overlap and reasonably tight gears in the ranges you actually use. When climbing or fighting strong wind, the bottom ring will work for you and the big ring will be good for everything else. At your cruising speed, either ring should work fine even with the 48/34 combo.

Don't be afraid to use different cassettes for different rides. There's a lot to be said for having the right gears.
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Old 03-12-07, 10:25 AM
  #13  
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50/36 with a 12-27 in back is a great combo. The 50x24 gear is great for moderate climbs and not having to shift into the small ring.
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Old 03-12-07, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by briscoelab
...But, you could also get the same thing by just putting a 50T big ring on your current double and keep the 39T small ring. If you don't have an issue with the 39T, then I'd really just say get a 52T or 50T big ring. Heck get both and see what you like! Chainrings are cheap.
Just reducing the size of the big ring isn't a bad idea. What it sacrifices is some flexibility on sustained, steep climbs and killer winds.

However, if the OP does not ride in mountains or ride against 30mph+ headwinds, this will not be an issue.
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Old 03-12-07, 10:39 AM
  #15  
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I just switched my old backup bike from a 53/39T to a 48/38T and find its much more hill friendly. I don't see any reason to go over 50T.
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Old 03-12-07, 10:43 AM
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I think I may take the compact plunge...or at least give it shot. Thanks guys.
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Old 03-12-07, 10:56 AM
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I use a 50/34t compact with 12-24t in the rear. I like the wide spread in range between the top and lowest gears. Sure, when I get to the end of the cluster, I have to do a simultaneous double-shift with moving 3-4 cogs in the back, but I'm so used to it, I don't even notice.
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Old 03-12-07, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
I use a 50/34t compact with 12-24t in the rear. I like the wide spread in range between the top and lowest gears. Sure, when I get to the end of the cluster, I have to do a simultaneous double-shift with moving 3-4 cogs in the back, but I'm so used to it, I don't even notice.
I dealt with that for almost a year, and at first it didn't bother me much, but then I decided to go with the 36T 'ring. Much better. It's like having the gear spacing of a 53/39, but in a compact.

I will probably try out a 12-21 cluster and a 12-23 as well.
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