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Triple vs compact - input please

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

Triple vs compact - input please

Old 09-22-08, 07:04 PM
  #26  
Corsaire
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I switched from a standard double to a compact double (50/34 - 12/27) and now I can tackle all those steep hills before it made me suffer, like pitches at 15% or 20%. Still hurts but doable.
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Old 09-22-08, 07:05 PM
  #27  
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Thanks everyone. Bottom line, I don't want to embarrass myself on the uphills/climbs by having to get off the bike and walk - due to not having enough gears. I havent had to on my mtn bike (but I did use the granny's when needed) so imagine my concern....
Although I am not looking to 'win' the race, I do want to 'finish' with integrity.

I appreciate all of the insight. All were great comments. Keep them coming and I will keep riding. I have no choice but to take on the hills here in NJ. There is almost no flat terrain out of my door. Its a lot of fairly steep up and downs for miles around me.

Joey
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Old 09-22-08, 07:08 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Judoka View Post
Thanks everyone. Bottom line, I don't want to embarrass myself on the uphills/climbs by having to get off the bike and walk - due to not having enough gears. I havent had to on my mtn bike (but I did use the granny's when needed) so imagine my concern....
Although I am not looking to 'win' the race, I do want to 'finish' with integrity.

I appreciate all of the insight. All were great comments. Keep them coming and I will keep riding. I have no choice but to take on the hills here in NJ. There is almost no flat terrain out of my door. Its a lot of fairly steep up and downs for miles around me.

Joey
If you're a judoka, it cant be worse than taking your bumps while practicing judo, can it?
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Old 09-22-08, 07:12 PM
  #29  
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LOL! Well said. Yes, I am a Judoka...30 years of bumps and bruises to get to a 3rd Degree Black Belt. And proud of it. But its a different type of endurance. Its not the falling down/getting injured that worries me. Its the panting...as well as the emotional scars... that concerns me.

Thanks!

Joey
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Old 09-22-08, 07:35 PM
  #30  
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I went from a triple 52/42/30 to a 50/34. Where I live there's tons of steep hills, and I didn't want to loose that bail-out gear, so I bought a 11-28. After a few slogs up some 20% hills, I decided the 28 wasn't enough, so I bought a 11-30 and made a custom cassette with the 30 as the bail gear: 11, 14, 16, 18, 20, 23, 26, 30. Most of my climbing is with the 23, but the 26 and 30 do come in handy from time to time. I like the compact and wide gearing in the back over the triple. With this combo I have all the usable gears that I had with the triple. Less shifting. It get's to the point.
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Old 09-22-08, 07:59 PM
  #31  
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you're fine. climbing isn't a skill that comes overnight.

i think the best advice i ever got came from bicycling magazine (yeah, i know). ride up the hill at 80% of your max effort, even you're going only 10 mph. keep your cadence at 90+, and every now and then, click up a gear and climb standing for a bit. try to not get to the stage where your legs are screaming in agony.

also, i find this helps me a lot, on climbs, i move my hands to the bar-top position, sit up straight, and sit far back on my saddle. i pedal in a fashion that kind of makes my heels lead the downstroke on the cranks.

shift up earlier on hills.

when you get to the top, you won't feel that tired, and you'll be able to just fly down the other side at a respectable speed while still being able to do the little bit of recovery you need. if the top of the hill ends up just being a plateau, then you'll still be able to recover faster than somebody who's totally tapped out.

i'm a pretty crap climber and i get left behind on longer hills a good amount on group rides, but now, i always manage to recover quite quickly and catch up, usually to the surprise of the group. don't worry if you lag, you'll be able to catch up when they're tired after clearing the top of the hill.
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Old 09-22-08, 08:04 PM
  #32  
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I got a new bike this summer. I thought I wanted another triple, but after test riding several bikes I decided I would be quite happly with a compact. I did a 52 mile test ride on some fairly hilly terrain and found climbing with the compact was easier than using the granny ring on my triple.

Stick with the compact.
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Old 09-22-08, 08:14 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by heyguys View Post
The thing is...if you plan to stick with cycling then you will soon outgrow a triple. I mean...you will out grow it very very quick. A compact crank will give you much more room to grow into your bike...cassettes arent too expensive. Just really make sure you have that 12/27...you can count the cogs if you want...I promise you will be better off....

This is coming from someone who has owned both.
What the heck does that mean? My race bike has a double. I don't see much reason not to have a triple on my other bikes or a hypothetical long-distance/commuting/winter training/just-riding-around road bike that I could well have in the future. "Outgrow." How ridiculous.

OP - you'll probably be fine with the compact, and it will be expensive to switch to a triple. Not as bad as all that, though. Your bike appears to be spec'ed with Shimano 105, and last I checked, the 105 shifters were double/triple compatible.
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Old 09-22-08, 08:15 PM
  #34  
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If you are just starting on a road bike, I'd stick with the triple. You'll eventually get stronger, rely less on your "granny" gear and might want to go convert over to the double.

Personally, I don't think it makes a difference; it's all about gear inches. My next bike might have a triple or at least a compact.
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Old 09-22-08, 08:19 PM
  #35  
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Don't forget, guys -- the OP already has a compact double on his new bike.



And, if it's a Shimano R600 as shown at Felt's site, it's already a darn good crank, solid and smooth-shifting.

Last edited by BarracksSi; 09-22-08 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 09-22-08, 08:29 PM
  #36  
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Not sure if most of the people responding against triples can relate, but a 30 x 26 is a welcome gear after 100+ miles.

Every time I think about getting a double, I end up out on a ride standing on my granny gear going up a wall somewhere. That extra quarter pound isn't making any difference, but having another gear is.

As far as shifting issues, I don't have any but maybe that's because it's a campy triple.
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Old 09-22-08, 08:31 PM
  #37  
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"The thing is...if you plan to stick with cycling then you will soon outgrow a triple. I mean...you will out grow it very very quick. "


LOL I have never heard anyone say this on a 10 mile climb in Colorado. This whole discussion has an entirely meaning depending on the part of the country where you live.

It also depends on riding style. A more mature cyclist may develop a much higher riding cadence which would put a premium on lower gears.

It is worthless to tell someone which gears he needs without knowing a lot of other information.
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Old 09-22-08, 10:36 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by EatMyA** View Post
Dang! 34T and 12-27 cassette?! You sure its enough?

What, you wanna climb walls?
I know SRAM has a 11-28 cassette But seriously, I like to bike but who says I can climb?
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Old 09-22-08, 11:08 PM
  #39  
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My road bike came with a Shimano R600 compact double crank, would've preferred to have a normal double but whatever, it works fine. I refer to it as my "fat man's double" LOL

IMHO a compact double is pretty much just a triple with slightly less range, disguised as a double so the road nazis (hopefully) won't give you quite as much ####.

Might it be slightly less of an indignity to have to walk up a hill rather than spin up it at 3mph in your triple's 34x30 granny? Who knows... anyways, have fun and ride what you like, that's my motto.
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Old 09-22-08, 11:20 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by jrobe View Post
LOL I have never heard anyone say this on a 10 mile climb in Colorado. This whole discussion has an entirely meaning depending on the part of the country where you live.
ABSOLUTELY!
In all this advice I see thrown out about how to climb hills, and what gears you should have, I have yet to see anyone spell out just what *grade* hills they are talking about. I cannot ride anywhere without doing 6% hills at *minimum*. My long rides typically involve 6000-9000' of climbing over 60-130 miles. Grades over a 3000' climb often average 6% but may have 12% grades in sections. I know one local ride that climbs 3000' with 8-12% on the lower half, and 14-17% on the upper half with one section that hits 19%.

So who wants to tell me I don't need anything but a compact road set?
All three of my bikes have triples, and yes I live in CO.
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Old 09-22-08, 11:49 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by surfimp View Post
Might it be slightly less of an indignity to have to walk up a hill rather than spin up it at 3mph in your triple's 34x30 granny?
3 mph? If one pedals that 34x30 at 90 rpm, their speed would be 7.2 mph. (if you meant 30 front with 34 rear, it'd be 6.4 mph). Isn't that the whole point of having lower gears? So that one can keep a high cadence even when going up crazy steep hills? I know it might look more manly to stand up and mash at like 30 rpms, but...
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Old 09-22-08, 11:51 PM
  #42  
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I have a triple with a 53 outer ring - not compact. I find I never use the granny ring. With the 12-27 cassette I have plenty of gears to handle everything.

Mind you on a mountain bike the granny ring does come in handy though.
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Old 09-23-08, 04:55 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
What the heck does that mean? My race bike has a double. I don't see much reason not to have a triple on my other bikes or a hypothetical long-distance/commuting/winter training/just-riding-around road bike that I could well have in the future. "Outgrow." How ridiculous.

OP - you'll probably be fine with the compact, and it will be expensive to switch to a triple. Not as bad as all that, though. Your bike appears to be spec'ed with Shimano 105, and last I checked, the 105 shifters were double/triple compatible.
Sorry not everyone can afford two bikes. Does it honestly sound like he wants a "race bike" and an extra lumpy bike laying around with a triple? He just started on the road..

Anyway you cut it, if you have one bike, a compact is more versatile. Its lighter, looks "cooler", shifts smoother, its simpler, it can achieve virtually the same gearing as triple, and you can arm it with different cassettes as according to your needs as you grow stronger.

Not only that but its cheaper and he ALREADY has one on his bike! Don't waste this guys time with your mumbling.
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Old 09-23-08, 05:09 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Cheshyre View Post
you're fine. climbing isn't a skill that comes overnight.
i think the best advice i ever got came from bicycling magazine (yeah, i know). ride up the hill at 80% of your max effort, even you're going only 10 mph. keep your cadence at 90+, and every now and then, click up a gear and climb standing for a bit. try to not get to the stage where your legs are screaming in agony.
also, i find this helps me a lot, on climbs, i move my hands to the bar-top position, sit up straight, and sit far back on my saddle. i pedal in a fashion that kind of makes my heels lead the downstroke on the cranks.
shift up earlier on hills.
when you get to the top, you won't feel that tired, and you'll be able to just fly down the other side at a respectable speed while still being able to do the little bit of recovery you need. if the top of the hill ends up just being a plateau, then you'll still be able to recover faster than somebody who's totally tapped out.
i'm a pretty crap climber and i get left behind on longer hills a good amount on group rides, but now, i always manage to recover quite quickly and catch up, usually to the surprise of the group. don't worry if you lag, you'll be able to catch up when they're tired after clearing the top of the hill.

This was a very comforting response. I will use this advice.

Thanks to everyone for the input, suggestions, experiences and for caring...

These comments help and provide an excellent education into Road Biking. I will stick with the compact for now, use some of the ideas put forth, and if needed will toy with the idea of switching the cassette if I find that I need the gears.

Best regards,

Joey

Last edited by Judoka; 09-23-08 at 05:12 AM.
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Old 09-23-08, 07:07 AM
  #45  
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The only thing I don't like about the compact crank is the very large difference in gear ratios between the two chainrings. I have to shift multiple times on the rear before shifting on the front and it took some practice before I could do this smoothly. It still causes me a little stress in a tight paceline, honestly.
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Old 09-23-08, 08:09 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by EatMyA** View Post
Dang! 34T and 12-27 cassette?! You sure its enough?

What, you wanna climb walls?
I'm thinking he wants to climb the mountains of New Jersey.

FWIW, I have a compact and switched out the 12/27 with a 12/23 for racing and fast group rides. I put the 12/27 back on when I ride the hills in PA.
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Old 09-23-08, 10:12 AM
  #47  
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I found that the triple was always a problem going from a nice high speed gear to a lower hill climbing gear. Switching from the 53/52 big ring to the 30 small ring was clumbsy. I'm 56 and have been riding for about 8 years. I can now climb hills with a 53/39 crankset and a 13/28 freewheel where I would drop to the 30/28 combo on the triple. It's been said before, ride lots and you'll get better; worked for me. You could also check-out the TA Specialites rings and cranksets at Velo-Orange. Kinda expensive but the options are amazing. PG.
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Old 09-23-08, 12:54 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Allegheny Jet View Post
I'm thinking he wants to climb the mountains of New Jersey.

FWIW, I have a compact and switched out the 12/27 with a 12/23 for racing and fast group rides. I put the 12/27 back on when I ride the hills in PA.
Spend any time in New Jersey, Jet? It's not Colorado, but neither is Ohio. The northwestern part of the state has plenty of leg burners with no such thing as a "flat ride".
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Old 09-23-08, 01:16 PM
  #49  
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I have been mildly overweight and out of shape for 25+ years and in my short time riding, the hills sometimes and usually kill me. My road bike came with a triple. My next bike will come with a compact.

I refer to the smallest sprocket on the front as my surrender sprocket. When I have to go to that I feel shame at having to surrender to the hill. The more I ride, the less I see a need to have it. But, it is nice to have when I want to keep going.

Like I said, next bike... Compact.
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Old 09-23-08, 03:11 PM
  #50  
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I just went from a triple with a 12-25 to a compact with a 12-27. I soon found out that I miss the half a gear on the high and on the low end so I went with a 11-28. I love it . I much prefer the compact over the triple. With the triple, I found myself shifting the front derailleur a lot. With the compact and the 11-28, I can do a lot in either the 34 or the 50 and only shift once in a while.
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