Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Triple Chain Ring versus Compact Double

Notices
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 Chain Ring versus Compact Double

Old 09-10-09, 07:28 PM
  #1  
Deputy Sheriff
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 9
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Triple Chain Ring versus Compact Double

After riding mountain bikes for a number of years, I've decided to jump into road bike world. I'm interested in a Specialized Roubaix Expert and this bike offers a choice between a triple and compact double chainrings. I've read all the articles that I could find on this subject but I want to get some real-world experience on the subject. Does anyone want to share their experience(s) regarding this area. I'm in pretty good shape, but I'm concerned about encountering some big hills and not having a "granny" gear. Any ideas?
Deputy Sheriff is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 07:29 PM
  #2  
Flatballer
No matches
 
Flatballer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Eastern PA
Posts: 11,407

Bikes: two wheeled ones

Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1161 Post(s)
Liked 118 Times in 76 Posts
If you're in good shape, get the compact. You won't miss the granny gear.
Flatballer is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 07:30 PM
  #3  
Barrettscv 
Have bike, will travel
 
Barrettscv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Posts: 12,149

Bikes: Ridley Helium SLX, Canyon Endurance SL, De Rosa Professional, Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra, Schwinn Paramount (1 painted, 1 chrome), Peugeot PX10, Serotta Nova X, Simoncini Cyclocross Special, Raleigh Roker, Pedal Force CG2 and CX2

Mentioned: 45 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 796 Post(s)
Liked 104 Times in 64 Posts
The triple has merit. A compact double will require changes in the front chainring more often than a triple. A 53-39-30t triple provides useful gearing from 10 to 25 mph at a 90 rpm cadence while on the middle ring. This is a great range for many recreational riders. The big ring is there for higher speeds, the little is a bail-out option for very steep routes.

The compact will require you to up-shift between the big and little chainrings at about 18 mph. You will need to use the front derailleur more often on a compact than on a triple. You will also cross-chain more often with a double.

Michael
__________________
When I ride my bike I feel free and happy and strong. I'm liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life. Solid, dependable, silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter jet, my island, my friend. Together we will conquer that hill and thereafter the world.
Barrettscv is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 07:55 PM
  #4  
FR4NCH1SE
Senior Member
 
FR4NCH1SE's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Manassas, Virginia (NoVa)
Posts: 537

Bikes: 2009 GMC DENALI (walmart bike)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Dude get the triple, Your going to need it for big hills and mountains, trust me. No matter how fit you are you always need that granny, your not Lance. I'm not Lance either, but If your going to go on hills, its great to have a gear that can get you up that big hill, or get tortured all the way up it maybe not even get up the hill.
FR4NCH1SE is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 08:42 PM
  #5  
ericm979
Senior Member
 
ericm979's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Santa Cruz Mountains
Posts: 6,169
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Get the triple. It won't cost much more, if any at all, when you buy it on a new bike. But if you get a double and then decide you need a triple after all, it will be very expensive. Converting a triple to a double is much cheaper since you can use the triple shifters (the most expensive part) and rear derailleur.
ericm979 is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 08:46 PM
  #6  
silversx80
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Lexington, SC
Posts: 1,445

Bikes: Lynskey R240, 2013 CAAD10

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 50 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I went from a triple to a compact double and never looked back. I use the small ring for about 10 min/wk at the most.

Of course, it helps that I live in a pretty flat area. I spend a little over a month each year in UT, so an 11-28 cassette will go on next trip.
silversx80 is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 08:52 PM
  #7  
Val23708
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: NorCal
Posts: 2,457

Bikes: Cervelo R3 (Force)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
havent found anything a 53-39 + 12-27 couldn't handle yet...
Val23708 is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 08:56 PM
  #8  
mzeffex 
Senior Member
 
mzeffex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Colorado
Posts: 9,458

Bikes: Something Canadian, something Italian, something American, and something German

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 61 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 13 Times in 7 Posts
I have a triple on my new bike. It was on sale. I'm used to a standard double, and since this has a 50 big ring, I really miss my 53. Oh well.
__________________
Originally Posted by rjones28 View Post
Are they talking about spectators feeding the cyclists? You know, like don't feed the bears?
mzeffex is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 08:57 PM
  #9  
jetjock
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: N41 19.3 W81 17.2
Posts: 80

Bikes: Xstream, Terratrike Rambler, Framed fatbike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked 2 Times in 1 Post
I love my triple. Lets me run a tighter cluster than if I was running a compact. And unlike some people who seem to feel like using the small ring is a weakness I use all three rings. Allows me to stay in the center of the cassette and not have wicked angles on the chain most times.

As far as shifting, I use a duraace barend shifter for my front and STI on the back on all my bikes. Works flawless, smooth as butter and I have unlimted FD trim available if I do need to crosschain.
jetjock is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 08:59 PM
  #10  
Hot Potato
Senior Member
 
Hot Potato's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Western Chicagoland
Posts: 1,821
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
The triple has merit. A compact double will require changes in the front chainring more often than a triple. A 53-39-30t triple provides useful gearing from 10 to 25 mph at a 90 rpm cadence while on the middle ring. This is a great range for many recreational riders. The big ring is there for higher speeds, the little is a bail-out option for very steep routes.

The compact will require you to up-shift between the big and little chainrings at about 18 mph. You will need to use the front derailleur more often on a compact than on a triple. You will also cross-chain more often with a double.

Michael
I bought the Roubaix Expert Triple last year. I really, really, enjoy the bike. Buy it!

And I have to heartily agree with Barettscv quoted above.

I intentionally hunted down a triple because I had failed at some hills near my vacation home on my compact double. I was able to get over the top with the triple, and riding is always better than walking, especially with road shoes. One year later, I still need the triple's lowest on one section occasionally. Maybe next year I won't need it, maybe the new Ultegra compact double with the 12-28 cassette and the 34 chainring is all I would need now, and maybe all you would need now too.

But I discovered that when I am at home in the Chicago Burbs, I never need the granny ring. That 39 middle ring is perfect for my commute, and 95% of my other riding. On occasion (5%) I will use the 53 ring for a while. I vastly prefer riding my triple because of its 39 ring compared to my compact double's 34/50. My next bike will be a standard double not because I am a strong rider, but because it will be so darn convenient when I ride near my home, and the triple will go live at my vacation home near the hills.
Hot Potato is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 09:04 PM
  #11  
dark13star
Mountain Goat
 
dark13star's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 2,244

Bikes: Cannondale Synapse 3 Carbon

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
You don't say where you live. That might matter.

Here in Colorado, we do a lot of climbing and most people I know have compacts with 50/34 and 12-27. That is what I ride on my road bike. There are times I wish I had a triple, but very few. My wife has a triple and she can settle in and spin when it gets really steep, but I have to stand and climb. I prefer the latter because it makes me ride harder, but there is nothing wrong with the other option either. We just meet at the top.

If you have knee problems, go for the triple. This was my first year with knee pain, but I plan to hold out on the compact until I am 50 (I am 42)
__________________
"I would be an historian as Herodotus was." Charles Olson
https://herodot.us
dark13star is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 09:09 PM
  #12  
TNoodles
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Oakland, California
Posts: 150

Bikes: 1986 Trek road bike (steel, downtube shifters), Rockhopper mountain bike, Seven steel/Campy

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I really like a compact double. If you're running Shimano you can go 50/34 and up to 27 in the rear, Campy goes to 29, BUT, if you are really concerned about low gears you can run a Shimano mountain derailler on the rear and go up to a 34 in the back. I like the clean front shifts and I don't miss the slightly higher 53 on the crank. Try to test both and see what you like.
TNoodles is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 09:15 PM
  #13  
jrobe
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,465
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 8 Times in 5 Posts
"You don't say where you live. That might matter."


+ 100

This question and all the answers are worthless without knowing where you live. The answer is totally different if you live in Colorado or Florida. Do you have 20 mile climbs or 200 yard climbs???
jrobe is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 09:16 PM
  #14  
Beaker
moth -----> flame
 
Beaker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 5,916

Bikes: 11 CAAD 10-4, 07 Specialized Roubaix Comp, 98 Peugeot Horizon

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
This.

Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
Get the triple. It won't cost much more, if any at all, when you buy it on a new bike. But if you get a double and then decide you need a triple after all, it will be very expensive. Converting a triple to a double is much cheaper since you can use the triple shifters (the most expensive part) and rear derailleur.
I did this myself, and went from a triple to a compact double - I now appreciate the cleaner shifting and have got strong enough to spend a lot of time riding in the 50T, but the 34T is a nice gear for climbing as you can vary ratios with different cassettes to fine tune your options. But it's much cheaper to go triple->double.
__________________
BF, in a nutshell
Beaker is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 09:40 PM
  #15  
timeedgevxr
Senior Member
 
timeedgevxr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Western NC
Posts: 187

Bikes: Time VXR

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
COMPACT, COMPACT, COMPACT!!!

Do the math, you can run an 11/28 cassette with a compact and the granny gear is 1/10th of one rotation off from the granny on a triple set-up with an 11/27. A triple is heavier and shifts worse.

My wife is 105lbs with almost no experience cycling and less than ideal fitness base for hill riding - we just replaced her old bike with a triple for a new bike with a compact (and 11/28) and she can't tell the difference. We live in Western NC where you can't do a 15 mile ride without at least 1000' of climbing - that's a flat route.
timeedgevxr is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 09:42 PM
  #16  
UmneyDurak
RacingBear
 
UmneyDurak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NorCal
Posts: 8,994
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 245 Post(s)
Liked 33 Times in 18 Posts
Originally Posted by dark13star View Post
You don't say where you live. That might matter.
Quit being rational this is BF forums! lol

UD
UmneyDurak is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 10:22 PM
  #17  
Dtuns
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Portland OR
Posts: 46

Bikes: Gary Fisher Wingra

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Ebay I went from double to triple for $150 only needed derailer and crank with chainrings and its shimano 105
Dtuns is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 10:43 PM
  #18  
benajah
One legged rider
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Moraga, CA
Posts: 1,390

Bikes: Kuota Kharma, Surly LHT, CAAD9, Bianchi fg/ss

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Road biking is not mountain biking. You will not run into the gearing challenges on the road like you do on singletrack. Go with the double, it will help force your legs into the transition, I went through it years ago. If you get a triple you will get used to relying on the granny gear.
MTB places a lot more demands on gearing choices than does road biking.
benajah is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 10:54 PM
  #19  
grolby
Senior Member
 
grolby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: BOSTON BABY
Posts: 9,651
Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 242 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by timeedgevxr View Post
A triple is heavier and shifts worse.
A triple only shifts worse for an incompetent mechanic. The fact that doubles are more forgiving of poor set up does not mean that they shift better. Both compacts and triples have their uses; I think that using a compact in lieu of a triple (which is what most people do) is a mistake. If you really need to long or steep climbing, especially if you don't want to work really hard while doing it, the triple is the better option.
grolby is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 11:39 PM
  #20  
icyclist 
Spin Meister
 
icyclist's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: California, USA
Posts: 2,643

Bikes: Trek Émonda, 1961 Follis (French) road bike (I'm the original owner), a fixie, a mountain bike, etc.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 51 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 5 Posts
If his primary of the Deputy Sheriff is to fit in with people who are racers, or want to look like racers, then the compact could be the way to go.

If the OP prefers making big climbs at his own pace, and isn't interested in how others view him, then the triple could be the way to go.

I have a triple on one of my bikes - my 2008 Roubaix Expert. I almost never use that low gear. There are plenty of 15% grades near my home, yet I almost never need to shift lower than 39/27.

That said, ride enough 15% grades in the course of a day, and that extra gear won't seem like such a handicap. Ride thousands of feet over the course of a day at altitude, and that extra gear might make the difference between finishing a ride atop the bike, or having to stop or even walk to finish that ride.

The truth, then, if the OP can handle it: the difference in gearing between the two systems is too minor to make a profound difference in the overarching scheme of things.

For myself, whether I'm riding a 30/27 on my lightweight Roubaix, or a 39/28 on my my old, much heavier road bike, I know I'm going to make it up the steepest hills I can find, and I know it's going to be an effort with either bike - isn't that the way it's supposed to be?

Ultimately, then, it won't make any difference whether the Deputy Sheriff goes for a compact or triple.
__________________
This post is a natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual character and beauty and are in no way to be considered flaws or defects.
icyclist is offline  
Old 09-10-09, 11:44 PM
  #21  
DonFrambach
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Ventura, CA
Posts: 82

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix 2009 with ultegra triple, Raleigh Competition from the 70's

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have a 2009 Specialized Roubaix with the Ultegra triple. It shifts fine. I don't use the lowest gear very often, but when I do, I am very happy it's there. My advice ... get the triple.
DonFrambach is offline  
Old 09-11-09, 12:12 AM
  #22  
Carbon Unit
Live to ride ride to live
 
Carbon Unit's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 4,896

Bikes: Calfee Tetra Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by timeedgevxr View Post
COMPACT, COMPACT, COMPACT!!!

Do the math, you can run an 11/28 cassette with a compact and the granny gear is 1/10th of one rotation off from the granny on a triple set-up with an 11/27. A triple is heavier and shifts worse.

My wife is 105lbs with almost no experience cycling and less than ideal fitness base for hill riding - we just replaced her old bike with a triple for a new bike with a compact (and 11/28) and she can't tell the difference. We live in Western NC where you can't do a 15 mile ride without at least 1000' of climbing - that's a flat route.
I have done the math. A compact with a 34 chain ring and a 28 cog has a 32.786 inch gear. A triple with a 30 chain ring and a 26 cog has a 31.154 gear. A 50 X 11 on the compact has 122.727 gear inches, and a 53 X 11 has a 130.091 inch gear. So you can get higher and lower gears on the triple with a tighter cluster.

As far as the shifting, the back gears will shift exactly the same. On the front, you will be going from a 53 to either a 42 or a 39 which is a jump of 11 or 14. On a 50 with a 34, the jump is 16. So going from the big to the middle chain ring on a triple isn't going to be bad. It is a little slower going to the small chain ring, but how often will you use the small chain ring.

As for weight, a triple weighs between 100 and 150 grams more than a typical compact.
Carbon Unit is offline  
Old 09-11-09, 12:20 AM
  #23  
agarose2000
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,952
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I just bought a Giant Defy 3 triple - my main bike is a Cervelo P2C DA double 12-25 standard.

If you live near mountains or significant hills - get the triple. I climb big inclines no problem with my 12-25, but I'm usually working pretty hard on the hills on the double. Sometimes you just don't want to hammer it up the incline, and the triple helps with that. I have intro-level Shimano 2200 on my Giant Defy3 intro-level roadbike, and the shifting is flawless.
agarose2000 is offline  
Old 09-11-09, 12:20 AM
  #24  
Dilberto
Senior Member
 
Dilberto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 968
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Liked 11 Times in 7 Posts
Coming from XC Mtb myself...get the compact double. You'll be a much stronger rider, and you'll be surprised how much you will stay in the 50t ring.

I run a 34/50 compact double with 11/21 cassette and climb hills w/ no problems...
Dilberto is offline  
Old 09-11-09, 02:47 AM
  #25  
jerlwe
Broken for 4-6
 
jerlwe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 89
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
compact is awesome, triple if you go on century's often... I have a compact 50-36 and I love it. I can do huge mountain climbs as well as century's. And you don't have to worry about that extra ring, plus it's less rotational weight
jerlwe is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.