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What have my 40+ years of cycllng not revealed to me about triple chainrings?

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

What have my 40+ years of cycllng not revealed to me about triple chainrings?

Old 09-14-10, 08:10 AM
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Velo Dog
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What have my 40+ years of cycllng not revealed to me about triple chainrings?

Another post this morning about the clumsiness, poor shifting and general all-around unsuitability of triple chainrings. I've probably seen 20 or 30 of those over the years.
Full disclosure: I'm in my 60s, a cyclist since college. About 20 years ago I bought a used Trek that happened to have a triple, and it was so good in the mountains around here that I swapped to a triple on my main bike. Those are both long gone, but I've bought an Atlantis and Rambouillet since, both with triples.
I've probably ridden at least 75,000 miles. maybe half on triples, half on double cranks. I used to reject triples because they were signs of weakness, but since my brains came in I realize that in actual riding, I see no disadvantages. When I don't need the granny, I ignore it. When I do, it's there. It weighs, what, two ounces? My last swig of water was heavier than that. If you're too lame to shift to the middle without dropping off to the inner ring, you probably need to work on your technique, not your equipment. Gear duplication from the granny to the middle isn't an issue if you start in the middle ring, but when you bonk or the hill turns unexpectedly upward, there's your small ring, waiting for you.
So here's my question at last: You guys are just making this up because you don't like the LOOK of a triple, right?
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Old 09-14-10, 08:13 AM
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this oughta be good.
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Old 09-14-10, 08:14 AM
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online forums are much like gradeschool playgrounds. group mentality rules, sensible or not.
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Old 09-14-10, 08:15 AM
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I always like that form AND function as complimentary to each other.
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Old 09-14-10, 08:17 AM
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I'm glad you like your triple.
Let's agree to disagree.
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Old 09-14-10, 08:18 AM
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This was what i was arguing with myself about last night, or going to a much wider cassette. Argument's not over yet, but i think i'm winning.
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Old 09-14-10, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
Another post this morning about the clumsiness, poor shifting and general all-around unsuitability of triple chainrings. I've probably seen 20 or 30 of those over the years.
Full disclosure: I'm in my 60s, a cyclist since college. About 20 years ago I bought a used Trek that happened to have a triple, and it was so good in the mountains around here that I swapped to a triple on my main bike. Those are both long gone, but I've bought an Atlantis and Rambouillet since, both with triples.
I've probably ridden at least 75,000 miles. maybe half on triples, half on double cranks. I used to reject triples because they were signs of weakness, but since my brains came in I realize that in actual riding, I see no disadvantages. When I don't need the granny, I ignore it. When I do, it's there. It weighs, what, two ounces? My last swig of water was heavier than that. If you're too lame to shift to the middle without dropping off to the inner ring, you probably need to work on your technique, not your equipment. Gear duplication from the granny to the middle isn't an issue if you start in the middle ring, but when you bonk or the hill turns unexpectedly upward, there's your small ring, waiting for you.
So here's my question at last
: You guys are just making this up because you don't like the LOOK of a triple, right?
No. It's the shifting, and "cross-chaining".
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Old 09-14-10, 08:32 AM
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It's cooler cause the pros do it!
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Old 09-14-10, 08:33 AM
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Compact FTW

Anyway, I have both triple and compact and they both fine
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Old 09-14-10, 08:43 AM
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So what you are saying is you should ride a compact? Basically the same range of gears, no cross-chaining issues.
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Old 09-14-10, 08:50 AM
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I have compacts on my bikes now but I'm thinking about switching one to a triple for some light touring duties. That bike has friction shifting on the front derailler so it'll be easy to trim.

Last edited by GP; 09-14-10 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 09-14-10, 08:51 AM
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I one of those that have trouble going from the small ring to the middle ring while under load. I have had one serious fall because of it and one close call . I dont trust it now.
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Old 09-14-10, 08:57 AM
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A triple crankset seems only appropriate for those with very little fitness.

I was finishing up a 100 mile ride, at about 90 miles in and starting to bonk. Unfortunately, the last ten miles was almost all climbing - some in the neighborhood of 10%+ . My usual "cruising" wattage is ~ 200 watts. Feeling horrible though, I knew I had to throttle back. So I shifted my standard double and 11-25 cassette to 39x25 and meandered up an 8-10% grade at 4-4.5mph. The bike stayed upright, my heartrate stayed low and I needed less than 150 watts to make my way up the hill. Sure, at times I was doing less than 40rpm - but it was low power smooth pedaling so the knees hardly noticed. This is my absolute worst-case scenario and the standard double crank did fine. Why should I even consider a triple?
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Old 09-14-10, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
So here's my question at last: You guys are just making this up because you don't like the LOOK of a triple, right?
Troll.
So, everyone should have a triple, just in case, some day, they might need the small ring, even though they have never ever needed a lower gear than what they have now ? ok .... I'll run right out and get a triple. (NTTAWWAT)
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Old 09-14-10, 09:03 AM
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well, now there's Apex
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Old 09-14-10, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
but when you bonk or the hill turns unexpectedly upward, there's your small ring, waiting for you.
Don't need it.
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Old 09-14-10, 09:14 AM
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Using a triple is unethical.
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Old 09-14-10, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by palesaint View Post
A triple crankset seems only appropriate for those with very little fitness.
Such as Roberto Heras. Way overbroad generalization.
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Old 09-14-10, 09:23 AM
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I love my triple - but, then again, I'm old......
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Old 09-14-10, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by palesaint View Post
I was finishing up a 100 mile ride, at about 90 miles in and starting to bonk. Unfortunately, the last ten miles was almost all climbing - some in the neighborhood of 10%+ . My usual "cruising" wattage is ~ 200 watts. Feeling horrible though, I knew I had to throttle back. So I shifted my standard double and 11-25 cassette to 39x25 and meandered up an 8-10% grade at 4-4.5mph.
wuss

BITD 53x44 was std , 13-21 would get you up anything... on 22 lb gas pipe...
keep trainin...
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Old 09-14-10, 09:49 AM
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I just wrote this over in the "Upgrade or leave alone" thread...

Personally, I LOVE my 42-tooth chainring on my triple but it won't get me up some of the hills around here, so the 30-tooth is great to have. The 39-tooth on my standard double is also great for most of my riding but again, I can't climb all the hills and without a third, smaller chainring, it's of limited use around here. My compact (50/34) gives me the climbing gears I need but the ranges mean that I'm shifting between the 34 and the 50 chainring more frequently (or doing more cross-chaining than I like).

It's all a trade-off.


Unfortunately, my vanity makes me ride a double of some sort on my CF bike (currently set up with a compact and a 12-27) while my steel bike sports the triple, currently with a 12-23). While I repair my CF, I'm riding my steel bike and enjoying the triple again. Shifts beautifully.
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Old 09-14-10, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by palesaint View Post
A triple crankset seems only appropriate for those with very little fitness.

I was finishing up a 100 mile ride, at about 90 miles in and starting to bonk. Unfortunately, the last ten miles was almost all climbing - some in the neighborhood of 10%+ . My usual "cruising" wattage is ~ 200 watts. Feeling horrible though, I knew I had to throttle back. So I shifted my standard double and 11-25 cassette to 39x25 and meandered up an 8-10% grade at 4-4.5mph. The bike stayed upright, my heartrate stayed low and I needed less than 150 watts to make my way up the hill. Sure, at times I was doing less than 40rpm - but it was low power smooth pedaling so the knees hardly noticed. This is my absolute worst-case scenario and the standard double crank did fine. Why should I even consider a triple?
Maybe your knees didn't mind, but at 40 rpm you have to deliver 2-3x the normal torque to put out those 150 watts. "Low power" is not the point.
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Old 09-14-10, 10:00 AM
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And while we're at it, why does anyone need more than 6 gears in the back?






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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 09-14-10, 10:03 AM
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I love triples on bikes....if by triples you mean weathermen and by bikes you mean crack.
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Old 09-14-10, 10:06 AM
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I have a triple on my tarmac. I am utterly indifferent to it. If the model with a compact double had been on sale I would have a compact double.
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