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Double or Triple crankset?

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

Double or Triple crankset?

Old 07-21-00, 10:47 AM
  #1  
RoadRash
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What are the pros and cons of each? from what i understand, double cranksets weigh less, and triple cranksets give a lower gear for wimps like me.

Is there anything else too it? How do you know to get a double over a triple crankset?
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Old 07-27-00, 11:16 PM
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Tony Smith
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Agree with ljbike!

I do a very small amount of racing (local club races) so the extra weight of the triple is not an issue to me. The benefits of the lower gear ratios (especially if you ride in a hilly or mountainous area) far out weigh (no pun intended) the weight penalty.

I rode the Bear Tooth Highway last weekend (70 miles starting out at 6000' and climbing to 11,000 followed by a fast run down to 4700'!) and the triple was an absolute must! My brother rode it with a double and a 12/25 and was very jealous of my spinning up the passes.

If you think you might like the triple I'd go for it.
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Old 07-27-00, 11:49 PM
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Thanks for the info! It looks like a triple crank for me
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Old 07-28-00, 06:42 PM
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Assuming your front derailleur and shift lever and rear derailleur tension wheel can handle it, I see no significant disadvantage to a triple chainwheel. However, with the triple's middle chainwheel in the normal outer chainwheel position, the outer chainwheel will give you a lousy chainline with at least the 2 or 3 innermost cogs. I have a close-ratio third-step triple (49/46/43) on one road bike and a 1.5-step + crossover grannie (48/40/24) triple on my mountain bike.
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Old 07-28-00, 08:13 PM
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Double or Triple crankset

haven't used a triple, but find 14 plus speed on double intimidating enough. You should be able to get a wide range using a double with advice from your local shop on the number of teeth on the big/small cogs. I use a double on local hills (Hocking Hills, Ohio) with no problem. Techie argument oppoing this view will be gaps in shift patterns, and less smooth shifting. Again, more sophisticated concern than my talent level warrants.
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Old 03-19-09, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Tony Smith View Post
I do a very small amount of racing (local club races) so the extra weight of the triple is not an issue to me. The benefits of the lower gear ratios (especially if you ride in a hilly or mountainous area) far out weigh (no pun intended) the weight penalty.

I rode the Bear Tooth Highway last weekend (70 miles starting out at 6000' and climbing to 11,000 followed by a fast run down to 4700'!) and the triple was an absolute must! My brother rode it with a double and a 12/25 and was very jealous of my spinning up the passes.

If you think you might like the triple I'd go for it.
They not only have lower potential gears, they have higher potential gears. Compacts are for people who somehow think that a double is inherently better than a triple - for whatever reason (mostly vanity). They serve the exact same purpose- easier gears for going up hill. Why wouldn't you pick the option with the best low gearing AND the best high gearing?
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Old 03-19-09, 04:39 PM
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are triples more prone to finicky mechanical issues?

if you wanted to stick with a double...maybe something like a 52/36 or a 50/34 with like a 11/27 cassette would give you a pretty wide range for various conditions...no?
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Old 03-19-09, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by celerystalksme View Post
are triples more prone to finicky mechanical issues?

if you wanted to stick with a double...maybe something like a 52/36 or a 50/34 with like a 11/27 cassette would give you a pretty wide range for various conditions...no?
Maybe some have noticed something, but I have never experienced anything but flawless front and rear shifting with my triple - Shimano 9 speed, fwiw.

But again, to keep harping - with the same 11-27 (or more likely a 12-17) cassette, the typical 52-42-30 triple will give you a significantly higher and lower gear. I use both the highest and lowest gears on mine (12-26 w/ this triple), every single ride I take from my house. But I live in pretty decent hills. I ride with two guys who have compact doubles and so far I haven't heard them complain, although I spin a little faster up the steep hills and a little slower at top speed.

Last edited by Camilo; 03-19-09 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 03-19-09, 04:50 PM
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Double has two speed ranges. High with 8 gears (assuming a 9 speed cassette), Low with 8 gears.

Triple has three speed ranges. High with 8 gears (assuming a 9 speed cassette), Middle with 9 gears, Low with 8 gears.

What you can use, stated above, is from Shimano and my real world use.

There is no need for a triple if you live, and only ride, in aflat area. Or are really strong.
On large hills and mountains, for most people, a triple covers everything.

Of course, everything goes out the window if the primary goal is to LOOK like a racer.
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Old 03-19-09, 04:52 PM
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Double = Pro
Triple = Fred
Whatever a BF member has = Fred

Yeah, either way, you're doomed.
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Old 03-19-09, 05:25 PM
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When I lived in Kansas / Oklahoma / Texas, a double was plenty. Triples were the province of Fred and his friends. (Even compacts are for sissies in the mid-continent.)

Now that I live near some serious climbs, a triple is the only way to go. I've got a Dura Ace triple, so the trim options are sufficient to completely eliminate derailleur rub issues. Plus, when going from ring to ring, with a compact, a one ring shift in front means you're shifting four cogs in back to stay close to the same ratio. With a triple, one ring in front means you're shifting two cogs in back. It keeps the power flowing to the pavement better. There are climbs in this area that I wouldn't be making it without a triple.

In the past, a double shifted better than a triple. In recent years, that's been fixed.
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Old 03-19-09, 05:35 PM
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Honestly, the shifing is not an issue. There is absolutely no differance on the rear shifting. The shifting mechanism on the rear derailleur is exactly the same. The cage is longer for the triple. It takes up chain slack.

The front shifting works great. I don't have any problem at all. I have Ultegra 9 speed.

The front may take a few more minutes to set up. Big deal. A well adjusted front der will stay in adjustment for well over a year as long as you don't clean your bike with a hammer.

One thing about road cycling - It's hard to change tradition with a good idea.
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Old 03-19-09, 05:43 PM
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For my use, I prefer a triple, for reasons cited here.
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Old 03-19-09, 06:16 PM
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I have a triple on my current bike; my new bike will have a SRAM compact double. Overall gearing range is pretty much a wash. The triple with a 12/27 has a slightly lower gear for climbing (30/27 vs. 34/28 on the compact), but the compact with an 11/28 has a slightly taller gear which I don't expect to use that much (50/11 vs. 53/12).

Where I think there will be a big difference is in shifting strategies. Right now, my bike spends a great deal of time in the middle ring. I've gotten noticeably stronger, so I'm not using the small ring anywhere near as frequently. The big ring gets some use if I'm really hammering, descending or riding on rolling hills. There's tons of overlap - I can replicate all the overall ratios that I can get with the middle ring by using either the small or large ring with different cogs.

The compact won't have the luxury of all those overlapping gears ratios. I'll have to be sure I understand exactly what overlap there is, and about what speeds it makes sense to be moving between the rings. It will be interesting to see which I prefer.

JB

Last edited by jonathanb715; 03-19-09 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 03-20-09, 01:06 AM
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A nine year bump!
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Old 03-20-09, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by JimF22003 View Post
A nine year bump!
Holy crap! That must be a record? Hopefully the OP has made up his mind by now.
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Old 03-20-09, 10:12 AM
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No one brought up the fact that you usually have to double shift on a double because instead of changeing 10 teeth, you have to change either 14 or 16 teeth. (or spin like a hampster) Requires extra skill that beginners don't have.
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Old 03-20-09, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by exRunner View Post
No one brought up the fact that you usually have to double shift on a double because instead of changeing 10 teeth, you have to change either 14 or 16 teeth. (or spin like a hampster) Requires extra skill that beginners don't have.
I did ... at my link.

Holy crapola! I never noticed the original date. I guess this is the perennial question!
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Old 03-20-09, 12:52 PM
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if it helps...

I run a compact double in the front and an 11-28 in the rear. More than enough for the hills.
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Old 03-20-09, 01:14 PM
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A double compact crankset with a 27 on the rear cassette will handle damn near everything. It will also shift better than a triple.
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Old 03-20-09, 03:49 PM
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Turn off the internet, and go and get a sport touring bike with a triple. Make sure it's a model that doesn't have the rear tire stuck right up against the seat tube, because a triple works best on a longer wheelbase bike.

Seriously, do you see yourself more as a racer or as a randonneur or tourer? If the former, compact double will save you a few grams. If the latter, triple will more versatile in hilly country. Going up hills is hard on the pumper and on the knees. Everyone on the internet is superclimber, but I'm not, and you're not.

Personally, I see no disadvantages to having a triple under me, and I'm probably a fairly average recreational/fitness/pleasure road rider.
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Old 03-20-09, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
They not only have lower potential gears, they have higher potential gears. Compacts are for people who somehow think that a double is inherently better than a triple - for whatever reason (mostly vanity). They serve the exact same purpose- easier gears for going up hill. Why wouldn't you pick the option with the best low gearing AND the best high gearing?
Incorrect

And you get the moron award for bumping an almost 10 year old thread. For what purpose?
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Old 03-20-09, 06:07 PM
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Put on an MTB cassette with a 36T and you can climb up passes where you would normally have to walk.
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Old 03-20-09, 06:08 PM
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For all intents and purposes, I am new to the sport. I am 47 years old. I used to run to stay in shape but a left knee issue pretty much stopped that. So I have put weight on that I want and need to lose and my fitness level is piss poor.

I live in the Morgan Hill area of Northern California which is full of nice hilly areas to ride. I just bought a 2009 Giant Defy 1. I chose the Defy 1 for two main reasons:

First, I liked the slightly relaxed riding position. I won't be racing, at least not for a while, and I have some weight to lose so the full on race bike geometry seemed like a bad idea for the foreseeable future.

Second, because of the hills in my area and my general lack of fitness, I figured the triple crankset would be a good idea until I get into better shape and stronger riding. After I get into better shape and get stronger, I suspect I will use the granny ring less and less.

Others reasons I bought the Defy 1 include the fact I did not want to spend a lot on a carbon bike when I had no real idea how deep into the sport I would get. I wanted a light yet solid aluminum framed bike. I wanted a bike with solid components and I get that with Shimano 105 parts.

Anyway, here is my question: Assuming I get in good shape and decide I want to convert the Defy 1 to a double crankset, what all will have to be changed? The triple crankset is 30/39/50. Based on what I have read, I would probably install a compact double with 34/50.

Clearly the crankset and bottom bracket are obvious changes. Do the Shimano 105 front or rear derailluers need to be changed too? I would most likely change the cassette (12/27 10 speed) at this time because of the new crank sprockets and install a new chain.

Thoughts?

S-
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Old 03-20-09, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by winders View Post
I live in the Morgan Hill area of Northern California which is full of nice hilly areas to ride. I just bought a 2009 Giant Defy 1.

(edit)

Anyway, here is my question: Assuming I get in good shape and decide I want to convert the Defy 1 to a double crankset, what all will have to be changed? The triple crankset is 30/39/50. Based on what I have read, I would probably install a compact double with 34/50.

Clearly the crankset and bottom bracket are obvious changes. Do the Shimano 105 front or rear derailluers need to be changed too? I would most likely change the cassette (12/27 10 speed) at this time because of the new crank sprockets and install a new chain.

Thoughts?

S-
For the second time, this is almost a decade old thread guys!!!!

To your point winders, I did something very similar to you. I'm in my late thirties, got back into cycling just about 2yrs back starting with an old 30lb hybrid that had been in my garage for 8yrs or so. After 6months I bought a Specialized Roubaix comp triple (10sp 105 throughout) with the same gearing as you - being in the bay area I appreciate the kind of climbs you're used to. I started off using the triple quite a lot. But with regular hill climbing, I found that 95% or more of my climbing ended up being in the 39ring, with the 30T being reserved for some of the more ridiculous >15-20% climbs that lurk round here.

I spent quite a bit of time looking at Sheldon's gear calculator to work out what I'd need and ended up getting a sweet deal on an Ultegra SL 50/34 from PBK ($137 with free shipping, LBS wanted $300). I ended up switching out my derailleurs as my LBS had some unused DA available - couldn't resist the bling and got a short cage to match, but I didn't need to do that. Bottom line, I could have just switched out the crank and been all done for less than $200.

The shifting on my triple was pretty good, but the compact double is better, no matter what others say. I have 105 shifters and Hollowtech II BB, which don't need changing when you go to an Ultegra compact double and I find myself riding in the big ring more these days. Based on my experience I wouldn't touch the cassette just yet until you've tried out a 50/34 with 12/27 combo yourself. It's very versatile and can pretty much handle anything round these parts.

Bottom line, keep at the climbs, and you'll likely find that a compact will give you all the flexibility you need, but perhaps with improved shifting and also a narrower Q factor. Now, go introduce yourself to the local nutters on the NorCal forum, and we can ride together some time.
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