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

Why am I spending so much time on my compact double small 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

Why am I spending so much time on my compact double small ring?

Old 08-24-11, 08:19 AM
  #1  
flippin_bikes
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 140
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Why am I spending so much time on my compact double small ring?

Ok, so here is my issue. I was riding a cheap steel KHS road bike that I bought in th spring which was my first bike with a compact crank. I was running an 8 speed 12-26 cassette and the bike had 172.5 mm cranks and 700x32c tires. I ride on flat to rolling terrain and typically only used the small ring for taking off or cruising down the MUP. On the open road, I was pushing the big ring up front and using the middle 4 cogs of the cassette. I don't have cadence on my computer, but guessing my prior use of a cadence meter, I was probably in the high 70s or low 80s and moving along at 15-19 mph.

Two weeks ago, I upgraded to a new Specialized Secteur with compact gearing and a 10 speed 11-28 cassette. This bike is running 175mm cranks and 28c tires. The bike also weighs 8-9 lbs less. So, I was fully expecting I would be able to push a larger gear given less weight, smaller tires, and slightly longer cranks. Such is not the case.

I have always been a masher, so I was a bit dumbfounded when I started riding my new bike and fell naturally into the small ring and the smaller half of the cassette cogs. Where before I felt like I was spinning out at 15 mph in the small ring of my old bike, I am rolling 17-21 mph on my new bike. My cadence is probably now in the 90-95 range.

I just don't understand why there is such a drastic difference. The gearing is actually pretty similar when you consider that the cog spacing on a 12-26 8 speed cassette is about identical to the middle 8 cogs on a 10 speed 11-28 cassette and seldom use to top and bottom cogs on my new bike.

Last edited by flippin_bikes; 08-24-11 at 08:22 AM. Reason: Corrected typo in title
flippin_bikes is offline  
Old 08-24-11, 08:27 AM
  #2  
urbanknight
In beaurocratic limbo
 
urbanknight's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 22,456

Bikes: Specialized Allez, K2 Razorback

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
You're using your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th smallest cogs to ride at 17-21. You could also use the big ring and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th largest cogs. Try it and see if it feels similar enough. Either works though, other than I would personally avoid using the 2nd smallest with the small ring.
__________________
"Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want... Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about." (Richard Dreyfus as Glenn Holland)
urbanknight is offline  
Old 08-24-11, 08:27 AM
  #3  
DScott
It's ALL base...
 
DScott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 6,716
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Run the actual numbers: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/

Maybe it's not as far off as you think?
DScott is offline  
Old 08-24-11, 08:37 AM
  #4  
Daytrip
Medicinal Cyclist
 
Daytrip's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Mohawk Valley/Adks, NYS
Posts: 2,807

Bikes: 2003 Klein Q Carbon Race; 2009 Giant OCR-1

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I had trouble getting comfortable on a compact. I switched to a 53/39 and it's perfect.
Daytrip is offline  
Old 08-24-11, 08:50 AM
  #5  
dstrong 
Senior Member
 
dstrong's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Awesome, Austin, TX
Posts: 4,114

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix, Interloc Impala, ParkPre Image C6

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 171 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 2 Posts
I think this is one of the compromises of the compact setup. There are a lot of intermediate riders that ride in the 15 - 18 mph range on the flats...which means you're either on the small ring with the smaller cogs or the big ring with the bigger cogs...and you sometimes have to shift more frequently on the front...AND it's a bigger jump on a compact than on a standard double.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...the 42 tooth chainring on my triple is like God's gift to cycling...I can cruise in it forever on a wide variety of terrain. That said, I run a compact on my ParkPre, which I find works very well when I'm doing hilly routes.
__________________

2014 Specialized Roubaix2003 Interloc Impala2007 ParkPre Image C6 (RIP)

dstrong is offline  
Old 08-24-11, 09:29 AM
  #6  
hao
Senior Member
 
hao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 948
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by urbanknight View Post
You're using your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th smallest cogs to ride at 17-21. You could also use the big ring and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th largest cogs. Try it and see if it feels similar enough. Either works though, other than I would personally avoid using the 2nd smallest with the small ring.
Depends on how often you'll speed up to 21+.
hao is offline  
Old 08-24-11, 09:56 AM
  #7  
engstrom
Getting a clue
 
engstrom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Plano, TX
Posts: 408

Bikes: 2010 Trek Madone 4.7, Diamondback Wildwood

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I've got a compact 50/34 crankset with an 11-28 cassette and find myself in the small ring unless I'm going over 21 MPH. Once I shift up to the big ring I usually stay there until I have to drop below 17 MPH.
engstrom is offline  
Old 08-24-11, 10:37 AM
  #8  
urbanknight
In beaurocratic limbo
 
urbanknight's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 22,456

Bikes: Specialized Allez, K2 Razorback

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by hao View Post
Depends on how often you'll speed up to 21+.
True. I'd go with the big ring just because you'd need fewer chainring shifts. I most often cruise in the big ring. My small ring gets plenty of use since I spend more time climbing than descending anyway.
__________________
"Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want... Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about." (Richard Dreyfus as Glenn Holland)
urbanknight is offline  
Old 08-24-11, 10:48 AM
  #9  
banerjek
Portland Fred
 
banerjek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,504

Bikes: Custom Winter, Challenge Seiran SL, Fuji Team Pro, Cattrike Road/Velokit, РOS hybrid

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 205 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 16 Times in 12 Posts
Originally Posted by dstrong View Post
I've said it before and I'll say it again...the 42 tooth chainring on my triple is like God's gift to cycling...I can cruise in it forever on a wide variety of terrain. That said, I run a compact on my ParkPre, which I find works very well when I'm doing hilly routes.
For the "average" rider, if you had only one ring, a 42 would probably be best.

With two rings, I'm persuaded that most recreational cyclists would be served best by 46/36. You don't spin out until you're going over 35mph which is faster than many people will go even when there are hills. The 36 is great against fairly strong winds and steep hills, but it gives you more usable speeds. And there is reasonable overlap at the speeds that at least 95% of road cyclists ride at.

Pro gearing is optimized for people who are way stronger than the typical rider, so it's nuts to think that most cyclists would not want something better suited to their actual needs.
banerjek is offline  
Old 08-24-11, 11:40 AM
  #10  
flippin_bikes
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 140
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The bike I had before the KHS was a touring bike ( triple w/ 11-32 cassette) and I spent 90% of the time on the 42, 9% on the 52, and almost never used the 30. I liked the range of gears, but didn't like the spacing. The compact gearing was and is a good alternative to a triple and seemed to me to be more appropriate for recreational cyclists compared to 39/53 gearing.

I think 36/48 gearing would work well with an 11-28 cassette. Until I wear my chainrings out, I'll just have to push harder and get back on the big ring.
flippin_bikes is offline  
Old 08-24-11, 11:57 AM
  #11  
8Fishes
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 148
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have the sector apex, and I know what you mean. I just plugged the gearing into the calc to see where everything lies. I know the RPMs are low, and I set them intentionally low for more cruising/sight seeing than speed or 'efficiency'. There is a bit of over lap on the higher end of the small chainring and lower end of the big chainring. Personally I like to avoid cross chaining even though they say it doesn't happen on a compact double. I stick to 1 to 7 or 8 on the small and 3 to 10 on the large... but that is just me.

The only trouble I find with a compact is that once you pop up to the big chain, you have to shift quite a way back unless you are pounding down a hill or really mashing for speed.

Pre-defined calc with my apex gearing. I like this one better because it has a graph and I like visualization. I could also probably stand to swap the 11-32 out for 11-28, but the 32 has come been handy when I git 10+% grades.
8Fishes is offline  
Old 08-25-11, 07:43 PM
  #12  
Zhtwn
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Royal Oak, MI
Posts: 17

Bikes: 2007 Marin Point Reyes

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Two other possibilities: fit and fitness. Perhaps your riding position on the Secteur is more conducive to spinning than your KHS. Or, perhaps you are more accustomed to cycling, and your comfortable cadence has increased.

Simple experiment, if you've still got the KHS: take 'em both for a ride on a similar route, and see if you still mash more on the KHS, or if you're now spinning about as much on that bike as on the Secteur. If you're still mashing on the KHS, I'd say it might be fit issue. If not, then probably fitness.
Zhtwn is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 05:18 AM
  #13  
bbattle
.
 
bbattle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Rocket City, No'ala
Posts: 12,734

Bikes: 2014 Trek Domane 5.2, 1985 Pinarello Trevisio, 1991 Colnago Master, '06 Bianchi San Jose, 1987 Moulton Fuso, 1990 Gardin Shred, '82 John Howard(Dave Tesch)

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 47 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by flippin_bikes View Post
Ok, so here is my issue. I was riding a cheap steel KHS road bike that I bought in th spring which was my first bike with a compact crank. I was running an 8 speed 12-26 cassette and the bike had 172.5 mm cranks and 700x32c tires. I ride on flat to rolling terrain and typically only used the small ring for taking off or cruising down the MUP. On the open road, I was pushing the big ring up front and using the middle 4 cogs of the cassette. I don't have cadence on my computer, but guessing my prior use of a cadence meter, I was probably in the high 70s or low 80s and moving along at 15-19 mph.

Two weeks ago, I upgraded to a new Specialized Secteur with compact gearing and a 10 speed 11-28 cassette. This bike is running 175mm cranks and 28c tires. The bike also weighs 8-9 lbs less. So, I was fully expecting I would be able to push a larger gear given less weight, smaller tires, and slightly longer cranks. Such is not the case.

I have always been a masher, so I was a bit dumbfounded when I started riding my new bike and fell naturally into the small ring and the smaller half of the cassette cogs. Where before I felt like I was spinning out at 15 mph in the small ring of my old bike, I am rolling 17-21 mph on my new bike. My cadence is probably now in the 90-95 range.

I just don't understand why there is such a drastic difference. The gearing is actually pretty similar when you consider that the cog spacing on a 12-26 8 speed cassette is about identical to the middle 8 cogs on a 10 speed 11-28 cassette and seldom use to top and bottom cogs on my new bike.
Instead of being in the 34-12, try the 50-17.

And if you had a 53-39 setup, the same gear would be 53-19.

Wow, such a major difference. Why anyone would ever use a compact is beyond me, they are so, just so.. they're just so compact. *

Seriously, I think when people hear the words compact crank, they feel their manhood is threatened. Run the gear calculator, it's not that different from the Manly Crank.


*that there was some sarcasm
bbattle is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 11:08 AM
  #14  
EdIsMe
Senior Member
 
EdIsMe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Floriduh
Posts: 663

Bikes: 2011 Neuvation FC100, 2013 Mercier Kilo TT Pro, 1984 Peugeot SV-L

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
For the "average" rider, if you had only one ring, a 42 would probably be best.

With two rings, I'm persuaded that most recreational cyclists would be served best by 46/36. You don't spin out until you're going over 35mph which is faster than many people will go even when there are hills. The 36 is great against fairly strong winds and steep hills, but it gives you more usable speeds. And there is reasonable overlap at the speeds that at least 95% of road cyclists ride at.

Pro gearing is optimized for people who are way stronger than the typical rider, so it's nuts to think that most cyclists would not want something better suited to their actual needs.
The biggest difference imo is whether you're riding solo or in a group. When in group rides, I frequently hit speeds of 30+ mph on flats, and generally in the 25-30 mph range for most of the ride. Solo, I'll ride anywhere between 18-25 on flats unless I'm really pushing myself. I use a 53/39 btw.
EdIsMe is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 11:10 AM
  #15  
EdIsMe
Senior Member
 
EdIsMe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Floriduh
Posts: 663

Bikes: 2011 Neuvation FC100, 2013 Mercier Kilo TT Pro, 1984 Peugeot SV-L

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bbattle View Post
Instead of being in the 34-12, try the 50-17.

And if you had a 53-39 setup, the same gear would be 53-19.

Wow, such a major difference. Why anyone would ever use a compact is beyond me, they are so, just so.. they're just so compact. *

Seriously, I think when people hear the words compact crank, they feel their manhood is threatened. Run the gear calculator, it's not that different from the Manly Crank.


*that there was some sarcasm
For people that ride in areas that are generally flat... the benefits of a compact are significantly reduced.
EdIsMe is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 11:11 AM
  #16  
Vicelord
Banned
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Downtown Phoenix
Posts: 1,824

Bikes: BMC RoadRacer SL01, Kona Kula FrankensteinDeluxe, Schwinn Powerglide.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 1 Post
Riding a compact is like driving a 4 speed manual. You RPM like a mad man!
Vicelord is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 11:20 AM
  #17  
Viceroy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 127
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by dstrong View Post
I've said it before and I'll say it again...the 42 tooth chainring on my triple is like God's gift to cycling...I can cruise in it forever on a wide variety of terrain.
I consider myself an "average" (or slightly better than average) rider and I do find that the 42 on my 52/42/30 triple (with a 12-26 cassette) provides a really good range. I used to live really close to the mountains and was in this ring almost all the time. I moved to somewhere flatter, and then I found that the middle ring was still good, but that I could easily ride more in the larger ring. Terrain makes a big difference.

Edit - I also ride pure solo.
Viceroy is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 11:46 AM
  #18  
revchuck 
OMC
 
revchuck's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: South Louisiana
Posts: 6,916

Bikes: Specialized Allez Sprint, Look 585, Specialized Allez Comp Race

Mentioned: 198 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 445 Post(s)
Liked 26 Times in 15 Posts
...I am rolling 17-21 mph on my new bike.
First, congrats on the new bike!

I've got roughly the same gearing (compact crank, 12/27 cassette) and run at about the same speeds. I stay in the big ring, using the 21, 19 and 17 tooth cogs, and usually only resort to the small ring when riding into a strong headwind, going up long hills, or am really beat at the end of a long ride. It took me a while to get used to using the big ring, but it's where I live now.
__________________
Regards,
Chuck

Demain, on roule!
revchuck is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 12:01 PM
  #19  
zandoval 
Senior Member
 
zandoval's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bastrop Texas
Posts: 1,795

Bikes: Univega, PR-10, Ted Williams,UO-8, Puch, PHLE, UO-18 Mixte

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have been using a Compact for about a month now - I like it and now that its mentioned yes I am spending more time on my big ring...

But when I hit those hills its Little one in front and big one in back...
zandoval is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 12:09 PM
  #20  
kf9yr
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 322

Bikes: 2011 Serotta Ottrott, Serotta TI Road Bike, Serotta TI MTB,Ritchey Breakaway Ti Cross, Trek Rumblefish Pro, Cannondale Tandem

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
As mentioned earlier the 50-17 should be comparable, also using that combination should be easier in the long run as there have been studies that say there is less friction by using the larger rings (17 versus 12).

Most of my riding is on fairly level roads so I went with 53-39 crank and 11-25 cassette on my new bike. I also bought a compact crankset someone had pulled off their bike which I can switch out when I'm riding in the mountains.

Either way I usually just try to keep my chain reasonably straight, if I'm headed uphill I shift into the small ring before I get all the way over to the largest cogs in the rear. This reduces the side load on your chain and also reduces the chance of dropping your chain on your shift to the small ring.

I wouldn't buy anything different until I rode 1000 miles or so on the new style bike as your riding style may change as you adapt to your new position as someone else pointed out.

Have fun with the new road bike.
kf9yr is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 12:19 PM
  #21  
m2tiguy
Senior Member
 
m2tiguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Manhattan Beach
Posts: 93

Bikes: Lynskey, Helix

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by engstrom View Post
I've got a compact 50/34 crankset with an 11-28 cassette and find myself in the small ring unless I'm going over 21 MPH. Once I shift up to the big ring I usually stay there until I have to drop below 17 MPH.
pick up a 12 -23 and switch out the 11-19 for the 12 - 19 and you end up with 7 gears, all 1 tooth larger in the progression -
m2tiguy is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 12:50 PM
  #22  
RollCNY
Speechless
 
RollCNY's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Central NY
Posts: 8,788

Bikes: Felt Brougham, Lotus Prestige, Cinelli Xperience,

Mentioned: 20 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 89 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by flippin_bikes View Post
I have always been a masher, so I was a bit dumbfounded when I started riding my new bike and fell naturally into the small ring and the smaller half of the cassette cogs. Where before I felt like I was spinning out at 15 mph in the small ring of my old bike, I am rolling 17-21 mph on my new bike. My cadence is probably now in the 90-95 range.

I just don't understand why there is such a drastic difference. The gearing is actually pretty similar when you consider that the cog spacing on a 12-26 8 speed cassette is about identical to the middle 8 cogs on a 10 speed 11-28 cassette and seldom use to top and bottom cogs on my new bike.
There is no difference, it is all in your head.

You are spinning higher cadence, and going faster, so all is good. You just have to make the mental transition to do the same thing but on the big ring. Your old bike and new had compact cranks, so there is no difference in gearing. I would suggest that you put the bike on the big ring, and go all the way down to the biggest rear cog (32 you said?) and start a ride from there. From a dead stop in 50-32, work your way up to speed using just the RD. When you get to your 50-19 or 50-17, you will be cruising just like you were on your small ring, without the grating cross chain noises. Forget you have two front rings. Put it on the 50. leave it on the 50, and ride til it is second nature.

When I started to ride, I bought a hybrid, and immediately put a compact road crank on it and lost the ability to shift the front under any type of load. Had to learn to ride with a front single. Had similar cassette to yours, only 9 speed. You adapt. Trust me.
RollCNY is offline  
Old 08-28-11, 06:04 PM
  #23  
Trsnrtr
Super Moderator
 
Trsnrtr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Central Illinois
Posts: 16,765

Bikes: Giant Propel, Gianni Motta, Co-Motion Supremo, ICE VTX

Mentioned: 92 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6188 Post(s)
Liked 52 Times in 38 Posts
If you like the small ring, ride in it. You have my permission.
__________________
Dennis T

Trsnrtr is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
johnnyace
Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling
0
03-15-17 11:52 AM
cpsqlrwn
Road Cycling
0
05-03-08 03:26 PM
Maliclipse
Mountain Biking
0
04-12-05 12:12 AM
Resident
Singlespeed & Fixed Gear
0
09-26-03 08:19 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

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