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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:46 am 
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Location: Tucson, AZ
I feel like I'm in a tough spot. I've been riding my MTB with slicks on the road more over the last year to the point where I swapped my chainrings out for a 38/48 to help keep up with some of the faster group rides. I'm also a natural climber and can fly up the local walls (Tucson) in 38x21 or 38x24. On the other hand, I can't hammer along at 27 mph + without a nice tailwind.

I'm getting ready to order a road bike and I'm unsure whether to get the standard crankset or compact variety (50x36, 52x36, etc). There's always the wide cassette route but this is WW... c'mon.


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Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:46 am 


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:12 am 
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You fly up climbs?....probably don't need the 50X36/34 then, and the 38X52 is just not as stiff and efficient as the 39X53. So, in YOUR case, I'd give the (unusual, for me) recommendation of std 53X39. It is fractionally more efficient and the benefits that most other people would find from the 50X36 simply aren't needed/benficial for you. Go big.
[p.s. unless you are at the very light end of things, the weight savings of compact vs std are not worth considering......got a 4.5 kg bike and determined to drop more???....THEN consider it].
Just my opinion, of course :)

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:47 am 
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Don't forget 26" versus 700c...


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:25 am 
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Geoff wrote:
Don't forget 26" versus 700c...


29er... :) Would 26" or 650c be easier or more difficult at 5% +?


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 4:58 am 
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i think he meant that, as well as the gearing change, there is a wheel size change, which affects the overall gearing. i'd lean towards the standard gearing as well. you can go pretty wide-ranging in the back if you end up needing easier gears.
personally, i use a 52/36 "mid-compact", and one very annoying thing about it it how many gears you have to change in the back when shifting up front. it's about FIVE. kind of a momentum sucker. before compact was around, i thought 39/53 was a big jump, and i used a 42/53... that was nice.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:22 pm 
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Not sure if I could agree on going 53... I personally ride classic 53/39 (with 11-25 and 12-29 for rough climbs), but I'm getting new bike with compact or mid-compact for next season.

I'm mean... just think about it... How many times would you really go faster than 65km/h, so you'd need 53x11 ? And now think about it how many times would you need 34x28, climbing up some steep ramps. I personally would go (and probably WILL go) for 52/36 and 11-28 at the back. I think this really covers all the needs (if you're not a pro).


Just my opinion though... :beerchug:


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:12 pm 
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What is your top gear and also wheel size?
Most people that complain that they do not have a large enough gear cannot spin very well. If that is the case for you- you may want to go 52/36 or even 53/39/.
I think the 52/36 with a cassette that has an 11 tooth small cog will get you through almost anything.

AGW wrote:
I feel like I'm in a tough spot. I've been riding my MTB with slicks on the road more over the last year to the point where I swapped my chainrings out for a 38/48 to help keep up with some of the faster group rides. I'm also a natural climber and can fly up the local walls (Tucson) in 38x21 or 38x24. On the other hand, I can't hammer along at 27 mph + without a nice tailwind.

I'm getting ready to order a road bike and I'm unsure whether to get the standard crankset or compact variety (50x36, 52x36, etc). There's always the wide cassette route but this is WW... c'mon.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:16 pm 
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My top gear now is 48x11 with 29" wheels. And it's not that it's not large enough, it's that it is bigger than I spin for any length of time. On the other hand, I can power climb like it's nobody's business, so that's why I'm looking for a middle ground of a high gear I can sustain with a low gear that isn't too low.

I also try to be really honest with myself when I think about how often I'm spinning out the 48x11 and whether 53t is necessary. Truthfully, pretty much every road here is at least +2% followed by -2% on the other side. It's hilly enough where I can say that I do it several times per ride, but it's not the norm.

Some long 7-8% grades from this morning at a TT pace have me leaning toward compact.

boots2000 wrote:
What is your top gear and also wheel size?
Most people that complain that they do not have a large enough gear cannot spin very well. If that is the case for you- you may want to go 52/36 or even 53/39/.
I think the 52/36 with a cassette that has an 11 tooth small cog will get you through almost anything.

AGW wrote:
I feel like I'm in a tough spot. I've been riding my MTB with slicks on the road more over the last year to the point where I swapped my chainrings out for a 38/48 to help keep up with some of the faster group rides. I'm also a natural climber and can fly up the local walls (Tucson) in 38x21 or 38x24. On the other hand, I can't hammer along at 27 mph + without a nice tailwind.

I'm getting ready to order a road bike and I'm unsure whether to get the standard crankset or compact variety (50x36, 52x36, etc). There's always the wide cassette route but this is WW... c'mon.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:14 pm 
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I would say standard 53/39, you will be fine. I agree that the 52/36 on compact is not a good option especially if you like to power up climbs. It will flex and you will likely get chain rub on front der.
You could get 52 or 53 and 38 standard. I would choose that option before going compact if I were you.
It may feel odd at first but you will adapt quickly.
My $0.02

Edit..53 for those long downhills!

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:15 pm 
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As an older rider, but one who rides a lot, I don't understand the reluctance some riders have to move to compact. The OP "flies up" hills in 38/21 or 24 on 26 inch wheels. Check your gear charts. 38 on 26 inch wheels is pretty close to 36 on 700c wheels. His big gear, a 48/11, is 113.5 inches. 50/12 on 700c is 112.5, 50/11 is 122.7. He can get high enough with a compact and can adjust his bottom gear with a 34 or 36 inner ring by going for a cassette with closer (e.g. 11-23) or wider (e.g. 11-27) gearing, depending on how low he wants to go. A 36/23 on 700c is pretty close to his 38/24 on 26" (42.3 vs. 41.2, so actually slightly higher).

Personally, I'd go 50/36. Fairly close ratios so without the clunky shifting that 50/34 has at times. Could go to 52 if he wants a bigger gear for an event or trip. Could go to lower gear either with a wider cassette or a 34. It just offers a lot of options that can be harder to get with 53/39 or 52/38.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:35 am 
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I am a rouleur and prefer a compact(50-34). With a 11-25 in the back you are covered for most anything. It is mostly flat here with some punchy, sharp hills. When people ask me about it I tell them:

How often do you really use a 53-11? You can't sprint in this combination even unless you're a pro maybe.

To have gears as low as I have you need 4 more teeth in the back. So to have an equivalent of my 25 with a standard you'll need a 29 tooth. I can spin up the climbs like nothing and be fresher to attack later.

I concede I might be doing more upfront shifting, but it's not an issue even with my ultegra 6600 stuff.

A lot of people who have a standard have a 12-xx in the back and my 50-11 is a longer gear than a 53-12.


I also read that the spacing of gears with a compact is more even, but I am not sure if this really matters.

If I am wrong on anything feel free to correct me, I want to know.

Edit: I am probably the only 22 year old on a compact.


Last edited by russianbear on Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:27 pm 
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Location: Bay Area
I ride and race on a 52/36 mid compact. My sprint 5s is close to 1500w and I don't feel any flex from a Rotor 3D+ SRM with Sram rings so I think that for one is overblown.

I typically run an 11-25 almost year round except for the 11-23 on my race wheels. If I go do a gnarly training camp in WV or something I might swap to a 12-27, but I've only done that once. My climbing VAM is usually 1200-1300 at peak form, 1150 is about what I normally hit on long climbs so its not like I'm a fast nor slow climber.

Shifting in the back does not take me 5 shifts- its usually 2 or 3. The one thing I do hate about the 36 little ring is that its almost useless around town on the flats. I'm thinking of actually running cross gearing this winter for that reason. Also, one weird detail is that I like to cross chain my big a lot in races in the 23 or 21 and in order for my chain to be long enough for this I lose my 36x11 and 12 because of chain slack. I only shift into the little ring when the 52x21 isn't going to cut it at my climbing cadence and I typically just have 1 extra shift.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:55 pm 
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Location: Tucson, AZ
I was hesitant to go the compact route because I didn't want to allow myself the lower gears. I have some mountain TTs and state hill climbs in my future, so I was thinking in terms of being competitive. However I think I'll order the compact because I can always buy some extra rings to try out the different combinations. Plus, I'm not getting any younger. Maybe I'll find some great spinning gears in the range that won't trash my knees before I turn 50.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:26 pm 
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The op's mt bike is most likely going to be heavier than a decent rd bike and the rd tires probably faster than what he is running on mt bike.....that is more info that maybe should be accounted for.
Maybe op could test ride a few bikes, compact vs standard.
I could be wrong, but I think comparing the 2 has more to it than just checking a gearing chart.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:05 pm 
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Gear inches are gear inches- it just depends on how wide of a range you want and how many steps between them. You can get big gears with a compact and low gears with a standard but every combo has its tradeoffs. 110BCD is the most versatile however, and even Shimano took note and developed all of the new 9000 chainrings to be 110. If you find you need something lower/closer in front you can move to 50/36 or 50/34 or you can even get 53/39 now.

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Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:05 pm 


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