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· Vermonter
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in Vermont where it can be quite hilly and am currently using a 52/39 combo on my campy setup and 180 crank arms which afford me a certain amount of leverage out of the saddle

But I'm 75 and would probably enjoy the option of some lower gearing and in that light I'm thinking of getting a campy compact crank next year although I still do a lot of my climbing in the big ring.

Based on the above information could I get some input in the pros and cons of going with either the 34 or 36 as my low gear option in a compact setup?

Appreciate any input
 

· hello
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You must be in great shape. I'm 54 and can barely push a 52 ring.
I currently ride a 50/34 but wished I had the 36.
Slightly smoother shifting on the 50/36. That would be my choice.
 

· Carbon Fiber = Explode!
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34 is more common but I use to have a 50/36 but I went up to 52/38... go figure.

My rule is always go higher if you can, especially if you're comfortable with what you have. Unless you spend no time in your 52, I don't think you need to upgrade to a compact.
 

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thoughts...

The 50/36 is not very popular for good reason. It drops the high and low gear ratios by the same amount as one cog. A 50/34 provides more low gearing. The only downside to the 50/34 is more cog shifting after a chainring shift. It will always require one more cog to be shifted to make up for the large jump between the 50 and 34. It will take a number of rides before you get used to it, but once you've become accustomed to it, it's no big deal.

IMO, Campy shifters handle a compact better, since you can shift from the 50 to the 34 and 3 cogs smaller quite easily with one push on the thumb button rather than 3 taps of the finger lever.
 

· Devoid of all flim-flam
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I just converted from 53/39 to 50/34 a couple days ago -- going from a 13-29 cluster to a 12-25 in the process.

I can tell you that I have had absolutely no problem making the transition. Yes, the downshift from the 50 to the 34 is sometimes not as perfect as it was with the 53/39, but at least so far it certainly hasn't been as fraught with terror as some have reported.

The old components were Campy Chorus 10, circa 2000. The new components are Campy Chorus 10 circa 2008. I'm in my fifties, BTW.
 

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i run a 12-23 with a 36 and its just right. i found the 34 too low, and my rides were too "shifty". the 36 made the 19 to 21 more appropriate for my fitness level. As the summer progresses, I too am considering a 38.
However, in vermont perhaps a 34-23 or 25 may be more appropriate for you. I don't think the difference is THAT big, and I'd probably go lower (34) in a hillier area.
good luck to you
 

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As others have said, the 6-tooth difference in the 50x34 compared to the 53x39 takes a bit of getting used to, but once you've made the adjustment, it's very automatic. And the Campy drivetrain makes it easy to drop to the small ring and simultaneously drop 3 cogs in the rear. I'm running an 11x23 which covers everything from fast/flat to mountains, and I've got a 12x25 for long/steep mountain rides.
 

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I recently made the switch from a 52/39 to a 50/34. I live in Eastern PA with plenty of rolling hills. I have found that I have slowed down my average speed, but do have that low end that I was looking for. I just find that if I have the lower gears I end up using them whether on the new 50/34 or the old 52/39. I am contemplating the 36 option.
 

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The math is easy.

The 34 gives you a gear 5.5% lower than the 36. Or to put it another way, going from the 39 to the 34 would drop your lowest gear 12.8%, while the 36 would be a change of 7.7%. You didn't mention what cassette you run, but the change you're considering won't be enormous in either event.

What about the high end? Do you use your highest gears much now, or could you tolerate a slightly lower top end? A 34/48 would give you the low, but bring the rings a little closer together to help alleviate some of the shifting difficulty others have mentioned. That's always seemed like a more sensible "compact" setup to me.

But anyway, damn, you got some legs! I'm 58, and I live in central Connecticut, where some of the hills are steep but none of them as long as what is common in Vermont. I'm still managing with a 39x25 low, but if I'm still riding the hills at your age I'll be on a triple for sure.
 

· Shirtcocker
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Mapei said:
I just converted from 53/39 to 50/34 a couple days ago -- going from a 13-29 cluster to a 12-25 in the process.

I can tell you that I have had absolutely no problem making the transition. Yes, the downshift from the 50 to the 34 is sometimes not as perfect as it was with the 53/39, but at least so far it certainly hasn't been as fraught with terror as some have reported.

The old components were Campy Chorus 10, circa 2000. The new components are Campy Chorus 10 circa 2008. I'm in my fifties, BTW.
Interesting..I have the same age and group of components and have been resisting the change to a compact, but some of the climbs I do I could use a few more gears. Worth the effort in your opinion?
 

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I'm curious,

Mapei said:
I just converted from 53/39 to 50/34 a couple days ago -- going from a 13-29 cluster to a 12-25 in the process.

I can tell you that I have had absolutely no problem making the transition. Yes, the downshift from the 50 to the 34 is sometimes not as perfect as it was with the 53/39, but at least so far it certainly hasn't been as fraught with terror as some have reported.

The old components were Campy Chorus 10, circa 2000. The new components are Campy Chorus 10 circa 2008. I'm in my fifties, BTW.
why you made that change. Was it just to get a little closer ratios in the middle of the cassette? That's a perfectly legitimate reason, but people usually go to a compact to get some lower gears. Your change didn't drop your ratios at either end. Your low is the same (a tiny bit higher, actually), and your highest gear is about 2% higher than before.
 

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I switched from a 52/40 12-25 to a 50/34 11-23. Using Sheldon's calculator, found that at 100 RPM the original speed ratio was 12.9 - 33.6 MPH, while the compact ratio was 36 - 11. Thought that was a good trade off, a higher top speed and a slower low speed for hills. After making the leap I have to say the 34 ring is nearly worthless. Every time I engage it I end up cross gearing so badly that the noise is intolerable. Going to swap it for a 36 ring very soon.
 

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I use a 50-36 with a 12-27 cassette. I have found this combo to be fine for me on the low end...I have been able to get up even the steepest hills in my area with this combo. However, I wish I had a little bit higher gearing on the top end, because i often find myself spinning out on downhills.

However, I think that the current setup is probably the best compromise for me. I used to have an 11-23 cassette, but was unable to manage the steepest pitches.

(BTW, I am 55, 5-10, 165#, probably high average fitness for my age.) Hope to be climbing those hills when I'm 75.
 

· Vermonter
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I run a 13/26 cassette but in all fairness I did some racing in the past. The nationals once and Mt. Washington once. As I recall when I did the nationals it was in '80 or '81 in the Bear mountains in upstate NY where they were held that year, an interesting experience but I always enjoyed training more than the actual race itself. Go figure :)
 

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Bertrand said:
I use a 50-36 with a 12-27 cassette. I have found this combo to be fine for me on the low end...I have been able to get up even the steepest hills in my area with this combo. However, I wish I had a little bit higher gearing on the top end, because i often find myself spinning out on downhills.

However, I think that the current setup is probably the best compromise for me. I used to have an 11-23 cassette, but was unable to manage the steepest pitches.

(BTW, I am 55, 5-10, 165#, probably high average fitness for my age.) Hope to be climbing those hills when I'm 75.
Why not replace your 50-tooth ring with a 51 or 52? T.A. makes an aftermarket 110mm bcd ring in those sizes (about $80). Not sure whether you'd need a med.-cage RD . . ., but it might be worth the a try for just the ring swap.
 

· No Crybabies
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34

Absolutely no reason not to use the 34. I have a compact running a 53 and 34, and that shifts just fine. If there is any chance you'll use the low gearing, and it sounds like there is, then definitely get the 34.
 

· Shirtcocker
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Fixed said:
Absolutely no reason not to use the 34. I have a compact running a 53 and 34, and that shifts just fine. If there is any chance you'll use the low gearing, and it sounds like there is, then definitely get the 34.
So you're saying you have a 53x34 combo and it shifts OK with a standard Campy derailler?
 

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