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· Scott in Maryland
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Hi from Maryland. I am upgrading the cranks (and drivetrain) on a Specialized Tarmac to Ultegra. I am a novice rider, but strong enough to run sub-2 hour hallf-marathons and finish in the 50's (percentile) in my ole' man age group on triathlons. The bike is my weakness in my tri racing. 18-19 MPH over 24 miles would be great. I would describe myself as a recreational but enthusiastic cyclist.


What cranks and cassette should I get for hilly Maryland? Benchmark seems like 53/39 with 12/25. But I see a lot more compact 50/34's. Does it matter? Is it easy and cheap to change front crank rings? Anybody have opinions or coaching on this? I would describe myself as a recreational cyclist.

Thanks - Scott
 

· Scott in Maryland
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Is 18 good?

Thanks for the advice. I did 14 MPH a few months back and I felt lousy on the bike... but that was a spint and only 15 miles. I was using my ten year old C'dale CAD-3 from back in the day and I could either tuck or see but not both at the same time. So now I have a Tarmac and think I can get to 18...
 

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If you think you need compact gearing, you should just get an Ultegra triple. Compared to a compact, they are more versitile, have both higher and lower gears possible within "normal" cassettes. Shifting is easy to adjust to flawless, weight minimally higher, and mitigated quite a bit because you don't need such large rear cogs to get the low gearing you're looking for.

Compacts are just camoflage for those that need lower gearing but are trying to hide it with a "double". Just my opinion, of course!
 

· Devoid of all flim-flam
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I just went from a 53/39 chainring 13/29 rear cassette combo to a compact 34/50 chainring 12/25 cassette combo. Oddly, I find that the gears I end up cranking are slightly longer than the ones I used before.

Anyway, I like my new compact set-up a lot. The 34-25 gear allows this old gent to motor up 19% and 20% grades. Gear spacing is more than even enough for my non-race purposes. The only situation where I don't like the compact set-up is when shifting to the big ring while motoring up a hill (a shallow hill, of course). The difference between the rings is great enough to really bog me down.
 

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I personally like compacts. Gears are nearly as low as a road triple while having a better Q-factor (how far apart your feet are spaced) than a road tripp.

And compared to 53-39 doubles, compacts let you get a nice low climbing gears without having to necessarily run a big honking cassette, like Mapei's former 13-29 (j/k Mapei).

But it all depends on your own personal situation. I may be taking it EXTRA easy and running a compact PLUS a 'big honking cassette' on my bike soon. It's all about your own needs, i.e. how long and steep the hills are where you ride, and your own level of conditioning + body weight.

If you're pretty sure you need a compact crank, given your specific needs (and not someone else's opinion/bias), get one. If it doesn't work out, you can always Craigslist or eBay it later.

...
 

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Scott in MD said:
Is 18[mph] good?
Depends on your age. You say you're an old guy, if you're in your 60s or so I'd think that'd be a fairly strong pace. But for a middle-aged or young rider, 18 mph is more a respectable cruising speed for a moderately fit recreational rider, it's not what I'd call 'fast'.

I say that as a 40ish guy who likes to cruise solo at 18-19 mph in a 52x19 gear, but who can go faster if kicked in the ass or taunted sufficiently. :D

Also be aware that many ppl lie about how fast they go. Don't feel too bad if everyone claims they routinely ride solo at 25+ mph... either they're very serious racers or very serious fibbers. You can prolly figure out the true proportion of each on your own. :lol:

...
 

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Is it easy and cheap to change front crank rings?
On this specific question, bolt circle diameter (BCD) is the key. On a "standard" double, with 130mm BCD, the smallest ring you can use is a 38. If you get a compact, with 110, you can swap to larger rings easily and cheaply if the smaller ones don't work out, or even if you want different gearing for a specific event.
 

· NeoRetroGrouch
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Scott in MD said:
Hi from Maryland. I am upgrading the cranks (and drivetrain) on a Specialized Tarmac to Ultegra. I am a novice rider, but strong enough to run sub-2 hour hallf-marathons and finish in the 50's (percentile) in my ole' man age group on triathlons. The bike is my weakness in my tri racing. 18-19 MPH over 24 miles would be great. I would describe myself as a recreational but enthusiastic cyclist.


What cranks and cassette should I get for hilly Maryland? Benchmark seems like 53/39 with 12/25. But I see a lot more compact 50/34's. Does it matter? Is it easy and cheap to change front crank rings? Anybody have opinions or coaching on this? I would describe myself as a recreational cyclist.

Thanks - Scott
Why are you asking us? Your ride a bike witth gears, right? Do you have ratios that you don't use? Are there ratios that you need? That's YOUR answer, not someone else's bias. - TF
 

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Downhill gearing

yanksphan said:
50/11 > 53/12
If 50/11 is really needed you don't need a compact. However it seems most like to gear up for pedaling downhill as opposed to adding cogs for the flats. Whatever makes sense for the individual i guess.
 

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function said:
If 50/11 is really needed you don't need a compact. However it seems most like to gear up for pedaling downhill as opposed to adding cogs for the flats. Whatever makes sense for the individual i guess.
For myself, I'd never gear/set-up just for pedaling downhill.

If it's a steep, very fast downhill of any real length, I go into a deep aero tuck w/out pedaling (super low, flat back, hands together, legs together) and just fly.

If it's anything less than that, I just spin and don't cry, "Boo hoo hoo, I need a 53x11 'cause I either"...

a) just can't bear the sordid disappointment of spinning out @ 40 mph instead of 45 :rolleyes: , or

b) suck at spinning, and rather than learn how, instead 'must have monster gear'.

Guess I don't quite get it... if it's a d-hill fast enough that you're in danger of spinning out, it's probably going to be over in 5-10 minutes or less anyway, unless you live near some pretty 'beeg' mountains. Just seems odd to gear for such a brief portion of your ride. *shrug*

...
 

· Matnlely Dregaend
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I hope I can still average 18-19mph once I'm older. Don't listen to the people here that obviously don't ride up a hill ever, you're doing great! My advice is to keep what you have and just ride more until those gears are too easy to crank and you need an 11-23! :)
 

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Ugh, I've done hilly races that finished with an average speed around 20mph. 18-19 can be a great (non-pro/elite) time on some rides. It all depends.

If you're asking the question, sounds like a compact or triple is for you.
 

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Compact is a good option in hilly and windy areas simply because you can run a tighter ratio on the rear and get the same hill climbing advantage. In my situation, I need a 39:25 (1.56) to get up some of the hills around here. With a compact crank, I can get a slightly "easier" gear with a 34:23 (1.48) AND have a tighter ratio between gears because I'm now using an 11/23 rather than a 12/25.

Where I live (Columbia River Gorge) I'm either pedaling up or down a hill and it's never not blowing. So for this area, it's good option. I have done rides in areas that are extremely flat and windless and found myself going between the front rings a lot. So I'm not sold on compacts for flatlanding but would certainly recommend it for us highlanders.
 
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