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Just got back from my LBS, had some issues with the chainring catching occasionally on a downshift. Advised that my chainring is bent, they straightened it but recommended replacing it. It's a Truvative Compact 50-36, with Shimano HG50 12/25 on the back, bike is an 07 Opus Sentiero (aluminum cross).

Trying to honestly access my riding level, I'm wondering if a switch to 48-34 or smaller might be in order. I rarely find myself in the top couple gears, and more frequently think a little extra on the low end might get me over the hills with less displeasure (clydesdale...).

Aside from the chainrings, would this cause a cascade of other parts needing replacement? (chain?)

Also, anyone else ever have their handlebars come loose when getting out of the saddle to power up a short hill?
 

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Lickbike has a decent selection of chainrings if you only need to replace a single, much cheaper than a whole new crank. I would certainly think a bent chainring would accelerate chain wear by a considerable amount; then the chain wear can lead to the cassette and so on.
 

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dont know if you would want to go as low as 48-34, but i dont know the area in which you live. if so, you would be looking at a cx setup. i have that on teh bike i use to pull the child carrier. when i am not pulling the carrier i sometimes spin out. i think you should be reserving your top gears for descents and "sprints" anyway. as long as you dont crosschain too much, i would stick with a 50-34. heck, im y area i feel like a pud not running a 53, but i really want a 50-36. that would really smooth things for me.
if you did switch out to a smaller crankset, you wouldnt need to change the chain. you might need to shortened it a link or two, but that all depends.

and, yes, i have had my handlebars come a tad loose while climbing once. they tilted up, then down, then up again. turned out i didnt have the bolts on the stem faceplate tight enough. took care of that right quick. if your handlebars are loose in that they turn left and right, you need to tighten the stem bolts that cinch down on the fork headtube.

if those trick dont work, make sure you have the right stem/bar/fork combination. start with the stem and handlebars. make sure you arent running oversized bars with a standard stem and vice/versa.
 
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