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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been back riding regularly for a couple years now. I have started to take on more challenging climbs and this past weekend I conquered two of them on my Sunday Ride. My question is I have a compact crank with the lowest gear at 39(?)/25. I had to use it for most of the climb and am 'scared' because I had to use my lowest gear to get up the hill. I live in a pretty hilly area and frankly am sometimes scared of big hills. I am working on my attack attitude, but....hills are hills. I am wondering should I consider a triple to give me more low end capability or should I just pop a 28 onto my cluster ( if that will work) ? What do you guys think?
 

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gcamp said:
I My question is I have a compact crank with the lowest gear at 39(?)/25.

MMM 39 little chainring as a compact. My compacts all are 34. Common compacts are 110BCD with a 50/34, 36 combo. What you are describing sounds like a regular setup 53/39. If you wanna keep that they do make a 38 in a 130BCD.

Ray Still
 

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It will be much easier and cheaper to get a larger rear cassette than to switch to a compact crank. The crank itself will be more expensive than a cassette and you may need a new bottom bracket and front derailleur. A 39/28 is about the same ratio as a 34/25, and if you still feel you need lower gears, you can still use the 28 cassette with the compact crank. But it sounds like you are doing fine with your current gearing. Are there steeper hills that you want to tackle?
 

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blewgo said:
It will be much easier and cheaper to get a larger rear cassette than to switch to a compact crank. The crank itself will be more expensive than a cassette and you may need a new bottom bracket and front derailleur. A 39/28 is about the same ratio as a 34/25, and if you still feel you need lower gears, you can still use the 28 cassette with the compact crank. But it sounds like you are doing fine with your current gearing. Are there steeper hills that you want to tackle?
You won't necessarily need a new bottom bracket and front deraileur if you use a Shimano compact crank...well...and you already have a Shimano setup. Supposedly their compact crank will work with their existing stuff. If you switch over to FSA or something then you will have to get a new BB and possibly a new front derailleur. You will definitely need a new chain either way and depending on how worn your current drivetrain is you may need a new cassette as well....new chains on worn cassettes usually lead to bad shifting and chain skip.

It sounds like the OP is very close to making it with his current setup. I think I'd integrate some more hill intervals workouts to upgrade the engine and leave the setup alone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quoted gearing wrong

I probably quoted the gearing wrong in my initial post I probably have a 34/25 (I am at work and took a guess, I will verify tonight) and am looking for lower gearing if I can. There aren't many steeper hills that I want to conquer, my concern is longer hills. I was able to make it up with the 34/25, but on a hotter day or a longer climb I was thinking a lower gear would be great.
Is there anyway to just replace the 25 with a 28 without a whole new cassette?
 

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Is there anyway to just replace the 25 with a 28 without a whole new cassette?
Not really. Depending on which type of Shimano stuff you're using, the larger cogs are ganged together. Dura-Ace 10 speed: five largest; Ultegra 10 speed: three largest. You may be able to find someone to sell you just the largest ganged set-up you want, but I suspect it would cost as much as a new cassette.

And BTW, since it was mentioned, IME, the Shimano compact cranks (I have two) with std front derailleur shift better than the FSA compact specific stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks

Thanks Dr. John.....I have DA 10 Spd. and actually bought the cluster that had the 25 last year, I think I got the Ultegra cluster becuase it was so much less expensive, might have to buy another.
 

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You can probably run a 12-27 cluster with your 50/34 chainrings. It's a bit over Shimano's chain wrap spec for standard road deraileurs but I and a number of people have gotten it to work. The chain length has to be exactly correct though. I would recommend setting it up so that it will just make it into the big chainring/big cog combination. Some people set the chain tighter but then if they shift into that combo by mistake during a ride they'll destroy something.

The difference from 34x25 to 34x27 isn't that great. You may want a lower gear. IRD makes 11-28 and 12-28 clusters. You'll want a triple rear deraileur for that. I've heard that they have an 11-30 out now although its not on their web site. They also list 11-32 and 12-32 (10 sp) clusters.

Cassettes, like chains, are a consumeable item. Just buy a new one.

The only cost (besides buying some parts a bit before they are worn out) to having lower gearing is slightly more weight and some larger gaps between the gear ratios. You don't have to use the lowest gear if you don't need it.
 

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There is nothing inherently wrong with staying in your easiest gear for long periods. I did the Galibier, Mont Ventoux and some other big climbs a couple of years ago and stayed in my 34/23 most of the way up. And it is a LONG way up. If I had a 25 or 28, I would almost certainly have used that gear and it would just have taken longer to get to the top without any significant relief from the suffering.

Based on your original post, it sounds like your current gearing is getting you up the hills, so I encourage you to tough it out with your current gearing as you build fitness. That is, unless you truly can't make it up the climbs or you might be damaging your knees, in which case go with the 28 for now. If that doesn't work, then think about your crankset.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So I finally checked my crank and it is a 53/39, does this mean I do NOT have a compact crank?? It is a Dura Ace 7800 crank, I thought it was a compact, sound like maybe it is not now.........climbed the hill again today, took most of what I had but I can make it in the 39/25.
 

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You're getting up it with a 39x25 but HOW are you getting up it? If seated and just mashing the crap out of it slow, you need more than just a 27/28t. What's your climbing style and cadence?

Also, what do you regularly encounter? How much elevation over what running distance?
 

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gcamp said:
So I finally checked my crank and it is a 53/39, does this mean I do NOT have a compact crank?? It is a Dura Ace 7800 crank, I thought it was a compact, sound like maybe it is not now.........climbed the hill again today, took most of what I had but I can make it in the 39/25.
You don't have a compact like stated before a compact is commonly a 50/34-36. I run 50/34 compacts with sram 11-28 9 speed rear on all my setups using short cage rear dérailleurs and have no problem. Many people do not but I switched out all my front dérailleurs to the FSA compact. In my opinion the jump from the 34-50 is a lot smoother with the FSA compact dérailleur but I know many people keep their current front dérailleurs and have no problem with the compact cranks.

Ray Still
 

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I went from 53/39 to 50/34 and back again. Why? Well originally I wanted "easier" gears for climbing, but I found in a hard group effort that I was getting popped off the back on rolling terrain. With the compact, especially the 16t spread, you will find you are doing double shifts a lot, meaning shifting front and rear at same time (well, if you ride in groups and / or hilly rides).

The 34 almost made hills too easy, and to do the speed I wanted I either had to be down in the 34-19 or lower range, or cross chain ringed in the 50. So no point in it for me, but then I like a cadence of about 75, even on the flats.
 

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Einstruzende said:
I went from 53/39 to 50/34 and back again. Why? Well originally I wanted "easier" gears for climbing, but I found in a hard group effort that I was getting popped off the back on rolling terrain. With the compact, especially the 16t spread, you will find you are doing double shifts a lot, meaning shifting front and rear at same time (well, if you ride in groups and / or hilly rides).

The 34 almost made hills too easy, and to do the speed I wanted I either had to be down in the 34-19 or lower range, or cross chain ringed in the 50. So no point in it for me, but then I like a cadence of about 75, even on the flats.
i too have found I "double shift" alot more w/ the compact.
 

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gcamp said:
I have been back riding regularly for a couple years now. I have started to take on more challenging climbs and this past weekend I conquered two of them on my Sunday Ride. My question is I have a compact crank with the lowest gear at 39(?)/25. I had to use it for most of the climb and am 'scared' because I had to use my lowest gear to get up the hill. I live in a pretty hilly area and frankly am sometimes scared of big hills. I am working on my attack attitude, but....hills are hills. I am wondering should I consider a triple to give me more low end capability or should I just pop a 28 onto my cluster ( if that will work) ? What do you guys think?
I'm an advocate of having low gears available when you want or need them. You're going to have bad days, especially if you ride longer distances several days in a row, Imagine you are finishing the longest ride of your life after several days of hard riding when you're not at your best, and a challenging hill is in front of you. That's when you appreciate a granny gear.Going from a 25 to a 28 on your cluster isn't going to do much for you. It's only a 11% reduction. A true compact with a 34 tooth ring instead of your 39 will only give you a 13% reduction. I'd go for a 30 tooth granny gear and a 27 or 28 on the rear cluster, which gives you a low gear about 30% lower than your current set-up.

Looking at it from another perspective, your 39/25 is a low gear in hills only for very strong racers. If you're not a strong racer, it's pretty silly to use their gearing. If you are dropping below 9 or 10 mph on the hills, you will benefit greatly from granny gearing. I do some hills on some days at 5-6 mph.
 

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Look at your gearing...

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BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>15</TD><TD class=xl27 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>17</TD><TD class=xl27 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>19</TD><TD class=xl27 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>21</TD><TD class=xl27 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>24</TD><TD class=xl27 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>27</TD></TR><TR style="HEIGHT: 12.75pt" height=17><TD class=xl25 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; HEIGHT: 12.75pt; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right height=17 x:num>50</TD><TD class=xl24 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>112.5</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="103.84615384615385">103.8</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="96.428571428571431">96.4</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>90.0</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="79.411764705882362">79.4</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="71.05263157894737">71.1</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="64.285714285714292">64.3</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="56.25">56.3</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>50.0</TD></TR><TR style="HEIGHT: 12.75pt" height=17><TD class=xl25 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; HEIGHT: 12.75pt; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right height=17 x:num>34</TD><TD class=xl24 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>76.5</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="70.615384615384613">70.6</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="65.571428571428569">65.6</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>61.2</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>54.0</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="48.315789473684212">48.3</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="43.714285714285715">43.7</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num="38.25">38.3</TD><TD class=xl26 style="BORDER-RIGHT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-TOP: #d4d0c8; BORDER-LEFT: #d4d0c8; BORDER-BOTTOM: #d4d0c8; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent" align=right x:num>34.0</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
Here are 2 tables showing the "gear inches" of each combination for Shimano 9 speed 12-25 with standard road crank and 12-27 with compact crank (what I use for general riding because I live in a hilly area.) (I ride 9 speed so I don't know the cogs for 10 sp). The important thing to note is that with the compact and the 12-27 you have 2 lower gears than 39x25. At times like this, the hardest thing to do is to be honest with yourself. I think you're asking the question because you know you need lower gearing. It's a lot cheaper to go compact with a wide ratio cassette than to convert to a triple.

I do fine with the 34x27 on general rides, but on seriously challenging rides, I go with my triple (which is on a bike about 8 pounds heavier than my bike with the compact crank) and has a 30x34 granny; I use it and I'm grateful for it.
 
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