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Hello,

Would anyone know how much it may help climbing by switching to a compact crank with a 50/34 ring as opposed to a standard 53/39 ring? I am not the greatest of climbers, and could use any help. I normally hang a twinkie off the front of my helmet. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks

jeff (onyourleft)
 

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I'm not going to provide some subjective quantitative number for you to only further confuse you....but suffice to say, it is a noticeable difference.
 

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Well, if the reason you're having trouble climbing is you run out of gears, any setup giving easier gears -- compact, triple, bigger rear cogset, will help. If the trouble is that you don't have the power, compacts don't give you any more of that, but they will let you ride comfortably at a slower pace than a standard setup, since you can turn 75rpm with less force.
 

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jeffonyourleft said:
Hello,
I am not the greatest of climbers, and could use any help. I normally hang a twinkie off the front of my helmet.

Thanks

jeff (onyourleft)
If climbing well is your goal, don't catch the Twinkie! Excess mass is the enemy.
 

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A compact crank is just one way to get lower gears. Lower gears MAY improve your climbing speed, if you are struggling in too high a gear on climbs now. You may also be able to go faster up climbs by using a lower gear than you currently find optimum... if your speed is limited by leg strength and not by aerobic capacity. Riding at a high cadence up climbs moves some of the stress to the cardiovascular system, which only make you go faster if your cardiovascular system is better than your legs. Lance recently made this famous in the pro peloton but he wasn't the first (neither was Charly Gaul for that matter). It works for some people but not for others.

The other good thing about having low gears is to have a bailout gear for long rides in case you bonk or a new climb is tougher than you expected. Or both.

Sheldon Browns' gear calculator is useful for being obsessive about gearing:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/
 

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easy to tell on your bike as it sits right now

When I bought my Atlantis, I followed Rivendell's recommendations and put on a 46-36-26 triple. I liked it so much I've duplicated it on my other road bike. Granted that I'm a lousy climber, I enjoy the bike MUCH more, not just on climbs but in almost all riding. I don't use the granny very often, but I have many more usable gears and I spend more time in the big ring. If I were building up a new roadie, I think I'd go for a compact double, somewhere around 48 or 50-34, and a slightly larger cassette.
As far as how much difference a compact will make for you, though, you certainly have gears now that are duplicates or near-dupes of the gears you'll have with a new crank. Figure out what they are and try 'em.
The standard method for figuring "gear inches" is to divide the number of teeth on the chainring by the number on the cassette cog, then multiply by 27 (the approximate diameter of the wheel in inches).
 

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Disclaimer, I haven't used compact cranks, I just use a standard double but I do a lot of climbing (accidentally ordered a standard when I wanted a compact, but the standard worked fine). Wouldn't hestitate to try a compact if I were riding less.

I think the real question is, do you want a higher cadence? If you're grinding up the hills and want to spin faster I think the compact is an obvious choice if you don't want a triple or a huge rear cassette. If you feel you're already spinning fast enough, you'll just have to train harder. ;) If the compact still doesn't do the job, you could always opt for the triple, or try a compact + slightly larger rear cassette.
 

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Get the compact

I got the same gearing set up last year after hurting my knee lumbering up a hill. It lets me spin faster and usually seated on most climbs. I went from one of the last up the hill to one of the first. You have to get used to the drop from the rings as it is more than the standard gearing.
 

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compacts

jeffonyourleft said:
Hello,

Would anyone know how much it may help climbing by switching to a compact crank with a 50/34 ring as opposed to a standard 53/39 ring? I am not the greatest of climbers, and could use any help. I normally hang a twinkie off the front of my helmet. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks

jeff (onyourleft)

i'm an older, not is same shape as i was kinda rider, hills are not my best friend, i have campy compact with a cassette for hills, maybe not need largest 2 gears ofterm but when i do, they are great, seldom find i could use more high speed gearing,

have had a triple, have tried a normal double with big cassette, compact is great i think, try it based on your posting..

i did have a shimano, FSA mix, was terrible, pure campy is 1000% better, maybe new shimano compact is good now, would avoid mix based on my experience
 

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Cory said:
When I bought my Atlantis, I followed Rivendell's recommendations and put on a 46-36-26 triple. I liked it so much I've duplicated it on my other road bike. Granted that I'm a lousy climber, I enjoy the bike MUCH more, not just on climbs but in almost all riding. I don't use the granny very often, but I have many more usable gears and I spend more time in the big ring. If I were building up a new roadie, I think I'd go for a compact double, somewhere around 48 or 50-34, and a slightly larger cassette.
As far as how much difference a compact will make for you, though, you certainly have gears now that are duplicates or near-dupes of the gears you'll have with a new crank. Figure out what they are and try 'em.
The standard method for figuring "gear inches" is to divide the number of teeth on the chainring by the number on the cassette cog, then multiply by 27 (the approximate diameter of the wheel in inches).
I hate to break it to ya, but that 36t front ring is the same as adding ~one tooth to the gear on your cassette. (going from a 23t to a 24t cog) Do the math. The smaller big ring is another story tho.

To the OP: you only get as strong as your smallest gear. If that's a tiny little thing, that's what you get strong enough to push. I find I don't go much slower in a 21 than I do a 23 till I get to the really, really long and/or steep climbs. (I've gone up Mt Soledad in a 42x21 once. Yes, it sucked. Rode with a buddy 'I'm doing hills tonite. Wanna go?)

YMMV,

M
 

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a little math help...

MShaw said:
I hate to break it to ya, but that 36t front ring is the same as adding ~one tooth to the gear on your cassette. (going from a 23t to a 24t cog) Do the math. The smaller big ring is another story tho.

To the OP: you only get as strong as your smallest gear. If that's a tiny little thing, that's what you get strong enough to push. I find I don't go much slower in a 21 than I do a 23 till I get to the really, really long and/or steep climbs. (I've gone up Mt Soledad in a 42x21 once. Yes, it sucked. Rode with a buddy 'I'm doing hills tonite. Wanna go?)

YMMV,

M
Switching from a 39 to a 36 middle ring is the same as adding 2 teeth or 1-cog lower, like from a 23 to a 25. The formula is simple: (25 x 36) / 39 = 23. This equivalent gear formula is a lot handier than gear inches when it comes to comparing gear combinations.

I do a lot of climbing myself. What I really enjoy is spinning past a younger guy trying to push a 39/23 up a 10-30 mile high-altitude climb with a cadence in the low 60's, while I'm using a 28/21 (like a 39/29) spinning 80-90 rpm. Long climbs are more about endurance than strength.

When I rode moderately hilly terrain around Kansas City, a 39/21 low was fine.
 

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C-40 said:
I do a lot of climbing myself. What I really enjoy is spinning past a younger guy trying to push a 39/23 up a 10-30 mile high-altitude climb with a cadence in the low 60's, while I'm using a 28/21 (like a 39/29) spinning 80-90 rpm. Long climbs are more about endurance than strength.
Your situation is one where I'd probably have a 39x26/7 low. Maybe bigger depending. I'm headed to Durango this summer for a few months. I'll prolly be right there with you in the itty-bitty gear department since I can't climb to save my life! Sprinting? that's another story.

When I rode moderately hilly terrain around Kansas City, a 39/21 low was fine.
That's the situation around here till you hit the East Co. You can ride about anything in a 39x23 if you stay towards the coast... BIG hills out in the East! Several many climbs of 6-10miles at 6-10% grades. Ugh. Give me the banking at the velodrome any day!
 

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That's odd. My FSA-Shimano mix works great. 50-34 up front, 12x23 or 25 depending on the terrain. Yes, if you chose the proper gearing, a compact will help. So will a larger rear cassette, if that's possible w/ your set-up.
 

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Kram59 said:
That's odd. My FSA-Shimano mix works great. 50-34 up front, 12x23 or 25 depending on the terrain. Yes, if you chose the proper gearing, a compact will help. So will a larger rear cassette, if that's possible w/ your set-up.
The bike I use when climbing has a 50-34 compact crank matched to a 12/27 cassette. Makes an assent a lot easier.
 
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