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I’ll be getting a 2nd Road bike at the end of the week (tomorrow) and this bike will have standard 39/53 chain rings (My Choice). My current bike will remain 34/50 compact. I plan to train and race crits with the standard setup and I plan on racing hillier road races with the compact.

I have two questions:

1.Will I develop bad techniques like this: Should I stick with one or the other?

2. Is there a significant difference (effort) when climbing with a compact vs. standard?
 

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I’ll be getting a 2nd Road bike at the end of the week (tomorrow) and this bike will have standard 39/53 chain rings (My Choice). My current bike will remain 34/50 compact. I plan to train and race crits with the standard setup and I plan on racing hillier road races with the compact.

I have two questions:

1.Will I develop bad techniques like this: Should I stick with one or the other?

2. Is there a significant difference (effort) when climbing with a compact vs. standard?
a gear is a gear, does not matter which chainring/cog combination it takes to get there. what may irritate you is the difference going from one chain ring to the other.
 

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I rode a standard 53/39 (or 52/42) set up for decades. A few years ago, I was building up a new bike and decided to try a compact set up. I'm not getting any younger, or thinner, so I thought it might be a good change. Frankly, all I noticed was that I could run a 12x23 cassete in place of a 12x25. Yes, you can get more gear on a given cog size with the compact configuration. But since you have 10 or 11 cogs, you can also shift.

One worry I had was running out of gear on a 12x50, versus a 12x53. It hasn't been a problem. So, get what you want and don't worry about it. I guess the one redeeming feature of a compact is that you have a little more gearon a given cassette , which helps if you're riding really steep roads.
 

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So. Calif.
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Things I've noticed racing & training on my 50/34 cranks, against others with 53/39:

Trained, experienced cyclists who race, often have self-selected or preferred cadences within a pretty narrow range.
In mid-cassette, consider the change from a 17 to 19t cog: about 12%.
Whereas, the difference between a 53 & 50t chainring is only 6%.
You "may" find yourself pedaling at a non-preferred cadence, to stay comfortably in the pack, depending on the speed.

In a road race with steeper downhills, you may find yourself "spinning out" with 50/12 gearing. You'll probably want a cassette that starts at 11t. 50/11 is a little "harder" than 53/12.

Even on very slight downhill (~1%) sprint finishes, I'm nearly spinning out in 50/12 (we're going nearly 40mph). Again, an 11t cog is desireable.

Few months ago I damaged my 50/34 crank and borrowed a friend's 53/39 crank. There was an adjustment period going back & forth between cranksets, much more so than simply changing cassettes (which I do fairly often). I would find it annoying switching between bikes with different cranks. Your "intuitive" shifting habits, that you normally do without thinking, are changed.

There most definitely is a significant difference in climbing. 39 vs 34 ring is 15% difference for the same rear cog, and is equivalent to 1-2 cogs larger. I prefer to spin faster uphills -- works better for me than "grinding" -- so the compact is a real benefit, especially for those of us who don't have 300+ watt threshhold power ;-)

Having said all that, I like the idea of a "mid compact" 52/36 gearing and will probably install that when my chainrings wear out. It has the same 110mm bolt circle as 50/34, so fits on the same crank.
 

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I go between standard, compact, triple road and triple mtb without thinking much about it. Triple is a bit bothersome in that it requires more front shifting. Otherwise, it's just a matter of whether you run out of gears on climbs or in descents.
 

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Will you be bothered by dropping into the small front ring more often? Will the ratios of the cassette be as close? If there is a big gap in the cassette to get to the gears for hills you may hate the big drop off in cadence when you shift.
I just went with 11speed, 50/34 12/25 cassette. the ratios are very close and I am always able to keep my cadence where i want it. I am not maxing out the top speed of the bike (if I am every doing 40mph plus its not because I am in top gear at 100+ rpms), but I figure it will be easier to switch cassettes down the line than crank and chainrings.
 

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The compact 34 ring allows you to spin a bit more going uphill. I have some steep sections where even at a 34-26 my cadence will be in the 40's out of the saddle. I can't imagine doing that in a 39x23. On the other end of the spectrum I run a 50x11. If I spin out of this in a tailwind or downhill sprint, having a 53x11 isn't going to make that much of a difference. You might be able to spin a 110 RPM with a 53 instead of 116 RPM with a 50. Nothing night and day, but I would get the 11 on the cassette.
 

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When I used a compact people used to kick sand in my face but as soon as I switched to a standard men wanted to be me and women wanted to be with me.

Or, as said already: A gear ratio is a gear ratio and it matters not whoch crankset you get it from. I have both and it really doesn't matter to me which one I use.
 

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I would suggest that you get compatible equipment so you can switch the compact and 53/39 between the bikes if you want.

I just got a compact equipped road bike after riding a 53/39 and find that I need a few rides to get used to it
 

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There just seems to be more front chainring shifting with a compact as the (most) usable gears seem to be at opposite ends of the cassette.
which was not what I was getting at; the to stay at roughly same cadence going from small to large chainring is 2 cogs on a standard and 3 on a compact. roughly speaking.
 

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Fred the Clydesdale
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Real men don't have compacts. Go big or go home. :)

I don't own a compact. Well, I own a compact car. I have a bike with a triple that I haven't used in a year (50/39/30). I now have two that have a 53/39. I find I can climb whatever is around here with this gearing, but here is mostly rolling hills or flat.

The compact basically gives you close to the same gearing as a triple, but with two chainrings.
 

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I just went from an 11-23 x 39-53 to 12-25 x 42-53 and increased my low gear range by a little doing so. Since I average around 20mph on my rolling course, the 42T ring allows me to avoid shifting to my big ring as often.
 
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