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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking to add better gearing to my bike. My primary method is looking at a newer bike. As I am looking around I have some questions on gearing.

What are the advantages vs disadvantages of triple vs compact setups?

If I found a nice bike but not geared for the hills, can I simply add a compact crank to get more gears without upgrading other components? To go with a triple do I need to change the crank as well as 2 derailleurs?
 

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Humbly suggest you look up the other two threads raging on about this question hereabouts!

In a nutshell - I've ridden triple(didn't like at all), 39 x 53 (get real, I'm an old fat slob now), 38 x 50 (great, worked fine, but two cheap rings of different makes looked horrible) and compact (like it best, but have driving urge to trade 34 for 36T inner ring).

Triple - lots and lots and lots of gears. In Shimanoland, better since 10 speed was invented. Double - less parts, less fuss. Argue against that if you dare ;) Compact, ditto for double, but huge gap between ring sizes.

Gears - the world has double and triple front and rear derailleurs in matched set, which are needed to match those cranks and gear ranges. Sometimes, you get to buy matching 'brifter' (I hate that expression!) levers for double or triple too.

First step - analyse your riding needs w/ref to your present gearing. There used to be boring old tables of gear inches. Real easy math - teeth on ring divided by teeth on cassette cog times 27 = number of inches. EG 50 on the front divided by 25 on the back times 27 = a 54" gear.

27 is near enough unless you are an engineer or 'Piled High and Deep' and demand accuracy to three decimal places. It just gives you an easy to visualise number to compare like to like.

Now figure what gearing numbers you want or need to change, then figure which of the options matches your needs best. That's your ideal, not someone else's.

I love to point out that I started on a triple for a year, but am so lousy a climber, I fitted a double. That may seem contrary, but little effects how slowly I drag my lardy donkey uphill and how much it hurts, so I put on gearing to deal with the areas of cycling I prefer. Add that to how much nicer double rings were at the time - old 9 sp Shimano - and there was MY ideal solution. I now ride compacts as I have them and realise how little effect on life further messing around would have.

Hope that helps

Dereck
 

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photobug said:
I am looking to add better gearing to my bike. My primary method is looking at a newer bike. As I am looking around I have some questions on gearing.

What are the advantages vs disadvantages of triple vs compact setups?
Advantages:

You get an extra cruising gear or two where one-tooth jumps are nice for the same overall range. For example, 50-34x11-26 and 53-39-30x12-23 net the same gear range but the later has 16 and 18 cogs amongst 15-17-19.

The extra overlap means there aren't terrain/fatigue/wind situations where you're frequently shifting both front and rear derailleurs

Closer spacing between rings mean that when you do shift rings there's less fiddling with the rear derailleur. With my 50-40-30 road triple running off the middle ring means going two cogs bigger to get the next gear which is one nudge on the right Campagnolo brifter, while my 50-34 compact double is five cogs bigger which takes two pushes.

Disadvantages:

Some people might notice the wider Q-factor which is about half an inch. I don't.

People might make fun of you for having a triple (even if they have a 28 big cog and you have a 21) or tell you to HTFU.


If I found a nice bike but not geared for the hills, can I simply add a compact crank to get more gears without upgrading other components?
Yes.

To go with a triple do I need to change the crank as well as 2 derailleurs?
You need a new front derailleur. You may need a new rear derailleur to accommodate the wrap. You probably need a new bottom bracket axle although these days that's built into the drive side crank.
 

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I suspect that when you say you need more gears you actually mean a different (lower)gearing range. There are lots of tables and spreadsheets by which you can compare the gearing combinations of various crank/cassette combinations. A compact can lower your overall gear range at the expense of the upper gears on a standard double. A triple can give you the low range and the high range at the "expense" of a triple crank. You might also be able to get lower gearing simply by replacing your casette. It all depends on what you have and how much lower you want your gearing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Drew Eckhardt said:
Advantages:


Disadvantages:


People might make fun of you for having a triple
Like I don't get made fun of now, for having to turn around when the hills get too steep. If i get made fun of riding, I hope its because I am fat or slow not the bike I ride.

Thanks for all the info guys. I have already replaced the cluster to get all I can out of what i got. I would have to replace my cranks and front gears to get more gears out of my current bike. I think I pretty much need more gear in either direction. I run out of gears going downhill and run out of gears way to early on the climbs.

Sounds like i'd be cooler if I had a compact but more gear options if I had a triple. Looks as though I can go either compact or triple and just learn to use what I got, that's what I have done with my current bike bought on ebay 10 years ago. I've been Mtn biking for years and know my way around a triple setup so if I can find that on the right bike I'll go with it.

PDXmark, I am in PDX now on vacation, want to move here, what a cool city.
 

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photobug said:
PDXmark, I am in PDX now on vacation, want to move here, what a cool city.
PBug, glad you're enjoying it here. It is a great place to live...

As for your gearing, I'd prioritize climbing gears over descending gears. Insufficient gearing for climbing will end a ride. Descents are relatively free, anyway. You can find a fairly affordable compact crank with 50/34 gearing that will effectively give you two more lower gears for climbing. It might cost $150-ish, if you find a Ritchey or FSA crank somewhere.
 

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Idle thought - which I haven't really done, but used to a long while back...

Use whatever gear size table trips your trigger - see above for mine - and list the gears you have on your bike now. It used to be real easy - the only mail order catalogue in England back when I did this seriously had a gear table in the back. We all had one, end of problem!

Now, there's probably 'an app for that' :rolleyes:

What it would give you, apart from a lot of knowledge you might never use again, is an indication of how many duplicate gears you are hauling around. Not sure how wide a range 'duplicate' covers - spot on, an inch or so, 2" or 3" - but if you go to a 30 'speed' triple rig, there's bound to be a little crossover somewhere.

Oddly enough, my present 'top' is 50 x 12 = 112.5" using that simplistic math above. Which is considerably higher than when I took things somewhat seriously. My favourite stretch of road back then was around 400 yds, slightly downhill to the chequered flag - it was the only race in my patch that ended downhill. It was also the only place I could almost guarantee needing my 52 x 14 = 100.28" top.

I don't think I've improved much since then :mad2:

BTW - 53 x 11 = 130", from that formula. If you can spin that out without the help of a very long downhill, folk could be interested in offering you a career change :cool:

D

Whatever, a mathematical look at that oily lump on your back wheel could be illuminating.
 

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If you found a bike you like in terms of the fit, comfort, price and other subjective qualities (looks,brand, etc.) then I suggest that you ask the shop to swap that cassette for one that has a lower range. That is the cheapest and least drastic option assuming that bike has a standard double crank.

There is no easy answer to the question of which is better, compact or triple. It depends on your personal preferences and circumstances.

If simplicity and weight savings are a critical factor then compact is a good choice. However, if you need more gear choices and prefer less rear cog shifting when transitioning the front rings then triple is the way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
PdxMark said:
PBug, It might cost $150-ish, if you find a Ritchey or FSA crank somewhere.
Yep I am definetly more concerned with getting up the hills. Would Ritchey or FSA cranks fit a 9 speed Campy setup?
 

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Yes although you may need to shim the chain rings out (you can get .4 and .6mm spacers specifically for this purpose, with Letour being one manufacturer whose product is available at branford bike) to avoid rub in the small ring with the outer few cogs.

Campagnolo moved their 10 speed chain rings .4mm closer together to accommodate the narrower chain, and my FSA "9 and 10 speed compatible" carbon pro compact cranks measured even closer with using the small ring on the smallest three cogs causing the chain to rub on the big ring before I shimmed it.
 

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And then there's the 2011 the Campagnolo Athena 11 speed compact. 50/34 up front and 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-25-27 in the back. Should be adequate, or?
 

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I've joined the "compact" bandwagon recently. Even when I thought I didn't need it, it's turning out great - the gear combos are a bit more exact (for me).

But the only reason I'd recommend a compact over a triple is the case of simplicity. Less gears, less FD trouble...and less weight if you're counting.
 
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