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Just moved to the Denver area. Did my first long ride this weekend -- ended up climbing a mountain and realized my gearing from IL might not be adequate for here in CO.

I currently have a 53/39 and 12-25. The climb had an average grade of 5.4% with a few sections up to 7%. I was managing in my 39/25 "okay" (averaging around 9-9.5mph), but had it been much steeper, I would have started having issues and I'd think I'd want one extra gear for those cases.

My initial thought was to get the 11-28... but then I lose a couple of middle gears and I rarely use my 12T as is, so the 11T is useless. Which then made me think to get a compact crankset... but then I feel like 28 would be too easy and a 11-25 would be a better bet with a compact?

I'm young (mid 20's) and light (150lbs) -- I just know my cadence dropped quite a bit during some of the steeper switchbacks on the climb and I know an extra gear would be worth it.
 

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My initial thought was to get the 11-28... but then I lose a couple of middle gears and I rarely use my 12T as is, so the 11T is useless. Which then made me think to get a compact crankset... but then I feel like 28 would be too easy and a 11-25 would be a better bet with a compact?
I assume you are talking 11-speed. You can use your existing 12-25 cassette with a new compact crank, or, you can purchase a new 12-28 cassette (I believe it's a DA) to use with your existing 53/39 crank.
 

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Go with either a mid-compact(52/36) or compact(50/34). If you worried about spinning out go with the mid compact. As far as cassette goes you might want to consider an 11-28.

My setup for my road bike is a mid compact with 11-28 (11 speed). I am 34, approx 180.
 

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If you can spin out a compact crank (50/11), you should be getting your gear given to you from sponsors. AKA there's no chance of spinning out a compact.
yes

and with 11sp cassettes these day, it is silly to hear of folks 'missing in between gears' when a lot of us grew up riding and racing 5-7 sp blocks. (Though a licensed racer would surely prefer the straight gears still)

besides, it's Colorado. So he found a 5-7% climb. There must be some proper 12%+ sections out in all those mountains?? so go compact and no look back. Part of the reason I like compact is not only the ability to have very wide range of gears, but also riding in the 50T is very convenient in the flatter areas, eliminated needing to keep shifting to the small chain ring when riding 20km/hr +
 

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I assume you are talking 11-speed. You can use your existing 12-25 cassette with a new compact crank, or, you can purchase a new 12-28 cassette (I believe it's a DA) to use with your existing 53/39 crank.
If he is running 11 speed he only needs to change his chainrings. No reason to buy and entire crankset to go compact.
 

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If he is running 11 speed he only needs to change his chainrings. No reason to buy and entire crankset to go compact.
Sorry but this is very likely wrong. Unless the crankset has a 110mm bolt circle you can't just install compact (50/34) rings.
 

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If you can spin out a compact crank (50/11), you should be getting your gear given to you from sponsors. AKA there's no chance of spinning out a compact.
Maybe I am really slow as far as RPM. I can only main 105 RPM. any higher and I won't be able to maintain it for more than a minute or two. This is not a HR issue. My legs just don't go any faster than that. I have a couple of 6% + descents that I routinely spin out on. I've only been riding 2 years. I am not fast. Actually, I am not even sure I am average. Over the last few months I've averages 14.5 mph while climbing about 95 feet per mile.

If someone is climbing 5, 6, and 7 percent grades, there is a good possibility they are also going down them. If there are any straightaways, it is not hard to spin out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If he is running 11 speed he only needs to change his chainrings. No reason to buy and entire crankset to go compact.
Sorry but this is very likely wrong. Unless the crankset has a 110mm bolt circle you can't just install compact (50/34) rings.
Correct. Unfortunately, I have a SRAM Force Crankset which was the 130 BCD. The smallest chainring I was able to find was a 38, which didn't seem to make much of a difference from 39. I'd probably end up replacing it with the new 105 crankset so I could potentially switch between them if I ever need/want to pretty easily.

I'm actually in the process of putting together a 105/5800 groupset on my bike, but have to make due with a hybrid 10 speed cassette due to not having 11-speed wheels. According to this post: Dark Speed Works - Use 9/10s Wheels With 11s Shimano It's possible to do by removing a single cog -- I'll just have a ghost shift somewhere.

Ideally, I would prefer to get a 12-28 and keep my 53/39, but outside of the crazy expensive DA cassette, I don't see that as an option.
 

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Welcome to Colorado! I also came from the Midwest (WI) about 20 years ago. Yes there is a lot more climbing around here than in IL, in fact, unless you ride up in the "real" mountains, most people just call them "hills" :)
I am old now (51) but use a 52/36 with 11-25 in back and have no issues climbing. Back in my 20's I used a 53/39 just because that's all we had. Get a 52/36 "Semi-Compact" crankset and you will be just fine!
 

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With 28c tires and 50/11 @ cadence of 90 rpm you will go 32.23 miles an hr. That pretty fast for straightaways. Going down hill any faster than that just get into a tuck. At your age no reason you cannot get comfortable spinning 90 rpm. May take a little while to get used to it.
 

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Welcome to Colorado! I also came from the Midwest (WI) about 20 years ago. Yes there is a lot more climbing around here than in IL, in fact, unless you ride up in the "real" mountains, most people just call them "hills" :)
I am old now (51) but use a 52/36 with 11-25 in back and have no issues climbing. Back in my 20's I used a 53/39 just because that's all we had. Get a 52/36 "Semi-Compact" crankset and you will be just fine!
makes sense only if his climbing cadence can be held at about 80+, ideally 90+, with whatever gears he chooses. at 34x28, and 80rpm, that is 12kph. riding 50rpm is recipe for inefficiency and fatigue

36x25 have to maintain about 15kph at 80rpm, over 16kph at 90rpm. Tough going on a 10km climb at 8%. Would take a 160lb rider 330 watts average the whole way, which is maybe cat 2+ level racerish, over 4 W/Kg. fairly elite kind of rider.

gear/speed
BikeCalc.com - Speed at all Cadences for any Gear and Wheel
watts for grade and speed and weight
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watts/kg strata
Just How Good Are These Guys? | CyclingTips
 

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If your only mountain ride had an average of 5.4% and a top of 7%, you probably weren't on a mountain. it really won't matter how you do it, whether you get the 28 cassette first and then the compact crank later, or vice versa, both is like as not the outcome in the end if you do ride the mountains. My Col geo is awful. Denver is kind flat? Does it take a while to find the climbs?
 

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If you are in Colorado most of the bikes in the shops are now sporting compact crank setups. I converted mine a long time ago and it was worth the expense.

Being old fat and slow, and given the fact they haven't flattened any of the climbs around here, I also went with an X9 rear D and a mtb cassette.... I can spin up just about anything around here.. at my pace
 

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Blah, blah, formulas, cadence, yada, yada,

If you're young, fit, light and like to go fast which it sounds like you are, get a mid-compact (52-36) and either an 11-25 or 11-28 in back (or both and switch depending on the ride you plan). I have a pretty high natural cadence (85-95 rpm) and can smoothly go much higher and routinely spin out a 50x11 - 52x11 is much better. 36x28 will easily get you up anything in Colorado if you only weigh 150lbs (once you're acclimatized to the altitude). I've lived and ridden here since 1990 and *I* can get up pretty much anything except Pikes Peak with a 36x28 and I've weighed up to 205 lbs (racing weight is about 190 or a bit lower).
 

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Blah, blah, formulas, cadence, yada, yada,

If you're young, fit, light and like to go fast which it sounds like you are, get a mid-compact (52-36) and either an 11-25 or 11-28 in back (or both and switch depending on the ride you plan). I have a pretty high natural cadence (85-95 rpm) and can smoothly go much higher and routinely spin out a 50x11 - 52x11 is much better. 36x28 will easily get you up anything in Colorado if you only weigh 150lbs (once you're acclimatized to the altitude). I've lived and ridden here since 1990 and *I* can get up pretty much anything except Pikes Peak with a 36x28 and I've weighed up to 205 lbs (racing weight is about 190 or a bit lower).
'spin out a 50-11'

of course that is 57kph at 100rpm. So on the flat you'd only reach that speed in a flat out sprint in cat 3 minimum. But no one on this board can spin that 50-11 on the flat in a time trial, or they'd be paid more than Cancellara to do so.

You mention 1990. The gear inches we (racers and pros) used around 1990 were commonly 52-13, which is 105.2 inches. Today the compact 50-11 is a MUCH higher gear at 119 inches. So even with a 50-34, 11-28 compact gear setup, we have significantly HIGHER gearing options than folks had in the 80s. So no, you are not spinning it out, you are just pedalling downhill and not much point in doing so past 60kph on public roads.

And also, in the past folks were known to grind up the mountains. Some spun up the mountains, but even many pros ground up them, at low rpm. and did poorly. Now all the science agrees that spinning is best everywhere, especially climbing. So if we're grinding a 36-25 at 55rpm we could really benefit from getting with the times and using the large number of cogs to exploit our power with lower gears that keep rpms up.

though we're not pros, and heck many enjoy riding single speed.
 

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If he is running 11 speed he only needs to change his chainrings. No reason to buy and entire crankset to go compact.
I found it's actually a little cheaper to buy a crankset than rings, much cheaper if you sell the old crank.

If you can spin out a compact crank (50/11), you should be getting your gear given to you from sponsors. AKA there's no chance of spinning out a compact.
Flats maybe, down hills disagree. I'm going from compact to 53/39 to gain a couple MPH on a few descents around here. Sure I can pedal at 110 and higher, but I'm not as smooth and drives my HR up unnecessarily limiting the duration I can sustain the power.
 

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...I'm going from compact to 53/39 to gain a couple MPH on a few descents around here...
Sure, but it depends on how important that is to somebody. Given equal up and down, you always spend way more time climb than descending, and the time someone would be spun out between braking for corners and accelerating is even shorter. The net effect of going slightly faster over portions of a descent on the total time for ride is very small. And at some speed, your better off in a tuck than trying to pedal, unless you're Chris Froome, evidently.
 
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