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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, I just got a bike and need some advice. I have a Kestrel Evoke SL frame that is brand spanking new. I have some older style ultegra components on it as I just finished putting it together. I am going to get fitetd on this bike very soon and saw the thread about where to for that. So my question is about compact vs standard gearing. The bike has 53/39 and 11-23 and is a 9 speed. The cranks are 175mm and I am 5'9". The bike is a 56cm. I know most of them now are 10sp and lots of people seem to go with compact set. I am a MTB rider and tryo to use the middle ring as often as possible on climbs. Sometimes the super steep stuff forces me to drop into granny gear. If I decide or people tell me compact is the way to go, I would have to buy the whole group and that looks to be about $700 minimum. I know many of you have varying opinions about this subject. I am sure this has been posted many times but it would help me a lot to hear what you have to say. I might just suffer on the climbs with the current setup and see what happens. Thanks for everyone's thoughts.
 

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fun2none
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Here are my suggestions.

1. Try using 53/39:11-23 gearing on some climbs. See how it goes.
2. If you need lower gears get a SRAM PG-950 11-28 cassette
3. If the 11-28 cassette is not low enough, get a compact crank

My Kestrel Evoke SL has 50/36:11-28. It has enough range to cover everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you very much. I will look into getting a new cassette on the back first after my initial trials. Seems like a great frame and very light!
 

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You don't need an entire group to put a compact crank on. You only need the crank.

We have a lot of climbs here in Nor Cal (unless you're in the central valley, then you have to ride a ways to get to them).

Unless you go out of your way to avoid climbs you will probably find that gearing to be too tall. Most road racers run lower gearing than that, and many of the fastest climbers are using compacts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok- so your telling me that a new compact crank will work with the 9 speed shifters and rear cassette? I have been told a few different things. I guess I am really just reducing the front chainring size then huh?
 

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I had a standard crank (53/39) with an 12/23 cassette. Hills HURT! Got a 13/26 cassette. Much better, but still hard. Got a compact and I'm really happy. My knees feel better and my cadence is higher. I don't have any trouble with a slightly lower top end.

Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I am in San Jose and like to climb- Sierra Rd and things like that. Can do on MTB with middle chainring and large cog on back, but never tried with a road bike. I know the gears I have now will be torture on a climb like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think I get it. I can still use the 9spd shifters and get a compact crank and change the rear cassette if I need to. If I am 5'9" do you think a 172.5mm crank is good or stick with the 175mm. I am going to get a bike fit this week but just want to start shopping for a crankset asap. Thnaks for your help guys/gals. Much appreciated.
 

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I've had my road bike for about 2 months now, and just completed my first 50mi ride. I've found on my road bike w/triple crank I've found hills are about the same. Granted I'm more of a spinner climbing hills that using a bigger gear, but in my experience tougher gearing + lighter bike has been easier than heavier bike + easier gearing.
 

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pmarshall said:
I think I get it. I can still use the 9spd shifters and get a compact crank and change the rear cassette if I need to. If I am 5'9" do you think a 172.5mm crank is good or stick with the 175mm. .
Try a 12-27 cassette.

Most racers your height would use a 172.5mm crank. But if you have long legs and prefer low pedal rpms 175 might be ok.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Eric979- Will a 12-27 cassette work on my 9spd setup? I think that I will most likely have to switch to a compact to get the 172.5mm crank length anyway. If I do that, what size cassette should I run on back to get up steep climbs. I enjoy climbing for the fitness. I am not so concerned about going super fast on the flats but would like to be able to at least keep up with some buddies. Maybe I should just grow a pair and suck it up and quit my whining. That might be cheaper:D
 

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pmarshall said:
Eric979- Will a 12-27 cassette work on my 9spd setup? I think that I will most likely have to switch to a compact to get the 172.5mm crank length anyway. If I do that, what size cassette should I run on back to get up steep climbs. I enjoy climbing for the fitness. I am not so concerned about going super fast on the flats but would like to be able to at least keep up with some buddies. Maybe I should just grow a pair and suck it up and quit my whining. That might be cheaper:D

First off welcome to the road, I also come from Mt biking(rarely ride dirt anymore). Several things Ive learned.
Mt biking prepared me for road climbs to a point.
I climb differently on the road(I dont spin as high a cadence)
Speed on flats can be reached just fine with a compact(only on really fast decents will you notice)
After riding with a compact for years and now a standard crank, I prefer the standard.That being said Im more of a racer type. I like to climb but its really about enjoyment and training on hills. Most of my climbing is done at a tempo power range.

If you are gonna be doing alot of rides with more then 7000ft of climbing Id say compact. Thing is depends on your weight and climbing ability. Lots of smaller guys(150lbs and under) fly up climbs on standard cranks. Remember, road bikes roll much better then mt bikes do.

Now I like Sierra Rd also, Im 195lbs and have no problem with a standard crank with a 11-27 cassette.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
SMW- Thanks for the thoughts. I used to be 190-195lbs but dropped down and now weight 160. I am just going to try it first with the standard crank and see what I can do. The cassette on there now is going to make hills a pain so I might change that to one like yours. I also don't really like to "spin" too much but find I am not a huge fan of mashing on the pedals either. I will just have to find the right balance and see where it takes me. I am excited about riding a bike that rolls with less friction and also about 11 pounds lighter! We'll see what happens.

Paul
 

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Now there are 11-28 cassettes available. The cool thing with the lighter bike is it seems to go rather easily compared to a mt bike on dirt. Over time that easier sensation seems to disappear.
 

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smw said:
Now there are 11-28 cassettes available.
The ones that I have seen (eg. SRAM and Shimano Ultegra) are 10 speed, while the OP is running 9 speed. If there were an 11-28 in 9 speed I'd question its usability because of the significant jumps between cogs. I don't notice the gearing jumps too much using 12-27 at 10 speed, but I could see it getting pretty annoying if the gears were pushed much further apart than that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yeah- I hear you on the jump in ratios with the cogs. That would be a huge jump and I'd likely never find a gear that is comfortable if it were available. I am actually getting close to just buying a whole new group with a compact and a 11-15 cassette. This whole road gearing thing has been a learning experience since with a MTB you just usually ride the standard setup. I guess that is even changing with the 2X10 setup now. I just want to ride the darn thing. I guess I will still have to conquer Sierra Rd with the MTB until I get this bike set up. Anyone got $1200 I could borrow? Thanks everyone
 

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pmarshall said:
This whole road gearing thing has been a learning experience since with a MTB you just usually ride the standard setup.
The problem is that the standard set-up that you have (53/39 x 11-23) is a standard set-up for a pro rider, and not suitable for the rest of us. One of the biggest improvements in the bike industry in the last 10 years is that you can now buy pro-quality gear but retuned for the mass market. I'd count compact crank-sets, wide-spread cassettes and tall head tubes as recent innovations that have meaningful benefits for non-racer cyclists. Also remember that Sierra Road is a tough hill - steeper than most of the climbs that pro cyclists race on (typically they're in the range of 5-8% for the longer climbs).

You need to figure out what you will really need in terms of gearing for the long-haul, and then figure out how to get to there from what you have now. My thinking is that the pro riders are typically racing at speeds that are 50% faster than me, pretty much in all situations (sprinting, hills, flats, rollers, though maybe not descending). There is no shame in having proportionately lower gears to account for this! That's how I ended up with a compact 50/34 by 12-25 or 12-27 cassette.

You'll have to decide whether to stay with 9 speed. Depending on the condition of your current components, they might get a good price on ebay (some are looking for 9 speed as replacements). Depending on how much you like the frame and how well it fits, consider the possibility of reselling and buying a new bike too - that might be the simplest option.

The other possibility is to choose a significantly less steep hill! I find Sierra to be unrideable for much of the summer because of the heat, though surprisingly that hasn't really been too much of an issue this month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
UKBloke- Yeah I figured the gearing is more than I can handle on steep hills. I ride up Sierra Rd at night usually around 9pm or so because I get off work and put kid to bed and off I go. I go there for the challenge and fitness only. It is 20 min ride from my house so it is an ideal training route. Also at night I can avoid the heat and know when cars are coming. I think it might actually be safer. I have lights on bars, helmet and seatpost. Of course sucking in some of the marijuana smoke from the stoners up there might not help. I have no problem with having lower gears and any kind of stigma attached to it. If I can climb, I will ride. I am looking on Ebay and other sites for the best prices for a new group. I really love the frame (super light) I have and the price I got it for can't be beat. Even if I pay $1,500. for a new group set (sram or Dura Ace) I am still ahead over $1,500 if I bought the bike from a shop. The current components I have seem to be in great shape. I will sell them after I buy a new group.
 

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No need to go overboard on the components if money is the limiting factor - you could get SRAM Apex or Shimano 105 for considerably less. You could also consider riding up Calaveras Road from Milpitas since it has much more reasonable grades. Another possibility would be the first hill climb on the road out to Mt Hamilton.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
True- I could do all those things. Money is always a limiting factor!! I am doing my research and reading reviews of group sets and things. Not in a huge hurry so I will take my time. I will have to adjust my riding until I can get the proper gearing. Maybe my leg muscles will benefit from some torture too. Appreciate the advice
 
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