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My wife and I have a fair number of miles on touring triples and mtn bike triples. We are closing in on 60 and looking at Roubaix/Ruby road bikes. Like many people our age we are only considering the Apex vs Triple versions. We are comfortable with the shifting of our old Trek 720/620's and our mtn bikes and Pugsleys. All triples. We have no ability to test ride a triple for the next several months but would like to get a bike ordered now if possible. One major reason for us to seriously consider the triple is a desire for simpler, tighter gearing while staying in the middle ring and a lack of need for double shifting. It's more of what we are used to. The question I have is whether triple shifting on a road bike is for some reason less accurate/reliable than triple shifting on a mtn bike? I don't know of any reason it would be so but have read so many times how road bike triple shifting is compromised. If it is simply the case that triple shifting is triple shifting regardless of road or mtn, but doubles just shift that much better...then we have no issue with a road triple. If there is some reason that shifting a road triple would be significantly different/poorer than shifting on a touring bike or mtn bike I'd be very interested to learn that. I'm assuming that "poor triple shifting" is merely in comparison to doubles and I'm guessing a Roubaix triple will shift just as well as a touring bike or mtn bike. Yeah? No? Thanks much.
 

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Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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digibud said:
One major reason for us to seriously consider the triple is a desire for simpler, tighter gearing while staying in the middle ring and a lack of need for double shifting.
This is exactly the reason I have triples on my commuting bikes. If I had a compact double, I'd be shifting the front in the middle of every block, or cross-chaining away from every stoplight. Plus the granny is nice for those days when I choose the hilly route and also have full panniers.

I own two triples and two standard doubles. (FWIW, they all have flatlander close-ratio cassettes on the back.) The doubles shift alike and about the same, and the triples (a Sora and an Ultegra) shift alike and about the same.

Triples will never shift in the front like doubles, since there are twice as many trim positions and a whole 'nother ring. I learned how to adjust mine and keep it in-tune. It's really quite easy. When I hear mechanics complain about it, I figure they're not a very good mechanic and steer away from them.

When I hear riders complain about triples, I see them as unskilled. It's dumb easy to shift a double, just bang it from stop to stop. A Neanderthal can do it. A triple requires feel, finesse and learning. When they complain about the extra few grams, I think they should HTFU.
 

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Couldn't agree more with brucew. To paraphrase what you said, there is no reason that shifting a road triple would be any different than shifting on a touring- bike or mountain bike.

Keep in mind that there's a good deal of make-believe in recreational riding. It's not so easy imagining yourself a pro racer if you're on a triple. Any marketing blurbs explaining why you should get rid of that "cumbersome" and "heavy" triple is warmly received by those looking to get rid of it, or those who don't even want to consider it when buying a new bike. Let me add that I'm not slamming the compact crank, the usual replacement for a triple. It does make sense for a recreational rider to not be pushing the same large ring than a pro racer does, and to have lower gears than a pro would have.
 

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I took a compact double out for a 10 mile test ride, and I was constantly shifting the FD, and then 3 or 4 shifts on the RD to find the appropriate gear. I ended up with a triple, and don’t need to shift out of the middle ring very often.

I think I would have been happy with a double if the big ring wasn’t so big, but Shimano doesn’t make one. As a recreational rider about the same age as the OP, I don’t have a need for tall gears. I don’t understand why a smaller big ring isn’t available.

I have an old friction shift triple (which I rode for years), a hybrid triple, and a road triple. I prefer the brake lever shifting (Shimano 105) over the thumb shifters on the hybrid, but both do exactly what they’re supposed to do. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another triple.
 

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old school drop out
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The only difference that I've noticed (although I've not owned a road triple in several years) is that you need to "trim" the front derailer on a road bike a lot more than on a mountain bike. the actual shifting seems no different however.

Mountain bikes tend to have longer chain stays than road bikes. Because road bikes have shorter stays, when near the extremes on the rear cogs the chain runs at a steeper angle that it does with longer stays - the longer the stay the less change in angle the chain makes. As a result, when going form one extreme to the other (i.e. starting in the big cog, and shifting to the small) you will need to trim the front derailer on a road bike.

Is that a big deal? I don't think so.

If I were doing loaded touring a triple is a "must!" (All of my touring has been on mountain bikes with triples, never a road bike.)
 

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digibud said:
My wife and I have a fair number of miles on touring triples and mtn bike triples. We are closing in on 60 and looking at Roubaix/Ruby road bikes. Like many people our age we are only considering the Apex vs Triple versions. We are comfortable with the shifting of our old Trek 720/620's and our mtn bikes and Pugsleys. All triples. We have no ability to test ride a triple for the next several months but would like to get a bike ordered now if possible. One major reason for us to seriously consider the triple is a desire for simpler, tighter gearing while staying in the middle ring and a lack of need for double shifting. It's more of what we are used to. The question I have is whether triple shifting on a road bike is for some reason less accurate/reliable than triple shifting on a mtn bike? I don't know of any reason it would be so but have read so many times how road bike triple shifting is compromised. If it is simply the case that triple shifting is triple shifting regardless of road or mtn, but doubles just shift that much better...then we have no issue with a road triple. If there is some reason that shifting a road triple would be significantly different/poorer than shifting on a touring bike or mtn bike I'd be very interested to learn that. I'm assuming that "poor triple shifting" is merely in comparison to doubles and I'm guessing a Roubaix triple will shift just as well as a touring bike or mtn bike. Yeah? No? Thanks much.
It would be easy to get into a lot of theoretical or practical hair splitting over your question, but the easy answer is that road racing triples are well developed and have been with us for some time with indexed shifters. They will provide service that is more than up to your needs.

If we were talking about somebody's super light, has to be perfect every time race bike, than maybe some sort of dithering would be worthwhile. But you don't need that discussion. The triple works well, and is what you like. Get it.
 

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A compact double has approximately 1/2 the FF (Fred Factor) of a triple. If you want to totally Fred out, keep the dork disk and triple.

My wife and I lived out West and rode a lot of big hills so had 9 sp triples. Now in MA (God help us) we recently switched to 34/50 11/28 10 sp double setups. The total gearing range is very close to the same and we really like them, but we certainly shift the front way more. With the triples we only really needed the middle ring mashing up and spinning up or coasting down the relatively short hills around here. The main thing that went on with the FD was trimming depending which end of the cassette we were on. Also, when we did need to shift rings the size of the jumps was small making for really clean shifting. Shifting from 34 to 50 is not always as slick, and of course we do it much more frequently than we shifted the triple. And the propensity to Schleck (drop the chain downshifting) is much higher so I installed chain catchers. So like I said, we really like the new compact setup, but not for any good reason I can think of. :p

Oh yeah, check out this neat graphical gearing calculator to compare gearing setups:

http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=34,50&RZ=11,12,13,14,15,17,19,22,25,28&TF=85&UF=2099&SL=2
 

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Thank you!

looigi said:
Oh yeah, check out this neat graphical gearing calculator to compare gearing setups:
http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=34,50&RZ=11,12,13,14,15,17,19,22,25,28&TF=85&UF=2099&SL=2
That is totally cool! I have a spreadsheet set up to crank the numbers, but there's no simple way to produce a useful graph, and you have to enter the tooth numbers manually. The drag-and-drop on this one is very slick, and the graph even uses a logarithmic scale.

Who made that?
 

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looigi said:
Oh yeah, check out this neat graphical gearing calculator to compare gearing setups
Thanks from me as well, that's the best calculator I've seen yet! Those crazy Germans—when they do something, they do it to the extreme. In this case, extremely well. :D
 

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I have a triple on my road bike. Didn't know it was unfashionable when I bought it, and it hasn't stopped me from racing it. I also have a triple on my 'cross bike, which pisses me off, and a triple on my MTB, which I adore. Modern, indexed shifting makes it as easy to shift a triple as it was to shift a double with a friction shifter. I guess tuning's a little harder, but it's not too big a deal.

At worst, if you really hate it, you can replace a triple crank with a double crank, lock out the highest click on the shifter, and be done with it. (For the sake of disclosure, not something I've done.) A double shifter can't shift a triple, though, and sometimes the rear derailleur capacity won't be enough.

If you decide you want a lower granny on a triple, you can put as small as a 24t there, although it may take some monkeying with the large ring or a longer rear derailleur to make the setup feasible. It sounds like you're more interested in riding than showing other people how hardcore you are by your gearing, so maybe that's an advantage. A compact double doesn't go lower than 34 in common sizes, or 33 if you hunt.

seacoaster - there are plenty of smaller big rings available for compacts. It's true that Shimano's selection is quite small - they only do a 46t, and only in Dura Ace, to my knowledge, but I'm quite happy with the inexpensive Origin 8 48t ring on my commuter. I'd probably spend a bit more on a nicer aftermarket ring with shift pins if it was indexed; these are readily available too. So if you're willing to either spend a lot of money or mismatch brands (I know which I'd do) getting a smaller big ring is not so hard.
 

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brucew is my hero
 

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i also read a lot of 'complaints' about triples but don't know what the beef really is all about. mine works great and i'm very happy to keep it. anybody non-racer who gripes about the extra weight is full of it.
 
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