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Unless you're very strong and fit... or you only ride in the flats, get the compact. I'm partial to the 50-36, but lots of people like the more common 50-34.
 

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I just switched to compact after 4 years with a standard set up. My coach had been nagging me for over a year to with a compact so I could do longer rider with lots of climbing with out burning out.
 

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Norcal has hills. Norcal has a lot of hills. Most are moderately steep, some are very steep.

I'm in climbing shape and I have a 15 lb. bike. I had a 39/53 chainring with a 12/25 on my road bike.

Anyway, I recently got a cross bike and I got to try a compact crankset. Well I like it so much, I've put it on my normal roadbike as well. Both bikes now have a 34/50 front chainring.

The 34 tooth small ring just means I can get good cadence on almost any hill, even on my bad days. And the bonus which I totally didn't expect is I can stay in my big ring longer. Some rolling rides now, I'm in the big ring the whole time. This means I'm more focused on pedaling and less on changing the front ring.

Long story short, I'm sold on the compact crankset now. Shimano finally started making one. Campagnolo is putting a lot of marketing effort behind their new compact cranks.

I believe in 5 years, the majority of all bikes sold will have compact chainrings. They just make more sense. They will also minimize the need for triple chainrings.

francois
 

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francois said:
Norcal has hills. Norcal has a lot of hills. Most are moderately steep, some are very steep.

I'm in climbing shape and I have a 15 lb. bike. I had a 39/53 chainring with a 12/25 on my road bike.

Anyway, I recently got a cross bike and I got to try a compact crankset. Well I like it so much, I've put it on my normal roadbike as well. Both bikes now have a 34/50 front chainring.

The 34 tooth small ring just means I can get good cadence on almost any hill, even on my bad days. And the bonus which I totally didn't expect is I can stay in my big ring longer. Some rolling rides now, I'm in the big ring the whole time. This means I'm more focused on pedaling and less on changing the front ring.

Long story short, I'm sold on the compact crankset now. Shimano finally started making one. Campagnolo is putting a lot of marketing effort behind their new compact cranks.

I believe in 5 years, the majority of all bikes sold will have compact chainrings. They just make more sense. They will also minimize the need for triple chainrings.

francois

So how was it descending down Soquel/Old San Jose on Saturday? Were you spinning out? You didn't happen to track your cadence on the ride, didja?

It was pretty impressive to watch you maintain a good spin on the climbs. You puzzled me a bit on Eureka when I watched you jump that first steep pitch, with your chain midway in your cogs, then it dawned on me - compact...
 

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Coop, keep in mind that a 50-11 is 3.5 gear inches taller than a 53-12. So most people ride 39/53 with a 12/25 in back...Francois is pedaling a higher and lower gear than you at the end of the day.
I see you're riding a DA 7800 crank, so no compact. I really want Shimano to make that darn crank in compact so i can buy one.

I was riding 53/39 11/23, but on the descent, i didn't get into the 11.

Tron, you could easily get away with a 53/39 12/25 setup or even 12/27, but a compact and 11/23 works really well and will get you home better at the end of a 70 miler when you're climbing up Tunitas Creek.
 

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Go with the compact

I have never heard anyone complain about having too many extra gears while climbing. If you have a 11-23 cassette on the back, then its similar to a standard double with a 12-25. Another option is to go with a 12-27 in the back and a standard double. That gives you about the same gearing as a 12-25 and a compact, but there are some jumps in the cogs. If you go to the FSA website they have gearing comparisons with a variety of cranks and cogs.

I do not have one for myself but I will probably get one in the next year or so for one of my bikes, and to help see if I can improve my cadence and stay at about the same speed while climbing.
 

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Not to be arguementative Goose, the 11/23 with compact is equal to the std and 12/27. 39.9 VS 39.0 gear inches.
the 25 is 42 gear inches.
Best to doublecheck my math via Sheldbrown's website. I could have been wrong when i built my spreadsheet.
 

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For me the compact is definitely the call. I weigh about 200 lbs., but I absolutely love to climb. With 50/34 and 12/25 the gearing is a much better match for the terrian I am riding, especially the steep stuff.

Like Francois said an ancilary benefit is you can spend more time in the big ring. I think there are a few keys to the compact: one, set your front derailure up carefully, especially if you are doing the 16 tooth jump; two, keep your cadence up where it needs to be. You should be able to get a one push upshift in the front with almost any derailure, it just takes a bit longer to adjust that out compared with a 14 tooth jump. I have also ridden with some guys who go compact but keep the same old 55 rpm climbing cadence they were using with standard crankset.

While it is nice to have the option to ease up and/ or have a rest gear, climbing at the same old RPM with a smaller gear is not going to help your fitness much or your ride times. Obviously, if doing this allows you to ride more miles then before, then it is all good.

Again, I like the 50/34, but the 50/36 may work best for you. 16 teeth can be a big downshift in the front, so I usually shift the rear simultaniously towards a little higher gear (smaller cog); that is unless I'm coming up on something that gets really steep in a hurry.
 

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rensho said:
Coop, keep in mind that a 50-11 is 3.5 gear inches taller than a 53-12. So most people ride 39/53 with a 12/25 in back...Francois is pedaling a higher and lower gear than you at the end of the day.
I see you're riding a DA 7800 crank, so no compact. I really want Shimano to make that darn crank in compact so i can buy one.

I was riding 53/39 11/23, but on the descent, i didn't get into the 11.
You were pushing a 39/23 up Eureka? Nice work. Is that what you're typically climbing with? I'm going to have to check out the FSA site. I'd love a smaller climbing gear. My 12/27 is decent, but I can see how a lttle more spin would be great.
 

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thinkcooper said:
You were pushing a 39/23 up Eureka? Nice work. Is that what you're typically climbing with? I'm going to have to check out the FSA site. I'd love a smaller climbing gear. My 12/27 is decent, but I can see how a lttle more spin would be great.
I was also running 39x23 on Eureka. I only used my 25 on the lower steep pitch section of Eureka, the steep part of Hames, and the steep part of Laurel. If I were ten pounds lighter like I used to be, I would never use my 25. And francois and the boys wouldn't be dropping me on climbs, either.

We should all plan to do the <a href="http://www.santacruzcycling.org/scmc/2006/index.shtml">Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge</a> in August to take those compacts out for a real test!
 

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mohair_chair said:
I was also running 39x23 on Eureka. I only used my 25 on the lower steep pitch section of Eureka, the steep part of Hames, and the steep part of Laurel. If I were ten pounds lighter like I used to be, I would never use my 25. And francois and the boys wouldn't be dropping me on climbs, either.

We should all plan to do the <a href="http://www.santacruzcycling.org/scmc/2006/index.shtml">Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge</a> in August to take those compacts out for a real test!
So, in a roundabout way, you're saying that if I commit to the SC Mtn. Challenge, then I could internally justify buying a FSA Compact MegaEXO K-force?
 

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thinkcooper said:
It's good to know I can count on friends. But what's your story?
It will be something about you being chased by the mob because of some old debt, or maybe because a vendetta that goes back several generations. Or maybe you were supposed to whack a guy, but you chickened out, left town, and changed your name. Whatever. You're a wanted man, and that's all that matters. They're chasing you on bikes for some unknown reason, and you need to climb better to escape, so you can provide for your family. I'll spin it. Don't worry. I suggest you work her through a bottle of wine first. Something pretty potent, like Bonny Doon Framboise.
 

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mohair_chair said:
It will be something about you being chased by the mob because of some old debt, or maybe because a vendetta that goes back several generations. Or maybe you were supposed to whack a guy, but you chickened out, left town, and changed your name. Whatever. You're a wanted man, and that's all that matters. They're chasing you on bikes for some unknown reason, and you need to climb better to escape, so you can provide for your family. I'll spin it. Don't worry. I suggest you work her through a bottle of wine first. Something pretty potent, like Bonny Doon Framboise.
Okay. That should work. Here's the phone. One last thing, you think you could spin that whole van full of gray haired old ladies thingie to my advantage as well?
 

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thinkcooper said:
You were pushing a 39/23 up Eureka? Nice work. Is that what you're typically climbing with? I'm going to have to check out the FSA site. I'd love a smaller climbing gear. My 12/27 is decent, but I can see how a lttle more spin would be great.
Yep, that is my typical gearing. I do want to get a compact though and keep running the 11/23. I had a compact on there 3 months ago, and that was nice while it lasted (problem with crank). Personally, I wouldn't get a FSA, but i'll take that offline.
 
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