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Don't know if its just me but I had a standard SRAM Force chainring where I was riding strong for 5 months and because of the big hills in Los Angeles (Malibu and Palos Verdes) I switched to SRAM Red compact chainrings but I just don't feel like I have the power. My cadence is fast 10+ rpm on the flats but I thought I would get a big advantage in the hills with compacts but just not feeling it. Yes, it's easier to pedal on the steep hills on compacts but when I get to the top after 30-50 minutes of grinding up if feel more tired.

Are body types better for certain chainring sets or is it just in my head?

Thoughts?
 

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It's all in your head.

Gears are gears.
.
.
 

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Just use a harder gear and mash the gears at a lower cadence if that's what you want to do. If you find you aren't using the big cogs on the rear cassette then it would probably work better for you to switch them out.

Like everyone else said, gears are gears. If you want a wider range of gears then a compact is better (even wider with a wide range rear cassette like 11-32 or 11-28). If you want a tight range of gearing choices than a standard with a smaller rear cassette is better.

Personally I go faster and can handle climbing longer with a compact and an 11-32 but I've grinded slowly up hills with a standard 53-39 and an 11-25. Don't think I'd switch to a standard again but who knows.
 

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You can grind it out on a standard if a hill is less than 2 miles, or a roller.

But try grinding out a 5+ miles climb in a gear that you're only able to sustain < 60 rpm, then you legs will blow up for sure.
 

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Last year a friend put a large 34 cassette on his bike to go cross country. He had a compact up front, so he had a one to one ratio for the big hills. I plan to do the southern tier this year. So the hills won't be a big as what he did through Utah and Colorado. He gave me his big cassette and derailleur for my trip. I have a 53/39 up front so I don't have quite as good a ratio, but I feel like I have the best of both worlds for speed on flats along with good climbing gears.
I'm surprised more riders don't use this option. I've ridden with this setup a few times and the only negative is a slightly bigger jump in the last three gears on the big cassette. But it's really no problem.
 

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Agree, gears is gears...but did you change cranks? Are they the same length? IMO, crank length makes little difference unless is a big change, but just thought I ask.
 

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Agree it's in your head. Do charts of the gears you had with the old crank and the ones you have with the new one. Compare them. You'll see that with the smaller rings you have a lower lowest gear and a lower highest gear, and slightly different shift patterns in between, but othewise most of the gears you have available are the same or nearly the same. So use the ones that work for you.

it's easier to pedal on the steep hills on compacts but when I get to the top after 30-50 minutes of grinding up if feel more tired
You're essentially saying that using a lower gear and higher cadence for climbing that particular hill doesn't feel as good to you overall. That means either you haven't gotten yourself trained for that style, or a lower cadence suits your body better. People vary. Whether a given gear ratio is achieved by one gear combination or another is meaningless.

I'd like to suggest that the term "compact" be banished, as it suggests there's something qualitatively different about a particular chainring configuration. Just use the numbers. Ratios are all that matter.
 

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I don't know that I disagree with the intent of the OPs OP. I switched from standard, to mid-compact to compact back to mid-compact last year and prefer the mid-compact for general flat riding. It's irrational because a compact would put me one cog lower on the rear cassette, which means the spacing is probably superior for general riding (I have an 11-28 out back). I'm certainly not going to spin out with any of those cranks under normal conditions.

However, I can absolutely tell the difference between standard and either flavor of compact in the hilly parts of LA though and don't care to tackle steep climbs near me with a standard crank ever again. If you like it then by all means, go with a standard crank. They're your legs!
 

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Last year a friend put a large 34 cassette on his bike to go cross country. I'm surprised more riders don't use this option. I've ridden with this setup a few times and the only negative is a slightly bigger jump in the last three gears on the big cassette. But it's really no problem.
Wider range cassettes have wider spacing between gears and for long stretches on roads of constant grade/wind it can be a pain to have a gear that is either too high or too low but not "just right." This is a tradeoof that some people do not want to make and so if they are stong enough to only rarely need a very low gear they will simply tough it out or they will install a triple.
 

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I put on a SRAM Rival compact last fall. The 34 tooth just didn't feel right and I had trouble finding the right cadence after the front downshift. I switched it out for a 36 tooth, minor change major improvement in front shifting and pedaling feel.
 

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When I first switched to compact I hated it. I was always cross-chained at the top of a hill and the larger difference in chain ring sizes made for annoying rpm changes when shifting up front.

It took about three months for me to adjust. Now it feels perfectly natural and I don't think I'll ever buy another standard chainset again. So my advice is to stick with it for a while and you'll get used to it.
 

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Wider range cassettes have wider spacing between gears and for long stretches on roads of constant grade/wind it can be a pain to have a gear that is either too high or too low but not "just right." This is a tradeoof that some people do not want to make and so if they are stong enough to only rarely need a very low gear they will simply tough it out or they will install a triple.
I guess it wouldn't work for some riders, but with a 53/39 combined with the 34 cassette I get all the gears I need. I think it's far better than a triple. I've not found any problem finding a gear on the flat. I usually can drop any of my friends when we hit a head wind.
 

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I notice that when I'm in better shape, I can destroy myself more when I compete.

I'd propose something similar about having lower available gearing - if the 39t inner ring was forcing you to vary your technique more on the way up, you may have stayed fresher than with a crank that offers you low enough gears to spend more time spinning. Unless you have low enough gears to start phoning it in, you'll still have to work pretty hard on a climb.

Of course, you can always vary more with the lower gearing too.
 

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Look at the second chart here:

Bicycle efficiency and power -- or, why bikes have gears

Everyone has a certain pedal RPM where they produce maximum power (measured in Watts or horsepower.) The more power you produce the faster you climb. You need to find the gear ratio that allows you to pedal at your max. power RPM.
If your gear ratio is too high your pedal PRM is below peak and you climb slow.
If your gear ratio is too high you spin past your peak and climb slower.
Note training and conditioning will change your peak power pedal cadence (generally raising both your power output and the RPM it occurs at.)
 
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