Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 61
  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    6

    Triple vs Compact (Which to get?)

    I'm new to biking and I just bought my first road bike (previously had a mtb). My main reason for switching to a road bike was because I saw that it was easier to get up hills. With hills being my main concern I'm left wondering which is better to have: a triple or compact crankset?

    All the online threads I've seen say triples are better for hills. The bike shop where I got my roadie from agreed to upgrade my crankset to a triple for no extra charge. Today, however, when I went in to pick up my bike they were trying to convince me to get a compact crankset. Saying that it was easier to use and I didn't have to worry about trimming. I know nothing about trimming but I do know that my mtb had a triple crankset and I had no problems shifting with it before. Are they just trying to save money? What are the reasons for getting a compact vs. a triple? Is there a difference when they are placed on a road bike versus a mtb?

    I have this weekend to think about it. Next week I need to tell the shop whether to change my crankset to a compact or triple. Please help. Let me know what the pros and cons are. Thanks.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    10,126

    do a search first...

    This topic really has been beaten to death on this forum. A really fit rider wouldn't need either. I'm old and still never use anything lower than a 39/25 for hills. Until I was 47 I never used anything lower than a 39/21.

    I imagine you're talking about a shimano drivetrain also. The certainly favors the compact, because shimano trimming of the front derailleur isn't much to brag about. With a 50/34 compact and 12-27 cassettes you can almost get most of the low gears of a triple, but not all since a 30T little ring is obviously 13% lower than a 34T.

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: NSXER's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    43
    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    This topic really has been beaten to death on this forum. A really fit rider wouldn't need either. I'm old and still never use anything lower than a 39/25 for hills. Until I was 47 I never used anything lower than a 39/21.

    I imagine you're talking about a shimano drivetrain also. The certainly favors the compact, because shimano trimming of the front derailleur isn't much to brag about. With a 50/34 compact and 12-27 cassettes you can almost get most of the low gears of a triple, but not all since a 30T little ring is obviously 13% lower than a 34T.
    Hey- the guy says he's new and maybe we're all not as fit as you...sheesh, switch to decaf hot dog!

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    6
    I have done searches and thought a triple was the way to go. But now I'm confused with the compact. Price is not an issue in getting either a triple or compact, as the bike shop agreed that they would upgrade my bike for no extra charge. My question is whether the compact is that much easier in shifting and maintenance or if it is just a cheaper compensation for the triple. Again I'm new to road bikes so I really don't know what to think about this. If it helps for advice, I'm light at 125lbs and while I'm not in the best of shape I'm not a complete weakling...closer to average and trying to build up.

  5. #5
    Cannot bench own weight
    Reputation: Einstruzende's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    4,300
    I feel like i've been writing this alot, however between the two i'd probably opt for a triple, making sure that you go with a 53/39/30 instead of a 53/42/30. I wasn't impressed with compact cranks and always felt like I was searching for the right gear, and the 34 chainring was almost worthless for anything other than really steep or long hills.

    The 53/39/30 over a 53/42/30 is more a personal thing. The bigger two chainrings match a typical non-racer double, so if you ever decide you don't need the 30, you can get the 53/39 crank and not notice a difference.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    6
    Thanks NSXER and Einstruzende.

    P.S. I'm female. At 5'3" and not so huge of a build that's why I'm more concerned about the hills. I want to improve on my cycling not blow out my knees at the beginning.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: NSXER's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    43
    Quote Originally Posted by allyahna
    Thanks NSXER and Einstruzende.

    P.S. I'm female. At 5'3" and not so huge of a build that's why I'm more concerned about the hills. I want to improve on my cycling not blow out my knees at the beginning.
    Oops, there I go assuming things again...........!

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    4,209
    If you have the money for it, get a triple. It's better to have the low gears and not need them than it is to need them and not have them. If you decide you don't need them, you can always switch back to a double, compact or regular, later. How low a gear you need depends on your fitness, the kind of hills you ride, and your preference for spinning vs mashing. "A fit rider doesn't need a gear lower than X" only takes one of those factors into account.

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    108

    Question for C-40 and i prefer Triple btw

    First off, I always listen to C-40's advice.

    I haven't used campy, but really, have not had trouble trimming my ultergra triple. whats the story here?

    A complaint i always hear about triple chainrings, is that shifting is not as smooth, or that you drop your chain trying to shift to the lowest. Used to happen to me, but i kinda figured out that this happens only when shifting from middle to small while on one one of the two largest cogs (btw, my largest cog works flawlessly with the middle ring). so i assumed that this is not recommended. Is that correct C-40? or do i need to further tweak my derailleur adjustment to be able to shift while on smaler cogs?

    As for triple vs. compact, although i now only use my small ring on the steepest inclines or when im really trying to keep my cadence in the sky, I am happy i have got it. At worst, I won't use it. So my belief is as one gets stronger, he will appreciate having the 39' ring (middle ring on a triple) as opposed to a silly 34, but still have a bail out ring if needed. (For info, i have an 11-23 cassette).

    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    This topic really has been beaten to death on this forum. A really fit rider wouldn't need either. I'm old and still never use anything lower than a 39/25 for hills. Until I was 47 I never used anything lower than a 39/21.

    I imagine you're talking about a shimano drivetrain also. The certainly favors the compact, because shimano trimming of the front derailleur isn't much to brag about. With a 50/34 compact and 12-27 cassettes you can almost get most of the low gears of a triple, but not all since a 30T little ring is obviously 13% lower than a 34T.

  10. #10
    Time for a road bike
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    6
    I ride a standard Double and been on a Triple. In my experience a double runs much more smoothly getting into each of the two front gears, which is a 53/39 standard Shimano Ultegra.
    I have seen and been part of tough transitions down to the 30 on a triple. That includes Dura Ace.
    BUTTTT, as said you may lose some gear options.
    I have thought of a double compact in the 50/36 range for a smoother transition that a 50/34. In any case, buy your bike with a Local shop that will give you 2-3 years of tune ups for no cost and you WILL never worry about a triple.

    Rob

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    20
    This question has been a recent issue with me lately as well. I have borrowed a friends road bike for some time and like the sport so much I have decided to get my own cross bike. Being a mountain biker for some time a cross bike I see as a great all purpose ride but I am having a difficult time trying to decide whether to spec a compact drive or a triple. From what I have researched, the compact drives probably shift better over time than the triples - especially the shimano as I have heard and read reports of other manuf compact drives not shifting so well. I have gone to the sheldon brown web site and ran gear inch calculations to compare all the cranks (standard, compact, triple and mountain bike) which attempt to compensate for all variables including tire diameter, crank arm length and of course the front and rear tooth counts. The tripples may be easier to use as far as finding gears goes, but there are so many redundant gears with a triple that is is almost silly. The difference between a triple and a compact assuming the rear is a 12-27 is really only one step lower in gearing. To compare them all (assuming standard front config with a 12-27 in rear) a standard goes down to 2.8 gain ratio (gr) , a compact goes down to 2.4 gr and a triple goes down to a 2.1 gr. So if you shift one gear up on the triple (going from 27 to 25) you get to a 2.4 which is the same as a compact's lowest gear. Another way to say that is that a triple and a 12-24 is the same as a compact with a 12-27
    That is also approximately like saying a triple in the lowest gear is 15% easier than a compact in the lowest gear. But a triple can take a much bigger rear cassette because it requires a long cage rear deralieur so if you went to a 30 in the rear that helps even more.
    A triple shifts less ideal over time and wear and tear, it is more to maintain, it is extremely redundant in gearing and it just adds complexity. As a beginner rider I'd say you should get the triple, hey it is your first bike and you will learn lots from it, have much fun with it and it will help you refine your needs for your next bike that you will hopefully buy someday.

    My problem is not the average weeknight or weekend ride of say 30 miles with 1500 feet of climb. I'm worried about the century rides my coworkers want me to do with 10,000 feet of vertical. Or the fact that my bike is a cross bike with a touring option - no plans to tour, but I have only toured with Mountain bikes in the past and I love the versatility of having rack mounts and touring possibility which this new cross bike will have. For this I have found what I hope is a compromise I'd love feedback.
    My plan is to get a 9 speed shimano compact drive with a 12-27 in rear. If I do the century rides I plan to replace the rear shifter to a long cage XTR and replace the rear cassette with a 12-30. This gives me the same ratio as a triple and will hopefully save my knees on these long rides. The trade off is that I end up spec'ing the bike with 9 speed gear. I could gamble and go 10 speed in hopes that some day there will be 10 speed mountain bike cassettes that I could use.
    Do any readers feel 9 speed on a new purchase is a mistake? That the 9 speed stuff will go away in the next couple years or become rare and expensive. Is it likely that the 10 speed mountain bike stuff will come out.
    Thanks for any advice or help.

  12. #12
    Ken
    Ken is offline
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    412
    Quote Originally Posted by allyahna
    I have done searches and thought a triple was the way to go. But now I'm confused with the compact. Price is not an issue in getting either a triple or compact, as the bike shop agreed that they would upgrade my bike for no extra charge. My question is whether the compact is that much easier in shifting and maintenance or if it is just a cheaper compensation for the triple. Again I'm new to road bikes so I really don't know what to think about this. If it helps for advice, I'm light at 125lbs and while I'm not in the best of shape I'm not a complete weakling...closer to average and trying to build up.
    You know it's interesting. If as you say you've done all the searches, then you should know the answer to your question.

  13. #13
    NeoRetroGrouch
    Reputation: TurboTurtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    6,496
    Quote Originally Posted by ventana
    This question has been a recent issue with me lately as well. I have borrowed a friends road bike for some time and like the sport so much I have decided to get my own cross bike. Being a mountain biker for some time a cross bike I see as a great all purpose ride but I am having a difficult time trying to decide whether to spec a compact drive or a triple. From what I have researched, the compact drives probably shift better over time than the triples - especially the shimano as I have heard and read reports of other manuf compact drives not shifting so well. I have gone to the sheldon brown web site and ran gear inch calculations to compare all the cranks (standard, compact, triple and mountain bike) which attempt to compensate for all variables including tire diameter, crank arm length and of course the front and rear tooth counts. The tripples may be easier to use as far as finding gears goes, but there are so many redundant gears with a triple that is is almost silly. The difference between a triple and a compact assuming the rear is a 12-27 is really only one step lower in gearing. To compare them all (assuming standard front config with a 12-27 in rear) a standard goes down to 2.8 gain ratio (gr) , a compact goes down to 2.4 gr and a triple goes down to a 2.1 gr. So if you shift one gear up on the triple (going from 27 to 25) you get to a 2.4 which is the same as a compact's lowest gear. Another way to say that is that a triple and a 12-24 is the same as a compact with a 12-27
    That is also approximately like saying a triple in the lowest gear is 15% easier than a compact in the lowest gear. But a triple can take a much bigger rear cassette because it requires a long cage rear deralieur so if you went to a 30 in the rear that helps even more.
    A triple shifts less ideal over time and wear and tear, it is more to maintain, it is extremely redundant in gearing and it just adds complexity. As a beginner rider I'd say you should get the triple, hey it is your first bike and you will learn lots from it, have much fun with it and it will help you refine your needs for your next bike that you will hopefully buy someday.

    My problem is not the average weeknight or weekend ride of say 30 miles with 1500 feet of climb. I'm worried about the century rides my coworkers want me to do with 10,000 feet of vertical. Or the fact that my bike is a cross bike with a touring option - no plans to tour, but I have only toured with Mountain bikes in the past and I love the versatility of having rack mounts and touring possibility which this new cross bike will have. For this I have found what I hope is a compromise I'd love feedback.
    My plan is to get a 9 speed shimano compact drive with a 12-27 in rear. If I do the century rides I plan to replace the rear shifter to a long cage XTR and replace the rear cassette with a 12-30. This gives me the same ratio as a triple and will hopefully save my knees on these long rides. The trade off is that I end up spec'ing the bike with 9 speed gear. I could gamble and go 10 speed in hopes that some day there will be 10 speed mountain bike cassettes that I could use.
    Do any readers feel 9 speed on a new purchase is a mistake? That the 9 speed stuff will go away in the next couple years or become rare and expensive. Is it likely that the 10 speed mountain bike stuff will come out.
    Thanks for any advice or help.
    This is the kind of analysis EVERYONE needs to do to make these decisions. You cannot use his - you have to do it yourself. If you have been riding an MTB in the hills, you know what gears you need to climb. More expensive ones are not going to change that.

    All of today's components, even at the lowest levels, work very well when set up correctly. Do the analysis and figure out what you NEED, then see how much money you have left over to get what you WANT.

    TF
    "Don't those guys know they're old?!!"
    Me, off the back, at my first 50+ road race.

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    2,037

    gearing

    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    This topic really has been beaten to death on this forum. A really fit rider wouldn't need either. I'm old and still never use anything lower than a 39/25 for hills. Until I was 47 I never used anything lower than a 39/21.

    I imagine you're talking about a shimano drivetrain also. The certainly favors the compact, because shimano trimming of the front derailleur isn't much to brag about. With a 50/34 compact and 12-27 cassettes you can almost get most of the low gears of a triple, but not all since a 30T little ring is obviously 13% lower than a 34T.
    C-40, not to pick on you because you usually give very good advice, but why is it that whenever there a question about low gearing there is a littany of braggert responses like "I never need anything more than a 39/23" or "I climbed Mt Everest in a 39/21"? I think these set unrealistic expectations that average everyday riders need to use pro gearing. Personally, I can't handle a 10% grade in a 39/25, why should that mean I am forced to try to do so to meet some elite expectation? Obviously, Campy and Shimano sell lots of triples so there must be a few of us that prefer not to suffer. I think the choice of gearing has to do with a lot of factors- fitness, weight, terrain, and cadence preferences. I don't think there is a one size fits all solution. To answer the original question, I think a triple is a good answer if you expect to spned a lot of time climbing and you want closely spaced gearing on the bottom end. For occasional climbs a compact with a wider cassette may make more sense

  15. #15
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    10,126

    OK, some sincere advice...

    At least you've ridden a MTB so you've got some experience with a triple. I'd say it's highly unlikely that any hill will require you to use a 30/27. With the compact, you're losing most of the highest gear, but you won't need that often and you're only losing one low gear, since the 34/27 is about the same as a 30/24.

    Have the shop put on a 50/34 with a 12-27. If you find at some point that you never use the 34/27, then it's cheap to change to 50/36 and get a little better chainring shifting.

    One thing to always remember with the wide spaced compact, is that it requires more cog shifting after you make a shift between the rings. In other words, if you shift from the 50 to the 34, immediately shift at least 2-cogs smaller (using the finger lever behind the brake lever). Sometimes you could need to shift 3 cogs and rarely 4.

    Also learn your transition speed, which is approximately the slowest you would ride in the 50/21 or 50/24. That tells you when it's absolutely necessary to shift to the little ring. Also learn the maximum speed that's comfortable in the 34/14 and make the transition back up to the 50 sooner rather than too late. When making this transition, expect to make a full sweep with brake lever to shift 3-cogs larger.
    Last edited by C-40; 05-26-2006 at 06:31 AM.

  16. #16
    fmw
    fmw is offline
    Hoosier Pedaler
    Reputation: fmw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    359
    I also like the triple. The people who don't either don't have experience with them or are afraid that someone will attack their manhood because they have a "granny gear." I like it because I can spin up hills at a reasonable cadence that would require me to slow my ideal cadence if I used a taller chainring. I sometimes use the "granny gear" on inclines that I could climb with the large chainring if I had to. I have both triple and compact double and there is no doubt the triple provides more flexibility in riding style.

  17. #17
    fmw
    fmw is offline
    Hoosier Pedaler
    Reputation: fmw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    359
    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    At least you've ridden a MTB so you've got some experience with a triple. I'd say it's highly unlikely that any hill will require you to use a 30/27. With the compact, you're losing most of the highest gear, but you won't need that often and you're only losing one low gear, since the 34/27 is about the same as a 30/24.

    Have the shop put on a 50/34 with a 12-27. If you find at some point that you never use the 34/27, then it's cheap to change to 50/36 and get a little better chainring shifting.

    One thing to always remember with the wide spaced compact, is that it requires more cog shifting after you make a shift between the rings. In other words, if you shift from the 50 to the 34, immediately shift at least 2-cogs smaller (using the finger lever behind the brake lever). Sometimes you could need to shift 3 cogs and rarely 4.

    Also learn your transition speed, which is approximately the slowest you would ride in the 50/21 or 50/24. That tells you when it's absolutely necessary to shift to the little ring. Also learn the maximum speed that's comfortable in the 34/14 and make the transition back up to the 50 sooner rather than too late. When making this transition, expect to make a full sweep with brake lever to shift 3-cogs larger.
    I disagree with this. You say it's highly unlikely he will use the 30/27. That's a guess based on what you use. He may very well find it a useful gearing. None of us, including him, know for sure.

    For some people, including me, the 50/34 is a terrible choice. My compact is a 50/36. I started with a 50/34 and found the 34 useless most of the time and find the 36 more useful. So again, you're making guesses about what he should use based on what somebody else does.

    The reality is that almost all riders would benefit from using a triple. Those that wouldn't are very strong racers. What prevents that is attitudes and not common sense. The triple should be on 80-90 percent of road bikes. Most owners would benefit from the wider range of gearing. 80-90 percent of the road bikes are not used for racing.

  18. #18
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    20
    Quote Originally Posted by fmw
    I also like the triple. The people who don't either don't have experience with them or are afraid that someone will attack their manhood because they have a "granny gear." I like it because I can spin up hills at a reasonable cadence that would require me to slow my ideal cadence if I used a taller chainring. I sometimes use the "granny gear" on inclines that I could climb with the large chainring if I had to. I have both triple and compact double and there is no doubt the triple provides more flexibility in riding style.
    Very interesting. I'b be curious to know what cassette's you have on each bike, as well as the front ring tooth counts. IF they are both 12-27's with standard set up's in front say, the triple has 13 redundant gears, where the compact only has 5. And as far as granny, I gather you think that last lower gear with the triple makes a big difference. Very interesting. Do you find the compact causes you to ride more inefficient because it probably takes more effort to find the right gear and stay in the right gear while climbing short hills. Obviously I'd think the longer hill climbs you just get in a low gear and stay there. I've read that to use the compact properly you have to learn to shift front and rear more often and at the right time - which makes sense because the triple has so many redundant gears you can always find the right one. Very interesting comment about flexibility in riding style - maybe all the redundant triple gears are worth it. Or are you simplying referring to the low low granny that the triple provides. Thanks for your comments, I still can not decide which crank configuration to specify.

  19. #19
    Still On Steel
    Reputation: Allez Rouge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    2,398

    Another possible option.

    Another option, one I don't think has been mentioned, is to install a cassette with a wider range if you need just a little more on the granny end of a double rather than the ultra-low gearing of a triple. One of the advantages of the current 10sp drivetrains is that you can either opt for smaller jumps between cogs, or you can spread out the overall range without ending up with any jumps larger than the older seven or eight speed drivetrains had.

    Example: my older, 8sp Shimano bike has a 13-26 cassette. When I bought my newer, 10sp Campy bike, I started with the certain knowledge that I didn't want anything less than the 26; I then factored in that because I'm even older now sometimes even that wasn't low enough, so I went with a 13-29. I don't find myself shifting to the 29 very often -- the next-largest cog is the same 26 as on my 8sp bike, and usually that's enough -- but if I'm tired or the hill is unusually long or steep, the 29 is just enough lower to make all the difference. A triple or a compact double would be lower still, but for me, on the terrain on which I ride, a standard 39/53 double paired with the 13-29 is all I need. And since the jumps between any two adjacent cogs are roughly the same on both bikes, I don't feel I've lost anything by choosing the 13-29.

    Which speaks to what TurboTurbo said about each rider needing to thoughtfully and objectively analyze his or her own needs. The only honest standard answer to the question, "What gearing do I need?" is, "It depends."
    Allez Rouge

  20. #20
    fmw
    fmw is offline
    Hoosier Pedaler
    Reputation: fmw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    359
    Quote Originally Posted by ventana
    Very interesting. I'b be curious to know what cassette's you have on each bike, as well as the front ring tooth counts. IF they are both 12-27's with standard set up's in front say, the triple has 13 redundant gears, where the compact only has 5. And as far as granny, I gather you think that last lower gear with the triple makes a big difference. Very interesting. Do you find the compact causes you to ride more inefficient because it probably takes more effort to find the right gear and stay in the right gear while climbing short hills. Obviously I'd think the longer hill climbs you just get in a low gear and stay there. I've read that to use the compact properly you have to learn to shift front and rear more often and at the right time - which makes sense because the triple has so many redundant gears you can always find the right one. Very interesting comment about flexibility in riding style - maybe all the redundant triple gears are worth it. Or are you simplying referring to the low low granny that the triple provides. Thanks for your comments, I still can not decide which crank configuration to specify.
    I'll take your comments one at a time. My triple has a 13/26 and my compact double (50/36) has a 12/25. No particular reason. They were what was available conveniently at the time I bought them.

    You say the gears are redundant. They are not. By this I mean one can access them from different chain rings requiring less front shifting. I don't know that this is terribly important but having more gearing options is certainly more flexible than having fewer and doesn't hurt anything.

    I am a "spinner" in terms of riding style. I tend to prefer higher cadences and aerobic effort to lower cadences and anaerobic effort. So the small gear lets me use a higher cadence on a hill and that is more efficient for me. I generally feel more refreshed after riding the triple at the end of a ride than the double and the bike with the triple weighs 5 lbs. more. For me the gearing is more important than the weight of the bike. I generally maintain a slightly higher average speed with the triple as well. These things may not be true for you. However, the triple at least gives you the choice.

    On the last comment I was referring to the granny gear but it does bring up another issue. The Campy triples have a 42 tooth middle ring which is taller than the 39 tooth small ring on the standard double. It allows me to go from 8 mph (mashing) to 25 mph (spinning) without making any front gear changes. That's a pretty good range. If I encounter a hill that's too steep for the 42, the little ring will let me spin up it. If I'm in a hurry going downhill or have a tail wind on the flats, the big ring is there too. Very flexible setup.

    Most people comment on two downside issues with triples. The first is weight but I can tell you that is trivial. Just pick up a 30 tooth chainring and you'll see what I mean. The second is shifting "crispness." Since the majority of bikes have Shimano equipment and I use Campagnolo, it is hard for me to comment on that. With Campy there is no difference in the "crispness" of the shifting between triple and double. They feel and operate the same. Shimano may be different in some way but I only have experience with Shimano doubles so I'll leave that to someone else.

  21. #21
    Steaming piles of opinion
    Reputation: danl1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    10,526
    Quote Originally Posted by fmw
    I also like the triple. The people who don't either don't have experience with them or are afraid that someone will attack their manhood because they have a "granny gear." I like it because I can spin up hills at a reasonable cadence that would require me to slow my ideal cadence if I used a taller chainring. I sometimes use the "granny gear" on inclines that I could climb with the large chainring if I had to. I have both triple and compact double and there is no doubt the triple provides more flexibility in riding style.
    Or simply don't have the same set of conditions that you do. As compared to a 30-tooth triple, a 34-tooth compact only gives up one meaningfully lower gear using the same cogset. There is an increase in versatility in a triple, but for my conditions it's minor and not worth the increased hassles in other ways.

    With the compact, shifts and trims are a bit better in my experience, and effectively losing one meaningfully lower gearing option as compared to a 30-tooth triple doesn't matter at all for my terrain. The only bits I run into that are steep enough that I'd want that last gear are also short enough that I'd just stomp on them anyway, rather than hopping down to the granny for a dozen or so pedal strokes.

    My terrain is either short and steep, or long but mild enough that the one extra gear isn't needed. In my area, long steeps are relatively rare, because normal road-building standards don't allow them. Folks living in "legacy" hilly areas, where the county engineer's idea of a good road path meant the one that used the least asphalt, can make good use of a triple.
    A good habit is as hard to break as a bad one..

  22. #22
    Old Skool
    Reputation: Stogaguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    842

    Get the Triple

    Allyahna, As you can see the compact versus triple thing is one of the ongoing controversies on this board. Here is my 2 cents:

    First road bikes are all about developing as a rider, acquiring a riding style and personal preferences. Your MTB background gives you a head start but still I advise you to keep your options open. A triple give you a wider range of gears and is therefore more versatile. Yes, this versatility comes at the cost of some (potential) shifting ease and a little more weight.

    The versatility of the triple will allow you to develop as a rider by giving you the full spectrum of gearing to use. With this setup you can find out if you (as a personal preference) are more comfortable climbing in relatively higher or lower gears. On the absolute steepest terrain, the compact does not give you gearing options that are quite as low. This assumes that you use the same cassette with both setups.

    My advice is to get the triple. If you are serious about developing as a rider, make a pact with yourself to ride really steep stuff. You will definitely have the gears at your disposal. If you find that your can “comfortably” climb all the walls (really steep hills) in the San Diego area without using the lowest gears that your triple gives you, you know which direction to go should you ever choose to upgrade your bike.

    Whatever you decide, have fun. Good luck to you and welcome to the RBR community.
    The avatar is not me; just cool and suitably old skool.

  23. #23
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    3,069
    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    This topic really has been beaten to death on this forum. A really fit rider wouldn't need either. I'm old and still never use anything lower than a 39/25 for hills. Until I was 47 I never used anything lower than a 39/21.
    I don't know how fast you are, I don't know what you consider a hill, and I don't know at how slow a cadence you're willing to grind up a climb. What I do know is that friends of mine who finished well up at the Tour of the Gila in the Pro,1 and Cat 2 race were using 39/27 and 34/25 gearing for the climbing stages. So saying you never needed anything lower than a 39/21 until you were 47 tells me A) you never climbed any real hills, B) you don't know how to choose gearing approriately, or C) you were or should have been a team leader on a top Euro Pro squad.

  24. #24
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    10,126

    It's a she...

    Well, at least my guess is based on 22 years of riding on many types of terrain, mostly on moderately rolling terrain, but now in the Colorado mountains. I'm not a woman, but I only weigh about 8 lbs more, so I'm in the size range.

    I've used a gear as low as 30/27, but only on the steepest sections of a mountain or when appraoching 14,000 ft at the top of Mt Evans. Of course this low of gear can be used any time you feel like pedaling real slowly or you're so tired that you just want to ride at 6-7 mph.

    FWIW I use a 53/39/28 triple with a 12-25 cassette for the mountains and it's great, but it's also Campy, which IMO, works better. The problem with a triple in the hills is the frequent shifting all the way from the little ring to the big ring. I think it would get old real quick. In the mountains, it's not an issue. I shift into the little ring at the start of 1-hour climb and rarely shift out of the little ring, unless I want to ride standing for awhile. Then I usually shift back up to the 39, since the chain tension is 39% lower in the middle ring.

    No need to get all worked up over an honest suggestion. Part of my advice is based on the simplicity of the compact. A great many riders aren't gear-heads or mechanical engineers (like me), so keeping track of the gearing options can get complicated.

    As for the 34 being useless, it's less than a 1-cog change (only 6%). I also noted that she might find the 34/27 unnecessary and warned about the extra cog shifting the 34 creates. I also noted how it's relatively cheap and easy to switch to a 36.

    Overall, I thnk it's sound advice, but like EVERYONE'S , it's a guess, but an educated one.
    Last edited by C-40; 05-26-2006 at 08:40 AM.

  25. #25
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    251
    I actually switched out my compact double for a triple this year. I decided I needed more overall range and I was never happy with the way the compact shifted, although I used a standard ultegra front der and not one of the new ones that are designed for use with smaller cranks.

    I am totally happy with my decision. The new ultegra 10spd triple gives you the same gearing as a regular double with a smaller front chainring for those times when you might need it. I have a lower low gear, a higher high gear, and much better spacing in between the gears, especially since I was able to go with a 12-25 rear instead of a 12-27. I don't really need to do any trimming on the front. I do need to keep an eye on the cable tension on the front but that's about it.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

2015 LIGHTS SHOOTOUT

Hot Deals See All Hot Deals >>

Interbike Featured Booths

Check out the hottest road bike products from these brands!



















See All Interbike Coverage - Click Here »


Latest RoadBike Articles


Latest Videos

RoadbikeReview on Facebook