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  1. #1
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    Smaller cassette or larger chainring?

    So, I just purchased my new bike and am loving it with the exception of one thing, compact crank. I've read advantages and disadvantages until I'm blue in the face so please spare me.

    My question: I miss the feel of my old standard crank so which is better to achieve same/similar feel? Replacing the crank with a standard set or putting on a smaller cassette? I've read about the smaller cassettes wearing out faster, but that aside which is better? For references, I live in Dallas (pretty flat terrain.)

  2. #2
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    Re: Smaller cassette or larger chainring?

    I'd just do the smaller cassette for nice tight shifting. Plus it's cheaper to change.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bwbishop View Post
    I'd just do the smaller cassette for nice tight shifting. Plus it's cheaper to change.
    What's the downside to a smaller cassette? What will I be losing?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lovinglifetx View Post
    What's the downside to a smaller cassette? What will I be losing?
    hill climbing comfort, but you'll shave off a few grams by going smaller casette.
    since you live in flatland, you don't lose much, if anything, definitely waaaaay cheaper than changing crank

  5. #5
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    The group I ride with likes to throw at least one hill in the mix just to see who lives and dies, so I do use some of the lower gears. But if I'm not losing much on the lower end I will definitely go that way. The guy at the bike shop I ride with suggested it but I told him I wanted to do some research first before I made the switch.

  6. #6
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    What size cassette are you running now?

  7. #7
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    Not a clue, whatever came with the bike.

  8. #8
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    Or have the shop swap out the crankset.

    From what I can see it is a new bike and still within a return period. If you are not satisfied with the bike it is not totally unreasonable.

  9. #9
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    For what I got the bike for I don't believe they would be willing to switch out the crankset. That was really the only negative in choosing this bike over the CAAD10 I was looking it (which came with a standard crank). However, this frame and bike felt better to me so I figured I would worry about the gearing later.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lovinglifetx View Post
    Not a clue, whatever came with the bike.
    Brand and model year? The specs should be online.

    With a compact, you probably have either a 25 or 28 big cog.

  11. #11
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    Just found it - 25

  12. #12
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    So, which cassette should I switch to on the back and what am I losing?

  13. #13
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    Just taking a quick look at SRAM and Shimano, the pickings seem to be getting kinda thin for 11-23 or 12-23 cassettes in 10 speed. SRAM PG 1090 in 11-23 lists for over $300 USD. It would probably be just as cost-effective to swap out the crank to a standard. How often are you using your 25? Do you go down to your 34 on the front, or can you grind out a hill on the 50/25? I'm not a cross-chaining nazi, FWIW.

    Of course, Shimano hasn't updated their site since Tiagra went to 10 speeds, so I can't get a good idea of what they have available now.

  14. #14
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    Well the guy at the shop said he could throw on a cog for $100 bucks but I don't know what it is.

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    Is your compact a 50/36? 39/25t is very similar to 36/23t.

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    As I read this thread, I am wondering if op has an understanding of gearing.

    As has been said, the difference between a standard crank and compact is that with a standard you pick up some on the high end and lose some on the low end. With a compact you pick up some on the low end and lose a bit of the high end. In between the extremes, while their may be some difference in combinations used, when you compare the gear inches, there is no real significant difference.

    On the high end 53/11 = 130 gear inches. 50/11 - 122. Unless you are spinning out the 122, which to me means 110 rpm, a standard crank makes very little sense. Even the pros don't use this large of a gear very often.

    so op what is it exactly that you don't like about the compact. I know you don't use the low gear very often, and I don't either, but I bet I use the high gear even less.

  17. #17
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    It appears you don't like the compact. I symphasize. What do you hope to gain with a different cassette? It doesn't sound like you need more gear for climbing, which is really the only advantage of a compact set up. You can get the same gear combinations on a 53/39 that you can for a 50/34 except at the low and high ends. I find a 27/39 feels about the same as a 25/34. About all you can do at the other end is switch from a cassette with a 12 teeth cog to one with an 11 teeth cog. Probably not worth it IMO.

  18. #18
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    they are close to the same. 39 vs. 36.5 gear inches

  19. #19
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    Get a Standard

    you can get almost new standards on the market for cheap from many guy going compact, so you can profit of that.

    second less expensive option, install 53/39 rings on your compact, you could get some flex on the rings though.

    third go with a 11-21 or 11-23 cassette
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  20. #20
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    Please elaborate on the "feel" you are missing? Front shifting? Can't find the right cadence? Is it on the flats or climbing?

    I switched out my 34 for a 36. Front shifting is much smoother and I can spin up to the mid twenties if a climb flattens out mid way through.

    Be sure you use Loctite on all chain ring bolts!
    That's the longest I've ever ridden without a beer stop.

  21. #21
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    Here's one of many gear charts out on the interwebs. Punch in the numbers and it'll give you the gear inches of said numbers. With that information you should ought to be able to figure out what will work for you.

    http://www.analyticcycling.com/GearChart_Page.html

  22. #22
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCash View Post
    Please elaborate on the "feel" you are missing? Front shifting? Can't find the right cadence? Is it on the flats or climbing?

    I switched out my 34 for a 36. Front shifting is much smoother and I can spin up to the mid twenties if a climb flattens out mid way through.

    Be sure you use Loctite on all chain ring bolts!
    Really? Most people grease them...no need for Loctite.
    i work for some bike racers...
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    oh, those belong in another forum

  23. #23
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    What cassette did your old standard crank bike have on it? If it was 12-25, go to an 11-23 with the compact. If it was 12-23, go 11-21. Your effective gearing will be very similar. The only place you might still see a difference is in the small chain ring as the % change from a standard 39 to a compact 34 is fairly substantial. You can always change from a 34 to 36 small chain ring on your compact.

    The suggestion was made to put full size chain rings on your compact crank. Generally the bolt centers are different, 110mm vs 130mm, so you might have a hard time finding the right parts.

    Here's an 11-23 Ultegra for $70, new. New Shimano Ultegra CS 6700 Road Bike Cassette Sprocket 11 23 10 Speed Lock Ring | eBay

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lovinglifetx View Post
    What's the downside to a smaller cassette? What will I be losing?
    The downside is that you won't be gaining anything.

    Say your replace your 11-25 with an 11-21. The 11 is still an 11, and you're still cross-chained in the small ring at 19 or 20 mph. Worse, it raises the speed where you're cross-chained on the big ring.

    I own both crank types and a whole slew of cassettes. I too am a flatlander. IMHO, the only thing like a standard, is a standard.
    Last edited by brucew; 08-20-2013 at 07:36 AM.

  25. #25
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    Before you spend any money, you need to figure out what the heck you're talking about with this "feel" business. What don't you like about your current setup?

    -the shift patterns? Look at the percentage difference between the rings. (you never said what rings you have, only "compact", nor did you say what your cassette is -- the numbers matter; this is all about numbers). You could change that by chainging one ring -- but you have to chart it out, do a little math, and see what would get you the patterns you want.

    -do you need a higher gear at the top end? Not likely, but hard to say since we don't know what your highest gear is now (do you?) If you do, a cassette might be the easiest thing. (example: if your highest gear is 50x12 now, getting a cassette with an 11 would get you a bigger change than getting a 52 or 53 ring.

    -do you have low gears that you don't need? Making the small ring bigger (without a whole new crankset) would adjust that, but getting a smaller-range cassette has the advantage of getting you extra gears and closer spacing in the middle.

    So what do you have now (in numbers, please, not useless desciptors like "compact" and "standard"), what are you missing that you think you need (specifics, not "feel"), and what do you have that you're not using?

    I hope that doesn't sound harsh; I'm genuinely trying to be helpful. A lot of gearing discussion is bs, unfortunately. You gotta do the math.
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