Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 102
  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    907

    Switch from 53/39 to 52/36?

    I'm debating a move from a standard double to a 52/36. I live in Utah and ride a lot of mountains. I'm a big guy, and on some of these 8% + grades, even when using my 29 tooth cog in the back my cadence drops...sometimes all the way down in to the 50's. On a favorite climb, I have to push 350+ Watts just to keep a cadence of around 70...and i can't push that power consistently for an hour. I'm wondering if I wouldn't benefit from a 52/36.

    In normal riding, I keep my cadence around 90. One side of me thinks if I could keep my cadence higher I could keep the same speed with lower effort, or matching my effort increase my speed. The other side of me wonders if I wouldn't just keep the same cadence and go slower because I'm in a lower gear!

    What do you guys think? Has anyone made a similar change? Did it help your climbing?

    Thanks in advance...I'm about to pull the trigger but haven't convinced myself it will improve anything yet.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    8,570
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclin Dan View Post
    I'm debating a move from a standard double to a 52/36. I live in Utah and ride a lot of mountains. I'm a big guy, and on some of these 8% + grades, even when using my 29 tooth cog in the back my cadence drops...sometimes all the way down in to the 50's. On a favorite climb, I have to push 350+ Watts just to keep a cadence of around 70...and i can't push that power consistently for an hour. I'm wondering if I wouldn't benefit from a 52/36.

    In normal riding, I keep my cadence around 90. One side of me thinks if I could keep my cadence higher I could keep the same speed with lower effort, or matching my effort increase my speed. The other side of me wonders if I wouldn't just keep the same cadence and go slower because I'm in a lower gear!

    What do you guys think? Has anyone made a similar change? Did it help your climbing?

    Thanks in advance...I'm about to pull the trigger but haven't convinced myself it will improve anything yet.
    well it's clear going from 39 -> 36 will cause an almost 8% shriveling of your nads.
    Other than that. As long as you can push yourself, why would you end up going slower by having a lower minimum gear?
    If you are uncomfortable with your current gearing I don't see what you have to loose. Might as well go to a true compact though while at it. you can still just put on a smaller cassette for flatter rides if that is a concern.
    Blows your hair back.

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: VinPaysDoc's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    239
    Climbing is never easy. The same amount of total effort is needed to get up an incline regardless of the gearing. With compact cranks it is easier to turn the pedals, but, you go slower. With a higher cadence you may find that you don't have muscle cramps as much because you aren't mashing for long periods of time.

    I live in North Carolina and ride in the mountains quite a bit. I started out with a standard double and later got a compact crank 50/34. If you do crits or road racing, you might need the 53 or 52. If not, just do it and get a 50/34.

    Two things make you faster on climbs: 1. Training 2. Weight loss

  4. #4
    wim
    wim is offline
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    10,507
    Keep in mind that the change from the 53 to the 52 will be almost imperceptible and that the change from the 39 to the 36 is the same gear percentage change you would get by making a 1-tooth change around the middle of the cassette with your shifter. Point being, don't put too much hope into this proposed change.
    Last edited by wim; 03-19-2013 at 05:20 AM.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    907
    Thanks for the input thus far guys.

    I guess I should add a few things. This is my main road bike, and I ride it quite a bit. Last year I put about 7,500 miles on this bike. I don't do crits, but I do a fair amount of road races.

    I realize weight loss will help, and I realize that training will help too. I'm just wondering if the ability to keep my cadence up might help me last longer. I have a road race coming up that is 118 miles and has over 12,000 feet of climbing. It's not for about 4 months, but that has me a little nervous with the gearing I currently have. The race ends with an 8 mile, 7-9% climb with a summit finish. That's after two long hard climbs (one being 15+ miles), and several shorter (1-2 miles at 10%) hard climbs.

    I've just been thinking that I may be able to stay off frying my legs that much longer if I could keep the cadence up higher.

    Like wim said...maybe I'm over thinking it. I know I don't want a standard compact...my rear cassette is a 12/29 and in order to get an 11 (which I would have to have going to a 50T front ring) my biggest rear cog can be a 25, which won't work for me.

    Actually...that has me thinking. I wonder what the difference in gear inches is on a 34x25 vs. a 39x29...off to do some math.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    907
    I'm going to take a closer look at all my options here. Does the attached spreadsheet look like I made my calculations correctly?

    Switch from 53/39 to 52/36?-gears.jpg

    Hmmmm....
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  7. #7
    wim
    wim is offline
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    10,507
    Here's a nicely done calculator if you want a graphic representation in which overlaps and duplications (not necessarily a bad thing; I liked lots of overlap!) become immediately apparent. You can see gear change percentages, gray out cross-chained gears, see speed and cadence and other stuff. Drag the chain wheel and the cog around to set the numbers.

    http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=3...5&UF=2099&SL=2

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    1,447
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclin Dan View Post
    One side of me thinks if I could keep my cadence higher I could keep the same speed with lower effort, or matching my effort increase my speed. The other side of me wonders if I wouldn't just keep the same cadence and go slower because I'm in a lower gear!
    You will likely keep the same cadence and go slower because you're in a lower gear.

    Switching to a 53/36 or 50/34 will not make climbing easier, but you likely will be able to increase your cadence above the 50s. Whether you can maintain a cadence around 70 for an hour with higher gearing is doubtful. That has more to do with your fitness level.

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    8,570
    Quote Originally Posted by tvad View Post
    You will likely keep the same cadence and go slower because you're in a lower gear.
    just imagine how fast we would all be on 53/11 fixies.
    Blows your hair back.

  10. #10
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    334
    I've traditionally ridden/raced 53/39. I'm building a new bike up with Dura Ace 9000 11-speed and opted for the 52/36 with a 12-28 cassette. I had a 50/34 in the past which I didn't like because I always felt like I was between the rings. I felt like I shifted the FD much more often with the 50/34. I think with the 12-28's range that the 52/36 shouldn't have that issue.

    My biggest concern is about the number of cogs I'll need to shift when changing rings to get an equivalent gear ratio. This only concerns me during a race. On a casual ride it's of no consequence. Many time during a race I'll change rings in anticipation of a big change in speed. So I'll quickly shift the front and almost simultaneously shyift 2 or 3 cogs in the back to get to the same ratio. With the 52/36 and 12-28 I'm guessing I might have to shift up to 4 cogs to get back to the same ratio.

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: BostonG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    2,823
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc_D;
    With the 52/36 and 12-28 I'm guessing I might have to shift up to 4 cogs to get back to the same ratio.
    Your estimate is reasonable. I have a 52/36 with a 11-28 and usually shift 3 cogs to maintain the ratio. I ride on mostly rolling terrain.
    I ride mostly in the honorable pursuit of being kissed on both cheeks at the same time by one blond and one brunette. But not redheads, they scare me.

  12. #12
    We have met the enemy...
    Reputation: paredown's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    7,004
    Quote Originally Posted by tvad View Post
    You will likely keep the same cadence and go slower because you're in a lower gear.

    Switching to a 53/36 or 50/34 will not make climbing easier, but you likely will be able to increase your cadence above the 50s. Whether you can maintain a cadence around 70 for an hour with higher gearing is doubtful. That has more to do with your fitness level.
    And age--I'm finding that even when I am in decent shape, I have no where near the power I have even 10 years ago, and that was only a fraction of what I had when I was racing in my 20s. Worse yet, I have very little need for gears on the high end, since I don't bomb down the hills like I once did.

    My next build will be a triple (because I have the parts) and I will likely try a compact after that to see if I can live with fewer well spaced gears.
    "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." Reinhold Niebuhr

  13. #13
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: JCavilia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    12,001
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc_D View Post
    With the 52/36 and 12-28 I'm guessing I might have to shift up to 4 cogs to get back to the same ratio.
    "Guessing"? "Might"? There shouldn't be any guesswork. It's ratios. It's math. Put the numbers in that nifty calculator that Wim linked to, and you can see it in simple graphic form.

    Your guess is correct, BTW. You have to shift four cogs to get close to the same gear when you switch between the 52 and and 36. However, with the 53-39 it wasn't that different, requiring 3 or 4, never 2.

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    3,516
    If your cadance is 50 with a 29 pie plate in the back now you'd probably be better off getting a 34 ring in the front so you can use a more reasonably spaced cassette in the back.

    It'll be okay. Women won't start looking away from you and men won't kick sand in your face if you get a compact. Mountains of Utah are different from the internet and people who know what a gear ratio is realize that.

  15. #15
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    907

    Re: Switch from 53/39 to 52/36?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    If your cadance is 50 with a 29 pie plate in the back now you'd probably be better off getting a 34 ring in the front so you can use a more reasonably spaced cassette in the back.

    It'll be okay. Women won't start looking away from you and men won't kick sand in your face if you get a compact. Mountains of Utah are different from the internet and people who know what a gear ratio is realize that.
    I wish Campagnolo made a cassette that had an 11, and something bigger than a 25.

  16. #16
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    1,447
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclin Dan View Post
    I wish Campagnolo made a cassette that had an 11, and something bigger than a 25.
    I assemble a Campy frankencassette using 11-25 and 12-29 Chorus cassettes. I use the 11-14 of the 11-25 cassette, and the 16-29 of the 12-29 cassette. It suits my needs, and it shifts perfectly. I don't miss the 15 tooth cog.

  17. #17
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    1,438
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    If your cadance is 50 with a 29 pie plate in the back now you'd probably be better off getting a 34 ring in the front so you can use a more reasonably spaced cassette in the back.
    I have an old school triple, which I guess is not what the cool kids have anymore, 30/42/52 with a 12-25 9 spd in the back. Flat ground I never need the 30 and most hills I can climb with 42 and my 21 or 23 in the back, but it is nice to have that 30 in case I need it. I consider it a bail out gear if my legs give out or something gets really steep. With 30/25 combo I can spin along despite the slow speed (8mph) can just keep going and at least make it to the top. My 52/12 combo is good for 35-38 mph on gentle downhill, but beyond 38 or so I spin out. My typical loop has me hit 32-34 mph up to 4 times depending on wind conditions since I have few downhill runs. For this reason I don't want to lose the top end. On flat riding I tend to used my 12,13,14,15 cogs alot in combination with either the 52 or 42. I find it nice to have very fine mix of ratios I can run and then 30 chainring gets me the super low end in case I need it.
    Joe
    Road Bike - Trek 5200 | MTB - 2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail

  18. #18
    Cyclist
    Reputation: Nater's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    565
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclin Dan View Post
    I wish Campagnolo made a cassette that had an 11, and something bigger than a 25.
    There are these too...

    11-Speed Elite Cassettes (Campy Wide Range)
    11 speed 11-30

    10-Speed Elite Cassettes (Campy-Wide Range)
    10 speed 11-30, 11-32, 11-34

    10-Speed Elite Cassettes (Campy Standard Range)
    10 speed 11-28 in here.

  19. #19
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    993
    A lot of the Pros including Contador are using pretty low gears on hilly races.
    Even Chris Froome said recently he was over geared using a 36x28 although that was with a 27% grade on Tirreno Adriatico.
    I would go 50/34 with a 11-28 on the back.
    It does take some training to spin a higher cadence uphill.

  20. #20
    wim
    wim is offline
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    10,507
    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    I have an old school triple, which I guess is not what the cool kids have anymore
    It may not be cool. But the triple with a close-ratio cassette is still the only arrangement that gives you three out of three: (1) a very large gear range, (2) sufficient overlap to avoid constant front shifting, and (3) close-ratio gears. You can get two out of these three with a standard or a compact, but not all three.

  21. #21
    banned
    Reputation: SystemShock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    22,918
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclin Dan View Post
    I'm debating a move from a standard double to a 52/36. I live in Utah and ride a lot of mountains. I'm a big guy, and on some of these 8% + grades, even when using my 29 tooth cog in the back my cadence drops...sometimes all the way down in to the 50's.

    On a favorite climb, I have to push 350+ Watts just to keep a cadence of around 70...and i can't push that power consistently for an hour. I'm wondering if I wouldn't benefit from a 52/36.
    All I can say is, a climbing cadence in the 50s really sucks (been there done that), unless you're talking short efforts out of the saddle, which it sounds like you're not.

    At a certain point of low cadence/being overgeared, you just sort of bog down and your watts drop off a cliff. So yeah, I think a lower bottom gear for climbing could easily benefit you... and you'd likely go faster with it, not slower, because it'd allow you to climb at something closer to your optimal cadence, which is going to be higher than 50-55 RPMs or whatever.

    It's a bit like cars... there's a certain engine speed (RPMs) at which you get maximum power. Be sharply below that, and you don't get the power.

    Lemond (in his book) has said that anything below 75 RPMs when climbing ends up being inefficient. Even Hinault, in his later professional seasons when he became a more efficient climber instead of an 'out of the saddle for miles' kind of guy, tried to keep it at 70-90 RPMs when climbing.

    Of course, going to a 36t ring instead of a 39t may not be enough (only an 8% difference), but it could definitely help some (i.e. suck less).

    So I'd test ride one and see, assuming you can get ahold of one with the 29t cog you seem to like. And/or perhaps consider a mega-range cassette (IRD makes Campy-compatible ones, I think), if you can live with the wider jumps between gears and possibly slightly less nice shifting.

    .
    Last edited by SystemShock; 03-19-2013 at 06:24 PM.

  22. #22
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    907

    Re: Switch from 53/39 to 52/36?

    Quote Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
    A lot of the Pros including Contador are using pretty low gears on hilly races.
    Even Chris Froome said recently he was over geared using a 36x28 although that was with a 27% grade on Tirreno Adriatico.
    I would go 50/34 with a 11-28 on the back.
    It does take some training to spin a higher cadence uphill.
    Campagnolo doesn't make an 11-28.

  23. #23
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    907

    Re: Switch from 53/39 to 52/36?

    Quote Originally Posted by SystemShock View Post
    All I can say is, a climbing cadence in the 50s really sucks (been there done that), unless you're talking short efforts out of the saddle, which it sounds like you're not.

    At a certain point of low cadence/being overgeared, you just sort of bog down and your watts drop off a cliff. So yeah, I think a lower bottom gear for climbing could easily benefit you... and you'd likely go faster with it, not slower, because it'd allow you to climb at something closer to your optimal cadence, which is going to be higher than 50-55 RPMs or whatever.

    It's a bit like cars... there's a certain engine speed (RPMs) at which you get maximum power. Be sharply below that, and you don't get the power.

    Lemond (in his book) has said that anything below 75 RPMs when climbing ends up being inefficient. Even Hinault, in his later professional seasons when he became a more efficient climber instead of an 'out of the saddle for miles' kind of guy, tried to keep it at 70-90 RPMs when climbing.

    Of course, going to a 36t ring instead of a 39t may not be enough (only an 8% difference), but it could definitely help some (i.e. suck less).

    So I'd test ride one and see, assuming you can get ahold of one with the 29t cog you seem to like. And/or perhaps consider a mega-range cassette (IRD makes Campy-compatible ones, I think), if you can live with the wider jumps between gears and possibly slightly less nice shifting.

    .
    Yeah, I want to such with a Campagnolo cassette. The season is early and I just stated riding after taking the winter completely off to finish my basement. I think I'll give it 4-6 weeks of good hard training and see how I feel.

    I'm looking at ~$500 when it's all said and done, so I want to make sure I'm making a good move.

  24. #24
    Cyclist
    Reputation: Nater's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    565

    Re: Switch from 53/39 to 52/36?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclin Dan View Post
    Campagnolo doesn't make an 11-28.
    IRD does make an 11-28 Campy compatible cassette though.

  25. #25
    Sleep Expert
    Reputation: Peanya's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    4,962
    Why not get a 50/34 crankset, and if that doesn't feel better, swap out the rings on it. I think you'd be best served going that way. I quickly adapted to a compact from a standard. Timing the shifts at the crest of the hills was easier with a compact for me too.
    My carbon footprint has cleats

Page 1 of 5 123 ... 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