Shimano Ultegra 52-34 combination and 50-34
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  1. #1
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    Shimano Ultegra 52-34 combination and 50-34

    Made a video of how a Shimano Ultegra 6800 52-34 chainset works with a 11-28 cassette. The rear derailleur is a short cage.

    The video starts off just shifting up and back down in small ring then big ring to demonstrate how far the derailleur moves. The second half is shifting the front chainring back and forth with the chain in the middle of the cassette, then the high gear, and then the low gear.

    https://youtu.be/KR5PuMblY6w

    The video below was the original compact 50-34 setup if you want to compare how that performs.

    https://youtu.be/V4OiDMkK11A

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    Quote Originally Posted by coresare View Post
    Made a video of how a Shimano Ultegra 6800 52-34 chainset works with a 11-28 cassette. The rear derailleur is a short cage.

    The video starts off just shifting up and back down in small ring then big ring to demonstrate how far the derailleur moves. The second half is shifting the front chainring back and forth with the chain in the middle of the cassette, then the high gear, and then the low gear.

    https://youtu.be/KR5PuMblY6w

    The video below was the original compact 50-34 setup if you want to compare how that performs.

    https://youtu.be/V4OiDMkK11A

    Interesting video... what are your thoughts when using it, in terms of smoothness on the road, under load?
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    Asking for trouble if shifting under load. It has a higher chance of dancing on top of the teeth when going from small to big and may fall off the outside or inside. I have only had a chance to pedal lightly around my neighborhood. I will report back after some actual rides, but I definitely need to ease up on the pedal when shifting.

    When riding big big there is a little more noise since there is more tension on the chain, but I will be avoiding that combination.

    But if you aren't cross chaining much, then it feels the same while pedaling.

  4. #4
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    My concern about this setup would be the 18-tooth difference between large and small rings. This would make chain drop more likely.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by coresare View Post
    Made a video of how a Shimano Ultegra 6800 52-34 chainset works with a 11-28 cassette. The rear derailleur is a short cage.
    Great video, thanks for sharing!

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    I had a chance to finally ride this setup. I will be returning to the compact setup. The slight decrease in shifting performance and gain in top end speed wasnt worth it. Does it work? Yes.. does it work decently well? Yes.. but definitely not as flawless as the recommended sizes.

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    There are very very few situations where one would want a 52-11, so now u know.
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    There are many times you would want a 52-11.. hammering it down any type of descent..

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    Quote Originally Posted by coresare View Post
    There are many times you would want a 52-11.. hammering it down any type of descent..
    Well, maybe down a false flat with a tail wind, and you'd still be working your ass off. 50-11 is a really big gear. How often do you use it?

    On a real downhill, once rider gets up to 30 mph, he'll keep gaining speed by tucking in on the handlebars and stem, and getting aero. That'll increase speed another couple of mph a heck of a lot easier than pedaling. In fact the pedaling movements interrupt the air flow around the bike and rider and slow him down. Think like a bird or fish. That's how they do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Well, maybe down a false flat with a tail wind, and you'd still be working your ass off. 50-11 is a really big gear. How often do you use it?

    On a real downhill, once rider gets up to 30 mph, he'll keep gaining speed by tucking in on the handlebars and stem, and getting aero. That'll increase speed another couple of mph a heck of a lot easier than pedaling. In fact the pedaling movements interrupt the air flow around the bike and rider and slow him down. Think like a bird or fish. That's how they do it.
    Easier but not faster - at least in my experience, maybe you are talking steeper grades that I am - I've always found pedaling until I hit 120ish cadence in top gear is faster downhill, that will get me close to 45mph max.
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  11. #11
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    There really is not much change, 1.6mph @ 120rpm, so I don't see any reason to make a change from standard 50. Now if your going for the land speed record, I would reconsider the whole gearing situation.
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    On any straight, no-wind, 4-5% downhill most folks will be faster with a 52- 11. Most of us can spin-out on that type of descent but will coast far slower than our spin-out speed.

    Further, riding at spin-out cadence only works for a short period of time. If I could practically ride with a 65 tooth on straight 7% downhills I would because a more sustainable cadence would take me to terminal velocity for that gradient faster and more comfortably.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Well, maybe down a false flat with a tail wind, and you'd still be working your ass off. 50-11 is a really big gear. How often do you use it?

    On a real downhill, once rider gets up to 30 mph, he'll keep gaining speed by tucking in on the handlebars and stem, and getting aero. That'll increase speed another couple of mph a heck of a lot easier than pedaling. In fact the pedaling movements interrupt the air flow around the bike and rider and slow him down. Think like a bird or fish. That's how they do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    Easier but not faster - at least in my experience, maybe you are talking steeper grades that I am - I've always found pedaling until I hit 120ish cadence in top gear is faster downhill, that will get me close to 45mph max.
    Ok, yes, a relatively shallow grade, sure, pedal away. Do a "speed interval" for the legs; loosen them up. But you won't be delivering much power, and it won't translate all that well on the flats where you might need it.

    We see TDF riders pedaling down the grades to keep their legs "supple." But they're wasting their energy if exerting much power. But ok, at a certain point, the grade becomes steep enough, gravity takes over; by now rider is probably spinning out at 40 mph, and if you can pedal 120 rpm, at 45 mph, you're right.

    So yes, I'm talking about steeper grades than you're encountering. As the grade gets steeper, there's a certain point where gravity takes over, pedaling spins out, and rider is better off tucking aero to cut through that wall of air hitting him at 35-45 mph. Also, how long can you sustain those 120 rpm descents? I always say, "Screw it," stop pedaling, and just go into the tuck, usually discovering I haven't lost any speed and can now rest the legs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SwiftSolo View Post
    On any straight, no-wind, 4-5% downhill most folks will be faster with a 52- 11. Most of us can spin-out on that type of descent but will coast far slower than our spin-out speed.

    Further, riding at spin-out cadence only works for a short period of time. If I could practically ride with a 65 tooth on straight 7% downhills I would because a more sustainable cadence would take me to terminal velocity for that gradient faster and more comfortably.
    Alright, so it really depends on the grade what rider can get away with. Yep, I put on a 50 one summer. It was nice solo, but in a competitive group I kept spinning out on those 4-5% grades as the others were pulling away. The 53 developed a bit more torque on the 13 and I could punch out another couple of mph for a few seconds. Like you say, few riders can sustain above 120+ cadence for very long.

    Many times, I've passed riders pedaling, me in a full tuck. Then again, they were usually pedaling 90-95 rpm, not spinning out like mad, so there's that.

    I always ask myself, "Is it worth it?" What do I get for frantically pedaling as fast as I can just to cheat out another 1 mph going 40 mph? by 25 mph, that wall of air becomes the primary resistance to forward momentum. If I can increase speed by 1 mph in a full tuck, why pedal? If the grade is steep enough, pedaling has actually slowed me down. I've experimented with this at 30-35 mph, more typical of the descent speeds attainable around here, and found my speed could drop 1 mph if I start pedaling like mad. The cost of overcoming the wall of air for that minimal gain, when I could be resting the legs, aren't worth it.

    So keep those 50 t. chain rings. They'll give rider at least one more usable gear on the flats than the 52.

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    People have different riding styles and different terrain. Some like to smash it with a group of friends even downhill even if it's just for a minute. Some crit racers prefer a 52. I would personally like to be closer to my average cadence than spinning out my max if able to. A 53T, 52T, and 50T exists for a reason.

    I had already stated I will return to the compact 50-34 setup since the decrease in shifting performance wasn't worth the extra top end - for me.
    Last edited by coresare; 12-10-2016 at 03:44 PM. Reason: Change

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    Quote Originally Posted by coresare View Post
    People have different riding styles and different terrain. Some like to smash it with a group of friends even downhill even if it's just for a minute. Some crit racers prefer a 52. I would personally like to be closer to my average cadence than spinning out my max if able to. A 53T, 52T, and 50T exists for a reason.

    I had already stated I will return to the compact 50-34 setup since the decrease in shifting performance wasn't worth the extra top end - for me.
    Yep. And let's not forget 50-11 is about the same as 53-13. Haven't used that gear in years!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Like you say, few riders can sustain above 120+ cadence for very long.

    I always ask myself, "Is it worth it?" What do I get for frantically pedaling as fast as I can just to cheat out another 1 mph going 40 mph?

    So keep those 50 t. chain rings. They'll give rider at least one more usable gear on the flats than the 52.
    The use for 53/11 gearing is pretty limited for me admittedly. We have a couple of downhill sprints to city limit signs on group weekend rides that tall gearing makes the difference on - I don't need to spin for long finish first or second (mostly first) - 6 or 7 seconds at 120 rpm making 600 to 700 watts and I'm not getting passed often.

    53 front ring with close spacing on an 11/23 cassette gives plenty of gears for all of my rides around here. Going to areas with lots of climbing I'd much prefer the compact.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    The use for 53/11 gearing is pretty limited for me admittedly. We have a couple of downhill sprints to city limit signs on group weekend rides that tall gearing makes the difference on - I don't need to spin for long finish first or second (mostly first) - 6 or 7 seconds at 120 rpm making 600 to 700 watts and I'm not getting passed often.

    53 front ring with close spacing on an 11/23 cassette gives plenty of gears for all of my rides around here. Going to areas with lots of climbing I'd much prefer the compact.
    Awesome! That's how its done. Kudos!

    Would also guess you've got a 39 inner ring on there. 39-23 will handle anything most places, even those mountain passes out west.

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    The other orifice Fredrico! I know it's confusing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    39-23 will handle anything most places, even those mountain passes out west.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SwiftSolo View Post
    The other orifice Fredrico! I know it's confusing.
    Now that was uncalled for. 39-23 will get a fit 160 pound rider on an 18 pound bike up a mountain just fine. I've done it in 44-23. So there. The grades in the Rockies aren't that steep.
    Last edited by Fredrico; 12-12-2016 at 02:37 AM.

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    And we all know that once you've done one mountain, you can do all mountains!

    At least give the other orifice a try.

    Incidentally, the "Rockies" are only one of several mountain ranges "out west".
    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Now that was uncalled for. 39-23 will get a fit 160 pound rider on an 18 pound bike up a mountain just fine. I've done it in 44-23. So there. The grades in the Rockies aren't that steep.
    Last edited by SwiftSolo; 12-14-2016 at 09:43 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Now that was uncalled for. 39-23 will get a fit 160 pound rider on an 18 pound bike up a mountain just fine. I've done it in 44-23. So there. The grades in the Rockies aren't that steep.
    I think there's something to this, for sure... To give a little back-story. I am from NJ. I weigh 165 pounds and my FTP usually ranges from about 270-305, depending on y current level of training. I'm not a pure climber (weigh too much) but usually climb pretty good because I'm a decent TT rider.

    I went out to Boulder earlier in the year and got to ride with several locals. We did Left-Hand Canyon, Lee Hill, Flagstaff Canyon and the Morgul-Bismark Wall among other locations. Prior to doing the Morgul-Bismark Wall, a few of the locals were really talking it up... "Oh man, we gotta take you up the wall." Etc. When we got there, in my head, I was thinking, "this is a wall? it's just a bump." After my trip I realized that the guys in Colorado have a much different concept when it comes to climbing. The climbs I did were all pretty long, gradual climbs. The Morgul-Bismark wall was probably the shortest/steepest climb I did at 1.3 miles and it hit 10-12% in the last kick up to the top. Contrasting that to Left-Hand Canyon, which is 16.5 miles and averages 4% and you can see the difference. That being said... nothing I saw in Boulder even remotely resembles the climbing I do back home. All of the stuff we climb at home is short and steep. Most of my local climbs are 1-1.5 miles and average 8-10%. There are a few bigger climbs in the 4-5 mile range and it is not uncommon to see grades max out at over 20%. Last week, I found a new climb about an hour's ride away from me and it hit 25%. I'm not saying one kind of climb is better or more difficult than another, but I definitely don't think anyone would find it easy, getting up a 20%+ grade on a 39 tooth chain ring. It's also not easy grinding out a 16+ mile climb that tops out over 9000'. There are different types of rides, different types of climbs and different tools to tackle them... using either, doesn't make you any more or less tough, it simply makes you faster or slower.
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    I would like to see that 16 mile 9000' climb done in a 39-23. Let me know when you plan on doing it, I'll be there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    I would like to see that 16 mile 9000' climb done in a 39-23. Let me know when you plan on doing it, I'll be there.
    To clarify... it topped out at 9000'. It started at 5000'+ (whatever boulder is) and I was using a 50-34 crankset and 11-28. I'm not positive what gearing I used on Lefthand Canyon. I'm certain on was on the 34 tooth ring for most of it and was somewhere in the 19-23 range, not on the 28. The two locals I was with were on Standard chainrings as was a friend of mine from NJ.
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    I would like to see that 16 mile 9000' climb done in a 39-23. Let me know when you plan on doing it, I'll be there.
    I did Lefthand Canyon with a regular crank years ago. I believe I had a 12-25 cassette (maybe 8 or 9 speed). The last couple of switchbacks were a little rough into Ward but really the climb was way easier than say riding up 119 to Nederland, which I did with the same gearing and almost didn't make it. Every time I've gone back I've ridden compact (usually 48/34).

    I agree that here in the NYC burbs the climbs may be shorter, but they're definitely steeper.

    The only place I've found long AND crazy steep climbs is Hawaii (try Kaloko Drive on the Big Island, the last 7 miles are miles of hell!)
    Last edited by DrSmile; 12-14-2016 at 02:01 PM.
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