front chainrings, how many/what type??

mea00csf
mea00csf Posts: 558
edited August 2007 in Road beginners
So i'm going to be buying my first road bike soon, a side affect from hanging around too many triathlons i think!

Got measured up for a bike and am hopefully going to try some of the most likely frames. what i'm wondering is how many chainrings/and type would people suggest is best for me?

I mountain bike fairly regularly and commute to work on a bike so rack up about 50-60km a week easily plus more if i go mountain biking

I did a 45 km road ride on a hybrid and was beginning to struggle towards the end.

Would be hoping to be doing regular long weekend rides starting at say 40km and working up and hopefully be able to ride with a club in the week when i get reasonable. I'd love to say i'm really competitive but i'm not, i'm out to enoy myself and push myself a little further/faster rather than kill myself being ultra competitive.

Don't know whether to go for a triple, double or compact double. bike shop suggested not to go for a standard double as the gearing may well be too high, a friend has suggested triples can be awkward with crossing chains etc and that just a double would be better but a compact double seems a bit of a compromise that i might outgrow!

What would other people suggest for newbie road rider with a moderate level of bike fitness???

Any help appreciated! :)
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Comments

  • blorg
    blorg Posts: 1,169
    Given your experience/history/goals, no question, get a triple. If you get a double you will be cursing the thing within a week and give up cycling. There is no issue with crossing chains any more than you are used to on the MTB, you just don't use two gears, small-small or big-big. Worst that happens if you do end up in one of those combinations is maybe your chain rubs a bit and you remember to not use it. No big deal.

    If you want to go up hills at all (and with a lightweight road bike, you will) and you are not a pro, you will benefit significantly from a triple. On a recent 200k with 3,000m climbing I was spinning past hordes of pained-looking people grinding up the climbs on their doubles. Don't be one of those people!

    A compact may be an acceptable alternative.
  • bobtravers
    bobtravers Posts: 115
    52-39 double... Going 50-60 km/week, you will develop muscles in short time and practising a lot on hills will make you go stronger and faster...
  • nmcgann
    nmcgann Posts: 1,780
    It depends how hilly it is where you are planning to ride. I live somewhere mostly flat/rolling and I use a 38/50 double on my summer bike. My winter/audax bike has a 30/40/50 triple and it's the bike I'd take if I was planning some long rides in the hills. There is no loss in using the triple, it changes just as well as a double - the little ring just gives an extra option of closely spaced low gears.

    I've also got a bike with a 34/48 compact double, but it's a bit of a compromise in flat-ish areas. I find I do a lot of shifting between rings, which gets a bit annoying.

    I think the best do-it-all double option is probably to get a 34/50 compact, but swap the inner ring for a 38 if riding in flat areas. It's then just a ring change back to the 34 when taking to the hills.

    Neil
    --
    "Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain."
  • John C.
    John C. Posts: 2,113
    If you have any doubt at all then get a triple. The fact that you need to ask suggests you are in doubt. So get a triple, the extra weight is minimal but that extra gear may be the difference between riding up a hill or pushing.
    http://www.ripon-loiterers.org.uk/

    Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
    Hills are just a matter of pace
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    You only need a triple if planning on doing loaded touring - a compact 34/50 for example will give you same range of gears, but without the weight penalty. When teamed with a 12-27 cassette, you'll get up practically anything and still be hitting 60kph plus on descents. If you ever want to change to a race chainset, then you don't need to change anything else.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Gussio
    Gussio Posts: 2,452
    I agree that a compact 50/34 coupled with either 12-25 or 12-27 cassette would be a good choice.
  • John C.
    John C. Posts: 2,113
    A compact does not give the same range as a triple. A 30 front on a triple must be lower geared than a 34 compact with the same size rear.
    http://www.ripon-loiterers.org.uk/

    Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
    Hills are just a matter of pace
  • richa
    richa Posts: 1,631
    Go for a compact (34/50) with a 12-27 rear cassette.

    On the very steepest climbs it might be a tough at first but within a few months you'll be glad that you went for the purer compact over the triple.
    Rich
  • pingpong
    pingpong Posts: 97
    I have just changed bikes and also gone from a triple to a compact.best thing I ever did, but then again horses for courses and all that. :)
  • i've just gone triple. mainly because the 50 ring is a lot more usable than the 53 was.the 40 is little differant to the 39 i was used to, and the 30 is there for all the climbs round here. 13 to 26 cassette on the back gives all the gears i need.
    still not undergeared on the bit and bit sessions with the slightly lower top gear.
  • fossyant
    fossyant Posts: 2,549
    53 - 39 up front and 13-21 (8 speed) or 23 (10 speed) 39-21 will get you up most UK stuff... nah just playing devil's advocate here !

    If you are not sure of your abilities, get a triple, and keep a fairly straight through rear block a sthat gives you a smaller jump when changing up/down.
  • a double if your weight is ok, a compact is your slightly overweight or a poor climber. A compact gives you the same range as a triple, you just have to change up and down the rear cassette more frequently to use the ratios.
    If you ever get the racing bug, then a triple will get on your nerves.
  • Greenbank
    Greenbank Posts: 731
    a double if your weight is ok, a compact is your slightly overweight or a poor climber.

    ...a triple if you're overweight, a really bad climber, unfit, don't have much power, do *long* hilly rides (where a climb that you're happy with on 39x25 will suddenly seem like it's 1 in 4, or loaded touring.

    I don't mind admitting to having a triple. But then I've been quite happy to have it at the end of a 200km Audax and my legs are knackered.

    But then, given no choice, I can conquer the same hills on a 46x17 (71") fixed.
    A compact gives you the same range as a triple

    Not quite. I don't see how a 34 tooth front ring can give the same range as my triple which has a 30 tooth front ring.

    I've even wimped out as far as having a 13-29 cassette!
    , you just have to change up and down the rear cassette more frequently to use the ratios. If you ever get the racing bug, then a triple will get on your nerves.

    For me a triple works well. Middle ring = flat or slight up and down. Big ring = serious down. Small ring = serious up.

    With a double, or a compact double, my flat or slight up/down had me flicking between the big and little rings.

    As you get stronger you'll go: Triple -> Compact Double -> Double.

    You may want to jump the gun and suffer it, or you can make it easy on yourself early on.

    Unless you do loaded touring in the alps you may "grow out" of a triple, but at least the gears will be there when you need them.

    Up to you.
    --
    If I had a baby elephant signature, I\'d use that.
  • oldwelshman
    oldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    In your position I would go for a compact. You can always change rear cassette if you get so fit you need higher gears :D
    Would not go for a triple, too cumbersome.
    If I felt the need to have a 30 x 29 I would get off and walk as it would be faaster :D
  • bahzob
    bahzob Posts: 2,195
    Triple
    53/39/30 front

    11-23 back

    Find it perfect. Very fast when needed, smooth changes and no hill too steep to climb.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • nun
    nun Posts: 434
    42/26 on the front, 11/28 on the rear or 11/34 if I'm touring
  • keith57
    keith57 Posts: 164
    edited July 2007
    It all depends on the terrain. Here in Snowdonia I feel a compact double is the way to go 50/34 12/27 is what I use. The lowest gear is almost as low as the lowest gear on a triple I used to use, so it's fine for most hills. But I do lose out a little by not having as big a gear as on the triple, so going fast downhill is a little trickier.

    With all the long hills, some quite steep, the compact is great - and less fussy to use than a triple. If you're in the flat lands then a normal sized double might do? I believe some pro riders choose to use a compact double on some hilly tour stages, so they're not just for wimps! BTW - I do try and keep the cadence above 80rpm.
    http://www.fachwen.org
    https://www.strava.com/athletes/303457

    Please note: I’ll no longer engage deeply with anonymous forum users :D
  • ricadus
    ricadus Posts: 2,379
    Now that compact sets are available I would only bother with a triple if it was a bike intended to carry a lot of weight where one might want a lot of gear options going up the climbs.

    A friend of mine is a reformed MTBer and he has a compact crankset and 13-29 cassette on the road bike, so can spin up climbs (like the old days in the woods) if he wants or use a more orthodox roadies combination otherwise.
  • Mikey1280
    Mikey1280 Posts: 76
    52/42 Front
    12-28 Rear
    8 Speed

    Struggle up hills though, wouldnt have this if I lived somewhere hilly.
  • Max Weber
    Max Weber Posts: 183
    As others say, depends on the terrain. 53/39 double is perfect here for my usual rides in Bucks/Herts/Beds/Northants. In the hills of Majorca on holiday I found the 50/34 12-25 set-up on the bike I hired very useful for keeping the cadence high on the longer climbs.

    It seems that having a bottom gear which you can spin at your desired rate on climbs is the most important thing. For some riders a triple makes life too easy and they just keep dropping down through the gears until they're barely going forward. Conversely, having to climb off because you're using pro gearing on hard climbs is fairly ludicrous.
  • Diogenes
    Diogenes Posts: 1,628
    If you live somewhere without steep or long hills then a compact will get you up anything else. Up on the moors where 1 in 10's are common and 1 in 3's not unheard of, the triple is a godsend.

    As for going too slow on a triple, I often pass people struggling up hills on a double when I am sitting spinning the granny ring.

    D :D
  • Jaeger
    Jaeger Posts: 439
    By using a triple, you can get away with a rear cassette with closer gear spacings, whilst still having the "safety" of the smaller front ring. Although i rarely use the small ring, i find that when i need it, i really need it. The rest of the time, my 52/42/30 rides as a 52/42 with 12-23 on the back. I'm not seeing the disadvantages of a triple to be honest. Having that back-up allows you to push it hard, without having to hold back in case you come across that killer hill, which (in my limited experience) club runs/new routes always seem to find....!
  • jonesy124
    jonesy124 Posts: 205
    WARNING: This will sound very dense!!!

    I have 2 rings at the front, not sure how to identify whether its a compact or not. I have only been riding the new bike for a few days and I admit that I find it hard work at times. The most important question that has yet to be asked - will this give me uber big leg muscles and make me look like a man and is it only a matter of time before I can get my calves into my skinny jeans?? :evil:

    p.s I may not know the technical jargon yet but I can go pretty damn quick for a wee lass :twisted:
  • floatman
    floatman Posts: 28
    if you are even having to think about it get a triple. the weight penalty is really insignificant especially when put into context of how much most of us can lose from our waistlines to get to an ideal riding weight.

    With a triple you can tackle pretty much any hill in the UK without walking.... and in response to oldwelshman - I have a triple and have never been passed by anyone walking when inelegantly square pedalling in the granny gear! It may not be pretty, it may not be fast but it is always quicker than walking.
  • jonesy124
    jonesy124 Posts: 205
    I think that if you are struggling on a hill you should NEVER get off and slowly push it to the top. It also looks pretty rubbish if you pedal your arse off and are still only going about 3mph.
    If you want to look like a machine you should get off the bike and carry it as you jog to the top of the hill.
  • Greenbank
    Greenbank Posts: 731
    jonesy124 wrote:
    WARNING: This will sound very dense!!!

    Not at all. The really dense thing to do is not to ask, and never know the answer.
    jonesy124 wrote:
    I have 2 rings at the front, not sure how to identify whether its a compact or not.:twisted:

    Count the number of teeth on each of the rings (or look for the number stamped on the rings).

    39/53, 38/42 or similar is a normal double.
    34/50 or similar is a compact double.
    --
    If I had a baby elephant signature, I\'d use that.
  • jonesy124 wrote:
    WARNING: This will sound very dense!!!

    I have 2 rings at the front, not sure how to identify whether its a compact or not.

    Standard double chainring set up is 53/39. Compact is 50/34. The chainrings will have their sizes stamped on them somewhere.
    jonesy124 wrote:
    The most important question that has yet to be asked - will this give me uber big leg muscles and make me look like a man

    Not unless you decide to become a track sprinter and do silly amounts of weights to build strength.
    John Stevenson
  • nun
    nun Posts: 434
    Greenbank wrote:
    jonesy124 wrote:
    WARNING: This will sound very dense!!!

    Not at all. The really dense thing to do is not to ask, and never know the answer.
    jonesy124 wrote:
    I have 2 rings at the front, not sure how to identify whether its a compact or not.:twisted:

    Count the number of teeth on each of the rings (or look for the number stamped on the rings).

    39/53, 38/42 or similar is a normal double.
    34/50 or similar is a compact double.

    A compact crank is better defined as one with a 110 mm BCD. This allows the small ring to be a minimum of 34t. In fact you could implement a 39/53 on a compact crank.
  • Surely a triple weighs far too much, that extra little ring and the huge amounts of extra alloy in the big ring must weigh almost as much as my heart rate monitor (next to nothing) and significantly less than my beer gut (no comment).

    A compact is a very good compromise, you get the best of both worlds (as far as is possible).

    Of course, the only real chioce is a huge double which idiots, like me who think they are good enough, can barely push or for people who are genuinely good at this and have titanium knees.
  • ricadus
    ricadus Posts: 2,379
    jonesy124 wrote:
    I have 2 rings at the front, not sure how to identify whether its a compact or not.

    The info will be ingraved on the chainrings – look for specific number such as "34", "39" or "53" (or even "53/39" on the outer ring). These refer to the number f teeth in the rings.

    34 or 36 on the small ring and 50 on the large would be a compact set-up; 39 and 53 are the standard "classic" non-compact ones. There are variations, but they wouldn't come with the bike unless you specifically ordered them.

    Or you could just simply count teeth on the rings, but it's a bit tedious (and a bit tricky when the go behind the cranks). :D