Double (Compact) or Triple??

madandybell Posts: 148
edited November 2008 in Road beginners

I live in a pretty hilly area and I'm getting mixed opinions on weather I should got for a double or triple? The Allez Sport double I'm looking at seem to go pretty low for a double and am wondering if that would do?

There is the Allez triple (27) but its a compromise on the groupset.



  • Andy,

    more info needed:

    Where do you live i.e. how hilly?
    What sort of riding do you want to do?
    What's your level of experience and fitness?
    Are you skinny, overweight, a bit chunky, about right?
    Are you, ahem, mature or still a spring lamb?
    What do you use now and how do you get on with it, or are you a newcomer/returning to the world of cycling?

    People on here get quiet emotional on this topic, so you need to set the boundaries!

  • Right here goes.

    I live in Halifax, West Yorkishire so its pretty hilly, nothing like the lakes though!!
    It's road riding I'm wanting to do to get a few more miles in and for fitness.
    Need to improve on fitness really, been out with arthritis for over year so I've got pretty out of shape.
    Would class myself as a bit chunky at the moment!
    29 years of age
    Currently ride a hartail mountain bike, will be first time on a road bike.


  • It's definitely hilly enough round Halifax, as I know to my cost. If you're planning to not build your rides around avoiding steep hills, then I'd say you should either go for the triple or get the double compact with a bigger cassette i.e. a 27 tooth biggest sprocket. I don't know what comes standard on the Allez, but you should be able to get that changed at the point of purchase if necessary (probably for free, if not then for peanuts). You should check with the shop that the existing rear mech could handle that wide a range (you might need to swap it, but again, sholdn't be much if you do it as part of the purchase).

    If you're going to be moving to really long rides in the future, then the triple might be the better long term choice, but sounds unlikely.

    FWIW my preference would be the double, I think you can get the range of gears you need without the extra complexity.
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I live in gently rolling Suffolk. Just gone from a rigid mtb with slicks to a lightweight road bike. I am 51 yrs old with dodgy knees but a reasonable level of fitness. I went for a triple because I wanted a closely spaced rear cassette to allow me to keep a more or less constant cadence. The very lowest gear isn't much lower than I'd have got with a compact and a 27t rear sprocket, but I get there in smaller increments. I don't like the idea of the big jump from one chainring to the next on a compact double.

    I've had it for 2 months now, and after a bit of fine tuning I can use all 30 combinations of chainring / sprocket without noise or chain rub (although I choose not to use the silly ones)

    My knees appreciate the triple setup!
  • berkan
    berkan Posts: 27
    I have been using a compact for a few years now and have had no problems at all. I was using a triple and found that the available number of gears (due to the chain line rubbing on the front derailleur) were only slightly more than 20 anyway. I am a big chap and the compact really helps you get up hills and I rarely spin out going downhill, unless it is a very long hill in which case 40 mph plus can be a bit hairy anyway.

    I read a great article written by someone who understands gear inches and the like and they explained that there is not that much difference between a compact and full size chainset. The important difference being your essential climbing gear. Being a big lad I run a 12-27 but you can get up nearly anything with a 12-25 and the gear ratios are closer.

    I would definitely make sure you get a 34-50 and not a 36-50, the latter is completely pointless as you might as well be running a full size 39-53 as you still won't have that all essential granny gear.
  • redddraggon
    redddraggon Posts: 10,862
    edited November 2008
    berkan wrote:
    I would definitely make sure you get a 34-50 and not a 36-50,

    IMHO, the 36t ring normally makes for a better chainset.
    I like bikes...

  • berkan
    berkan Posts: 27
    In what respect? There are no shifting problems with a 34-50 and it offers an easier ratio.
  • redddraggon
    redddraggon Posts: 10,862
    berkan wrote:
    In what respect? There are no shifting problems with a 34-50 and it offers an easier ratio.

    The 34t chainring is useless for all but decently steep climbs. The 36t is slightly more usable more of the time.
    I like bikes...

  • Mister W
    Mister W Posts: 791
    I rode a triple for 18 months before changing to a compact double. My opinion and experience is that the compact is much better. I've got nearly as much range as the triple but without the hassle of setting up the front mech. You may be lucky and never have problems with the mech but the moment you knock it or have to change a cable it becomes a pain in the neck. Yes there's a bigger jump between the rings but you very quickly get used to it.

    The chainsets on both my bikes are 34-50 although I have different cassettes. With the 25 on my race bike I can get up most hills and there's always an option of a 27 if you need something lower.
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    A 12/27 goes from 12 to 17 in one step changes. You can not get any closer than that. I use a 12/27 with 50/34 and only miss having an 18 cog occasionally (I race on 12/23). I would not consider a 12/25 as I think the gaps between the 21, 23 and 25 are to small to be useful. 21,24 and 27 are more noticable when you need to go low. Most of my riding is done on 34/13 or 14 or on 50/19. This is in the Yorkshire Dales. Now 66 and 12 stone.
  • croggy
    croggy Posts: 116
    I use a compact 48-34 with 11-28 at the back.I tend to stay on the 48 most of the time,48-11 spins out at 30ish mph which is ok for me.34-28 gets me up Holme Moss which is the hardest climb I tackle.
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    30 mph on 48/11 is only about 90 rpm. That is not spinning out. I can get 30 mph down hill on 42/17 fixed which is about 150 rpm. I normally ride at 80 to 90. You should be OK up to 35 to 40 mph on 48/11.
  • felgen
    felgen Posts: 829
    John.T wrote:
    You should be OK up to 35 to 40 mph on 48/11.
    Yeah what he said! I only have experience of compact but I run a 11-25 on the rear, so some of the lower ratio effect is lost due to this however it make the hills a piece of cake (well maybe not, but I never wish I had a lower gear. Unless you are a complete monster, I cant see you running out of gears on the flat with a compact. And even if you do... well you can just get standard( bigger) chainrings, a lot less than a new chainset well at least that seems to be an option on mine (FSA)
    1)Planet X SL Pro carbon
    2)Nelson Pista Singlespeed
    3)Giant Cadex MTB
    4)BeOne Karma MTB
  • micken
    micken Posts: 275
    I'm with John.T on this in terms of the choice I made. I'm 52 and 13 1/2 stone, recently back into road cycling and had a choice of double, triple or compact on the frame I wanted. Tried all combinations out and went for 12/27 and 50/34 compact. Dales riding and not had to stop on a hill yet.

    Overall, unless you are going for some extreme combination for a good reason I think the choice is somewhat subjective for most folk. I could have lived with any of the chainring setups and got used to them. The cassette is the easy tuning agent here.

    There's not necessarily a best / worst answer to this due to variables and preferences.
  • rally200
    rally200 Posts: 646
    I've got the Allez Sport - range of gears is huge with the 11-28 cassette it comes with - when it comes to chain change I'll be binning the OE block for a 12-25. as the 28 tooth hardly ever gets used & sometimes find I'm missing a middling ratio when riding in a group. Running a triple on my commuter and only ever use the little ring if carrying loads.
  • balthazar
    balthazar Posts: 1,565
    I ride traditional-ish gearing, of 39/53 and 12/23. I live in the hills. I usually average somewhere between 16-20 mph on rides of a couple of hours or four, alone or in a motley pair or three. My small ring (39) covers me up to about 18mph, and the big one (53) above.

    That's how it's always been. It used to be 42/52 and 13/21, I grant you, but that's broadly the same.

    The last couple of years have seen a trend for compact gears; in the few years preceding, triple chainsets were popular. For the 3 or 4 decades before that, everybody rode my setup and just sort of got on with it.

    My point is - rambling though it may be - that it is surprising how high your low gear can be, when it's all you have. Singlespeeders have even made a fetish out of this. Just pedal more slowly! Also, going downhill really fast is fun - and in hilly regions, you need big gears to pedal downhill. Contrary to the prevailing advice on this forum, I really use my big gears, and I doubt I'm a more powerful rider than most. I face some big hills however and like to make the most of them. To get up them, it's 39/23 or die, in my head: blind idiocy of this sort is a pretty good stimulant.
  • My first road bike was a Giant SCR 3 with a standard triple (52/42/30 and 12-26) and I've recently bought a proper race bike with a compact (50/34 and 12-25). I would have gone for another bike with a triple if I didn't plan on racing. The triple has relatively few disadvantages, but the major advantage of versatility. I've taken the SCR on a month-long loaded tour over the Alps; the only thing that got me home was that granny gear. Compact chainsets are a massive improvement over classic 52/39 setups, but with a triple you have that little margin of comfort.
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    Use a 12/27 and you have a low gear only 3" higher than the tripple.
  • Thanks for all the help.

    I'm pretty sure I'll opt for a compact double by le looks of things, if it's a bit hard to live with at first im sure I'll learn to get used to it.

    Thanks again for the replies.