Newbie needs advice on Number of Gears

Hurricane151 Posts: 632
edited January 2009 in Road beginners
I am new to road bikes (upgrading from a hybrid), I have about £700 to spend ona new bbike and there a few I have narrowed it down to but there is a varied number of gears from 16 upto 27.

Can anyone give me any advice on the pros and cons of the different set ups.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



  • batch78
    batch78 Posts: 1,320
    Basically speaking (and this is very basic!)

    8,9 and 10 speed cassettes will have the same range of gears but different spaces between them, therefore, 10 speed will be easier to keep an even cadence, 8 speed will have the largest 'spaces' between gears and therefore harder to maintain even cadence.

    Triple chainsets give the widest range of gears, compact chainsets lose the highest and lowest limits, doubles usually have the highest gearing.

    Apart from that, compacts will be slightly lighter, and possibly a little more aero, although hardly worth worrying about!

    Doubles and compacts are generally easier to setup.

    In short, if your very fit, get a double chainset with 9 or 10 speed cassette, if you ride lots of hills, get a compact with 9/10spd, if your not that fit or ride lots of varying terrain get a triple.

    Try to avoid 8spd cassettes, you should be able to at your budget.
  • Headhuunter
    Headhuunter Posts: 6,494
    It depends on whether you feel you need a triple or a double chainring. Most "roadies" use double chainring as they feel that a third "granny" ring adds unnecessary weight to the bike. If you have a double ring, you'll have between 16 and 20 gears (most likely) depending on the number of gears on the rear cassette and obviously 24 to 30 if you have a triple.

    I bought a Focus Cayo Triple 07 because it was going cheap when I was looking for a new bike, however I never actually use the smallest chainring. Depends on whether you can get up those hills without the option to drop into a really, really low gear
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • John C.
    John C. Posts: 2,113
    If you are in any doubt about double/compact or triple then go for a triple, the extra low gear on that last hill will be worth it's weight in gold, as for extra weight, which weighs most , an alloy granny ring or a mouth full of drink, a metal tyre lever or a spare tube. Unless you are racing it doesn't matter.

    Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
    Hills are just a matter of pace
  • rb1956
    rb1956 Posts: 134
    A lot depends on the terrain you ride, how strong you are, and what you use the bike for.

    If you ride in a district with lots of steep hills (as I do), you'll want a wide range of gears (low for the climb, high for the descent) which, in a conventional derailler set-up, implies a triple. If you're strong, and always "ride light" (see next comment), you might get away with a double.

    If you're going to use the bike for something other than "riding light" for exercise, sport, fun etc. go for the wide range. When you're commuting home, at the end of a long day at work, up that last long hill, in the rain, carrying lights, mudguards, and panniers or a rucksack, you'll love that granny-gear.

    Unless you're racing, when in doubt, go wide.
  • jangle
    jangle Posts: 114
    I was also worried about this issue when I went from commuting on a MTB to a Road Bike. I plumped for a 50/34 with 12-27 compact in the end and on my current 6 mile commute, which is basically up hill all the way ranging from 3% to 7% inclines, I haven't really had a problem.

    I would also not claim to be fit or fast or very strong up the hills but I have found that the lighter bike, better roling resistance etc have helped massively to compensate for the longer gears.

    Not pros and cons but personal experience, so I hope it helps.
  • Chaz.Harding
    Chaz.Harding Posts: 3,144
    Like it's pointed out above, if you got alot of hills, or aren't a very strong rider, probably best to go for a triple. The extra weight of an alloy granny ring is not a whole lot. Just think how much water you carry - it's easily a whole lot more (in weight) than the small chainring.

    Besides, you can always remove it if you absolutley have to! 8)
    Boo-yah mofo
    Sick to the power of rad
    Fix it 'till it's broke
  • acorn_user
    acorn_user Posts: 1,137
    Others have covered the triple/double thing... so let me address the 8/9/10 thing.
    8 speed: bonus is that spares are cheap. The chains and cassettes are well proven. Downside is that it is getting harder to buy really nice 8 speed parts because Shimano is moving to 9 speed.
    9 speed: chains and cassettes seem to last ok, but you need a 9 speed chain. Again, 9 speed Shimano parts that are really nice (i.e. 105 and above) were discontinued a couple of years ago.
    10 speed: now you could be talking about Shimano, Sram or Campagnolo. Advantage is the easy parts availability. Disadvantage is the higher cost of new chains and cassettes, especially with Campagnolo (although their components seem to wear less).
  • Go for a 9 speed double. Use a 13-23, 14-25, or 15-28 cassette if you want very close ratios up to the 19 sprocket. Tiagra shifters are better than Sora.
  • johans
    johans Posts: 24
    I have a Tricross with compact: 48/34 chainrings and 11/28T sprockets. I hardly ever use the 11T, and 25T,28T but of course a lot depends on the terrain you ride. Although I do not use them much it is nice to know they are there :-)