Racing on a compact 50/34.. possible? stupid?

Dan777 Posts: 49
edited August 2009 in Road beginners
any opinions please? i am looking for a new bike and a lot of ones that interest me, felt f4 with ultegra sl, felt z25 with dura ace in a local sale. however both come with compact chainsets, 50/34. I was normally of the opinion that 53/39 was essential for racing. would you agree? disagree?

thinking it through surely 53/12 is the same as 50/11.......? so in that case in racing it shouldnt really matter....


  • i do and i dont just race i compete, winning senior races...
  • fnegroni
    fnegroni Posts: 794
    Surely that depends on the course? To race you need a selection of cassettes and chainrings that you can swap based on the course.
  • unless your racing national a races etc and they have super steep hills in then no, you can get away with a 25 biggest cassette on most courses...
  • nolf
    nolf Posts: 1,287
    I race on a 50/34 with a 12/25 at the back.

    I've got a 12-21 casette as well, but I do a lot of sportives and just wouldn't make it up the hills :)

    You have to be really motoring along the flat to run out of gears. I run a high (110+) rpm at high speeds anyway so haven't yet run out.

    Down hill you just need balls to go fast...

    If you're only doing racing then a standard double is more appropriate, and you'll never really run out of gears, however for long hilly days or very steep climbs it's nice to have lower gears.
    "I hold it true, what'er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    'Tis better to have loved and lost;
    Than never to have loved at all."

    Alfred Tennyson
  • freehub
    freehub Posts: 4,257
    A compact is fine for racing.
  • Chip \'oyler
    Chip \'oyler Posts: 2,323
    A compact is great - if you fit an 11 sprocket then 50x11 is actually higher than 53x12.
    Expertly coached by - the blog for Viner owners and lovers!
  • andy_wrx
    andy_wrx Posts: 3,396
    edited August 2009
    Agreed, don't see the problem.

    Just maybe a 36 inner ring might be more appropriate, then there's less of a 'big jump' on changing rings, as sometimes it's necessary to change down to the inner ring but then up to a smaller cog at the back so as not to spin-out, or vv when changing up.

    Some people hate compacts because of this and swear by triples, but in practice it's not an issue with a compact in a non-competitive or sportive-type situation where a compact can provide that wider range of gears, and ultimately low gears (maybe 50/34 and 12-27 or 11-28 ) , but it might not be good if it caught you at the wrong time in a race situation and you got dropped off the back or missed the break while fumbling for gears at the bottom of a hill.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I race on a compact too - using an 11 tooth small sprocket and a 50 chainring means I spend most of the race on the big ring - apart from the hilliest circuits
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • rabk
    rabk Posts: 182
    Me too, 50/34 and an 11 tooth cassette, ideal for most events staying more or less always in the big ring
  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    I don't race but ride TT's on a compact and like others I can spend most of my ride on the big ring. I think that being on the big ring would also mean you're not spinning out at the top of the small rings range and getting dropped. I have fitted a 36 inner as well as we don't have many big hills around here.
  • Bhima
    Bhima Posts: 2,145
    50x11 > 54x12
  • freehub
    freehub Posts: 4,257
    Climbing what gear with a double is 34*24, 34*19 and 21 compared to? Most hills up to about 25% I climb in 34*19 so kind of curious.
  • rokkala
    rokkala Posts: 649
    34*19 is nearly exactly same gear inches as 39*22. <--handy tool so you can compare different gearing yourself
  • mrchrispy
    mrchrispy Posts: 310
    i reckon im the only one running 46/34 at the front! :)
    I didn't get on with the jump between the 50 and 34 and I like my low gears for spinning up the hills so i went with the 46 (although 48 would probably be better).
    Low top gear isn't a problem, i spin out at around 30-32 mph but thats not a problem on the flat and on the down hills I have weight on my side :)