Time to move on from the compact

Harry B
Harry B Posts: 1,239
edited November 2009 in The bottom bracket
I put a compact on my bike a while ago for the Chilern 100. I liked it so left it on and it seemed to improve my cycling (both weekend rides and weekday commuting). I'm thinking about starting racing shortly and so will probably replace the compact but does anyone have any advice on what gearing to use? I want something suitable for both racing and commuting.

Cheers for your help
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Comments

  • what is that the sound? is it a can of worms being opened.if the compact is working for you leave it on alot of people myself included race on them,the only thing i surgest if you havent already got one on is a 11t sprocket on the back, and if your doing hilly races try leaving the 34 inner ring on as well,if it doesnt work for you change it for a standard set up, but just give it a try first.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 42,358
    You could just have a larger inner ring (36?) leave the 50 and use an 11-23 cassette. You would then have plenty big enough gears for racing on (122.7 max), closer ratios without too much overlap or big drop between chainrings and low enough gears for climbing pretty much anything (42.3 lowest). Would cost you next to nothing. Don't get hung up on the need for big gears and in any case your biggest would still be higher than someone riding a max. 53 x 12. You could even leave the chainset untouched but the 16 tooth jump is quite high if you have to switch chainrings in a race.
  • Harry B
    Harry B Posts: 1,239
    Pross wrote:
    You could just have a larger inner ring (36?) leave the 50 and use an 11-23 cassette. You would then have plenty big enough gears for racing on (122.7 max), closer ratios without too much overlap or big drop between chainrings and low enough gears for climbing pretty much anything (42.3 lowest). Would cost you next to nothing. Don't get hung up on the need for big gears and in any case your biggest would still be higher than someone riding a max. 53 x 12. You could even leave the chainset untouched but the 16 tooth jump is quite high if you have to switch chainrings in a race.

    At the moment I rarely use the inner ring (i assume you're talking about the chainring (I'm not 100% on all the terminology :oops: )) except for bigger hills but I do find myself in the big chain ring and smallest sprocket on the back quite often and I'm concerned that I'd need a very high cadence (in excess of 100rpm) to keep up with the pack
  • have you checked your smallest sprocket on the back it could be a 12t if so try an 11t, 100rpm cadences are nothing unusual these days just takes some practice having said that its not to eveybodys taste,and being able to stay in the big ring is on all but the hilliest courses is one of the advantages of having a compact,as pross has surgested try a 36 inner ring so the jump from the outer ring is not as big.
  • At the moment I rarely use the inner ring (i assume you're talking about the chainring (I'm not 100% on all the terminology :oops: )) except for bigger hills but I do find myself in the big chain ring and smallest sprocket on the back quite often and I'm concerned that I'd need a very high cadence (in excess of 100rpm) to keep up with the pack

    If you regularly find yourself at 100RPM in you biggest gear, then you should be able to walk all over a 4th cat race regardless of your equipment. 100RPM in 50x12 gives a speed of around 33mph - that's seriously quick unless you are sprinting or descending...

    You should be able to race on the compact, possibly add an 11T sprocket for sprints...
  • geoff_ss
    geoff_ss Posts: 1,201
    With modern gear systems it's easy to change at both front and the back simultaneously. I find myself doing that frequently on both my solo and the tandem and it works perfectly. It makes those times when you dive down into a sharp dip on a big gear only to need a rapid down shift on the equally steep assent so much easier than in the days of non-indexed DT shifters.

    Doesn't that remove the disadvantage of having a bigger than usual step between front chainrings? However, I'm not now nor ever have been a racing cyclist unless you count a few time trials.

    Geoff
    Old cyclists never die; they just fit smaller chainrings ... and pedal faster
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 42,358
    At the moment I rarely use the inner ring (i assume you're talking about the chainring (I'm not 100% on all the terminology :oops: )) except for bigger hills but I do find myself in the big chain ring and smallest sprocket on the back quite often and I'm concerned that I'd need a very high cadence (in excess of 100rpm) to keep up with the pack

    If you regularly find yourself at 100RPM in you biggest gear, then you should be able to walk all over a 4th cat race regardless of your equipment. 100RPM in 50x12 gives a speed of around 33mph - that's seriously quick unless you are sprinting or descending...

    You should be able to race on the compact, possibly add an 11T sprocket for sprints...

    +1 - the biggest gear I've ever used in a race is 52 x 12 (very rarely!) which is smaller than you would get with a 50 x 11 and only slightly bigger than a 52 x 13. Never been in a race where I felt under-geared.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I race on a compact these days - spend most of the race on the 50 chainring and never run out of gears even at 68kph during the last race. It's a common perception with beginners that they are spinning too fast - when in fact you need to learn to spin faster, not use bigger gears - when you're reaching 150rpm plus, then maybe you're spinning too fast.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • I reckon you could race on 50x36 with a12 to 23. That will give you a decent top gear, a low bottom gear, a tight range for slick gear changes - and not too big a jump between the chainrings. I've raced on a compact with 50x36 and a cassette with a 13T top. It's already been said... learn to pedal fast, it never did Lance any harm!

    You can buy a 36T inner ring and change it yourself, or for minimal hassle get your LBS to fit it.

    Once you start racing your strength will improve and you won't need to go back to the 34T inner (unless you're in a brutally hilly area).
    Good luck!

    http://www.gregarios.co.uk
  • I reckon you could race on 50x36 with a12 to 23. That will give you a decent top gear, a low bottom gear, a tight range for slick gear changes - and not too big a jump between the chainrings. I've raced on a compact with 50x36 and a cassette with a 13T top. It's already been said... learn to pedal fast, it never did Lance any harm!

    You can buy a 36T inner ring and change it yourself, or for minimal hassle get your LBS to fit it.

    Once you start racing your strength will improve and you won't need to go back to the 34T inner (unless you're in a brutally hilly area).
    Good luck!

    http://www.gregarios.co.uk
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    At the moment I rarely use the inner ring (i assume you're talking about the chainring (I'm not 100% on all the terminology :oops: )) except for bigger hills but I do find myself in the big chain ring and smallest sprocket on the back quite often and I'm concerned that I'd need a very high cadence (in excess of 100rpm) to keep up with the pack

    If you regularly find yourself at 100RPM in you biggest gear, then you should be able to walk all over a 4th cat race regardless of your equipment. 100RPM in 50x12 gives a speed of around 33mph - that's seriously quick unless you are sprinting or descending...

    You should be able to race on the compact, possibly add an 11T sprocket for sprints...

    Well, I can't resist any longer. I don't buy the claim of riding in a 50-12 "quite often". :roll: :roll:
  • rake
    rake Posts: 3,204
    edited March 2010
  • de_sisti
    de_sisti Posts: 1,283
    dennisn wrote:
    At the moment I rarely use the inner ring (i assume you're talking about the chainring (I'm not 100% on all the terminology :oops: )) except for bigger hills but I do find myself in the big chain ring and smallest sprocket on the back quite often and I'm concerned that I'd need a very high cadence (in excess of 100rpm) to keep up with the pack

    If you regularly find yourself at 100RPM in you biggest gear, then you should be able to walk all over a 4th cat race regardless of your equipment. 100RPM in 50x12 gives a speed of around 33mph - that's seriously quick unless you are sprinting or descending...

    You should be able to race on the compact, possibly add an 11T sprocket for sprints...

    Well, I can't resist any longer. I don't buy the claim of riding in a 50-12 "quite often". :roll: :roll:

    Well, what he didn't say what his cadence/speed was when he was in his biggest gear.
    I suspect he was going a lot slower than he is prepared to admit. :wink:
  • Harry B
    Harry B Posts: 1,239
    maander wrote:
    dennisn wrote:
    At the moment I rarely use the inner ring (i assume you're talking about the chainring (I'm not 100% on all the terminology :oops: )) except for bigger hills but I do find myself in the big chain ring and smallest sprocket on the back quite often and I'm concerned that I'd need a very high cadence (in excess of 100rpm) to keep up with the pack

    If you regularly find yourself at 100RPM in you biggest gear, then you should be able to walk all over a 4th cat race regardless of your equipment. 100RPM in 50x12 gives a speed of around 33mph - that's seriously quick unless you are sprinting or descending...

    You should be able to race on the compact, possibly add an 11T sprocket for sprints...

    Well, I can't resist any longer. I don't buy the claim of riding in a 50-12 "quite often". :roll: :roll:

    Well, what he didn't say what his cadence/speed was when he was in his biggest gear.
    I suspect he was going a lot slower than he is prepared to admit. :wink:

    Okay chaps read the thread. What I said was that I do find myself in the bigger gears quite often. I then went on to suggest a concern that I would need to have a cadence of around 100rpm to keep up in a race. The keyword there for the hard of thinking is CONCERN. For the avoidance of doubt I did not say that I am regulalry in the big gears at 100 rpm. If I am anywhere near that cadence it would be on a downhill section. I'm still fairly new to riding and never yet raced (other than TTs) so I'm quite happy to admit what my performance is currently like. Hence raising the question in the first place!

    In respect of current performance my 10 mile TT time is around 29 minutes. Okay happy now! Plenty of room for improvement which will hopefully come with racing experience
  • freehub
    freehub Posts: 4,257
    I don't understand why people seem to start thinking that if they're going to race a compact won't work? I can be pedaling in 50/12 at over 40mph.
  • freehub wrote:
    I don't understand why people seem to start thinking that if they're going to race a compact won't work? I can be pedaling in 50/12 at over 40mph.

    Yeh but you are Pro
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  • freehub wrote:
    I don't understand why people seem to start thinking that if they're going to race a compact won't work? I can be pedaling in 50/12 at over 40mph.

    Not according to Sheldon Brown you can't... That gear would spin out at 39.1mph, assuming you were keeping up a steady Cadence of 120. Which I don't reckon you can. At a more reasonable 100rpm, it's 32.6mph.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • freehub wrote:
    I don't understand why people seem to start thinking that if they're going to race a compact won't work? I can be pedaling in 50/12 at over 40mph.

    Not according to Sheldon Brown you can't... That gear would spin out at 39.1mph, assuming you were keeping up a steady Cadence of 120. Which I don't reckon you can. At a more reasonable 100rpm, it's 32.6mph.

    Err.....Sheldon Brown said nothing of the sort.

    The Hubmeister didn't say he sustained 140rpm for long periods of time. Hell I've pedalled to 40mph in 50/13
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  • Just changed from compact back to a 39 / 53 arrangement and wont be going back to compact. When riding I found I was constantly changing between chainrings to get the right gear (because I wanted to avoid the extremes of chainline) - just didn't seem to suit me, my riding pace (not particularly fast) and cadence.
    Also re the comments about speed - when I did have the compact on I had a problem on a long gradual downhill section in a fast chaingang group - I ran out of gears (that I could pedal comfortably without bouncing) and someone had to push me through to the front! It was only one occasion though and I also know I have a tendency towards a slower cadence.
    Bakewell Toybox
    Bakewell
    Derbyshire

    www.welovetoys.co.uk
  • freehub wrote:
    I don't understand why people seem to start thinking that if they're going to race a compact won't work? I can be pedaling in 50/12 at over 40mph.

    Not according to Sheldon Brown you can't... That gear would spin out at 39.1mph, assuming you were keeping up a steady Cadence of 120. Which I don't reckon you can. At a more reasonable 100rpm, it's 32.6mph.

    Err.....Sheldon Brown said nothing of the sort.

    The Hubmeister didn't say he sustained 140rpm for long periods of time. Hell I've pedalled to 40mph in 50/13

    Just going on the gear calculator on the great mans website.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • prawny
    prawny Posts: 5,440
    I regularly (at least once a day) hit 27mph+ in 36/15 am I god? :D
    Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
    Voodoo Bizango - 2014 - Dead - Hit by a car
    Vitus Sentier VRS - 2017
  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,708
    freehub wrote:
    I don't understand why people seem to start thinking that if they're going to race a compact won't work? I can be pedaling in 50/12 at over 40mph.

    Not according to Sheldon Brown you can't... That gear would spin out at 39.1mph, assuming you were keeping up a steady Cadence of 120. Which I don't reckon you can. At a more reasonable 100rpm, it's 32.6mph.
    120rpm isn't exactly fast spinning...
  • Homer J
    Homer J Posts: 920
    Your best bet is to just go and race, if you feel you need bigger gears you'll know the answer :)
  • whyamihere wrote:
    freehub wrote:
    I don't understand why people seem to start thinking that if they're going to race a compact won't work? I can be pedaling in 50/12 at over 40mph.

    Not according to Sheldon Brown you can't... That gear would spin out at 39.1mph, assuming you were keeping up a steady Cadence of 120. Which I don't reckon you can. At a more reasonable 100rpm, it's 32.6mph.
    120rpm isn't exactly fast spinning...


    That's bloody fast spinning where i'm from!

    Have a play for yerselves, i'm probably doing it wrong...

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/

    Incidentally, I used to race with a guy who did all his road races on a compact, I remember seeinghim sprinting on it, whirling it over at about 120rpm and going backwards in a 50x15. Nothing scientific there, was just funny to watch.

    I've always used a standard 53/39, just due to ignorance I think, I've never felt i needed anything else.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,708
    whyamihere wrote:
    freehub wrote:
    I don't understand why people seem to start thinking that if they're going to race a compact won't work? I can be pedaling in 50/12 at over 40mph.

    Not according to Sheldon Brown you can't... That gear would spin out at 39.1mph, assuming you were keeping up a steady Cadence of 120. Which I don't reckon you can. At a more reasonable 100rpm, it's 32.6mph.
    120rpm isn't exactly fast spinning...


    That's bloody fast spinning where i'm from!

    Have a play for yerselves, i'm probably doing it wrong...

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/
    Your calculations are right, but your assertion that 120rpm is too much is wrong. My usual cadence when cruising is between 105rpm and 115rpm. It's just how I like to ride, and what works for me.

    If your natural cadence is around 80, then 120 would seem very fast. For me, 80 feels painfully slow. Basically, not everyone's the same.
  • prawny
    prawny Posts: 5,440
    I haven't got a cadence comp on my bike so I don't know how fast I can go on the road. I've hit over 180rpm on my stationary bike at home.
    Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
    Voodoo Bizango - 2014 - Dead - Hit by a car
    Vitus Sentier VRS - 2017
  • prawny
    prawny Posts: 5,440
    I can confirm whyamihere is a spinner. I've since adopted the same technique, it stops me getting lead legs.
    Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
    Voodoo Bizango - 2014 - Dead - Hit by a car
    Vitus Sentier VRS - 2017
  • freehub
    freehub Posts: 4,257
    freehub wrote:
    I don't understand why people seem to start thinking that if they're going to race a compact won't work? I can be pedaling in 50/12 at over 40mph.

    Not according to Sheldon Brown you can't... That gear would spin out at 39.1mph, assuming you were keeping up a steady Cadence of 120. Which I don't reckon you can. At a more reasonable 100rpm, it's 32.6mph.

    Err.....Sheldon Brown said nothing of the sort.

    The Hubmeister didn't say he sustained 140rpm for long periods of time. Hell I've pedalled to 40mph in 50/13

    Indeed I did not say sustained, it'd be hard to do so, it was down a hill at 45mph and I was still pedaling, might have lasted a couple of mins, if I remember rightly when I hit 50mph somewhere in the peaks I was still pedaling then too. I'm am 100% confident if I got good at racing I could keep up in sprints/win on a 34/50 with 27-12 cassette.
  • eh
    eh Posts: 4,854
    Back to the original question, start by putting a 11-23 block on, that should sort most things.

    Why does everyone seem to think 40mph is around the max speed in a race? I've raced up 50mph on various courses around the SE England / Midlands region and at this speed even 53x12 needs a high cadence.

    NB: Despite what LA says cadences over 100+ are not new.
  • freehub
    freehub Posts: 4,257
    eh wrote:
    Back to the original question, start by putting a 11-23 block on, that should sort most things.

    Why does everyone seem to think 40mph is around the max speed in a race? I've raced up 50mph on various courses around the SE England / Midlands region and at this speed even 53x12 needs a high cadence.

    NB: Despite what LA says cadences over 100+ are not new.

    That was likely down a hill though and is possible on a compact too. I don't think it's likely you'd be hitting 50mph on the flat unless you where pros.