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do YOU use a compact?

jame58rownjame58rown Posts: 263
edited October 2010 in Road beginners
The title says it all really.
I would like to know because I currently use a double (53/38t) and was reading an article in a cycling magazine saying:

"How many people really need the same chainset ratios as the pros? A compact should be the norm."

Will larger gears be detrimental to my cycling? Should I use a compact untill my legs are strong enough to push the larger gears? Or should I carry on using my double and allow my legs to get stronger by using it?

Oh and will I go slower with a lower rpm on a double or a higher rpm on a compact?

So many questions, sorry if it's a bit jumbled :roll:

Cheers

P.S I don't live in a flat area by any stretch of the imagination, and my rpm drops quite a bit on steep hills, however I can spin a bit faster than I could when I first got the bike 9 months ago.
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  • graeme_s-2graeme_s-2 Posts: 3,382
    Depends on your cassette as well. I have two road bikes. One has a compact, the other a double, but with different cassettes. The bike with the double has a higher top gear, and a lower bottom gear than the bike with the compact.
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,746
    There's no reason why your cadence should be different with the two systems for 95% of the time. You're not going to spin out on your compact until really motoring, likewise you not going to need 34x25 or whatever unless it's super steep. Depends which end of the spectrum you tend to run out of gears.
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    Compact on the Allez, Double on the Slice.

    Apart from the higher top gear on the Slice, I don't notice a great deal of difference, I've never been left wanting for a gear on either, I just ride them!!, mind you, its fairly flat where I am.

    spinning out the Allez is about 35mph, have yet to spin out on the slice though.....
  • of course on the flat there is no issue, however on hills you should be able to spin much faster if you have a compact over a double if your legs aren't powefull enough. Right?

    Will not being able to have a high cadence on steep climbs have any effect on my training?
    Should I just keep my double and allow my legs to get stronger until I can keep a high cadence on climbs, or will this do more harm than good in any way?

    Thanks
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    jame58rown wrote:
    of course on the flat there is no issue, however on hills you should be able to spin much faster if you have a compact over a double if your legs aren't powefull enough. Right?

    Will not being able to have a high cadence on steep climbs have any effect on my training?
    Should I just keep my double and allow my legs to get stronger until I can keep a high cadence on climbs, or will this do more harm than good in any way?

    Thanks

    Depends on what gears are available to you on your setup/s.
  • A higher cadence is good, it shouldn't tire the legs out so much. But, the important thing is that some people will grind a big gear, where others will spin a smaller gear and both will do the same speed.

    If you feel that you need smaller gears for the hills, then go for a compact. I run a 34/50 with a 11/25 cassette and will continue to use these ratios. I have good gears for climbing, but still a big enough gear for 30mph+ runs.
    jedster wrote:
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    FCN 3 or 4 on road depending on clothing
    FCN 8 off road because I'm too old to go racing around.
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,587
    james - compact will do you no harm and will give you a better range of climbing gears, which is what you need round here. I only use a compact (50/34 + 12/25) and have no trouble racing on them either.

    Riding a standard double in this neck of the woods is miserable.....
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,746
    If you live somewhere hilly your better off with a compact since 34x25 compared to 39x25 means you'll rev at 68 as apposed 60 at 7.5mph, so i think it's noticable.
    On the 12 at 35mph the difference is between 95 and 100, which is no great shakes IMO.
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    Was using a compact with 11-23. Now have a 12-26 for "hillier" stuff.
    Will have a standard with 11-23 on my TT bike when built.
  • Thanks for the help,

    looks like I'm gonna be getting a compact. I need to get a job, then I can start thinking about the upgrades my bike needs. :D

    Thanks again.
  • furragfurrag Posts: 481
    I ran a 53/39 12-25 as my first road bike for 7 months or so. I was quite a spinner, especially up hills!

    I got a 50/34 12-25 compact on a new Wilier Izoard, and my cadence has noticeably dropped, especially up the hills. I'm not spinning up them climbs anywhere near as much. :?
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    These days a lot of pros are riding compact anyway...
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,422
    furrag wrote:
    I ran a 53/39 12-25 as my first road bike for 7 months or so. I was quite a spinner, especially up hills!

    I got a 50/34 12-25 compact on a new Wilier Izoard, and my cadence has noticeably dropped, especially up the hills. I'm not spinning up them climbs anywhere near as much. :?


    Why would your cadence drop using a compact? Not following that at all.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    furrag wrote:
    I ran a 53/39 12-25 as my first road bike for 7 months or so. I was quite a spinner, especially up hills!

    I got a 50/34 12-25 compact on a new Wilier Izoard, and my cadence has noticeably dropped, especially up the hills. I'm not spinning up them climbs anywhere near as much. :?

    Eh? Most odd. Unless you're stuck in the big ring... :?
  • Compact for me.

    I am a fit 52 year old and I have just returned to cycling after a long lay off, I climbed on to a second hand Rayligh with big gears and wondered what had hit me, I was struggling on inclines never mind hills.

    However my new Giant Defy 2 came with a compact and its a huge difference, I am still building my climbing skills back up due to age and time out the saddle and the compact is helping.
  • furragfurrag Posts: 481
    dennisn wrote:
    Why would your cadence drop using a compact? Not following that at all.
    I can't make sense of it either. I was hoping a boffin would pull my post up and explain a very simple logical reason such as crank length.

    Perhaps NapD's right - I did spend a lot of time on my first bike stretching the chain in a 34/14 when on the flats, and I am spending time on the new one in the bigger chainring. On a compact though, I would have expected to be spinning up the hills more.

    I did read a post from jibberjim along the lines (if I recall correctly!) that you will try to find your cadence no matter the gear. Perhaps I'm just being lazy knowing I have gear inches in reserve so won't stall and fall. :lol:
  • pneumaticpneumatic Posts: 1,989
    edited September 2010
    I've got a road double (53/39), a compact (50/34) and a tourer (48/36/22)

    However, as has been said, don't forget the role of the cassette.

    My 48T front ring and 11T back ring give me a BIGGER top gear (116 inches) than my compact 50T and 12T (110) and the 53x12 only gives 117.5 inches.


    Fast and Bulbous
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    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • furrag wrote:
    I ran a 53/39 12-25 as my first road bike for 7 months or so. I was quite a spinner, especially up hills!

    I got a 50/34 12-25 compact on a new Wilier Izoard, and my cadence has noticeably dropped, especially up the hills. I'm not spinning up them climbs anywhere near as much. :?

    :?: very strange indeed...... perhaps it's a mental thing........

    I cant seem to find a reason why an easier gear ratio would induce grinding over spinning :?

    Black magic I tell you!! :wink:
  • NapoleonD wrote:
    These days a lot of pros are riding compact anyway...

    I always wondered about this, especially on mountain stages. Thanks for the info :D
    How do you know they use them though? I can't get any info on the web.

    Thanks.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    I watch a lot of racing on the tellybox!
  • BozmanBozman Posts: 2,570
    I've used a 53/39, 12/25 for 18yrs and this summer i bit the bullet and put a compact with a 11/23 cassette on one of my bikes, and its helped my wooden knees out no end.
    53/39 for everyday riding and the compact for the peaks. If i only had one bike i'd have a compact but i live in a hilly area.
  • I use a compact with an 11-28 on the back. I really enjoy attacking hills so it is ideal for me,

    When bike club TT chums come to visit, I have to take them on flat routes as they can't do the hills on their gearing., funny enough they are no quicker on the flat!...just to show each is suitable to the application
  • sub55sub55 Posts: 1,025
    forgive me , but i really dont understand the question.
    or most of the answers for that matter.
    you only need one gear as long as its the right one.
    with standing mechanical efficancy , it does`nt matter if you use a compact or a standard chainset. as long as you arrive at the gear you want at any given time.
    certainly will have no influence on your cadence , if you need to change gear ,then change. as simple as. if you happen to live in a hilly area and you need lower gears to get up the hill. i would be inclined to go for a triple because if its lumpy , you`ll spin out on the downs and a triple gives you a bigger range and surely thats what you want.
    on a slightly different ,but related vain ,you would always be better off with a bigger chain ring and bigger cassette to arrive at your optimum gear . so in my opinion , forget the compact and get a standard with bigger cassette. or , get a triple.
    constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    sub55 wrote:
    forgive me , but i really dont understand the question.

    Clearly you don't!!

    I actually ordered a standard for my new commuter. Then I saw sense and changed to a compact. I simply don't think I could face hitting the hill right outside my house on a standard every morning! Currently I use an old touring bike - that actually is a triple but I don't use the small ring for the commute. Compact is always a compromise but it is less painful in hilly country than a standard but avoids the complications of a triple that just isn't needed for the vast majority of West Yorks hills.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Sub55

    I don't really understand what your trying to say.
    So if you don't live in a hilly area use a double and if you live in a hilly use a triple?
    Your saying that you spin out on the downs with a compact, but if you use a triple you dont? :? (May have read that wrong)

    I don't believe that I would need the 'granny gear' on a triple as none of the hills round here are steep enough, so I would just change up a few gears on the cassette negligating the extra ring at the front.
  • sub55sub55 Posts: 1,025
    Rolf F wrote:
    sub55 wrote:
    forgive me , but i really dont understand the question.

    Clearly you don't!!

    I actually ordered a standard for my new commuter. Then I saw sense and changed to a compact. I simply don't think I could face hitting the hill right outside my house on a standard every morning! Currently I use an old touring bike - that actually is a triple but I don't use the small ring for the commute. Compact is always a compromise but it is less painful in hilly country than a standard but avoids the complications of a triple that just isn't needed for the vast majority of West Yorks hills.

    how is a compact less painful ?
    if you`re using the right gear at any given time, how you arrive at that gear is immaterial.
    constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly
  • sub55sub55 Posts: 1,025
    jame58rown wrote:
    Sub55

    I don't really understand what your trying to say.
    So if you don't live in a hilly area use a double and if you live in a hilly use a triple?
    Your saying that you spin out on the downs with a compact, but if you use a triple you dont? :? (May have read that wrong)

    I don't believe that I would need the 'granny gear' on a triple as none of the hills round here are steep enough, so I would just change up a few gears on the cassette negligating the extra ring at the front.
    Your saying that you spin out on the downs with a compact, but if you use a triple you dont
    a triple gives you a bigger range
    constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly
  • sub55 wrote:
    how is a compact less painful ?
    if you`re using the right gear at any given time, how you arrive at that gear is immaterial.

    A compact is less painfull than a double in the sense that if you arrive at a hill (unless you have powerfull leg muscles) it's easier to keep a decent cadence with a 34T over a 39T inner chainring.
  • A triple does have a bigger range true, but unless your climbing a very long hill over 25% gradient the smallest inner ring is just too small to be of any good imo (on a racing bike of course)
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