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do YOU use a compact?

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  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    sub55 is right, whether you have a compact or not is not what matters, what matters is the range of gears you have, and to a lesser extent how these are distributed between the small ring and the big ring.

    The size of your chain rings (a compact has smaller ones) is only one of the two factors influencing your range of gears.

    Asking whether a compact or standard is easier/better on hills/whatever is a bit like asking whether drinking wine out of a large glass or a small one will make you less drunk - It also depends on how much to put in it.. :wink:

    Look here, and try putting in the values for the setups you are considering. This will let you compare the actual gears you will get.

    I used to use a compact 50/36 with an 11-23 cassette. I now use a 53/39 with a 12-25 cassette. Not only is the range of gears (for all practical purposes) identical between the two, their distribution between the large and small rings is too. These two setups feel exactly the same.

    Note however that most compacts are 50/34 rather than 50/36, which means that the jump between the chainrings is greater (the jump between 50 and 36 is practically the same as between 53 and 39). This is why when I had a compact I swapped the 34 ring for a 36, and the general difficulty in getting hold of 36T rings was the main reason I went for a standard setup with my next groupset.

    IF you need a lower gear than a 39 27 (or maybe a 39 29, as campag at least now do a standard cassette with a 29 tooth largest sprocket) THEN it is worth getting a compact, as a 34 27 or a 36 27 will give you an easier lowest gear. If not, there is no real advantage (or significant disadvantage) in having a compact.
  • ProssPross Posts: 34,821
    I use a double and always have (currently with a 12 - 25 cassette but most of my cycling life has been with a 13-21) but I never understand this argument that you will spin out on a compact. I have never raced on a 52 x 13 and spun out other than on descents but if you are spinning out on a descent you may as well tuck up, freewheel and have a rest. A 50 x 11 or even a 50 x 12 gives you a bigger gear. I am hoping to get a compact fitted for riding in the Alps next summer as I am doing a long ride and want to save my legs a bit and even locally I have found some climbs since I started riding again to be a struggle even though I now have much smaller gears available than ever before and a 27 or 28 would have been welcome a few times but as I'm getting fitter and a bit lighter this is improving. My biggest issue with a compact is that they usually come with a 50 / 34 set up which gives quite a drop when changing from the big ring to the small ring. If I get a compact fitted I think I will put a 36 on for normal riding to overcome this.
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,513
    neeb wrote:
    I used to use a compact 50/36 with an 11-23 cassette. I now use a 53/39 with a 12-25 cassette. Not only is the range of gears (for all practical purposes) identical between the two, their distribution between the large and small rings is too. These two setups feel exactly the same.

    so after switching your gearing, your net gain is precisely.......nothing...?? Which begs the question - why bother..??
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    so after switching your gearing, your net gain is precisely.......nothing...?? Which begs the question - why bother..??
    I was getting a new groupset in any case. I still have the compact on bike no. 2...
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,513
    neeb wrote:
    so after switching your gearing, your net gain is precisely.......nothing...?? Which begs the question - why bother..??
    I was getting a new groupset in any case. I still have the compact on bike no. 2...

    sorry, I thought you were arguing in favour of doubles.. ;)

    In practice, probably about 90% of the ratios you get on a typical double set up are also available on a compact. The idea of 'spinning faster' on a compact is a bit of a myth anyway - like sub55 says, you only spin faster if you select a lower gear.

    I'll probably put a 36 on my inner next season, as I find the drop from the 50 a big too big at the moment - although the inner is rarely needed for racing anyway....
  • nmcgannnmcgann Posts: 1,780
    I use 38-39/50 with 12-21 or 12-23 on my road bikes (training+general riding) and 44/53 with 11-21 for racing TTs. I stick on a 12-27 cassette for serious hills.

    It's interesting to hear what gearing other people use, but I'm the one that rides my bikes so I use the gearing that suits me :wink:
    --
    "Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain."
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    softlad wrote:
    neeb wrote:
    I used to use a compact 50/36 with an 11-23 cassette. I now use a 53/39 with a 12-25 cassette. Not only is the range of gears (for all practical purposes) identical between the two, their distribution between the large and small rings is too. These two setups feel exactly the same.

    so after switching your gearing, your net gain is precisely.......nothing...?? Which begs the question - why bother..??

    His net gain is a heavier bike. Heh heh.
  • sub55sub55 Posts: 1,025
    NapoleonD wrote:
    softlad wrote:
    neeb wrote:
    I used to use a compact 50/36 with an 11-23 cassette. I now use a 53/39 with a 12-25 cassette. Not only is the range of gears (for all practical purposes) identical between the two, their distribution between the large and small rings is too. These two setups feel exactly the same.

    so after switching your gearing, your net gain is precisely.......nothing...?? Which begs the question - why bother..??

    His net gain is a heavier bike. Heh heh.

    more efficient tho
    constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    His net gain is a heavier bike. Heh heh.
    Yeah, I did consider that... In the end it was a tossup between saving about 25g and the manly aura of big rings... I figured that while I wouldn't notice either way when riding, big rings are visible to others while 25g isn't. :)
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    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.

    Bit pedantic? I'm assuming normal distribution of gears. I might as well use the same argument against your favouring of the triple; why do you need a triple if you are using the right gear at a given time with a double or compact?
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Ok, So basically I should stay with my double?

    I just thought that (forgetting the rear cassette for a moment as that stays the same) a 34T would be easier to spin on the steep hills than a 39T but a triple would be overkill.....
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    jame58rown wrote:
    Ok, So basically I should stay with my double?

    I just thought that (forgetting the rear cassette for a moment as that stays the same) a 34T would be easier to spin on the steep hills than a 39T but a triple would be overkill.....
    Do you feel you need lower gears, i.e. is the reason you are not spinning more on the hills because you are already in your lowest gear? If you still have lower gears that you are not using, a compact won't make any difference.

    But if you are often on your smallest chainring and largest sprocket at the back, lower gears would help.

    But it's probably easier to change your cassette than to change to a compact (unless you already have large sprockets on the back). What cassette are you currently using?
  • ProssPross Posts: 34,821
    jame58rown wrote:
    Ok, So basically I should stay with my double?

    I just thought that (forgetting the rear cassette for a moment as that stays the same) a 34T would be easier to spin on the steep hills than a 39T but a triple would be overkill.....

    That is true in theory but what may happen is that you find you keep pedalling at the same rate and just go up the hill more slowly. The lower gearing will make the climb less demanding on your legs either way though.
  • Standard double on my TT and road bikes.
    COmpact double on my CX bike (which doubles as commuter)

    Triple (24-38-50) on tourer. BAsically a standard road double with a "bail out" bottom gear, used only for winching children's trailer up hills (100-150 lbs depending on which children are in it, and how much "essential" kit is in the back).

    Only trouble i have with hills is winching my standard commuter up the local 1-in-6 hill to work. On 42-16 fixed. I just take it steady...

    In reality, I'd rather a compact than a standard on my road bike, but don't have a spare (and don't want to put the standard double on the CX bike).
    Commute: Langster -Singlecross - Brompton S2-LX

    Road: 95 Trek 5500 -Look 695 Aerolight eTap - Boardman TTe eTap

    Offroad: Pace RC200 - Dawes Kickback 2 tandem - Tricross - Boardman CXR9.8 - Ridley x-fire
  • Rolf F wrote:
    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.

    Bit pedantic? I'm assuming normal distribution of gears. I might as well use the same argument against your favouring of the triple; why do you need a triple if you are using the right gear at a given time with a double or compact?

    More overlap between the rings will increase flexibility making it more likely that you get 'just that right gear' and reduce the necessity for compound changes.

    Not really a big practical issue as personally I'm unlikely to change rings just to tweek the exact gear ratio, but sometimes the lack of decent overlap between the rings on my compact is a bit annoying.

    The Di2 electronic shifters will change things a bit - I've heard talk about programming the controller such that the rider simply selects to increase or reduce the ratio, then the electronics will change the front and rear derailers as necessary to get the next available ratio - no more worrying about which ring to use.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    The Di2 electronic shifters will change things a bit - I've heard talk about programming the controller such that the rider simply selects to increase or reduce the ratio, then the electronics will change the front and rear derailers as necessary to get the next available ratio - no more worrying about which ring to use.
    Interesting, although it could be scary changing gears on hills (or anywhere else for that matter) and not knowing whether the chainring was going to change. The way in which you moderate your pedaling to allow for a smooth change is different when you change at the front as opposed to the back.

    I guess eventually bikes will have all sorts of different gear changing modes you can set, just like modern SLR cameras compared to old manuals where you just had to set aperture and shutter speed. You will have manual gear change modes, cadence priority, hill mode, etc etc...

    I'm dreading it!
  • Are the cranks on your standard and the compact the same length?

    I can climb any hills here with a standard and 28 cassette (there's one I haven't tried; it's 24% and 400 odd metres long) but only in standing position.

    Sitting and climbing damages my knees so I just fitted a triple.

    It has much shorter cranks than the standard and is harder to push on flat or hills.

    It's all very well to say it doesn't matter what gear set you have but you've got to be able to push the things without doing physical damage.

    This is a long term thing; not just one day of riding.
  • sub55sub55 Posts: 1,025
    ireland57 wrote:
    Are the cranks on your standard and the compact the same length?

    I can climb any hills here with a standard and 28 cassette (there's one I haven't tried; it's 24% and 400 odd metres long) but only in standing position.

    Sitting and climbing damages my knees so I just fitted a triple.

    It has much shorter cranks than the standard and is harder to push on flat or hills.

    It's all very well to say it doesn't matter what gear set you have but you've got to be able to push the things without doing physical damage.

    This is a long term thing; not just one day of riding.

    well change gear
    constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly
  • sub55sub55 Posts: 1,025
    Rolf F wrote:
    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.

    Bit pedantic? I'm assuming normal distribution of gears. I might as well use the same argument against your favouring of the triple; why do you need a triple if you are using the right gear at a given time with a double or compact?

    should point out that i dont own ,nor ever have owned a triple. i dont need one.
    i do appriciate that one would give a rider a bigger overall range of usable gears, which in turn makes it more likely that you`ll find the appropiate number of inches at any given time.


    what you dont seem to appriciate is , the bigger the chain ring and the bigger
    the sprocket you use, to arrive at the gear you need . the better the mechanical efficiency .
    beyond that the bigger the chain ring , the smaller the percentage increase/ decrease interms of inches when you change to a different sprocket on the back.
    which makes it easier to maintain a steady cadence. which is why i use a 56 tooth chain ring on my tt bike .
    constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly
  • AlibranAlibran Posts: 370
    I've never understood all this discussion about double vs compact.

    Unless you're riding at a high enough level that every gram of weight matters, surely it makes more sense to use a triple. You still have a double, but with an extra ring for those rides where you overdo it and tire yourself out, or when you come across an unexpected nasty hill.

    I use a triple, and when I was fit I very, very rarely used the granny ring. Now I'm coming back after a year of not cycling, I live in a hilly area, and I'm very glad of it.

    Best of both worlds.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    sub55 wrote:
    what you dont seem to appriciate is...........

    I do understand what you are getting at but if you want to make a worthwhile argument of it, you'd be better off explaining it in terms of gear inches for specific cassettes and chainring arrangements as well as the benefits in mechanical advantage in real terms.

    If I can get the same bottom gear and top gear from a standard, without any other compromise, I'd consider that option. But as I don't see any disadvantage in the compact as it is, why change? I would guess that the compact benefits most when you are shifting between small ring focussed climb mode and large ring focussed flat mode - the standard benefitting more on flatter, more rolling countryside.

    TBH, what I am struggling to "appriciate" is your spelling and grammer! It doesn't exactly help. You should be constantly re-evaluating the spelling and altering the punctuation accordingly :lol:
    Faster than a tent.......
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Alibran wrote:
    I've never understood all this discussion about double vs compact.

    Unless you're riding at a high enough level that every gram of weight matters, surely it makes more sense to use a triple. You still have a double, but with an extra ring for those rides where you overdo it and tire yourself out, or when you come across an unexpected nasty hill.

    I use a triple, and when I was fit I very, very rarely used the granny ring. Now I'm coming back after a year of not cycling, I live in a hilly area, and I'm very glad of it.

    Best of both worlds.

    If you need a triple, use one. I don't need a triple on my road bike and do live in a hilly area. But then I like the climbing! I did spend a fair bit on my bike so weighing it down for no benefit (for me) would be silly. The double is simpler too. I do have a bike with a triple though so if I was concerned about relying on the compact, I have that backup. But that bike has a touring triple with much lower gears (I think) than a road triple - and on the other hand as well it is much heavier than the road bike. It isn't a straightforward argument!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    Yup, its horses for courses, I very, very rarely drop to the inner ring of my compact, so a triple would be a complete waste.
  • Standard, compact, or triple? This is the way I see it:
    Standard or compact - If standard gives you a low enough gear to climb hills, then just keep your standard and choose the right rear cassette.
    Compact or triple - My understanding, beyond just weight savings, is that a compact will present you with less front chainring shifting "issues" as compared to a triple. A lot of people will probably never use the granny gear, as the compact with an appropriately sized cassette tends to give a low enough gear to tackle most hills effectively.

    My recommendation to you is that, if you find it difficult to climb hills with your current setup, find out if you can get a cassette with a larger rear cog (a 28, or if using Campy, a 29). Cranks are a lot pricier than swapping the rear cassette, and you can always throw in your "extra" cassette on a cheap rear wheel you can use when on a trainer, or just in case you bust your wheel.

    I recently went to France for some riding with a friend of mine. He had a standard, with 39/25 as his lowest gear. I had my compact with 34/25. I found I could spin much better than he was (when going uphill) - he could have definitely used a larger cog (27) in some instances. However, when descending, he definitely had a small advantage. Overall, unless we were climbing hills over 7% for an extended period of time, or descending at a fairly fast clip, there was no difference. Save your money, buy lighter wheels. Light wheels is definitely something that I can get behind.
  • Bar ShakerBar Shaker Posts: 2,313
    I have a 50/34 and have changed from a 12-25 to 11-25. This has just given me enough to stop spinning out on the steep descents.
    Boardman Elite SLR 9.2S
    Boardman FS Pro
  • Alibran wrote:
    I've never understood all this discussion about double vs compact.

    Unless you're riding at a high enough level that every gram of weight matters, surely it makes more sense to use a triple. You still have a double, but with an extra ring for those rides where you overdo it and tire yourself out, or when you come across an unexpected nasty hill.

    I use a triple, and when I was fit I very, very rarely used the granny ring. Now I'm coming back after a year of not cycling, I live in a hilly area, and I'm very glad of it.

    Best of both worlds.

    I've got a compact triple. Not that I need it, it's just that Wiggle were selling off Focus Cayo with compact triple a couple of years ago for £799 reduced from £999. The same bike now is £1200! I've used the triple twice, once was last week on Toys Hill during sportive. I felt so wicked....
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • gavintcgavintc Posts: 3,009
    I have both, for most riding that I do, the 53/39 is perfectly adequate. But, I have found that the 34-25 ratio a very useful gear when you are tired and you are on a steep hill toward the end of a sportive. So, I am quite content to keep a compact on my good bike.
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,786
    Has anyone mentioned SRAM Apex? Biggest sprocket is a 32. Makes triple even less necessary.
  • I use a compact, but i've had the small ring changed to a 36 coupled with a 12-25 i find it just enough to get me over the hills near me, any steeper tho and i think i'd struggle, may opt for a 12-27 eventually.

    Im not really bothered about speed at the moment, so i tend to find myself spinning around in the small ring a lot of the time, only really use the 50 for pan flat, going down and sprinting. :oops:

    I probly need to start putting a bit more effort in.....


    ....maybe next year, eh 8)
  • inseine wrote:
    Has anyone mentioned SRAM Apex? Biggest sprocket is a 32. Makes triple even less necessary.

    True. I've also seen some people install mountain bike cassettes and medium or long rear derailleur cages on their road bikes for big hill tackling without the need for triples.

    Again, for riding mostly in the flats, I think a 53/39 standard config with a 12/25 or 11/25 would more than suffice and allow most to climb the ocassional road overpass.

    For an area with long hills or mountains, I think I would personally choose a compact with a 11/25 or 12/29 configuration. (I am listing Campy cassette options).
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