Alps gearing dilemma

bam49 Posts: 159
edited May 2011 in Road buying advice
Hi all,
I’m off on a 2 week High Alps trip in July and wanted a bit of advice re gearing. Daily mileage will be approx 40 – 65miles with two big climbs per day.. My current bike is a Felt F1 SL with a Dura Ace standard double with a 12-27 cassette. Although my previous bike ( Spesh Roubaix ) had a triple with a 12-25, I have been fine with the standard double and 12-27 on all the sportives I have done on it ( Etape du Dales, Dartmoor Classic, T of Dartmoor etc), – I think the lighter weight has helped compensate for the slightly higher gearing. I did an Alps trip on my triple 12-25 set up some 5 years ago and although I have done a lot more climbing since then, and the Felt is lighter than previous bike I’m thinking that a compact for the two weeks might be a better bet..
Do you think I should try a compact or mtfu and just use my current set up? – as I know the gradients are a lot easier than our hills in the uk – even though they go on for a lot longer …
Any suggestions for a decent compact set up that will work with my current DA 7800 shifters, front mech and 7900 rear mech and will not break the bank ? I have done a bit of googling and seen recommendations for Shimano R600 or R 700 - will these need a new bottom bracket ?
Sorry for the long winded post and questions but I’m torn between trying a compact or just renewing my current drivetrain…


  • rc856
    rc856 Posts: 1,144
    By the sounds of it, your current set up would do you fine.

    I was in the Alps about 5 yrs ago and got around ok on a 39x29.

    But....if it's easy/affordable enough for you to get a compact set up, why not?
    Better to have than have not in case you have an off day?

    I'm off to the Pyrenees in 2 weeks and I've put a 50/34 on this time around as I'm a bit older and not necessarily any fitter!!!!
  • SFT
    SFT Posts: 156
    We ride the Alps a lot during the summer, based around Ste Foy, and are doing La Route des Grande Alpes in July.
    I've gone for a compact as it gives lots of flexibility and it's nice to have somewhere to go after a few long days in the saddle so it might be the way to to go for a 2 week stint....
  • mrushton
    mrushton Posts: 5,182
    You are spending longer going uphill so why suffer. Get a cheap compact, 50/36,50/34 or a 48/34 will prob.give you a nice range of gears.
  • fred22
    fred22 Posts: 509
    mrushton wrote:
    You are spending longer going uphill so why suffer.

    Why suffer indeed? Best thing I did was go to a 13-29 cassette with a compact chainset, Campag so wont help you but the principle is sound, i.e. if you're going to have gears then get the gears that help you enjoy cycling.

    I've missed the 12 tooth cog a few times true, but I've welcomed the 29 tooth so many times and guess what? I enjoy cycling more

    Ignore anyone who says man up, unless you have a real ambition to become a club racer or pro cyclist.
  • maddog 2
    maddog 2 Posts: 8,114
    compact all the way. Sure the hills are not that steep but they are long. Your knees will thank you.

    Just fitted a new, black 105 compact to a mate's bike. Very tidy. £94 at Ribble.
    Facts are meaningless, you can use facts to prove anything that's remotely true! - Homer
  • bam49
    bam49 Posts: 159
    thanks for all the replies :), I think I might as well try one then, probably a 50/34 with either a 12-27 or 12-25 ... I will check out that 105 one ...
  • mrushton
    mrushton Posts: 5,182
    If it's good enough for Bertie...... ... -goes-apex
  • Guglielmo
    Guglielmo Posts: 579
    Def compact or triple but then thats shifter and mech too...
  • slow_step
    slow_step Posts: 18
    had a similar dilema last year gearing up for the etape. I chose to go for an 11-28 cassette in the end and keep the standard double. It did the trick but was a mental challenge as was in the 38 28 quite a lot, may not have needed a smaller gear but the idea of having some contingency would have made it easier I think
  • JamesB
    JamesB Posts: 1,184
    as above get a compact :) , at some point you may welcome the extra low gear, on 2 trips to Pyrenees and 1 to Spanish Sierras I have taken a 50/34 with a 29t large sprocket; didn`t use 29T much BUT was always glad that I had it as a bail out gear for that extra steep bit / or at higher altitudes (eg >2000m you may notice thinner air) near tops of cols.

    Whilst you may manage a 8-10% gradient on local UK hills OK without a compact teh same gradient after miles of climbing is a different matter altogether, and after a week I bet you`ll notice cumulative fatigue affects your gear choices.

    If you are worried about losing a top gear you can make up a hybrid set of ratios from 2 different cassettes, makes for a bad gear change at one point but can work OK :)