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Gears advice

edited September 2011 in Road beginners
I'm thinking of purchasing my first ever road bike and am looking at either Specialized Secteur Sport Triple (£800 with 27 gears) or the Spec. Secteur Elite (£1000 and 20 gears). Does a triple with 27 gears just give you the same gear range but with more gears in between making it more suitable for a novice? Why does the more expensive bike have fewer gears?


  • Get the elite with APEX - its fab (well see my posts about being faster on new bike for details) but run an online gear calculator on the set ups on both and check the ratios. I needed super low due to being v fat and unfit but if you need em its fab!

    Elite is a lovely bike as well and super confortable - if you have spesh concept store near you (check the spesh webiste and it will tell you your nearest) they should have both models as test bikes (or can get them). I had an Elite for a weeks loan before I decided to get it so I knew exactly how it would be for me on my local hills.
  • A triple will generally give you lower gears than a standard double or a compact. Whether that's of any use to you depends on your legs and where you're riding -- if you don't have steep hills, you don't need a triple. If you do have hills, you might benefit from it or might not.

    The number of gears available doesn't really mean anything and isn't useful for comparison purposes. What's more interesting is the lowest gear, highest gear, and gear spacing in the most commonly used range. Those 27 gears will have a lot more duplication, and more combinations that you'll never use in practice, than a 20 speed setup. For example, you won't use the 50/25 gear on a triple, since the 39/20 gear provides almost exactly the same ratio and doesn't require crossing the chain and wearing out your drivetrain.

    An Apex setup with a compact chain ring and the 11-32T cassette (so 20 gears) will provide just as much range as a triple with a 12-25T cassette and 27 gears. The only disadvantage is that you won't have as many low gears to choose from, which might be an issue if you do lots and lots of climbing.

    Bottom line: forget the number of gears. If the lowest gear is low enough to get you up whatever hills you have locally, that's what matters.
  • GizmodoGizmodo Posts: 1,928
    From what I've read, people who are new to cycling and regularly do big hills often choose the triple as it has a lower low gear. Typically they report that after a few months they never use the lowest gear and then start posting on here asking how they can change to a compact.

    The triple is also useful if you plan to tour on the bike, carrying the extra weight of camping gear.

    If you are reasonably fit and/or will be cycling reasonably flat routes for the first few months of cycling, then I would go with the compact (the Elite).

    I haven't tried a tripple, but I have tried both standard and compact front mech and I noticed that getting up hills isn't that much easier whichever one you choose - it's more about fitness.

    Definitely good advice from wishitwasallflat - go to your nearest store if you can and borrow one of each, at least for a couple of hours.
  • I have a Boardman with SRAM Apex.

    It is my first road bike in the last 27 years and the first serious hill I tried I had to use every gear I had to get up, but I did get up. There is no way I would have managed it without Apex gears.

    When I get stronger and fitter I will look to more covetional setups but at the monent the Apex are a godsend.
    Cube Agree GTC Pro
    Boardman Comp
    Carrera Subway Hybrid
  • Thanks to everyone for their prompt and informative responses - I think I'm swaying towards the 20 gear Elite.
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,175
    A triple allows you to have a wide range of gears without compromising the gear spacing. A double forces you to choose either between a close ratio back block or a wide range of gears. A compact lessens this to some extent but is something of a halfway house; you'll spend more time swapping rings on the front than you would with the triple.

    The end result of a triple is that you spend most of your time in that very convenient 39T or 40T middle ring, occasionally dropping to the granny gear for tough ascents and equally occasionally popping up to the big ring for seriously fast descents.

    A triple is easier to live with than a compact IMO. Even after 5 months of riding with it I have not got used to a compact.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    On Strava.{/url}
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