53/39 from 50/34. Will it make a noticeable difference?

bluedoggy
bluedoggy Posts: 284
edited March 2014 in Road general
A very kind friend of mine has given me 53/39 chain set. Will it make it harder for me on the hills? Or is there not much in it? Is it better? I live in the Bath area so lots of undulating hills etc. Also will I need a new bottom bracket? I have a standard chain set on my Wilier Izoard.
Wilier cento uno.
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Comments

  • Raffles
    Raffles Posts: 1,137
    I went from 53/39 to 50/34 because hills were killing me. I use 12-25 10 speed at the rear and wouldnt contemplate a return to 53/39, id leave the standard double to the racing guys.
    2012 Cannondale CAAD 8 105
  • Its bigger gearing sure but you should still be able to get up any hills with it. You just may shift between the front rings a little more

    I have the opposite issue where iam after 53-39 and stuck with compact for now. I never use the inner front ring so would benefit switching
  • In retrospect the only reason I want to swap is because it has a pro carbon cranks. I could simply swap the cranks and leave the original FSA rings I suppose come to think of it?
    Wilier cento uno.
  • If they fit go for it yeah
  • TakeTurns
    TakeTurns Posts: 1,075
    It'll make you stronger, lets put it that way. :)

    My first chainset was a 53/39 with 12-25 cassette. Any hill above 10% gradient would hurt. Now however, I can climb anything, combined with a 12-27.
  • If it fits without needing a new BB or chain, give it a go. Might be useful for a TT in future?
  • Strith
    Strith Posts: 541
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    In retrospect the only reason I want to swap is because it has a pro carbon cranks. I could simply swap the cranks and leave the original FSA rings I suppose come to think of it?

    They will almost certainly have different bcd's on each crankset. Check that.

    53/39 is all I need in the uk, but it depends on you and where you ride.
  • Strith wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    In retrospect the only reason I want to swap is because it has a pro carbon cranks. I could simply swap the cranks and leave the original FSA rings I suppose come to think of it?

    They will almost certainly have different bcd's on each crankset. Check that.

    53/39 is all I need in the uk, but it depends on you and where you ride.
    What's a 'bcd'?
    Wilier cento uno.
  • desweller
    desweller Posts: 5,175
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    Strith wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    In retrospect the only reason I want to swap is because it has a pro carbon cranks. I could simply swap the cranks and leave the original FSA rings I suppose come to think of it?

    They will almost certainly have different bcd's on each crankset. Check that.

    53/39 is all I need in the uk, but it depends on you and where you ride.
    What's a 'bcd'?

    Bolt circle diameter (also sometimes called PCD for pitch circle diameter) .

    If you drew a circle through all the screws holding the chainrings on, the BCD would be the diameter of that circle.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    On Strava.{/url}
  • DesWeller wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    Strith wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    In retrospect the only reason I want to swap is because it has a pro carbon cranks. I could simply swap the cranks and leave the original FSA rings I suppose come to think of it?

    They will almost certainly have different bcd's on each crankset. Check that.

    53/39 is all I need in the uk, but it depends on you and where you ride.
    What's a 'bcd'?

    Bolt circle diameter (also sometimes called PCD for pitch circle diameter) .

    If you drew a circle through all the screws holding the chainrings on, the BCD would be the diameter of that circle.

    Got it:)
    They are different. 130 on my existing bike. 110 on the new chainset:(

    What about changing the rear cassette instead? I just don't want to struggle with hills. Would this help? I'm not unfit. I ride 30 miles four to five days a week. I climb one short steep hill each time 7% I think?
    Wilier cento uno.
  • Hoopdriver
    Hoopdriver Posts: 2,023
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    DesWeller wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    Strith wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    In retrospect the only reason I want to swap is because it has a pro carbon cranks. I could simply swap the cranks and leave the original FSA rings I suppose come to think of it?

    They will almost certainly have different bcd's on each crankset. Check that.

    53/39 is all I need in the uk, but it depends on you and where you ride.
    What's a 'bcd'?

    Bolt circle diameter (also sometimes called PCD for pitch circle diameter) .

    If you drew a circle through all the screws holding the chainrings on, the BCD would be the diameter of that circle.

    Got it:)
    They are different. 130 on my existing bike. 110 on the new chainset:(

    What about changing the rear cassette instead? I just don't want to struggle with hills. Would this help? I'm not unfit. I ride 30 miles four to five days a week. I climb one short steep hill each time 7% I think?
    Changing the rear cassette might be a very good idea. I honestly cannot see the point of 53x39 for the vast, vast majority of cyclists, myself included. It's just an ego, macho thing. You are most unlikely to be spinning out in 50x11 and if you are outpacing such a gear chances are you are already in the pro ranks.
  • TakeTurns wrote:
    It'll make you stronger, lets put it that way. :)

    My first chainset was a 53/39 with 12-25 cassette. Any hill above 10% gradient would hurt. Now however, I can climb anything, combined with a 12-27.

    Me too. I could climb anything with my 53/39, 12-27.

    But I can climb a damn sight quicker now with my 50/34, 11-23.

    Why? Lower gear, higher cadence (=more power), tighter gear spread.

    If riding long days (150km+) in the Alps, I'll use an 11-28 to keep the cadence up on the steepest (8%+) climbs.
  • jscl
    jscl Posts: 1,015
    I find myself eating the hills with 53/39 and 11/25 much better than I was on compact gearing. Absolutely loving it since I upgraded. If you can maintain the cadence on the higher gearing that you'd be used to on the compact (which is what I aim for when climbing), it's a harder workout, but boy you can see the results on your route times.
    Follow me on Twitter - http://twitter.com/scalesjason - All posts are strictly my personal view.
  • I got back into cycling last year with a 34/50 and a 12/25 on the back. Didn't like it that much from the start - difference between big and small rings felt too big. I eventually but a 36T inner ring on which I got on with better.
    I'm now riding a winter bike with a 39/53 and 12/26 and am loving it. Where I live is pretty hilly (Cornwall) but I'm quite light <70kg, so that might be something to factor in.

    What I did before switching was try avoiding the lowest 2 gears just to see if I could handle the steepest hills around.
  • drlodge
    drlodge Posts: 4,826
    Love my 34/50 and 13-28/12-27 combinations (prevously had 42-52 chainset). I need the lowest gear on the steepest hills, chaning to a 39/53 would mean I'd struggle. I don't find the big gap of the 34-50 a big issue, but does mean changing chainrings quite often though. I just get used to it.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • So what rear cassette ratio would someone recommend to help with the hills? My current is 12/25.
    Wilier cento uno.
  • amaferanga
    amaferanga Posts: 6,789
    A 36 or 37 inner ring is better IME. That means you don't have to shift up at least 2 cogs at the back when you move to the big ring and for me with a 34/50 I found that the gear I wanted was too often right in the middle between being on the big and small ring - in other words I'd have a crossing chain too often. I don't get this with a 39/53 or a 37/52, but it was always a problem with a 34/50. Of course that could just be down to the speed I ride at, the terrain and my preferred cadence, but I've heard others say the same thing.
    More problems but still living....
  • amaferanga
    amaferanga Posts: 6,789
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    So what rear cassette ratio would someone recommend to help with the hills? My current is 12/25.

    Try a 12-27 when that one wears out. Any bigger range and the jump between some gears might become an issue and most road rear mechs are only rated up to a 27 or 28 sprocket anyway.
    More problems but still living....
  • amaferanga wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    So what rear cassette ratio would someone recommend to help with the hills? My current is 12/25.

    Try a 12-27 when that one wears out. Any bigger range and the jump between some gears might become an issue and most road rear mechs are only rated up to a 27 or 28 sprocket anyway.

    Ta :D
    Wilier cento uno.
  • drlodge
    drlodge Posts: 4,826
    My 12-27 which is 11 speed gives no more than 2 teeth between sprockets 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-25-27 but even 12-29 gives 3 teeth difference only on the 2 largest sprockets which would be used for steep hills and then its not a problem 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-26-29 - this is Campag by the way
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    Hoopdriver wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    DesWeller wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    Strith wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    In retrospect the only reason I want to swap is because it has a pro carbon cranks. I could simply swap the cranks and leave the original FSA rings I suppose come to think of it?

    They will almost certainly have different bcd's on each crankset. Check that.

    53/39 is all I need in the uk, but it depends on you and where you ride.
    What's a 'bcd'?

    Bolt circle diameter (also sometimes called PCD for pitch circle diameter) .

    If you drew a circle through all the screws holding the chainrings on, the BCD would be the diameter of that circle.

    Got it:)
    They are different. 130 on my existing bike. 110 on the new chainset:(

    What about changing the rear cassette instead? I just don't want to struggle with hills. Would this help? I'm not unfit. I ride 30 miles four to five days a week. I climb one short steep hill each time 7% I think?
    Changing the rear cassette might be a very good idea. I honestly cannot see the point of 53x39 for the vast, vast majority of cyclists, myself included. It's just an ego, macho thing. You are most unlikely to be spinning out in 50x11 and if you are outpacing such a gear chances are you are already in the pro ranks.


    I actually think a 50/34 was introduced as a macho thing for unfit cyclists. It makes ordinary riders look good as they spend so much more time in the big ring.
    I have a bike with a 50/34 chainset on it and for most occasions the inner ring is redundant. A 50/36 set up makes more sense if you really need a compact.
    For the OP a 12/27 cassette is the way to go first if the chainset and your current cassette don't work for you. I don't have too many problems on hills up to 10% riding a fixed 48/18 set up and I wouldn't class myself as a strong climber.
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    amaferanga wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    So what rear cassette ratio would someone recommend to help with the hills? My current is 12/25.

    Try a 12-27 when that one wears out. Any bigger range and the jump between some gears might become an issue and most road rear mechs are only rated up to a 27 or 28 sprocket anyway.

    Ta :D
    If you fit a 12-27 with the 53/39, your lowest gear for climbing will be about the same as your second lowest gear is now with 12-25 and 50/34. Actually it will be a tiny bit lower, but not as low as your current lowest gear. So if you can manage the hills at the moment without going into your absolute lowest gear, you will be fine with a 12-27 and 53/39. If you keep the 12-25 cassette when you fit the 53/39 however, it will be more like your current setup without using the two lowest gears on the sprokets (your lowest gear will be like your current third-lowest gear <edit: actually more like half way in between that and your second-lowest>).
  • neeb wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    amaferanga wrote:
    Bluedoggy wrote:
    So what rear cassette ratio would someone recommend to help with the hills? My current is 12/25.

    Try a 12-27 when that one wears out. Any bigger range and the jump between some gears might become an issue and most road rear mechs are only rated up to a 27 or 28 sprocket anyway.

    Ta :D
    If you fit a 12-27 with the 53/39, your lowest gear for climbing will be about the same as your second lowest gear is now with 12-25 and 50/34. Actually it will be a tiny bit lower, but not as low as your current lowest gear. So if you can manage the hills at the moment without going into your absolute lowest gear, you will be fine with a 12-27 and 53/39. If you keep the 12-25 cassette when you fit the 53/39 however, it will be more like your current setup without using the two lowest gears on the sprokets (your lowest gear will be like your current third-lowest gear <edit: actually more like half way in between that and your second-lowest>).

    Thanks
    My main route into Bath has one hill and i can choose not to cycle it if need be, but i love a challange and it can only get me fitter as some of you have already said. :D
    Anyone got an affordable Campag Cassette for sale?? :D
    Wilier cento uno.
  • Bobbinogs
    Bobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    Try using this really neat gear calculator and then you can work out what gear you use/need to see what is the same/difference more objectively:

    http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=24,3 ... 130&SL=2.5

    Go to the drop down lists and get your setup in and then see what changing the cassette/chainset will do to your range. Nice to see it visually and you can see how much overlap a lot of combinations offer, also how a decent cadence will offer a decent top speed, etc. The 'compare' feature is brilliant and the tool will also really help those folks who find they are always on the edge of changing the chainring and want may be one extra gear on the big to prevent that.

    FWIW, I have a standard 53/39 on a couple of bikes but use 13/28 (9 speed) at the back. On another bike I have a 50/34 and usually use a (9 speed) 12-25. The gearing range for both setups is about the same, albeit that there is a slightly bigger range on the compact and the compact (50/34) one does give me the option of a 12-27 for a route that really needed it (although I did the Kidderminster Killer this year on the 12-25 so haven't felt the need to rush out and buy a 12-27 yet). Ultimately, threads about gearing always end up in tears for some reason :cry:
  • Pigtail
    Pigtail Posts: 424
    I had 9 speed Tiagra 50/34 with 12-25 on the back. I struggled with hills and briefly moved to a 12-28. It really didn't seem to help much and was difficult to set-up. My rear mech could probably only safely cope with a 27 maximum. I went back to 12-25 and set out to climb more often and hills became slightly easier.

    This summer I did a few TTs and thought I wanted a higher gear. I picked up a 105 52/39 chainset as a bargain in a sale. To complicate things further it has 170mm cranks and my last one had 172.5 I can't really figure out what to make of it. My cadence has dropped a bit, where I expected it to go up with the shorter cranks. I'm rarely out of the big ring, though I'm probably doing less hills, but I seem to change gears more often. I'm also probably spending more time out of the saddle, which may account for the lower cadence!

    I reckon it has just taken me longer to get used to it than I expected, but I'd come a long way on my compact and probably had it imprinted in my brain. If I'm doing anything really hilly I may well switch back.

    Some companies (some spesh tarmacs for instance) do 52/36. That may be an option worth trying.
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    Pigtail wrote:
    Some companies (some spesh tarmacs for instance) do 52/36. That may be an option worth trying.
    This seems to be the new fashion, Campagnolo are also now doing a 52/36 option in the compact BCD as well as a 50/34. What I don't understand is why it is so difficult to get a 50/36, unless you swap the rings yourself. This to me is the best compromise (I have it on all my bikes), because the gap between the rings is the same as a 53/39 (no big jump), while you also have more leeway for choosing from a wider range of sprockets at the back. I can fit an 11-23 for flat / rolling terrain and swap to an 11-25 for mountains. As long as you have an 11 sprocket as your smallest there is no practical disadvantage to the smaller 50T big ring compared to a 53T. And there is always the potential to fit a 12-27, which with the 36T will get you up stupidly steep mountains..
  • I have a 53/39 with a 12-27 on the back on my training bike and a 50/34 with 11/23 on my race bike. If you can spin out 50/11 in a race/event you are doing bloody well. Some people just don't want dinner plates on the rear wheel and a compact is a neater option than a triple. I like both standard and compact for different reasons.
    I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but I'm intercontinental when I eat French toast...
  • 6% on the big ring & and 14% difference on the little ring.

    You will 'feel' the difference up steep hills. I doubt you will miss anything going down hill. Mostly you will still select the same sort of gear but you will have more to play with up hills.
  • Slack
    Slack Posts: 326
    Just swap them over and try it. It's only a 10 minute job to do.

    You'll probably be better off staying with a 50/34 anyway; unless you are a pro, or a young person weighing less than 70kg. If you do change to the 39/52, you will find your average speeds will be identical, and you'll just grind up the longer steeper hills with a lower cadence.
    Plymouthsteve for councillor!!
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    Slack wrote:
    unless you are a pro, or a young person weighing less than 70kg.
    What is it with people always assuming that there is some necessary connection between age and fitness, or age and weight?? Half of the less-than-svelte people I pass on climbs are half my age...