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Double or triple?

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  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,374
    It is true that most mid and high end bikes marketed in the UK come with compact doubles. However, most of the big name brands do offer triple options - for example, speccing the very nice Ultegra triple groupset on bikes around the £2,500 mark. UK fashion dictates that compacts are fitted to more expensive bikes. But I don't believe that triples are for cheapo bikes ridden by novice or less fit riders. There's a lot of demand for triples from experienced long-distance mountain-riding roadies on the Continent - which I reckon is why Campag reintroduced triples in Athena, Centaur and Veloce variations.

    I bet the triple users who have posted on this thread are experienced riders who have realised over the years that the secret of riding long and fast with minimum effort is to spin quickly in closely spaced low gears rather than bust a gut trying to hold on to big ring.

    Of course, it is possible to achieve low gears with a compact using the 29, 30 and 32 sprockets now available for road bikes. And that's my solution for my road bike. Manufacturers are obviously meeting demand from road riders who do want to get up big hills without struggling. Even the most tough looking riders sometimes have to do the walk of shame - as I saw when I rode up the Passo Giau in the Maratona dles Dolomites. With lower gears, they'd have been able to ride up.

    My point is that low gears are great for road riders, whether you go for a compact double or a triple. And it's misguided to stigmatize triple users.
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    Carbonator wrote:
    some of the things said just sound silly!

    Such as?
  • AlanWAlanW Posts: 291
    Just to add my two pence worth, I would consider myself to be pretty fit, 12,000 miles a year on average and I have been riding bikes more years than I care to recall.

    My everyday bike has a std 39/52 chain set with a 10 sp 12-25, my carbon bike has a compact 50/34 chain set with a 10 sp 12/23 (sometimes 12/29) and finally my Audax bike has a 30/39/52 triple and a 10sp 12/25.

    I have ridden the triple for years and to be honest, I love it. It gives me every possible gear combination that I need to tackle just about anything, while maintaining a close ratio cassette thus maintaining a nice even and smooth cadence.

    However, I had lost count how many times I kept looking at the compacts and doing the calcs on Sheldon Browns gear calculator, and in the end I gave in and fitted one to my best bike. And very good it is to, apart from when I know that I am going to do a decent hilly event and I fit the 12/29 cassette. Then I have to admit that I don't like the gap in the ratios.

    So lets be honest, asking two chain rings to give you working ratios anywhere near like three chain rings, is never gonna work.

    For me, yes the compact has its place, and I much prefer it over my std chainset and its okay for short hilly blasts. But if long distance hilly events are your bag, then the triple is the better option IMHO.
    "You only need two tools: WD40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD40. If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape"
  • AlanWAlanW Posts: 291
    Mercia Man wrote:
    I bet the triple users who have posted on this thread are experienced riders who have realised over the years that the secret of riding long and fast with minimum effort is to spin quickly in closely spaced low gears rather than bust a gut trying to hold on to big ring.

    Just to endorse this, before I had my triple I rode a very hilly 70 mile Audax using a std 39/52 chain set and a 12/25 cassette. You know that its going to be hard when you have two 1:5 climbs within the first few miles!!

    Anyway there were several of us in our little group and we were one of the first to get back to the HQ, and I mauled my way around that route.

    The following year, we all entered the event again, but this time I had a triple chain set to play with. Once again we were all back in a respectable time, and near enough the same time as the year before to be honest. BUT......the big difference was that I really enjoyed the event and my legs didnt feel like they had come detached from my torso. :oops:
    "You only need two tools: WD40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD40. If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape"
  • KevChallisKevChallis Posts: 646
    Right, I am starting to understand this a little more, and to put this into perspective to me, Lincoln and surrounding areas where I will be cycling is well..... flat, there is one hill that the cathedral is sat on, and really apart from that there is no real hills like other county's have. I have been down to the local bike shop today, having never been there before and had a long talk with them also, they also stock the allez and defy 4, of which I will be testing both soon, however they both come with compacts, the only bike I have sen in my price range that comes with a triple is the triban series, and the closest place I could get to test one is 50 miles away. So it looked like the decision has been made for me, in supporting my lbs, thank you all for all of the comments, the debate has been very helpful in my understanding of why there is a choice of doubles, triples and compacts
    Kev
    PlanetX Pro Carbon
    Voodoo Bizango
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    KevChallis wrote:
    they also stock the allez and defy 4, of which I will be testing both soon, however they both come with compacts

    Defy 4 triple: http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-gb/bik ... 833/57501/
  • KevChallisKevChallis Posts: 646
    Doh, haha, the shop can get that too, have to go and try them, and do more research on the bikes as for which would be better for attempting some local tri's but club rides too
    Kev
    PlanetX Pro Carbon
    Voodoo Bizango
  • Carbonator wrote:
    I do not really get all this triple love going on.
    I can see the benefits of a triple on some rides and for some types of riders but some of the things said just sound silly!

    Why do people think the OP is going to struggle getting up a hill on a compact and will struggle to get home?

    I do feel that a triple is more for the less fit (generally for a first bike) but I certainly do not feel a tough guy with my compact, and would still not if I had a double with a near horizontal cassette!
    I am just trying to help the OP, not big myself up.

    As SecretSam says, it's cheaper bikes that tend to come with triples, so what would the OP do if he wanted a more expensive bike? Have it modified from new?

    There are plenty of inclines in this world, and hugely tough distances (eg. seriously long audaxes) that more than befit a triple; again, you should be able to do it on 39/42x23 - a compact is a compromise, and if you want really low gears then a triple is a much better choice. The numbers don't lie.

    The expensive bikes that you refer to don't have triples on because of a devastating combination of pathetic fashion and modelling after pro-level racers. I seem to remember a letter in CW a few months ago remarking on the fact that Pinarello et al should make Sky bikes with triples on, because of the age of the people that can afford them. If you really want to buy a premium bike, you'll build from scratch, so that's a non-issue; you just buy a triple groupset.
  • Neil_akyNeil_aky Posts: 211
    All of the above replies are fine and technically correct; however, the question was about choosing a bike and I would say that triple or compact should not be the deciding factor - either will work fine and fit / comfort should be the deciding factor (oh and budget of course).

    I have a Triban 3 with a triple and a 26" wheel hybrid with a double and the gearing on both work fine.
  • Daz555Daz555 Posts: 4,040
    The thing I like best about the triple is the less dramatic change in ratio when you shift the front.
    You only need two tools: WD40 and Duck Tape.
    If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.
    If it shouldn't move and does, use the tape.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Neil_aky wrote:
    All of the above replies are fine and technically correct; however, the question was about choosing a bike and I would say that triple or compact should not be the deciding factor - either will work fine and fit / comfort should be the deciding factor (oh and budget of course).

    Agree with with that and also feel that its probably not that big a deal on the bikes that have been mentioned, other factors will end up being a lot more important as you say.

    Am thinking an 8 speed triple Defy 4 may be better than an 8 speed compact one anyway.
    My vote would go for a 9 or 10 speed compact (on a different bike) re. the bigger picture of choosing a first bike.
  • KevChallisKevChallis Posts: 646
    I will go into lbs and ride them both, if I like the allez more the decision has been made for me, if I like the defy 4 more then I will have to decide lol
    Kev
    PlanetX Pro Carbon
    Voodoo Bizango
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,374
    Good luck with your quest, Kev. You certainly started the ball rolling with your original post. I feel it's been an interesting debate with some excellent points made.
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    For an alternative view on the 'irrelevance' of the triple: http://thedailygrind.robdamanii.com/201 ... he-triple/
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    ooermissus wrote:
    For an alternative view on the 'irrelevance' of the triple: http://thedailygrind.robdamanii.com/201 ... he-triple/

    Thanks for that ;-) It is exactly how I feel about things.

    I think triples have their place but that its a niche market (which is not a bad thing).

    I made the point early on in this thread about not getting fitter/better at climbing if you have a triple, and after all has been said in favour of triples it is still the biggest problem I feel. I had not really even considered the wider stance issue.

    It does use a 10 speed for the comparison and so as I said, an 8 speed triple might be better than an 8 speed compact. I think the ultimate answer is to just buy a better bike.

    I have just helped a friend to get his first bike and he has 10 speed Apex 11-32.

    It has indeed been a good debate. I have learned a lot from it.
    I have a lot more respect for triples, even though I am now even more in favour of compacts and spending the extra to get 9/10 speed.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Good luck with the bike purchase Kev. Let us know what you get ;-)
    I would go with the Felt from the ones you mentioned. It has the new 2013 9 speed Sora, I believe a better fork, and should be lighter.

    If you go up that hill to the jail/cathedral you might want to stick one of these cassettes on :lol:

    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Imag ... /91007.jpg
  • ooermissus wrote:
    For an alternative view on the 'irrelevance' of the triple: http://thedailygrind.robdamanii.com/201 ... he-triple/

    He makes some insightful points, but still presupposes that 'toughen up' is the logical course of action for the cyclist, and for many it isn't; not everyone is a racer, wannabe racer or other cyclist who likes to push their limits. If you are the sort who likes to go on really long rides including really steep hills without wanting to reach for the sick bucket, a triple really isn't an illogical choice. I'm also not convinced that this is a particularly small grouping in cycling. Go to the Fred Whitton or other hilly/mountainous events and I'm sure you will see some triple cranksets there. If you really want to go as low as 30x28-32, whilst having a really high top gear, and close ratios, a triple is the answer. It is as simple as that. I don't see what's to argue.
  • Daz555Daz555 Posts: 4,040
    edited May 2013
    The compact v triple thing is interesting but for many it is really something we can't always control. The bike which may fit your body and budget the best may come with a triple or it may come with a compact. My Tiagra equipped Sensa Romagna came with a triple. Simple as that. The triple v compact debate was not important enough for me either way.

    As it happens I'm now fairly glad I ended up with a triple. I get two lower gears as a result of the granny ring and so far I have used one of them regularly on a couple of local climbs.
    You only need two tools: WD40 and Duck Tape.
    If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.
    If it shouldn't move and does, use the tape.
  • I ride a 2006 Trek Madone SL with Ultegra triple. 52,39,30 and 12-25. I rarely use the granny ring except on the few rides I do on really steep hills. But, when I need it I need it.

    What I never understand in this debate is that the manufacturers keep on increasing the number of cogs at the back, with the advantage of being able to have a wide range of gears with narrow steps to help maintain a steady cadence. We all seem to think this is good.

    Go from two cogs on the front to three and all of a sudden it becomes a bad thing in many eyes.

    My triple costs me about 200 grammes over a double or compact. To put that in perspective, when I go out on a 100km ride in the summer I take 2 x 1 litre bottles and hardly notice the extra weight even up quite steep hills. The extra weight of the triple is only 10% of that water.

    In a race at the extremes it might be good to save that weight, but in the real world I ride in the triple is well worth it for the better gear selection available over a compact.

    We only have the massive step change on the front of compacts for fashion. I'd rather have substance over style any day. Personally, I would prefer to have a double than a compact, and simply avoid the very steep hills because that would be a nicer riding option for most of my miles.

    Of course, you can get the same range of gears with a compact that you can with a triple. But you pay a price with that big step at the front that, for me, isn't a fair trade off for a mere 200 grammes weight saved.
  • BordersroadieBordersroadie Posts: 1,052
    Paul sums it up well (although I measured the weight penalty less than he did, at not much more than 100g including chainset, FD and lever) but I'd just add the main advantage of a triple over a compact for the average BR rider, which seems to be missed amongst macho rantings about granny gears:

    For us, the average fit riders, the most-used gears on a 50-39-30 set up, on undulating terrain, can all be obtained from the 39 (on say a 12-25, 12-27 or 11-28) so you can ride a high percentage of time on the middle ring. Very little front changing.

    On a compact, the same gears (ie in inches) often seem to be either big-front-big-rear or small-front-small-rear. For this reason you tend to spend a lot of time cross-chaining (eg big-big or small-small) or doing awful clunky changes on the front (due to the big 50-34 jump) and simultaneous changes at the rear.

    I've ridden both extensively. Most of the "triples are just for beginners or weak legs" commentators have never ridden a triple for any proper length of time so are ignorant of its real benefit. I'm telling you, it really does make a long ride (like yesterday's 102 miler) so much more enjoyable, not having to hear "clunk clunk clunk" every time the gradient changes slightly.

    The point of a triple for me is not super-low gearing (after all I could go 34-32 on a compact and get lower than my 30-28) but ease of use for real-world riding. I ride with a lot of pretty experienced, fit guys on compacts and snigger at the amount of changing they have to do up and down the front rings and I wince at the amount of crosschaining that goes on. No coincidence that their chains wear out more quickly than mine.

    But sheep are sheep and no amount of my good work as Triple Ambassador will convince most of you, alas!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Baaaaa
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,824
    I've got 34-50 and 12-27, and really don't have a problem with "cross chaining". On the small chainring, its good up to about 20mph, and on the big chainring it good down to about 15mph, so there's a good deal of overlap. 50-25 is the exact same ratio as 34-17, and in theory I should never have to use the large chainring with the 3 largest sprockets, nor the small chainring with the 3 smallest prockets. In practice, and because the chain centre line is more towards the large chainring (outwards), I tend to use small-smallish fairly often but am wary of using big-bigish.

    True, I do find myself doing the double change (front and rear) quite often, but its easy with Campag levers - gives both thumb buttons a good press and I easily go into the small chainring and drop 3,4 or 5 cogs on the back at the same time. Changing the otherway is quite easy too, as can shift 3 sprockets in one move.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,374
    drlodge wrote:
    True, I do find myself doing the double change (front and rear) quite often, but its easy with Campag levers - gives both thumb buttons a good press and I easily go into the small chainring and drop 3,4 or 5 cogs on the back at the same time. Changing the otherway is quite easy too, as can shift 3 sprockets in one move.

    This is unintended ammunition for the triple brigade. Why go to the bother of pressing both buttons and dropping 3, 4 or 5 cogs at the same time on your compact when a single click on the right hand shifter of a triple will achieve the same result? Campag Ultrashift levers are the best for triples because the front shifter is non-indexed so is simple to set up, offers easy trimming of front mech and will work with any make of crank.

    By the way, I've just noticed that Merlin are selling the fantastic highly polished Dura Ace 7800 triple chainset for just £179.99 at the moment (RRP £449.99).
  • junglist_mattyjunglist_matty Posts: 1,698
    I have a triple, and some KOM's on Strava, but they do weigh you down significantly; and apparently (according some posts here) make you look like an amateur, oh well!

    I rode a 15 mile climb with 4000+ ft of climbing, this was done in the smallest ring and top three sprockets most of the way, if I had a compact, I'd have given up after the first couple of miles!
  • junglist_mattyjunglist_matty Posts: 1,698
    Mercia Man wrote:
    By the way, I've just noticed that Merlin are selling the fantastic highly polished Dura Ace 7800 triple chainset for just £179.99 at the moment (RRP £449.99).

    You're better off with Ultegra 6700 for even less ;)
  • marylogicmarylogic Posts: 355
    I have a triple, and some KOM's on Strava, but they do weigh you down significantly; and apparently (according some posts here) make you look like an amateur, oh well!

    I rode a 15 mile climb with 4000+ ft of climbing, this was done in the smallest ring and top three sprockets most of the way, if I had a compact, I'd have given up after the first couple of miles!

    You might look like an amateur cycling up a hill with a triple, but a lot less of an amateur than the guys with compacts pushing their bikes up! :lol:
  • AllanESAllanES Posts: 151
    I thought I needed a triple. Started looking at bikes and a bit of "gear research". Decided I'd be fine with a compact and "suitable" cassette. Began reading this thread. Got confused. :) And now i've decided I'll buy the bike based on other criteria and take whatever it comes with :)
    Red Triban 3
    Giant Defy 1
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    So to summarise:

    Compact advantages: lighter; simpler to set up (allegedly); cheaper to produce; narrower stance (if that matters to you); toughens you up; you won’t get laughed at.

    Triple advantages: fewer front ring changes; narrow gear spacing; better for your knees; you won’t have to walk up hills.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Baaaaa
  • KevChallisKevChallis Posts: 646
    AllanES wrote:
    I thought I needed a triple. Started looking at bikes and a bit of "gear research". Decided I'd be fine with a compact and "suitable" cassette. Began reading this thread. Got confused. :) And now i've decided I'll buy the bike based on other criteria and take whatever it comes with :)

    I haven't got confused but I am doing the rest haha
    Kev
    PlanetX Pro Carbon
    Voodoo Bizango
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