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Double or triple?

KevChallisKevChallis Posts: 646
edited May 2013 in Road beginners
I am not good with technical terms yet, but se varying sides saying a triple adds weight, and you will never use all three (sprockets where pedals are sorry for terminology) what are the advantages of each, as some bikes I look at ie carrera virtuoso and specialized allez only have a double, where as the triban 3 & 5 have a triple.

Thanks for any answers

Kev
Kev
PlanetX Pro Carbon
Voodoo Bizango
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  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    edited April 2013
    There are 3. Double, compact and triple. Sprockets are on your cassette at the rear. Front ones are chainrings.

    You are choosing between compact and triple.
    My advice would be to get a compact with large cassette. 28 or even 32.

    To me a triple is for less competent people, and a compact is for the majority of everyday riders.

    I feel a triple just adds unnecessary complication.
    The other thing is that you will just rely on the small front ring and never get any better. Either that or never use it and it will just be a bit of metal going along for the ride!

    Its great if you are having a bad day, hungover on a big hill, but a big cassette sprocket is just as good IMO.
  • islandmanislandman Posts: 73
    Hi mate, I ride a triple but hardly ever use the inner ring, good to know I can get up anything though even when I'm totally crackered. So when you've gone out for your first fifty you don't have to worry about getting home. In the real world you don't notice the weight difference.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    islandman wrote:
    Hi mate, I ride a triple but hardly ever use the inner ring, good to know I can get up anything though even when I'm totally crackered. So when you've gone out for your first fifty you don't have to worry about getting home. In the real world you don't notice the weight difference.

    That sounds like another vote for a compact to me.

    Friend bought a triple as first bike which is now his winter bike. He finds the small chainring nice to have there on the odd big hill if he is struggling, but says he should/would have bought a compact given his time again.
  • KevChallisKevChallis Posts: 646
    I am not good with technical terms yet, but se varying sides saying a triple adds weight, and you will never use all three (sprockets where pedals are sorry for terminology) what are the advantages of each, as some bikes I look at ie carrera virtuoso and specialized allez only have a double, where as the triban 3 & 5 have a triple.

    Thanks for any answers

    Kev
    Kev
    PlanetX Pro Carbon
    Voodoo Bizango
  • AllanESAllanES Posts: 151
    islandman wrote:
    Hi mate, I ride a triple but hardly ever use the inner ring, good to know I can get up anything though even when I'm totally crackered. So when you've gone out for your first fifty you don't have to worry about getting home. In the real world you don't notice the weight difference.

    I agree. I'm a relative novice and ride a Triban 3 which is a triple. I bought for the bike and didn't realise there were triples & compacts :-) I've rarely used the inner ring.....until y'day for the last few miles (a lot of which seemed to be uphill!) of my 59miles. I'd have struggled without the inner ring!
    Having said that.....when I upgrade the bike and i'm more experienced I'll probably opt for a compact with a 30 ring on the cassette.
    Red Triban 3
    Giant Defy 1
  • AllanESAllanES Posts: 151
    Carbonator wrote:
    islandman wrote:
    Hi mate, I ride a triple but hardly ever use the inner ring, good to know I can get up anything though even when I'm totally crackered. So when you've gone out for your first fifty you don't have to worry about getting home. In the real world you don't notice the weight difference.

    That sounds like another vote for a compact to me.

    Friend bought a triple as first bike which is now his winter bike. He finds the small chainring nice to have there on the odd big hill if he is struggling, but says he should/would have bought a compact given his time again.

    Our replies must've crossed - pretty much what said. I'd agree with this thinking :-)
    Red Triban 3
    Giant Defy 1
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    The other thing is that its a lot easier to change the cassette if you need to, but you are pretty much stuck with a triple.

    How fit are you? Unless you are pretty unfit I would be thinking about which cassette to get with a compact rather than compact or triple.

    Sram Apex (11/32 cassette) seems a much better option than a triple IMO.

    If you are looking at getting a Triban the decision has been made for you.
    I do not mean to be rude to people, but be weary of people sticking up for triple because they have them, possibly on a bike where they had no choice

    The only reason for a triple is getting up a tough hill when your fitness/ability levels are pretty low.
    Seems more sensible to stay away from big hills until you get better if that is the case.
  • AllanESAllanES Posts: 151
    I bought a Triban which comes with the triple and originally thought that when I upgrade I need a triple again but as my fitness improves I'm beginning to realise that a compact with a decent cassette would probably do me just fine. And as far as I can see, that opens up a lot more buying choice in terms of selecting my next bike "off the shelf"
    Red Triban 3
    Giant Defy 1
  • mateotumateotu Posts: 33
    Hi Kev - I saw from your other post that you're near Lincoln, so if most of your riding will be local you might not need the small (granny) ring on the triple at all. Doubles are easier to set up too.

    Maybe a 'compact' double (e.g. chainrings with 50 and 34 teeth) would be the best way to go? With compact and a normal road cassette, your lowest gear will be something like 34 (front) - 27 (rear) and you'll get up most climbs by just standing on the pedals and giving it some :) Standard road doubles (e.g. 53 and 39) like the pros use have a minimum chainring size of 38, and with a normal road cassette that means your lowest gear is not very low. Some rear mechs can take a wide range rear cassette (e.g. 34-11) to get a lower gear, but this means you have bigger jumps between the gears which is not great for group riding and head winds. The only disadvantage of compact is that your top gear is a bit lower, but unless you're racing you might not even notice.
  • Hi Kevin

    if you live near Lincoln (pretty flat) then I would go with the triple.
    I live in the peak district and all my rides are more than 10metres of climb per kilometre. I ran a triple for longer rides over the winter so that i was guaranteed to get up everything. I am now back on my compact but I have quite a lot of climbing in my legs. If you generally ride flattish routes but come across to the peaks, lake district or Wales for sportives then you will really appreciate a triple. The weight difference is essentially immaterial.
  • hipshothipshot Posts: 371
    Good advice above. I would say If you only ride flat or undulating terrain go for a double, if you struggle with hills or intend doing a lot of climbing go for a triple, a compact is a good compromise between the two.

    If you get a great many miles in the legs and become very fit you will get away with a double riding any terrain.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,374
    The size of your chainset has always been a typical "man" thing. The bigger your chainrings, the tougher you are. People with a 52/42 sneer at people with compacts. People with compacts sneer at people with triples.

    In my view, there's a lot to be said for having low enough gears to avoid the humiliation of having to get off your bike and walk. You may feel tough having high gears but I think people in photographs of sportive events having to push their bikes up steep climbs like the Devil's Staircase in Mid Wales don't look tough at all.

    I reckon for most reasonably fit riders with a lightweight road bike, a compact chainset with a biggest rear sprocket of 28 or more is sufficient for most UK rides. A road triple chainset would generally give a slightly lower bottom gear, a slightly higher top gear and closer ratios. Critics of compacts complain about regularly having to shift between the widely spaced front rings, with the resulting big jump in ratios spoiling your cadence. Triple enthusiasts say they like the simplicity of being able to stay in middle front ring virtually all the time, only shifting to little or big ring on the steepest ups and downs. Critics of triples say they are heavier and force your feet into a wider stance.

    I have a compact on my road bike and a triple on my tourer and like both.

    It's interesting that triples are popular with European roadies who live in the Alps and Pyrenees where the climbs are long and hard.
  • KevChallisKevChallis Posts: 646
    I am pretty fit, I run, swim, play tennis etc... will look into cassettes also, thanks fir the replies so far
    Kev
    PlanetX Pro Carbon
    Voodoo Bizango
  • You don't have to have a compact. They are a very recent invention. Not so long ago your inner chainring was a 42 or a 39, and your freewheel may have gone no lower than 23; in order to get close ratios on 5,6 or 7 speed, you might only have 18t. People still got up the hills. And what of mountain time trials on fixed gear? Cyclists climb, not gears.

    The simple fact of the matter is that a triple is no less a cop out than a compact. Professionals use them to save their legs on long climbs in stage races; on the non-mountain stages they regularly use standard double with 11-25 cassette. Not-so-professionals use them to make climbs easier.

    Use whatever you prefer; no-one will actually judge you. A triple actually offers much better gearing than a compact. I may not use one (though I'd put one on a tourer), but it's fashion that drives the snobbery against triples, not sense. Non-racing road cyclists need to stop pretending that they have to conform. Ditch your clinchers if you're going to do that, for a start. ;)
  • fishywebfishyweb Posts: 173
    My roadbike happens to be a Giant SCR2 with a triple (50/39/30) with a 12-25 cassette. I've been thankful for the small ring on the steepest Chiltern climbs that I tackle, and would have voted for a triple. However, I've just been on Sheldon Brown's gear calculator and can see that a compact (50/34) with (for example) 13-29 cassette actually gives a smaller bottom gear than my setup (31.7 inches against my 32.4). An 11-32 gives a bottom gear of 28.7 inches! I guess the tradeoff is that the ratios are a lot further apart, so more difficult to maintain a constant cadence.

    I think my next bike will have a compact (when I can get my, ahem, finance manager to release some funds ;-) ).
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/287459
    Member of http://www.UKnetrunner.co.UK - the greatest online affiliated running club
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    edited April 2013
    Just for the record, I personally have no real 'man thing' about chainring sizes and never sneer at anyone trying to do sport properly*.

    My advice to the OP was purely to try and help him make the right choice.

    For me, looking at it from a very basic level, triples are on MTB's, tourers and entry level road bikes.
    The advent of compact has meant that non pro/elite riders now have compact and triple to chose from.

    The meer fact that more expensive bikes do not have triples on to me would suggest someone who is pretty fit, runs and swims etc. would not be the type of person who should buy a triple, and thats without all the people who have bought them saying they should have got a compact.

    *I do sneer at people not doing sport properly though. Running a marathon with an iphone strapped to your arm just seems mad. Are they expecting a call? Quick game of Angry Birds? :roll:
  • jm2012jm2012 Posts: 10
    On here most people will say that compacts are the best, and when paired with a 28t sprocket with a 34t chainring, are good enough, and then go on to bash triples for being too low and a cop out. The truth is that with a triple you will probably have a 25t with a 30t chainring, which is only slightly lower than a compact.
    The main advantages of triples are that you can get a (slightly) lower bottom gear, but with less jumps between your gears. This makes it easier to pedal at the speed you want. I don't find this a particular advantage, but some people do.
    The main advantage of a triple for me is the ability to stay in the middle 39t chainring. If you don't intend to go as fast as you can for the entire time, this gear will be more than good enough. This avoids the changing between chainrings which happens on a double, and this can be annoying.
    There is a reason you see non-competitive riders, for example audax riders, mainly using triples on longer rides, and that is that thy are o much better if you don't intend to try and race.
    Also, Mercia Man makes good points.
  • Good thread. This week after over 60miles and 7000ft feet of climbing through the forest of Bowland area I was heading over the Nick of Pendle on my Triple and I was still Blo0dly well looking for a lower gear! Forget my granny gear I could have done with a great granny gear.. Sigh!
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,374
    It is useful for newcomers to cycling to understand how to read gearing charts. These give a figure in inches based on the distance travelled per crank revolution. For example, anything over 100 inches is for fast flat or downhill riding. Anything lower than 30 inches is for very steep uphill riding, particularly with luggage. You can work out within what range you spend most of your time riding and then choose gearing to suit.

    I spend most of my time on my road bike within a range of 45 to 90 inches. Using a compact chainset and 13-29 10-speed cassette, this gives me nine gears in that range, with a big jump between the 50 and 34 rings half way through, necessitating a double shift on the rear cassette to maintain cadence.

    If, however, I had a triple chainset with a typical 40 tooth middle ring and a 12-25 or 27 cassette, this would give me 10 closer spaced gears in that range all on the same ring. No need for shifting at the front. That would still leave three fast flat or downhill gears on the big ring and three or four bail out climbing gears on the little ring.

    You can see why many experienced non-racer long-distance riders choose a triple.
  • skybieskybie Posts: 59
    This is a very good tread for novices like me, i don't really understand "double or triple" but this has been very helpful.
    I have just bought a scott s50 triple and i have no real understanding of what gear to use for the type of road i am on.
    I live in Cambridge so pretty flat but as i am quite unfit even mole hill feels steep to me :( .
    Should i stay mainly on the middle ring?
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    skybie wrote:
    Should i stay mainly on the middle ring?

    Yes.
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    Mercia Man wrote:
    I spend most of my time on my road bike within a range of 45 to 90 inches. Using a compact chainset and 13-29 10-speed cassette, this gives me nine gears in that range, with a big jump between the 50 and 34 rings half way through, necessitating a double shift on the rear cassette to maintain cadence.

    If, however, I had a triple chainset with a typical 40 tooth middle ring and a 12-25 or 27 cassette, this would give me 10 closer spaced gears in that range all on the same ring. No need for shifting at the front. That would still leave three fast flat or downhill gears on the big ring and three or four bail out climbing gears on the little ring.

    This should be re-posted on every thread where the triple/compact argument comes up.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,374
    skybie wrote:
    This is a very good tread for novices like me, i don't really understand "double or triple" but this has been very helpful.
    I have just bought a scott s50 triple and i have no real understanding of what gear to use for the type of road i am on.
    I live in Cambridge so pretty flat but as i am quite unfit even mole hill feels steep to me :( .
    Should i stay mainly on the middle ring?

    Stay mainly on the middle ring. This will give you simple gear changes just using the right hand shifter. On middle ring, you should be able to use all nine or 10 cogs on the rear cassette without bending the chain sideways too much.

    When the road goes up, drop down to little ring at the front. The biggest three or four cogs at the back will give you a good range of climbing gears. Don't be ashamed about using low gears. They are there to be used. Spinning easily in a low gear will help you up those mole hills better than pushing hard in a bigger gear.

    When you want to press on along a flat or downhill section, shift onto big ring at the front. The smallest three or four cogs at the back will give you a good range of overdrive gears for going quickly.

    It's not a good idea to use big front/big rear or little front/little rear as that means the chain is running at an acute diagonal line. This will increase wear and may sound and feel a bit rough.
  • skybieskybie Posts: 59
    Thank you, this excatly the information i needed to ride correctly.
    Many thanks for you help.
  • KevChallisKevChallis Posts: 646
    Thanks for the replies, is there a decent website that explains gearing?

    My choice of bikes keeps changing the more I read, I think I will find s shop somewhere in Lincolnshire (dint jniw where) to go and look and test the Specialized Allez, Giant defy 4, and Felt z95
    Kev
    PlanetX Pro Carbon
    Voodoo Bizango
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    " Triple enthusiasts say they like the simplicity of being able to stay in middle front ring virtually all the time, only shifting to little or big ring on the steepest ups and downs."

    That describes me perfectly. I like the fact that I don't have to change chainrings at all unless there's something steep. And because I don't need any massive sprockets at the back I have lots of gears only 1 tooth apart so I can maintain a comfortable cadence all the time.
  • fishywebfishyweb Posts: 173
    KevChallis wrote:
    Thanks for the replies, is there a decent website that explains gearing?
    http://sheldonbrown.com/gearing/index.html
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/287459
    Member of http://www.UKnetrunner.co.UK - the greatest online affiliated running club
  • I think Mercia Man has nailed this. If you are out for a short blast, the normal double set up will suffice. If you have just completed a big ride on a hot day when the fatigue is setting in and you're faced with a big climb, then a triple would be nice.
    As someone who has crunchy knees I have been pondering this for a while. Posters above are right that eschewing triples is the mark of the tough guy but censored that. I'd rather make it home!
    My next road bike will be a triple. I've been looking at the Trek Domane and reckon the 30 tooth chainring and 30 tooth cassette should get me up anything.
    And yes, I am aware of the irony involved in my sig block.
    Ecrasez l’infame
  • secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,549
    Mercia Man wrote:
    Triple enthusiasts say they like the simplicity of being able to stay in middle front ring virtually all the time, only shifting to little or big ring on the steepest ups and downs. Critics of triples say they are heavier and force your feet into a wider stance.

    I wouldn't call myself a triple enthusiast, but I find that having a bail out inner ring and the middle and upper rings with nicely spaced gears is great for variable terrain - I live in the Bucks, and often ride in the Chilterns, which whilst not 'mountains' have some very sharp inclines, so a really low gear and lots in the middle is helpful. I'm also a chunky monkey, and not terribly fit.

    FWIW, my bike came with a 50/39/30 front and 12-26 rear (I think), and it's fine so far. But relatively few road bikes above £1000 have a triple option, so my next machine will probably be a compact (either 50/34 or the "new"* 52/36) with say a 12-28 at the back.

    * "New" is in inverted commas, as when I were a lad, lots of "sports" bikes came with a 52/36 front set up...this is back in the mid-80s...so the concept of a 'compact' is not really new...

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    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?
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