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Crankset and Gearing ratios

GasperoniGasperoni Posts: 41
edited May 2015 in Road beginners
Like a lot of people, I am considering what I want from my next bike (n+1) and have a question around crankset and cassette selection.

Would there be any drawbacks to having a 52/36 crankset with an 11-32 sprocket?

I'm currently on an 8 speed triple 52/42/30 with a 12-26, and am reasonably happy with the range. Looking at gear inch tables, I have this idea that I would lose some of this range one way or the other on a 50/34.

To give it some context, I am an overweight rider (trying to lose some of that) whose goal is simply to be able to cycle wherever I want, without having to plan to avoid hills I can't get up. Comfort is more of a priority than speed but I would also like to improve as a rider and don't really want just easy gearing. Ironically, I want to have my cake and eat it.

The 'new' bike doesn't happen until I deserve it (lose another stone), and can afford it. I'm just hoping for a better understanding of the options for now.

Incidentally, any recommendations for a bike that fits the bill? I'm thinking about a Rose Xeon CGF 3000 or a Canyon Endurace CF 9.0. (I know 105 is good enough, but I also know I'll then want Ultegra and the plan is to buy one good bike). If money was no object, I suspect a Domane 5.2 would be my selection of choice.

Posts

  • JayKostaJayKosta Posts: 635
    I imagine that with the triple you are using mainly the 52 and 42 for most riding, with the 30 only for difficult hills. I find that switching between the 52 and 42 doesn't require a rear shift - the difference is noticeable but not unwieldy. Using a 52 / 36 in the same way might require a rear shift to get a comfortable ratio.

    As far as the overall range of gearing, the 36/32 is a little lower (easier) than the 30/26, and I doubt you'd notice any high-end differences - unless you're spun-out on the 52-12.

    The 52-36 double chainrings would eliminate the complexity of using a triple, but might require more double-shifts (front + rear) to get the desired 'feel'.

    For many people the simplicity and range of a 'compact double chainring' makes riding easier and more enjoyable.

    Jay Kosta
    Endwell NY USA
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    No complexity to using a triple in my view. I have two bikes with triples and my good bike has a compact. To be honest I prefer the triples as with the compact, when I drop to the small ring at the front, you usually have to move up a cog or two at the back to keep your cadence.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,374
    The gearing you are considering would be a good alternative to what you have already. Bottom gear of 36 chainring and 32 cassette cog would be 30.4 in, compared with your current bottom gear of 30 chainring and 26 cassette cog which gives a gear of 31.2 - so you would have a very slightly lower bottom gear. Your proposed new top gear of 52-11 would be one gear higher than what you have at the moment - it would be an overdrive only really useable downhill.

    So you would have a greater range than you have at the moment, gaining an overdrive top, but if you are going from eight to 10 speed cassette the jump between the cogs would be fairly similar. However, one disadvantage with switching from a triple chainset to a wide double such as 52/36 is that the big gap between rings will mean you may have to double shift front and back to maintain cadence. This is annoying but you get used to it.

    Don't be conned into thinking that a low bottom gear is for wimps. Even riders like Contador have used a 32 big cassette cog when the gradients are very steep. Spinning easily in a low gear will improve your enjoyment and fitness much better than the disheartening effort of trying to push too high a gear uphill.
  • GasperoniGasperoni Posts: 41
    Thanks for the replies.

    I mostly use the big ring on flats and undulating, and a bit of middle for short ramps, but try to already be in the 30 for a hill I know will put me in the red. The idea is that as I get better at climbing, I can manage the same climb with gears to spare - then move on to a more challenging climb, where I start again - might not make it up in one on the first attempt, but hopefully improve each time until again I can manage it with gears to spare - then move on again.

    Does this mean I'm not using my gears correctly, or maybe its something that works ok on a triple, but not so well on a double? I would typically be in the middle of the middle range when I can see red zone territory ahead and change down (or is it up?) to the small ring. I might change down on the rear once after that, but other than that I don't find myself changing between chainrings other than when the topography changes. Am I correct in understanding that this approach would be more problematic on a double due to bigger increments of power required between cogs?
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,374
    Most riders with your triple gearing would tend to stay on the 42 ring most of the time, switching to the 52 for fast flat and downhill riding and the 30 for hills, using the rear mech to adjust their cadence.

    With a wide range double such as 52/36 or 50/34, you would be switching more between chainrings, maybe having to shift one or two gears at the back as well to maintain a comfortable cadence. It's a bit more hassle than a triple used sensibly but no big deal.

    Many cycling beginners push a very high gear. Experienced riders will have learnt to use their gears to ensure their legs are spinning easily. This is particularly important for climbing long hills and for preserving your strength during a long day in the saddle. Learning to ride fluidly with a fast cadence is the way to improve cycling enjoyment. Far better to have plenty of gears available in the middle and bottom end than a 52-11 top gear.
  • surrey_commutersurrey_commuter Posts: 11,437
    " Comfort is more of a priority than speed"

    Why not go 50/34 with 11/32 - that will make it easier going uphill and unless we want to go above circa 30mph you will lose nothing in speed
  • bob6397bob6397 Posts: 218
    " Comfort is more of a priority than speed"

    Why not go 50/34 with 11/32 - that will make it easier going uphill and unless we want to go above circa 30mph you will lose nothing in speed


    I've managed 55mph one a 50-34, 12-26... He's not gonna be short of gears above 30!!!

    The jump from a 50 to a 52 isn't that big imho - but possibly worth having if you are a speed freak..
    Boardman HT Team - Hardtail
    Rose Pro-SL 2000 - Roadie
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    bob6397 wrote:
    " Comfort is more of a priority than speed"

    Why not go 50/34 with 11/32 - that will make it easier going uphill and unless we want to go above circa 30mph you will lose nothing in speed


    I've managed 55mph one a 50-34, 12-26... He's not gonna be short of gears above 30!!!
    That's fast but it must have been a steep decent, because in the 50-12 gear at a very high cadence like 120rpm, you would get to just under 40mph - see chart below:
    http://www.bikecalc.com/speed_at_cadence
    The OP is definitely not going to be short of gears as the gear 50-11 is faster than 52-12.
  • GasperoniGasperoni Posts: 41
    An 11 cog isn't high on my list. At the end of a ride (if I'm feeling up to it) I sometimes like to mini TT for a couple of miles of mostly flat and smooth to see what I can maintain. Currently that is 52/13, and I suspect I am a long way from where I could be, so I thought an 11 would give me room for improvement. Certainly not a must have anyway.

    I appreciate everyone's input on this. Exactly what I was looking for. If I have understood correctly, then I can keep my current range (and extend it a little both ways) but there will be a more noticeable change in effort required between the cogs which might require a bit more front and rear jiggerypokery if I want to keep a smoother cadence/change in effort. A 50/34 would have this too, but perhaps to a lesser extent. Plenty for me to think about. Once again, many thanks.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    Gasperoni wrote:
    An 11 cog isn't high on my list. At the end of a ride (if I'm feeling up to it) I sometimes like to mini TT for a couple of miles of mostly flat and smooth to see what I can maintain. Currently that is 52/13, and I suspect I am a long way from where I could be, so I thought an 11 would give me room for improvement. Certainly not a must have anyway.

    I appreciate everyone's input on this. Exactly what I was looking for. If I have understood correctly, then I can keep my current range (and extend it a little both ways) but there will be a more noticeable change in effort required between the cogs which might require a bit more front and rear jiggerypokery if I want to keep a smoother cadence/change in effort. A 50/34 would have this too, but perhaps to a lesser extent. Plenty for me to think about. Once again, many thanks.
    I think 52/36 & 11-32 is not ideal if you expect to use that cassette all the time. If you need the 32 sprocket for the 36 front, I'd be inclined to drop to a 34 chainring and 30 at the back and I'd look to lose the 11 tooth sprocket as well to end up with a tighter 12-30 cassette. Is there a 12-30 available? 52-11 likely to be used very infrequently. I use an 11-28 cassette and I do use my 50-11 but I could live without it and would do so to keep the gaps smaller if I needed a bigger large sprocket. I actually think 50-36 12-30 would make a good combo for many people, myself included, but I've never seen it.
  • bob6397bob6397 Posts: 218
    ai_1 wrote:
    I think 52/36 & 11-32 is not ideal if you expect to use that cassette all the time. If you need the 32 sprocket for the 36 front, I'd be inclined to drop to a 34 chainring and 30 at the back and I'd look to lose the 11 tooth sprocket as well to end up with a tighter 12-30 cassette. Is there a 12-30 available? 52-11 likely to be used very infrequently. I use an 11-28 cassette and I do use my 50-11 but I could live without it and would do so to keep the gaps smaller if I needed a bigger large sprocket. I actually think 50-36 12-30 would make a good combo for many people, myself included, but I've never seen it.

    What is your reasoning? Are you saying that the OP should consider a smaller range cassette so that he/she can have smaller gaps between gears and therefore maintain cadence better? Or are you basing this off nothing more than a loosely formed opinion?

    Give the OP some reasons, then he/she can make up their own mind!!

    :)
    Boardman HT Team - Hardtail
    Rose Pro-SL 2000 - Roadie
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    bob6397 wrote:
    ai_1 wrote:
    I think 52/36 & 11-32 is not ideal if you expect to use that cassette all the time. If you need the 32 sprocket for the 36 front, I'd be inclined to drop to a 34 chainring and 30 at the back and I'd look to lose the 11 tooth sprocket as well to end up with a tighter 12-30 cassette. Is there a 12-30 available? 52-11 likely to be used very infrequently. I use an 11-28 cassette and I do use my 50-11 but I could live without it and would do so to keep the gaps smaller if I needed a bigger large sprocket. I actually think 50-36 12-30 would make a good combo for many people, myself included, but I've never seen it.

    What is your reasoning? Are you saying that the OP should consider a smaller range cassette so that he/she can have smaller gaps between gears and therefore maintain cadence better? Or are you basing this off nothing more than a loosely formed opinion?

    Give the OP some reasons, then he/she can make up their own mind!!

    :)
    Amazing that you managed to figure out what I was saying so that you could ask me if I was saying it. I wonder did my saying it help at all?

    Thanks for your critique nevertheless...
  • bob6397bob6397 Posts: 218
    Just commenting on how it was a little ambiguous.. :)

    It is so much easier for the OP to understand if you use those marvelous things called paragraphs.. and grammar.. ;)
    Boardman HT Team - Hardtail
    Rose Pro-SL 2000 - Roadie
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    bob6397 wrote:
    Just commenting on how it was a little ambiguous.. :)

    It is so much easier for the OP to understand if you use those marvelous things called paragraphs.. and grammar.. ;)
    And so much more pleasant to read without your snide remarks thank you.
  • Simon MastersonSimon Masterson Posts: 2,740
    ai_1 wrote:
    Gasperoni wrote:
    An 11 cog isn't high on my list. At the end of a ride (if I'm feeling up to it) I sometimes like to mini TT for a couple of miles of mostly flat and smooth to see what I can maintain. Currently that is 52/13, and I suspect I am a long way from where I could be, so I thought an 11 would give me room for improvement. Certainly not a must have anyway.

    I appreciate everyone's input on this. Exactly what I was looking for. If I have understood correctly, then I can keep my current range (and extend it a little both ways) but there will be a more noticeable change in effort required between the cogs which might require a bit more front and rear jiggerypokery if I want to keep a smoother cadence/change in effort. A 50/34 would have this too, but perhaps to a lesser extent. Plenty for me to think about. Once again, many thanks.
    I think 52/36 & 11-32 is not ideal if you expect to use that cassette all the time. If you need the 32 sprocket for the 36 front, I'd be inclined to drop to a 34 chainring and 30 at the back and I'd look to lose the 11 tooth sprocket as well to end up with a tighter 12-30 cassette. Is there a 12-30 available? 52-11 likely to be used very infrequently. I use an 11-28 cassette and I do use my 50-11 but I could live without it and would do so to keep the gaps smaller if I needed a bigger large sprocket. I actually think 50-36 12-30 would make a good combo for many people, myself included, but I've never seen it.

    I would agree with this. There's a lot of stupid macho culture around gearing. There are a lot of cyclists that would be better off with a triple but triples aren't 'pro' (even though they've been used at grand tour level), and 48/34 would be fine for many, rather than 52/36. The fact that the cassettes aren't available is the industry's fault, but 12 and 13 up cassettes would give a better spread of gears, to people that don't need the 11t anyway. If you find 50x12 inadequate, it's probably because you need to work on fitness and leg speed, and/or body positioning for big descents.
  • GasperoniGasperoni Posts: 41
    Simon, I simply asked the question whether there were any drawbacks to having a 52/36 crankset with an 11-32 sprocket. Given that this was to replicate the range in my existing triple, it's disappointing to read the implication that it's to appear more 'pro' and based on a stupid macho mindset.

    Ai_1, not wishing to fan the flames between you and bob ( :wink: ), could you explain a little more? All I can base my needs on at the moment are perceived effort on my existing gearing, so given that I'm aiming for harder and harder climbs I thought I would need (for me anyway) at least what I have now with a 30/26. A 36/32 would do that, and I initially wondered if there were any drawbacks to having the 52/36 and 11-32 combinations. The 11 is a bit of a moot point, as I hopefully explained earlier, but I didn't see a 12-32 available as an option.

    I'm not sure if it makes any difference, but I find 52/17 a comfortable cruising gear, which only leaves 15/13/12. I can currently maintain 52/13 for a while on mostly flats, which was what probably lead me to consider an 11 and also not consider dropping to a 50 on the front. I'm not racing anyone, just trying to ride for longer on just the wrong side of comfortable for me, challenging myself really.
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    Hi Gasperoni, when you say you can maintain 52/13 on the flats, are you maintaining a high cadence of 90 to 100 rpm? If you are, then you must be reaching speeds of up to 31 mph.

    If you are not capable of doing such a high cadence in that gear (like me) then I wouldn't think you really need an 11 cog.

    I've just changed my cassette from an 11-28 to a 12-30 on my bike with a 50-34 compact. It's better to try and increase cadence in lower gears than grind at 60 rpm in big gears, so I'm not likely to ever use my 50-12 on the flat.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    Gasperoni wrote:
    Simon, I simply asked the question whether there were any drawbacks to having a 52/36 crankset with an 11-32 sprocket. Given that this was to replicate the range in my existing triple, it's disappointing to read the implication that it's to appear more 'pro' and based on a stupid macho mindset.
    There's not a lot wrong with what you have in mind it in my opinion, and I actually considered that when I got my current bike (more below); however it does leave you with bigger gaps between gears than you probably need to live with. It's not a disaster and you probably wouldn't notice unless you then tried a more closely spaced setup but I would step back a little unless it's necessary. I agree with Simon that triples work very well and are unfairly dismissed by many. However it's also the reality that most new groupsets don't include a triple option so I moved on to a compact as you're planing to do (mine's on a Canyon too!). My first proper bike had a triple (30/39/50 equipped with a 9sp 12-27) which I found ideal when I got started and was still working well for me 4 years later.
    Gasperoni wrote:
    ...Ai_1....could you explain a little more? All I can base my needs on at the moment are perceived effort on my existing gearing, so given that I'm aiming for harder and harder climbs I thought I would need (for me anyway) at least what I have now with a 30/26. A 36/32 would do that, and I initially wondered if there were any drawbacks to having the 52/36 and 11-32 combinations. The 11 is a bit of a moot point, as I hopefully explained earlier, but I didn't see a 12-32 available as an option.
    You're doing something similar to what I did last year. I had been using the triple I mentioned above. This gave a 50/12 biggest gear and 30/27 smallest gear. I've done 80km/h+ with that combo but only with very high cadence. However it's very rare that situation arises (and I usually think "that was silly" afterwards ;)). On the flat I only ever used 50/12 for all out sprints or occasionally for lower cadence sessions with a tailwind. I don't think 50/11 is necessary for most people. I'll use it if it's there but I'l very rarely miss it. On the other hand, if you don't have a small enough gear to get up a hill, or at least get up it without undue struggle, you'll certainly miss it. Also I think closely spaced sprockets are a pleasure. You can ride with big gaps but it's much nicer when you can choose your adence more selectively. So, I'd give up a big gear I'll rarely miss for the benefits of a narrower cassette. Similarly, the 52 on the front seems unnecessary to me for the same reason. I think you'll rarely miss it if you go with a 50 and the 52 necessitates a 36 chainring (16 teeth is the max allowable difference between Shimano chainrings - not sure about other brands). that's fine if you don't want relatively small gears, but you do. Therefore you'll need pretty big sprockets and thus a wider cassette.

    My plan when I considered a 36/52 was to use something like a 11-25 or 12-25 cassette in order to have lots of closely spaced gears for rolling and flat terrain and use a separate 11-30 or 11-32 cassette for when I head up the mountains. However I do that pretty frequently and decided I really didn't want the hassle of changing cassettes regularly. Instead I got a 34/50 and 11-28 which does the job pretty well. My smallest gear is not as small as the triple gave me but I was confident I'd gotten to the point where 34/28 would get me up everything I'd encounter without too much trouble and this has proved to be the case.
    I think a 36 small chainring would be a little better in some cases where a slightly smaller gap between chainrings and bigger available gears in the small chainring would suit my preferences. However this is a minor consideration as I spend most time in the big ring anyway and in the hills the 34 does it's job just fine.

    If you're comfortable with the 30/26 combo for climbing then 34/30 would be very close (and in fact a fraction smaller). IF you think you could live with a slightly bigger gear then the typical 34/28 combo would not be much of a stretch. It's only 5% bigger.

    There's nothing WRONG with 52/36 and a 11-32 cassette. I just think it would be worth trading some of the gear range for closer spaced ratios. On the other hand it's not going to make or break your next bike. You'll enjoy it either way and you're unlikely to rue your decision so I wouldn't worry too much about it. You're already going the correct route in my opinion by keeping your options open with small gears you know will get you where you want to go.

    I'll probably go for 52/36 or 53/39 on my next bike but that will be a TT bike, won't need to go up steep hills and I'll be looking to have a nice straight chain line in the cruising gears!

    best of luck
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    Hi Gasperoni, when you say you can maintain 52/13 on the flats, are you maintaining a high cadence of 90 to 100 rpm? If you are, then you must be reaching speeds of up to 31 mph.

    If you are not capable of doing such a high cadence in that gear (like me) then I wouldn't think you really need an 11 cog.

    I've just changed my cassette from an 11-28 to a 12-30 on my bike with a 50-34 compact. It's better to try and increase cadence in lower gears than grind at 60 rpm in big gears, so I'm not likely to ever use my 50-12 on the flat.
    I agree with this.

    Incidentally is that an 11 speed 12-30? And if so which one? As far as I know Shimano don't do one or is it SRAM or Campagnolo? Of course you could assemble one from two different cassettes but that's expensive!
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    ai_1 wrote:
    Hi Gasperoni, when you say you can maintain 52/13 on the flats, are you maintaining a high cadence of 90 to 100 rpm? If you are, then you must be reaching speeds of up to 31 mph.

    If you are not capable of doing such a high cadence in that gear (like me) then I wouldn't think you really need an 11 cog.

    I've just changed my cassette from an 11-28 to a 12-30 on my bike with a 50-34 compact. It's better to try and increase cadence in lower gears than grind at 60 rpm in big gears, so I'm not likely to ever use my 50-12 on the flat.
    I agree with this.

    Incidentally is that an 11 speed 12-30? And if so which one? As far as I know Shimano don't do one or is it SRAM or Campagnolo? Of course you could assemble one from two different cassettes but that's expensive!
    It's a 10 speed Shimano Ultegra 12-30 that replaced the 10 speed Ultegra 11-28. I did also need to change the Ultegra Rear Derailleur as it was the older RD 6700 SS (short cage) version and the documentation from Shimano said it only takes up to a 28t sprocket. After some research and conflicting advice I opted to change it for the medium cage RD 6700 GS (new A version) that takes up to a 30t sprocket.

    After sorting out the indexing and having done a few rides, as a nice bonus, the transmission feels a lot better and smoother than the previous cassette and derailleur combination ever was, so I'm very pleased I made the change.
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    ai_1 wrote:
    Hi Gasperoni, when you say you can maintain 52/13 on the flats, are you maintaining a high cadence of 90 to 100 rpm? If you are, then you must be reaching speeds of up to 31 mph.

    If you are not capable of doing such a high cadence in that gear (like me) then I wouldn't think you really need an 11 cog.

    I've just changed my cassette from an 11-28 to a 12-30 on my bike with a 50-34 compact. It's better to try and increase cadence in lower gears than grind at 60 rpm in big gears, so I'm not likely to ever use my 50-12 on the flat.
    I agree with this.

    Incidentally is that an 11 speed 12-30? And if so which one? As far as I know Shimano don't do one or is it SRAM or Campagnolo? Of course you could assemble one from two different cassettes but that's expensive!
    It's a 10 speed Shimano Ultegra 12-30 that replaced the 10 speed Ultegra 11-28. I did also need to change the Ultegra Rear Derailleur as it was the older RD 6700 SS (short cage) version and the documentation from Shimano said it only takes up to a 28t sprocket. After some research and conflicting advice I opted to change it for the medium cage RD 6700 GS (new A version) that takes up to a 30t sprocket.

    After sorting out the indexing and having done a few rides, as well as having the bigger sprocket, as a nice bonus the transmission feels a lot better and smoother than the previous cassette and derailleur combination ever was, so I'm really pleased I made the change.
  • GasperoniGasperoni Posts: 41
    ForumNewbie, I found that, for me anyway, setting myself a cadence that I needed to keep to was a little counter-productive, especially on climbs. I achieved a lot more finding my own level. Its more like 70-80, but its pushing at a maintainable level, just outside my comfort zone, rather than grinding anything out. I've no problem changing down if I feel its getting that way. I'm trying to second guess what I will want in the future based on (hopefully) a leaner, fitter, more experienced me, and the possibly simplistic logic was that as 52/13 is do'able now (and will get easier as I progress) maybe I would want to do the same thing with an 11 in the future. I'm getting the vibe now, that it might not be best :)

    Ai_1, thanks for expanding, that makes a lot of sense. The main aim for me is to be able to get over the hills. I'd not realised a 34/30 gets me slightly more than a 30/26, and as I explained to FN above, an 11 just seemed sensible to go for if I was planning for the future, but it was never a requirement as such. That said, if I'm looking at an Ultegra groupset, there isn't a 12-30 is there? It just looks like 12-25,11-28 or 11-32? I could probably do 34/28 on the climbs I'm doing so far, but I wouldn't really want anything less than what I currently have for harder hills in the future, so I imagine an 11-32 on a 50/34 is my closest bet?
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    Gasperoni wrote:
    ForumNewbie, I found that, for me anyway, setting myself a cadence that I needed to keep to was a little counter-productive, especially on climbs. I achieved a lot more finding my own level. Its more like 70-80, but its pushing at a maintainable level, just outside my comfort zone, rather than grinding anything out. I've no problem changing down if I feel its getting that way. I'm trying to second guess what I will want in the future based on (hopefully) a leaner, fitter, more experienced me, and the possibly simplistic logic was that as 52/13 is do'able now (and will get easier as I progress) maybe I would want to do the same thing with an 11 in the future. I'm getting the vibe now, that it might not be best :)
    That's fine Gasperoni. I wish my old legs could do 70-80rpm in 52/13 :( , but if I could and was aiming to get even leaner and fitter, I would try to get my cadence up to 80-90rpm in the same gear, rather than trying to push 70-80 in a higher gear. I've only recently started looking at cadence, and most of the thinking seems to be that you get tired quicker pushing a bigger gear with a lower cadence, although I appreciate not everyone feels the same.
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