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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Newport, OR
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    323

    decision...to get a triple or compact double

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    I am ready to make the switch to a road bike and due to lack of funds I have to go with a cheaper one and upgrade components later if I need to. After riding the Trek 2.1 wsd bike in my first tri I have been looking hard. I did find out I can do layaway at several bike shops around town.

    One of the lower end bike shops has a great sale going on right now and I went in to try out a few bikes yesterday. The one that fit the best has a Compact crankset, 50/39 and I am not really sure if I am ready to get rid of the "granny gear" yet.

    I found a 2008 GTR Series Four within my price range. I tried several different Fuji sizes/types and nothing fit as well.....They are holding the GT for me until COB today. SO today is the day to either make a decision on this bike or find someting else.

    Tina

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
    Posts
    5,226
    One of my bikes has a triple and the other has a compact double. I've ridden both in the mountains without any trouble (other than the usual v e r y slow uphills that I do).

    If you get the compact double and you feel that there just aren't enough gears for you, you could change the out the cassette for more options. The whole point about compact doubles is that you get the same or similar gear range as a triple.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    222
    I am not a technical expert at all - the numbers of the gears and stuff is quite mystifying to me.. but I started out on a roadbike triple and have just changed to a new bike with a compact. The compact pretty much covers the same range of gear ratios as the triple on my bike - but covers that range in 20 gears (it;s a 10 speed compact double) rather than 27 gears on my 9 speed triple.

    Obviously seeing as the same total range is covered, it follows that there is less room for being in slightly the wrong gear as there was of course more 'overlap' and the gears were 'closer together' when I had 27 gears covering the same range, so it is taking some getting used to to make sure I am in exactly the right gear - the compact double is less forgiving like that.

    That being said, I think I would personally go for the bike with the best 'fit' - the GT obviously stood out from the others in that regard - you can always change your rear cassette (cogs) pretty cheaply to effectively give you more of a granny gear if you find you need that - you can;t really do much about a not-so-good bike fit..

    Ask the guys in the LBS what the rear cassette numbers are - try and met one that is 11-28 or 12-28 - the bigger the last number, the more 'granny' a gear you can select. A 12-25 with a compact double MIGHT be a little lacking at the granny end-- but the rear cassettes ARE cheap to swap out if the standard is something like 12-25 and you find you need a 11-28 or 12-28.

    Like I said, I am not a technical expert, but it sounds like the GTR is waiting for you to go get her :-)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    Also, with a compact you should be able to go down to a 34 in the small chainring.

    This issue has been covered quite a bit here - do a search. In my opinion it comes down to whether you're comfortable pedaling in a wide range of cadences, or whether you prefer closer ratio gearing.

    You may be able to get a very wide gear range with a compact, but you'll have large gaps between gears, that at a given speed might force you to pedal at (to pick random numbers) either 82 rpm or 95 with nothing in between. If you're okay with that, then a compact is fine. If you're really only comfortable pedaling in a range of 7-10 rpm, and you need a wider range of gears, then I'd recommend a triple.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    2,033
    I ride a 50/34 12-27 combo and I conquer major passes in the swiss alps. No problem. go for it.
    It's a little secret you didn't know about us women. We're all closet Visigoths.

    2008 Roy Hinnen O2 - Selle SMP Glider
    2009 Cube Axial WLS - Selle SMP Glider
    2007 Gary Fisher HiFi Plus - Specialized Alias

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
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    9,351
    Quote Originally Posted by alpinerabbit View Post
    I ride a 50/34 12-27 combo and I conquer major passes in the swiss alps. No problem. go for it.
    That doesn't mean it's right for her. People really are individuals. You're young and very fit.

    I ride a compact double 46/33, with an 11 - 34 in the back. While I have the strength to stay in the 46 on a 5% grade, if I do, my knees start screaming at me after about a mile. I'm slightly older and very fit. I think my knees are few decades older than the rest of me.

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,845
    I have a triple & a compact double bike - and a lot of times I just like the compact double more because there's less gears to worry about and I really do a better job of spinning & getting into the right gear on the bike.

    There's very seldom times when I'm wishing I had more gears, but I do have a spare set of wheels with a bigger cassette on the back for when I know I'm really going somewhere hilly (as in, I haven't really used it yet)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Switzerland
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    2,033
    Quote Originally Posted by Veronica View Post
    That doesn't mean it's right for her. People really are individuals. You're young and very fit.

    I ride a compact double 46/33, with an 11 - 34 in the back. While I have the strength to stay in the 46 on a 5% grade, if I do, my knees start screaming at me after about a mile. I'm slightly older and very fit. I think my knees are few decades older than the rest of me.
    I hear you - But...

    ...there really is no big difference to a triple, IM(ns)HO, which I have also ridden. And I wasn't fit when I started cycling... and I wouldn't even try to climb in the big ring... ever....
    (hope I don't offend anyone if I say she does live in Texas, and I live in the Alps ... )
    It's a little secret you didn't know about us women. We're all closet Visigoths.

    2008 Roy Hinnen O2 - Selle SMP Glider
    2009 Cube Axial WLS - Selle SMP Glider
    2007 Gary Fisher HiFi Plus - Specialized Alias

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
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    14,645
    I'll say it another way:

    On your current bike, do you ever find that you just can't find the right gear? You're either pedaling too fast or too slow? Then a triple is for you, because a compact will potentially give you that problem in almost every gear, where a triple will do it in only maybe one or two.

    If not, you're probably fine with a compact.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    2,845
    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    I'll say it another way:

    On your current bike, do you ever find that you just can't find the right gear? You're either pedaling too fast or too slow? Then a triple is for you, because a compact will potentially give you that problem in almost every gear, where a triple will do it in only maybe one or two.

    If not, you're probably fine with a compact.
    I run a compact (50/34) with a 11-25 cassette in the back... and I can't say that I ever have a problem with feeling that I can't find the right gear. I don't have a problem with a 10 speed triple doing that at all either.

    Now, I could see if I was running a compact double with an 11-37 or something on it that I'd have that issue with hunting for gears.

    I run a 53/42/30 triple with an 8 speed mountain bike rear cassette on my surly and I quite often find that I can't find the right gear on that.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
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    14,645
    So that's your preference. And if the OP is the same way, then she should be fine with a compact. (But yes, obviously an 8-speed cassette will have wider gear spacing than a 10-speed of the same range, and that's as much a consideration as whether to have two or three up front.)

    Myself, with my 50/39/30 x 11-25, I really really notice the absence of an 18-tooth cog on the cassette. The jump from 17 to 19 is just too large for me. If I went to a 50/34 x 11-34, I could have an even broader gear range, but I'd have jumps like that nearly every single gear. It would not work for MY knees or MY leg muscles.

    At least with the 10-speed I have a 16; on my old 6-speed (52/42 x 12-21) it was awful having to jump from 15 to 17.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 05-29-2009 at 07:27 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,845
    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    So that's your preference. And if the OP is the same way, then she should be fine with a compact. (But yes, obviously an 8-speed cassette will have wider gear spacing than a 10-speed of the same range, and that's as much a consideration as whether to have two or three up front.)

    Myself, with my 50/39/30 x 11-25, I really really notice the absence of an 18-tooth cog on the cassette. The jump from 17 to 19 is just too large for me. If I went to a 50/34 x 11-34, I could have an even broader gear range, but I'd have jumps like that nearly every single gear. It would not work for MY knees or MY leg muscles.

    At least with the 10-speed I have a 16; on my old 6-speed (52/42 x 12-21) it was awful having to jump from 15 to 17.
    It's my preference, but saying that she's going to have a problem hunting for a gear in almost every gear on a compact is not a true statement - it depends on what she's running on her rear cassette. Especially as we have no idea what the gears are on her current bike - I think she's got a hybrid from the tri thread she posted? So probably 3x8 in the back, so she is probably hunting for gears that work at times, but that's more related to an 8 speed in the back.

    If you put an 12-23 rear cassette on your triple, you could get rid of not having an 18 tooth cog, and you probably wouldn't feel like you were hunting for a gear on a triple. A 12-23 would also probably fix a lot of that on a compact for you. Now that may not give you enough gears for hills, and it may not give her enough gears either. Not that I think you should get a compact at all, because you seem happy with your bike - but compact doubles are not as bad as you're making them out to be.

    If you're having knee pain, you might want to look into your crank length if you haven't already - I switch my cranks to 165's which is much kinder on my knees.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Newport, OR
    Posts
    323
    Quote Originally Posted by Catriona View Post
    It's my preference, but saying that she's going to have a problem hunting for a gear in almost every gear on a compact is not a true statement - it depends on what she's running on her rear cassette. Especially as we have no idea what the gears are on her current bike - I think she's got a hybrid from the tri thread she posted? So probably 3x8 in the back, so she is probably hunting for gears that work at times, but that's more related to an 8 speed in the back.

    If you put an 12-23 rear cassette on your triple, you could get rid of not having an 18 tooth cog, and you probably wouldn't feel like you were hunting for a gear on a triple. A 12-23 would also probably fix a lot of that on a compact for you. Now that may not give you enough gears for hills, and it may not give her enough gears either. Not that I think you should get a compact at all, because you seem happy with your bike - but compact doubles are not as bad as you're making them out to be.

    If you're having knee pain, you might want to look into your crank length if you haven't already - I switch my cranks to 165's which is much kinder on my knees.

    You are correct I have a cannondale F400 Hybrid. It has a triple in the front (mt bike kind from what i have been told) and a road bike cog but dont know about the #'s. I do have 27 gears. I really rarely go into the small chain ring at this point.

    One of the people I road the 38 miles with last sunday suggested either
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...=38454&eid=117

    http://www.trekbikes.com/women/wsd_p...es/road/12wsd/

    I am not sure I can go that high...at this point.

    Tina

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    2,033
    Quote Originally Posted by txred9876 View Post
    You are correct I have a cannondale F400 Hybrid. It has a triple in the front (mt bike kind from what i have been told) and a road bike cog but dont know about the #'s. I do have 27 gears. I really rarely go into the small chain ring at this point.

    One of the people I road the 38 miles with last sunday suggested either
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...=38454&eid=117

    http://www.trekbikes.com/women/wsd_p...es/road/12wsd/
    I am not sure I can go that high...at this point.

    Tina
    whoa. Definitely not the one with Sora. That's too crappy a groupset.

    Have you thought of buying used?
    It's a little secret you didn't know about us women. We're all closet Visigoths.

    2008 Roy Hinnen O2 - Selle SMP Glider
    2009 Cube Axial WLS - Selle SMP Glider
    2007 Gary Fisher HiFi Plus - Specialized Alias

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    589
    I too own a triple and a double. I have run out of gears on the double once or twice, but that's due to my own fitness issues and I would have run out of gears on the triple as well (MAYBE I have one or two that are effectively a bit lower). As I get more fit the double becomes less of an issue (and keep in mind I live in the Rockies, so when I run out of gears it's been on fairly steep grade).

    What's more of an issue (and one of the reasons I bought a new bike) is the 8 speed rear on the old bike. It's really limiting, and not particularly fun or cheap to upgrade to a 10speed at a later date. I notice the limitations of the triple/8 speed setup far far more often than I run into my physical limitations with the double/10 speed.

    IMO, with your tri goals, you are better off with a double and a 9 or 10 speed cassette than a triple with an 8 speed cassette. You can make the double cover nearly the range of the triple (If I wanted I could get a smaller "granny" or a different rear cassette). If you find a triple with a 9 or 10 speed rear then I think it becomes more of a personal preference thing, but I personally wouldn't be afraid of a double based on not being able to get a low enough gear though.

 

 

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