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Cranksets(5 posts)

CranksetsThe Cat
May 25, 2001 10:41 AM
May sound like a dumb question but I am new to the road world - so please bear with me.
What are the main differences between the double and triple cranksets (besides them being double / triple...)? Why would one want to use either of them?

Many thanks...
re: CranksetsBruno S
May 25, 2001 11:39 AM

- more lower gears for easier climbing
- shift may not be as smooth as a double

Most common chainring combination: 30/42/52


- best shifts
- lighter than a triple

Most common chainring combination: 39/53

You should get a triple if you will be doing a lot of climbs and/or are not in very good shape.

I have a triple, it shifts fine (all mountain bikes have triples and they work ok) but people say that doubles will shift better.

When I just bought the bike I was using the triple on occassion but now I never use it so I would have been better off with a double.

All racers and most people that train hard use doubles since there is the perception that triples are for women/novices/touring bikes.
Let me just give you my biased view on that...Cory
May 25, 2001 1:36 PM
Bear in mind that I'm 56, and I can't climb the way I used to (actually I never could climb the way I say I used to, but that's another post). Still:
53-39 is the most common double chainring combination, as Bruno said, but it doesn't make sense for most riders. Everybody wants that big ring so they'll look like Lance, but on an ordinary ride (not a race, just people riding around), you don't see one person in 25 in anything higher than 53-20 or so. Check it out for yourself. Most will be on the small ring.
A smaller combination--maybe 46-36 with an 11-28 or 12-28 cassette--gives most of us more usable gears with no drawbacks, because we never use the long gears anyway. A triple (mine is 46-36-24) gives you the same thing, plus an extra set of WAY low gears for loaded climbs or days when you just aren't up to it.
The shifting advantage of a double is real but very small. I've had triples on my road bikes for 10 years, and I can remember only two or three times I've "overshifted" to the small ring when I wanted the middle. I've never missed going the other way. If it worries you, you can turn the limit screw in to lock out the small ring and still have it there when you need it.
A triple might not offer anything for a 20-year-old guy who trains four hours a day, but for people with jobs and families and demands on their time, it's a good solution with very few disadvantages. Weight difference is minimal--much less than a waterbottle or that Big Mac you ate yesterday.
Hey, I'm with you...The Flyin Fred
May 26, 2001 7:41 AM
....I have triples,and find them useful on ocasion,but use them less now than I use to. I'm 59,but have time to train alot,so I try to get better rather than getting more gears.Some day I may becone 'granny dependent',but for now I often out climb the youngins in the big ring.
another biased viewlonefrontranger
May 27, 2001 10:29 AM
Just to add my .02: I've been road & crit racing on a 'cross bike (until my new road bike is finished). It has dual rings, 38/50 - 13/26 rear 8sp. Granted these are Cat III/IV women's races, but I've not run out of gears yet.

I'm planning on going to a 38/52 - 12/25 10sp. double when the new road bike is finished. It gives me better climb ratios and better gear selection, without being so small that I have a disadvantage on our multi-mile descents here in CO, or sacrificing shifting quality. Incidentally, that small difference in shifting advantage translates to a big difference in a race, where one chain drop, suck or mis-shift wastes your entry fee pretty darn quick. The wider chain angles of a triple setup coupled with the stupid stuff you do with your gears in the heat of battle risks breaking the chain as well, especially with the super skinny 9/10 speed chains in use these days. I'm also considering weight, but you do have to be somewhat a gram counter when you're small, weak and female. There are quite a few girls in our races who start out on triples, have issues with them, and switch within the season. Many of the chain-drops I've seen frantically off the bike scrambling to re-chain at the base of the big climb in the race have been triples. Might be coincidence, but I wonder.

Triples are fabulous for loaded touring, fast touring, recreational rides, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Peak to Peak, MTB racing, and anyone else who just can't make it up that legbreaker on the Tuesday night club ride. I'm still unconvinced they're a good idea in a road race, but after all, we're a really small minority, aren't we? It's too bad there are folks out there ruining their knees just to have the same bike as the Euro-pros, who are basically from another planet anyhow - they ride ridiculous stuff like 54/11 and can actually use it, too.

The reason I'm going to smaller ring ratios is that even in a fast flat crit, you NEVER see women using anything bigger than 53/15, even in a hard sprint. I doubt most of us can actually generate the wattage for it. The 50 big ring allows me to spin up more effectively in a sprint or attack, plus I use a straighter, more efficient chainline on flat-to-rolling races, rather than being crossed-up and grinding in the 53/21 and 23 like I see a lot of girls doing.

Back in the early '90s, the USCF had rules limiting junior gears. My first coach made me use junior gearing (38/48) when I started out, even though I was in my 20s, but I think he had a point.