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Triple with 11-21, why not?(19 posts)

Triple with 11-21, why not?GMS
Sep 10, 2002 5:39 AM
I know a lot of people use doubles and then get a 12-27 or something similar so that climbing is easier. Other people use 11-23s or 11-21s so that they get the famed 16T, but then they might have another whole bike if they need to climb something.

Is there a reason you can't have a triple with an 11-21 or something similar? That would give you 53 x anything you'd ever want, you'd have a fine selection of gears from any chainring, and you could still climb easier than a double with a 12-25.

It seems like this would be a really combination. I haven't looked into it much, but it sounds nice. Is it reasonable? Is there a reason that I've never seen or heard anyone doing it? Or are they out there and I just don't know...
Been there, done that, ain't going back.Spoke Wrench
Sep 10, 2002 6:02 AM
Actually, mine was a triple with a 14 to 18 five speed freewheel. The way the gear ratios worked out, I went through all five cogs on the big ring then double shifted to the middle ring for five more and so on. I think there was only 1 duplicated ratio among the fifteen available and I used every bit of the chain wrap that the Sun Tour Cyclone short cage had. As you might imagine, the double shifts (before index shifting of course) took a while so I could lose every bit of my momentum on climbs.

It's an experiment that I'm glad that I tried, but I wouldn't do it again. Sometimes ideas that look great on paper lack a bit of "rideability" in the real world. Certainly, with nine choices on the back, I'd rather have ratios with a bit of overlap so that I could make an easier, smoother transition when I shift chainrings.
Sure you can but...Chen2
Sep 10, 2002 6:05 AM
With an 11-21 on a triple the rider may find himself (herself) needing the granny chain ring for hills that most of us would climb in a 39-23 or 39-25. Of course this would depend a lot on the rider and riding terrain. The shift from the middle ring to the granny ring is a big drop and requires care and patience to do smoothly. The shift back from the granny to the middle ring is typically not a smooth shift and usually requires overshifting the front derailleur and then trimming after the shift, as least that's been my experience, even when everything is properly adjusted. I think triples are easier to live with if you can save the granny gear for those occasional killer hills or for heavily loaded bikes. A cassette with bigger cogs can keep the rider off of the granny gear most of the time. And how many folks actually need an 11t cog. I don't know any. My smallest cog is a 13, with a 53 chain ring that gives me 33 mph at a cadence of 100 rpm. I can't sustain a speed of 33 long enough to mean anything. A triple with an 11 cog is equates to 39 mph on a 52t big ring. If you need that you're racing down hill or your name is Mario.
I'm running a triple (30-42-52) with a 13-23...OffTheBack
Sep 10, 2002 6:11 AM
and I really like this setup. I found that with a 39-53 double, I was often riding in 39x13 or 53x21, or something like that, i.e. with the chain completely crossed over. That also meant that for a little bit higher or lower gear, I would often have to shift both derailleurs and all the way across the cassette. With the triple, I find the 42 gives me a lot of useful, closely spaced gears rght in the middle of the cassette, plus I still have Granny for climbing.
I don't understand the problems.GMS
Sep 10, 2002 6:52 AM
That sounds like a very nice setup, similar to what I was thinking. Very fine spacing on the rear.

I don't understand why a triple with this setup would require any more or less shifting than a conventional double with a 12-25 or 11-21. The experience on the big chainring should be exactly the same on a double and a triple for any given rear cassette. The middle should provide a nice ring for moderate flat speeds and quicker climbs. The small ring should be able to handle a whole range of climbs.

I guess my experience with triples has been good.

Spoke Wrench: I'm trying to understand the disadvantages that you laid out but I feel that what you are saying is more significant than I comprehend at the moment. It seems like you'd have to double shift (and I assume this means drop a ring in front while knocking down a few in back at the same time) more on a double since the drop from 53 to 39 is more than the drop to 42.
2003 Record: 30-40-50Spunout
Sep 10, 2002 6:42 AM

This would be the cat's ass for triples. Run your 11-21(even 11-23) for a full range of gears. BTW, the 'famous 16T' is available on many campagnolo 10s cassettes.
2003 Record: 30-40-50bigdeal
Sep 10, 2002 7:23 AM
You may want to check campy's website, I believe for the triple you need to use a long cage rear derailleur. The range on the long cage starts at 13......
Where is that article?Colorado Ron
Sep 10, 2002 7:46 PM
I spent an hour looking for it on and could not find it. Does anyone have a link? 46 years old, two knee operations and living in the mountains = a triple setup for me next year.
Article on 30-40-50 from CampySpunout
Sep 11, 2002 5:27 AM

Sorry, it was in Velonews!

Chorus will make a BB to run triples, so you'll only need Record cranks. Very sexy! And, 10s cogsets offer some nice selections.

That's what I run...MXL02
Sep 10, 2002 7:28 AM
but I use it for flatter terrain, with the occasional hill. I also have a 12-25 for hillier terrain. I think it works great. I am 200 lbs so I need some help in the hills, and the granny gear comes in handy on occasion.
fine, unless you are road racing nmDougSloan
Sep 10, 2002 7:31 AM
fine, unless you are road racing nmSpunout
Sep 10, 2002 7:47 AM
BTW, I opted out of the triple route to go 53/39 and 13-29 in a Chorus 10 speed setup. I have the equivalent gearing of a small block triple in a double.

Medium cage rear derailleur works fine, but I think that the chain length is finicky shifting from 26 > 29.
re: Triple with 11-21, why not?KEN2
Sep 10, 2002 7:48 AM
I run Ultegra triple cranks, which come stock with 30-42-52, and Ultegra 9-speed 12-23 cogset. Works great, nice close spacing and I don't "routinely" use the granny except on steeper, longer hills. It shifts fine, just like a double. I think the reason more people don't run it is just roadie snobbism, aping racers.

I prefer the 42-52 to the DA 39-53 because you can double-shift (i.e. go from middle to large ring in the front, at the same time shift one cog bigger in the back) and get the next available ratio. With 39-53 the adjacent ratio is two cogs away in most gears.
That's What I HaveStewK
Sep 10, 2002 5:31 PM
I have a bike with an 11-21 in the back and a triple in the front and I really love it.

The triple is a little bit more finicky in terms of chain rub, but as far as shifting between the three front rings, it's no problem at all and requires no special attention.

The 11-21 is great because you can really get a precise gear no matter what the terrain without any compromising. Where I live it's pretty hilly so I'm always using the 11 on the downhills (usually spinning at cadences over 100rpm), and with the triple there isn't a hill around that I can't get up.
If you need a triple, do you need an 11? (nm)Kerry
Sep 10, 2002 5:34 PM
Depends on your gut and guts.teamsloppy
Sep 10, 2002 8:30 PM
I have friends carrying 30 extra lbs around their waist that need a triple today to climb the hills they raced up 15 years ago.

But, they still have the "guts" and skills to ride a 40 MPH downhill.
Technique questionKerry
Sep 11, 2002 4:50 PM
At 40 mph, I can just about guarantee that I can outcoast those overweight dudes while they pedal. At that speed, wind drag is so huge, that a tight tuck (chin on the stem, hands gripping the bar at the stem, knees and elbows touching the top tube) will let you go faster than pedalling while sitting up. Still no use for the 11.
If you need a triple, do you need an 11? (nm)GMS
Sep 11, 2002 5:08 AM
Probably not. The point was, though, getting a finely-spaced rear cassette coupled with a triple, instead of getting a widely spread rear cassette with a double. Both can climb, but it seems like the triple approach would be more likely to get you the gear you want on the flats.

Someone mentioned a 13-23. That would also be a good choice for this approach. I might miss the 12, though.
Here's Whygrzy
Sep 11, 2002 7:23 PM
You end with a lot of overlap and excessive shifting of the front chainring - depending on where you live. Might not sound like a big deal, but the front doesn't shift as well, especially under load. In the end it's heavier and more expensive and more sensitive to tuning. You spend enough time with a triple and you begin to appreciate the beauty of a double - it just works better, but everyone is different.