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Which crankset to get Double or Triple on my new Zurich?????(43 posts)

Which crankset to get Double or Triple on my new Zurich?????notes_clp
May 10, 2001 8:14 AM
I am getting ready to pick up my first road bike, YEAH!! Finally decided to go with the Lemond Zurich,, but only one decision left to make.. Which crankset to get???????

+'s of Double:
Better shifting
Quicker shifting
Less weight

+'s of Triple
Can climb any hill
Even if I bonk on a ride I can get home

Any other +/- I should take into consideration? LBS also has suggested that we could change the rear cogs to get a lower (or is it higher??) set of gears with the double.. Anyone done that and have you been happy with the results?
Start with tripleDog
May 10, 2001 8:23 AM
I'd say to just about anyone, unless they live in Florida (or any other really flat place), start with the triple. When I returned to road biking a few years ago, I did. That at least gives you the option to spin up the steep hills.

In a few years, if you find you never need the small ring, then switch to the double.

If you want to start with a double, then I'd suggest a 12-27 cassette (Shimano) and 53/39 crankset.

re: Which crankset to get Double or Triple on my new Zurich?????MeDotOrg
May 10, 2001 8:33 AM
Unless you live in a flat area, or are commited to getting into racing shape, I say get a triple. Especially when you first start riding, knowing that you have the gears that will get you home even if you bonk is important. It's just a confidence and comfort factor that will enable you to go distances and places you might not go.
re: Which crankset to get Double or Triple on my new Zurich?????GregJ
May 10, 2001 8:42 AM
Where do you live? How old are you? Height and weight? What kind of condition are you in and how much do you intend to ride? I would not be so quick to pick up a triple if I were you. They are great for certain riders but not necessarily for everyone. Putting a 12-27 on the rear with a 53/39 crank gives you lots of low gear. More info please.
re: Which crankset to get Double or Triple on my new Zurich?????notes_clp
May 10, 2001 9:22 AM
I live in NC. In my area we have some rolling foothills and a few mtn's within a hours drive. I am in fair condition, have been MTB for off and on for several years, so legs are up to the task, I think.
FYI the zurich come with a 53/39 and a 12/25 cassette, so I may look into bumping the 25 to a 27. No racing as of now, in the future who knows?? Just riding for fun/fitnes etc.
Start With - Always Witholeschool
May 10, 2001 8:51 AM
I just bought a new bike and talked to several local club riders before my purchase about the same thing. I am not in the best shape right now so this was a concern of mine.

I live in Illinois where we don't have mountains but do have quite rolling terrain and strong winds. Almost everyone I talked to said the triple is nice to start with, but if you do any amount of consistant riding you will quickly grow out of it.

Problem is...once you start with a triple as other posters here are stuck with it unless you drop the big cash to upgrade half your group. So - once you grow out of the granny gear and just use it as a double you are still going to get the poor shifts and difficult adjustment/setup that comes with a triple.

I am no racer and don't plan on racing. I'm 33 and 7.5% over my recommended body fat level. My pulse avg 66 and I'm 30lbs over weight. I've hit some hard hills that I have crawled up but have never wished I had a triple. 12-27 39/53 is fine and will only make you stronger. If you bonk you bonk...and even being towed back by a motorcycle is going to seem difficult - but how many times can you say you have hit the wall that hard just training?
My preference - 12x27Ixnixit
May 10, 2001 8:53 AM
I recently pulled a triple off of my bike because I just couldn't stand the lack of accuracy in the front. I got so tired of this combo rubbing and that combo rubbing that I swapped it for a double. I did switch to a 12x27 and can now spin up just about anything. It's probably possible to get the front aligned perfectly, but it was beyond my skill level. Go for the 12x27 and be happy.
My preference - 12x27look271
May 10, 2001 9:05 AM
Agreed. I just switched to a 12-27. I've gone up some pretty steep stuff on it. Unless you live in a REALLY hilly area, a 12-27 should do the trick. And BTW-welcome to the road! Be safe, and have fun.
Don't get it at allBertie
May 10, 2001 9:02 AM
This is not a flame bait, but I just don't get it with this triple shifting problems stuff. I run Campy triple, and never have any problems - the shifting is just as good as my double. As for the "extra weight" argument - come on guys, please - first road bike? Given the above, I honestly can't see any reason why you wouldn't use a triple, unless you are really talking serious racing stuff...
Don't get it at allxxx
May 10, 2001 9:14 AM
Bertie, chill. I totally disagree. I would never, ever put a triple on my roadie...any of my roadies. Road bikes are road bikes. If you want a triple, look at a touring bike and possibly a cross. With a 39 front and proper gearing in the rear, anyone can pretty well make it anywhere.
Don't get it at allBertie
May 10, 2001 9:28 AM
I'm not unchil. I just say this - there are lots of manufacturers who seem not to share your "they don't go on roadbikes" philosophy. Touring bikes are roadbikes. What does that tell us? That there is a market out there. Shim have just launched a new Ultega triple - for touring/CX only use? Sure, if you are young, fit, into cycling, and don't spin really long steep hills, then you can view a triple as the Devils own satanic device. If not, you might find, as many thousands of people do, that they are very useful. I do - there are days when I just want to get up hills easier, and stay in the saddle, and the triple is the way to do that. I know I am not alone on this from all the other posts on the issue on this and other boards.

All that aside, I just don't get the shifting probs stuff?
Don't get it at allRay Sachs
May 10, 2001 9:48 AM
Just because you can "pretty well make it anywhere" doesn't mean "anyone" can. I ride about 5,000 miles a year, so I speak from a reasonable amount of experience. I live in a pretty hilly area with lots of steep hills, but not many longer than a mile or so. Nonetheless, with hills everywhere, some days it feels like I'm always climbing. I don't race. I *LIKE* low gears. I don't always use them, but I've NEVER regretted having them. On one of my road bikes I have a 12-27 in back, but a 34-48 in front - this is my MOST aggressively geared bike. On another I have a 12-32 in back and a 34-46 in front. On my cross / all-rounder type bike I have a 12-32 with a 24/36/48 triple in front. If I had only one road bike, it would have a triple.

These are WAY lower gears than you recommend, but they suit me well. There are days when a low gear of 39x27 will limit the length of the ride I'd do. For anything over about 50-60 miles where I know there will be lots of hills, I always take the bike with the 12-32 on it - this is LOWER than most road triples. For the first couple of years I was riding, a 39x26 was my low gear. I could slog my way up most anything, but I didn't ride more than 30-40 miles at a time very often and suffered when I did. I'd rather have the option to spin if it's all the same to you.

You can call me a weak old guy - I don't give a sh*t. I know what works for me and don't make any assumptions about what will work for you or anyone else. If you can ride any terrain with a 39x27 and have fun doing it, good - enjoy yourself. Don't assume that everyone else rides the same way you do though. We don't.

-Ray "a little agitated today" Sachs
what 34/48?Dog
May 10, 2001 9:51 AM
What crankset are you using for hte 34/48? I think I need one for a climbing bike. Thanks.

what 34/48?Cliff Oates
May 10, 2001 10:01 AM
Doug, you might want to have a look at TA's Zepphyr cranks. Peter White Cycles ( and Rivendell sell them. 110/74/56 BCD, but you can leave the inner ring off.
what 34/48?Ray Sachs
May 11, 2001 6:17 AM

Sorry, thought I responded yesterday but evidently forgot to hit the "OK" button. I have two Ritchey 110 bcd double cranksets that I got from Excel when they were closing them out a year and a half or two years ago. 172.5mm, great cranks, light/stiff/low Q factor. Unfortunately, they aren't made anymore. Sugino and Race Face make 110/74 triples that you can run without the granny, but only in 170 and 175, I believe. Nashbar or Performance is closing out the RSX 110 double for about $40 right now, but again, only in 170 and 175. If you want a different size, the TA Zephyr is the only one I know of - Peter Jon White and Rivendell both sell them and they're NOT cheap!

You could also get a compact mountain triple, drop the granny ring, and run a 29 tooth small ring. From what I've read of the rides you do though, you probably don't need anything that low.

Don't get it at allxxx
May 10, 2001 7:29 PM
Dang Ray, you are maybe a little pissed today, huh? Didn't have low enough gearing on a hill, or what? I could quite easily put your remarks above into a 'double' content and it would work reverse. So call me a strong old guy and I don't give a sh*t. Chill out cause I know what works for me and I don't like YOU making assumptions for what does and doesn't work for other people. This original question was asked, and I answered. I figured a bunch would argue for the triple and I disagree. You have nothing on hills as far I'm concerned. I talking Rocky Mountain high right out my door....and it's usually in a 23 kiss my ass. Triples are for wankers.
Don't get it at allRay Sachs
May 11, 2001 6:01 AM
No problem with you liking and riding whatever you want to and whatever works for you. More power to you. I was objecting to the statement "With a 39 front and proper gearing in the rear, *ANYONE* can pretty well make it anywhere". Emphasis added. That's YOU making assumptions about EVERYONE else. So kiss MY ass.

-Ray "evidently a wanker" Sachs
Don't get it at allxxx
May 11, 2001 8:17 AM
God, please forgive me, I said 'anyone' and I forgot about poor Ray Sachs who apparently has a serious sore on his ass because he's about as grumpy as the day is long. You REALLY ride a 34x27 as your most aggressive? Can 34x27 and the word 'aggressive' be put in the same sentence? You most certainly have never been to Italy or France as you would not be allowed. And, it's a free country here, but do us a favor and stay away from the Rockies...I like to be finished a ride after a couple hours and waiting for you to spin that 34x27 up a 20 mile pass would be intolerable. (And you are not 'evidently' a are a confirmed one.....go away)
Don't get it at allponch
May 10, 2001 7:44 PM
A 34x27 low and 12x48 is your most aggresive geared bike? Why don't you just walk?
Don't get it at allRay Sachs
May 11, 2001 6:11 AM
I don't spin out in the 48x12 until the upper 30s or lower 40 mph range. I don't race, so what the hell do I need a higher gear than that for? A 34x27 gets me up just about any hill (on a single day ride when I'm not wasted - I'm happy to go even lower on multi-day tours), and frequently faster than "macho" riders who are struggling with their 39x23 (sometimes THEY'RE walking). There are obviously plenty of folks who pass me like I'm standing still too. I don't claim to be fast - I'm a recreational rider and generally average only 15-18 mph, depending on terrain. But I ride a lot of miles and I'd rather NOT walk the steep grades, if its all the same to you.

Don't get it at alldug
May 11, 2001 7:36 AM
just because YOU ride a triple, dosen't mean your right. Chill out. Riding is supposed to relax your mind. You are indeed a recreational rider... one with a rotten attitude. Kiss my double.
Don't get it at allRay Sachs
May 11, 2001 8:20 AM
This whole ridiculous sub-thread started when XXX said something to the effect that ANYONE will be able to ride ANYTHING with a 39x27. I have no quarrel with anybody riding whatever gears they want. I'm not suggesting that a particularly strong rider should get a triple or that EVERYONE would benefit from one. Ride what you want. I do get worked up when a strong rider (or someone claiming to be one) recommends against a triple (or any other way of getting low gears) for "everyone".

May 11, 2001 8:58 AM
Did you forget your prune juice yesterday?
Don't get the anti-triple crowdDaveG
May 10, 2001 10:34 AM
I don't understand why some folks care so much whether others ride a triple or not. This is not one of the great injustices in the world. Exactly how is harming you that someone rides triple or wants a triple? Why are you threatened by triples? Triples exist because people want them and buy them. Ride what you like/want.
I can tell you exactly why triples are resentedDog
May 10, 2001 11:09 AM
I know this from personal experience.

On a very steep hill, a weaker rider with sufficiently low gears can go quite a bit faster than the stronger rider mashing along at 50 rpms. I've been on both ends of this situation. The stronger rider resents like hell the slower rider beating him. He resents the fact that he feels he must use a double or risk suffering humiliation from his racing or pseudo-racing buddies, but gets beaten by the weaker rider.

Plus, pros don't use them, at least 99% of the time, so they aren't cool.

That's why.

This rings true!!Len J
May 10, 2001 11:11 AM
Doug, you hit it right on the head. Regarding the 34-48 front...Jimbob
May 10, 2001 11:56 AM
this would be a great set up for some of the hills around my area for going up, but coming down it seems as though you would run out of gears pretty quickly. I would love to have a 34 or so but would miss my 53.

Regarding resentment on triples, I agree. If the pros used them they would be accepted. Period. Its funny how much of an influence they have on all the "wanna-bes".
Can't speak for CampyIxnixit
May 10, 2001 9:36 AM
but with my Ultegra set up there was always some outer or inner combination of ring/cog that rubbed. With three positions on the front derailleur, I could never figure out how to get it all set up to avoid this annoyance. In fact, my LBS could never get all of it out either. I know I'm obsessive about noise, and my mechanic skills are middling, but I would much rather have a silent 12x27 double than a noisy triple.
Aaah, wellBertie
May 10, 2001 9:44 AM
That's where Campy comes out on top - the range and ease of trimming the front derail. Most would argue that you "shouldn't" ride that crossed anyway, or was it really restrictive?
Actually, I was really disappointedIxnixit
May 10, 2001 4:35 PM
in how little range I could get. I know better than to ride the maximums, but when you can't get a quiet combination 2 or 3 cogs in either direction then you have to wonder.
Don't get it at allCliff Oates
May 10, 2001 9:46 AM
I have a bike set up with a Campy triple and have put 400-500 miles on a bike (belonging to the shop owner) equipped with an Ultegra triple. Campy's non-indexed front der makes a big difference in trimming a triple, in my experience. Actually, my Campy triple might shift a little better than my Campy double, since the size differential (52-42-30 versus 53-39) between the rings is smaller.
Triple for meno excuses
May 10, 2001 10:25 AM
I bought a used Zurich with a double and upgraded to a triple. Easy choice for me since I live in an area with lots of hills and as an older overweight rider, the triple was my choice.
The comment I have to the previous posts is that I have been extremely satisfied with my ability to trim the front der (Shimano Ultegra) to avoid chain rub. Coming from a low end hybrid, this has been a pleasure.
Choices- double or tripleMiklos
May 10, 2001 10:29 AM
I'm gonna say if you live in a hilly area, go with the triple. With a double geared down really low, there are large gaps in availiable gear ratios. The triple will be closer ratio, allowing you to easier select your optimum gear. As far as the weight differences, for the 105, Shimano lists 683 grams for the double crankset and 766 grams for the triple. Thats a differance of 83 grams or 2.669 ounces or .1667 pounds, not a large differance. When I first got my first road bike (you guessed it, a 105 triple) I noticed chain rub in the middle and smallest chain ring, then I found out (on Shimano's web site) that they are trimmable by "half shifting" and have not had any problems since. I just had to find out the proper way to use them, since the bike shop didn't see fit to clue me in. If you were to change your mind in a year or two, you can change over for less than $100 by watching for sales on the internet. Remember you dont have to change shifters, since Shimanos' are double/triple compatible. If you have a fragile ego and just need to feel like you are with the "in" crowd, then forget the triple. My recommedation is to let your terrain, age and physical shape determine your needs, not peer presure.

Last night I spun up a hill that is two miles long with a 1000 feet elevation gain, average grade 10%, some areas much steeper, some not so steep. Bottom line....I like my triple, it was the best choice for ME.

Choices- double or tripleBill (guest)
May 10, 2001 11:28 AM
One thing to consider about the triple setup by LeMond and others is that it has only three gear ratios that are outside the range of the double chainring setup. For me, it's not worth the trouble.
re: Which crankset to get Double or Triple on my new Zurich?????Haiku d'état
May 10, 2001 11:29 AM
have a double on my specialized and a triple on the new bianchi. i use the specialized as my main ride around town (mostly flat and some rolling), but use the triple when i'm riding longer rides (60+) and, recently, out-of-town rides that are more hilly and/or mountainous. after this weekend's century in chattanooga, TN, i am thankful that i opted for the triple. i spun in the very lowest gear, and saved a little knee pain and suffering down the road (immediate and long-term).

there were several dozen hangers-on, all in fair to good condition, climbing those mountains with me, and all were spinning in their lowest gear on triples, except those standing and mashing all the way (with frequent breaks) on doubles. i'm not saying this is what's right for you, but it's certainly what's right for me (variety, or a different/appropriate tool for the job). i don't race, and don't have any expectations for myself higher than fast recreational and increasing mileage. and, the fact that a "racer" or "more accomplished/experienced" rider might look down on me for riding the triple doesn't hurt my feelings at all.

I sympathize with your quandary, and think this is an awesome place to get feedback. unfortunately, some of the feedback may lead you astray with machismo and social typecasting (hello, this is NOT flame bait). please don't allow "tradition", peer pressure or browbeating to force you into a double; think about what's right for you and your intended uses for the bike, and make your own decision.

good luck!
re: Which crankset to get Double or Triple on my new Zurich?????MikeC
May 10, 2001 12:16 PM
Just a general comment on the double/triple scenario: I switched from a Shimano triple (52/42/30) with a standard 12-25 cassette to a Campagnolo double (53/39) with the 13-29 sprockets. In my biggest gear combination, the Campy package falls less than 7 inches smaller than the Shimano; in the smallest gearing, the Campy bottom is less than 4 inches bigger than the Shimano (very similar to the 23 tooth sprocket).
For me (and where I ride), I find the simplicity of the two ring setup outweighs the advantages of the triple. By going with the double and the 13-29, I really only give up two gears out of the triple's available on the top, one on the bottom.
Triples are for GIRLS!He-Man
May 10, 2001 12:22 PM
If you're a girl, go ahead and get the triple. If you're a sissy, get the triple. If your any kind of man, get the double. There's no reason why a real cyclist can't climb any hill in a 39/27 gear. There's no reason why a real cyclist, who's bonking, can't limp home on a 39/27 gear. Take it from He-Man.
Automatic transmission in a Porsche TurboJ.S.
May 10, 2001 12:54 PM
I think the problem lies when people see someone on a bike that was built and bred to be raced,a Colnago C40 for example, with a triple and think that bike will never see it's potential. I used to get this feeling when seeing someone in a Porsche with an automatic and the seat about 2 inches from the steering wheel. In the grand scheme though who cares, ride what you want.
That's the most succinct, insightful summary anyone could make!MikeC
May 10, 2001 1:11 PM
Somebody please explain how a triple slows me downSilverback
May 10, 2001 1:18 PM
I mean, jeez, I've still got the same gear range on top. 120 gear inches is still 120 gear inches. I don't think the extra four ounces the small ring weighs is going to hold me back any more than the extra half a bagel I ate with lunch. It doesn't shift any worse. It makes the bike more versatile. It saves my knees on hard climbs. Yet people point and laugh, at least electronically.
Could it be aero drag? Myth? Tradition? Machismo run wild? Don't give in to it! Fight the temptation to rate your manliness based on the size of your gear!
I'll take the other side for a momentDog
May 10, 2001 2:01 PM
Just for the sake of seeing both sides, I'll offer this. Using low gears all the time, as a rider might be tempted to do with a triple, can keep you from building up the strength that you might get by being forced to mash (or spin really hard) with higher gears. When training in the mountains around here, I'll frequently put on my 11-21 or 11-23 cassette just so I'm forced to ride hard. There is some merit to that. Of course, you could accomplish the same thing with a triple and sufficient discipline.

Nonetheless, for purely recreational riding, or to actually go as fast as you can in an event, having sufficiently low gears is easier on you and actually faster.

Keep in mind our disparate experiences and perspectives, too. Someone in Florida is not going to think of gearing anything like someone from Colorado or who rides in the Sierra Nevada mountains all the time. The length of your rides matters, too. While I can ride up any hill (yes any) in my 21 cog while fresh, doing so after 100's of miles is quite different -- no way I'd do that in a double century up a 2 mile long 20% grade -- I'd be wasted. I'm certain the same applies to many other people, too.

Doug Sloan, I think you had it right the first time...BrianU
May 10, 2001 10:21 PM
I put alot of thought into this debate when I started looking to buy my first new roadbike. I live in Oklahoma, so rarely use low gears. In fact my old Cannondale has a 53/42 up front and a 21/12 in back. The only time I seemed to use the 53 was when I was going over 20 mph. With the 42, I did very little shifting up front and I loved the close ratio of the 21/12. However, last summer while riding somewhere else on a tour, I paid for that gearing. This got me to thinking, maybe with a triple I could have my cake and eat it too. In fact, hmmm...I could probably run a straight block and with that 30, still do that century in Santa Fe without having to kill my knees or swap parts before going. I work with several guys that are pretty hardcore and when I ran this idea past them, holy cow talk about opening a can of worms! They were determined to convince me that serious riders do not run triples. They never did really have a reason for this thought process, so I just chocked it up as an image thing. Maybe there is something to that front shifting issue, but it looks like some people have no problems so I am a little skeptical of that argument. Anyway, the Lemond Buenos Aires that I found in my size had a double, so that is what I run now. I'm happy with it, but I do not think it is better than a triple.
Depends....grz mnky
May 10, 2001 4:35 PM
...on what kind of riding you do and your riding style/condition. Nasty hills and long@ss rides are a lethal combo, but if you're fit and a bit of a pedal masher you should be fine with a 12-27 up into the ave. 9% sustained grade with spikes at 12 and 15%. If you're more of a spinner and into long endurance type stuff the triple will get you through anything. Other factors would be things like knee surgery may be an important consideration.

There is the "real men don't ride triples" school of thought, but if you're relatively secure it's not worth considering - it can be just unnecessary pain and suffereing. If you get the triple rig you can do a relatively inexpensive chainring (or crank + BB) conversion and be riding a double. The shifters are the same, the rear der. doesn't matter. The front der. would be sub-optimal. If you start with a double then want to go to a triple it will cost you more $$$.

Probably the biggest consideration is to put it in terms of your MTB experience: are you the first guy to drop into the granny gear, or do like and want to power up things in the middle ring. If you want to get stronger then the double will force this on you - if you want to minimize pain and suffering then the triple would be a good call.