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New bike double/triple dilema(21 posts)

New bike double/triple dilemaGreg Kloeppel
Jun 11, 2001 10:17 PM
I started road riding this spring on my neighbors bike and now I am looking at buying one for myself. I have decided on a steel frame or maybe a CAAD 4 Cannondale. I have an opportunity to buy a brand new 2000 Schwinn Peloton for $900. The only hesitation I have is the 12-23 cassette on a double. I am going to do some triathlon, but mostly 20 mile training rides and some multi-day tours, centuries, etc. I am 41 and live in Indiana. My friends tell me I am foolish to buy anything but a triple. Any thoughts?
new bike double/triple dilemaWade
Jun 11, 2001 10:41 PM
I'm getting a new bike too, and I'm going with the triple. I love hills, and with the trip nothing is too steep or too long--even at the end of a long ride or early in the season. If you decide you don't need it--it's a real easy downgrade.
swap the cassette for a 12-27 and stick with the double.johnrg
Jun 11, 2001 11:56 PM
Agree: 12-27 doubleSLM
Jun 12, 2001 6:11 AM
Ultegra cassette with 12-27 cogs and the standard Ultegra 52-39 double chainring will get you thru the steepest hills.
Could go even lower by swapping out your 53 & 39 rings....shmoo
Jun 12, 2001 7:20 AM
...for 52 & 38's. I have a triple on board now, but if I had it to do over, I'd probably go with the 52 & 38 up front with the 12-27 or 13-27 in back. Gives you damn near the typical 30/23 granny of an off the shelf triple (35.2gi vs 38.0gi) without the crosschaining and finicky dr adjustments (read chain-rub). Rarely use the high end anyway,and the extra low end is much more beneficial IMO.
Count me in !Crash
Jun 12, 2001 10:16 AM
When I bought my new bike I had the same question. I really liked the better shifting and simplicity of the double, but didn't want to be stuck in the hills. The owner of the shop helped me figure out what gear in the granny would equal a 39-27 (around a 30-20, but I stayed in the 30-19) and went out riding. Really never felt like I needed a higher gear so I went with the double (52-39, 12-27). I've put around 50 miles on my bike so far and I don't use the 39-27 that often, but it's nice knowing it's there.
Advantages of a double...gromit
Jun 12, 2001 1:38 AM
The main advantage of a double with a wide spaced rear cassette e.g. 13-26 is that is forces you to ride harder up hills initially. The first 200 miles were hard for me, then i realised that I didn't need the lower gears most of the time. If you had a triple, you could dawdle your life away in the lower gears and never get stronger.
Just a thought...
Advantages of a double...PingPong
Jun 12, 2001 5:38 AM
I disagree with the idea of using gears that are too high in order to get stronger. Even in a sport like body building this sort of logic fails.

Jumping in at the deep end with the gears experts use will leave you with no option but grinding up climbs, out of the saddle at very low cadences. This sort of training will increase strength, but at the risk of damaging joints and tendons.

When starting out you should concentrate on spinning smoothly, a triple will let you do this, and also give you a good closely spaced array of gears. Provided you put quality effort in you won't dawdle your life away (as suggested), you will get stronger, allowing your joints and tendons to gradually adapt to the stresses involved. You will also have the option of switching up and feeling those big gears any time you like.

When I started out I used an old road bike with a low gear of 42-19. Looking back now that was a nightmare on the hills , even for a short ride! I used to blow up half way up and spend the rest of the hill slumped over the handle bars, just trying to keep moving! True, I did get stronger, but I could have done some better quality work with the right gears. I now have a double and a triple, and stick the triple on if I am going to the alps or somewhere like that, where it allows me to ride climb after climb.
Advantages of a double...Ray Sachs
Jun 12, 2001 6:48 AM
I agree, particularly if you're looking at doing multi-day tours. Assuming they involve significant climbing, somewhere around day 4 or 5 you're gonna wish you had a granny ring.

The last time this thread came around, I got flamed for saying this, so I'll be more polite about it this time. I'd rather have a triple and rarely use the granny than only have a double and wish to h#ll I had the granny. There are people who are strong enough to ride everything with a double, but until you know you're one of them, give yourself the option of the lower gears.

An aside on this topic - I was at the First Union race in Philly on Sunday and spent the first couple of hours at the Wall in Manyunk (about a kilometer with the first half at maybe 8-10% and the last half at 17%). Before the race, a lot of us spectators were taking our best shots at the climb. There were definately some strong riders having no trouble with doubles, but there were plenty of folks with doubles who were just dying. One of the funnier sites I saw was a guy grinding up this hill on his high-tech road bike in his double, at a cadence of no more than 25-30, traversing side to side just to keep the bike moving - just losing it, and then seeing another guy in the granny ring of his knobbie tired mountain bike merrily spinning past him, holding a cadence that looked like about 110 and smiling the whole time.

-Ray "I'd go with a triple" Sachs
Fair enough...gromit
Jun 12, 2001 10:07 AM
A triple for a complete novice with steep or long hills.
A double with a wide spread for a regular rider (e.g. mountain biker) with hills.
A triple for anyone less than god-like for Alpine assaults. How does that sound?
Fair enough...Ray Sachs
Jun 12, 2001 1:05 PM
Sounds reasonable to me, but...

It also comes down to personal riding style. Some folks are spinners, some folks are mashers. Spinners should have low gears available, regardless of how they get 'em (I use doubles with mtb cassettes and/or cranks with 34-48 chainrings). Mashers probably wouldn't ever use 'em. This can apply to really strong spinners and really weak mashers too, from what I've seen.

re: New bike double/triple dilemaVaMootsman
Jun 12, 2001 9:13 AM
Double = road bike

Triple = mountain/touring bike

Touring bike = long wheel base, rack eyelets

Cross bike = double....maybe triple if you tour on it

Indiana with a triple???
re: New bike double/triple dilemaRay Sachs
Jun 12, 2001 1:07 PM
"Double=road bike" Tell Indurain.

Good to see you back here again :)

I know nothing about the terrain in Indiana -- hills? or HILLS?bill
Jun 12, 2001 9:19 AM
And, you say nothing about your conditioning or the speeds you want to travel. If you are reasonably fit, if you are dealing with rollers as opposed to mountains, and if you want to push yourself a little instead of long, comfy tours, I wouldn't worry too much about a triple. I had a triple for awhile and I NEVER used the granny after the first year. And I really probably didn't need it back then. Got a double and never looked back. Now, most of my riding is pretty (very?) flat; I'm using an 11-23 and don't even often use the 23 (before anyone thinks that I'm all bs, I use the 11 a lot less than the 23, and, when I visit the in-laws in CT, where there are some actual hills, I use a 25 low and don't really think that's low enough -- thinking about a 13-26 for CT riding).
Now, if you're dealing with mountains and multi-day treks, that's a different story. For twenty-mile runs and the occasional century with elevations in the 200-500 feet range, you'd be fine with a double, I think.
Cassettes come and go. Whole drivetrains come and go. Buy the bike, not the gearing.
I know nothing about the terrain in Indiana -- hills? or HILLS?Horace Greeley
Jun 12, 2001 10:05 AM
I agree with Bill, buy the bike that fits you well and meets your needs. I had a similar decision over 2 years ago, and went with a double and the LBS swapped out the cassette to a 12-27 because it was the bike I wanted at a great price (as an aside, it was a Cannondale as well). The terrain by me varies from rolling hills (some pretty substantial) to mile or more climbs. Very little flats, but some. I started out in reasonable shape from years of distance running, but not bike shape. Despite this, the 12-27 with a double chainring more than met my needs. I have no regrets, and rarely use the 27 cog. I also did not like the lack of shifting efficiency with the triple, although this may be attributable to the set-up rather than it being a triple.
been there, done thatbianchi boy
Jun 12, 2001 1:29 PM
I faced the same dilemma several years ago in upgrading my old bike, which had a 52/42 crank and 12-23 cassette. My LBS convinced me to try a bigger cassette, 13-26, and I'm glad I went that route. Now, on my new bikes w/ 53/39 chain rings, I've got a 12-27 Ultegra on one bike and 13-29 Campy Chorus on the other. I am not the strongest hill-climber by any means and the 27 or 29 gears provide all the climbing power I need.

In talking to people with triples, I hear that they can be notoriously hard to adjust right. The chain often rubs on the front derailleur and you often have to hunt around between the chain rings to find the right gear. With a triple, you would never use most of the gears in the smallest chain ring. You could get the same climbing power as the gears you actually use by going with a double and 27 or 29 cog. Another advantage of a double is that if you find that over time, as you gain strength, that you don't need the 12-27, you can always swap it out for a 12-23 or 12-25 for a nominal cost ($60).

One way to check this out is to find a gear ratio chart in a bicycle book. Compare the gear ratio for 39-27 combination to an easy-spinning gear combination you could get with a triple. I think that you'll find that the 39-27 is plenty low enough.
been there, done thatGreg Kloeppel
Jun 12, 2001 2:59 PM
Thanks, I agree and also with the comment from the person above your comment. The bike I was looking at is gone, so now I can continue looking. The hills in Indiana are hills, not HILLS. Most of the state is FLAT. I am getting in better shape as I am training for sprint and Olympic distance triathlon. I just don't want to blow out my knees! A friend of mine who is a Dr. said that I won't as long as I keep training and keep them strong, even though I am over 40.
check here for that peloton!Haiku d'état
Jun 12, 2001 3:10 PM
find your size, if he has it. gvh comes highly recommended (and from personal experience, too!).
Never ridden a triple, but...Lazy
Jun 12, 2001 4:54 PM
Here's the only REAL functional objection I've heard to having one: the middle ring is too big and the little ring is too little. I'm not sure what the available chainring sizes are for a triple, but I would venture to guess that you should be able to get by with a 39x27.

Another thought: cassettes are extremely easy to swap out. You could get the 12/23 on there and buy yourself a 12/27 and swap it out if you are planning to encounter a hilly section of road.

A couple questions for you:

1) What size cassette does your neighbors bike have? Double or triple?

2) Do your friends have the same type of riding style/goals that you have?

I have no doubt that if you ride consistently and with good sense, you will be able to conquer anything that is thrown at you with a double. Then, you can make fun of all your friends for using triples (girly men). That might be worth the double right there.

Seriously though, get whatever will allow you to enjoy riding the most. That's the bottom line.
Never ridden a triple, but...Greg Kloeppel
Jun 12, 2001 9:28 PM
My neighbors bike is a double 53/42 with a 12-24 7-speed cassette. My goals are a little different than the friends I ride with. They just want to tour and ride 40-50 miles on Saturday at 14mph avg. I want to race some triathlon and I am very competitive, so I like to drop my friend on the hills and out sprint them if they even challenge me! Don't mean to sound egotistical and I don't leave them behind,(I save the fast rides when I go alone), but I want to be fit, strong and fast. At least for a 40+ year old.
Never ridden a triple, but...VaMootsman
Jun 12, 2001 11:06 PM
You've said it all. Take a look at your next triathlon's pit area. You will see not one triple...unless it's on some fred's mountain bike. You may not see a double'll see a single. If you're competitive, you will not need, you will not want a triple. Fit, fast, and strong (your words) use doubles. Most nowadays use a 39/53. Cripe...I was at a mountain bike training race tonight (I live somewhere high in the rockies) and, as usual, there were a few people with *singlespeeds*. It's not an 'ego' thing, it's not a 'need' thing, it's not 'us versus them''s a road bike thing. Road bikes use doubles. Period.