Double, Compact, Triple?

Discussion in 'Road Bikes' started by Silous, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. Silous

    Silous Guest

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    What is the difference? Obviously the triple has 3 rings, correct? Does the third ring give you a bigger gear or a smaller one? Does anybody here use them and why?

    And what does compact mean?
     
  2. Steve5881

    Steve5881 Guest

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    Triple tends to be mainly used on mountain bikes or on lower priced bikes such as hybrids etc. A compact chainset is similiar to a double, the difference being that the number of teeth on the chainrings are lower (for example, 50/34 as opposed to maybe 53/39 on a double) this is good for begginer roadies or those who might struggle on hilly terrain with a double. For road use, most people won't need the smaller ring on a triple set, so go for a double or compact.
     

  3. tajcrews

    tajcrews New Member

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    Most experienced road riders use either the traditional double or compact. Compact cranks are coming more and more popular with roadies nowadays. A lot depends on the type of terrain you ride to. If you ride lots of hilly stuff then compacts are a little more friendly but if you are flat terrain a double is a little nicer. Compact cranks were designed to fill the "gap" between strong riders (doubles) and triples. Hope that helps some.
     
  4. camilo

    camilo New Member

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    Triples can be found on top quality frames and component groups.

    All three rigs have their pros and cons.

    The triple and regular double usually have the same big chain ring size therefore the rider will be able to pedal at a faster speed without "spinning out". For me, I usually coast once I hit 40-45 mph, but I feel more comfortable using a full sized big ring as I approach 40. Only significant for those that actually try to pedal above 35-40 and/or dont' tolerate pretty high cadences. (I don't really feel comfortable pedalling about about 110).

    The compact has 1-2 lower gears than the regular double, but the triple has 1-2 lower yet. Only significant for those that need them of course, and there are no generalizations in that regard.

    The triple has a very slight weight penalty. Probably on the magnitude of a couple of ounces.

    Shifting- here's the big controversy. Most (all?) agree the regular double shifts best. Many say the compact shifts better than the triple, but I've never found that to be true. I feel all can shift flawlessly if maintained properly. There might be differences, but if so, I'm doubtful they're relevant anywhere except in a very tough racing situation.

    One advantage of the triple compared the compact to many riders is the versitility of the middle ring - useful across the entire rear cassette and often results in far less front ring shifting, thus negating any perceived disadvantage or actually making the front shifting "better" in aggregate. It is often more versitile than the (usually identical) small ring of the regular double because of the middle position and the chain line it results in.

    Many report that compacts with their large jump between the big and small ring, results in more front shifting, more "double shifts" to move smoothly up or down the gear range. In this regard, the triple and regular double are usually identical to each other in the two largest rings, with just the third, small ring added to the triple. Therefore, regular double and triple will have identical shifting between those two rings.

    When I ride my 52-42-30 triple bike with similarly strong friends on 50-34 compacts my shifts in the low rolling hills are much smoother because I'm just shifting on the cassette while they far more often have to shift the front rings and then shift one or, often two, cassette sprockets to get the even progression in shifts. Much more fiddling and much less smooth in the paceline.

    My editorial comment is: my personal believe is that compact doubles are just a camoflage and at best a compromise for those that need lower climbing gears but for style or perception reasons won't ride a triple on a top end road bike. To me, it's like a balding person using a comb-over rather than just saying "screw it, I'm bald, who the F cares. It's much easier just keeping the hair short all around." There are reasons batted about that a compact is actually "better", but I haven't heard any that are objectively true or actually meaningful.

    Again, everyone should just choose what set up they really need. Pick the one that serves 100% of your needs. My fear is that the popularity of compacts will make good triples harder to find, which is not a good thing in my opinion. I would never settle for a compact double by choice.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2009
  5. Silous

    Silous Guest

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    Thanks for all of the information guys! Your input is greatly appreciated and very helpful to me. Thanks again for the clear explanations!
     
  6. cycleonron

    cycleonron New Member

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    Thanks Camilo, That was a great indepth review of the differences between a double and a triple and the current trend of using a compact cassette. I use a triple and use it regularly as I ride in very hilly terrain of Trempealeau County WI with many hills 12 - 17+% grades. I had been considering going to a compact on my next bike but it may not be the advantage that I thought. Thanks again.
     
  7. camilo

    camilo New Member

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    Yea, I have hills like that as well as 5-10+ mile nonstop highway grades (~6-7%). If I ever think of a new drive train, the high gears will be almost as important to me as the low ones.