Double or Triple crankset for a Road Bike?
(Or maybe Compact!)
Before going further, we should explain that a "double"
crankset refers to one with two chainrings on the front, representing a
mid and high gear range option. A "triple" crankset has three
chainrings, the extra chainring being a very small one on the inside
that gives you a considerably lower gear range than available with the
double. In general, a bikes have either 7, 8, 9 or even 10 sprockets in
the back which, matched to a "double" crankset will have 14, 16, 18 or
20 gears, and a "triple" will have 21, 24, 27 or even 30 gears. It's
not the number of gears that's important in the double vs triple
equation though, rather it's the range of gearing each offers.
- If you climb in lower gears, you’re not necessarily going to go slower up the hill.
In fact, the opposite may occur, as the lower gearing of a triple might be more optimal
for your own physique. Not everybody was built with massive muscles, and in many cases,
higher RPMs at lower gears may be more in sync with your body than big massive gears that
you might barely be able to turn.
- A bike with a triple usually has about the same high-end (your go-fast gears) range as a
double. So in general you’re not giving up anything at the high end but rather adding
on at the lower end (meaning that you’re getting new gears to make it easier to go
uphill while keeping the high gears that allow you to go fast downhill).
- Way-cool high-end bikes are now available with triple cranks right off the showroom
floor! It’s no longer the case that the only way to get a super-high-performance
frame and wheelset was on a bike with a double crankset. The market has dramatically
changed, and there are now as many options with triples as there are with doubles…and
if the bike you want isn’t available with a triple, chances are we can install one on
- Triple-equipped bikes are not just for wimps!!! Even hot-shot riders come across
incredibly-steep hills that make him/her think (although rarely aloud) "It sure would
be nice to have a lower gear right now!
- You may not ride places you need a triple right now, but may dream of
someday doing a cycling adventure that just might test the limits of how
steep & far you can climb! Having that triple on your bike can be a
reminder of cycling's potential... wouldn't it be so cool to take off on a
trip someday to the "real" mountains? The sort of place some would
think you'd need a winch (or block & tackle) to climb? That inside
chainring might be just the ticket.
And besides, just how comfortable do you feel calling every mountain bike rider a wimp?
Virtually 100% of them have triple cranks, and they USE the lower gears all the time! In
fact, it’s probably the widespread success of triple-equipped mountain bikes
that’s helped fuel demand for the wider range gears on road bikes.
So why wouldn’t everybody get a triple-equipped bike?
- Many people (particularly men) have this macho-thing about being strong enough to climb
a hill without the help of so-called granny gears (a semi-derisive phrase for triple
cranksets). There’s not much you can do about this type of attitude…the only
"cure" is a pair of busted knees, and that "cure" usually ends the
cyclists' riding career.
- There remain a number of cyclists that believe tradition is more important than
progress, and since early, classic road bikes didn’t have triples 30 years ago, they
still shouldn’t now. This is frequently the same type of person who feels that
"steel is real" (meaning that any other material, be it aluminum, titanium or
carbon-fiber, just isn’t what a bicycle is supposed to be made out of) and
probably doesn’t wear a helmet.
- And there are truthfully some people so strong that they don’t need a triple
crankset, or for inexplicable reasons just don’t have a whole lot of trouble climbing
in very tall gears at very high speeds. Alas, there are few of us so afflicted.
- Finally, there are slight trade-offs in terms of weight (figure an extra half-pound or
so of weight) and shifting performance. Not much decline in performance, but the longer
chain makes for a bit more work for the rear derailleur, and on the front, shifting
between the inside and middle chainrings isn’t quite as precise as the shifting on a
double. Not bad, in fact, pretty darned good, but not quite as good.
If you're racing, these trade-offs aren't required since, if you had to
gear down that low, you wouldn't be competitive anyway.
- You might live someplace where the toughest climb is an overpass.
Florida, for example, is probably not a place where one needs a triple!
COMPACT CRANK- THE NEW KID IN TOWN! (The best of both worlds?)
Just when you thought you had it all figured out, along comes the
"Compact" crank. A new way (actually it's been around for some time, but
forgotten) to get lower gears without a triple. Instead of the classic 53/39
front chainrings, you have a 50/36 (sometimes 50/34) combination that gets
you quite a bit lower gears, while giving up a very small amount from the
high end... all using standard double-compatible shifters & derailleurs. A
high-quality compact setup is actually lighter weight than a standard
double! The downside? You don't get as low a gear as a triple will offer,
and you lose just a bit off your high end (the gears you'd be drafting
trucks downhill in, but nothing you'd ever miss in day-to-day riding).
So if you don't need a super-low gear, but do need a bit more help than the
standard racing-style gearing offers on many bikes, this may be just the
Mountain Bike Components – Lots of Choice So Stay Focused
When looking at mountain bike components there are literally
thousands of combinations you can have. Just think about all the
different components there are…
- Front and rear derailleurs
- Bottom brackets
- Cassettes, chains & chairings
- Crank sets
- Handlebars & grips
- Tires & tubes
- The list goes on...
It is practically impossible to compare 2 mountain bikes component to component!
At this point of time you should already know:
- What bike type you are going to get
- If you are going to go for a full suspension bike or a hardatil and
- Approximately how much you are willing to spend.
Now you are really getting into the nitty gritty of how to buy a
mountain bike and need to start looking at what bike components you get
with your bike.
Unless you are building your own bike, nearly all bikes will come as complete sets ready to ride.
Given the huge number of bike components and variations you can
experience I suggest that you stay focussed and stick to the important
ones and then make sure the rest fall within some sort of minimums for
your price range.
I suggest that you pick 3 or 4 major mountain bike components and then focus on them. For me the big 4 are:
Just about every mountain bike these days comes with front suspension
forks and they are the most important mountain bike components you
should look at. If the bike you are looking at does not have front
suspension forks you are probably looking at a hybrid, a touring bike or
a road bike.
Coil Sprung Forks
In general a coil fork is ideal if you have a tight budget or are
after an all round bike. They are your most reliable choice and are more
easily serviced. They are easily adjusted and tuned.
The main downside is the extra weight they have due to the steel
spring inside the fork. However this also means they are usually made
tougher. If you want to do DH racing, lots of jumping or just like to throw your bike around then this is the fork for you.
Air Sprung Forks
Air sprung forks are lighter than coils but are also more expensive.
These days they are getting more reliable and are a great choice for a
XC rider or someone who wants LOTS of adjustability on their fork.
As long as you have a shock pump you can change your air sprung fork from 0psi to around 300psi in very little time.
A coil sprung fork will come with a minimum preload on it. If you
turn the grooved cap at the top of the fork clockwise you can add
preload to it. This means that the spring is being pressed down and
makes your fork feel firmer.
Rebound is the speed at which your fork springs back up when you push it down. It is good if your fork has a rebound adjuster but not essential.
More advanced riders like to set their own rebound but if you are only
an amateur rider you will be fine with the factory settings.
Many suspension forks these days can now be adjusted by changing the
oil weight in the fork legs. A little dial on the fork is much easier
but only more expensive forks will have this.
This is the opposite of rebound and is the speed at which the fork
goes on the way down. You won’t find too many forks that let you adjust
this so don’t worry about it too much. As long as your fork is set-up
for your weight you don’t need to worry about compression much more.
When looking at mountain bike components, and in particular forks, I
would stick to the major brands like Rock Shox, Fox, Manitou and
Marzocchi. They have more money and build better and more reliable
If your bike does not have disc brakes, keep in mind that you might
want to upgrade to disc brakes in the future so look for disc brake
Your bikes wheels are important because the better quality wheels you get (this includes hubs, rims, spokes and tires) the better your ride will be. The more you spend the better your wheels will be, but look at these key areas:
Obviously the lighter the better. The weight in wheels is rotational
mass so it counts double and lighter wheels will make a big difference
out on the trail.
Again the more you spend the better the quality. Look for a reputable
brand and a tyre that is durable and will last you a long time.
Depending on what surface you plan to ride on will determine your
tread pattern. Smooth semi-slicks for riding on paths and big knobbly
tyres for gravel and rough terrain.
Shimano and sram are the big 2 and it is pretty easy to see what you
are getting. Again the more you spend the better the quality.
The rank of Shimano mountain bike components is (from best to worst):
- Deore XT
- Deore LX
SRAM offer parts under several different brandnames:
- Shifters, Chains, Cassettes - SRAM
- Brake Callipers - Avid
- Cranksets – Truvativ
The rank of SRAM mountain bike components is (from best to worst):
- SX 4
Shimano also have the following specialist groupsets (that are very good and recommended if this applies to you):
- Shimano Hone - Enduro and Freeride applications
- Shimano Saint - Downhill and heavy-duty applications
when it comes to looking at mountain bike components, brakes are secondary because whilst they are important, they are also easily upgraded.
That said, if you can get a bike with hydraulic disc brakes then do it.
If not go for mechanical disc brakes. If you are on a really tight
budget then you will have to settle for v-brakes and mechanical pull
Again try to stick with the major players like Hayes, Avid, and
Shimano (although there are a couple of other good manufacturers around)
2011 Scott CR1 SL Geometry
Seat Tube c-c
Seat Tube c-t
Effective Top Tube
Head Tube Angle
Road Bike Components
There have been many different materials used for bicycle frames. But
there are four materials that have held true throughout the history of
bikes. These materials are steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium.
Each material has their own characteristics, and knowing these
characteristics will help you find your perfect bike. There are also
bikes that incorporate different materials into their frames. For
instance, the Tommaso Trascinare uses a carbon fiber frame and fork with
double butted aluminum lugs. These frames combine features from each of
the following materials to fit the rider’s needs.
- Steel has stood the test of time and has been used by frame
builders for over a hundred years. It is cheap, easy to repair,
extremely strong, and has a good ride quality. Unfortunately, steel
tends to be heavier than other, newer materials. Also, if not properly
maintained, steel can rust. However based on price alone, nothing beats a
well made steel frame.
- Aluminum has been commercially used in bikes for almost 30 years. It
is the most commonly use frame material in biking today. It is
lightweight, extremely stiff, and doesn’t rust. One downfall of aluminum
is that it is so stiff it can provide a very jarring ride. But with the
combination of different materials, like carbon fiber, aluminum frames
are the best bet for beginning to advanced cyclists.
- Carbon Fiber is one of the newest materials being used in bicycle
frames. It is unique because it is not a metal, but a combination of
graphite and resin. It is extremely lightweight, very stiff, and
incredibly reliable. It can also be designed into almost any shape
imaginable because it is a fiber. But with this great technology comes a
big price tag. If you are an experience rider of someone who loves the
latest and greatest technology, carbon fiber is right for you.
- Titanium of the three metals discussed in this guide, titanium
combines the best features into one excellent frame material. It is
light and stiff like aluminum and comfortable to ride on like steel. It
is also long lasting and doesn’t rust. But it is a very tough metal and
is very hard to shape. This also means it is very expensive. If you are
an avid biker with a large budget, titanium is the way to go.
I ) Shimano Road Bike Components
Shimano’s road groupsets, listed in approximately descending order of price and quality are:
- Dura-Ace (10 speed) Top of the line
- Ultegra (10 speed)
- 105 (10 speed)
- Tiagra (9 speed with redesigned ‘10 speed’ hood shape for 2007)
- Sora (8 speed)
- 2200 (8 speed)
II) Campang Road Bike Components
Campagnolo’s road groupsets, listed in approximately descending order of price and quality are:
- Record Pista
III) SRAM Road Bike Components
SRAM’s road groupsets, listed in approximately descending order of price and quality are:
- Wheels. When looking at a bike, nothing stands out more than a good
looking pair of wheels. The most improvement in bike technology has been
made in wheel design. The ultimate goal in engineering a wheel is
having it be as light and reliable as possible. When you drop the weight
of a wheel, you drastically improve the bikes performance. This is due
to the fact that wheels are rotating weight. When you drop a few hundred
grams off the wheels, it’s like dropping a few pounds off of the bike.
The first big upgrade a cyclist should make for their bike is a new set
of high performance wheels.