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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.

Things to consider-

  • 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 it.

  • 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 ticket
 

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…

  • Forks
  • Brakes
  • Front and rear derailleurs
  • Bottom brackets
  • Cassettes, chains & chairings
  • Crank sets
  • Handlebars & grips
  • Headsets
  • Stems
  • Shifters
  • Wheelsets
  • 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:

  1. What bike type you are going to get
  2. If you are going to go for a full suspension bike or a hardatil and
  3. 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:

Forks

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.

Preload

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

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.

Compression

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.

Brands

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 forks.

Other Considerations

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 mounts.


Wheels

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:

Weight

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.

Tyre Quality

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.

Tread Pattern

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.


Rear Derailleur

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):

  1. XTR
  2. Deore XT
  3. Deore LX
  4. Deore
  5. Alivio
  6. Altus

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):

  1. X-0
  2. X-9
  3. X-7
  4. SX-5
  5. SX 4
  6. 3.0

Specialist Groupsets

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

Brakes

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 brakes.

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

Size

Seat Tube c-c

Seat Tube c-t

Effective Top Tube

Head Tube

Seat Angle

Head Tube Angle

XXS 41.0 47.0 50.5 11.1 75.0 70.5
XS 43.0 49.0 51.5 11.6 75.0 71.0
S 46.0 52.0 53.0 13.6 74.5 73.0
M 48.0 54.0 54.5 15.6 74.0 73.0
L 50.0 56.0 56.0 17.6 73.5 73.0
XL 52.0 58.0 57.5 19.6 73.3 73.0
XXL 55.0 61.0 59.5 21.6 73.3 73.0

Ridley Geometry




                                                              Road Bike Components

Materials
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
    • Carbon crankset
  • Record Pista
    • Aluminum crankset
  • Chorus
    • Carbon crankset
  • Centaur
    • Aluminum crankset
  • Veloce
  • Mirage
  • Xenon

III) SRAM Road Bike Components

SRAM’s road groupsets, listed in approximately descending order of price and quality are:

SRAM Red
The Pro Gruppo. SRAM RED is the first choice for riders and racers who won’t accept any compromise. The most challenging races in the world have been won on SRAM RED, including the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Paris-Roubaix. Exactly seven teams in the 2010 Tour were SRAM RED-equipped. Its success in the pro peloton speaks for itself, delivering best-in-class performance, weight and function that the world’s best riders

 SRAM Force
Perfection for racers. The perfect group for pro and amateur racers all over the world. SRAM Force delivers all the top features of RED, like the powerful Dual Pivot brakeset, multiple cable routing, and reach adjust of the DoubleTap levers. SRAM’s original road group remains one of the lightest in world, weighing less than 2000 grams. SRAM Force is the perfect choice for any rider looking for an incredible gruppo built around light weight, ergonomic comfort, with incredible efficiency, function and performance


.SRAM Rival
Feel like a pro.
For your everyday training, long rides on the weekends, as well as an exceptional cyclocross performer, SRAM Rival is the perfect match. With sleek carbon brake levers you have the feel and look of pro components, together with the unrivaled technologies borrowed from SRAM RED and SRAM Force, Rival is an incredible groupset for what it delivers and how well it performs.

SRAM Apex
First 11-32 cassette on the road. You like to climb long mountain passes, or your local hill, but don’t want clumsy triple cranks on your bike? With the first 11-32 cassette for the road, and our new SRAM Apex compact crankset, you will have a wider gear range than the most popular triple combinations. A wider gear ratio means you can climb and descend more efficiently. You also get all of our unmatched technical advantages like Zero-loss, reach-adjust, and DoubleTap shifting. SRAM Apex, wherever the road takes you.
  • 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.