Once favoured by climbers and sportive riders alike, the commonplace 50/34 compact is losing popularity. Marc Abbott finds out why

Ten years ago, word was of a revolutionary new road chainset, derived from the world of mountain biking, that junked the extra bulk associated with a triple chainring set-up yet wouldn’t make knees buckle on steep climbs: the compact 50/34.

Now, though, the 50/34, once the path to Etape du Tour glory, is fast becoming outdated. Those riders wedded strongly to tradition eschew it for the reason that it seems like a cop-out, and those in
the know are already jumping on the mid-compact, 52/36 bandwagon.

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Given that it’s still a standard fitment on many bikes — especially those designed for sportive use — is there still a place for the compact in modern cycling?

Joshua Riddle, PR officer for Campagnolo, explains the advantages: “50-34 chainrings help a rider maintain a higher cadence, not only during climbs but also on the flats.

“If one were to build up this compact crankset along with, let’s say, an 11-25t cassette on the rear wheel, to maintain the same speed, the cadence would generally be higher when compared with the same gearing but incorporating a 53/39 ‘double’ chainset.”

Semi-compact Dura-Ace chainset: not just for pros

Semi-compact Dura-Ace chainset: not just for pros

High-cadence economy

The benefit is obvious. “Higher cadence, within reason, tends to fatigue the muscles less than mashing a big gear,” says Riddle, “leaving the athlete fresher after having covered the same ground as the athlete who is pushing harder on a longer gear with a lower cadence.

“Also, it allows less powerful riders to maintain a comfortable cadence without crossing the chain.”

This exposes one of the downfalls of the 53/39 chainset. Riddle continues: “The compact — or 52/36 semi-compact — allows a rider who is comfortable producing a certain power at 105rpm to do so without riding with the chain crossed to the smallest gear on the cassette. This creates less friction and reduces wear and tear on the drivetrain.”

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As Riddle suggests, there is a middle ground. German bike firm Canyon has blazed a trail for the 52/36 chainset — fitting it across its entire range (with the exception of the Endurace) for 2015. It claims that with judicious choice of rear cassette (cheaper than swapping chainrings), you can replicate the ratios of a compact but with added flexibility.

Nick Allen, Canyon UK’s marketing manager, says: “The biggest, 52-tooth ring corresponds roughly with the heaviest gear of a standard 53-tooth ring, which eradicates the traditional compact chainring problem of spinning out on long descents.

“Plus, the lowest gear, in conjunction with an 11-28t cassette, corresponds roughly with the lightest gear of a compact chainset with an 11-27t cassette.

“With a 28 gear on the rear, the distance you cover with one turn of the cranks is 2.75m; with a 34t chainring, you’d need to be in 34-27 to travel the same distance.”

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For many of us, an 11-28 cassette makes a mid-compact chainset the most adaptable set-up, although for the really avid ascenders out there, a close-ratio cassette of 12-25 will emulate this arrangement when used with a 50/34 compact, as well as allow a more consistent cadence when climbing.

Almost all the major bike firms have followed Canyon’s lead, offering mid-compact chainsets. Specialized, for instance, uses a 52/36 on almost all but the lower-level Allez range (which still comes equipped with a 50/34), while Scott’s Foil and Addict platforms run a mixture of mid-compacts and doubles.

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It’s just a matter of time before more follow suit, and we’re looking at 52/36 as a new industry standard.

Our take

If you live at the foot of a mountain that you can’t avoid, you need a compact with a dinner plate-sized cassette. However, with a far wider range of cassette options available now than a decade ago, the sensible option for most riders would seem to be a 52/36 chainset, specified with a cassette to suit your needs. Racing this weekend? Whack on an 11-23t. Holidaying in the Alps? 11-32t is your friend. Either way, do everything you can to maintain a straight chain line.

Yes: Nick Allen – UK marketing manager for Canyon

canyon-Ultimate-CF-SL-9.0-road-bike

Canyon’s bikes will now come with a mid-compact as standard

All of Canyon’s new bikes (with the exception of the Endurace range) are now specified with a 52/36 chainset, rather than a 50/34 or 53/39. We tend to get a little too tied to tradition, so thinking outside of the box and trying new formats is refreshing. Plus, by choosing a wide-range cassette, you can almost emulate the gearing of a 50/34 if you need to.

No: Joshua Riddle – PR officer for Campagnolo

IMG_0098_scarsbrook

Campnolo will continue to make all sizes of chainset, including this standard double. Photo: Simon Scarsbrook

We don’t see the compact disappearing any time soon. There is no reason to take away any of the three chainset options and no reason that any one configuration should totally replace either of the other two. If you live near the Dolomites, you’re probably better off having a 50/34. With our BCD, changing the chainring is quite easy, financially and physically.

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  • Rodrigo Diaz

    Agreed. I’ve pushed past many of the recommended ranges. 53/36 and 53/34 are doable. At the time with Shimano Dura Ace system, and the front derailleur wasn’t fully happy. I got an FSA front D and it worked pretty good (only derails were user error).

    I also raced TTs for a couple of years in a 54/39, with the bigger one being an oval. Still no issues, except noise with the last three cogs and small chainring – not the derailleur, the long part of the oval would rub.

    On a conventional 50×34 system I can ride our local rides with 8-10% max slopes with a 23 in the back. And never have sprinted in the 11 – I guess if you’re maxxing at 80 rpm you have problems there, I try for at least 110 rpms on sprints.

  • Rocking-M

    nope, more marketing than truth in this article. I live in the mountains and ride a compact with an 11-27 cassette, I also am now taking strava segments with this set up in my age group (55-64) and placing highly among all riders. Our area averages 100 feet of climbing (or better) per mile.

  • Jerry Adams

    Couldn’t agree more, triple every time. Nearly having the right gear isn’t good enough.

  • Lawrence Cohen

    Man … I thought the 50×34 finally got it right for the “average” rider. Unless you are truely racing or riding in the A group there is NO need for larger chain rings. Obviously if your a cat racer you want bigger gears … and conversely if you are not as strong or doing touring , you want smaller gears. Thankfully there are choices out there and hope that the 50×34 remains one of them!

  • Chris

    I like your logical approach, using w/kg. However at 80 kg I’ll stick with my 50/34 and 11-28 :^). My winter equipped wet weather road bike (originally a CX bike) comes in at 11.5kg, and that comes with a 32T sprocket.

  • Muchos

    I have two bikes and my main one has a 50/34 and 11-28 and I love it. There are however a LOT of hills where I live. Cat 2-3’s plenty and some Cat 1’s and even a HC or two. In some of the extended 9-12% sections I need every gear inch of the 34t and 28 and Im not that slow. On fast group rides on the flats I do not love the 50t since I need to generally be one gear smaller on the back at any given speed compared to a 53t but I can hang in there on the extended 26-30mph sections (3-8 miles long at those speeds) with the peloton. Generally I would say If you average around 3w/kg or less you are better off with a 50/34. At about 4-5w/kg or more you might prefer a 53/39.

  • Kent Hutchins

    I run 52/36 with 11-28 on my aero bike, and 50/34 with the same cassette on my endurance bike. The 52/36 requires a bit more effort on big climbs, but means I can really motor downhill and on the flat. The 50/34 means I can stay seated up most gradients, but find myself spinning my nuts off on fast downhills (or fast bunch rides).
    I wouldn’t say either setup is superior – depends on the terrain and the type of ride I feel like doing.

  • Simon Clarke

    Just an advert for Canyon.

  • Durian Rider

    I’d drop everyone here on any decent climb in my 50/34.

    Even Contador uses compact when he needs to.

  • Chris

    I ride a 2014 Giant Defy. 50×28 is useable, I haven’t tried 34×11.

  • Mr.H

    Hi Chris,

    I’m currently on a 53/39 – 11-28T, but looking at getting a 50/34. Do you have any issues with cross-chaining?

    I am located in SoCal and have many flat and hilly options. Debating whether a mid-compact will be enough for hilly rides.

  • arannete

    Personally I’m waiting for something like a 53-30 crankset! I think that is a no brainer option, when you want a big gear you get a BIG gear, and when you need a small one you get a SMALL one, instead of this in between stuff…

    We put men on the moon, surely there is a way to make this dream combo happen…

  • viola surveh

    Well, you west coast guys smoke way too much weed to keep up with us. When you have 20 in a tight echelon, 36 is what you get. Each rider individually was capable of near to that record 30 MPH you show from that website.

  • Craig Pickersgill

    Just ride the gears that best match your abilities, and ones your joints can handle I use a 36t on the middle of my 3 ring Mtb just to panic people on road bikes hehe but I do like my compact gears to on my road bike nice free feeling cadence small and tight cassette most of the time…. Use what works for you, just like Chris F

  • Nic Lowe

    I live at the bottom of a 2km 25% hill so I’ll be keeping the 50-34 thanks.

  • Bob

    as a kid in the 70’s I had a single 48t chainring and a 14-28 (5 speed) block and the only hill that ever beat me was hardknott – now I’m older and fatter I have a campag triple, I think its 52 42 26 with a 12-28 9 speed block (the 52 and smaller sprockets are mint condition) – I love the granny ring, its great to twiddle away on hills

  • David O’Brien

    Well… the aero helmet have one attribute that is worth buying into. Many of those of us with thinning hair at the top would like a helmet that reduced sun burn. That is a helment with less vents on top is actually seen as a better design.

  • I think 50/36 makes more sense (to avoid the huge jump between the large and small chainring). I’m surprised I don’t see them (especially now with 11 speed cassettes)

  • There is only one down hill in the California Bay area in which I spin out 50/52/53-11T as it is dead straight for a mile.
    Not Bear Creek Rd in Briones by any chance? If I don’t do anything and let gravity do its work I hit 43 MPH. I’m sure that if I had a 53/39 I could possibly spin fast enough to add more speed but that is plenty for me. However, I am a strong sprinter, and have hit just under 40mph sans draft on the flats when I had my 53/39 11-23, but that was one time, with fresh legs and at my fittest (of course I sucked at racing cause I always got dropped a few hills back before the finish, and I was too chicken for crits)

  • ^ does not lie.

    Came from Massachusetts, where I had 2 bikes, on with 53/39 and one with 50/34. Sold the bike with 53/39 and moved to SF Bay Area.

    I would have died had I kept the 53/39.

    I lived in Berkeley, my morning ride included a 1600 ft of climbing at an average of 6-8 %. That is the same profile as Mt Wachusett in MA, which I considered a destination ride.

    The hills out here are something (also, if you live in the bay area El-Toyonal/Lomas Contadas (3 miles, 8 % with a nasty 1 mile at 15%+) and Claremont in Berkeley (2 miles 9%) are famous. I did get good at climbing (cause I was riding 70-100 miles per week with 7000-9000 feet of climbing), but it is the rare few around here who are sporting doubles.

    Also Mt Diablo 10 miles, 3800 ft, nuf said (I’ve done it 4 times, and it always blows my mind climbing for 1.5+ hours.

  • Richard Bruton

    Everyone talking about gears and how much they can spin etc. I think it is more to the point that canyon are limiting options in gearing to lower costs, these savings are then passed on to the consumer by their direct sales website. Other brands are limiting choice but their prices seem to be going up, is it really about keeping the chain straight or improving their bottom line? BTW I’ve got aa canyon on order because every other bike I liked had gone up in price for 2016 from 2015,so the price hike is anecdotal not scientific

  • Richard Bruton

    Everyone talking about gears and how much they can spin etc. I think it is more to the point that canyon are limiting options in gearing to lower costs, these savings are then passed on to the consumer by their direct sales website. Other brands are limiting choice but their prices seem to be going up, is it really about keeping the chain straight or improving their bottom line? BTW I’ve got aa canyon on order because every other bike I liked had gone up in price for 2016 from 2015,so the price hike is anecdotal not scientific

  • Phil

    I currently ride with a 34-50 crankset and a 11-34 cassette. I find this very easy in the hills but on the flat I find that I spend nearly all the time on the big chaining and that becomes fatiguing. I’m hoping a change to a semi compact ring set will change this and allow more time on the inner ring.

  • Simon E

    That is 100% rubbish.

  • JamesMurray(BOOGLE?)

    i swapped out my 50-34 for a 28/38/48 on the roadie with 14-28 freewheel, having 2 28 rings really helps with the getting up hills

  • Jani Louvel

    U mad?

  • Michael

    Unfortunately you cannot “put whatever you want”

  • Chris

    Tea Addict. Thank you for pointing that out to me. In the 50 years I have been cycling I have always assumed that, for instance, when I was riding 72″ fixed during the winter, I was progressing at 72″ per pedal revolution. (It certainly felt like it). Of course if one actually questions the premise, it is obvious that that assumption was incorrect. Thanks again. I trust my spelling and punctuation have passed muster! :^)

  • Tea_Addict

    You must be pretty blissful yourself. 52/11 on a 25-622 tyre will give you 10 m per pedal revolution.

  • Pantie Wizard

    As an old school rider who grew up on 52/42 with a 6 speed block of 13/18, I find the 34 inner ring way too low for just about anywhere. Usually get by with a 38 up the steepest of hills ~20%

  • Matthew Treglia

    In my opinion, 90% of roadies out there should be running a triple. To determine whether you need one, do the following:

    1. Get the biggest cassette available for your bike.
    2. Put your bike in its lowest gear.
    3. Set your cadence to 80 rpm (if your cadence drops below 80, then you are losing efficiency).
    4. Note your speed.
    5. Ask yourself, “Could I maintain this speed up the longest, steepest climb that I ever have to deal with?”

    If your answer is “no”, then you need a triple crankset.

    If your answer is “yes”, then either you do not need a triple, or you need to man up and stop avoiding the epic climbs.

    By the way, I weigh 150 lbs. and can crank out 225 watts for an hour. I have a triple crankset (28/42/52) and a 12-28 cassette, and I use my little chainring all the time.

  • Chris

    Ignorance is bliss! A 52/11 equates to a 124 inch gear, i.e. you go 124 inches per pedal revolution. 50/17 only takes you 77 inches. There is no excuse for not knowing this, you can always remind yourself from the internet.
    http://www.bikecalc.com/gear_inches

  • Mike Walsh

    what about older riders, i am 67 this year and live on the edge of the peak district, i have a 1960s Reynolds 531 frame which i have kitted out with dual pivot long reach brakes, compact chainset, cold set rear forks to take 7 speed freewheel as opposed to original 5 speed campag set up and fitted a freewheel with 34t large sprocket. i can do all the hills in peak district, and will need this as i get even older. i have a nice ribble bike but rarely ride it with its standard chainset and 11 25 rear cassette, all 10 speed campag chorus but not used….
    i would like a 10 speed cassette 11 to 34 or 36 with compact chain-set..!!.

  • NYC_Traffic

    Sometimes it seems as if the only thing Brits can do is expose their juvenile insecurities about Americans.

  • Jacek Kapela

    I’m an older and slightly overweight rider. I rode 50-39-30 x 13-29 Campaq in the mountains for many years without any problems. 2 years ago, I bought 50-34 compact, put 13-29 cassette and hit the mountains early in the season. I struggled so much after few days on climbs with 15% sections and had pretty bad week. I quickly ordered 52-39-30 triple (Campaq Centaur) and never looked back. I have many much slimmer friends in their fifties and they all ride triples. We all put 12-23 for the flats and 13-29 for the mountains if using Campaq. Those who have Shimano use 12-30 for the mountains. SRAM being very unpopular in Europe. Die Compact, long live triple!

  • Bob

    when I started racing & touring at 12yo in the early 70’s I used to have a steel bike, high pressure tyres (what has now been Americanised to ‘clinchers’ lmao), a single 50t chain ring and 5 speed 14-24 block. I couldn’t get up hard knott pass, but did fleet moss and many climbs of that ilk with saddlebag – your all soft now – btw so am I now, ive got a 26,42,52 triple with a 13-28, but carrying a few more stone than back in the day 🙂 GL

  • djconnel

    Also look at the White Industries “variable bolt circle” design. I use that to get a 32-48 on my randonneuring bike. I agree the 11-cog is overkill for most situations. But I also don’t like the big front jump of 36-52. 36-46, as is used in cyclocross, is great. 34-46 is also good. I simply don’t see a need for 52-11 for the vast majority of rides. Even junior racers in the US successfully compete against seniors w/o large gears.

  • Daigoro Toyama

    I’m like Bob. I’m not a great climber. Add that to my location (Seattle). I have 50/34 and 11/32 on my roadie, and I use the 34/32 combo quite a bit.

  • viola surveh

    I set up a 49-38 on a women’s bike years ago. It worked really well for her.

  • viola surveh

    In Philadelphia we used to routinely hit 40 MPH in the echelon on the Drive Rides. We’d even *average* 36 MPH all the way around. At that speed, I routinely ran out of gear in a 53:12 pulling through. Fortunately those junior gear restrictions of my youth taught me to spin…

  • viola surveh

    As a junior, a 5 speed 14-24 in the back and a 51-42 in the front was plenty low enough to conquer the “wall” in San Clemente…

  • Michael

    Eh? I do 20mph in the 34T little ring on my compact.

    I think the closeness of the gears at that end of the cassette is better too, i.e if I do 32kph in 34×13, if the terrain falls slightly, I can use 34×12 to get 35kph. Or if it rises slightly, I can go to 34×14 for 30kph or 34×15 for 28kph.

    These small 7% changes really help me pace the effort.

    Whereas, if I’m in the big ring using 50×19 to get 32kph – that’s fine, but it’s 2 teeth to go faster, so I need to push closer to 37kph rather than 35kph (or labour with a lower cadence) similarly, if it rises and I’m struggling to keep the 50×19 spinning, it’s 2 teeth to change down.

    The other alternative is lots of switching between big and little.

    So I can’t see “people riding at 20mph for an hour” need a 50T ring at all and definitely not if you’re suggesting they should go slower. If I could push the 50T, I’d be averaging closer to 30mph than 20mph.

    Personally I think 46×36, typically used on cyclocross bikes, is a better idea.

    Firstly, it eliminates lots of gears that no one uses unless they’re going downhill with a wind (or just wearing their legs out as you suggest but not going fast because their cadence is low) and secondly the jump between the front rings isn’t the ridiculous 3 gears of the compact.

    Unless you’re an elite cyclist or high cat, of course. But even these guys use a 34T these days (admittedly on much steeper terrain than most Sunday club riders will)

  • Peter Williams

    Here we go again you now need 11 speed rear mech so old wheels with ten speed can’t be swoped new chain set etc , carbon bars and stem for 500£ front lamps 420 £ , bike fits 150£ sportives costing anything up to 60£ have been a cyclist for 60years and seen it all. No I’ m not a stick in the mud just wise to marketing and must have the right label. Just get out and ride and forget about the hype

  • Asinus

    Well deflected, sir.

  • CanAmSteve

    Then again – I did buy a beautiful old Peugeot from a guy. Ridden just a few times. 52/39 and an 11/24 freewheel. He lived at the top of a BIG hill, so I guess marketing is a good way to make sure some bikes get preserved 🙂

  • CanAmSteve

    Wannabee racer stuff. Not for real cyclists, for us a hill is just something on the road to adventure. Heck, I hardly use the big ring to begin with – I coast down hills and oddly enough, get to where I’m going.

    But then real cyclists ride the same bikes for years, so the industry has to keep changing things and buying ads to convince us we “need” them. This few-teeth-difference is like angels dancing on the head of a very, very flat pin.

    99.9% of the world’s cyclists will never enter a race of any kind. Thank God

  • lee

    Tosh – I made that post because the majority of people should be fitter than they are… Like the most think turning a key in an ignition is 30 mins is walking…

  • Toshi San

    ‘Most of the UK isn’t Wales.’ Obviously true, but I’m 55 years old (been riding and racing on and off since I was 15) and a little overweight and mainly ride at weekends. But living in Sheffield on the edge of the UK Peak District means that within 2 hours I could be, and do, climbing Winnats Pass, Barber Booth, Snake Pass or Froggat Edge. Or the 2014 Tour de France climbs of Holme Moss, Midhopestones, Bradfield and Oughtibridge. When I used to commute home from work I would often climb Jenkin Hill. Without a 34t ring I just wouldn’t be able to do those climbs. Also, I occasionally ride a mid-week 10 mile TT on a flattish course and the 50t ring is absolutely fine. So for me, Compacts are a pretty sensible and useful thing!

  • Neilo

    Blah blah California blah blah Valleys blah Palo Alto blah blah California blah blah blah California Bay blah blah San Francisco Bay blah bla blah blah blah. Sometimes it seems as if the only thing Americans can do is talk about America.

  • RT

    Wrong continent, I’m afraid. Anyway, the Stang in North Yorkshire has a maximum gradient of nearly 20%, and you can get up that with a 42 or 39 no problem.

  • RT

    Wrong continent, I’m afraid. Anyway, the Stang in North Yorkshire has a maximum gradient of nearly 20%, and you can get up that with a 42 or 39 no problem.

  • Brendan

    yeah right, no crisscross. shimano (and campy) tell you not to (no small:small or big:big). but on the accidents/occasions that i have, nothing breaks or strains. on the 25 i never know. on the 28, the drivetrain does slightly complain. btw, i first saw this (and can’t find it now) on a TdF rig. it was also the first time i saw a chaincatcher too. and they mentioned because the pro wanted to glide up and power down the queen stage. btw2, now remembering on the previous crank, i actually had 53/34.

  • Jdog

    Interesting. I suppose if you’re careful about not cross chaining to the last two cogs of your cassette, you can run a bit more than the specs say.

  • Brendan

    totally agree. but better safer than sorrier as andy schleck once said on the subject of chain catchers in the rye.

  • Brendan

    jdog, zero knowledge, just trial-and-error and not drinking the koolaid on cycling “knowledge.” i run kmc x10sl through a short cage red 22 onto a sram red 11-25 and 11-28 over fsa’s 52-34 (which was a 36). before this i had same but with red 10sp rear derailleur and zipp vuma quad 52-34. either way, zero shifting issues. promise

  • SNS

    You’re way off base with your figures. A 52×11 is just marginally larger than a 50×11. A 50×11 is a fair bit larger than a 52×12 and even larger than a 53×12.

  • Jdog

    what size cassette do you have? 11-28 (33 total tooth difference) would technically need a medium derailleur in SRAM and Shimano according to the specs. I bow to your superior knowledge on shifting.

  • David O’Brien

    Agree for cassettes. I can change one in 3 minutes — and do choose an appropate cassette (from 11-21, 11-23, 11-26, 12-26, 11-28, 12-30, 13-25) for the particular terrain. …. OK, 4 minutes if I have to also adjust the “B” screw for the 28T or 30T large.

    But your chain rings, you pretty much are stuck with them. It takes far, far longer to change chain rings (changing out the whole SRAM right crank arm would be faster). Besides dealing with 5 bolts that need to be torqued up in STAR pattern, you have to loosen the front derailleur and move its positioning, plus adjust the cable tension.

  • David O’Brien

    Hear, hear. More folks need to actually try things before saying “It doesn’t work”. And the chain catcher isn’t a 52/34T need — I’ve seen plenty of dropped chains by folks on 50/34T without chain catchers. And I’ve seen plenty of 50/34T folks with chain catchers to not be one of them.

  • David O’Brien

    If you need 52-11T for sprinting then I guess you’re at least a Cat.2 road/crit. racer? Otherwise, I don’t buy it.

  • David O’Brien

    Agree that this isn’t the end of the 34T. But I do welcome the choice of 52/36T. We need *MORE* not less choices in chainring gearing. No additional choices should come with the removal of earlier ones.

  • David O’Brien

    27%? Not often. But 20% — weekly. Come on out to the San Francisco Bay area. Try some the race training rides/routes.

  • Apparently each tooth on the front is worth three on the back, hence riding a 52 / 11 is the equivalent of riding a 50 / 17; i.e a massive difference.

  • Brendan

    on what basis do you say that? have you actually tried it? i have for 7 years and the shifting is flawless (with a chain-catcher) and short cage dérailleur.

  • RT

    27%? How often do you come across one of those? If I were going to climb it, I would use a different cassette and possibly a smaller ring at the front. Obviously. The other 364 days of the year I would prefer to have gears that I was actually going to use. And yes, there are plenty of hills where I live.

  • Dan McCabe

    You guys know you can swap out your chainrings and cassette and put whatever you want for gearing. You are not forever stuck with whatever came on your new bike. 50-38, 12-30 for me for training and most hilly road races, some races around here have steep climbs and I throw a 36 or 34 on.

  • Jdog

    52 -> 34 is too far to shift well, plus you’d need a big rear derailleur.

  • Namothy

    Trucks.

  • Brendan

    52/34? no one every heard of that? why compromise on either end. but mainly why is anyone trying to ride the same gear ratios of a pro, when we’re going 66% of their speed? and have half their power.

  • orbifold

    You are 100% right. Just like all the new aero helmets, clothes, etc…

  • Simon E

    Yes, every day.

    And I’m acutely conscious of the difference 2 chainring teeth can make. This article is about selling stuff to people.

  • orbifold

    Agree. My conmute to work has some 24% hills, average of 10-14% depending on which road I take. Other than a compact and a 28t in the rear would be impossible.

  • orbifold

    You don’t cycle, do you?

  • Simon E

    As if 2 chainring teeth really makes such a huge difference!

  • RT

    Go on then. What was worse?

  • Monkey tennis

    The WORST THING EVER…..hardly.

  • Hugh Jass

    I was used to a compact… My 2014 Fuji Altamira SL came with a Dura-Ace mid-compact. At first it was a big change for me as it also came with an 11-25 cassette… I swapped that for an 11-28 cassette (at a high price for a Dura-Ace 11-speed cassette), and now I love it.

    I agree that both descending and sprinting are a lot more fun with the larger chainring..

  • chalky89

    Really depends where you live…my regular cycling is Devon and Cornwall and a 50-34 with a 11-28t cassette is perfect for the terrain. I don’t use the 28t but nice to know its there if I hit the wall!

  • Tony

    How about a triple chain ring? 52/42/32? All matched on an 8sp 12-25? Talk about versatility! 🙂

  • Chris

    50/34 – 11-28 suits me fine. I’m happy not exceeding 40mph downhill, but I need all the help I can get going uphill!
    Methinks this is a marketing ploy to make us buy something different.

  • RT

    Yes. 11-speed 52/39 with 11-23. Fantastic.

  • lee

    The compact c.set was THE worst thing E V E R to hit road cycling. Seeing 36 come along is sensible. There’re soo many in cycling who ride these c.sets and always ride the 50′ spin out when the speed goes away high but in hills, yes, they’re good, for the unfit, which, sadly most are. Most of the UK isn’t Wales.. All cyclists ive seen with these c sets never get out of the ‘big ring! Riding at 20mph for an hour isn’t the best option when they want to go further, as they run out of energy! The selection of gears aren’t great. They do now harm than good because of the fact most see themselves as ‘mini-pros ie never getting out the big ring which is similar to pro’s. If you’ve any sense, get a 39 + 52 ring set – that’ll expand your riding !

  • Bob

    Think of all the thousands out there not so great at hills who rely on 50-34 and 11-32
    I will never buy a bike that doesn’t have both