Is the 'standard' 53/39 tooth chainset dead?

How many bikes do you see with a 53/39 chainset these days?

Colnago C68
(Image credit: Philip Sowels/Cycling Weekly)

Time was any bike with racing pretensions was kitted out with a 53/39 tooth chainset; there's a reason it was called a "standard". That was paired up to a 9-speed 11-25 cassette to give you the ideal set-up for all your riding - assuming you were super-fit.

If you wanted lower gears you fitted a triple chainset. That gave you the lower range you craved, but at the expense of extra weight, mechanical complexity and a reputation for tricky set-up.

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Paul Norman

Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.

He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.