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52x36 vs 50x34

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52x36 vs 50x34

Old 09-06-19, 11:40 AM
  #101  
SethAZ
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Went from 53/39 to 50/34 and never looked back. I typically cruise (when I'm alone) in the 18-19mph range, and that leaves me around the 4th or 5th gear up from the highest (smallest cog), so there's plenty of room to go higher if I'm with a group or going downhill or have a raging gale at my back. I used to ride a 9-speed where my custom self-assembled cassette started at 13t, and I only spun out on flat ground once, while on a group ride on flat ground where we got a 25+mph tailwind that brewed up on the return leg of a long bike ride, and we were doing well over 30mph and I spun out. Going down steep, long hills I would eventually spin out and just assume the best aero tuck I could and ride it out. Since I'm no racer, the one time I ever spun out in very unusual conditions (I won't usually ride in a 25mph wind), that gearing was totally acceptable, and gave me the finest shifts in the ranges I rode 99.9% of the time. Having the 34t ring up front is really handy for long hill climbs, and with my new 11-speed starting at 11t I have yet to spin out on the 50t ring. Perhaps with a 35mph tailwind in a group ride I could do it, but I'm hoping I never have to find out.

The one theoretical advantage I could see with 52/36t rings is, depending on the speed and cadence you ride at, is that you might be able to stick closer to the center of your rear cassette and get a more optimized chain line for the very marginal gain that might bring. I doubt that's a good enough reason on its own to switch (and to lose out on the benefits of the 34t ring for steep/long climbs). A young, strong racer may disagree. For everyone else I have a hard time imagining any reason why 50/34t isn't pretty much perfect.
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Old 09-06-19, 02:07 PM
  #102  
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Originally Posted by dagray View Post
by bottom I mean the gears furthest away from the spokes.
Thanks for clarifying! I think that confirms that a 52/36 wouldn't make sense for your riding. You would spend even less time in those gears with bigger chainrings.

BTW, most of us use "bottom" to refer to low gears, i.e. the bigger cogs. And the "top" is where your "top end", highest gears would be, i.e. smaller cogs.
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Old 09-07-19, 02:10 PM
  #103  
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I am building a second bike and ordered a 50/34. I never use my 11 tooth on my road bike with a 52/36. I have just dropped my ego and am making a bike that is a little more practical to what I actually ride.

Last edited by revivalist; 09-08-19 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 09-09-19, 02:49 AM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
BTW, most of us use "bottom" to refer to low gears, i.e. the bigger cogs. And the "top" is where your "top end", highest gears would be, i.e. smaller cogs.
Thanks, that what I thought too, and misunderstood the OP.
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Old 09-09-19, 03:46 AM
  #105  
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If another anecdote counts, here's mine...

My older road bikes both came with the usual 52/42 double common back then, and both are 7 speeds with freewheels. That limits my gearing choices. I could go 8 or 9 with new wheel sets but it isn't a priority.

My main priority is gear steps that don't annoy me, a next-to-lowest gear that I'll use most of the time, and a bailout gear for days when I'm out of gas and don't want to get off and walk.

I bought a few extra chainrings (Vueltas are excellent values, especially the SE Plus ramped and pinned big ring) and experimented, trying each combo for a week or at least two or three rides on roller coaster terrain with full gear shifts.

I've found two combos of chainrings and freewheels that worked great on my old Ironman: a 50/39 with SunRace 13-25. The steps were perfect. If I never had to tackle a 50+ mile hilly route on a tempo paced group ride, that would have been perfect. But I know from experience I tend to fade after 40 miles, so I wanted something with a bailout gear that didn't sacrifice sensible gear steps.

I tried an old Suntour 13-26 but the shifting was clunky compared with the SunRace (which mimics Shimano cogs but even better, with slick chromed cogs that shift like oiled ice). No chainring combo suited the steps I wanted.

Finally I found a combo of a 50/38 chainring and SunRace 13-28 freewheel with good steps to eliminate double and triple shifting, and the 38/28 combo is all I'll need for our local climbs even when my legs are dead. That'll be a keeper for long group rides at a moderate pace.

The Trek 5900 has been more challenging. It weighs at least 5 lbs less, so I can get away with keeping the 52/42 chainrings. But finding the right freewheel combo has been aggravating.

Some gear combos drove me daffy. The worst was a 52/38 on the Trek 5900 with a 13-28 SunRace freewheel. The gearing steps were all wrong so I was double and triple shifting throughout a long group ride. Worse, the chain kept dropping on downshifts. Fortunately a friend put a hand on my back when this occurred on a climb so I could horse the chain back onto the big ring without stopping. After that I stuck with big ring all day and grunted up a few climbs in a 52/24 combo to avoid cross-chaining into the 52/28 combo (and I didn't want to risk ripping the rear derailleur off and crashing either). That sucked and I changed it immediately after getting home.

Aggravated, I finally returned to the 14-28 Shimano freewheel that came with the bike when I bought it and... it's perfect. I should have left it alone instead of piddling around all year trying to fix what wasn't broken. Sure, I'm spun out on some fast downhills with a tailwind, but that's not important. I'm not going for downhill KOMs. But the gear steps are seamless and the 42/28 combo has been fine for our short, steep climbs even when my legs don't wanna anymore. No chain drops.

I suppose more cogs would be even better. When I had a 10-speed Motobecane in 1976 I figured I'd never need more gears than that. But sure 'nuff within a year or so I was swapped out individual cogs in the 5-speed freewheel to get the gear steps I preferred. And chainrings. Same now with 7-speed. It's never quite enough, I suppose.
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Old 09-14-19, 01:45 PM
  #106  
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Last week I did not get to take both bikes as planned for this segment. Today, though, I was on my CAAD8 with 53/39 and I swapped in a 12-28 cassette, since I wasn't expecting hills. Well. I had one. Low grade for 3.4 miles. Ugh... Anyway, the group I rode with hit this challenge section wit 26 miles under us. Two took off, I hesitated and decided to follow. Shaved off time, and a net speed of 27... I hit the start at 21, completed and 29.4... I will say, after that 3.4 mile climb, the reward was a slight downhill, and tailwind, I pushed myself to chase down the two faster guys, hit 38.4 at 53-12, held that for about a minute and started to fade. But I caught and passed 2 of the 3...



This is an entertaining, yet unforgiving machine. That section at 38, was chip seal and buzzed the hell out of my backside... I was surprised I held 53-12 as long as I did. This group had me in that gear a few times, but just short times...
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Old 09-15-19, 01:18 AM
  #107  
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Philip Gilbert said he was in his 54x11 when he looks at his computer and he is pedaling 110rpm on the flats on stage 17 of the Vuelta😳
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Old 09-16-19, 11:26 AM
  #108  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Let's talk for minute about actually riding a bicycle. For the sake of clarity, we'll (mostly) discard the hyperbolic nonsense associated with big chainrings, i.e what they can do above 35mph. Because I've tested this in practice-- coasting down a hill that is sufficiently steep to go 35mph requires zero watts. Accelerating up to say 37 or 38 miles an hour requires over 200 sustained watts just to combat air resistance. Unless there's a podium at the end of that descent, that's machismo gearing.

...

I'm pretty much useless past 110rpm, which would be 41mph with a 52/11. That is a thing I've no desire to do. I don't even want to do it with a 50. I can't do it on the flats, and if the hill is steep enough, gravity can produce a whole lot more force than I can.

So, basically, because YOU have no desire to do it means it doesn't matter? Nice logic.


I too ride mostly solo and seldom have a podium at the end. But, blasting down the back side of some hill is one of the joys of cycling. If I can coast at 35mph, I can probably put some effort in and go for 40 or more. Is it the most energy efficient thing to do? No. But again, there's no podium at the end so I'll dump some kJ into the fun part and nab a higher top speed if I can simply because it's a lot of fun.
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Old 09-16-19, 11:58 AM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
So, basically, because YOU have no desire to do it means it doesn't matter? Nice logic.


I too ride mostly solo and seldom have a podium at the end. But, blasting down the back side of some hill is one of the joys of cycling. If I can coast at 35mph, I can probably put some effort in and go for 40 or more. Is it the most energy efficient thing to do? No. But again, there's no podium at the end so I'll dump some kJ into the fun part and nab a higher top speed if I can simply because it's a lot of fun.
+1
I thought the whole point of a road bike was to go fast.
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Old 09-16-19, 03:01 PM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by dagray View Post
I currently have the 105 50/34 cranks on my road bike, but have changed everything else out to be 11 speed Ultegra. Would there be any advantage in changing the crankset to a 52/36? I rarely use the bottom three gears on the cassette (11-28), and usually ride on the big chainring except when climbing or fighting wind.

Thank you for any input.
Are you ever wanting a higher gear than 50/11? If so, get the 52/36.

Another reason to change ring sizes is if you want to change when you shift from big to small ring and vice-versa. Years back when I switched from a standard to a compact, I liked the fact that I was shifting between big and small rings less often. For me personally, going from a 50/34 to a 52/36 would mean I was shifting the front more on gently rolling terrain. But that's just me.



Otherwise, not sure I see why to do it.
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Old 09-17-19, 05:23 AM
  #111  
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My CAAD 12 came with 52/36. I've had it for about 3 months. My Guru has the 50/34. both have an 11 cog. I found myself faster on the Guru and after much trial and error determined that I just can't spin the 52/11 at a cadence that works for me. So, new 50/34 rings being put on as we speak. 52x11 at 90 rpm = 33.3 mph and 50x11 = 32 mph. At 73 yrs. old the chances of me doing either on a flat are, let us say, remote.
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Old 09-17-19, 11:05 AM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
So, new 50/34 rings being put on as we speak. 52x11 at 90 rpm = 33.3 mph and 50x11 = 32 mph. At 73 yrs. old the chances of me doing either on a flat are, let us say, remote.
That's why we ride down hills after climbing them... If gearing were determined by the flats alone, we'd all be pretty well served by a 5 speed freewheel with "corncob" gearing.

I guess much of this is determined by whether or not one pushes on the pedals when the road tilts downward. For us who always check the max speed after a ride, the extra 4% of a 52 (or 6% on a 53) is worthwhile.
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Old 09-17-19, 11:13 AM
  #113  
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During the Vuelta recently, riders running 54x11 spun out when clocked at 100 kph
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Old 09-17-19, 11:13 AM
  #114  
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If you run a triple with a 40/42T middle ring, the 11T sprocket is real handy. I guess it would be handy with anything from 38-45T.
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Old 09-17-19, 11:13 AM
  #115  
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Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
For us who always check the max speed after a ride, the extra 4% of a 52 (or 6% on a 53) is worthwhile.
Guilty as charged...
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Old 09-17-19, 03:06 PM
  #116  
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I have both, and although I NEVER use the 11 on the 52/36, I find myself shifting the front derailleur constantly on the 50/34 so I generally prefer the 52/36 outside of monster climbs.
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Old 09-17-19, 10:48 PM
  #117  
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Just curious, is 52/39 a possibility? I'm happy with the 52 part, gives me good range, and although I'm rarely on the 11...on a certain descent I ride every other weekend I'm glad I have it. However when I go down to the 36 front chain, and going to the 3rd smallest rear cog (the Di2 prevents you from accessing the smallest 2) I kind of wish it was a little bit of a bigger gear. And I'm never on the 36/28 combo so going to 39/28 wouldn't be jarring because I generally don't do steep sustained climbs.

For an Ultegra groupset is it as easy as buying a 39 inner front chainring and having my LBS swap out the 36? If so, I assume since the 52 would stay the same (along with the 11-28 cassette) I wouldn't need to resize the chain?
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Old 09-19-19, 11:04 AM
  #118  
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Originally Posted by CarloM View Post
Just curious, is 52/39 a possibility?
It certainly is. But at that point, just get a 130mm BCD crank and go 53/39.
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Old 09-19-19, 11:21 AM
  #119  
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Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
But at that point, just get a 130mm BCD crank and go 53/39.
Or go 53/39 without switching to a 130BCD crank.
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Old 09-19-19, 04:17 PM
  #120  
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I'm thinking if I came out and marketed a 51/35 I could make a killing
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Old 09-19-19, 04:39 PM
  #121  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
I'm thinking if I came out and marketed a 51/35 I could make a killing
Ah yes, the elusive demi-mid-compact double. It'll never work well without a 112mm bolt circle, though.
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Old 09-19-19, 06:09 PM
  #122  
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Or go 53/39 without switching to a 130BCD crank.
+1

I donít understand why he suggested a needless crankset swap.
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Old 09-19-19, 06:41 PM
  #123  
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Originally Posted by mercator View Post
+1
I thought the whole point of a road bike was to go fast.
+2 ...that's why I have one
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Old 09-20-19, 10:34 AM
  #124  
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
+1

I donít understand why he suggested a needless crankset swap.
a) far better selection of rings >52T in 130mm (actually, checking around a bit for a 110mm 53T ring and I'm only finding NOS, generic and 4 bolt Shimano asymmetric)
b) stiffer
c) traditional, and better looking
d) 130mm BCD cranks seem to go for less on eBay so upgrading to higher level parts if needed is easier
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Old 09-21-19, 06:55 AM
  #125  
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Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
a) far better selection of rings >52T in 130mm (actually, checking around a bit for a 110mm 53T ring and I'm only finding NOS, generic and 4 bolt Shimano asymmetric)
b) stiffer
c) traditional, and better looking
d) 130mm BCD cranks seem to go for less on eBay so upgrading to higher level parts if needed is easier
That's some weak reasoning right there. Why spend a bunch of coin on a complete crankset, when all he needs to do is swap out the small chainring?
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