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2 x 11 or 3 x 10 for Commuting on roads?

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2 x 11 or 3 x 10 for Commuting on roads?

Old 04-12-18, 09:53 PM
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shawngs
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2 x 11 or 3 x 10 for Commuting on roads?

Hey guys, Iím looking into getting a bike solely for commuting. Would 2 x 11 46/30 or 3 x 10 48/36/26 be a better setup? My commute is 15 miles each way completely on paved roads but there are a couple of long, steep hills. Iíll be carrying a pannier style backpack on a rear rack with computer, paperwork, etc. This bike wont be used for anything else (except maybe running to the grocery store).
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Old 04-12-18, 10:21 PM
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Yes, that sounds lovely
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Old 04-12-18, 10:26 PM
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Have you ridden the route before? What sort of gear ratios did you use?
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Old 04-12-18, 10:56 PM
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It's all about the terrain, rider, and bike. The triple will give you more overlapping gear ratios, better midrange as well as total range. Unless the 26 is too low for the climbs, I'd be inclined to spring for the triple.
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Old 04-12-18, 11:07 PM
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Yes, it really depends on the hills and your legs. In Seattle (with plenty hills) a 26 tooth granny is a good thing to have. In your area? Only your knees can say.
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Old 04-12-18, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by shawngs View Post
Hey guys, Iím looking into getting a bike solely for commuting. Would 2 x 11 46/30 or 3 x 10 48/36/26 be a better setup? My commute is 15 miles each way completely on paved roads but there are a couple of long, steep hills. Iíll be carrying a pannier style backpack on a rear rack with computer, paperwork, etc. This bike wont be used for anything else (except maybe running to the grocery store).

How big will your cassette be?


Even with a 2 x 11, I literally never use the smaller of my chainrings.


11 speed cassette's has made 3x's irrelevant, unless you desperately want to save a few pennies.
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Old 04-13-18, 01:43 AM
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I have 3x10 with 48/36/26 and 26" wheels and I'd say it's pretty awesome. I do in fact use the entire gearing range. The terrain here varies a lot and it's really nice. The grannies are definitely nice on 10+% grades, just shift down and spin. That said I use my bike for everything from recreation (involving riding on the flats and riding up the mountains both) to shopping with panniers on.

The only downsides to a 3x10 setup are a bit of weight (but no sense in being a weight weenie when you're planning on lugging panniers with stuff about) and that the 3x system can be a bit fiddly to adjust at times. Personally, I wouldn't trade it for a 2x11.

Of course some people might just not have the terrain where the use of a 18" gear inches low is warranted, but I do.
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Old 04-13-18, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
Yes, it really depends on the hills and your legs. In Seattle (with plenty hills) a 26 tooth granny is a good thing to have. In your area? Only your knees can say.
I don't know how I get home on Capitol Hill with a 42x25 low gear.


People's tolerance to climbing in different gears really varies an incredible amount. I don't think I have the patience to climb a Seattle Hill in a gear as low as 26xSomething.
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Old 04-13-18, 05:27 AM
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I'd opt for the triple as well, just because of the versatility it provides. Weight is not an issue with an issue, and it's no more difficult/easy to adjust than a 2x system.

I've got a 3x9 on my lugging-stuff and grocery-getting commuter, and though the shifters are looking very dated and beat up I am very reluctant to change it.
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Old 04-13-18, 06:52 AM
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Another vote for the triple.

I went through this same debate last year for myself. I decided on the triple and I've never regretted it.

I don't use the smaller ring much, but it's nice to know its there when I need it. Occasionally I'll be at the end of a long ride and am just gassed and facing a hill...that smallest ring make a huge difference for the 1 mile out of ever 100 I ride.

It also comes in really handy when I need to cross a grass patch or something and my pavement tires get bogged down.
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Old 04-13-18, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
How big will your cassette be?
That is a good question but ultimately won't make much difference if both cassettes have the same range.

Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
Even with a 2 x 11, I literally never use the smaller of my chainrings.


11 speed cassette's has made 3x's irrelevant, unless you desperately want to save a few pennies.
The number of cogs a bike has on the rear doesn't make that much difference. The range of the gearing and how well the shift pattern works has much more impact. I would suggest that the reason you "literally" never use the smaller ring is because the shift pattern for doubles is horrible. It's not a system that lends itself to easy use like a triple does.

Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
It's all about the terrain, rider, and bike. The triple will give you more overlapping gear ratios, better midrange as well as total range. Unless the 26 is too low for the climbs, I'd be inclined to spring for the triple.
Exactly. This gear calculator allows you to easily see the difference. Granted this is a very wide cassette but you can substitute any cassette and the results are the same. The transition from the outer ring to the middle ring is smoother and more natural.

Let's pick, for example, transitioning from outer ring to the second ring on the 19 tooth cog. For the double, you go from a 68" gear to 44" gear which is a very large jarring jump. In terms of cadence, to keep the speed at 18 mph, you would have to jump from 90 rpm to about 140 rpm. To put it another way, it feels like you've dropped a chain.

The same shift on the triple goes from a 71" gear to a 53" gear. To maintain the same speed, you need to increase cadence to 120 rpm. That's still a lot but it's much easier to do than 140.

If you match the chainwheels (a 46 in both cases), the gearing gets even better for the triple. Now the same gear change results in a cadence change of from 90rpm to about 100 rpm.

You could even improve the double (make it more useful) by tightening up the chainwheel difference. Going to a 46/34 gives this shift pattern. It's a closer pattern at the expense of the low end. On the same graph, I've also tightened up the triple which makes for a closer ratio as well but, since it's a triple, you still have the low end gearing.

Compact doubles, in my opinion, were designed and marketed by people who have zero understanding of gearing or the needs of the vast majority of the public. Yes, they have a similar range but the range of the gearing is only one part of the equation...and a small one at that.
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Old 04-13-18, 07:53 AM
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I just switched to a bike with a compact double (34/50), 32 tooth largest rear cog. Previously I had a triple road bike gearing.

Iím a lazy shifter. I never used my smallest chain ring on my old bike, but I liked knowing it was there. Iíve been pretty impressed with the new bikes combination. The lowest gear is PLENTY low to get up any hill, to the point that I donít actually use it much. I donít miss having a triple chainring.
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Old 04-13-18, 08:02 AM
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I vote for “it depends.”
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Old 04-13-18, 09:08 AM
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If the gearing range is similar, which has the more comfortable saddle and the better paint color?
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Old 04-13-18, 09:13 AM
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Either one will do the job if you pick the chainrings and cassette appropriately.

I get by on 14 speeds total.
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Old 04-13-18, 09:31 AM
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Im liking my IGH bikes, best , want higher end, lots of gears,? Alfine 11, like tech,? they offer a Di2 shifter..


With a chain tensioner even that can take a double crankset.. there are a couple gear box cranks that shift internally, with the chain not moving off the 1 chainring

functioning like a double and triple range..





....

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-13-18 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 04-13-18, 10:07 AM
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I use 1x11 42/11-36

I had 1x7 11-28 but needed to gear it down for bikepacking.
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Old 04-13-18, 11:09 AM
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I vote for the greater range of the triple...especially in hill country.
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Old 04-13-18, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
I don't know how I get home on Capitol Hill with a 42x25 low gear.


People's tolerance to climbing in different gears really varies an incredible amount. I don't think I have the patience to climb a Seattle Hill in a gear as low as 26xSomething.
I am retired so I have time! Just as well. The days when I could get anywhere with a 42-25 are long gone.
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Old 04-13-18, 11:43 AM
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I would much rather have a wide selection of closer ratio gears on the cassette than a granny gear that is available as a bail-out that never gets used. Especially if the effective low gear is pretty much the same between them. 10 and 11 speed give people the option of having both range and fairly close ratios on one cassette.

My earlier question for the OP and remarks about low gears were about what low gears he actually uses. As Aubergine and my different experience riding the same hills shows, what is more than low enough to one person can seem ridiculously high to another depending on their riding style. Around Seattle my usual low gear is a 39x26, which means 1% of the time I have to stand to complete a climb. If I had a 26 granny I would never use it, and if I went to the trouble of purchasing a bike with a super low gearing it means that I gave up some more useful gear ratios to have a capability that never gets used. If you have an 11 speed bike where you only use 8 of the sprockets, you really just have an expensive 8 speed bike.

That's why the OP should figure out what kind of low gearing he actually needs and then compare that to the ratios offered by the bikes he's shopping for.


Close ratio gearing is really nice. When you are tired and cruising home it is really great to have that 16t sprocket to shift into that best matches your speed and cadence rather than having to drop down to 17t.
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Old 04-13-18, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
Yes, it really depends on the hills and your legs. In Seattle (with plenty hills) a 26 tooth granny is a good thing to have. In your area? Only your knees can say.
Is that 26T on the front or the rear, or both?

Lots of details here. Look at gear ratios not as simply the sprocket size of the front or rear, but a combination of the two. Calculators will also look at wheel size, but you can somewhat ignore it if all the wheels in the comparison group are the same size.

So, a 26T x 26T gives identical gearing to a 30T x 30T or even 42T x 42T.

A long/steep hill for one person may not be the same as for another person. If a long hill is about 20 miles of climbing, I'm not quite sure how one could fit two of them into a 15 mile commute.

I think cleats and being clipped in also affects whether you can do the big gear ratios or not.



Each of my bikes is a little different. For light commuting (no heavy trailers) or cargo loads, my preference would probably be something like say: 52x34 front, 11x26 or so rear. 11 speed.

More or less.

But, that is only because I'm getting old.
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Old 04-13-18, 12:04 PM
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My recommendation is an unsuspended mountain bike from the late 80s to early 90s. 26" wheels. 3x7 drivetrain. Cheap (almost disposable) and bombproof.

For commuting with loads, a triple setup will be superior to any double or single ring solution.
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Old 04-13-18, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
Even with a 2 x 11, I literally never use the smaller of my chainrings.
I have 2x9 (50/34, 11-32) and I literally never use the larger of my chainrings. (And I expect every bike I buy in the future will be 1x)

As others have said, you need to figure out what range of gearing your legs need on your terrain.
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Old 04-13-18, 04:37 PM
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As many have said before, it depends on the rider and terrain. I would avoid a triple setup, in which commonly used speeds result in me jumping between chainring 2 and 3 (middle & large) a lot; e.g. when 2x11 is too easy, but staying on 3xsomething easily results in a lot of cross chaining. Using the front derailleur a lot can become annoying pretty quickly.
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Old 04-13-18, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
I have 2x9 (50/34, 11-32) and I literally never use the larger of my chainrings. (And I expect every bike I buy in the future will be 1x)

As others have said, you need to figure out what range of gearing your legs need on your terrain.
My chainrings are 34/24 and I have an 11-42 cassette
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