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Double vs triple crankset - pros and cons

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Double vs triple crankset - pros and cons

Old 07-23-21, 05:22 PM
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stratman
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Double vs triple crankset - pros and cons

What are the pros and cons of double and triple crankset bikes?

Last edited by stratman; 07-23-21 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 07-23-21, 05:44 PM
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Doubles are lighter weight, less complicated. Triples still allow you to have a close/closer ratio cassette when using a wide range of gearing which comes in handy when traveling over various terrains such as up hills, down hills, slow, technical riding (or just getting older like me). A necessity for loaded touring bikes IMO. Lots of differing opinions on this so here we go.....

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Old 07-23-21, 05:52 PM
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It's important to establish what type of bike and for what use. The pros and cons do not stand independent of the use. What are you planning to do with the bike?
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Old 07-23-21, 06:12 PM
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Triples are just about dead. I have more range with a 48/31 crank and 10-36 12 speed cassette - 557% .
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Old 07-23-21, 06:16 PM
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doubles dying 2 glad I kept my 1Xs

Fads to get your money unless you make your money riding, in my opinion!

gm
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Old 07-23-21, 06:24 PM
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Triples get you the gear range on older touring bikes, maybe with bar con shifters and with older 9 or 10 spd cassettes. You can get the same range with a double and 11 spd. Systems these days, just sometimes bigger jumps between gears.
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Old 07-23-21, 06:58 PM
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If you really want a wide gear ratio replace the crank with a schlumpf.
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Old 07-23-21, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Triples are just about dead. I have more range with a 48/31 crank and 10-36 12 speed cassette - 557% .
While I agree that triples have been just about murdered, “range” isn’t everything. Your gearing has a large range but its not terribly useful. A 129” top gear is mostly useless. There are places where it might come in handy but, for the most part, it’s just too tall. But the real issue lies inside the gearing ratios. For example, if you are pedaling along in the in the 19 tooth gear at 18 mph and shift to the inner ring, you will be pedaling at 90 rpm doing 7 mph slower. You have to either increase your cadence way over 120 rpm (which feels like the chain fell off) or you have to do 2 or possibly 3 upshifts on the back or simply coast until the bike slows enough for the cadence to catch up.

A reasonable triple (48/38/30) makes for a smoother transition from the outer to middle without the need for up shifts. The range is the same but there are more steps…and therefore more options…than the double. No coasting, upshifts, or huge increases in cadence needed.

Frankly this whole “concentration on range” is wrong headed and designed by people who don’t seem to understand gearing
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Old 07-23-21, 07:25 PM
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Some of this comparison and which will work for you depends on your expectations, your experiences and your skill level.

Expectations- Life is about more then gear range. gaps between gears is one that most sort of know about but how the bike feels is something that some don't have much awareness for or concerns about. So if all you want is gear range then match that super wide range cassette with a double or triple and you'll have more range then the bike with a single or double. If you want a simple shifting sequence then stick with a single ring and suffer the gaps if you want the range. Simple math.

Experiences- If you suffered with front shifting on a double or triple then go with less rings. If you've found that your need for s "certain" gear is flexible and that you have an ability to turn the pedals across a wide range of cadence then the gaps that wide range cassettes offer will be less a hindrance (with fewer rings). If not then fewer gears across a wide range can be frustrating.

Skills- This is the often mentioned shifting ability as well as the focus of looking ahead and knowing where, gear wise, you want to be before you are there. Having the time to soft pedal through a shift (really needed in the days before ramps and pinned rings) goes a long ways to easing the front shift's completion and is easier done with a good ability to anticipate. Andy
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Old 07-23-21, 07:42 PM
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I also have 46/30 chain rings that can be used with my 10-36 12 speed cassette and still get a 552% range. I use the entire range on nearly every ride in the mountains, so the range is not useless. If I need less range, I can change to a 10-33 to get the 14T missing from the 10-36.

Just this week I pedaled my 48/10 at 122rpm on the descent. It's more fun than coasting.
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Old 07-23-21, 07:52 PM
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The 16-tooth jump on my double crankset is a little big, but I can handle the extra rear shift, and I'm fine with its range and appreciate less complexity.

I am amazed at how quickly the triple seems to have died. But I'm not mourning it.
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Old 07-23-21, 08:03 PM
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my experience

had a ultegra 9 speed triple on my miyata 1400..... worked well but the front triple with indexing was super fidgety upgrade to 5800 105 11speed with 11-32 (you can get 11-34 now) and 50/36 upfront Best move I have made it works so well for me.

now in some cases like if you can't do a Cino Ride on 13-28 and 53/39 a friction shifting 52/42/30 triple with a 13 -32 six speed is the call for me

the retro grouch part o me does not like the look of the modern 1x setups.....if you are going do that then I guess if make threadless stems look less fugly

YMMV
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Old 07-23-21, 08:21 PM
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I went from a double on my road bike to a triple and triples on my mountain bikes to doubles. All of them have a wide range 8 speed cassette. At my age I have lost a good degree of speed.

Everything depends on how you want to ride.

My road bike has a 48-38-30 with a 14-36, maybe going to a 14-34. Horrendously low gearing, but it is really more for the 38t chainring. The wide range let's me ride in the 38 for most climbing down to 38-36, and the 48 on flats with a top end around 25 or so with an occasional 48-32 if I need it. The 30 gets touched every now and then, but it is nice to have when needed. I don't have problems shifting between chainrings, but it is more fun to be lazy and not have to.

Mountain bikes are 34-24 with 13-40 for the same reason. I'll ride the 34 and drop into the 40 rather than shift to the 24. The 24 is purely for extended climbing, or a new uphill trail I'm not certain about.

The one skill I wish I had better developed is multiple cadence power, especially mountain biking. Years of riding at a fairly high cadence has not done me any favors.

John

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Old 07-23-21, 08:34 PM
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Oh boy another double vs. triple thread. What? No 1X fans saying the double is dead?
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Old 07-23-21, 09:55 PM
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1x on mountain bikes work well since gaps don’t seem to be an issue.

For a road bike a compact double is a great option. When I was younger my lowest gear was 42-28.

But 48-32 would easily cover everything, especially with an 11 speed cassette with some range.

Go back 30 years and that would probably be my choice.

John
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Old 07-23-21, 10:16 PM
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Cranks are stupid get a motorsikel
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Old 07-24-21, 02:33 AM
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Good thing about triples is you can run a tight spaced 11-23 or 11-25 and have all the high/low gearing you'll ever need. I personally wouldn't need that big of a range unless I lived in the mountains but then it would be nice.
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Old 07-24-21, 03:43 AM
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OP here. Thanks for the replies folks. I had actually typed up a longer thread starter, but thought to myself - "nobody wants to read my life story". But here's a bit of background.

I'm a recent cyclist, not unhealthy but not athlete fit either.

The bike I ride is my first derailleur bike, before that I rode hub gear bikes. I built this bike myself, it's a touring frame, which I bought with the idea of maybe doing some light touring (Covid stopped that), but mainly because I like the idea of being able to attach racks, carry stuff, and I also like the low, steady geometry. It's got drop bars. It's got 48-38-26 with a 11-34 cassette. And I use all the range.

I built it up with a triple, originally Sora, drive train, but have now changed to Ultegra 6510 shifters, 9 speed triple. As those are old shifters, and 9 speed triple is on the way out, I've been busy building up a stock of "backup" parts, if I see any NOS or good used shifters/derailleurs etc.

The good thing about that generation of drive train components is that there's a lot of compatibility - Ultegra/105/Tiagra from that time is largely mix and match, 9 speed road and MTB can be mixed, and so on. And a big one is that the STIs for the front are double/triple.

So as I've got a lot of "spares" I could build myself a double, using a suitable frame. Maybe a lighter non-touring frame. I was wondering what the benefit might be. A bit less weight, which might mean I wouldn't need the very bottom gears as much, maybe.
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Old 07-24-21, 04:56 AM
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I agree that is a great generation of components. If you just want to build a double for fun, I'd suggest using a GRX 10 speed crank. 46-30 with your common 32 or 34t 9 speed mtb cassette would give you a good range of gears.
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Old 07-24-21, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Triples are just about dead. I have more range with a 48/31 crank and 10-36 12 speed cassette - 557% .
And bigger steps between ratios than a triple with a closer-spaced cassette.
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Old 07-24-21, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
While I agree that triples have been just about murdered, “range” isn’t everything. Your gearing has a large range but its not terribly useful. A 129” top gear is mostly useless...

Frankly this whole “concentration on range” is wrong headed and designed by people who don’t seem to understand gearing.
I agree. I ride a triple with a mere 413% range. A 13-28 9sp cassette gives me nice close steps, and I have a wicked low bailout gear. I don't need a tall gear to ride down hills, just a low gear to get up them. Then I will use my stored kinetic energy to descend.

For my next bike, if ever, I'd consider a 1x plus granny with 11 or 12 speeds, that would work.
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Old 07-24-21, 07:13 AM
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I bought a bike with a triple after I turned 50, on the advice of Joe Friel's book, "Cycling Past 50". In the first couple years, I used the small ring a lot; then less and less, until it became my "bail-out" gear. Now that I'm starting my eighth decade (71), the small ring is there when I need it as I probably will. It's Ultegra, and works flawlessly.
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Old 07-24-21, 07:45 AM
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My last triple setup was Campy 10 speed with a 53/39/28 crank and 12-25 cassette. It worked fine. I rode 5,000 miles per year in the Colorado mountains with it, for five years, including 6 trips to the top of Mount Evans. My best time was 2:35, when I was 53.

I switched to a compact 50/34 with an 11-27 in 2008, the first year of 11 speed. It worked fine too. Fast forward to July of 2018. I'm 65 with two replaced knees. I'm just getting back into cycling after 8 years off. I start with my 2004 model LOOK KG461 that has the same 50/34 and 11-27 cassette, but my current terrain has steeper 10% climbs. I switch to an 11-32 cassette, but as an old beginner-again, I could use a little lower gear. In 2019, I get Campy chorus 12 speed with a 48/32 crank and 11-34 cassette. In 2020, I switch to SRAM Force AXS with a 10-36 cassette, but same 48/32 crank. In October I switch from rim brake frames to disc and experiment with 46/30 and 48/31 cranks.

I have not found the jumps between sprockets to be too large, except on the 10-36 that has a 13-15 jump. The 24-28-32-36 changes work great on steep climbs. I just ordered a 10-33 cassette, as my strength has improved after 3 years and 14,000 miles back on the bike. It has 10-11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-28-33 sprockets. Some complain about the 28-33 jump, but I expect no problem.
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Old 07-24-21, 07:53 AM
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Pros-

a triple would allow you to setup a half step + granny and get wide ranging narrowly spaced gear choices even using a 7 or 8 speed cassette. Using 7 or 8 speeds means cheaper chains and cassettes for long term maintenance. If you have a seven speed hub your rear wheel will be stronger due to reduced dishing from the narrower cassette.

Cons-

a triple requires a wide range front derailleur which is harder to setup
a triple requires 3 chain rings which is going to be slightly heavier.
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Old 07-24-21, 08:10 AM
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Pros for Triple: one more chainring. more range in gearing
Pros for Double: one less chainring. <q factor, simpler shifting

Cons for Triple: one more chainring. >q factor, more complex shifting
Cons for Double: one less chainring. less gearing range

IMO Triples are fine for 7,8, and 9 sp. 10 and up are double do-able.
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