Road Gearing
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Is 11-Speed Worth It?

If you love Gap rides or you live anywhere else where the pitches hit 15 percent or more, the answer is YES.  Shimano Ultegra and SRAM Force are now both 11-speed, which makes the option much more affordable.

Here's what the new 11-spd groups offer:

Smoothest, most precise shifting ever, both Shimano and SRAM.
A wider spread without having to leave out a favorite gear in the middle.
Up to 32 in the back.  Combined with a compact crank, makes Gap rides more fun.
Example 1: 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-25-28.  Notice you don't have a 3-tooth jump until your final shift.  On a 10-speed 11-28, the three-tooth jump starts as early as the 19.
Example 2:  11-12-13-14-16-18-20-22-25-28-32.  If you need that 32 to get you over the Gaps, you no long need to sacrifice the 14, as 10-spd does with this spread.  Makes an 11-32 more effective in group rides down in the valley, where the 14 is a must-have gear when the group starts to hammer.

See what Slowtwitch.com has to say about what 9, 10, and 11spd gearing will do for you.  

Compact Cranks

Compact cranks use a 110mm spider to accommodate a smaller inner chainring than a 39.  The compact crank is typically a 50-34, while the mid-compact is a 52-36. 

This allows you to gear almost as low as you would using a triple with a 30-tooth inside chainring.  The 34-28 combination allowed by an 11-28 cassette is very similar to a 30-25 with a triple crankset.  

With a medium cage road derailleur, you can take this a step further and run an 11-32 cassette.  

Is the compact viable for racing?  Top pros use compact cranks for ultra-steep mountain stages in major races like the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta Espana in Europe.  If the pros can successfully use a compact for racing, so can you.  If you feel under-geared with a 50-34, try a 52-36.  Compact cranks are a great choice for the ultra-steep climbs in the Bike Up the Mountain Point Series, even for the strongest riders.

 

Gear Roll-Out (inches)

    50   36   34   53   52   39   30    
11   123   88   83   130   128   96   74   11
12   113   81   76   119   117   88   68   12
13   104   75   71   110   108   81   62   13
14   96   69   66   102   100   75   58   14
15   90   65   61   95   94   70   54   15
16   84   61   57   89   88   66   51   16
17   79   57   54   84   83   62   48   17
19   71   51   48   75   74   55   43   19
21   64   46   44   68   67   50   39   21
22   61   44   42   65   64   48   37   22
23   59   42   40   62   61   46   35   23
24   56   40   38   60   58   44   34   24
25   54   39   37   57   56   42   32   25
26   52   37   35   55   54   40   31   26
27   50   36   34   53   52   39   30   27
28   48   35   33   51   50   38   29   28
30   45   32   31   48   47   35   27   30
32   42   30   29   45   44   33   25   32
34   40   29   27   42   41   31   24   34
36   38   27   26   40   39   29   22   36
    50   36   34   53   52   39   30    

What About the Triple?

The industry is phasing out the triple for most road bikes.  Even entry-level road bikes are now available with compact cranks that give you the low gearing needed for our steep hills without the fuss of keeping a triple front shifter adjusted.