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25105 Views 27 Replies Latest reply: Nov 5, 2010 6:53 AM by MotiveForcer 1 2 Previous Next
Jimmy417 Amateur 10 posts since
Jun 13, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

May 11, 2010 12:45 PM

Triple vs double!

I currently have a triple chainrings and am wondering if anyone out there has any suggestions to go to a double. My problem is: every time I let the pedals spin backwards it falls to the middle ring and I have to shift down to the smallest in the rear to get it back to the largest in the front. (PITA) Now, I'm certainly not trying to let the pedals go backwards but it will sometimes happen.

I had someone tell me that it would be cheaper to buy another bike. I currently have ultegra components. Any ideas or suggestions would be helpful.

Thank you

  • ActiveWatches Dave Legend 207 posts since
    Apr 13, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. May 11, 2010 3:49 PM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    Good question.  I'd be interested in everyone's thoughts.  One thing to consider: I've heard triple-ring cranks are a bit heavier than double-ring ones.  So if the weight of your bike is important, you may want to switch to a double-ring.  - The Place for Sports Watches

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  • Matt Knickerbocker Rookie 1 posts since
    Jan 30, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. May 12, 2010 3:51 AM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    Jimmy, it might depend on the terrain where you ride and the type of riding you do (recreational, fast club rides, racing, etc.).  Are you currently using a triple because you frequently ride in the hills and need the low end gear range?  If so, you might consider changing to a compact drive.  This is a double chain ring set, but with a 50/34 tooth combination instead of the standard 53/39, giving you more of a "low end" for hill climbing but without the mechanical fussiness and weight of a triple chain ring.  If you're happy with your frame and Ultegra components, installing a compact drive is well worth the price.

    Happy riding!

  • grid-rider Legend 235 posts since
    Sep 5, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. May 12, 2010 4:30 AM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    If your doing 22mph steadily save your money for when the GREATER DEPRESSION HITS. Then trade it for food and heat

  • gnuandspeedo Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 30, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. May 12, 2010 4:56 AM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    You need to use the correct setup for you. That will depend on lots of things, however if you live in mountain country and do long challenging hill events, a triple will serve most riders better. I change setups depending on terrain.





  • ASak10 Rookie 3 posts since
    Feb 8, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. May 12, 2010 7:11 AM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    Jimmy417 wrote:


    My problem is: every time I let the pedals spin backwards it falls to the middle ring and I have to shift down to the smallest in the rear to get it back to the largest in the front. (PITA)


    While you still may want to change to a double or compact double for a variety of reasons (weight savings, better shifting), what you said was the problem should NOT be the reason to switch.  It sounds like you have a problem with your derailleur setup and need to get it adjusted.  Your chain shouldn't just be falling into the middle ring, and you shouldn't have to shift the rear gears down or up to shift.  Are you doing a lot of riding in big/big or small/small combinations?  If so you may have thrown off the derailleur settings or even done something to the chain itself (you should almost never be in those combinations).


    So before paying lots of money to change your setup, have your bike adjusted by a competent and trusted mechanic; you may also need a new chain in addition to the adjustments.  But, that should fix your problems, and for much less.  If you still want to change your setup then have at it, but you have really good components and I wouldn't want you to waste a lot of money for what could be a simple fix.


    Also, I don't know who told you it would be cheaper to buy a new bike, but you could upgrade your setup for under $1000 and you wouldn't need to upgrade the entire groupset, just some of the compnents.

  • longivas Rookie 1 posts since
    Jun 12, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. May 12, 2010 8:24 AM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    If you have a road bike, this kind of a thing this type of thing never happen or should never happen. I have had triples for years, biked thousands of miles with them and never had any problems. A triple what ever chainring you have (usually 53/42/30) is to be matched with derailleurs and cassette. There is nothing wrong with a Shimano Ultegra gruppo. If recent it is a very good group. If you Ultegra crank is matched with a corresponding cassette and rear and front derailleur and these does not have to be Ultegra (they could be 105), if your chain rings have not been damaged it is only a question of your an adjustment of your front derailleur.


    A double or compact (usually 52-53/34) is also fine but if you are used to a triple you should run a ratio differential as you will have a thougher time to go uphill. a 10-12% grade is easier with a 30/29 (Campy triple) than a compact 34/27. You of course can tweet a compact with a different cassette and derailleur (XX or others)


    The weight difference beetween a double or triple is not that big 30 to 90 Gr. depending the brand. (SRAM does not triple).


    I do not know the specific why someone would tell you to buy a new bike for an apparent small thing like this but it is not right.


    Keep you Ultegra, (if it is in good shape), see a good LBS they will help you, have you bike regularly maintained once or twice a year and it will not cost you a new bike!


    Longivas - a very old racer

  • LML2007 Rookie 2 posts since
    Nov 6, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. May 13, 2010 9:33 AM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    Having rode both a compact double followed by a triple, I will add the following comments:


    • A triple will offer a roughly about 2 lower gears than a compact double.  This can make a modest difference when climbing, more so on steep climbs exceeding 15%.  If your riding is mostly flat, then you shouldn't really experience a difference that is material to your riding.
    • The weight issue shouldn't be that much a concern, particularly if your riding is mostly over flat terrain.  If you're a climber, and weight is an issue (including your body weight), then going with a compact double may offer some "weight advantage," but such advantage shouldn't be material.
    • The biggest issue for me would be gear switching among your gear rings.  If it's an issue to your riding, then a double will obviously reduce the frequency of front gear switching, which may make your riding less cumbersome.


    In sum, if your riding is mostly over flat terrain, going with a compact double appears to many benefits v. a triple.

  • Mittelstaedt Ronald Rookie 4 posts since
    Oct 10, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. May 17, 2010 3:54 PM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    Old cyclist proverb: "Old cycylist never die, they buy triples."

  • MotiveForcer Community Moderator 448 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Jul 7, 2010 10:09 PM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    OK. I see that this question is in the "answered" mode and nearly all the responses are excellent. I'm sorry I didn't see this question sooner. Perhaps I was out riding hills.  Nevertheless, Jimmy's follow up statement was that where he rides it is primarily flat. So, how come a triple in the first place? Personally, unless climbing crazy hills, a compact drive with a 34 would be easy enough in my mind with a 12-25.  In fact, why not a 12-21 with a straight block for the crisp shifts we all long for.  Now if flat, why even consider a compact. Most of you, I bet darn near all, ride 53-39 if standard rings.  Let me posit this question? Why not a 53-42?  The difference between a 42 and a 39 is in effect one tooth of a gear in the rear.  BUT, you can effectively shift to the right gear in the rear more readily I've found.  That is, when I rode a 39 in the front, when I shifted to it (or from it for that matter) from the 53, I found that it usually took two shifts of the rear derailleur to find the sweet spot.  With a 42, only one shift.

    I've noted that in races that my cohorts will go to the 53 and stay there only using the rear derailleur.  As a result they tend to use a bigger ring size in the back (a 25 vs a 23 for example) so that they can shift to the second biggest rear gear so to not attain total crossover of the chain.  (Crossover is a no no. That is being, for example, in the biggest front gear, say your 53, and your biggest rear gear, say your 25 or vice versa, being in your 39 and your 12.)  I actually use my front derailleur in races and keep a straighter block going in the rear derailleur. If flat enough, I use a 12-21.  Usually I use an 11-23, as that came with my bike however.  The advantage to that is I can be in my big ring 53 and shift to the 12 and not have total crossover.  But when you think about it an 11 is not particularly necessary for racing unless you are just a total Cavendish or your sprint finishes are downhill.  A friend and teammate, former pro racer from the Bay area, Mark Cahn, recently said regarding a sprint finish that the particular race finish (downhill somewhat) was the first time he wished he had an 11 for the sprint.  So unless you are beyond strong and racing, an 11 is not really necessary.


    So, let us get back to the question at hand.  Get the bike to the mechanic as suggested (best advice above!) and if the terrain is really flat, consider taking off the granny gear. Why not?  Now check to see what size rings you have for the middle and large.  Probably a 53/39. But if your bike is a 53/42 and you ride all the time in those two, if you replace them or get a new bike consider staying with that configuration. Ask around. Anyone using a 53/42?  Few, I bet, but my buddies here to whom I've suggested it and converted all love it and while we are not in the mountains, we have some nice hills.  I rode the coast from Marin to LA last Halloween week and used a 53/42, 12/25 and while there was one 7 mile (seemed like it was infinite) climb and another shorter one but slightly steeper) that was tough, I was good with my gearing.  My point is that I like to keep my cassettes tight so each shift is right on.


    More entry level bikes seem to come with triples. Personally I think they should all come with compacts now.  Yes, I know, some of you love your granny gears and getting older faster seems to interfere but entry level bikes aren't usually sold to senior riders.  I'm trying to picture a bike I've seen in a local shop that came with Ultegra Triples.  Can't think of one.  Higher end usually equates to a stronger rider.  A double vs. a triple means less range of movement for the derailleur and fewer mechanical problems.  Possibly the culprit in the first place.


    So, Jimmy, was your scnerio resolved?


  • speedlever Rookie 1 posts since
    May 13, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Jul 31, 2010 6:26 PM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    I spent 3300 miles on a triple (52/39/30) and then spent 5000 miles on a compact double (50/34). I am happily back on a triple (52/39/30).


    In my normal riding area, I found the 34 on the compact too short on the flats and too tall for climbing steep slopes. I much prefer the 39t mid-chainring on the triple for an all-around gear. And the 30t granny gear is there if/when I need it (more often than I care to admit these days).


    You have an equipment problem if your chain is changing gears when backpedaling. Checked your chain for wear recently?

  • Moriates Legend 292 posts since
    Jul 19, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Aug 3, 2010 9:07 AM (in response to Jimmy417)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    If a triple is working for you, why change it?  It should not down shift like you are experiencing.  You need the front derailer properly adjusted.



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  • MotiveForcer Community Moderator 448 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Aug 3, 2010 9:25 AM (in response to Moriates)
    Re: Triple vs double!

    I agree. Make sure the equipment you have is working properly.  In general, unless defective or otherwise broken, I don't recommend changing expensive equipment out but instead suggest that it be put into proper working condition and go from there.  Then, if you are purchasing a new bike you have options available to you.  Most of my discussions are based on the practical side of the sport.  What works best for one person may not be best for others. As I noted above I use a 53/42 instead of a 39.  Well, a 39 is pretty common but many riders don't even realize they could even buy a 42 instead (Shimano usually recommends that you buy the pair as they are synched to be a set 53/39 or 53/42.  That said a buddy who here in Michigan now uses a 42 based upon my suggestion, and don't tell him that he isn't the best hill climber around, gets up the hills okay here but for a bike he will use mostly in Arizona he bought a 39 tooth ring without the mated 53 and he said it worked great.  Not sure what Shimano's reply to that is.



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