There is no shame in a compact crankset

Posted by SuperClydesdale on January 25, 2010 under Road Bike Components | Be the First to Comment

I hear people talk about gearing quite a bit, particularly riders lucky enough to call themselves Clydesdales.   Since cycling is a grand conspiracy against larger people (see my efforts to remedy the situation via the Clydesdale class action lawsuit), we Clydesdales need to consider different gearing than our Napoleonic 165-pound riding buddies.   The real test is this:  if people can tell from behind that you’re not a chick, then you may need to consider a compact crank, or if there’s really nasty climbs around, a triple.

If your plan is to simply muscle through the climbs because you cannot bear the comments that may result from putting on a compact crankset, then you are setting yourself up for unending suffering and frustration.

As I often say, a semi truck needs different gearing than a Corvette.   We have a lot more to haul up the hills, and if you don’t have the gearing to allow you to stay at a high enough cadence, your legs are going to get trashed well before the smaller guys.   I think that with strength and fitness, that a bigger guy can hang with smaller guys on the short to medium-length hills (say, a mile or less), if they have gears they can retreat to that will keep them at a high enough cadence.   Now, when I say, “hang with”, I mean, keep them in reach.   An equally fit smaller rider will almost certainly be able to create some gap between the two of you, but you can give yourself a chance to close the gap once the climb is over if you keep that gap small.

Let’s face it, we’ll always have to work harder to get up the hills — just as a small rider will always have to work harder to get a date, or to be taken seriously in a meeting.  Some things cannot be changed.

Once again the thought turns to why we are doing this anyway – why do you cycle?   For me, I love the experience, the fact that I can get an excellent workout, while being outdoors and have the ability to actually go someplace in the process.  That’s exactly why I switched to a compact on my race bike, and a triple on my “climbing bike.”   I want to keep it fun.   In order for it to remain fun, I want to be able to climb with my riding partners.  Some of the rides I do, I don’t know if I could do without a compact cransket.  I know for a fact that I couldn’t complete the Death Ride without a triple.  Not to toot my own horn, I can also tell you that I flew past many people on the 2010 Death Ride.   They were trying to grind it out, in total misery on their 53/39 crankset.

Put on a compact crankset or a triple if you must.   If anybody gives you any crap, then tell them that if they bought their clothes in the men’s department, they would need a compact crankset too.

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