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Daily Archives: December 13, 2018

Why I Switched from a 52/42/30 Triple to a 50/34 Double Drivetrain on the Rain Bike

When I upgraded my Trek’s drivetrain, I could have gone a different way. I could have kept it simple, the nine speed triple was working fine, but I got my big brain workin’ and the idea of the new setup just seemed cool. Black crank, black chainrings… the thought was, to pull out a word from my teenage days, “tasty”.

In the end, I dropped about a pound and the cool factor of the bike went up by an order of magnitude – but, while the cool factor is important, what really mattered was how much better the bike is for the change…

The cool factor does matter but not enough to dictate purchases (well, that’s actually debatable).  I wanted simple and a triple isn’t that. The triple is clumsy and requires too much shifting. On the plus-side of the ledger, 30/25 was a nice gear for climbing steep grades. I could ride up mountain roads that were hard to walk up. However, 34/28 isn’t too shabby, either.  In fact, the 34/28 is surprisingly close to the 30/25 granny gear from the triple.  Having ridden the Trek almost everywhere, I’ve yet to run out of gears with the new double setup – high end or low end.

If that wasn’t enough (and it is), I’ve come to find that the 50/34 chainring setup works better with an 11-28 cassette than a 52-36 because of a hole smack dab in the middle of the cruising gears.  There’s a three tooth jump in the cassette, so with the 52/36 you’ve got a hole from 18-1/2-mph to 21-mph.  With the 50/34, that hole is between 15 & 18-1/2 so you rarely get put in a situation where you can’t make do with one or the other.  With the 52/36 I run into situations all of the time where I’m having a tough time picking a gear.

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The 50/34 works so well with the Trek, I’m actually contemplating putting the same on the Venge.  It’ll either be that, or go with an 11-25 cassette instead, to avoid the big 3 tooth jumps in gears.

In fact, to get ultra-geeky on the gearing, I wouldn’t even want to use an 11-26 SRAM PG 1050 cassette – it’s still got the three tooth jump exactly in the wrong place… also, I just don’t know how much I want to get stuck on an 18%er with a 36/25 granny gear.  That just doesn’t seem all that much fun… besides, if I put new chainrings on the Venge, I can go with black.  Now that would look spectacular…

The main gist of the post is this:  You don’t have to settle for the gearing that came on your bike if it doesn’t work for you.  While it’s not always easy or cheap to fix, gearing can be tailored to suit your desires and your riding style – you just have to know what you’re doing when you start changing things.

That’ll be for a future post.