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52 or 50 Front Ring

Any advice, I tend to like pushing a big ring but was thinking if I changed my front ring down to 50t and increased the cadence it would help maintain a constant high speed rather than peeks and troughs.


  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Working on the premise that you may find it easier to drop from 52/11 to 52/12 but are happy at 50/11; then look at the Sheldon Brown gear calculator http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/ and plot in 52 and 50 chainrings at say 80rpm. The theoretical speed of 52/12 compared to 50/11 is 2.2kph slower. Another way is say you can sustain 52/11 at 80rpm you will hit 48.9kph but for the same effort if you can sustain 50/11 at 90rpm you will hit 52.9kph.

    A 50/39 will also give you a nice tight combo that allows you to slide up and down the gears and from inner to outer ring very nicely.

    Yes, I am a compact fan
  • bathtubbathtub Posts: 280
    Sound advice from Zacnici.

    If you are already running a 52 front chain ring on a standard chainset it is likely to be 130 BCD (Bolt Circle Diameter) You cannot get (AFAIK) a 50 tooth chainring in 130 BCD so it will not be as simple as just replacing a 52 chainring with a 50 tooth chainring.

    Compact chainsets come in 110 BCD you can get both 52 and 50 chain rings to fit.
  • Hi Big Tony,

    I have a Road bike which has a compact 50/12 and a TT bike which has a 53/11, whilst I know I have the aero benefits with the TTbike I find that I prefer the 53/11 and use the full range of gears on it, I live in a hilly area and would only opt for the compact if I know I'm gonna do loads of hills and mileage(50+).

    In answer to your question, I'd advise before you plunge for buying a compact try a few rides cycling in one gear lower than what you would normally on your local rides and focus on a higher cadence,if you normally cycle at 90rpm try aiming for 95-105rpm, check over you training data after a few workouts and determine weather your average speed e.t.c. has improved or remained the same, also keep an eye on your HR to check if your working at the same level.

    You may find that you are better off pushing the big gear!......you may find that your better off with the higher cadence!........Then you can make an informed decision whether or not to invest in chain rings with fewer teeth to enable closer gear ratios to make it easier to keep your cadence high.

    You may also find that after training with your current set-up with higher cadence that you achieve a better average speed and are able to use your set-up more effectively!

    A lot of this depends on what your fitness levels are and how strong you are!

    If you decide to try this my main tip would be to remember to change down the gears quickly and keep those legs pumping fast! this will take you away from pushing the Big gears!

    Hope this makes sense to you!.....just remember everyone is different and that the best cadence for you is the one that makes you faster! not your mates!

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