Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

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Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby Kaldek » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:49 am

Hi folks,

I'm still a noob and have an Avanti Blade (triple chainring, 8-speed cassette) which I'm using to get into the sport. I'm making great strides already but I would love a drop handlebar roadbike. However, pure road racers all seem to be 50/34t compact with a 28T rear at best but I can't even use the 48t chainring on my Avanti as I just don't have the strength. I've discovered my comfortable cadence is quite high (110 or so) but on the flats I'm topping out at 34T/17T (or 20T if I'm feeling strong). If I go up a long hill I still have to resort to the granny ring (28T) and will go all the way up to 30T on the rear if I'm really knackered. Trust me, these hills are not steep. I can *almost* suffer through keeping it on the 34T chainring and 30T at the rear when I'm tired on the hills but it's super-hard work and no way is it aerobic for me.

Personally I think this is telling me I'm just not ready for traditional road bike gearing yet, much as I would like the drop bars. Thoughts? Do I need to train differently (I've only been riding for 4 weeks) or do I just need to keep at it and slowly build up my base?
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by BNA » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:56 am

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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby hannos » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:56 am

How often and how far have you been riding for the last 4 weeks? I'd say you just haven't developed strength in the correct muscle groups yet.


Personally, I ride a 50/34 and either a 11/25 or 11/28. Currently it's the 11/28 as I haven't been riding much so my strength has left me :oops:
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby Kaldek » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:00 am

hannos wrote:How often and how far have you been riding for the last 4 weeks? I'd say you just haven't developed strength in the correct muscle groups yet.

Personally, I ride a 50/34 and either a 11/25 or 11/28. Currently it's the 11/28 as I haven't been riding much so my strength has left me :oops:


I have a full time job and three young kids (and I'm not a morning person, and I live too far from the office to commute), so I'm doing either a 10km ride every day (24-25 minutes) or a 20km ride (two laps of the same route).

If it makes any sense, I feel like I "bonk" or hit the wall with my legs extremely quickly if I try to push. They just go to jelly and my strength completely disappears. I literally can't even stand up and pedal (not that I do this much - I prefer to sit down and keep my cadence up).
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby Mrfenejeans » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:11 am

I'd say you just need to ride more and build leg strength. High cadence is good but you do need to remember to put down adequate force with it, which means either pushing the same cadence in a bigger gear or riding with a much bigger gear with a low cadence to help build your legs.
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby macca33 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:38 am

I agree - keep at it, you haven't been going that long and need to build up your base of fitness and rider break-in for a bike. Some longer rides might also help - not quicker - just longer, as they help to build your endurance. Also, try to stay out of the smallest chain-ring whenever you can and try to push the pedals harder, which will increase your leg strength very quickly.

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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby DoogleDave » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:54 am

I also agree with the suggestions above.

Instead of holding a cadence of 110, perhaps lower that to around 90 rpm but use 1-2 gear's higher on the back (or use a similar rear gear but the bigger front chain ring).
Riding for a longer distance (even on a flat course) will start your legs getting used to the extra effort required to push the larger gear, and for a longer duration....but don't knock yourself out and remember to take recovery days/easy rides or no rides between harder sessions to let yourself recover. Also, don't try and do too much too quickly. If you're riding 20 km's per ride now don't try and double it instantly. Add 5km's for a week or so and then another 5km's and over time you will adapt to the longer rides (mentally and physically.

When I started riding back in March 2012 I was lucky to ride at about 23 km/h ave with a cadence around 60-70 (for a 5-10km ride).
Almost a year on and I can usually average around 30 km/h for 50-100km's and hold a cadence anywhere between 80 - 100+ rpm....but it's all about putting km's into the legs (there is no other substitute - unless you're Lance Armstrong) :twisted:
Losing about 20kg's in the process has also made this easier to achieve....

Keep at it and persist and over time you will find your improvement will be gradual but it will get better. Once your legs can handle it then moving to a 50/34 or 53/39 crank with appropriate rear gears is worthwhile.

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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby TDC » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:56 am

Nobody got good at anything in 4 weeks. Keep pedaling.
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby Baalzamon » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:12 pm

Well I upgraded to 53/39 from 50-34
Have I noticed a difference. Nope not really. Harder to spin out on descents tho, and currently I'm a one week to 2 week rider so not every day. Thanks feet......
Can I get up hills yep, having a 11-32 rear cassette helps :mrgreen: Sram Apex
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby Summernight » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:19 pm

I know I'll probably be shot down, but what is wrong with buying a road bike with a triple chainset?
My road bike has a triple (although I don't use the granny ring and have pretty much never used it as I just commute and haven't pointed my bicycle at a decent hill).

That would be similar to what the OP has now and they are available. Although yes, building up strength in the legs will help and I guess if I was upgrading I'd probably look at a compact.
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby TDC » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:27 pm

Nothing is wrong with a triple. OP just needs to ride more and will get stronger. 4 weeks cycling is not a long time.
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby jacks1071 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:49 pm

TDC wrote:Nothing is wrong with a triple. OP just needs to ride more and will get stronger. 4 weeks cycling is not a long time.


Good advice, come back after a few months of riding before throwing $$ at the problem.
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby apollocreed » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:04 pm

http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/

If your worried you cant use a 50t ring then plug all your numbers in here and find a gear inches / gear ratio that matches what you currently ride.

also, need alot more riding to get leg strength up. Doesn't happen over weeks. Put yourself at the bottom of a hill, ride up it, then when your legs feel like jelly ride it again
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby Xplora » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:29 pm

Summernight wrote:I know I'll probably be shot down, but what is wrong with buying a road bike with a triple chainset?

RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE EURHIUHRRRRRRRR

Honestly, if you aren't leaving the middle ring, then you don't need a triple because you aren't climbing yet. A 34/28 is ridiculously low, and you need to ride more to cope with the kms. It's really a waste to have more gears right at the beginning of your riding... I got brutalised after 2 weeks off the bike, simple fitness issue... a triple fixes climbing issues, not basic fitness issues.
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby Kaldek » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:04 pm

Thanks peeps, these are all excellent responses.

So basically for now I should stick with what I've got and build up more fitness. I guess I'd like some drop bars even with the still-terrible fitness and no strength but I suppose I'll still get fit and stronger even with flat bars. The bike already has bar ends which I find more comfortable for when I'm trying to go fast (hah!), so there is that.
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby Xplora » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:21 pm

Once you are riding around in the top crank on the MTB/hybrid, including hills!!!, you are definitely ready for a dropbar. You really need to be able to sustain top crank for your entire 30 minute ride for the money to be worth it.
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby high_tea » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:02 pm

Kaldek wrote:Thanks peeps, these are all excellent responses.

So basically for now I should stick with what I've got and build up more fitness. I guess I'd like some drop bars even with the still-terrible fitness and no strength but I suppose I'll still get fit and stronger even with flat bars. The bike already has bar ends which I find more comfortable for when I'm trying to go fast (hah!), so there is that.


Rolling with what you have for a while sounds reasonable. That said, if you want a drop-bar bike, why not just get one with appropriate gearing? I had a roadie with mountain bike derailleur and a 34T rear sprocket. This was a good thing on real pinch hills. I mean, the consensus is you'll get fitter fairly quickly and I agree with that, but if you need/want low gears just get them already. It's perfectly feasible. The only risk is that you find the low gears aren't necessary any more in 6 months' time or something, but higher gears are just a $50 cassette away. That's not a big risk, to my way of thinking. Maybe a chat with the friendly staff at your local LBS?
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Re: Upgrading to 50/34t from 48/34/28t

Postby Summernight » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:44 pm

Xplora wrote:
Summernight wrote:I know I'll probably be shot down, but what is wrong with buying a road bike with a triple chainset?

RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE EURHIUHRRRRRRRR

Honestly, if you aren't leaving the middle ring, then you don't need a triple because you aren't climbing yet. A 34/28 is ridiculously low, and you need to ride more to cope with the kms. It's really a waste to have more gears right at the beginning of your riding... I got brutalised after 2 weeks off the bike, simple fitness issue... a triple fixes climbing issues, not basic fitness issues.


:P Agreed.

I'm in the big 50T ring on the flats. Middle ring for the hill to and from work as I'm pathetic up the hills (can't be bothered pushing uphill when I've just done 7kms running prior to the work commute). When I started out I was in the middle ring on the flats but I think water polo had already strengthened my legs. That and I ran 5 times a week.
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