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Thread: 52/36 versus 50/34?

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    Default 52/36 versus 50/34?

    In a recent post one of us mentioned a "useless" 50/34 versus a better-liked 52/36. What gives? Why is such a big difference perceived for such a seemingly small difference?
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    First of all, it really depends what kind of cassette you have at the back and the area where you ride.

    If you are still racing, can average 25mph in a 3 to 4h rides yes 50/34 might be useless.

    If you ride mostly on your own or in small groups, never ride at more than 28mph in the flat and use cassette starting with a 11t cog a 52 or 53 would be useless to you.

    I'm currently quite unfit, 15kg heavier than my "in form" weight, only race occasionnally and ride in a hilly area and sometimes choose taking that small stupidely In my case a 46x30 fits the bill very well. 15y earlier I would have said it was useless. What kind of rider you are ? Do you live in flat lands or in the mountains ?
    Last edited by sk_tle; 3 Weeks Ago at 12:03 PM.
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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    I agree that it depends on where and how you ride.
    The previous two days I’ve been on solo climbs of around 3,000 feet over 12-15 miles and my 50/36 coupled with an 11-34 cassette is great. I’m in a Valley and never ride flat roads. I can’t descend any faster (safely) with taller gears anyway.
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    My "climbing bike" has the 50/34 and a 30 cog in the back. I rode it on a "normal" road ride with minimal climbs just to be sure it was ready to go and noticed that even being alone I was using the smaller range of cogs on the cassette. I am sure if I were in a group ride of old I would have been looking for a bigger gear. Since I spend way more time on my cx bike on the local gravel mountain roads I really like the 34 chainring and the bigger sprockets on the cassette. My cx/gravel rig has a 46 big ring so I would guess on a paved group ride I might be in trouble, but for the minimal connector roads of pavement I ride it works out just fine.
    Like others mentioned horses for courses. If I again lived in Louisiana I wouldn't even be having this conversation as we ran 53/39 and a 22-24 big cog cassette that worked great.
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    Super relative to the rider and their location.

    I ride a 50/34 with an 11-34 cassette on my most ridden bike. I just really like having lots of gear range and a low climbing gear. I always seem to have enough on the top 50-11 for keeping up, etc.

    I personally don't know how most folks in this area can ride a 53/39 or even a 52/36 in these parts and not feel under geared for a good majority of the climbs. I know some CAT 1 racers that are super strong but even those guys just do the 52/36 setup.

    50-11 at 100rpm is about 35mph, so that's going pretty good.. Anything faster and I'm going down a proper descent.

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    I ride a 50/34 and agree with everything already said.
    Also- Preferred cadence matters- Not everyone like to spin.
    52/36 is great for racing- I found that racing a 50/34 resulted in too much double shifting- When you shift front chainrings, you have to also shift the rear- sometimes several times.
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    Horses for courses. When I lived in NJ I was on 53/39 with 11-25 for most of my riding life. The last road bike I had there had a 50/34 with 11-25 because my riding area changed. When I moved to CO I brought that bike with me and the 25 cassette was quickly changed for a 11-32.

    I donít have a proper road bike anymore, but my cx bike has a 34/46 with 11-34. The 1:1 gear is all I would ever need for climbing and the 46-11 is acceptable for descending. Did 4400ft in 55 miles today and was only in the 34-34 for a little bit, but was in the 46-11 for 15 miles of down.
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    i went to 52-36 as an accommodation to longer climbs i began doing. on shorter rides i did prefer the 53-39. Strokes felt more efficient but on double digit climbs and long ones it just wasn't practical That said i have 50-34 on my gravel bike and this chain ring combination made me feel like i was spinning to much most of time and made the small chain ring feel useless to me and forced me to ride almost exclusively in the large ring. I've gotten used to 52-36 it seems to work. If i need a real easy climbing ratio i now have an 11-32 cassette but so far i'm never in the 32 cog. I plan to use it in Europe though. -Mike G
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    Quote Originally Posted by fastupslowdown View Post
    i went to 52-36 as an accommodation to longer climbs i began doing. on shorter rides i did prefer the 53-39. Strokes felt more efficient but on double digit climbs and long ones it just wasn't practical That said i have 50-34 on my gravel bike and this chain ring combination made me feel like i was spinning to much most of time and made the small chain ring feel useless to me and forced me to ride almost exclusively in the large ring. I've gotten used to 52-36 it seems to work. If i need a real easy climbing ratio i now have an 11-32 cassette but so far i'm never in the 32 cog. I plan to use it in Europe though. -Mike G
    Mike you just need to ride less and eat more cookies.
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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    Thanks John. Still struggling this year. but that for reasons having nothing to do with gear combinations. Today was the first time I felt semi-normal on the bike in a while
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    I don't like where the 52/36 puts the gears. They feel wrong.

    For most of my riding here in the flatter part of the DC area, I've got full-sized rings and an 11-26. I can get over the rollers just fine. The bigger climbs? They hurt, but can be done.

    The gravel bikes have a 34/50 and either a 34t big cog or a 28t big cog depending on where I'm riding.

    M
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gummee View Post
    I don't like where the 52/36 puts the gears. They feel wrong.

    For most of my riding here in the flatter part of the DC area, I've got full-sized rings and an 11-26. I can get over the rollers just fine. The bigger climbs? They hurt, but can be done.

    The gravel bikes have a 34/50 and either a 34t big cog or a 28t big cog depending on where I'm riding.

    M
    I agree with this. Especially the part about it feeling wrong. I had a 52/36 for a short time and didn't like it. The 53/39 is low enough for pretty much anything in the immediate DC vicinity, especially with the Dura Ace 12-28 cassette.

    A couple of my bikes have custom cranks (by me) of 50/39 where I won't be needing a 34 but having an 11-28 gives me the same utility as a 53x12 and allows me to use the big ring for a lot more normal terrain but I don't feel the huge drop to a 34. Where I live isn't hilly enough for a 34 to be really justified. If I went back to my old hills in Europe I would have no hesitation using a 34x28 or even 32.

    The 52/36 works well for some folks but I never loved it and sold it off. The standard and the semi-compact I use feel best to my legs and switching to a 34 is easy if I need it.
    La Cheeserie!

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    The bike I got last year has a 52-36 11-32 and after years of riding 53-39 with various combinations it has taken some getting used to because within range of my driveway it's either dead level or short but meaningful hills. They're usually 10-20 minute hills but the road builders around home were lazy and generally went straight over things so stretches at 15 percent or more are not uncommon. On the flats I'm still figuring it out but on the hills I like the very low gears a lot. When I was riding the ADK 540 route on what I consider normal gearing the big hills weren't so bad it was the steep rollers by the lake that took a bite out of me. Not having to reach into as much force on a long day is kind of nice. I have to say, though, the first hill at Cross Mountain had me in the 36-32 on every hill after that! I don't know that I'd like too much lower hearing than that, I do like taking out the regular gears for hill days also because it is a very different sort of method to get over the hills and I like it too. I don't consider myself strong or fast, numbers don't lie, so it might just be the terrain that affects my preferences.
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    And yet somehow with all this math, cyclists can ride in groups of two or more.
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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    As a datapoint I only did 4 group rides last year and I used my cyclocross bike with a 40tx11-32 and worn knobbly tires. I wouldn't have been able to escape that group in the flat when the few cat1 riders switched to race mode but I was mostly fine when staying in their wheels as long as I didn't try to take a relay.

    I was more limited by my weak power to weight ratio in the false flats and climbs than my gearing in the flat.

    I was also comfortable riding behind a scooter at 50kph with a fixed gear bike and a 46x14 ratio.

    All this to say you have to enter pro rider territory to be limited by a 50t chainring.
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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    I’m in between bikes so I’m riding my apocalypse bike (lugged steel 9 speed and dt shifters)
    And I’ve cobbled together 48/34 with 11-30
    Gonna do the same when the new bike comes but 11 speed to fill the gaps
    48/11 is taller than 50/34
    My knees like it too!

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    Quote Originally Posted by baldbones View Post
    I’m in between bikes so I’m riding my apocalypse bike (lugged steel 9 speed and dt shifters)
    And I’ve cobbled together 48/34 with 11-30
    Gonna do the same when the new bike comes but 11 speed to fill the gaps
    48/11 is taller than 50/34
    My knees like it too!
    Yes, once lowest gear is figured, then fill in the gaps getting there. Makes 12 speed seem logical. Almost.
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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    +1 to those who mentioned subjectivity, knees, rider fitness or lack thereof, road terrain etc.

    One rider's "useless" compacts are another riders saviour. If I didn't have my compacts (50-34) and 25,27t on the back the bike would never see the light of day.

    I'm much happier to average a cadence in the high 90's rather than glacier grind big rings, in fact it makes all the difference to me.
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    That was me and I exaggerated.

    Toodling around I'm happy with whatever. When I'm riding hard with race teams is when I dislike the 50/34 the most.

    Have not ridden in the mountains with this Trek yet. Plan on doing so soon. Maybe I will put the 50/34 set back on and see how it goes.
     

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    Default Re: 52/36 versus 50/34?

    Face it, once you start riding variable gears, your best days are behind you.
    Seriously, gearing is one with bike fitting, everybody is different.
    In Kansas, home of the soul destroying headwind, all cassettes are 12-23,
    front gears adjusted for rider fitness.
     

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