Is that a compact chainset?

Compact chainset - is smaller better?
Compact chainset – is smaller better?

OMG – what is going on?  A compact chainset on my bike.  Have I lost my mind?  Well, no actually, not quite.

It is true, I have put a compact chainset on my bike and am going to be riding it for the foreseeable future.  In my previous post, I talked about Mt Ventoux and my aspirations.  Well, I will be climbing the Giant of Provence in a couple of weeks time, and this compact chainset is going to make my life easier.  We are all into making things easier, aren’t we?

And do you know what?  On my first ride out with my compact chainset this morning it felt fast and good.  Infact, even on the relatively flat roads around my home in Oxfordshire, my average speed was actually slightly faster than previously on my traditional 53×39 chainset.

So I started to look at the gears that I actually used to ride and my favourite gear was always 39 x 15, which I could spin pretty much all day at 90rpm and come out with a speed of 29kph.  Rarely did I use my 53 front ring, as I still had my 14, 13 and 12 to play with on my rear cassette, if I was riding with others.  A 39 x 12 gear ratio at 90rpm gives a pretty respectable speed of about 37kph, good enough on most group rides.

Anyway, I found a really cool tool on the internet, you basically put in your chainset and cassette size, and your rpm and it gives you the speeds for all the gear ratios.  This is a screenshot:

Very little difference top end.  At speeds above 50kph I have usually stopped pedalling and am getting low and aero!
Very little difference top end. At speeds above 50kph I have usually stopped pedalling and am getting low and aero!

The actual site is much cooler and you can hover over the dots to see the speed.  Try it at this link.

So, a compact crankset is more than enough for me.  It also means that I can spin and dance up my local climbs, looking much cooler than grinding up on my old 39 tooth inner ring.  Watch out Alberto Contador (who has also been know to use a compact on some of the mountainous stages of the Tour de France and other races)!

One last thing, for you Weight Weenies out there.  Replacing my old standard crankset with a compact one, has saved my 104 grams in total (88 grams for the crankset and 16 grams for the shorter chain length required for my compact set up).  Boom.  And it didn’t cost me a fortune!

I did also take the opportunity to replace my cables with the awesome Jagwire Elite kit, which are totally cool and are very light indeed.  And it blings up the bike a bit……..

Jagwire bling.
Jagwire bling.

So even based on my initial observations, I think that I might be converted to the way of the compact.  Don’t mock it until you have tried it.  Good luck.






I think that I have found my challenge for 2015……

How exciting, I think I have found my physical challenge for 2015.  It is to do with Mont Ventoux, the “Giant of Provence” which tops out at 1912m and is  a legend in Tour de France history.

Well, I am going to ride it for the first time next month on the way to my summer holidays in Spain.  Then in 2015, I am going to go and become a graduate of the of the Club des Cingles du Mont Ventoux by completing a Bicinglettes degree.  This is an exclusive club, and to date, only 11 British riders have completed it.  Worldwide, this number only swells to 89.

And here is why…….  To become a Bicinglettes degree holder you have to ride up and down all three main roads to the summit, not once but twice.  So six ascents and descents in total, within a day.  This is a 272km day with a 8886m difference in altitude (higher than Everest).  I am going to have to do a lot of studying (training) to get the degree I want, but I know that with plenty of hard work, and a bit of luck, I can do it.

Mt Ventoux