Question: I took up riding again when I turned 40. I smoked 50 cigarettes a day and was fat and ugly. Now at 46 I’m still ugly but can ride 70 miles two or three times a week. Since I’m hooked on cycling, I want to buy a high-end road bike but don’t know whether to get a double- or triple-chainring crankset. I plan to ride across the U.S. this summer, so which crank do you recommend? — Mike P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: It’s hard to be certain without knowing more about you as a rider, your climbing strength, preferred cadence, the terrain where you usually ride, and so on.
However, it gets easier when knowing that a transcontinental is your goal. Chances are great that you’ll be much happier with a triple crankset. In fact, a triple is mandatory if you’ll be hauling any weight on your bike.
I’ve ridden across the U.S. twice, once from Seattle to the Virginia shore — 3,400 miles in 24 days — and once as a member of a Race Across America team from Irvine, CA, to Savannah, GA. That was a little quicker — 5 days and 11 hours. I used double cranksets on each ride. The tour was unloaded and a low gear of 39×26 was sufficient (though still a test when climbing the Bighorn Mountains and the Appalachians). In RAAM we had low gears of 39×23.
If I were to do a cross-country ride today, I’d almost certainly use a triple. It would be easier on my knees, it would make the climbs more fun, and it would give me more gear choices for any type of terrain or wind conditions.
By the way, there’s nothing wrong with having a triple-crankset bike if you live in flatter terrain. Just ride it like a double by ignoring the inner ring.
My response is way after your post, but just to give some ideas, I still write my mind down for later viewers..
Unless you know how to build your own bicycle, high-end road bicycle will NEVER come with triple chainring crank set. You will have to change it and it can be more then what you think about. Triple chainring usually works on JIS style BB (the square tape style, but mostly in Japanese kind design). Double chainring works on the “through spindle (spindle of the crankarm goes through the bearings of the BB)” type design. Therefore, after you get your high-end road bicycle and decided to change it to triple chainring style, you will have A LOT OF things to learn, tools to buy, and new parts to buy as well.
Either you just get a touring bicycle which still has triple chain ring crankset, or you just have to learn the new trend. A gravel road bicycle or enduro bicycle can fit your idea for both rod bicycle and travel for long distance. Just do not spend your money on a TRUE high-end road bicycle s the frame is not designed for heavy weight loading (I men the travel bags you were going to put on).