Compact, semi compact or full fat (not really)

My front rings may or may not be worn after 19k km and it being Xmas I had a bit of cash so looking at some Panda Podium specials (or if I stay compact stock 5800 versions as semi appears hard to find in the UK).

If you were (or are I guess) a middle aged man who is pretty much middle of the bell curve for ability/power at 64kg (this will drop again) with a 30 or 32 cassette would you run semi or full compact rings? My normal rides shown here for an example of local hills. Currently running full compact and 30t cassette

Leaning towards semi compact and when it’s time to go outside fitting a 32t cassette, this will give me a lower bottom end either way.

Personally if I lived in Devon I’d go for the easiest gearing possible.

And I :heart:climbing!

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I split the difference and am using a 52x34 with an 11x34 in back. Shifting seems fine. Been using this set-up about 2 months with no issues.

I like to keep my options open. 48/31 front and 11/36 rear. Will do almost anything and was much welcome on some hills that way, and Wales and Yorkshire for that matter!

I got that set up for Mt Teide 2 years ago and I’ve not changed it.

Unless I lived somewhere really flat, or alpine with long pedally descents, I would go for compact or even sub-compact.
I’d much rather have bottom gear that means I can climb at 70rpm+ and have to spin at 100rpm on the flat, than be grinding on every steep section.


I have a 36x34 lowest gear, but regret not getting a 34x34.

I still find myself grinding up stuff a bit more often then I would like.

I didn’t know this was a thing.

Are there any drawbacks to this? Do you miss out on any gear ratios?

I spend most of my time on a mid-compact, since it’s what the last few bikes I’ve bought have come with, but any time I switch over to a compact I’m always amazed at how little downside there is for my riding style. I’ve even raced a few flat crits with a compact and rarely if ever felt hamstrung by lack of a hard gear. On the other hand, there have been many, many times with a mid-compact where I wished for an easier gear on a steep climb. YMMV, but as a fairly small, non-muscular guy who likes to spin a fast cadence, easier gearing has been the move for me.

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Somewhere Amber can be heard muttering “I’ve never met an easier gear that I didn’t like”.

That said, unless I lived somewhere really mountainous, I can’t imagine needing anything past a 34x32 on the road.

The 52/34 x 11/34 set-up is working for me. I do notice shifting from small to big is a little slower than a normal set-up, but it shifts just fine. It eliminates some of the overlap in the mid-range, which I don’t notice at all. For what it’s worth, I live in a flat area and don’t see many hills, so I don’t shift chainrings very often. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to use this combo in hilly area. My drive-train is a Shimano Di 8050.