Fat boys - Compact or Triple??

Steve H

Large Member
My face looks like this at the moment --> :cheers:

The better half has given her permission for me to get a road bike. From a couple of recent cycle magazines the Verenti Millook seems to get a pretty good write up for the kinds of things I'd like to do.

Thing is, I'm on the wrong side of 17 stone. This bike comes with a Compact chainset. Would I be better off with a Triple? I live in Yorkshire so its pretty hilly around here.




My Armchair
Depends on if you want to ride it or push it:biggrin: I'd go for a triple but i'm rubbish on hills and OK on the flat.
Try your current bike out in similar gears to what the compact would give you and see if you can manage it.


Lovely looking bike, although I blanched a little at "only £1,200" for a first road bike.

Anyhoo, the bottom gear is pretty similar to the Secteur that (Potsy and) I ride, that has a 30 tooth chain ring and a 25 max on the cassette, so the Millook, with 34 teeth on the front and 27 at the back, won't be too different.

The thing for me, though, wouldn't be the low gear but the intermediates. I spent most of my road time on the middle (39 teeth) chain ring and the smaller gears at the back. I think you'd need to be going PDQ to need 50 teeth on the front and 12 at the rear.

But, that's just me. :cheers:

John the Monkey

Frivolous Cyclist
I like a triple, but as m'learned friends point out, it's the spread of gears that matters. Only downside with a compact is you could find some large jumps between them, I guess.

SRAM do a road group now that'll take something like a 12-32 at the back, so the options are there.


Last of the Summer Winos
I have a compact double, and see no reason whatsoever to get a triple.
I also live in deepest darkest Yorkshire...... and I'm a fat &&*"&£" too.

34/50 with a 12-27 on the back, and I can get up pretty much anything - anything too steep for this setup and I'm walking anyway :blush:


Well-Known Member
In Feb is started to ride again after 20 years out of the saddle and was nearly 19 stone.
I purchased a allez elite which has a compact gear set, and after a few months am whizzing along with no issues what so ever, yes hills are hard, but thats because im carrying the weight.
Im finding as the weight is coming off im gettting faster, even getting a few kills of my own :smile:, im currently 17 stone.

I think you shouldnt worry about triple or compact, but buy the bike that you like, for me the allez was red and looked nicer than others in the same price range, so i knew i would use it and not relegate it to the shed after a couple of months use (as i did with the mongoose hybrid).

Get a good bike, get spd's from the start and I would recomend getting a good cycle computer so you can measure progress (Speed,Distance,Heart rate,Cadence) and off you go :blush:

Rebel Ian

Well-Known Member
I've got both - a Specialized Allez with a triple and the Bianchi with a compact. Even though the Allez has 27 gears only about 10 of them are unique in terms of gear ratio. Also, the top and bottom ratios of the two bikes are almost identical.


Active Member
It really depends on the cadence you are most comfortable cycling at. Typically a triple will give lower gears so you can cycle up hills at a higher cadence than a compact. For me, my prefered cadence is 90. My 30 (chainring) - 32 (cassette) triple will get me up a 10% hill at 7 mph. For my weight (14 stone) this equates to a power ouput of around 350W. For your weight I suspect you would need to be pushing out over 400W. You need to be reasonably fit to keep this up for 5-10 min. If you prefer to use lower cadences, you could get away with less low gearing. I believe the compact you are considering would need to cadence of around 70 for the same power output as above.
Steve H

Steve H

Large Member
Thanks everyone - feeling a bit confused now though. Been out today on my current bike - a mountain bike with a Triple and pretty low gears. Did about 40 miles, but painfully slow compared to most people on here. Not too many hills on the route I chose, but where there were some, I was firmly in the granny ring. This points me in the direction of getting a Triple...

... but then I hear that a Compact can cover broadly the same gear range as a Triple as long as you get a fairly high number of cogs at the top of your cassette.

So if the Triple gives you a greater range of gears from a similar upper position to a similar lower position and with more in-between, what are the advantages of a Compact over a Triple? Are Compacts materially lighter? Any other reasons?


Here for rides.
compacts are lighter, have a narrower q factor (basically the pedals are closer together) and cover more or less the same range as road going triples.

Unless you are using a treking setup with an mtb triple on the front for the ability to climb hills whilst on a loaded bike after 8 hours in the saddle compact should do it. your legs soon adapt.


Nr Cambridge
You would be well advised to visit Sheldon Brown's gear calculator (below) into which you can enter your bike's sprocket sizes and front ring sizes to give the gear inches for all the gear combinations of your current set up. If you don't know just count the teeth on all the cogs but the number should stamped on each ring at some point. Then enter the numbers into Sheldon's table. From this you can see the gear inches of the combinations of sprockets and chain rings you use most frequently and thus select those you find most useful. 35" is low and 115" is high. Often gear ratios on one chain ring overlap with those on others. 55" - 80" is fairly middle of the road. For climbing you might need down to 45-40". If you are touring carrying a load or climbing is very steep and prolonged then yet lower 30". IIRC a 53x12 gear is around 122" which is high and 50x12 a bit lower which is more than enough for most plodders, but Sheldon's calculator will tell you.



New Member
Personally, when I come to a steep hill, I try to forget I'm riding a bicycle.

I much prefer to take a rest and imagine I'm climbing a staircase with a 25lb backpack.

With 8" lift on each step, I would climb 8 steps in 5 second, or 96 steps per minute, or 48 Revolutions per minute.

I'm lifting 3.25 m/s. mass = 95kg.

Is that 302W ??


Nr Cambridge
You'll probably want to ignore the chainline reasons for using a triple over a compact, as ime this is a load of idealised mumbo jumbo & in reality people on triples (& a 'classical' double) also use the extreme chainlines for long periods as well. Also forget about these ratio holes, if you look at a 34/50 with an 11-25 cassette & compare it to a 30/39/52 with a 12-23 cassette you'll find that there are very few gears that aren't covered by compact that are by the triple setup.

The only time you absolutely want a triple over a compact is when you find that 34:27 (or even 34:32) isn't low enough. Now assuming you don't want/need those really low gears what really counts is how you ride. Are you a natural double shifter, do you have a power over a wide cadence band? If the answer to those is yes you'll get on fine with a compact, if you answer no to either then a triple will suit you better. With that said people are different so you might find that you simply get on better with one setup or another.

As for a gear calculator Mike Sherma has a more visual gear calculator.


Puzzle game procrastinator!
Steve - get a triple!

You will never get the same range of gears with a compact and still have small steps between gears. You'd have bigger steps between the rings, and bigger steps between the sprockets than you'd have with a triple and those big steps don't feel good.

True, Kestevan is a pretty big lad but he is also a strong rider! I've ridden with him on our local hills and I needed the lowest gears on my triple. I'm a lot fitter than you and 2 stone lighter than you so if I need the extra gears, then you will too.

It's true that eventually you should be fit enough to get by happily with a compact set up but it will take you a minimum of a year and probably more like 2 or 3 years to get to that stage depending on how much you ride and how quickly you get your weight down. In the mean time you will appreciate the lower gears available on a triple while you are getting to that level of fitness. If you go the compact route I can almost guarantee that you will be walking some of our hills rather than riding them, or just avoiding going anywhere near them.

I currently use a 14-28 cassette with 30/42/52 chainrings. When I get more weight off and regain some of my former fitness, I'll replace the cassette with a 13-26. If I progress beyond that, I'll revert to my original 12-23.

You could do the same. Start off with the biggest cassette you can get. Wear that out and by then you will probably be able to cope with a slightly smaller one, eventually ending up with a nice close-ratio one.

For you, I'd say:

Triple = will suit you now, might be able to cope without later
Compact = won't suit you now, might be able to cope with later
Top Bottom