I'm currently running a triple Shimano 105 group set. I originally opted for this arrangement as it provided the greatest amount of gears and therefore, as I thought, it would make it easier to go up hills as there were more gears!!! However, I am on the verge of a serious upgrade and would seek the advice of those more experienced riders than myself. I will be changing bikes, where the group set will be either Ultregra Di2 or mechanical Durace, but, now this is where I need help, should  I be be running a triple, double of compact chain ring configuration to help me get up the steepest of climbs? I'm no climber, but I don't want to avoid them either! Would be great to hear from riders than have ridden at least two of these chain ring options. I know different things work for different riders, but I don't want to commit myself to a certain configuration and then find it's completely wrong. 

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Well for starters you can't get Di2 or DuraAce in a triple configuration.

It's all about gear ratios. What's your lowest gear now on the triple and how often do you use it? If you go for a compact double (34/50 on the front) you could always pair it with a 12-30T cassette on the rear to get a pretty low bottom gear. The trade off is larger gaps between gears, but I'm guessing you'll be getting the new 11-speed groupset so that will reduce the issue slightly.

I ride a triple chainset on my road bike with a closer range cassette on the back. I like the 39/50 chainrings and ride in them 99% of the time. It gives less gap when you change between them, plus the bonus of a "bail out" 30T granny just in case I need it.

Personally, I'd go for Ultegra Di2 with a compact chainset! :-)

Middle Ringer, this may be a dumb question, but what do you mean by close range cassette on the back?

Stephen, there's no such thing as a dumb question.

Close range means smaller gaps between the gears.

For example if we're talking ten speed cassettes then a 12-23T will have smaller differences in size between each of the cogs than an 11-30T cassette. The "jumps" between each gear will be larger on the wider range cassette, this sometimes makes it harder to find a suitable gear for the cadence/speed/power you wish to ride at. It's not a huge deal, just something to think about.

Hi Gideon

There are plenty more experienced than myself. However, for what it's worth, I think the choice of chain ring is only half of the issue. The overall objective is to get the optimum range of gears for you, and it's the combination of chain ring and cassette that will determine this.

You need to consider what your current highest and lowest ratios are, decide whether you need any gearing higher or lower than that, and use that as your start point.

My personal preference would be for a compact 50/34 on the front and then choose a cassette that gives the top and bottom ratios that you need. You should be able cover all the gear ratios you are likely to need from there, although you may need to consider the chain and cage length if you go over 28 on the biggest ring.

Either way, a compact is a good compromise, and a lot easier to switch the cassette to tweak the ratios if you decide you need something different at a later date!

I would go with the advice given by Micheal and Middle ringer, and opt for a compact 34/50  or  39/50. I have just bought a new bike with a compact chainset after 40 years ridining 42/52 chainset and it has made a hell of a difference. As already said match this with the gear ratio's you need   for your type of riding, I find the 9 speed 12-26T cassette quite ample for me.It really is down to what type of riding you do.

Completely agree with the other posters that a compact would be the logical choice for what you need after a triple. The di2 or D-A is a win-win these days, but for me the di2 is a revelation most of all because of it's precision and auto-calibration when needed. 

The double has advantages, but in this case if you can try a double you will then know for sure. 

So a compact 50/34 on an 11 speed 12-27/28 should give you a good range with a decent low gear; only you know the hills you must tackle. Bear in mind your granny gear - if you have an idea to improve your strength when climbing maybe opt for a slightly harder gearing set-up to encourage (force) yourself to push that little harder, and so develop a new, harder granny gear. 

Totally agree with you on the Di2. If you can Gideon, go for it. You wont regret it! I've been using Di2 Ultegra for two years now and wouldn't ever switch back to mech. As ARRemme says, it's a revelation!

Thank you gents for your in-put and advice. I very rarely use the 30T 'granny ring' at the moment, but have had to use it when the Jens Voigt in me doesn't work!!! Presently using an 11-28 cassette on the rear. I know the type of riding my legs want me to do and that would be flat at flat out speed. However, I want to be able to climb hills better than I do at present and I know a great proportion of that is actually conditioning. Therefore, my aim is to be able to tackle the likes of Leith Hill, Box Hill and similar without coming out in a cold sweat at just the thought.

So mostly the lowest gear you're using is 39/28 then> In that case get Ultegra Di2 compact (34/50) with a cassette that gives you enough gears to get up the hills when you need it. Something like an 11-27 or similar. Electronic shifting is a real revelation. If I had the dosh I'd be on that for sure!  

On a slightly related note, Box Hill is a breeze (seriously, smoothest road surface in Surrey) but Leith Hill on the other hand can be a real dog depending on which of the 8 roads you take to the top!

Thanks for the info. 

Something is always very daunting when you've never actually done it. Lived close to Box Hill for several years now but never been up on a bike let alone walked it! Hey, I'll soon put that right with a run out with the Kingston Wheelers.

Can't comment on gearing - I've only got the one (42x16)! But +1 with MR re Box Hill. Leigh Hill and New lands Corner on the Ride London 100 on the other hand and I'm walking!

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