Best Purchase of 2006: Record Racing Triple (NOS edition)

Compacts are for poseurs....

Well, as cross season rolls into gear, I’ve been gearing up for the coming off road extravaganza. Down here in So. Ill we do most of our training on a mix of road and dirt. And, as it gets colder, the dirt gets dirtier was we mix in serious singletrack along with fire roads and what qualifies as pavement down here in the hinterlands. I’ve long ago given up even trying to train on road bikes in the Winter, but the singletrack is simply too far from Carbondale to justify riding the MTB on pavement. And, I just can’t get into driving the 10 or 12 miles to the nearest trailhead for anything less than a race unless it is below freezing. The one bad thing about Carbondale is that despite being in the middle of nowhere, legal singletrack is 10 miles away—which seems like a huge hassle when your average daily commute to work is 10 minutes by bike (round trip). But, Cedar Lake on a crossbike is pushing the limits of gearing. Hence, the Triple!!!

My buddy Matt the zoologist has a totally cool Jamis touring cross bike which he shopped like a fiend for. It’s steel, ultegra mix, nice training wheels and vittoria randonneur tires and a touring triple (cheap fsa, but nice range, like 28-39-52, I think). Predictably, the crankset gave him some hassles and on a ride he said “why are there no triples anymore, and what is this compact stuff?” He couldn’t find an upgrade. It got me thinking about what I like and don’t about compacts and gearing. I got to thinking about the situation and went home and snagged a brand new 2006 Campy Record Racing Triple on E-bay (I finally figured out e-bay!). I had to get a new front derailleur and rear long cage derailleur (both Campy Comp, a triple specific part post 2008 or so), but Choak got it all hooked up and the Old Blue Gunnar is running fine with the Triple setup.

I’m not a fan of compact gearing. It is the worst of most worlds. In the “classic” metric, it’s 50-34, which is a huge leap. Basically, you’re searching for the big or small ring if you need to shift, so it’s not like it is a shifting advantage over a triple. The one thing which did perk me up was that the Shimano guys could shimmy up an XT rear der and cassette and run a 34-34! But, since I’m a campy guy, that would require a lot of retooling, and I hate Shimano. My best bet was either a compact with a 29-13 cassette, or go triple….And, then when I’m caught late 12 miles from home with a tailwind (say, at new Jackoffs…) I’ve got a 53-42-30 and I’m going to rig up a 29-12. But, even with the 30-25 ratio I’m clearing stuff at Cedar which I can’t do on a 34-25.


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