Triple or Double?
I am standing at the counter at my favorite coffee shop and the question that has been on my mind arises again…”triple or double?”…”three shots or two shots today?” My mind freezes and I cannot decide. It’s a simple enough question which should not require a lot of thought, but it brings to mind the bigger issue at hand. Three rings or two rings on my new bike.
My ride is a Trek 5200 vintage (or nearly so) — the first year that the Project One carbon bikes were offered. Yes, that means that ‘Liberation’ will celebrate her 10th birthday this year. Compact doubles were not yet the rage when Liberation was born and the guys at East Coasters in Blacksburg VA were listening when I said that I wanted a bike that would share my love of climbing and they outfitted Liberation with three sensational rings.
And climb we did…Johns’ Creek, Salt Pond Mountain (aka Mountain Lake), Mount Mitchell, Ox Creek, Hickory Nut Gap, Big Walker Mountain, Little Walker Mountain, Mill Mountain, Roanoke Mountain, Peaks of Otter, Paris Mountain, Caesars Head, Town Mountain, Cherokee Road, Pinners Cove Road, Hebron Valley Headwall, and on and on…
When the shifters failed last fall, I had to face reality. Liberation is getting older and it’s time to start thinking about a new bike. Of course, Liberation will always remain a member of the Little Barn fleet, ready to be called into action at a moments notice, but my upcoming adventures call for a new ride. Let the shopping begin!
The first issue in choosing a new steed is the double or triple front chain ring question, since it affects which frames I can consider.
I don’t mind having the extra weight of ‘granny’ (my smallest ring) along for the ride. I don’t visit her often, but she’s always there when I need her. Often granny gets no respect. More than once, she and I have been the recipients of comments like “she can ride like that (read “pass me on this climb”) because she has a triple”. And if these keen minds would look more closely, they might see I’m not even using her — I’m in the middle ring while granny is resting peacefully — ready, but not engaged.
Is it true that switching to a double will so greatly decrease my climbing ability that I will no longer be able to pass guys in full kits? Okay…to be honest, this decision has very little to do with passing anyone and a lot more to do with my love of climbing. Will it feel different when granny isn’t with me? Sure, the bike will be a little lighter, but mentally…what will it be like to ride without granny by my side?
Enter the folks from Liberty Bicycles of Asheville. Turns out, there is a way to measure, at least on paper, the difference between Liberation’s triple gearing and new possibilities. Stay tuned for the results of my visit to the shop for double/triple talk and a preliminary frame fitting session. This is very exciting to say the least.