Ask RIDE…How do I get more speed for flatter terrain?

I am currently running a 50/34T SRAM Force compact crankset with a 12-27 cassette. I am very pleased with the SRAM Groupset but am finding that I do not have as much top-speed going downhill and on the flat as my riding buddies that are using a 53/39T chainring combination.

I am based in Sydney which has some decent hills and have read that it maybe worthwhile to change my cassette to a SRAM 11-25, 11-26 or 11-28 thereby improving my top-speed but without impacting too greatly on the ease of going up hills. I am keen to stay with a compact groupset.

What would you recommend as a way forward?

Damian Fisher.

SRAM Apex is a dedicated groupset with a large range in gear options

SRAM Apex is a dedicated groupset with a large range in gear options

The compact configuration is a fantastic option for many cyclists and you are not alone in wanting a little more speed on the flatter terrain while not losing out on the hills. Just because you want to be able to spin the legs on ascents doesn’t mean you go slower or that you don’t like to open it up on the flats. The addition of an 11T cog with the compact chainrings will actually give you a bigger roll-out than if you had a 53T chainring with a 12T cassette.

For your particular needs it sounds like the 11-26 ratio would be best. Here is the logic behind this choice.

Your current 12-27 cassette has the following cogs: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 24, 27.
That gives you the bottom half of the cassette – 6 cogs – which run in a straight sequence. The top three however jump significantly and this can make finding the right gear combination while climbing a little difficult.

A 11-26 cassette offers the following cogs: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26.
This ratio runs sequentially for the bottom five cogs, then jumps two teeth per cog until shifting from the 23-26 – which is three. I feel this spread gives the best of both worlds. You will loose a tiny bit at the easy end but it is much less significant than the difference between using a 11T or a 12T.

I hope this has given you a bit to think about.

Alex Malone is the Technical Editor at RIDE Cycling Review. Follow him on Twitter @alexjmalone.

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Author: design@ride

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