Over to you: What's your ideal road gearing?

53/39 and 11/25, 40/36 and 11-32, 42 and 10-32?

Cyclists often have more choices than we know what to do with, and gearing is one such example. We have standard, compact, sub-compact, micro-compact and single-ring... and that's just the crank.

Gear choice is kinda the same as tire preference; the 'right' answer depends on A) how you ride, B) where you ride, and C) whatever the hell you happen to prefer, thank you very much.

For me, a heavier, gray-haired guy who lives at the base of the Colorado Rockies and still likes to pin on numbers, I have a 53/36 on my Dura-Ace crank with an 11-28 cassette. I need that low 36-28 gear to haul my carcass up the hills, and I like having the big 53t ring to power the bike back down them. I appreciate that Shimano's newer cranks let you mix and match chainrings more than traditional standard or compact cranks do.

This is my daily set up: 53/36 with an 11-28 cassette
This is my daily set up: 53/36 with an 11-28 cassette

I've also come to appreciate much, much lower gearing, such as the micro FSA crank that comes on Felt's new VR2 endurance/adventure bike with 46/30 rings.

While I can appreciate a single-ring setup for cyclocross — especially for the clutch derailleur that I would love to see on 2x gravel bikes — I think limiting yourself to a small range on a road bike is stupid.  

How about you? What gear set up do you have on your road bike? And what is your ideal gearing, if you could pick just one set up?

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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