Ardiden Velos Bike Rentals, Luz St. Sauveur, France - Tel +(33) 609 553102 -

Road Bike Gearing

Road bike gearing chart - Do I really need a compact 50/34, 11x32 cassette?

Road bike gearing


Road Bike Gearing:

If you're reading this, hopefully you've already booked your trip to the Pyrenees and are looking forward to climbing a few of the most famous cols of the Tour de France ... And if you're feeling even slightly intimidated by the prospect of riding a bike up to 2115m elevation, then no doubt you'll want to have the right gearing on your bike!

The good news is that the cols around Luz St. Sauveur are not actually that steep, not in comparison to the super steep pitches you'll find in the Italian Dolomites for example, or the short sharp pitches of North Yorkshire featured in the opening stages of the 2014 T de F, but they are LONG … VERY long ... Hence, it's important to have the right gearing so you're not grinding your way up the cols and expending energy unnecessarily, or worse having to stop or give up before you get to the top!


We get a lot of questions about the gear ratios on our rental bikes. Some of the questions are from Cyclists who have been to the Pyrenees before, know what to expect and want to make sure that our bikes have the right gearing for them, but most are from Cyclists who have never been here before and want the lowest bottom gear possible to make sure they get to the top of the cols. So, with that in mind we have prepared a table showing the gearing and gear ratios of all of the bikes we have for rent (and for sale - 2014 Scott CR1 10 and Speedster 30).

Road bike gearing

Compact or Triple:

All of our 2017 bikes have compact cranksets and 11 speed Shimano gears with either an 11x32 rear cassette, (CR1 10, Solace 10  and Speedster 10) or a 12x28 (Addict 20). The 32 is about the size of a small dinner plate and is good to have in case of emergency on a bad day, or at the top of the Cirque de Troumousse, but not absolutely necessary. For most of our renters a 28 rear cassette is fine, even at the top of the Tourmalet after 19km of climbing ...


We always have a few Cyclists asking for triples, but nowadays they're not so poupular and not really necessary. The current trend is for Compact cranksets to save weight and reduce complexity. Usually a 50/34 teamed with a big rear sprocket, a 28 or 32. To put this into perspective, a Compact crankset 50/34 and a 32 rear cassette is more or less equivalent to a standard triple with a 28 rear cassette, very slightly lower actually. So, no triples, sorry ...