Descending: Standard vs Compact

Is there a significant difference?

I’m thinking of ways to keep my power on descending to raise my avg power without increasing variability index. At 85kg I spin out quickly on any kind of decline in gradient.

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No, in a 53 vs 50 you’ll be going 6% faster for the same cadence, this is not enough to make any sort of noticeable difference to how quickly you “spin out”, especially as part of the reason you cannot keep putting out power is that you’re accellerating anyway which changes pedalling dynamics.

Optimise the gears for the time you spend (and the uphills).

For training purposes, I wouldn’t try and optimise avg power, or variability index, by riding different to how you would in an event - if you need iso power 'cos you’re event is completely flat and windless, find a course where you can do that. If you cannot find such a course, train differently.

Developing the ability to put out higher power in a descent, does nothing for an event where you don’t need to put out high power in a descent (and this applies very much to any triathlon) stick with the specificity.


More efficient to freewheel downhill and save your watts for the flat and ups where you’ll get more from them


I’m bad at not being able to push descents and I’m talking even slight ones and end spinning.

I think it’s where a power meter can cause problems and AP for a ride, I get off and AP might be 170W but the ride felt tougher because when I’m pedalling I am usually higher.

And the Wattbike has no respite which is why I like flat courses :joy:


Unless everyone puts the hammer down on the descents and you get dropped :woman_shrugging:t4:

But, yeah, for tris. Spot on :ok_hand:t4::ok:

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What he said.

Accelerating out of hairpins helps but it’s generally better to manage yourself, do some eating/drinking and then pedal harder where it makes more difference.

On Norseman, I had different power targets for different parts of the bike. From recollection it was 230W on the uphills and 200W on the undulating Hardangervidda.
I remember being very pissed off that I had to pedal for a bit of the final 20km descent in 2009 as there was a headwind


For me the biggest reason to use a standard chainring rather than a compact is that for riding on the flat I have a slightly better chain line, however, we are talking pretty marginal gains

My bike for TCR has a 52/34 chainset - it works fine. Shift quality small to big ring isn’t quite a good, but 95% of my riding is on big ring, and I don’t shift front ring very oftern