Seems most bikes either come with 50/36 rings and an 11/32 or 52/39 rings with an 11/28 cassette. I live in hilly terrain and do need lower gears but often feel spun out with my 50/36 by 11/32, could you run a 52/39 with an 11/32?

  • 2
    Don't see why not. Can you tell us what speed and cadence you're at when feeling spun out?
    – Criggie
    Oct 6, 2016 at 8:13
  • absolutely you can. I can climb hills with 52/42 and 11/28 :O. It is a road bike we are talking about ? if yes then light weight + low road resistance tires make it FAR easier (if you are used to mountain bike)
    – kifli
    Oct 6, 2016 at 8:21
  • 1
    Just learn to pedal faster. This change will mean that at your maximum cadence you can go 4% faster. If you're pedaling at less than 100 rpm then it's you that's topping out, not the bike.
    – andy256
    Oct 6, 2016 at 9:06
  • 1
    At 100 rpm, you will spin out at 35mph. So to fix your problem, simply join a pro team. The mechanic will fix your bike to whatever is needed as you tow along the peleton at over 50kph. It's impressive that you often feel spun out but let's face it once in a generation a Merckx is born, accept your destiny
    – Vorsprung
    Oct 6, 2016 at 9:25
  • @Vorsprung What usually comes after a climb? Also it’s 37 MPH not 35MPH. I totally support larger chain rings with a 11-32. m.youtube.com/watch?v=XsXC_-jrDW4 Dec 10, 2020 at 4:15

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can, although you'll need a longer chain to go with it.

The important thing here is the capacity of the rear mech you're using. However, since your bike already has 50/36 11-32 gearing, changing the chainset for a 52/39 actually reduces the amount of chain slack the rear mech has to deal with (52-39 < 50-36), so there shouldn't be any problem.

Just remember to adjust the position of the front mech (move it up the seat tube) to accommodate the larger chainrings.


Answer: Yes.

I have a 1989 Cannondale 3.0 road race series. It has a 52/39 with an 8 speed 11-32 cassette and a Sora medium cage rear mech. It shifts good and also can run down hill pretty fast and climb steep hills. Was thinking about switching to a compact but, still have my doubts. I love it.

  • Welcome to SE - I've made a minor tweak to your text to bring out the answer clearly. You can learn more about the site's organisation by reading the tour and having a go at any other interesting looking questions.
    – Criggie
    Dec 10, 2020 at 4:05

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