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I'm looking at purchasing a new bike with a 52/36 crankset on a 11-32 cassette. I've grown accustomed to a 50/34 crankset on the same cassete, and for the type of riding I do in the PNW (300-400ft hills regularly, 3000ft+ mountains monthly), I don't think I want to give up that lowest gear. It's not that I always rely on the lowest gear, it's just that want the option for days where I want to take it easy. I've been riding around on my current bike where I avoid using the lowest gear to simulate the 52/36 crankset and I've found that after a long day of riding I really like the option of spinning up a steeper hill.

So, I know I can swap out the crankset but will I have to swap out more than that? The 52/36 crankset is really the only thing keeping me from purchasing this new bike over something else that comes with a 50/34 crankset.

For the complete specs, this Canyon is what I'm currently considering.

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    I would be surprised if you can't pull this off. The "exposed" parts are the rings (obviously), the crank (maybe, if a different spider is needed), the front derailer (only if sliding it down about 1/6" isn't sufficient), and possibly shortening the chain by a couple of links (probably not necessary, but something to do if you're anal about chain fit). – Daniel R Hicks Feb 14 '18 at 22:26
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    Alternatively you could have the shop swap the rings. Normally they do that for free, at least in my part of the world they do so, the way they'll exchange the cranks for a different length. – Carel Feb 15 '18 at 14:25
  • Did you ever do this? I'm interested in doing the opposite. I have a 50/34 and am interested in a 52/36 or perhaps mixing it as suggested to a 52/34. I have a brand new, just put together Canyon. Perhaps we could do a trade if you have a new 52/36 set. – Shelly Jan 27 at 15:00
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You should not have to replace the entire crank-set. In general, a 'mid-compact' 52/36 crank will have a 110mm BCD spider, which allows 50 and 34 tooth rings to be installed.

The Ultegra FC-R8000 crank on the Canyon comes in 53-39, 52-36 and 50-34 versions, so you will be able to get the smaller rings for that specific crank.

The front derailleur may need to be dropped down slightly to adjust for the slightly smaller rings.

Front derailleurs have a 'max capacity' spec which is the difference in tooth counts between the rings - typically 16 for a road group-set. Obviously this is not changed between 52/36 and 50/34 so the derailleur does not have to be replaced.

Updates:

As mentioned in comments the chain may need shortening.

You might need to remove the crank to get the small ring off, but no special tools are required with Shimano 2-piece cranks - just a couple of bolts on the non-drive side arm.

  • So all that I should have to do is replace the two rings on the crankset and possibly lower the front derailleur? Sounds like it would cost around $200 for the parts unless I'm missing something. – timgcarlson Feb 14 '18 at 21:55
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    @timgcarlson yep, that’s it. $200 US sounds too much for a set of rings but I have not looked at what new Ultegra parts cost lately. – Argenti Apparatus Feb 14 '18 at 22:06
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    @timgcarlson you can always find a person who wants to swap 50/34 to 52/36. Or just sell your 52/36 chainrings. – Klaster_1 Feb 15 '18 at 8:35
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    Or just swap the 36-ring for a 34. Shimano don't recommend it but i've been doing it on an Ultegra Di2 medium cage set-up for 5000km now and it works faultlessly. 52-ring for speed, 34 for climbs with 11-32 or 11-28 at the rear and a chain-length for the 52/32 gearing. BTW, you can take off and re-install the rings without removing the cranks from the BB. The rings move over the crank though you might need to unscrew the right pedal. – Carel Feb 15 '18 at 13:29
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    Or keep the rings and meditate on Rules 5 and 10 – ilikeprogramming Feb 21 '18 at 17:18

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