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What Does “Compact” Road Bike Means?

When you are researching a new road bike you might see a lot of models with the word “compact” in their name. Have you ever wondered what does the “compact” means? Is it because it’s smaller than others? Or is it for other reason? In this article we’ll explain this myth.

Compact” is usually referring to:
1. Compact Gearing
2. Compact Frame Geometry

Compact Gearing
Compact gearing were adopted to offer cyclists a lower gear selection to make it easier to climb hills without affect the top speed.
Compact gearing used 50/34 chainrings with an 11/23 tooth cassette compare to conventional gearing 53/39 chainrings with 12/25 tooth cassette.

Benefits of Compact Gearing
If you climb a lot, you might be better with compact gearing. If you are doing time-trial or spend a lot of time in drafting, conventional gearing is a better choice.

it really doesn’t make a difference what your gearing is until you reach the extreme high or low gear. Most enthusiasts ride near 20 miles an hour, which puts them in the big chainring and somewhere the middle of the cassette.

In practical, few cyclists can ride beyond of compact 50/11 gear on level ground. Therefore, the choice between compact or conventional gearing comes down to how fast you want to climb. The answer is obvious, isn’t it?

Frame Geometry
Compact frame geometry has become more common today so what does compact frame geometry means? The concept is simple: A top tube that slopes downward from the head tube to the seat tube. Technically it reduces the size of the front and rear triangles.

Benefits of the Compact Frame Design:
1. The downward sloping top tube provides more leg clearance, making it easier for everyone to fit a bike.
2. As the downward sloping top tube reduces the size of the front and rear triangles, it also means it reduce the weight because less material is needed.