Tag Archives: triathlon

Gearing Explained – A Ribble Guide


One of the most common questions we get asked is;  ‘I see the chainset and cassette options but what do these mean / refer to?’ We can well understand the confusion! It’s easy for even experienced cyclists to feel quite overwhelmed. Especially when faced with the choice of what handlebar width, stem length and cassette ratio to specify, to name but a few.

Here then is our beginners guide to gearing explained and how to choose the right fit for you.

So, when we say gearing what specifically are we talking about?

We are referring to the size of the chainrings (how many teeth does it have) at the front and the cassette cluster (also known as cogs or sprockets just to confuse matters further) at the rear. Basically, the parts that the chain revolves around.

Now for the nitty gritty, how does selecting one option over another affect how the bike performs?


To put it as simply as possible the smaller these are then the easier it will be to spin the pedals.

Normally on most bikes there are 2 chainrings, an inner and outer. The inner is always traditionally by virtue of its small number of teeth the climbing ring. And the outer chainring is the best suited for flatter terrain and descending. They are offered in the following standard ratios;


Known as ‘compact’, both the inner and outer chainrings are quite small so this is best suited to hilly terrain and is especially popular with newer cyclists.


Known as ‘semi-compact’ this was introduced because some riders felt that the 34/50 chainring combination was a little too low. By this we mean that on the flat and particularly when descending riders tend to spin out or run out of gears. So, Shimano opted for this ratio which with the 36 inner chainring still offered assistance on the climbs. But, also in having a larger outer ring of 52t would perform better on flatter terrain or when descending.


Back in the 90’s and 2000’s before the advent of compact this was the traditional chainring combination. With both the inner and outer chainring being of a large size this only makes this suitable for amateur racers, time-triallists or someone who avoids hills like the plague!

Single Chainring 

The new kid on the block is the single ring chainset which is derived from mountain bikes . On these bikes a  lack of a front derailleur is considered an advantage so it does not collect mud and debris and jam up as a result.  It has seen something of a surge in popularity in road bike circles thanks to the advent of the gravel / adventure bikes. These are equipped to perform as well off-road as on they do on tarmac surfaces. Therefore, the lack of front derailleurs again can be seen as an advantage if the bike is to be used mainly off-road. These are normally offered in sizes between 38 and 42 teeth.


Contrary to the chainrings the larger the sprocket size in terms of how many teeth it has the easier it is to pedal. So, a larger biggest sprocket at the top is more advantageous for climbing. Depending upon what groupset is purchased there will normally be a collection of sprockets ranging from 8-11 in number. Cheaper / lower end groupsets will have 8 sprockets and those at the higher end will typically  have 11 or 12.

You therefore need to select an appropriate cassette for the terrain you will riding over on a regular basis. Wider ranged cassettes such as 11/32 or 11/34 are the best choice for climbing.

Slightly closer ratio cassettes such as 11/25, 11/28 or 11/30 are better for riders with a good level of fitness or who prefer flatter terrain.

Combinations / Recommendations

Climbers gearing

Chainrings 34/50 and cassette 11/32 or 11/34

What we here at Ribble refer to as a climbers ratio and one we recommend to customers who regularly ride over hillier terrain or are new to cycling. (note the small chainrings, large sprockets and longer length rear derailleur in the image above).

General Purpose

Chainrings 36/52 and cassette between 11/25 and 11/34

For riders that have a high level of fitness or if the terrain is not generally hilly. It is therefore worth opting for slightly less extreme gearing than when compared to the climbers option. This offers the following benefits;

  • The gap between gears is not as high, ideally you would keep the number of sprockets as close as possible. The reason for this is to avoid loss of pedaling rhythm when changing gear. As well as the loss of power generated through the pedals due to this loss of rhythm. Therefore, opting for smaller spaced cassettes like an 11/25 or 11/28 avoids this jump in gear change. This also has the added benefit of making the pedaling action smoother.
  • When descending the gears do not spin out as fast, by this we mean that you can pedal for longer before the chain loses any traction . You then have to freewheel until you slow sufficiently enough to start pedaling once more.
  • Specifying larger chainrings and / or closer cassette ratios also make the bike faster on the flat.

Single Chainrings

The size of chainring that is selected will also affect what size cassette is required. If maximum off-road capability was selected it would no doubt be a 38t chainring on the front and 11/42 on the rear. Single chainring set ups are now very popular with MTB’s, CX bikes and Gravel bikes due to their low gear ratios.

For any road bike a larger chainring and / or a more closely spaced cassette is more beneficial.

We hope this guide helps you to gain an understanding of what to choose when buying a new bike. If, however you still need assistance then please contact one of our highly experienced customer service team. They are always available at the end a phone on 01772 963400 or by email at [email protected]

The Ribble 2019 bike range 


Ailbhe Carroll | Going Full Circle. The future is bright.

Hi All,

The last time I wrote I had just finished a block of 3 races back to back which all went pretty poorly. I had a decision to make that was a make or break so I took some time to think through where I was heading and made sure anyone I contacted for help was a wise decision.

I went through a pretty tough mental battle with having had a succession punches to the face that really tore me down. It’s a tough game this world of sport! But, its one we love. It’s one I love anyway and I am so glad I am lucky enough to be embarking on this journey, be it rough or smooth.

At the start of July, I joined forces with a new coaching team based in Ireland called HupHup. This team consists of Gavin Noble and Eanna McGrath. Gavin was Ireland’s first Olympian for triathlon in London and was a childhood hero of mine. He was the first person I wrote to when I was 16, and starting the triathlon journey. He took time out of his athlete lifestyle to email me back – and for that, I always had a huge respect for him. It’s a little weird now, how my childhood hero is now making my programme, but I have full trust in him to help me. Full circle. Eanna is a man of numbers and stats. Two things I am a big fan of. Together, their knowledge and experience are world class and something I am very lucky to be a part of.

We decided to keep me away from racing in order to make sure I had time to adapt to the new programme. It’s been over 7 weeks, but finally, this Saturday saw my return to the field at the Irish National Champs – a race I was super excited to challenge.

And well, the pictures say it all… What a race!

The women’s race today in DCT was set to be a cracker and in my opinion, it did not disappoint. We all know each other fairly well and we know where each other’s strengths and weaknesses lie. We had strong bikers, speedy runners, and all-round strong athletes across the board in the mix today. Carolyn was the running threat and we knew that going in. Orla and I tried all we could to break the group and keep it stochastic in nature in an effort to keep it from being a run race. Carolyn is a pocket rocket on the run and we didn’t want a run race to unfold!! Our efforts, of which there were many many many, came to no success and so, a run race it was! A group of 5 of us entered t2 together.

It went to form and Carolyn put in a fantastic run split to dance her way to the top.

The excitement the race had around it beforehand was still unfolding for the podium spots. The British girl Lucy Byram ran her way to second and then myself and Erin were in a battle for 3rd. We were together until 4km. A small gap opened up and Erin had a few meters of a gap on me. I closed it. This process then repeated itself another 2 times until the elastic went kaboom and I was unable to respond. Erin ran in for third and I finished with the chocolate medal!

My emotions coming over the line were of bitter disappointment but upon reflection, I’m quietly pleased. I had a solid day from start to finish. I gave what I had today, and today it wasn’t enough. That’s racing. Such an exciting thing!

As Lucy Byram is British and it was our national champs, I will get 3rd in the national champs race but obviously, I was 4th over the line. It was a super close battle with only 29 seconds separating 2nd and 4th.

It was absolutely class to be part of such a stacked Irish field. The tactics were on fire today, and it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to race within such a dynamic race. The Irish super series is growing and with more international athletes getting stuck in, it really is turning the races into some exciting viewing.

A massive thank you to @huphup.ie, I’ve only been working with them for 7 weeks and I am so happy with the progress I have made in such a short time. I feel, for most, the season is drawing to a close, but I’m only starting to get going! It’s going to be a fun winter!!

A massive congrats also to Chris and Kieran on a cracking display of sass from the gun to the tape. A great day out for @huphup.ie athletes. The future is bright👌

Next for me is a French grand prix on Sept 22nd. My first GP of the season but the finale of the series. I am super excited to get going in this race so keep in touch for more race reports in 2 weeks time!

Ailbhe X


Triathlon | Racing in Europe and learning all the time.

Team Ribble sponsored triathlete Ailbhe Carroll continues her international tri season in Poland in the European Cup Sprint Triathlon Series and makes all kinds of discoveries.

Well, they say that you learn something new every day. I travelled to Olsztyn, in northern Poland, with my Aero 883 for my second European Sprint Cup of the season at the end of May and my learnings were a bit of a mixed bag, but I can confirm the saying is true. Overall though at least I’m heading in the right direction! Continue reading Triathlon | Racing in Europe and learning all the time.

Team Ribble | Goodbye Cold Weather, Hello Summer!

Team Ribble sponsored triathlete Ailbhe Carroll is about to begin her 2018 tri season in Europe but an Aquathon in Ireland is now quite the warm-up she expected.

Hello again and thanks for coming back : )

This update was originally going to be a race report from France, but my original plans were turned slightly upside down and a new race had to be found! Over in Ireland I found the National Aquathon Champs, so home to the motherland I went.

Continue reading Team Ribble | Goodbye Cold Weather, Hello Summer!

Q&A with Team Ribble Triathlete | Ailbhe Carroll

Team Ribble sponsored triathlete Ailbhe Carroll is aiming to be selected by Ireland for the 2020 Olympic Games and you’ll be able to follow her progress here.

My journey to gain Olympic selection for the Tokyo 2020 Games starts this season. I look forward to being able to share my experiences during my preparation with you. If you haven’t seen my previous blog posts for Ribble then I’ll introduce myself.

Who am I? I’m Ailbhe Carroll.

Nationality: Irish. D/O/B: 13/07/91.

What are my dreams? To be the best athlete I can.

How do I plan to make my dreams come true? Train relentlessly and qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Why? Because if life isn’t a challenge and doesn’t excite you then why bother.

What’s next for me in 2018? I’m heading back home for a Irish national aquathon champs in the middle of May. After that I travel to Poland to race a European Cup triathlon so it’s an exciting few weeks as the season really gets going.

My short-term objectives? To always improve on my last outing. To gain vital ITU ranking points and to come away happy and hungry for more.

Keep up to date with my personal journey of trying my best to qualify for Tokyo 2020 over the next 2 years. It’s sure to have highs. It’s sure to have lows, so stay tuned!

See you soon,
Ailbhe X