First, I should provide the ever-present disclaimer that gearing is a personal (and for some, damn near religious) choice, and that what works for me is influenced by the board-flat terrain of Iowa, my own substantial girth, and a pair of knees that have aged like a fine bottle of Boone's Farm. If you're a 20-something whippet with nothing to do all day but train, or if your area of the country has real geography, your needs are going to be different.
That said, I'm getting rather attached to the 34/50 double (with
Lest this be a one-sided (and even more dull than usual) review, there are some things to watch with a big-range compact twofer. While you can pretty much cross over the cassette with impunity on the big ring (a nice feature when you just need to power over a little rise without a front shift), the small ring is limited to the inside of the cassette. About halfway across, the chain will start to foul the ramps on the big ring, and pretty soon you're looking at an accidental (and noisy) front shift. Not fun.
Also, the compact double is NOT the gearing for gearchart nerds (I say this with love, having been a gearchart nerd for many years). It doesn't really shift in a logical "next biggest gear is right here" progression. The 34 is a stump-puller/hill-climber/get-the-wide-load-moving-from-a-stop gear, and once things are in motion, it's 50 time. If you're the sort of rider who wants to be able to go from your 70" gear to your 71" with one artfully-executed double-shift of your half-step-plus-granny (kids, that's how touring bikes used to be geared -- I can't explain it, so you'll have to look it up, perhaps by asking your granny), look elsewhere.
One last quibble -- a 16-tooth jump between chainrings is HUGE. I don't mind it as a downshift, since when I'm reaching for that 34, I expect (and usually want in a bad way) a very small gear. The jump up from 34 to 50 can be a shock to the system, though. I have to force myself to really get a hamster-spin going before I reach for the big stuff, lest I find myself grinding knee cartilage in a way-too-tall gear after the shift.
I'd also like to amend my quibble from the first part of the Old Man series regarding front derailleur trim on this particular crank. For reasons I can't explain, I don't really need to do that "up then down" shift and trim sequence I described any more. My guess is that cable stretch has taken just a skidge of travel out of the initial shift, so it positions in a non-rubbing spot and doesn't need a trim. Regardless, it's working just fine, and forcing me to rethink some of my grouchy Luddite tendencies regarding indexed front shifting.