The standard triple
with the 50,40,30 and a 12-29 cassette in back offers the aging woman a bike that she can ride for years and years. The large 50 chain ring makes for some nice flying on flat roads. When I go into this gear I can easily maintain 17-19 mph on flat roads. The 40 is the most overlooked gear for women in my opinion. This gear is super. It give you a nice middle gear that is easy to push and often a handy gear for climbing hills. The compact triple does not have this gear. ( more to follow) The third chain ring at 30 with a 12-29 cassette in back makes for a nice hill climbing gear. What would make the standard double with a triple chain ring even more perfect would be for the number to read like this - 50, 40 and 30.
is 50/34 and that is it. Now you can push your cassette to a 29 in back but you are missing that good middle gear and climbing hills with the smallest gear being 34/29 is just not that easy as you begin to age into your 60s and 70s.
The standard double
is just a 52/39 and is often paired with a cassett that is 11-26. This bike gearing is ideal for young men and men who bike a lot. Also strong female riders may prefer this gearing especially if they get into competitive racing.
So what to buy?? Get a bike with the best gearing possible for a woman!! Not for a man. I recommend the standard double with a third chain ring, often called the triple.