Cheap compact doubles?
My first reaction was: there are none. Nor are there likely to be so long as sport remains the primary reason to ride a bike! A member told me about a chainset by PMP of Italy, but it’s just as expensive as Middleburn’s.
Mountain bike doubles are available at reasonable prices (Shimano Deore FC-M615 can be had in 38-26T for as little as £60) and they’ll do, but these have much wider chainline and pedal spread than you really want or need on a bike that does not suffer from tyre obesity! Or you can always miss the outer off a triple, which keeps the chainline close but spreads the pedals even wider.
Then I remembered the remarkably cheap Stronglight ST55 single chainsets, sold by Spa Cycles with drillings for a second ring. But this didn’t sell. I guess the non-replaceable outer ring was too cheap. But John at Spa is looking to import something nicer. Watch that space!
This was first published in the December 2014 / January 2015 edition of CTC's Cycle magazine.