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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-01-12, 07:59 PM   #1
Rancid
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best 1x9 ratio for a commuter

I'm finally on putting the finishing touches on a commuter I've been working on for the last few months. Since its been a budget build, I stuck a set of tiagra brifters with a broken thumb shifter for the front, so I'm just going to run it as a 1x9 for now.

In short then, I need to find a good gear ratio for it. I only have one moderate hill I'd ever tackle and besides that its mostly flat in the valley I live in. What would you all recommend? I'm running a 53 tooth in the chainring
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Old 06-01-12, 08:48 PM   #2
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Your LBS can order the left shifter from QBP or you can get a wide range cassette but i have fixed them in the past (shifters) by flushing the old greese stuff out that got hard over time to get the "click" back. I use teflon and even a little heet to get the old crud out with no need to take them apart.
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Old 06-01-12, 11:01 PM   #3
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I have a 52/42 chainring and 28 - 13 t on the back. this is good for small hills. but if you have a few big hills then I'd go with a 13-30.
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Old 06-02-12, 01:08 AM   #4
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Be careful with cassettes that have a very wide range. The spacing between gears can be very large. My hybrid has an 11-34 and the gear spacing between adjacent gears is far too wide. 13-30 might not be so bad. Instead of replacing the cassette, you should juet get the shifter fixed. Then you can use the smaller chain ring and your existing cassette. Ask your LBS about the cost of each option.

One of my bikes is a triple. I do 90% of my riding on the middle ring. 42 with 12-25 cassette. Would work for me!

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Old 06-02-12, 03:07 AM   #5
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please be advised my comments on this are biased, i'm a huge proponent of the 1xN set up and have used it on various commuters since 1971. OP indicated his/her local terrain is fairly flat, also presuming 32-622 or similar tire size; the 12-36 9 speed cassette with 44 t chainring is about optimal. that gives a gear in range of 33-99. set this up for my son on his cross check, he commutes in an area with fairly even terrain. i live in a pretty hilly area so i use 39 t chainring on one bike and 36 on the winter bike -ride and commute a few thousand km per year with this set up.
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Old 06-02-12, 03:28 PM   #6
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My thoughts are very much in line with the above -- switch to a chainring in the low-to-mid 40's, and that should cover the vast majority of terrain with the average cassette. (I've often been tempted to go 1x7 using a 42T chainring and 12-28T cassette. That would do everything I need!)
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Old 06-02-12, 04:39 PM   #7
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My commuter/light tourer is set up 42 x 11-28 (8 speed). Its been a great range so far, I could go with a 12-30 on occasion, but I've also yet to encounter a hill that I can't take (at least with a minimal load). I think you should ditch the 53, I did (my crankset is the remains of a 52-42-30 road triple). Unless you have lots of long descents or big tailwinds, you'll almost never even touch 42x11, much less anything higher. It also makes for better chainline to use the middle position on a triple, with a guard on the outside/inside (depending on how many bumps you plan on hitting).
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Old 06-02-12, 09:18 PM   #8
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My commuter/light tourer is set up 42 x 11-28 (8 speed). Its been a great range so far, I could go with a 12-30 on occasion, but I've also yet to encounter a hill that I can't take (at least with a minimal load). I think you should ditch the 53, I did (my crankset is the remains of a 52-42-30 road triple). Unless you have lots of long descents or big tailwinds, you'll almost never even touch 42x11, much less anything higher. It also makes for better chainline to use the middle position on a triple, with a guard on the outside/inside (depending on how many bumps you plan on hitting).
That's what I was thinking actually (regarding the ring guard/running the middle). I picked an 11-28 Dura-ace cassette today used for 15 so it sounds like my gearing is going to be like yours. Any advice on guard brands for a good price?
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Old 06-02-12, 09:47 PM   #9
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Another vote for a 42 X 12-26 or so. Have been running that on my 1X9 for a couple of years and love it.
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Old 06-02-12, 11:57 PM   #10
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I gotta ask, but how do some of you ride with a only 44T chainring? I'm barely spinning using my 28T chainring and 32T gear in the rear going uphill on a daily basis. And I'm still pooped the top even though I've been doing this for a year. Even when I switch to the 38T chainring at the top as it flattens out, I find it quite difficult. I am riding a Marin Muirwoods 29er for what it's worth.

Are you just in a really flat area? Most of the time I can ride with my 38T chainring, but it will be using the 5 or 6 larger cogs on the cassette. It's pretty seldom I use the smallest two gears on the cassette and I've only used the 48T chainring maybe a dozen times.

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Old 06-03-12, 12:15 AM   #11
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I gotta ask, but how do some of you ride with a only 44T chainring? I'm barely spinning using my 28T chainring and 32T gear in the rear going uphill on a daily basis. And I'm still pooped the top even though I've been doing this for a year. Even when I switch to the 38T chainring at the top as it flattens out, I find it quite difficult. I am riding a Marin Muirwoods 29er for what it's worth.

Are you just in a really flat area? Most of the time I can ride with my 38T chainring, but it will be using the 5 or 6 larger cogs on the cassette. It's pretty seldom I use the smallest two gears on the cassette and I've only used the 48T chainring maybe a dozen times.
I also used to hardly ever use the 48t big ring and I would wonder how or why anyone would anything higher than a 48. Well, here is what I've found over time. Keep in mind that I'm not talking about long climbs, more like rolling hills. Over time, my legs have become stronger and I've been better able to push high gears. It's also easier to start on a lower gear, for example, 36/14 and then switch from that middle 36 to the big 48. You just gotta get rolling, get the momentum going and pushing higher gears is easier. Learning how and when to shift better has really improved the versatility of my gear set up. Finally, standing and pedal...not for extended periods, but just long enough to get it rolling. That being said, I still use my middle ring most of the time, but sometimes the big one is just the thing I need. I'm really glad I've learned to make better use of it. Hope that helps.
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Old 06-03-12, 12:24 AM   #12
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This is for commuting? It's pretty seldom I can go more than about 500 ft without slowing down for intersection, sometimes as little as 300ft, is there still a point in using that 48T ring?
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Old 06-03-12, 12:35 AM   #13
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yea, it goes faster, feels smoother, just nice. I wouldn't choose a 48 for a 1x9 set up, but it has its place in time. I assume you commute in a metropolitan area, right? Lots of stop lights? What I would do is practice shifting gears between the middle and the big ring. It's much more efficient than switching gears in smaller increments from the back. When you start off, be in the middle...once you get rolling, switch to the 48, when you a stop coming, switch back down to the middle. I also like the big chain ring for treading, I mean, going at very low speeds...low cadence, of course...but it's a lot more stable feeling...just stand up in the pedals and pedal as needed. I'm not doing a very good job of selling the big chain ring, but it really is pretty cool. =/
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Old 06-03-12, 01:26 AM   #14
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I am in San Francisco. I'll give it a try come Monday. I have no idea how I'm going to ride up a 16% grade in 48T ring though. I'll stick to my 28T ring for that portion. More than once I've taken the bus into work and had to walk up that hill and thought to myself "WTF, how do I ride up this everyday."
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Old 06-03-12, 01:49 AM   #15
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I am in San Francisco. I'll give it a try come Monday. I have no idea how I'm going to ride up a 16% grade in 48T ring though. I'll stick to my 28T ring for that portion. More than once I've taken the bus into work and had to walk up that hill and thought to myself "WTF, how do I ride up this everyday."
okay, I've biked through San Francisco I know how the hills can be. Yea, stick to your granny gear going up hill, but when you're going down...jump into that 48/12 or 13 or 14. The higher gears really give it a powerful kick. So much fun after all that hard work getting to the top of the hill.
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Old 06-03-12, 08:10 AM   #16
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I gotta ask, but how do some of you ride with a only 44T chainring? I'm barely spinning using my 28T chainring and 32T gear in the rear going uphill on a daily basis. And I'm still pooped the top even though I've been doing this for a year. Even when I switch to the 38T chainring at the top as it flattens out, I find it quite difficult. I am riding a Marin Muirwoods 29er for what it's worth.
I think the fact that you're on a 29er is a big part of it -- the tall tires raise your gearing, and are a little heavier than the same width tires of a smaller-diameter wheel. A lot of people run smaller-than-average chainrings on their 29ers to get the equivalent gearing.

For example, to get the gearing on your 29er that I do on my fixed-gear, I'd need to drop my chainring from 41T to 36T!

- Scott
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Old 06-03-12, 10:59 AM   #17
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49t x 11-36 will give you a very similar range to a 50/34 11-25 road setup.
If you don't need as high a high gear, which you likely don't for commuting, you could switch to 48 x 12-36 or even lower.

if you already have a standard 53/39 setup i would just use the 39 as my front chainring. 39/11 is a decently high gear.
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Old 06-03-12, 11:09 AM   #18
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I typically only use 2 gear settings for a speed ratio of 3.2 (48/15) on flats, and 2.3 (48/21) on hills. When I have a little extra energy I tend to jump up to 3.7 on the 48/13 gear but only when I'm biking for fun and don't need to worry about muscle pain afterwords. Besides, at 3.2 I can maintain a biking speed of 32-34kmh+ so its fast enough to keep up with most of this cities traffic as I commute.

I effectively never use my front crank set's lower 2 settings. Except if I didn't bike all winter, then I build up my muscles strength for the first week or so using the middle gear.

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Old 06-03-12, 11:11 AM   #19
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oh, also, my folding commuter has a gear range of 35-100 gear inches, which is pretty ideal for most riding conditions. it's a 50t x 9-26 cassette (but on 406mm wheels)
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Old 06-03-12, 07:21 PM   #20
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I think the fact that you're on a 29er is a big part of it -- the tall tires raise your gearing, and are a little heavier than the same width tires of a smaller-diameter wheel. A lot of people run smaller-than-average chainrings on their 29ers to get the equivalent gearing.

For example, to get the gearing on your 29er that I do on my fixed-gear, I'd need to drop my chainring from 41T to 36T!

- Scott
What size tires do you run? The bike came with 700x42 tires so it's not really a 29er, but the name was used to differentiate it from its 26er with similar design and frame.
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Old 06-04-12, 08:45 AM   #21
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I run a 42 in the front with a 9 speed 30 -12 out back. This is for my winter commuter, 700 x 35 tires. No real hills to speak of, just some rolling grades and slight inclines.
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Old 06-04-12, 09:36 AM   #22
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53t?

I use a 53 twith an IGH in a 20" wheel.. same IGH with a 26" wheel, the chain ring is a 38t.
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Old 06-04-12, 09:40 AM   #23
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What size tires do you run? The bike came with 700x42 tires so it's not really a 29er, but the name was used to differentiate it from its 26er with similar design and frame.
Ahh. I'm using a converted MTB, so they're about 25.4" tall. It would be much less dramatic going from 700x23 to 700x42.
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Old 06-04-12, 10:02 AM   #24
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I have a 42 x 11/28; same w/ 53 would be 14/34 if you could find it; standard mtb 11/34 would give you that killer 5x gear for really long descents.

Mine is 1 x 7 not 9
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