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  1. #1
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    low gear vs high gear on a folding bike

    i would like to thank for some of the individuals here who explain to me about the low gear vs high gear on a folding bike. so now i understand that u use low gear which makes it easier for you to go uphill, but you would travel slower vs high gear which mean harder to peddle but you would go faster.

    so i guess this is more of a preference setting for everyone because it depends on your skills level. so my question to you is this...what gear do you use for going uphill...let's say a bike that has 8-speeds...what do you generally use? same for going downhill? i'm just asking out of curosity what some of you guys here use.

  2. #2
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Hmmmm ... what do you mean?

    Gearing depends on the size of cogs & chainrings. What someone uses would depend on what their comfortable cadence is along with the difficulty/ease; i.e., the steepness of the hill. Assuming the hill is really looooooong ... if the hill is the steepest you could ever climb, you would be in the lowest gear. If the hill is the steepest you would pedal down, you would be in the highest gear.

    Myself, I have a triple in the front with the Capreo in the rear on the bike friday (~21" to 106"). On the mini, I havea 44/23 (or is it 25?) combination where my lowest gear is about 26 gear inches.

  3. #3
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    do you drive a car vincent? [likely to be an automatic though being american]

    hmm. the thing about gears is that you couldn't go up a steep hill fast in a high gear because you couldn't create enough energy to push the pedals around. This is the point of gears - you change down to lower gears when you cannot maintain speed when an incline slows your speed. The lower gear means you are using more energy (turns of the pedal) to make the wheel go around the same amount of times, making it easier.

    Gosh - this is grade physics. I'd look into the idea of load / fulcrums / seesaws on wikipedia so you can get a basic handle on why lower gears allow you to do more work, albeit at a slower rate.

    numpty.

  4. #4
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    i see...thx for clearing it up.

  5. #5
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    There is a school of thought that gears are not necessary. (Warning - single speed evangelist here!)

    I live in the Highlands of Scotland where we have some lumpy bits, and I have done considerable distances on my single speed bikes. For example I have done a 100 mile day on my Hammerhead across Scotland and back. It was geared at around 60" for the occasion. A 60" gear is what used to be in the standard range back in the days when there were only single speed bikes. With that gearing I can ride up any main road hill that a fully loaded truck can climb. There's just a few really steep backroads that are too steep, and on them I reckon gears would only get me further up the hill by a few yards.

    One thing that many people do not realise is that you have to do exactly the same amount of work to go up a hill at a given speed regardless of your gearing.

    Generally speaking, if a regular cyclist rides a single speed for about a month, they will be no longer bothered about gears.

    Why? - because you have an infinitely variable power transmission built into your legs (within your power range, that is). Geared cyclists are accustomed to delivering their power within a narrow range of rpm/cadence, whereas single speed riders learn to use the full range of their legs.

    I'm not rabidly anti-gears, I have several geared bikes, but those I use the most have no gears.

    Where would I want gears? Touring with a heavy load, or racing in a peleton, otherwise there's no point.

    And before someone says it won't work because where they live is too hilly/too flat, the point is to gear appropriately for the use. I use around 48" for my mountainbikes, 60-65" for my general roadbikes, and about 84" on my track bike (used on road).

    So to answer the original question, 60" gearing for road work.

  6. #6
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    How do you get a 60" chain on such a small bike?


    [plz don't respond. My *fixed* mercton runs 72"]

  7. #7
    pooh bear joose's Avatar
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    Interesting

    I'm starting to come around to the idea of single speed bikes as I love their simplicity. I've got a city bike in my shed stripped down waiting for me to add gears.. or not

    +also after a Strida, hence my Curve is now on the trade tread.. hint hint all

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePixel View Post
    How do you get a 60" chain on such a small bike?


    [plz don't respond. My *fixed* mercton runs 72"]
    I use a folding chain

    I've looked at Fixed Gear Gallery, you are doing a good job of keeping the forces of darkness away from your bikes.

  9. #9
    ...poet... timo888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by datako View Post
    There is a school of thought that gears are not necessary. (Warning - single speed evangelist here!)
    ...
    One thing that many people do not realise is that you have to do exactly the same amount of work to go up a hill at a given speed regardless of your gearing. ...
    Sorry, convincing me of the truth in that little sleight-of-foot is going to be an uphill battle.

    You're not doing the same amount of work; it would be more accurate to say the same amount of work is being done. The mechanical advantage of the gearing is assisting you. That's why it's easier to ride up a long steep hill in a lower gear.

    Regards
    T

  10. #10
    Member randplaty's Avatar
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    So how do you overcome the feeling of not being able to get up the hill and needing to walk?

    Do you just work at it more and then become more fit?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by randplaty View Post
    So how do you overcome the feeling of not being able to get up the hill and needing to walk?

    Do you just work at it more and then become more fit?
    If your speed drops below walking pace it's smarter to get off and walk than to wobble dangerously all over the road. In that case walking gets you to the top at the same speed. I like walking beside my wobbling gasping geared friends. They feel more macho, I enjoy the rest and view.

    It's definitely a case of the more you do it, the better you get at it. An experienced cyclist is probably fit enough already, it's really just a matter of getting the legs acclimatised. A lot of it is technique, attack hills from the bottom or before, learn how far you can push yourself. You will certainly do more walking in the first month, but after that it's a doddle.

    The secret is not to get macho in your gearing choice. You can always find an extra few rpm of spin if you want more speed, but never an extra ounce of grunt. Use a lower gear ratio to start, and then raise it later if you want.

    A great benefit is a much lighter bike and far less maintenance.

  12. #12
    Member randplaty's Avatar
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    Good advice. You said it would take a month or so to get acclimated. Is that with riding the bike everyday for a month in order to get fit enough to do single speed? Of course it would depend on the person, but for an average person how long does it take to get fit?

  13. #13
    transport, not sport.
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    i have a roadbike converted to singlespeed, at approx 58 gear inches.
    43t crank, 20t cog, 27 inch wheels.
    a month ago, bought a dahon, six speed.
    was thinking of converting it to singlespeed, too
    then I realized: if I had to climb uphill on my 'normal' bike, I can get my butt of the saddle.
    but it seems for now, that that is not easy to do on a 20 inch wheeled folder.
    isn't that not recommended?

    so for now, I will keep the 6 speed freewheel on my dahon vitesse.

  14. #14
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Since I do a fair amount of climbing, I found it better to be on the low end than high. The only time you really need high gears is when you're pedaling on a rapid descent, which isn't always a brilliant plan with 20" wheels (not enough control).

    Ultimately though, insufficient gearing is one reason why I stopped using folding bikes and switched back to standard bikes (and currently use a triple). Keep in mind that I do a lot of long-distance (60+ mile) rides, fairly fast club rides, and hilly tours.

    If all you do is ride around NYC (as your nick implies), that's mostly flat, and the present gearing will work very well; singles are also very simple, which is a plus. It's another story if you decide to cross the GWB and do hill repeats on Alpine twice a week....

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