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  1. #1
    Each Drop of Sweat Counts
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    Do you prefer less gears or more on a foldie?

    Here's the reason I ask. I have a Speed P8, Speed TR, and Speed TT.

    I use Ascent Training program to log about 95% of my rides. Looking through the logs last night it sure looks like when I make a utility ride I almost always grab the P8. As many hills as there are here around my house you'd think I would want as many gears as possible. I can climb fine with the P8 and it would be nice to crank down the big hills rather than coast but that's very small potatoes.

    I'm not sure if they told me I could only keep one that I wouldn't keep the P8. I do a lot of utility cycling. Running to the store to buy one item that easily fits on a bike rack.

    More gears or less?

    John

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    I have a Dahon Helios P8 on SRAM 3.0 with 8 speeds which I neutered to a singlespeed at 62 gear inches. I guess that answers the question.

  3. #3
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    Hills make me slow and having more gears on hills makes me even slower because they just tempt me to shift down while going up the hill (which I can't make back on the other side). Plus more gears means more maintenance, which is a drag.

    So I vote less gears or at most a single chainring. More than that is overkill, folder or not.

  4. #4
    jur
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    I find a 300% gear range adequate for the vast majority of rides. It's just when I am extremely tired that I wish for lower gears.

    I have a 500% range on my Birdy and I find I use almost the entire range when riding it. Even my singlespeed's "range" of 1 gear was adequate. So it's just a case of use whatever's available.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Unless you are a dedicated spinner and have to have just the right gear, 3 should be enough. FWIW I ride everything from a 3 speed to a 27 speed. I can get by fine with 3 speeds no matter where I ride, but I find 8 evenly spaced seems to be the sweet spot.

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  6. #6
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    As folders are meant for travel and are carried a lot, light weight and simplicity (for ease of folding) is a primary concern.
    I have a Mu XL with 8 gears Nexus hub. It has 300% gear range and I cannot imagine a situation where I would need more. I easily get up steep hill (anyway it is a total flat terrain around here) or can pedal up to speed of 50km/h or even more. Its a clean chain line. Smooth shifting experience. However, this hub is terribly heavy. And also slightly inefficient. A single speed might be the better choice. But you frequently need to stand and crank then. Requires a good fitness level. And a stiff frame and handlepost. My tests showed that accelerating in a single higher gear without shifting is faster than shifting through gears. Many gears only make sense on longer rides, where optimization of cadence becomes important.

    A dérailleur with single chainring setup has the problem, that chain can jump off. Needs a chainkeeper.

    A "dual speed" setup with a Schlupf Speed Drive might be worth consideration.
    Last edited by pibach; 05-07-09 at 06:37 PM.

  7. #7
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    For me, it's kind of a trick question. I couldn't tow my kids up a 25% grade with my 8-speed, and the only way to get the gearing low enough on my Xootr Swift was to install an internal gear hub. I now have 24 speeds. I don't actually need all of them, but I couldn't get down to 20.5 gear inches without them.
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  8. #8
    I... Don't care. nekohime's Avatar
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    Depends. For commuting, if LA were totally flat or at least only moderately hilly, one speed would do. However it isn't, so I need to have my speeds-three is fine, six better, but my sweet spot is around 8-10. Anything else is overkill unless racing or touring over long distances (which I don't do; I just pootle).
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  9. #9
    hipster traffic dodger ChiapasFixed's Avatar
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    8 internal gears for me thanks. I have this setup on both my Joey and my Tikit. The former has the nexus redband, and the later the alfine s-501. the alfine is by far smoother, quieter and yes, more efficient, but both work great and I have never needed any more gears whether going up or down. Not as light as a ss, for sure, and I do prefer the Tikit wich requires no chain tensioner.
    I may set up the Joey as a ss yet...
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  10. #10
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    One reason I stopped using folders was that I didn't like the limited gearing; 8 gears in a limited range didn't work well for my particular uses.

    Of course, if you're doing a flat commute, one gear is fine. If you're doing a hilly century though, you at least need a wide range; if you're doing group rides, finer control over cadence is helpful.

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    Wow - this thread is really timely. I'm really unhappy that my Brompton has only 6 gears. In fact, I just emailed my LBS asking about the possibility of reducing all the gears by 12% (an option when you buy a new Brompton) because I sorely miss having one gear lower than the lowest stock gear. The problem is that in order to do that I will have to sacrifice the highest gear, which for me is the perfect high gear, and that means I will have to coast down steep hills. So, to answer the question, after 8 months of commuting with my Brompton I have come to feel that yes, more gears is better, 6 is not enough, and 8 gears is a much better minimum for varied-terrain touring/commuting. I know the new Bromptons come with the 6 gears spaced wider, giving a much wider overall range, but personally I think that's a big mistake. Spacing is just as important as range. I wouldn't want my gears to be any more widely spaced than they are now - I would find that equally annoying.

    I guess all of this depends on where you live and bike and your riding style. Being 50 years old I am more concerned about preserving my knees than I am about achieving any speed records. I like to spin and I really don't like to push.

  12. #12
    Sprint the hills! djgonzo007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    So it's just a case of use whatever's available.
    True, I noticed this when I switched from a triple to a double on my road bike.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    Horses for courses......and learning to ride in the correct cadence for whatever given terrain can make a world of difference to your cycling experience. I've seen countless folk grinding away on huge gears, body rocking side to side at 30 rpms? and at 15kmh...wobbling all over the place. I often ride up to them to have a friendly chat and suggest spinning a bit more in a lower gear, most are receptive to my advice and are surprised the difference it makes.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by pibach View Post
    my tests showed that accelerating in a single higher gear without shifting is faster than shifting through gears. Many gears only make sense on longer rides, where optimization of cadence becomes important.
    +1

  15. #15
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    The fixed P20 folder runs 65 and 70 gear inches which is great for spinning along in the 30 kmh range and the new 3 speed P20 runs a gearing of 45/65/80 gear inches which makes it a little more versatile.

    I rode the 3 speed home today and took a dip through the valley which meant I had to climb back up nearly 800 -900 feet on grades that went as high as 18%.

    It was a bit of a hammer fest.

    I removed the dual drive from the 3 speed and am thinking I may upgrade a few parts and reinstall it to give me that nice 6 speed gear range with 25% jumps and allow me to do more seated climbing.

  16. #16
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    i live in the bay area with so much hills on my commute so i'd say more gears the better for me. it will come in handy when i need it.

    thanks,
    vic

  17. #17
    小型自転車マニアック \(^o^)y
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    For me, it's more gears for more situations.

  18. #18
    My legs hurt
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    Two issues really; range and spacing.

    If you are out for a pootle, and just want to be able to make it up some hills, and pootle along comfortably, then the number of gears is less important than having enough range in the gears you do have to match the terrain.

    However, if you are riding for longer periods of time at a faster pace, then being able to fine - tune your cadence to maintain your speed effcientlly can be helpful. More gears are appropriate in these situations, even if the range of gears is the same as described above.

    Personally, my knees aren't the strongest so I need a decent range to keep my cadence up on hills. Mashing isn't an option for me. This, combined with often pulling a trailer means I need to have wide gear range. I also like to longer, faster paced rides when I get the chance. I like having realitively narrow spacing for these rides. For me, it's typically been a triple up front and a 10 speed in the back.

    This is changing as my riding style is changing and as I am looking to use my 20" wheel as my primary ride. I might wind up a double up front and a 9 speed 11-32 in back, and see how I like it.

  19. #19
    hipster traffic dodger ChiapasFixed's Avatar
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    i have considered adding a shlumpf crank to my Tikit, which would give me possible 16 gears (with some redundancy), and a range of around the 500% mark.
    then again for the cost and weight penalty, I may as well go for the Rohloff....
    For now, the 8 gears have served me well, even on steep climbs with full panniers.
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  20. #20
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    Marcel Hahn, single speed champion, showed that gears are not really relevant for touring, climbing, speed, etc. In many races he ranked in front of many pros with full gearing. And he toured the Alps with only one gear - east to west! Here's the site: http://www.singlespeeder.de/contenid...nt_content.php
    Admittedly, he has very high level of fitness.
    But it shows, that the effect of cadence optimization is generally overrated.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiapasFixed View Post
    i have considered adding a shlumpf crank to my Tikit, which would give me possible 16 gears (with some redundancy), and a range of around the 500% mark.
    then again for the cost and weight penalty, I may as well go for the Rohloff....
    For now, the 8 gears have served me well, even on steep climbs with full panniers.
    If using the Schlumpf in combination, bear in mind that efficiency loss gets multiplied. Also the Nexus is not speced for that high power transmission. So better don't do that and go for a Rohloff. Or install the Schlumpf but remove the hub gearing in favor of a single speed sprocket.

  22. #22
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pibach View Post
    Admittedly, he has very high level of fitness.
    Admittedly the ocean is slightly damp.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by pibach View Post
    Marcel Hahn, single speed champion, showed that gears are not really relevant for touring, climbing, speed, etc. In many races he ranked in front of many pros with full gearing. And he toured the Alps with only one gear - east to west! Here's the site: http://www.singlespeeder.de/contenid...nt_content.php
    Admittedly, he has very high level of fitness.
    But it shows, that the effect of cadence optimization is generally overrated.
    If you're strong enough then riding in anything but the highest gear can only make you slower.

  24. #24
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Over the past 4 years I have ridden in excess of 40,000 km and a good portion (about 50%) of that has been on a number of fixed gear or single speed bikes and when I ride my geared bikes the granny / bailout gearing was seldom used unless I was towing some huge weight or have the bike loaded up with gear.

    I am using those gears more now as I have some permanent nerve damage in my back and although I can still ride I cannot put out the same power and don't always have full use of both my legs...with that the fixed gear still helps as it helps me maintain a steadier cadence and several of those have lower gearings than what I would normally run.

    I can understand how a person could tour and ride long distances on a one speed as I have done it and in many cases been the fastest / strongest rider out there but that stemmed from having an inordinately high level of fitness as well.

    I still think that having a huge number of gears is overkill unless a person has some physical issues that prevent them from just pushing a little harder and agreed with Sheldon Brown when he said most people shift gears way too much.

    For now I can still rock the triple on my newly built up folder and it's mate (nearly identical) is a fixed gear that is great for when I can't do that coasting thing.

    I refer to these as my rehab bikes...


  25. #25
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    I've got 8 speeds on my Bike Friday Tikit and 8 speeds on my NWT. I plan to tour on the NWT in the mountains so it has the tougher job by far. I'm hoping I've setup the gear range correctly so I'll be happy with only 8 gears....time will tell. For around town general use I find 8 gears more than adequate.
    safe riding - Vik
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