Plays in traffic
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Rochester, NY
Bikes: 1996 Litespeed Classic, 2006 Trek Portland, 2013 Ribble Winter/Audax
When discussing with others, those numbers are beyond meaningless. First, they imply a particular order, which if you work out the ratios, isn't the same as any reasonable numbering scheme you could come up with and actually remember. Second, is that other bikes may have larger or smaller gears in those same positions.
It's only slightly more helpful to refer to which ring, (small, middle, big), then which cog. Even so, my bike's gearing could be different than yours and it wouldn't have much meaning to me.
The number of teeth on the gear gives me something to compare to.
For instance, I have three different cassettes (the rear gear cluster, whose individual gears are also known as cogs) for one of my bikes. If I say I climbed the big freaking hill in my 38/21 it could mean second, third or fifth, depending on which cassette I had mounted. But since I've given the number of teeth, it doesn't matter what the position is on the cassette.
One could do the math and find a similar ratio in a completely different gear combination on your bike. But knowing the ratio, you'd know how hard I'd have to pedal. The numbers don't give that information.
See also: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/
FWIW, your description tells me you've gone from a six-speed double to an eight-speed triple. That's the way things are referred to in general these days. How many in back, and how many in front.
Last edited by tsl; 05-09-09 at 09:20 PM.