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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 06-23-03, 11:13 AM   #1
shrimpx
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Gearing & spinning out, again

I'm aware that several gearing threads have been started in the past, but I just have a question regarding a huge disconnect between what I read online and these forums, and what the bike shop expert says.

So I have the rare luxury of having a bike shop whose owner is a mad genius of bikes, and does pretty much everything, fixed-gear/track related or otherwise. I had him build me up a pair of wheels and set up the chainline on my frame, and he did a super job.

However, he personally thinks that any gear higher than 61-63 inches is crazy. He says that 1) anything higher will destroy your knees and 2) riding anything higher defeats the purpose of fixed gear, whose most important challenge is that you should indeed spin out at high RPM to achieve cruising speed, and that only by mastering the "spinout" you improve your legs and spin.

This forum's fixed gear members don't seem to want to touch anything lower than 68-70 inches, and some of them ride insanely high gears, in the 80s.

So i dunno, what are your opinons on this? I'm getting a 16-tooth cog on Wednesday to replace my current 18T, to get a 42x16 gear (~68 inches) instead of my current 42x18 (~62 inches). I know the 16T will fit me better, since I constantly spin out in order to rich sub-cruising speeds like 17-18 mph. But will it defeat the "purpose of riding fixed?"
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Old 06-23-03, 11:58 AM   #2
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No, it does not defeat the purpose of riding fixed.....that's absurd. I sometimes enjoy riding in the mid 60's but I'm usually most comfortable at around the mid 70's.......plus it enables me to keep in pace with other riders with derailleurs. It was in the low 80's where I started to feel pain in one knee, so I never go there now. I can understand riding in the 60's if one were training to maintain proper form, cadence, etc...... But I ride fixed gear for FUN, period!
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Old 06-23-03, 12:32 PM   #3
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Originally posted by George
I can understand riding in the 60's if one were training to maintain proper form, cadence, etc...... But I ride fixed gear for FUN, period!
Yup, my guess is that the LBS is assuming that the fixie is for training - not pleasure.
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Old 06-23-03, 12:42 PM   #4
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Word, I ride a 52x16 (I dunno how many inches that is) and I like it because I can keep up with traffic and still have enough power to be able to stop and go quite easily. Since I ride my fixie as a commuter/recreational vehicle, I like higher ratios so I can go faster with less work.

I guess it's personal preference, and as BAC said, I'll bet your LBS thinks you are using it for training.
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Old 06-23-03, 12:57 PM   #5
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Your gearing all depends on where and how far you ride.

In the spring/winter the 61-63 inch is great for getting your spin back. I do this for a few weeks.

I just did 100 miles with a 42x16 setup. My average cadence for the entire ride was 94 rpm. I could have done a faster ride with a bigger gear but my knees would have probably felt it.

Track people use 52 x whatever for speed.

One way to know know is to get a cadence monitor and find out. Some people think putting a monitor on a fixed is sacrilegious but it gives you a good idea of what you are doing.

The bike shop guy probably thought you wanted to use it for a spin bike.
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Old 06-23-03, 01:09 PM   #6
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He knows what i use it for... I ride it in there on the way to work My guess is that he considers me a newbie or something; his inital suggestion was 42x19, which is so low that I've never heard of that combination... most 18-19T people ride 52T rings.

I'll keep the 18T cog if i feel like spinning a lot. I hope my chain will handle both 18T and 16T without needing to be shortened. The dropouts are pretty long.
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Old 06-23-03, 01:12 PM   #7
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Originally posted by shrimpx
He knows what i use it for... I ride it in there on the way to work My guess is that he considers me a newbie or something...
I think you should give him one right in the old kisser for giving you faulty information!
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Old 06-23-03, 01:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by dumpstervegan
Word, I ride a 52x16 (I dunno how many inches that is) and I like it because I can keep up with traffic and still have enough power to be able to stop and go quite easily. Since I ride my fixie as a commuter/recreational vehicle, I like higher ratios so I can go faster with less work.

I guess it's personal preference, and as BAC said, I'll bet your LBS thinks you are using it for training.
Ouch!........you're pushing 86 inches!.........please tell me that you do have a front brake. Anyhow, if that works for you and you're comfortable with it, all the power to ya!
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Old 06-23-03, 01:30 PM   #9
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I used to know a guy who rode a 57x13 or 14 all the time, even up 15% grades. I used to ride a 52x14 for longer rides.
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Old 06-23-03, 01:35 PM   #10
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Originally posted by aeroman
I used to know a guy who rode a 57x13 or 14 all the time, even up 15% grades. I used to ride a 52x14 for longer rides.
SUPERHUMANS!
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Old 06-23-03, 02:06 PM   #11
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"Back in the day", it was de rigeur for racers to show up at road races with fixed gear bikes set at 84". A good way to determine what gear you should have on your bike is to establish for yourself what you want your lowest cadence to be. Most would not go below 85rpm. Then set your bike up with a gear that you can -avg.- your lowest rpm # on a predetermined ride, say a favorite 25' loop. So say at 85 rpm on whatever gear you have on your bike, you are going 17mph. If you can avg. 17mph on the 25' loop, you would be in the correct gear. If you can avg. 19mph, then perhaps you would put a larger gear(smaller rear cog) on . If you can average 16mph, then perhaps you would put a smaller gear(larger rear cog) on. Set the gear up so you're averaging your target cadence for your whole ride (including warmup).
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Old 06-23-03, 02:38 PM   #12
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I'd say run the lowest gear you can, where you can still get to the speed you want. For me, 69" is fine for normal city riding (I never need more RPM than I can do), but I like 75" to do high-speed laps... plus I actually climb faster in the higher gear.

OTOH, running 80", the hills hurt my knees.
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Old 06-23-03, 02:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by aeroman
I used to know a guy who rode a 57x13 or 14 all the time, even up 15% grades. I used to ride a 52x14 for longer rides.
my dad handbuilt a 64-tooth ring back in his racing days (late 60s) -- he was working in a metal shop that had all the tools necessary to do that. he would ride big ring-small cog (64x12) all the time, especially on long trips on the highway. he would go up to 60+ mph on flat drafting trucks.

i guess that's not as big a deal though, since he had a geared bike and would shift up until he had enough speed to spin the 64 tooth beast.
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Old 06-23-03, 04:56 PM   #14
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Well, all this tall gear talk has left me sitting here, mouth agape. I am, as I now realize, completely out of shape. I thought 48:17 was pretty good, but I guess just for me and my 25 mile commute. AND ALL THIS TIME I HAVE BEEN RIDING TO LOOK COOL...I am a chump
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Old 06-23-03, 05:01 PM   #15
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165 48:17 is my combo of choice...
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Old 06-23-03, 05:53 PM   #16
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48x17 pretty much the same as 42x15...
i've noticed that these 2 combinations (about 73-74 inches) are really popular. it seems that around 69" and around 74" are the 2 most popular gear sizes. and the 80"+ guys are just nuts. =)
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Old 06-23-03, 06:17 PM   #17
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I ride a 52/17 most of the time....thats what about 83" or so? I ride it for a living,run a 44/14 on my SS mtb set up for the street. People think its hard to stop with a gear like that,its not so bad....do a hop skid or two at like 20 mph and your almost stopped....no big deal.
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Old 06-23-03, 06:52 PM   #18
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Instead of speculating about it all day, I think the best idea is to ride a couple different combinations around, and see what fits you best. I mean if you are actually using the thing for transportation and leisure riding and that sort of thing (not strictly training), then a comfortable speed is more important than your RPMs or whatever other technical things you can think of.

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Old 06-23-03, 09:59 PM   #19
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49x15 here. 88".. no problem keeping a good (80-90rpm) cadence when i want to. it's not very often that i want to though. it's not really anything i worry about. the hills here in milwaukee aren't so bad that i cant get up them.
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Old 06-25-03, 10:12 AM   #20
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This is interesting. With all the replies so far no one has mentioned the 2 to 1 norm I have seen referred to in several other threads, ie, combinations, such as 38/19, 36/18, etc, all of which come to 54 inches.

Personally, I have two single speeds, a 39/17 (62 inches) fixed gear and a 48/18 (72 inches) freewheel. I commute most of the time on the fixed gear, using the higher geared bike a day or two a week for a little more work.
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Old 06-25-03, 10:24 AM   #21
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This is interesting. With all the replies so far no one has mentioned the 2 to 1 norm I have seen referred to in several other threads, ie, combinations, such as 38/19, 36/18, etc
I can certainly understand 2 to 1 on a mountain single-speed. but 54 inches on a fixed roadie is no fun at all......
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Old 06-25-03, 11:55 AM   #22
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heh yeah, you need a sturdy brake to crawl down the hills.
i upped my gearing to 42/17 today. (65 inches)
i'll ride this for a couple of months and see if i need to go higher. but 65 inches is much more comfy than 61.
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Old 06-25-03, 12:53 PM   #23
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I think the thing to understand is there are two (maybe more) primary reasons for riding fixed.

First, as a training tool. Here is where I would agree with your shop expert--go low to develop a supple spin.

Second, and I think this is the way larger of the two, is riding fixed for the feeling of simplicity and directness of connection to the road. I use my primary road fix as my everyday commuting machine. Simple, low maintenance, and smooth. I run a 75 inch gear as that allows me to spin around 90 rpm at my normal cruising speed. I think that's what most 'road fixers' aim for in selecting their gearing. They are most concerned with a comfortable gearing for everyday riding and not developing their spin for racing.

Regarding 'blowing out your knees,' I suppose it's possible, but most fixers have a high degree of experience and fitness and I've never known any that had a problem with a reasonable gear selection. I ride mine everywhere including centuries and even 200k brevets. I occasionally am forced to walk a steep hill. But, most of the time when climbing I am standing which releives the stress on the knees. Sitting and pushing a big gear is where your problems will come.

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Old 07-07-03, 07:29 PM   #24
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my 26 inch cruzer, that is set up road ridding only. the gearing is 50/16.can keep with some roadies, but really does not spin out. good speed on flats, and not hard up hills. keep cruzing, one speed is all you need.
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Old 07-07-03, 11:30 PM   #25
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i ride both of my track bikes on the street. one of them (with a 650c front wheel) has a 49/17 ratio, and the other (just a regular old track bike) i run 44/16. i used to be really into a 3:1 ratio, like 48/16, but...i don't know what happened...i usually try to get as close to 3:1 without going over 3.0. i friggen LOVE it when i switch to a non-fixed bike and my cadence is SOOO smooth, then i see other guys out there huffin' and puffin' and they're only pushing on the down stroke, and you can always tell too, cause their butt hops up and down in the seat. i dunno...just one of my life's simple pleasures.

oh yeah, spinning out...sometimes i feel like i'm going TOO fast on the 44/16, and i usually am, so i'll just slow it down a bit, but i've never spun out on the 49/17, that bike FLIES.
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