I need some gearing expertise
I bough a ss recently and the ratio is 87 (52x16). My friend who I bought it from was riding it fixed (flip-flop). I have it on the freewheel side. He's in significantly better shape than I am. That ratio is too high for me, especially riding in San Francisco.
Can you guys recommend some better gearing? High enough for me to keep up with cars, but low enough to ride uphill.
There are so many threads on gearing in the last week alone, but here's the deal.
Google a gear inch calculator. I forget if you want it easier or harder when it's freewheel, but you probably want about 68 - 70 gear inches. You can get decent speed, but you won't be crippled when you go up hills. As you get into shape and learn to spin better, you'll be able to go faster and climb better, and then you may wish to go up.
is probably wrong
That is a huge gear! Around here (Philly/NJ) I run like a 46/16 or 48/16. I would say for SF AT LEAST go down to a 46 or 44t chain ring depending on how much you ride up the hills there you may want to go even lower.
Before you do serious damage to your knees or more, consider starting with a 42x18 (the classic 63" gear) or, maybe, 44x18. And be ready to go to a smaller chain ring as needed. Keep up with cars? Is that to 15 mph or 40 mph?
not actually Nickatina
PDX has it's hills, though maybe nowhere near as big as SF's. However, from all the local talk about "the Wiggle", it seems like if you know your way around you don't have to worry about hills unless you're intentionally trying to bomb (or climb) a big one. 75" is a nice all-around ratio I've found. It boils down to what you prefer - spinning or mashing, as well as city terrain. Personally I don't like spinning super high RPM's to sprint so I like a little higher gear for the most part.