Join Date: Nov 2006
Bikes: 05 Giant TCR 0; 83 Colnago Saronni; 81 San Rensho Katana Super Export track bike, #A116-56; 97 GT Zaskar
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you may just be able to get by with a four teeth difference in the cogs, which is two chain links at the track ends because the chain is doubled. a three tooth difference is better as you're more likely to be able to get enough of the axle bolts biting on the track ends. adjust the number of links in your chain so that when its on the bigger gear (ie the 18tooth SS cog) it is hard up as far as it can get into the track ends. then when you put the fixed cog on (15 tooth) you still have enough room behind the axle to move it back to get correct chain tension. remember to run TWO brakes if you SS. 46:18 is still a tough gear for lots of hills, but 46:15 is pretty good for 20mph plus on the flat. I don't know what hils you have there, but 42:16 is about as much as i can run here on mostly 8-12% grades without stuffing my knees. i can do 15% grades too, but that's like a weight training session.
if you ride with a heavy rear rack it'll be harder to skidstop. backpacks are easier to carry around, too, when you're off the bike, but your back sweats. life is always a tradeoff.