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  1. #1
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    gear inches for touring?

    can any experienced tourer (ie. has accomplished loaded long distance tours) please tell me their highest and lowest necessary gear ratio in gear inches? if you dont know it in gear inches can you please tell me your highest and lowest necessary gear ratio plus wheel and tire size? i say "necessary" meaning the highest and lowest gear was actually needed during a tour and you wouldnt feel comfortable touring without it. if the lowest or highest went virtually unused during the tour, please skip to the next gear that was actually in use regularly. i dont need to know the gears inbetween, just highest and lowest. Thanks!!!

    and im sorry to be so VERY specific, just trying to get all the info for gearing my bike which is going to be pretty minimal...

  2. #2
    Senior Member ricohman's Avatar
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    My first tours, which were all over 1000km, were on the green 12 speed Raleigh seen here.
    Need a Raleigh Criterium frame for the 25th anniversary of the "ride to the north"
    All of us had twelve speed bikes with less than optimal gearing but we were 16-17 years old and that was all we could afford. Still had great times though.
    Then I toured on a 18 speed Nishiki with a 28-32 low which was much much better.
    I would like my next bike to have a 26 low ring as the older I get the lower gears I want.

  3. #3
    ChooseVeg.com
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    My lowest gear is 22 gear inches and my highest is 112. I don't know if 112 is actually needed, but going fast is fun sometimes. :-) 22 on the low end has served me well on fully loaded tours through fairly hilly areas of the East Coast, such as parts of Pennsylvania and Connecticut, but I might consider lower if I was going through the Rockies or something like that.
    Last edited by idegen; 09-03-07 at 06:46 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I typically used gear ratios from around 24" up to 108" on my tour bikes. I am building up an Expedition tour bike that will have lower overall ratios, probably from 18"(possibly lower) to around 96". I really don't need a higher top end ratio. I coast down long hills I am more interested in being able to pedal up long grades fully loaded, or negotiate single track and fire roads. On the road you may not need quite as low a gearing, but I never heard anyone complain about the gears being too low when going up a mountain

    What chain ring/freewheel combo are you looking at? Sheldon Brown has a pretty decent gear calculator on his website. I also use the one from cycletech for more complicated calculations. Also don't forget to factor in crank arm length.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    I've had thirty-five years of cycle-camping on loaded tourers and I would go for as wide a range as is possible. I prefer a 19" low and a high of around 98". Nothing higher is needed on a loaded tourer in my opinion.

  6. #6
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    Just use a stock MTB cassette and crankset (22-34-44 up frount-- 11-34 in the rear) It's the cheapest way to go and you can always get a 48 tooth ring up frount if you don't use STI shifting and want higher gearing.

  7. #7
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    I use about 22" to 108" on my tourer. The 108" tops out at almost 30 mph...Any faster than that I just sit back and coast. Can't say as I would complain that 22" is too low.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Try 19

    As long as you are fiddling with gears, go lower than you think is reasonable. I currently have a low of 23 but once had a bike with a low of 19. I used it and liked it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Ditto. Had a 22 x 38 on my MTB once. Hard to get a 38 cog these days.
    This space open

  10. #10
    Senior Member kjmillig's Avatar
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    I just bought a used crank that'll give me a low of 18 and a high of 87. I might raise the high end just a bit though. I haven't done any big hill climbing, but everyone on BF has said they've never complained about having too low of a gear on loaded climbs.
    "Pain is weakness leaving the body"......yea, right!

  11. #11
    Zen Master Miles2go's Avatar
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    I'm another that shoots for something below 20 gear inches for the bottom end. All of our tours have been to the heart of mountainous terrain because that's what we enjoy seeing and we've come across a number of 20% grades. We have eight or so touring bikes and they typically have 22T or 24T small rings in front and 34 in the rear. I usually run an 11-34t 9spd cassette and with a 48t big ring I can hit 30+ mph on flats or slight inclines with my 100+ pound bike but I mostly do this to screw with the occasional roadie. It's all in good fun. Otherwise I'm content averaging 11-12mph for the day, in touring mode.

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  12. #12
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    thanks everyone, all very helpful info!!!

  13. #13
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by idegen View Post
    My lowest gear is 22 gear inches and my highest is 112. I don't know if 112 is actually needed, but going fast is fun sometimes. :-) 22 on the low end has served me well on fully loaded tours through fairly hilly areas of the East Coast, such as parts of Pennsylvania and Connecticut, but I might consider lower if I was going through the Rockies or something like that.
    Note that you will likely find you need a lower gear in the east than in the Rockies. Having just riden the TransAmerica route, I found that we needed lower gearing in the Ozarks and Appalachians than in the Rockies. A 22 gear inch was fine on all of the climbs in the west, but marginal on a couple in the east. We rode west to east so theoretically we were stronger in the east. The climbs were just substantially steeper, if a lot shorter.

  14. #14
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    staehpj1 has a good point--- the steepest climbs I've encountered were on along the ocean. Little used local roads that have very, very steep climbs up a bluff (short however) are common along the coasts all over the world.

  15. #15
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Just a side note as I am curently setting up a bike for touring. I don't see why you all need such high gears. Around town I ride 76" fixed and can spin well in to the 30's mph (I have never "spun out" in London) and a purfect gear for crusing in the high teens low twenties (certainly faster than I will be touring, I don't know what speed you guys go along at with!). At 85 " I am sure I could easily hit 40 mph down hill with out too much trouble or spinning out. Unless you like to keep on pedaling up 45 -50 mph why the need for 115"? It's not like you will sustain that speed for long so you don't need to be able to keep the rpm sustainable at 80 - 90 rpm. I do not consider myself to be a super spinner by the way. Does touring turn you into a masher? I suppose most bikes come with a high top gear and you will use it if it is there but do you really NEED a top gear higher than 75 -80 may be 85 inches? I would think you are better off keeping the gearing on the low side if you want to be minimal and toping out at 80".
    Travelling without inertia

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  16. #16
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    Gearing on my tourer/commuter is 16-96 gear inches. I've used the whole range on every tour, and on a lot of my city rides (seattle). I prefer a higher cadence when climbing, and I use the 16 (20x34 on 700x35 wheels) frequently. On the steepest of hills I winch my way up at 3mph while seated. When the bike is not loaded with camping gear or groceries however I usually don't need the granny ring.

    With 96 gear inches I spin out around 33mph, plenty fast for me. One reason I wouldn't want a lower high gear is that sometimes it's nice to be able to stand and pedal at a slow cadence, just to get out of the saddle for a bit. Another reason is that the way my gearing is set up (20x32x44 and 12-34 8spd) I do most of my riding on the middle chainring. I considered a 13-34 cassette, for tighter gear spacing, but that would have me shifting in the front far more frequently.

  17. #17
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrick View Post
    Just a side note as I am curently setting up a bike for touring. I don't see why you all need such high gears. Around town I ride 76" fixed and can spin well in to the 30's mph (I have never "spun out" in London) and a purfect gear for crusing in the high teens low twenties (certainly faster than I will be touring, I don't know what speed you guys go along at with!). At 85 " I am sure I could easily hit 40 mph down hill with out too much trouble or spinning out. Unless you like to keep on pedaling up 45 -50 mph why the need for 115"? It's not like you will sustain that speed for long so you don't need to be able to keep the rpm sustainable at 80 - 90 rpm. I do not consider myself to be a super spinner by the way. Does touring turn you into a masher? I suppose most bikes come with a high top gear and you will use it if it is there but do you really NEED a top gear higher than 75 -80 may be 85 inches? I would think you are better off keeping the gearing on the low side if you want to be minimal and toping out at 80".
    I have a 109" high and a 18" low on my mountain bikes and a 114" high with the same low on my touring bike. I find that I spin out the 109" (I've had lower gears) at around 40 mph fairly regularly. The 114" is nice around here because we have lots of high speed downhills available.

    It's also a case of why not? I ride my touring bike far more unloaded than loaded and it's pretty easy to get, and use, a 114" high. Heck, I have a hill coming out of work that is good for mid-40 mph with that gear. It's only a 46/11. 11-34 cassettes are easier to find than a 13-34
    Stuart Black
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  18. #18
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    I have a 109" high and a 18" low on my mountain bikes and a 114" high with the same low on my touring bike. I find that I spin out the 109" (I've had lower gears) at around 40 mph fairly regularly. The 114" is nice around here because we have lots of high speed downhills available.

    It's also a case of why not? I ride my touring bike far more unloaded than loaded and it's pretty easy to get, and use, a 114" high. Heck, I have a hill coming out of work that is good for mid-40 mph with that gear. It's only a 46/11. 11-34 cassettes are easier to find than a 13-34

    I am not really saying why not but if you want a minimum setup (like the op said) sacrificing top gear is less of an issue than sacrificing the lower gears, it is easier on the body and better for your riding to learn to spin a bit more than it is to mash. Just saying as in regards to which gears to loose if that is your aim. I was not trying to say everone that had gone before was wrong, but just trying to thinking of what you need and could get by with with out sacrificing too much as like I said spinning is def better for you than mashing. No offence ment.
    Last edited by TheBrick; 09-05-07 at 06:26 AM.
    Travelling without inertia

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  19. #19
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrick View Post
    I am not really saying why not but if you want a minimum setup (like the op said) sacrificing top gear is less of an issue than sacrificing the lower gears, it is easier on the body and better for your riding to learn to spin a bit more than it is to mash. Just saying as in regards to which gears to loose if that is your aim. I was not trying to say everone that had gone before was wrong, but just trying to thinking of what you need and could get by with with out sacrificing too much as like I said spinning is def better for you than mashing. No offence ment.
    No offense taken. I don't mash either but doing 120 rpm for 20 or 30 minutes (we have those kinds of descents around here) isn't comfortable either. Nor is coasting that long. When you inevitably hit the next up hill after coasting that long, your legs are fried! Better to keep them turning over with at least a little resistance.
    Stuart Black
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  20. #20
    ...into the blue...
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    Stock LHT complete range

    Using Sheldon's calculator, I get a range of 119-20.8 for a stock Surly LHT complete, assuming I've correctly configured (does "wheel size" really mean nominal tire size?). Put in 48-36-26 and 11-34, 700x35, leave others.

    This is a very broad range. As has been pointed out, however, it might be better to go lower. A 24-tooth granny would take the lower end down to 19.2, a 22 down to 17.6. Not sure if the derailer would be happy w/ the smaller grannies.

    As I am a clyde, and am pointing towards a one-month tour in the west next year, this is a very relevant thread for me. I've done other smaller tours, but nothing mountainous.
    Last edited by quester; 09-24-07 at 06:26 PM.

  21. #21
    nun
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    103" to 21". If you can get close to 20" as a low and 100" at the top you'll be fine.

  22. #22
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    17-88 g.i.

  23. #23
    RPM: 85. MPH: varies. edtrek's Avatar
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    low: 16 gi. high: 113 gi. check it out, about halfway down the page:
    http://www.thirdwave-websites.com/bi...ul-trucker.cfm

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