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View Poll Results: My lowest gear I used for 5+ minutes in past year

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  • 20gi: 22x30, 24x32

    13 27.66%
  • 21gi: 22x28

    2 4.26%
  • 22gi: 22x27, 24x30, 26x32

    8 17.02%
  • 23gi: 22x26, 24x28, 26x30

    1 2.13%
  • 24gi: 22x25, 24x27, 28x32

    4 8.51%
  • 25gi: 22x24, 24x26, 26x28, 28x30, 30x32

    3 6.38%
  • 26gi: 22x23, 24x25, 26x27

    1 2.13%
  • 27gi: 22x22, 24x24, 26x26, 28x28, 30x30, 32x32

    3 6.38%
  • 28gi: 22x21, 24x23, 26x25, 28x27, 30x28, 32x30, 34x32

    2 4.26%
  • Other: explained in my comments

    10 21.28%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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  1. #1
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    If you read other subforums, you may have seen a similar question posed. I am still looking for a definite answer and finally a member clued me into asking the correct group.

    I would like to know what is the lowest gear you chose to use in the past year for more than 5 minutes.

    Thank you for your advice.

    Explanation of poll options:

    GI == gear inches of 700c tire

    PreX number == teeth in front chainring
    PostX number == teeth in cassette cog set
    Hi 'o Silver away

  2. #2
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    I voted 22*28. It's the lowest gear on my bike. If i had a lower gear, I would've used it. Wish I had a 22*32, maybe even a 22*34.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  3. #3
    Slow and unsteady
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    I said "Other".

    I did two tours last year, and while I know in general what gears I used, I really didn't pay attention to every gear I selected.

    I was on vacation.

  4. #4
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradw
    I said "Other".

    I did two tours last year, and while I know in general what gears I used, I really didn't pay attention to every gear I selected.

    I was on vacation.
    Ok, so what type of bike[s]. And are they standard or did you replace components.

    My guess is most touring cyclists will want at least 20gi, but I could be wrong, thus the poll. thanks
    Hi 'o Silver away

  5. #5
    Senior Member saddlesores's Avatar
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    i chose 'other.'

    mtb 26" wheels, 24*30 = 20.8 gi
    used often for 2-3 hours at a time, on those loooooong climbs in arizona
    and nevada.

    my road bike has a 19.4gi, 700c, 24*34
    very handy on that 5-hour climb from estes park to the visitor center
    at rocky mountain national park.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jnoble123's Avatar
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    I chose other as well. My lowest gear is a 22 X 34 which equals 17.x gear inches I believe. I've debated going down to 20 X 34 using a jumpstop device to allow me to use an even smaller granny.

    I don't use the gear often but on the odd steep hill it comes out.

    You might consider rewording your question to reflect some of the following:

    1) What's the lowest gear on your bike?
    2) Have you ever regretted having that low gear?
    3) Do you ride fully-loaded when touring? (big difference usually in terms of weight)
    4) What is your typical low gear (I generally ride in the middle or large chain ring on tour and reserve the granny and extreme low gears for steep hills with 10 - 15 % grades).

    The problem with your current question is that I don't think in terms of time used but rather terrain covered. Was my lowest gear low enough? Currently yes, stock bike at time of purchase no! If the gear isn't low enough then I get to walk my bike up the hill. I haven't had to do that so far.

    I hope that helps.

    ~Jamie N
    www.bicycletouring101.com

  7. #7
    Has opinion, will express
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    Jamie's summed it up nicely. Especially the terrain bit. I'll add distance covered. After 200km, facing an incline might be a little less problematic with a low GI (in both senses of the abbreviation!).

    FWIW, I have a 22-32 granny with 700C wheels, and I visit her often towards the end of randonnees over about 400km. Otherwise I'll try to stick with the 32-32. My touring is done generally with only a moderate load. My touring and randonnees also always seem to involve many hills.

  8. #8
    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    I voted other and also agree with Jamie. I used my 22x34 for 5 hours, maybe 15 hours this year on my 5100 mile cross country tour.(heavily loaded) Low is the way to go, it will save your knees. Another way to ask the question is how many times did you used your lowest gear vs your highest. For me I used my lowest hundreds of times and never used my highest! Jamie, if you figure out how to put a 20 tooth chainring on, please let me know. Greg
    www.loa2004.crazyguyonabike.com

  9. #9
    Slow and unsteady
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    Ok, so what type of bike[s]. And are they standard or did you replace components.

    My guess is most touring cyclists will want at least 20gi, but I could be wrong, thus the poll. thanks
    I have a modified Trek 520. I had the stock 105 crank with 52/42/30 replaced with an LX 44/32/22.

    My lowest gear is 22x32, which is about an 18-19 inch gear. If I lived in a hillier region I'd need those gears, but as it is I rarely go below 32x32 even with a load.

  10. #10
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    i voted "other" because i tour with a standard road bike and my lowest gear is a 39x25. then again i am not your typical touring cyclist as i come out of a racing background.

  11. #11
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Well so far you are confirming what I guessed: 26gi is not low enough. I was hoping I could get by with 26 and not have to go down to the 17/20gi solution.

    39x25=42gi. Ouch, 35 is already too high for me.

    The poll is open forever, so as more people get an opportunity to see it they can vote.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  12. #12
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnoble123
    The problem with your current question is that I don't think in terms of time used but rather terrain covered. Was my lowest gear low enough? Currently yes, stock bike at time of purchase no! If the gear isn't low enough then I get to walk my bike up the hill. I haven't had to do that so far.

    I hope that helps.

    ~Jamie N
    www.bicycletouring101.com
    I understand, but my primary concern is what is the standard low end GI/gear needed in real life. I don't really care if loaded or not loaded. I'm looking for some type of bell curve. From the responses, it looks like I should have rescaled starting at 17gi instead of 20gi.

    Very interesting site on bike touring. Not time to read all of it now, but have enjoyed so far. thanks for the link.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  13. #13
    Senior Member jnoble123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    I understand, but my primary concern is what is the standard low end GI/gear needed in real life. I don't really care if loaded or not loaded. I'm looking for some type of bell curve. From the responses, it looks like I should have rescaled starting at 17gi instead of 20gi.

    Very interesting site on bike touring. Not time to read all of it now, but have enjoyed so far. thanks for the link.
    The bell curve is hard to be meaningful because there are so many different places to bike. Let's take my three cycling commute routes as an example. So here I'm talking about a completely unloaded bike with no load except the rider.

    If I ride my offroad path I can certainly get by with either my touring bike, my icebike or my mountain bike. All three work and they all have different gearing. What is common is that for all three there is a need for a low gear for one particular muddy hill.

    If I ride the multi-use paved trail then I ride in my third ring in the highest gear all the way into work. In fact I could easily go for a few higher gears.

    On the road riding I tend to be somewhere in between the two since there's more stopping and starting required.

    All three routes are in the same city.

    If I look at the Round Lake Erie and Huron tours then I also have to look at what I would recommend for them. Erie is largely flat so higher gears are definately possible. With Huron there are more hills to contend with as you reach the top of the lower penisula, the upper penisula and of course the north side of the lake in Canada. Lower gears then used on Erie prove to be useful.

    Of even more importance then loaded versus not loaded is the actual terrain of where you are. A place with hillier terrain or lots of headwinds would benefit from lower gearing then a place where it's typically flat and calm all the time.

    In practical terms a lot of variability can be achieved with changes to the rear cassette as well as the front crank that don't necessarily require changing the entire drive train.

    ~Jamie N

  14. #14
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnoble123
    In practical terms a lot of variability can be achieved with changes to the rear cassette as well as the front crank that don't necessarily require changing the entire drive train.
    ~Jamie N
    I was tracking with you until the last sentence. Changing the entire drive train, I don't really know what that means. All I have looked at so far is either replacing chainrings or cassettes. I figure I am too inexperienced to consider adjusting length of crank arm.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  15. #15
    aspiring wannabe hoogie's Avatar
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    22 x 32 is my lowest gear [about 18 gear inches being on a 26" wheel]... don't use it that often, but handy to have!
    thought for today: "Does my ass look fast on this bike?"

  16. #16
    aspiring wannabe hoogie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnoble123
    I've debated going down to 20 X 34 using a jumpstop device to allow me to use an even smaller granny.

    ~Jamie N
    www.bicycletouring101.com
    Hey Jamie, If you go that low, you would fall off, or at least wobble badly as you bike along ...
    thought for today: "Does my ass look fast on this bike?"

  17. #17
    Ready to go anywhere Csson's Avatar
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    Except for the past two yearsmy lowest gear has been a 28x28 (due to a short notice replacement I have used a 22 teeth chainring since spring 2003). I am going back to a 28 teether (27gi) next year. Most of my tours have been with four panniers (max. weight 25kg), but this year I did a weeklong tour in Norway with only two panniers. To me, 22x28 was too low, but I guess I could use a 28x32 though with a 7-speed cog I'm not prepared to give up the high gears (which is also one of the reasons to replace the 42 teeth big ring with a 48). I only have one bike, so the gears is a compromise between the needs of fully loaded touring and non-loaded day rides.

    The terrain I have toured (fully loaded) in vary between flats and the Alps (e.g. Mont Ventoux and Col du Galibier).

    /Csson
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
    I took the one less travelled by,
    And that has made all the difference.
    (R. Frost)

  18. #18
    Senior Member jnoble123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    I was tracking with you until the last sentence. Changing the entire drive train, I don't really know what that means. All I have looked at so far is either replacing chainrings or cassettes. I figure I am too inexperienced to consider adjusting length of crank arm.
    Oops! Sorry about that!

    When I mentioned the crank I was referring to the chainrings and not the crank arm.

    My apologies.

    ~Jamie N
    www.bicycletouring101.com

  19. #19
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Csson
    I am going back to a 28 teether (27gi) next year. To me, 22x28 was too low,
    ok, thanks. 27gi ok, 21gi too low. great.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  20. #20
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Ok jamie, now it makes sense.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  21. #21
    Senior Member jnoble123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    ok, thanks. 27gi ok, 21gi too low. great.


    It can be frustrating can't it? Ideal gearing like so many things is very much a personal choice. Low gearing seems to work best for the majority of people but it's certainly not a defined standard or something like that.

    The problem is that it's often much cheaper to start out with the desired gearing then it is to gradually change things to discover your optimal choices (speaking from personal experience here).

    If I have to make a choice I would go with low gearing to start and gradually go bigger if I found that I didn't have enough low gears. Then again having high gears and experiencing the joy of pushing your bike up a hill while walking could be an excellent motivator for change!

    ~Jamie N

  22. #22
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    As Jamie indicated, gearing is such a personal choice. There are so many variables that affect what works and what doesn't. I pretty much settled on my gearing choices by trial and error.
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  23. #23
    Ready to go anywhere Csson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    ok, thanks. 27gi ok, 21gi too low. great.
    Sorry . Like I said, it's all a compromise to me. When in doubt, get too low gears.

    /Csson
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
    I took the one less travelled by,
    And that has made all the difference.
    (R. Frost)

  24. #24
    Treking photojtn's Avatar
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    For me it's about cadence, I like to keep around 80-95 rpm's most of the time. I use 42:24 (47.13 gi) or about 12.62 mph @ 90. I have not had any problems in the mountains (Loaded touring) with 25.25 gi. for the granny.
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  25. #25
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    I've had an injury for 2 years that has kept me off the bike almost completely, so my road bike went down to a compact double 50/34 and 11/32 cassette. My mountain bike is my "beater" and has 26" wheels with 48/38/28 and 14/28 freewheel. I ride them with no, no, load, and try to generate zero watts. It's still not low enough to prevent occasional pain. Give me that Bruce Gordon 44/32/22 and 11/32 cassette

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