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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 12-04-07, 05:01 PM   #1
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Winter gear ratio...

OK, so what would be the best gear ratio
for SINGLE SPEED mountain bike COMMUTING
in winter(snow,slush,ice).
I'm building a winter beater.
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Old 12-04-07, 09:58 PM   #2
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Ha, Ha, ha... Oh wait, you're serious?
(Sorry, it's finals and I'm a little punchy.)
That depends on a few things: what gear you ride in the summer; whether you ride only on clear roads, or in the car snot and crunchies; what the wind is like; how much extra clothing you wear; how much bigger and lower pressured are your tires....

All that said, I rode my track bike with about 80" during the summer, and my winter beater with 68"-70" and frequently found myself working harder on the beater when the wind came up. Could've been the boots and 5 pounds of lights though.
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Old 12-05-07, 07:58 AM   #3
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i'm running 46x18 on my singlespeed mtb with studs now... its an old aliminum frame and the bike weighs in at roughly 25lbs..
there are no hills where i live... when its pretty clear it runs nice....
but when the wind picks up, or after a heavy snowfall it can be a steep push... not immpossible, but harder...
i will likely switch to a lower gear...

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Old 12-05-07, 09:25 PM   #4
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I ran 45 gear inches last winter. That was good for heavy snow falls on previously cleared roads. It was too high for paths with accumulation after peds walked on them. It was too low for ice and pavement: way too low.

This year I'm running 60 gear inches and it has been quite good as long as I stick to the roads: even with accumulation.

I'm in London, Ont; we get snow but it gets cleared relatively fast.

To be honest, now I'm building a 3 speed to gain some flexibility.
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Old 12-06-07, 10:33 AM   #5
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It's not exactly the same as your set up, but for comparison: on my Cross Check I run roughly 71 inches in the spring/summer/fall on 700c - 25mm slicks. (42 x16) 62 inches in winter on studded tires Nokian 106 35mm. (39x17) I have minimal hills.
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Old 12-06-07, 01:56 PM   #6
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I have a couple of hills on my commute. My normal SS gear is 74" [48x17 on 700x23C] on my converted mtn bike. Now that I have studded tires on, I am effectively at 77". Yes, I was too lazy to change my gearing.
Advantages - I'm only a little slower than I was on slicks, mostly because I can't spin the heavier tires quite as fast. Torque is reduced dramatically, so I don't lose traction on climbs.
Disadvantages - At some point I'll do the Walk of Shame, because I won't be able to push that gear through 6" of wet snow.

Last year, I rode a different mtn bike all winter with 26x2.1" studded tires. The gear was a 42x16, so around 68". It got me through everything except for the heaviest snowfalls.
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Old 12-06-07, 10:55 PM   #7
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I am riding on fairly flat paths, on ice, snow or slush, with my slick little road tyres and a gear ratio (fixed gear) of 48 to 16. I find it great, I seem to be sticking very well to the ice, and still pushing through in deeper snow of a few inches. Of course the deep snow slows me down, but ice has of very little danger, though I must keep it mind. And with the nice control of fixed gear I am much more stable and can easily regain traction on the slippery roads. I used to ride with snow tires, and I feel little differnce in the response form slick road tyres.

The gear ratio is just right too. Plenty of push but an ability to maintain low speeds if nessesary.
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Old 12-08-07, 10:42 PM   #8
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Winter gear ratio...

Thanks for your ideas!!

Still looking for the right rig.

Will update when I'm up and cycling!
Take care!!
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Old 12-10-07, 12:02 PM   #9
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My experience...

I have a flat commute, ~10 miles each way with short steep climbs here and there.

In the summer I ride 42x15 on 700x28 (75 gear inches).

In the fall it seemed to be a little too tall so I switched to 42x16 on 700x28 (70 gear inches)

Today I rode my new Nokian W106 (700x35). These tires are *heavy* weighing about 1 kg more (total) than the 700x28 tires I had on. The route was a mix of clean pavement, ice, compacted snow and compacted snow/ice with footprints (~2" deep). 42x16 was pretty tall for this ride. I have a 39t ring laying about so I might try 39x16. With 700x35 that gives me 66 gear inches.

What you'll find comfortable in the winter will depend on what terrain you'll be riding on and other adjustments you make to the bike (tires, &c.). I wouldn't be surprised if one needed a 10+ gear inch drop for winter while riding the same summer route.

If you want to compare ratios check the link in my signature. Remember to change the tire size as it will affect the gear inch calculation...
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Old 12-14-07, 09:19 AM   #10
Teemu Kalvas
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The backup of the backup of the normal backup of my normal winter bike is fixed-geared at 47/22. It's pretty low, but it's usable in pretty much any sort of weather and road condition.
The circumstances leading to my use of that bike are usually pretty horrible, anyway. The gear feels spot on in slush halfway up to the hubs.
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