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Thread: snow gearing

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    snow gearing

    what is a good ratio for riding in the snow?Right now I'm 36 19 and having a ***** of a time.I am running 2.35 tires low pressure and still dont feel like I can float.

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    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    I like runing a block in the summer (12-19 cog 8-speed). This works well with my front triple 42-32-22. I am kinda picky about finding the best feel for pedeling.

    This doesn't have enough power in the winter, so I made a winter cassette which is 13-21-23-26-28-30-32-34. I can power through the worst of the car snot, or still run 15 mph+ when the muni actually polishes the ice on the roads/trails. Best of all, I still have the close-ratio gearing I prefer. I would like to find a way to replace the 13 cog with a 17 or 19, but all I can do is get a 9-speed free-hub and block out the low gear (winding up with 8-speeds), or just live have 7-effective gears plus a really fast one.
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    From bnelson's question, I assume he rides a fixed gear or single-speed bike.

    I ride a fixed gear ice bike during the winter, with Nokian 294's, which come out to 700X56c.

    I have a 33t chainring and a 17t cog.

    Try plugging those numbers into the applet on the following link:

    http://software.bareknucklebrigade.c...it.applet.html

    My riding combination of gears and tires gives me 56.5 gear inches.

    Gear inches refers to the effort required to pedal a big wheel of whatever diameter; and, in this case, imagine a big wheel with a 56.5" diameter.

    For those not used to thinking in terms of gear inches, think of 56.5 gear inches as one third up from your lowest gear, and two thirds down from your highest gear.

    At 56.5 gear inches, I can pedal 15.1mph at 90rpm.

    At 56.5 gear inches, I can do all the hills I normally do in good weather with non-studded tires, except now in the snow and ice, against a stiff wind.

    As for "floating," I don't know what that means, because even my fat 294's cut through the snow to solid ice, packed snow, or pavement.

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    Senior Member jimisnowhere's Avatar
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    At 56 inches on a fixed gear you probably don't get going fast enough to float. Its hydro planing on snow. Plus you don't always want lotsa floatation.
    I can ride the solarcycle with no hands.

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    Based on the decently wide tires being run I'd guess the OP is riding on a semi-packed surface and trying to use a wider tire to float (and decrease resistance) as most off-road winter riders do. But without specifics it's pretty hard to prescribe anything.

    Does the OP have any pics of his conditions?



    Mine yesterday.

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    that pic is almost exactly what we have,or should I say had,We have a heat wave 55 degrees and snow goes away

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    On my geared snow bike I find myself running a gear slightly higher then 1:1. Maybe try a 24:22.

    I really think that winter conditions are just way too variable to handle with just one gear.

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    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    ^^^agreed^^^

    I normally run fixed in the summer, but have too many different conditions in the winter from dry to sheet-ice to snow to packed snow to car snot. Pretty much need different gearing for all of them.
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    I ride fixed for the control.

    I have a front and rear cantilever brake, but I don't want to use them, and rarely do.

    I ride in icing conditions, and, for the previous three years rode a geared hybrid with Nokian 106's and then240's.

    My brakes would freeze, my derailleurs would freeze, and my shifters would freeze (I spent a small fortune at my lbs trying to find solutions).

    On more than one occasion, I found myself stuck in one gear, and not a gear I would have chosen.

    So, I got the idea then, if I could only have one gear, I should choose one that would work for me in all conditions.

    Since then I've discovered how much more safe I feel going downhill on rutted ice and snow with a fixed gear bike.
    If you don't ride fixed, you can't understand the degree of control one has on a fixed gear bike.

    Most importantly, though, two years ago I fell on my regular street bike when I used my front brake on a hill, and I broke four ribs and punctured/collapsed a lung.

    That experience so imprinted itself in my mind that if I could ride with no brakes at all, I would.

    I really only have brakes now in case I throw a chain, and I have chosen cantilever brakes purposely for their ineffectiveness, should I unconsciously use them.

    Today I rode fifteen miles, sometimes breaking trail in fresh 4" snow; sometimes riding in the frozen bikelane overspray chop from the cars; sometimes on packed snow and polished ice; and sometimes on bare pavement.
    I've never felt as safe and in control as I do now.

    I wish I'd known to do this three years ago.

    Going downhill and on the level, I probably don't go as fast as the typical geared winter bike.

    I don't care.

    I climb hills much easier on a fixed gear bike than on a geared bike, and I feel safe all the time.

    I put a lot of thought and study into this latest ice bike, and I didn't know if it work.
    I does, though.
    It works really well.

    I try to get other people to ride my bke, so they can feel the safety and security of it, but I think the fixed gear part intimidates them.

    What works for me might not work for folks who ride in a lot of fresh, deep snow.
    I don't know.
    I don't have a lot of experience in fresh, deep snow.
    Rarely do I break trail through fresh snow.

    I ride in ice, and more ice, and ice on top of ice.
    Rutted ice, chopped ice, grooved ice, clear ice...and packed and plowed snow.
    Oh, yes, and freezing rain and mixed rain and snow.

    Did I mention the ice?

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    I geared down to 48x18 for the winter. Obviously, there is some individual variation to this. Basically, if you find your gear too hard, get a lower one. If you're pedalling too fast, get a higher one.
    Bring the pain.

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Run the gear that works for you and the conditions you will be riding in.

    My good ratio for winter riding on the fixed gear mtb is 64 gear inches and we get winter with a capital W.. you are running 49 gear inches with a 36:19.


    I really think that winter conditions are just way too variable to handle with just one gear.


    Although I have gone through winters with monospeed bikes and had no problems I now have added a 3 speed to my stable of winter worthy bikes which also includes a cross bike (for dry fast weather) and the aforementioned fixed gear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
    I now have added a 3 speed to my stable of winter worthy bikes
    I have read that a modification to the Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub converts it into a two-speed fixed gear, and I would like to know more about this.

    On ice, and especially on steep downhills, having fixed gear control over the rear wheel, and the ability to stay off the brakes, gives me a tremendous sense of safety.

    I have an uncle who worked as a circuit preacher in the Western Canadian islands for 20 or more years, and he lived on a small boat for all that time.

    He said a person could design a boat for speed, appearance or comfort, but, if one found himself in the water because his boat sank, his priorities would change.
    He said safety represented the highest priority for him.

    I selected a fixed gear for this newest ice bike for safety, and especially with downhills in mind.
    If I lived in flat country with more snow than ice, I might make a different choice.

    I like the idea of internally-geared hubs.
    The owner of my lbs rode an internally-geared hub in an extremely cold environment, and he said they work well after one rides them a little ways and warms up the oil in the hub; and, that one should leave the hub in a good gear for initial riding until the oil warms up enough to allow shifting.

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I don't know how warm an internal gear can get when it's -17 C but don't have any problems since I use synthetic oil as a lubricant... these are older SA and Shimano hubs that require oil and I am sure there are synthetic equivalents for modern internal hubs that use thicker lubricants.

    Converting a 3 speed in to a 2 speed fixed gear is a very advanced conversion and I am holding out to see if SA releases a new model before tearing one apart and doing the needed work.

    My fixed gear mtb and my 3 speed mtb (both conversions) are built on identical frames and my educated guess on the the 3 speeds gearing (Shimano 333 hub) is that it has a range of 46, 61, and 76 gear inches and there are days when having a few gears is a nice thing.

    The performance of the newly built 3 speed this winter has been stellar.

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    Splicer of Molecules Nickel's Avatar
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    32x16 SS

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    Quote Originally Posted by bnelson View Post
    what is a good ratio for riding in the snow?Right now I'm 36 19 and having a ***** of a time.I am running 2.35 tires low pressure and still dont feel like I can float.
    36x19 is pretty high for snow. But the float doesn't come from the gearing. Riding in snow is a lot like riding sand. It's easy to get too heavy over the front end and plow under the snow. Try pushing further back off the rear of the saddle and lean back a little. You want to lighten the front...that's where your float comes from.

    And try spinning a little faster. A 36x24 wouldn't hurt, either.
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    32x20 on the SS mtn bike. That kind of gearing makes it pretty easy to go off-road, over hill and dale. I used to ride a 48x18 on the same bike for winter commuting, but have since switched to a 700C 48x17 [~75"] gear. The big wheel/gear works fine on flat fields with some hardpack or ice. The smaller wheel/gear does great on climbs and deeper snow. I've had it hub deep and still able to pedal, although our snow is typically very dry and light [champagne powder!].
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  17. #17
    Senior Member biknbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkrobe View Post
    32x20 on the SS mtn bike. That kind of gearing makes it pretty easy to go off-road, over hill and dale. I used to ride a 48x18 on the same bike for winter commuting, but have since switched to a 700C 48x17 [~75"] gear. The big wheel/gear works fine on flat fields with some hardpack or ice. The smaller wheel/gear does great on climbs and deeper snow. I've had it hub deep and still able to pedal, although our snow is typically very dry and light [champagne powder!].
    +1 on the 32:20, I assume by the mention of wide tires and floating over snow that we're talking off road here. That's what I'm running on my 26" this winter because the snow is dang tiring and even with no snow it's quite muddy. This is on hilly single track mind you. I'll go to 32:18 when the weather improves. Gearing depends on many things including your fitness, the weather, and the terrain, so only you know what gearing you need.

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