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How often do you use the big chainring?

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How often do you use the big chainring?

Old 10-05-22, 06:30 AM
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My normal rides around the valley are always in the big ring. I only shift the front down on my climbing rides up the mountains.

So, 95% or more of my riding is done in the big ring. Not that it really matters. I'll ride whatever I need to get things done.
Steel is real...and comfy.
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Old 10-05-22, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by AdventureManCO View Post
Be honest. How much do you use it? How useful is it? Mainly the doubles where the large chainring is 50+ teeth.

I've started looking at pictures of people riding their vintage bikes and the chain is on the smaller chainring 95%+ of the time. I hardly ever use it and am probably just going to remove it off all my cranksets.
Never - I switched to a 1x setup several years ago and have never looked back
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Old 10-05-22, 06:59 AM
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I guess I must be fitter than I thought I'm blessed with a mostly smooth rail trail near my house and when it's quiet there, I'm in 52x19 a lot, 72 gear inches. 17 cog/80 inches when I'm pushing myself, but I can't keep that up for long.

Of course, our OP is in Colorado. I imagine I'd be struggling to get anywhere with a 52/42 setup.
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Old 10-05-22, 07:06 AM
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The OP is probably surprised at the way this thread has gone. Most have reported using the big ring most of the time.
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Old 10-05-22, 07:14 AM
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every ride for somewhere between 15-50% of the miles.
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Old 10-05-22, 07:28 AM
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Unless I'm climbing or going into a stiff headwind I'm in the big ring, 52 or 53. I tend to favor a cadence of around one hundred. My cassettes generally start with 13 or 14 and end somewhere around 27 or 28, 32 on one of them. If I was stuck with a 12-23 cassette and a 39/53 double I'd be in the small ring more.
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Old 10-05-22, 07:29 AM
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I have a bad hip that forces me to often only pedal one legged, so my preferences are for easy gears to get around my somewhat hilly neighborhood. Most of my vintage bikes have 46/30 chainrings with 28-32t freewheels. I have one vintage 52/42/30 tourer and I'm surprised that I do actually get into the 52 on occasion (almost always in a tailwind situation. I"ll aero-tuck on anything downhill). I don't seem to ride any of my modern bikes anymore, but one is a full-size triple with a 11-36 cassette and the other a 44/28 and 11-32t. I don't always need to get into the small chainring, but when lefty acts up it usually helps to spin faster until the sharp pain becomes a dull burning.
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Old 10-05-22, 09:25 AM
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As the discussion broadens into gear-inches, ranges, etc, etc, it's worth posting a link to this nifty gear calculator.
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Old 10-05-22, 09:30 AM
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This is a silly question since the answer depends on how many teeth the rings have, what the rear cog range is, whether you live in a hilly area or not, and what your gearing pattern is (half step, crossover, wide range triple, etc.
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Old 10-05-22, 09:31 AM
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I run 46/34 chainrings with 11-32, 10 speed cassette. I am in the big ring most of the time unless I am climbing.
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Old 10-05-22, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Vintage Schwinn View Post
You should look at the BIG CHAINRING in context, combined with some selection from the rear................
If someone tells you that you have enough bicycles and you don't need any more, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
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Old 10-05-22, 10:16 AM
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I recently picked up a new (to me) Colnago with a triple ring crankset and 8 speed cassette. I find it most comfortable (in flat Florida) to keep the front in the middle chain ring and that puts me in a comfortable riding speed (18-20mph) at about the middle cogs in the rear (so the chain is basically straight). If I move to the larger ring I start leaning towards the bottom half of the cassette (cross chain) and if I use the smallest chain ring I lean towards the top end of the cassette (again, cross chain) unless I am going down or up a significant grade. So for flat ground I try to just keep the chain as straight as possible and maintain an average speed as close to 20mph as I can (I am the limiting factor on speed, not the bike or gears). I do this mostly because it keeps the chain straight, which I've been told is ideal, gives me a comfortable cadence, and good speed with lots of room to move up/down the cassette before I'm crossing or having to switch chain rings.
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Old 10-05-22, 10:59 AM
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I live in the flatlands, so I use whichever ring gets me around 65 gear inches, plus or minus for the wind conditions. Sometimes it is the big ring, sometimes it's not. With a 14-28 freewheel, there is a lot of overlap between the inner and outer rings, so it is more of a psychological thing to always be in the big ring. On my newer bike with a 50-34 rings, I tend to be in the big ring once I am up to speed.
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Old 10-05-22, 10:59 AM
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I change my chainrings to make my bike suit me. I don't like combos I know I won't use so I go half step and granny and a 5-6 speed freewheel. Usually the half step is in the 42-46 range. So yes, I use my big ring a lot, but it's not that big.
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Old 10-05-22, 11:09 AM
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Almost never. And on average I only use about half of my rear cogs too (usually 6 or 7 speed clusters). But that said, when the rare occasion comes up that I need the big chainring or any of the lesser used rear cogs, I'd be pretty bummed if they weren't available to me in the moment.
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Old 10-05-22, 11:20 AM
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When starting out with a 52-42t and a 14-28 freewheel, once I realized my knees wouldn't take the abuse of mashing, I was about 20/80 big/small.

When I went to 48-36t the ratio flipped.

I'm going to try 48-34T next, which may get me using the small ring more, as there are less overlapping combinations.
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Old 10-05-22, 11:25 AM
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I like riding hills but the hills aren't too big in central IA. I've gravitated towards 48/36 rings with a 14-28 freewheel as I can spin all the gears and climb the local hills. The answer depends a lot on where you ride and fitness.
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Old 10-05-22, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
I'm usually in whatever gives me around-abouts ~70-76 gear inches. About 19-21mph. So, I'm in the 50 tooth about 95% of the time. As far as cogs that means mostly 18,19,20,21,23-ish cog based on terrain & if I feel I want to mash or spin.
90rpm cadence at 50x18 and 28mm tires gets you 20.5mph. Thats a darn solid cadence to maintain for a ride.
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Old 10-05-22, 12:00 PM
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My biggest big ring is 42 so I use it most of the time.

I like 1x on bikes that get ridden in all weather conditions but most vintage bikes would look silly as a 1x unless you put a chain guard in the outside position
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Old 10-05-22, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by AdventureManCO View Post
I've started looking at pictures of people riding their vintage bikes and the chain is on the smaller chainring 95%+ of the time. I hardly ever use it and am probably just going to remove it off all my cranksets.
After reading this, most English language speakers would assume you are pondering removal of the small chainring from your bikes.
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Old 10-05-22, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by AdventureManCO View Post
Be honest. How much do you use it? How useful is it? Mainly the doubles where the large chainring is 50+ teeth.
You sound skeptical that the big ring is useful.

It's mostly flat where I am, so the 53 big ring (39 small) is definitely used and is useful. Coupled with a 12-23 cluster, and it makes for a pretty good workout.

Of course, my bike is a racing bike--not a sport tourer, hybrid or mountain bike. It would look equally silly with either a 1X or a triple.
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Old 10-05-22, 01:08 PM
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I use the big ring 95% of the time, except some hills. But I try to avoid steep hills anyway (dodgy knees).

52/42 on the front, 13-28 Sunrace 7 speed freewheel on the back.
There's a lot of overlap on the gears but it's an old large BCD so the smallest I could fit is 41 I think.
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Old 10-05-22, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
90rpm cadence at 50x18 and 28mm tires gets you 20.5mph. Thats a darn solid cadence to maintain for a ride.
That is what I geared my single speed at. There's a darn good reason I feel I got my a** handed to me every time I ride it. I picked that combination by being informed by the gears most frequently used on my other bikes.

It all averages out. If I don't have it for the flats or slight downs, I feel I'm missing something. But, oh man! Do I start burning matches for anything steeper than 6%!

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Old 10-05-22, 02:09 PM
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I have several regular riders, with different big rings. One has a compact crank with a 48t big ring that I use probably 60-70% of the time. One has a sub-compact 46t that I use even more. One is a 70s colnago super that I'm keeping original 53/42. That one I use the small ring more, but I don't ride that bike on long rides. My Mclean semi-touring bike has a campy triple on it, and I use the 46t middle ring most of the time. I'm thinking about changing it to a "compact" triple, with a 46 big, 44 middle, and 32 small.

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Old 10-05-22, 03:01 PM
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