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What Sort of Gearing Works Best for your Needs?

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What Sort of Gearing Works Best for your Needs?

Old 11-24-20, 09:45 AM
  #26  
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1. Look at a map of the US. Thatís the terrain I ride. I ride mostly in the mountain west but Iíve ridden everywhere but Florida and Alaska
2. Mountain and road.
3. See 1 above. I have mountains to the west and plains to the east of where I live. But for butt kicking hills, go to the eastern US.
4. 785%, 760%, 714%, 691%, 550% and 424%. I use them often
5. The 424% to something more useful

- See number 1 above.
- Touring, mountain (3), cruiser and fast road bike.
- See number 1 above.
- From no. 4 above in order:
-Touring, 46/34/20, 11-36 9 speed
-Mountain bikes 44/34/20 11-36 10 speed
- Cruiser(ish) bike 44/34/22 11-34 9 speed
- Commuter (cyclocross really) 48/34/22 11-34 9 speed
- Fast road 50/39/30 11-28 10 speed

Iíve spent decades getting the gearing I want. I wouldnít change anything now and I deal with old equipment (I have a huge inventory of 9 speed parts) because the current fad is just dumb in my opinion. It stems from people not knowing how to adjust their bikes and not knowing anything about gearing. And that includes the manufacturers.
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Old 11-24-20, 10:29 AM
  #27  
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1. mountain bike trails: mix of relatively flat, hardpack trails but lots of short, punchy climbs, nasty exposed limestone, sometimes ledgy with scree-strewn slopes. I can ride it all on the same bike.
"gravel" terrain: above mentioned hardpack trails, suburban roads, crushed granite trails, rural dirt roads when I get out of town.

2. mountain bike: steel hardtail with 29" tires and a 120mm suspension fork. fairly heavy but durable.
gravel bike: steel frame and carbon fork, drop bar, disc brakes, 650b 47mm tubeless tires
3. rolling hills on the road, punchy climbs on the trails
4. mtb: 30/20 single speed. this is just a bit low, but with the track ends, this allows me to push my axle almost all the way forward because I prefer a short rear-center. ideal gear would be 33/21 but odd-tooth count sized rings are not common for my crankset. I can make it work but I've not bothered with it. the low gear is a bit spinny on the flats but my goal is to make the punchy, technical climbs with only one gear choice.
gravel: 42/18 singlespeed with a eccentric bottom bracket. I had it at 42/17 and that was starting to get a bit rough on the knees. I am not crit racing on this bike, just exploring and this gear is just right for pushing a nice pace on flat roads but does not stop me from climbing long, steep roads. if you look up "Tour Das Hugel" you can see the range of road climbs where I life.

5. I've got these where I want them for now. having a few cogs in my parts bin allows me to change them as needed.
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Old 11-24-20, 10:58 AM
  #28  
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https://www.bikecalc.com/gear_speed
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Old 11-24-20, 11:02 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by subgrade View Post
1. Pavement, gravel, dirt, forest fire roads and trails, beach. That includes some mud, some loose sand, snow, pretty much anything except rocky surfaces which are very rare around here.
2. Hybrid with front suspension (dual sport type).
3. Mostly flat, longer climbs are rare, but there are some short and steep ones.
4. 44/32/22 front, 11-32 9s rear. I could do without the lowest gears; the high end is about right.
5. A subcompact double (46/30) on the front would probably make sense, but I don't care enough to replace my current XT crankset, which, while an older model, is still really nice. The couple hundred of grams of possible weight saving means nothing to me. I might get an 11-28 cassette though.


Nothing unique about that gear spacing, that's a typical hybrid/trekking triple crankset. Other common verison is 48/36/26. Shimano still produce them at all price levels from Tourney up to XT.
What sort of fork you got up front? Those suntour forks are heavy and in my opinion, not worth the suspension compared to the added speed and agility of a suspension corrected rigid fork.

that could help you take advantage of your gearing.

I think your current ratios do work well for your needs. A 34 tooth cassette paired with that type of front chainring doesn't make sense for me because very nearly never shifted down to 22 up front. Or past 24t in the rear cassette.

I will actually be trying out the mountain LX Biopace crankset versus my current road crank. I use 52t alot, but sometimes could use something less than 40 up front.
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Old 11-24-20, 11:14 AM
  #30  
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I could do all of the riding I need to, from sport road riding to touring in the mountains, with a 42-28 on the front and an 11-40 out back. The only place that kind of gearing wouldn't serve most riders well would be really fast road riding in the mountains/hills. Spinning at cadence of 110 (which is not at all difficult) will put you at about 33 MPH.
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Old 11-24-20, 11:23 AM
  #31  
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I commute in a hilly Colorado city. The wider the spread, the better. You can't have too low a gear, or too high. My old road bike is 2x6 which works okay. My new commuter is 2x8 which works better with more intermediate ratios available. But my old drop-bar mountain bike is 3x7 with a crazy wide spread and plenty of choices in between, and that one still works best, although I sometimes spend too much time hinting for the right gear.
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Old 11-24-20, 12:32 PM
  #32  
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the gearing doesn't adjust to you, you adjust to the gearing!
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Old 11-24-20, 12:59 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Flip Flop Rider View Post
the gearing doesn't adjust to you, you adjust to the gearing!
To a point that's true, if one is younger and healthy. Having a wider selection of climbing gears keeps me on the bike longer with arthritic knees.
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Old 11-24-20, 01:32 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Reflector Guy View Post
50/34 and 11-32.....It's not hilly here at all so most of my favorite combinations are geared for speed, not for climbing.
I currently have the same gearing on my Spec Roubaix, and I have lots of hills/canyons here in the Denver foothills, that I eventually make it up.

My sore knees are starting to ask for a 34 on the rear though, which I believe is the maximum that my long cage RD can handle.
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Old 11-24-20, 02:24 PM
  #35  
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Road 50/34 11/34 11-sp cassette

I ride hilly terrain. A typical ride includes several hills that are 3-5 miles long with 8 to 16% grades. I really like having the 34/34 lower gear when the grade gets above 10%
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Old 11-24-20, 02:55 PM
  #36  
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I live near the top of a hill so every route involves some fairly steep (but short) climbing. I managed with a 50/34t x 14-28 but felt I could have done with an easier gearing so went to 48/32t x 11-34 (gravel) which was much easier. I've also got a mountain bike with 32/22t x 11-34 but don't spend much time in the 22t unless I'm doing a lot of offroad climbing.
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Old 11-24-20, 05:46 PM
  #37  
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Could anyone benefit from having an 11t cog as the final gear?

What are your opinions on 11 12 vs 14?
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Old 11-24-20, 06:08 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Could anyone benefit from having an 11t cog as the final gear?

What are your opinions on 11 12 vs 14?
Please see my post #19.

I very much doubt that your 52-14 gear is limiting your top speed, unless you are steadily riding at pro-tour speeds for long distances.
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Old 11-24-20, 06:21 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Please see my post #19.

I very much doubt that your 52-14 gear is limiting your top speed, unless you are steadily riding at pro-tour speeds for long distances.
Limiting top speed? Maybe on the very steepest of hills.

I typically find myself cruising in top or nearly the top gear ratio under a variety of different conditions.

Will typically aim for 60-70 RPM for my cadence.

is 14 better in any way?
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Old 11-24-20, 06:23 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Mulberry20 View Post
Road, 53/39, 12/25 10 speed cassette no complaints
Stud!
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Old 11-24-20, 06:29 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Could anyone benefit from having an 11t cog as the final gear?

What are your opinions on 11 12 vs 14?
ME! I would benefit because I'm a masher. I currently have 52/42 against a 13/28 and am really envious of those guys with 53/39 against a 11/34 cassette. Right now I really struggle up 13% grades and find myself always in 52/28 and searching for an overdrive gear on flats and super frustrated coming down those long tall grades because I can't seem to pedal that fast. I am working on my cadence and I think I've gone from averaging 60 to around 70, but anything more really winds me fast. I got the strength in the legs but I just ain't got the air in the lungs at (almost 71 years) I had a 12T on the rear for a while last summer that a friend loaned me and I really miss that extra step. At least I know what my next bike will have for gearing haha.
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Old 11-24-20, 07:15 PM
  #42  
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How many gears would you guys say is optimal?

2 or 3 up front?

7 or 8 in the rear?

Any benefit from more than 8 in the rear? Less than 7?

On my mountain bike (22/32/44, 11/34t) 3x9 the front chainrings just don't work that well for pavement. Even on gravel and most single track, I feel like I have way too much climbing gears than I will ever need.

A 11-34 cassette would work so much better for my needs and I'd find myself using the lowest 3 gears far more often with different chainrings up front.
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Old 11-24-20, 07:55 PM
  #43  
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I have 3 up front on my MTB that used to be 42/32/22 with 11/32 8spd in back. I changed it up to a 48/38/28 a couple of years ago because I like the taller gears and on most trails that I was riding the lower gears were always more than sufficient. I also used to ride up to 15 miles on pavement to reach some of those trails. Now I hardly ever ride the MTB because the trails have gotten farther away. 2 up front is good on a roady with 6 in the rear if you have the right 6 ( I don't). A 2 by 8 sounds good to me.
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Old 11-24-20, 08:10 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Limiting top speed? Maybe on the very steepest of hills.

I typically find myself cruising in top or nearly the top gear ratio under a variety of different conditions.

Will typically aim for 60-70 RPM for my cadence.

is 14 better in any way?
60-70 rpm is an inefficiently low cadence.

Stop worrying about your gearing and work up to a higher cadence. When you find yourself rarely in the 52-14 gear on the flats, you will be making progress.
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Old 11-24-20, 10:08 PM
  #45  
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Bianchi Infinito CV road bike
flats and hills in Los Angeles
50/34, big ring 98% of the time
11-34, bike came 11-28 and had the shop switch to 11-34
mostly in 14-18 gear range
cadence north of 80
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Old 11-24-20, 10:32 PM
  #46  
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ONLY IGHs on Roadsters for me. I'm totally done with crazy deFaileurs.
== 526% range Rohloff14 = 20.8 to 109.8 GI now, 44/16T. Has been 48T and 46T > 21.8 to 114.6 GI, as was on my last tour with my 120 lb loaded bike.
== 256%, SA XL RD5w is 46 to 117.6 GI. Slow uphill as is of course, but fast all else. Goes 45 to 46 mph with ease on a not that steep hill. Also used on my tour heavyweight at 73+ lbs. I did a PB 133.66 mile ride this year, like this.
== 186%, SA X-RD3 650B on my old CCM. 47.2 / 62.9 / 83.9. Does just fine city or highway, 10% slower mostly. I did the hilliest ride here out west, it did surprisingly almost as well. That was a 85.5 mile ride. It is only 42 + 10 lbs, so that helps.
I have no use for gravel, MTBs or weigh nothing/ carry nothing bikes. LOL

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Old 11-24-20, 10:55 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
How many gears would you guys say is optimal?

2 or 3 up front?

7 or 8 in the rear?

Any benefit from more than 8 in the rear? Less than 7?

On my mountain bike (22/32/44, 11/34t) 3x9 the front chainrings just don't work that well for pavement. Even on gravel and most single track, I feel like I have way too much climbing gears than I will ever need.

A 11-34 cassette would work so much better for my needs and I'd find myself using the lowest 3 gears far more often with different chainrings up front.
Spinning is about coordination. It also moves the load from your various types of muscle fibers to your much more resiliant & capable cardiovascular system.

Mashing at 60 or 70 rpm is all grunt strength. That is fine, you need that, it's useful for sprints & such but you will enjoy much less fatigue & much more endurance by utilizing a higher cadence...Go to a gym. Observe the leg press. How many people leg press for an hour? Now go observe the treadmill area. How long are the treadmill people engaged? Cruising along in a 52/14 is the leg press in this scenario.

My bikes range from 52-36 in front mated to an 11-28 in the rear, at one extreme on my carbon wonder-bike all the way to my drop bar converted XTR/Schlumpf Speed-Drive equipped gravel/mountain/war-bike with 27/44(& a half) in front with an 11/46 in back at the other extreme.

I use all the gears of all my bikes. It's a matter of the right bike with the right gears for the job.

Start doing 5 hour century rides (6 hours elapsed time) & see how you do. My guess is you won't do it in a 52/14 unless you are a genetically gifted prodigy.

It's not the number of gears that matter, it's the range of gears. Somebody already posted a link to a gear calculator. Play around with it a bit. You'll get a feel for the range you need for the terrain you ride. That, more than anything ought to determine the range you should have.

Most people have an "ah-ha!" moment the first time they switch to an easier gear (larger cog in back) & their speed increases & they feel better doing it. You haven't got there yet, but you will.

Welcome to cycling!

Last edited by base2; 11-24-20 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 11-25-20, 03:02 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Most people have an "ah-ha!" moment the first time they switch to an easier gear (larger cog in back) & their speed increases & they feel better doing it. You haven't got there yet, but you will
I get this feeling when I shift up a gear, not down.

My inseam is about 34.5 inches which may have something to do with it. I feel most efficient in slightly too high of a gear If anything.

I've been cycling long enough to get an idea of which cadence in proportion to gear works best for my needs. I don't feel smooth or efficient spinning at (what is for me) too high of a cadence. While that is a subjective observation, keep in mind that my bike came with 165mm crank arms (I am now using 170 on one side, 175 on the other until I can get a matching set at the local bike hub but the difference is fairly marginal)

Whenever I go up in crank length, i feel like it fits my inseam better and that i can crank out more power at a lazier cadence. I basically have to compensate by using a higher gear since these cranks im dealing with are a bit small for me.

While I haven't calculated my actual cadence (im just guessing here) I feel like I am simply bouncing around in the saddle and quite literally wasting energy until I snatch the next gear (which will usually be 52/14 unless I am approaching a grade, or a relatively inhibiting crosswind.

whenever I do upshift, I immediately increase my cycling cadence back up to the speed I was just at in the previous gear which obviously increases my speed in proportion. But I feel more efficient, not less.

I think now whats left for me to do, is to play around with the cadences more to get a better idea. Keep in mind that I am using biopace chainrings which are actually rather strict with helping you maintain a specific cadence (i find that not too high or low works best for me) and really making the most out of the powerful part of each stroke.

Another think I must mention, is that I'm a bit of bodybuilding grunt (220lb, sub 15% body fat) and not a super serious road biker which maintains insane cadences. I cycle (quite a lot) to keep my cardiovascular health up and commute (extremely efficiently)

Last edited by Moisture; 11-25-20 at 03:06 AM.
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Old 11-25-20, 03:48 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
What sort of fork you got up front? Those suntour forks are heavy and in my opinion, not worth the suspension compared to the added speed and agility of a suspension corrected rigid fork.
Suntour NCX, H-LO. I like it allright, it works fine over moderately rough terrain which I ride often enough. It's a fair amount lighter and better performing than the bottom range NEX forks, but obviously still not as good as some more expensive forks. It will need to be replaced at some point in the future, but I'm not sure yet if I'll go with a better suspension fork or a rigid one. It's likely that this choice will be made based upon if I have another bike at that point and if I have, what type of bike that will be (XC or gravel are likely). But that's off topic.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
that could help you take advantage of your gearing.
No, it could not, in any way. Handling and gearing aren't related. To take advantage of my gearing, whatever should it be, I have either to ride appropriate terrain and/or have appropriate fitness, that's it.
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Old 11-25-20, 04:00 AM
  #50  
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Regarding the optimal cadence, it varies wildly between individuals, there's no "one size fits all". What's more, there's even no single optimal cadence for any given individual.


Last edited by subgrade; 11-25-20 at 07:06 AM.
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