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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 11-25-20, 06:10 AM
  #51  
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50/34 11-34 covers most of the Road-Dirt riding around here. MTB 30 x 11-46 works nicely.
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Old 11-25-20, 07:20 AM
  #52  
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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.
if you’re just riding pavement and gravel tracks on your MTB, then, yeah, you’ll have a lot more climbing gears than you’re going to need.

I think you’re looking to hard at tooth counts, and number of rings and sprockets, that are really hard to apply for someone who isn’t you, riding a bike that’s not identical to yours, on the same route you’re riding.

First, the ‘best’ gearing will be different depending on who’s riding, and where they’re riding. An MTB would need wide range of low gears, while a TRI bike typically has a very tightly grouped cassette, optimized for extended time at high speed on flat courses.
A bike that covers a lot of varied terrain, like century rides, will have a wide spread of gears, from low to high, so that it can deal with everything from steep climbs to long fast stretches of open road.

As as far as comparing ‘gears’ from bike to bike, you’ll need to do a little math, to find a common denominator. Some people like gain ratios, but I prefer Gear Inches as it also takes into account wheel size, as well as chainring and sprockets, so ‘70’ gear inches feels the same regardless of what combination it takes to get there.
Put all your bikes into a gear calculator, so that you can see which gears you use most and where they compare to the overall range, and to the range of your other bike

The other factor, and it’s the big one, is that everyone’s physiology and skill set is different. One thing I’ve noticed, is that often times, new riders, who already have an established level of fitness, tend to ride under the impression that you have to push the highest gears, as hard as you can. I’m an ex-rower, and I keep up with my weight training, for work, so I’m a low-rpm, high effort rider, too. I found, that in training for, and taking part in longer rides, like centuries and multi-day events, that by riding 1-2 gears lower, and focusing on turning the cranks in circles, rather than just ‘pushing down’ I was able to keep the same ground speed, while lowering peak effort; which allowed me to go longer at that speed, before getting tired. It’s really obvious on long, shallow climbs.
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Old 11-25-20, 07:30 AM
  #53  
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Road distance, 49x46x34 with a 11x36 10 speed
Road quick rides, 48x45 wit a 12x36 9 speed
MTB, 48x36x28 with a 11x36 10 speed
Gravel & Road, 49 with 12x36 9 speed
29r BMX Single speed, 49 with 22
klunker any road SRAM 2 Speed, 46 with 22
Road SS 46 with 18
Market bike 52 with 22 SA 5 speed rear
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Old 11-25-20, 07:57 AM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by subgrade View Post
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.



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.
Have you ever tried switching from a suspension fork to a rigid fork? It makes you significantly faster in a straight line too, not just around turns.

When I tried doing that, I began using higher gears under the exact same circumstances, consistently .

That low end suntour fork is heavy crap and ultimately ruining most of the fun.

(Ask me how I know)

Last edited by Moisture; 11-25-20 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 11-25-20, 08:37 AM
  #55  
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@Ironfish653 said most of what I might have said in post #52.

I'd imagine as time goes on you will learn to use less muscle and more lung while riding ... maybe not. It is normal to start out using what you have at hand, but developing the capacity to ride a higher cadence smoothly and breathe better will help you go longer for a given amount of energy ... if that is something you want to do.

otherwise, what Ironfish653 said about individual bikes, riders, terrain, and conditions is the answer.
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Old 11-25-20, 08:48 AM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by subgrade View Post
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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6I1z7eyXOI
Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
@Ironfish653 said most of what I might have said in post #52.

I'd imagine as time goes on you will learn to use less muscle and more lung while riding ... maybe not. It is normal to start out using what you have at hand, but developing the capacity to ride a higher cadence smoothly and breathe better will help you go longer for a given amount of energy ... if that is something you want to do.

otherwise, what Ironfish653 said about individual bikes, riders, terrain, and conditions is the answer.
Please refer to the text I've quoted above.

Considering that there is no "set cadence" for everybody, it doesn't make any sense to be suggesting to somebody that they should try to increase theirs based on something which is proven to not work the same for everybody.

Plus, you don't know how much of my respiratory, cardiovascular or nervous system is being taxed when I ride because A) you've never seen me ride and B) you've never hooked up some sort of machine to monitor this when I do ride.

suggesting to somebody to change their cycling habits doesn't make any sense, considering that I think I have a good understanding with regards to what works best for me.
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Old 11-25-20, 08:52 AM
  #57  
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1. What sort of terrain do you ride on?
Mostly East Atlanta (Decatur to Stone Mountain).
​​​​​
2. What sort of bike is it?
'95 Trek 800 Sport MTB (rigid)

3. How hilly is the area you ride in
Wide variety. Flats to steeps.

4. Whats your current ratio spread and how does it suit your needs?
22/32/42 x 11-34; 9 spd
Gear Inches 17-99
Only spun out on the 42x11 once in 8 years. In my current terrain (almost exclusively road) I rarely use the granny gear, but am glad to have it about once a day.

5. How would you change it?
Two reasons I wouldn't: Evetually I want to tour on this. Loaded may need those lower GIs. My economy of space-time-money-inclination demands a single bike, so spending on replacing a functioning component is kept to a minimum.

Were I to need a new crankset, the temptations are two: 1. Go to a double, since I am a healthy 60 yrs, intend to stay near/where I am for at least 10 more years, and the granny is so under-used. Minimum GI 25 (on current 32/42). 2. Do a single up front. If keeping the 32 chainring, top GI of 76. Most of my utility and cruising is in 56 or 73 GIs. Almost everything is currently 42 to 73. On a single 32, I get 25 to 76 GIs.
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Old 11-25-20, 08:56 AM
  #58  
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High cadence (100 rpm and higher) cycling is great for developing a nice pedal stroke and improving the strength of your aerobic engine. Low cadence (50-60 rpm) cycling, against a big resistance, is great for developing muscular endurance and cycling-specific power.
This right here is all you need to know.

As a former personal trainer I find it safe to assume that everybody's genetics varies to a certain extent. To explain further, everybody has a different level of muscular strength versus cardiovascular endurance. While the two do correlate to a certain degree, it is clear that for some people, (like me) pedalling at a relatively low cadence (note, I'm not always pedaling below 70rpm) works best according to the efficiency as well as endurance of their nervous system.
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Old 11-25-20, 09:01 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by Digger Goreman View Post
1. What sort of terrain do you ride on?
Mostly East Atlanta (Decatur to Stone Mountain).
​​​​​
2. What sort of bike is it?
'95 Trek 800 Sport MTB (rigid)

3. How hilly is the area you ride in
Wide variety. Flats to steeps.

4. Whats your current ratio spread and how does it suit your needs?
22/32/42 x 11-34; 9 spd
Gear Inches 17-99
Only spun out on the 42x11 once in 8 years. In my current terrain (almost exclusively road) I rarely use the granny gear, but am glad to have it about once a day.

5. How would you change it?
Two reasons I wouldn't: Evetually I want to tour on this. Loaded may need those lower GIs. My economy of space-time-money-inclination demands a single bike, so spending on replacing a functioning component is kept to a minimum.

Were I to need a new crankset, the temptations are two: 1. Go to a double, since I am a healthy 60 yrs, intend to stay near/where I am for at least 10 more years, and the granny is so under-used. Minimum GI 25 (on current 32/42). 2. Do a single up front. If keeping the 32 chainring, top GI of 76. Most of my utility and cruising is in 56 or 73 GIs. Almost everything is currently 42 to 73. On a single 32, I get 25 to 76 GIs.
How often do you go below 32/26? Towards 22/34?
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Old 11-25-20, 09:19 AM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Please refer to the text I've quoted above.

Considering that there is no "set cadence" for everybody, it doesn't make any sense to be suggesting to somebody that they should try to increase theirs based on something which is proven to not work the same for everybody.

Plus, you don't know how much of my respiratory, cardiovascular or nervous system is being taxed when I ride because A) you've never seen me ride and B) you've never hooked up some sort of machine to monitor this when I do ride.

suggesting to somebody to change their cycling habits doesn't make any sense, considering that I think I have a good understanding with regards to what works best for me.
Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
This right here is all you need to know.

As a former personal trainer I find it safe to assume that everybody's genetics varies to a certain extent. To explain further, everybody has a different level of muscular strength versus cardiovascular endurance. While the two do correlate to a certain degree, it is clear that for some people, (like me) pedalling at a relatively low cadence (note, I'm not always pedaling below 70rpm) works best according to the efficiency as well as endurance of their nervous system.
I very much doubt that you are currently pedaling at an optimal cadence...But I have no vested interest in your performance, and you don't seem interested in learning from the more experienced cyclists on this forum. So, carry on.
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Old 11-25-20, 09:40 AM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Have you ever tried switching from a suspension fork to a rigid fork? It makes you significantly faster in a straight line too, not just around turns.
Based on the kind of terrain subgrade is riding, your advice may not be true. Rigid forks work very well on smooth surfaces and if subgrade were riding that kind of road, I’d fully agree. But once the surface becomes more variable...gravel, rocks, sand, ruts, etc...even cheap suspension forks are advantageous. Rigid forks tend to plow into sand, gravel, and even snow that a suspended fork will float over. A suspended fork will float over rocks and roots that would cause a rigid fork bike to bounce upward. Washboards on gravel roads can be floated over at higher speeds with a suspension fork where a rigid fork has to slow to a crawl.
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Old 11-25-20, 10:45 AM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Have you ever tried switching from a suspension fork to a rigid fork? It makes you significantly faster in a straight line too, not just around turns.
Yes, I have. Rigid fork lets you accelerate and climb a bit faster, due to lower weight (bobbing doesn't come into play in case of a locked-out suspension). But any perceived increase in straight line speed is just that - perception, probably because of harsher ride. Rolling resistance and air drag are the only two forces acting against you while travelling at constant speed over level ground (well, hub friction too, but that can be disregarded when comparing forks).

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
(Ask me how I know)
Ermmm... no.
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Old 11-25-20, 10:59 AM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
This right here is all you need to know.
Perhaps. But there may be a lot more to cadence in cycling. For example, you might want to read this article by Tom Danielson.

https://cinchcycling.cc/blogs/news/t...ycling-cadence

Otto
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Old 11-25-20, 11:25 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
..... suggesting to somebody to change their cycling habits doesn't make any sense, considering that I think I have a good understanding with regards to what works best for me.
yeah, whatever. I am not looking for a fight. I know that pretty much every cyclist I have known in the past 50 years who really stuck with it, learned to spin .... the one exception might be Livedarklions, here, whom I have never met.

But whatever .... be as offended as suits you.

What people are saying .... is that since you have just started cycling, that if you plan to stick with is as a prioritized exercise modality .... you might want to try developing a more efficient pedaling technique. The fact that you have only five or six months of experience says that you do Not yet have a deep understanding of cycling and how your body might adapt to it.

if you position is that no one can make suggestions which you do not pre-approve---see an issue there?

No one is holding a gun to your head and demanding you spin. People are suggesting, based on years of experience, that most riders find spinning a little a more efficient way to ride. Try not to get quite so worked up about internet discussion, eh?
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Old 11-25-20, 11:43 AM
  #65  
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Its amazing how you guys seem to be finding something so wrong with the way I ride - without ever seeing how I pedal or knowing anything except for a simple estimated figure - to be going so far as to give me advice and scolding me based on how I like to ride.

I do not like pedalling at higher cadences. I don't feel efficient doing so.

thanks ,but no thanks..
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Old 11-25-20, 12:04 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
Road 50/34 with 11-28

Gravel 40T with 11-32
Same here. Two road bikes (Guru Sidero & CAAD 12) and Colnago World Cup CX.
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Old 11-25-20, 12:28 PM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Its amazing how you guys seem to be finding something so wrong with the way I ride - without ever seeing how I pedal .....
Can you post a link to a video or something that shows how you pedal? Obviously there is something fundamental you have discovered that none of us here are grasping.
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Old 11-25-20, 12:30 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Its amazing how you guys seem to be finding something so wrong with the way I ride - without ever seeing how I pedal or knowing anything except for a simple estimated figure - to be going so far as to give me advice and scolding me based on how I like to ride.

I do not like pedalling at higher cadences. I don't feel efficient doing so.

thanks ,but no thanks..
We're trying to help you, since you apparently are a relative newcomer to cycling.

Your judgment that your current cadence is optimal is based on riding at that cadence. See the problem? You need to develop skills in order to benefit from them.

You remind me of people who carry on about how their town/state/country is the best place on earth...And then you find out that they have never traveled anywhere else. Ignorance breeds certainty.

Last edited by Koyote; 11-25-20 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 11-25-20, 12:37 PM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Its amazing how you guys seem to be finding something so wrong with the way I ride - without ever seeing how I pedal or knowing anything except for a simple estimated figure - to be going so far as to give me advice and scolding me based on how I like to ride.

I do not like pedalling at higher cadences. I don't feel efficient doing so.

thanks ,but no thanks..
1. Clueless newbie tells everyone how to ride a bike.
2. Experienced cyclists point out his errors.
3. Clueless newbie is butt hurt, and tells experienced cyclists they shouldn't tell him how to ride.
4. Clueless newbie continues to tell everyone how to ride.
5. Priceless.
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Old 11-25-20, 01:01 PM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Its amazing how you guys seem to be finding something so wrong with the way I ride - without ever seeing how I pedal or knowing anything except for a simple estimated figure - to be going so far as to give me advice and scolding me based on how I like to ride.

I do not like pedalling at higher cadences. I don't feel efficient doing so.

thanks ,but no thanks..
When you are able to comfortably pedal at higher cadence, you will be able to ride longer, faster, and more efficiently. Of course, everyone's goals are different
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Old 11-25-20, 01:15 PM
  #71  
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What the OP apparently has now is 31 to 100 GI. The same as most IGH 8 speeds. Most would criticize that as lame on most any bike. He says nothing about the bike or wheels/ tires or speeds. Impossible to judge what he is doing really. On a 24 - 28 lb bike I would expect a tall young guy to ride pretty fast. 100 GI would be like 25 mph at medium cadence, sounds like it needs a tail breeze, IMO. But I see lots of lone CF guys cruising by me at 23 mph. What would their cadence be?? Anything less than 180 cranks here are lame too.
I use my 98 GI some on the flat with a breeze/ small slope, even on my heavyweight.
One day I saw a tall girl on a fixie in the city here, she was going 25 mph. I was killing myself to get close. LOL. I later heard she maybe was a bike messenger.

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Old 11-25-20, 01:16 PM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
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)
Although not a body builder, I too have spent a lot of time in the gym. Lots (& lots) of barbell squats, clean & jerks, farmers carry, pull up shrugs, & of course the always popular incline/decline/military presses, seated rows, etc... Lifting the stack on hamstring curls was always fun just for show

So, I know a thing or two, too.

Your crank arms are 3% different, (170 vs 175 mm) but your body is moreorless symmetrical. This is like adding an extra 3 to 6 pounds to only one side of your barbell in a bench press. It's no wonder you feel like you are bouncing off the seat at anything other than a grind. Your left & right sides are doing different work.

Not to poo-poo mis-matched crank arms it is often erronously recommended to people with leg length disparities to level out the hips in a static state as in a photograph or linear motion, or whatever. But the proper fix for that is in shims in the shoes & blocks at the pedal so each leg does the same amount of work (force x distance) in the same a dynamic circular motion. Same work, (force x distance around circle) same x & y planes, one foot 5mm higher in z axis.

Ok, having solved that & getting you the same length crank arms...& 175 is probably closer to the right length than not for your nearly 35 inch inseam, there is a whole host of different physiological adaptions that occure in cycling that are different that that of body building. Not the least of which is the favored use of slow-twitch muscle fibers.

Weight lifting tends to favor lactate producing & generally wasteful fast-twitch muscle fibers. Their specialty is explosive power for short durations & then the body is left with ample time to process the metabolites of energy production before the next bout. That is why that guy sits on the bench press bench for 10 minutes between sets. He's tired & recovering while his body looks for a way to deal with waste. Simply put: Fast-twitch are the less efficient muscle fiber.

Cycling on the other hand favors slow-twitch muscle fibers. Slow twitch fibers are your high efficiency, endurance muscle cells. They produce much less lactate & have much greater mitochondrial development to reduce & reuse the metabolites of energy production and as such will not deplete as readily & will recover more quickly than the explosive power variety that is fast-twitch.

Cycling also creates longer times at higher sustained lactate levels than could ever be achieved in a gym. This causes mitochondrial adaption. Mitochondrial adaption means a greater ability to reprocess waste metabolites back into useable fuel for energy production. In short, you'll be able to ride your bike longer at higher output with less cramping.

What does this mean? It means a new way to get strong. That is all.

A low cadence grind is a body builder/speed skater/untrained cyclist method.

Sorting out the crank arms will at least get you to square one. Then from there, you can focus on training the slow twitch & forcing mitochondrial adaption with situational appropriate cadences.

I'm sorry people on the forum jumped on you. As a former gym-rat myself, it was quite humbling to realize 45 pound plates & large dumbells didn't necessarily equal strength & I wasn't nearly as fit or as strong as I thought. I could lift heavy things, but the bike resulted in doing a lot more work.

Last edited by base2; 11-25-20 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 11-25-20, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Have you ever tried switching from a suspension fork to a rigid fork? It makes you significantly faster in a straight line too, not just around turns.

When I tried doing that, I began using higher gears under the exact same circumstances, consistently .

That low end suntour fork is heavy crap and ultimately ruining most of the fun.

(Ask me how I know)
What bike were you riding MTB trails with a rigid fork?
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Old 11-25-20, 03:41 PM
  #74  
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A triple up front, and 8 or 9 in the rear.
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Old 11-25-20, 06:04 PM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
When you are able to comfortably pedal at higher cadence, you will be able to ride longer,
Yes.
Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
faster,
Yes.
Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
and more efficiently.
No.
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