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What gear spacing do you prefer?

Old 05-05-24, 05:09 PM
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What gear spacing do you prefer?

What percentage change between gears do your legs like?

I'm wondering this, because I've got a bike that I set up with a half-step + granny, (45/42/30 x 14-16-18-20-23-26), which gives me a ~7% step between gears. (The high gear is a bit low, if I went 7 speed on this bike, I'd probably add a 12, but spinning out a bit early on a descent isn't much of a problem for me, and I built it with the freewheel I had. On anything other than a steep downhill, it's money.)

I've read a lot of posts that say that the gaps I have are "too small to be noticed." Often in defense of 1x drivetrains, where the jumps are in the same 14-15% range that I had when I was running that same freewheel with a 42T single front chainring. (Obviously with less range, being a 6-speed, but that's not what I'm thinking about.) And I hated it, especially on the flats, with variable winds. One gear too high, the next one too low.

For me, and my old and weak legs, 7% is a really nice change. Goldilocks zone. Makes the difference between "shoving the pedals" and "floating feet."

What do y'all like best?

--Shannon
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Old 05-05-24, 05:19 PM
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7-11% - less on high gears, a bit more on low ones.

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Old 05-05-24, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by ShannonM
What percentage change between gears do your legs like?

I'm wondering this, because I've got a bike that I set up with a half-step + granny, (45/42/30 x 14-16-18-20-23-26), which gives me a ~7% step between gears. (The high gear is a bit low, if I went 7 speed on this bike, I'd probably add a 12, but spinning out a bit early on a descent isn't much of a problem for me, and I built it with the freewheel I had. On anything other than a steep downhill, it's money.)

I've read a lot of posts that say that the gaps I have are "too small to be noticed." Often in defense of 1x drivetrains, where the jumps are in the same 14-15% range that I had when I was running that same freewheel with a 42T single front chainring. (Obviously with less range, being a 6-speed, but that's not what I'm thinking about.) And I hated it, especially on the flats, with variable winds. One gear too high, the next one too low.

For me, and my old and weak legs, 7% is a really nice change. Goldilocks zone. Makes the difference between "shoving the pedals" and "floating feet."

What do y'all like best?
I'm in your camp. My current cassette is a 12-19 straight block and then 2 tooth jumps after that. 5-7% gaps is perfect if you want to maintain a steady cadence on flat roads and slight grades when the wind changes direction or speed.
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Old 05-05-24, 07:41 PM
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The smallest gaps possible given the range you need. My bikes came with 11-34 cassettes, but I wasn't using the big gears so I changed to 11-28. I like the closer spacing.... but if I needed 34 at the low end, I'd be using 11-34.
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Old 05-05-24, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Random11
The smallest gaps possible given the range you need. My bikes came with 11-34 cassettes, but I wasn't using the big gears so I changed to 11-28. I like the closer spacing.... but if I needed 34 at the low end, I'd be using 11-34.
I think you meant you weren’t using the low gears/big cogs.
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Old 05-05-24, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
I think you meant you weren’t using the low gears/big cogs.
Yes, that's what I meant.
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Old 05-05-24, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ShannonM
What percentage change between gears do your legs like?

I'm wondering this, because I've got a bike that I set up with a half-step + granny, (45/42/30 x 14-16-18-20-23-26), which gives me a ~7% step between gears. (The high gear is a bit low, if I went 7 speed on this bike, I'd probably add a 12, but spinning out a bit early on a descent isn't much of a problem for me, and I built it with the freewheel I had. On anything other than a steep downhill, it's money.)

I've read a lot of posts that say that the gaps I have are "too small to be noticed." Often in defense of 1x drivetrains, where the jumps are in the same 14-15% range that I had when I was running that same freewheel with a 42T single front chainring. (Obviously with less range, being a 6-speed, but that's not what I'm thinking about.) And I hated it, especially on the flats, with variable winds. One gear too high, the next one too low.

For me, and my old and weak legs, 7% is a really nice change. Goldilocks zone. Makes the difference between "shoving the pedals" and "floating feet."

What do y'all like best?

--Shannon
I can Identify with what you have.

48/38/28 with 14-16-18-20-23-26-30-36.

I had to search to find a 14t 1st position HG cog. It is for an 11 speed junior cassette that I modded to work. Circle of life… lol!

I sometimes wish I had a 13t since my max is 24/25mph, but I can live with it. The 36t rarely gets used, but for those times I’m happy it’s there.

John
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Old 05-05-24, 10:42 PM
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I prefer to not have my cadence change more than 8-10 rpm per shift. On all but my fastest bike, I got rid of most of my 21+ mph gears, as I hardly use them. Instead, I go for tighter middle-range spacing and more low climbing gears. On my _ x 7 speed drivetrains, I run mostly 2-tooth jumps (14-16-18-20-22-24-28). On the half-step on the recumbent, it's 41-38-24 front, 14-17-20-24-28-32 rear.

Although it's close, note that a 40-year-old half-step can give slightly closer ratios than most newer drivetrains with 2-tooth steps, at the cost of double shifts.
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Old 05-05-24, 10:57 PM
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I have 2x7 gearing so I'm limited. I don't split shifts, just upshift on cassette then at some point upshift chainring and resume. I run between 14-20% jumps, 25% to the lowest cog (although I just noticed the next jump is 14%, I should go up one tooth so have 19 and 20% jumps instead of 14 and 25%). I would not want any larger jumps than that, this is minimums now. However, being 20"/406 wheels, each jump in ratio means about 2/3 the jump in gear-inches at the road, versus 700c wheels, so the jumps shown above are actually not as high as they seem. EDIT: No, that's not right, that only applies at higher ranges; If I lower the chainrings to get the same gear inches, the percent range is the same. So yeah, I'd like a bit smaller jumps on the cogs, no more than 15%, perhaps closer to 12%.

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Old 05-06-24, 12:48 AM
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Ideally, single tooth jumps from 12t-18t, then 4t jumps from 20t-36t, but I'm on 10 speed so I accept the compromise with what's commonly available (12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-28-32, or 12-13-15-17-19-21-24-28-32-36). I've got some single cogs to play around with to make a custom cassette but I'm still stuck with whatever large-3 clusters I have and I have too many bikes to customize the cassette on each one.
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Old 05-06-24, 01:33 AM
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Preferably under 10% for shallow-gradient small shifts, although I'll tolerate a bit higher in a shift or two if it's part of an arrangement that otherwise doesn't suck.

During climbing I can tolerate somewhat larger jumps, although this is partly due to the volatility of force demands on most high-gradient right-of-ways: it's less worth trying to shift out every slight change.
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Old 05-06-24, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
Preferably under 10% for shallow-gradient small shifts, although I'll tolerate a bit higher in a shift or two if it's part of an arrangement that otherwise doesn't suck.

During climbing I can tolerate somewhat larger jumps, although this is partly due to the volatility of force demands on most high-gradient right-of-ways: it's less worth trying to shift out every slight change.
So in other words... think like a single speed.

Or as I read once in an article in Backpacking I think, about different approaches to how much stuff you bring, one person said, "If I need it and I don't have it, I don't need it."
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Old 05-06-24, 05:16 AM
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12-27 for everything. I don't know % and don't care.
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Old 05-06-24, 08:51 AM
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not a 'tourer/packer', this would not be my shopping/errands bike (which is now an e-bike...) very 'sport'/ performance oriented, sometimes/often just cruising around.
This is my daily ride ,10 speed mech Spec Tarmac Expert which was converted from 53-39 to 50-34. My preferred cadence range is 70-100, which usually averages out around 85-87 at this time.
I am working to get back to my preferred cadence of 90-94... But quite ok with up to 110 and down to 68 for short periods
Climbing cadence of 68-75...
Spend majority of my riding in the 50x15 thru 18 and for most hills/climbing 34x16 thru 24, the 28 gets used on double digit percent climbs.
When on faster Group rides, I use a bike which has same rear cluster and 52/34 (recent conversion from 36).
I do measure my exact rollout for wheel circumference.
almost 75 & not getting any faster... LOL!

Daily ride - 10 spd Tarmac
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Old 05-06-24, 09:18 AM
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I live in flat Long Island. I’ve always preferred one tooth jumps between gears, helps deal with all the wind we get. My last road bike had a 34/50 crank and an 11 spd. 14-28 cassette. I lived in the 50 and had perfect gearing from the 14 up to the 21. I had enough of a low for the hills on the north shore, with a 32 inch low, which was adequate. If I took a bike on vacation where it was hilly, I used my gravel bike with a 11-34 11 spd. And a 30/46. My recent Emonda purchase got me a 11/30 12 spd with a 36/52 crank, still pretty good, I live in the 36 and use 13 to 16 cogs a lot.
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Old 05-06-24, 09:42 AM
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11-speed road, with 50 | 34 chain rings: Hated the mid-range gaps (14T, 16T, 18T) in the 11-32 my bike came with, tried to Frankenstein a 12-28 from a 11-28 and a 12-25 but shifting at the transition was inconsistent. Tried the 11-28 but missed the 16T cog on many rides. Rode the 12-25 until the Prestacycle monoblock 12-28 went on sale, which is perfect for my regular routes.

11-speed gravel, with 48 | 31 chain rings: 11-34 works well for now but I have a 11-40 for more challenging terrain.

12-speed road, with 50 | 34 chain rings: Bike came with a 11-34 cassette, which lacks the 16T cog. Based on my experience on 11-speed road, I ordered a 11-30 cassette, which omits the 34T cog for the 16T cog.
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Old 05-11-24, 09:55 AM
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For the last 25 years it's been 6 or 7 speeds, with 13-15-17-20-24-28 for the 6sp, add the 32 for the 7sp. Sachs FW's. Now I use 36/46 rings, but have also used 24/36/50 and 26/44/48. The progression is relativley even, and it does lend it's to half-steps quite well. I have one bike I use a 9sp 12-36, but really only use the 14-16-18-21-24-28-32. With 24/36/44 rings. I'm not much of a fan of it though, I prefer a 15-17-20-24 step. Cassette selction really sucks big time, not really much variation in cog selection or progression. Lots of the same ol' same 'ol from brand to brand. I have no use for an 11t, let alone 12t. I know of only one 7sp cassette that begins with a 13t but has a stupid 15-18-21-24 progression rather than 15-17-20-24 which is to me perfect. If I lived in a flatter area I'd be happy with a 13-15-17-19-21-24-28 7sp FW.
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Old 05-11-24, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by ShannonM
What percentage change between gears do your legs like?

I'm wondering this, because I've got a bike that I set up with a half-step + granny, (45/42/30 x 14-16-18-20-23-26), which gives me a ~7% step between gears. (The high gear is a bit low, if I went 7 speed on this bike, I'd probably add a 12, but spinning out a bit early on a descent isn't much of a problem for me, and I built it with the freewheel I had. On anything other than a steep downhill, it's money.)

I've read a lot of posts that say that the gaps I have are "too small to be noticed." Often in defense of 1x drivetrains, where the jumps are in the same 14-15% range that I had when I was running that same freewheel with a 42T single front chainring. (Obviously with less range, being a 6-speed, but that's not what I'm thinking about.) And I hated it, especially on the flats, with variable winds. One gear too high, the next one too low.

For me, and my old and weak legs, 7% is a really nice change. Goldilocks zone. Makes the difference between "shoving the pedals" and "floating feet."

What do y'all like best?

--Shannon
33%. 3 speed Sturmey.
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Old 05-11-24, 03:23 PM
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I like 2.3mm between my gears.
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Old 05-11-24, 03:37 PM
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around 10% or less for 'highway' & about 20% or more for 'city' .
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Old 05-11-24, 04:55 PM
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I like my 14-28 6sp freewheels. Relatively even spacing, large gaps so I don't have to double or triple shift, while also enough top speed with a vintage road crank. On my modern bikes I end up double or triple shifting frequently or wondering why I have an 11th cog which is just unnecessary for me.
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Old 05-11-24, 04:59 PM
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I found that 6-7% gap is ideal. 15% finds me wanting a gear in between.
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Old 05-11-24, 08:41 PM
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I've been riding an 11-32 11-speed. My updated derailleur can handle 11-34, so I tried it -- it's normally on my other bike, an "adventure all-day" bike with triple front chainrings.
The 11-34 gear spacing was a bit annoying to me, so I switched back to 11-32.

Some years ago, I was doing some fairly flat, fast-for-me group rides. I wanted close shifts in the 18-23 mph range, and a 34-32 low for the hills.
So I made a custom combination 14-32 cassette! including a 14-20 straight block.

It was fantastic in the 50 chainring, with a little over 1 mph change between shifts around 20 mph. Perfect.
But in the 34 chainring, the shifts were way too close together. I have Di2, so I just clicked twice and shifted two cogs as needed.

It's interesting that the gear differences are mostly 5-6% or so:
shift 14 to 15: 7%
shift 17 to 18: 5.8%
shift 19 to 20: 5%


I would spin out around 28-29 mph, so I coasted downhills more often -- a reasonable tradeoff for me.



The 14-32 at typical flat road cadences:


Last edited by rm -rf; 05-11-24 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 05-11-24, 11:26 PM
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Usually, two-tooth gaps are fine for me in back, but I appreciate bigger jumps on the last cog or two. I like smaller chainrings better than larger rear cogs, and have tried to get along with smaller than 28T rears for appearances sake, but have concluded I'll need 1:1 or less until I get fitter. I have triple cranks on my riders, 49-42-28 with a 14-24 6-speed currently on Fredo, a 48-36-26 with a 11-34 9-speed rear on Clem, and a 48-34-24 with a 13-26 7-speed on Blue Bella.

I will also say that I was impressed that the Tourney rear derailleur on my Jamis Citizen 1 handled a ten-tooth jump (24T to the 34T granny gear) with just one more click, like any other. I liked that bailout option.
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