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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 01-24-18, 11:22 PM   #1
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Is my gearing/speed off?

I know there are several threads about gearing, so I'm sorry to start a new one, but I know my specific questions won't be answered by reading other people's woes.

I am new to any kind of serious cycling, and have only been back in the habit of riding daily for a week. Trying to build up to 20+ mile rides, although my 12 miler today was a breeze. My issue is, I'm only seeing an average speed of 15-16mph on my Pista, and this is on a completely flat paved canal path. The past two times I rode, I was dealing with a bit of wind, but I'm nowhere near spinning out on flats. I'm starting to think my 48/16 might be a bit high as a novice rider. I weigh 210 and have pretty beefy legs, but the muscles and pedaling efficiency aren't top notch yet. I don't skid a whole lot, but I'm also definitely not opposed to it.

First off, what type of speed should I be looking to get to that would equate with that of more serious cyclists on flat routes? I want to know that I can go for a 40 mile ride and not be gone for half a day. Secondly, I'm looking to experiment with a few different rear cogs to at least find a gear inch range that works for me. I don't hate the 48/16 by any means, but I sometimes wonder if it's more than I should be trying to tackle as a newer fixed rider. Should I just buy a 17, 18 and 19 cog to experiment, or am I missing something? I especially want to make sure that I order my next bike with my ideal gearing from the factory.

Basically, I'm fine with 48/16 being the answer, and I'm totally cool with pushing through the next few weeks while I build up the muscles, but I also want to use this forum to make sure I do everything I can to make my rides enjoyable and stay in the saddle for as long as possible.
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Old 01-24-18, 11:41 PM   #2
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Cogs are pretty cheap and the only way to know for sure is to experiment. Get a 17 or 18 and see if you dig it, 19 might be a little too low of a gearing. You're currently sitting at 78 gear inches now, which is a little high for a new fixed rider but definitely not out of the question for strong legs and flat ground.

That said, 16 mph average over 40 miles is a lot different than 16 mph average over 12 miles.
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Old 01-24-18, 11:45 PM   #3
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Riding a lower gear probably won't help you build up speed, but it should help improve your pedaling by teaching you how to spin higher cadences at a given speed. You could give it a shot to see what you like. The 19 sounds like it might be a bit too spinny IMO. Endurance and speed take time to build up, so just keep adding distance and intensity gradually and you'll get faster as the weeks and months go by.
Average speed has a ton of variables in it, as does the term "serious cyclist." People who race or train to get faster generally don't do all their rides at the same pace, so a given ride might be anywhere from <15mph to >20mph average depending on a whole bunch of things. Ride your bike a lot, ride with other people when possible (best way to get faster is riding with people who are faster than you), and have fun.
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Old 01-24-18, 11:59 PM   #4
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Old 01-25-18, 08:05 AM   #5
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I'd try a 17 or 18t cog and see how you like it. I ride SS right at 72 gear inches and it works for me.
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Old 01-25-18, 08:47 AM   #6
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Old 01-25-18, 09:31 AM   #7
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Don't change anything yet.

You guys recommending gearing changes need to keep in mind that the OP has been riding daily for only one week and is only up to 12 miles per ride. That isn't enough time or distance to worry about average speed. The OP just needs to be on the bike right now, that's all.

Give it a few months, eat healthy, maybe loose some weight, gain fitness and reassess in March or April. The biggest gain in speed is not going to come from gearing but from increased fitness - the bodies ability to deliver oxygen to working muscles. Consistency is my advice.

The OP says there is nothing wrong with his current gearing so why change it? If he was suffering with gearing to the point where he didn't want to ride then I might change my mind but he is happy so why bother? Just ride for now.


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Old 01-25-18, 10:26 AM   #8
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Have to agree with Tim. Started at 46:16 myself and that was too spinny after a while but I am glad that I kept my gearing as is as I rode more. 49:15 now and that is perfect for a flat area. Keep riding and increasing your distance. Your diet and exercise regimen will play a huge factor in your riding. Gradually increase your overall mileage regardless of how fast you are riding. Get your body used to the longer rides. After that, then you can concentrate on how fast you are going.
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Old 01-25-18, 11:09 AM   #9
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The cycling science for a while had been continually increasing the cadence that was thought to be ideal for pedaling efficiency. In the early nineties it was at about 90 rpm and then it got pushed up to something like 115 in the Armstrong era. Lance himself may have had something to do with this since he preferred a faster cadence. Regardless, it has been almost universally agreed on that a cadence slower than 80 rpm is inefficient. As a default you should probably shoot for something much higher at around 100 rpm unless you've actually done wattage tests on a stationary to show that you are personally more efficient at a slower rpm. 48/16 at 100 rpm would mean that you are averaging about 23 mph. This is a doable speed for 20 mile rides but would generally be considered quite fast. Nobody I follow on Strava is usually doing that kind of speed and 18 or 19 mph would usually be on the faster side. 48/19 at 100 rpm is still almost a 20 mph average. At 80 rpm that would be almost 16 mph.

If your goal is to ride efficiently (and faster overall) then trying a larger sprocket makes sense.

Even though there has been a downward trend in the recommendations for rpms in the last couple years, it is still the case that almost every cyclist you see on the road has a cadence that is slower than ideal.
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Old 01-25-18, 11:16 AM   #10
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The cycling science for a while had been continually increasing the cadence that was thought to be ideal for pedaling efficiency. In the early nineties it was at about 90 rpm and then it got pushed up to something like 115 in the Armstrong era. Lance himself may have had something to do with this since he preferred a faster cadence. Regardless, it has been almost universally agreed on that a cadence slower than 80 rpm is inefficient. As a default you should probably shoot for something much higher at around 100 rpm unless you've actually done wattage tests on a stationary to show that you are personally more efficient at a slower rpm. 48/16 at 100 rpm would mean that you are averaging about 23 mph. This is a doable speed for 20 mile rides but would generally be considered quite fast. Nobody I follow on Strava is usually doing that kind of speed and 18 or 19 mph would usually be on the faster side. 48/19 at 100 rpm is still almost a 20 mph average. At 80 rpm that would be almost 16 mph.

If your goal is to ride efficiently (and faster overall) then trying a larger sprocket makes sense.

Even though there has been a downward trend in the recommendations for rpms in the last couple years, it is still the case that almost every cyclist you see on the road has a cadence that is slower than ideal.

Right. (except I think you meant larger COG, not sprocket)


15-16 mph with a 48x16 gearing is mashing it. If you gear down you will almost certainly be picking up your pace. And it won't hurt as much.
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Old 01-25-18, 11:26 AM   #11
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Old 01-25-18, 11:32 AM   #12
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As a data point, I've found that if my gear is a little too high, I'll be slow off the line.

But this is way more important:

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Old 01-25-18, 11:33 AM   #13
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The OP says there is nothing wrong with his current gearing so why change it?

He did say this though, "I'm starting to think my 48/16 might be a bit high as a novice rider."

So he is noticing something.

His average RPM is ~65. I know everyone's bodies and preferences are different. Personally, I would hate mashing along at 65 RPM. And IMO, he isn't learning anything about (developing) good spinning technique at low RPMs like that. In order to maintain a decent spin rate, he'd need to maintain 21+mph. That's asking a lot of a new guy.

My personal opinion is to take the exact opposite approach. Forget about MPH and gear the bike now for a proper RPM based on what his body is capable of. Ride the bike now and stay in the proper RPM range. As OP's fitness and endurance improves, his body will tell him when it's time to up the ratio.
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Old 01-25-18, 12:03 PM   #14
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He did say this though, "I'm starting to think my 48/16 might be a bit high as a novice rider."

So he is noticing something.

His average RPM is ~65. I know everyone's bodies and preferences are different. Personally, I would hate mashing along at 65 RPM. And IMO, he isn't learning anything about (developing) good spinning technique at low RPMs like that. In order to maintain a decent spin rate, he'd need to maintain 21+mph. That's asking a lot of a new guy.

My personal opinion is to take the exact opposite approach. Forget about MPH and gear the bike now for a proper RPM based on what his body is capable of. Ride the bike now and stay in the proper RPM range. As OP's fitness and endurance improves, his body will tell him when it's time to up the ratio.
Everyone's feedback is just incredible. Thank you so so so much! This is probably the response that sums up the stuff I couldn't quite put into words. I know I'm on flats, but at 48/16, headwinds kill me, and I basically NEVER reach a cadence that feels anywhere near spinny. I love the idea of even just dropping to a 17 or 18 cog as I build technique and muscle. Yesterday, I caught a slight wind in my favor, and was able to get up to 22mph on flat, so I know my muscles will get there, but I don't want to damage my knees or hurt my technique in the meantime.
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Old 01-25-18, 12:46 PM   #15
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As a data point, I've found that if my gear is a little too high, I'll be slow off the line.

But this is way more important:
With my setup, the take off from the line is pretty bad. However, once I get going, it is like a freight train heading down a steep hill. This is actually the fun part, because it seems like you are really moving as you pass the people that are already spinning out. Found this to be the truth as I rode a Critical Mass in Chicago. Lots of younger guys/kids riding fixed, but with really low gearing. We would take off from the light on a long straightaway, and it would be an all out drag race. They destroyed me off the line, but once I got going and I would say probably 5 full revolutions in, the momentum starts to build and you are quickly catching and passing.....
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Old 01-25-18, 12:58 PM   #16
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Everyone's feedback is just incredible. Thank you so so so much! This is probably the response that sums up the stuff I couldn't quite put into words. I know I'm on flats, but at 48/16, headwinds kill me, and I basically NEVER reach a cadence that feels anywhere near spinny. I love the idea of even just dropping to a 17 or 18 cog as I build technique and muscle. Yesterday, I caught a slight wind in my favor, and was able to get up to 22mph on flat, so I know my muscles will get there, but I don't want to damage my knees or hurt my technique in the meantime.
You are welcome.

Think of it like a car with a small engine and a manual transmission. High revs are good. Lugging destroys crank and rod bearings (Knees).

Everyone's body is different in many ways. Femur length, calf length, ankle technique (heel up or down), crank arm length, etc, all play a roll in finding your body's sweet spot. For me personally, anything under 90 RPM feels flat out wrong. Totally inefficient. 100 to 110 feels best. But that's me, not you. Find what works for you. It sounds like you are already naturally discovering (best teacher IMO) that something could be "Better". Go for it.

Down the road... It'll be very obvious when a ratio becomes too easy.
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Old 01-25-18, 01:34 PM   #17
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What is the most affordable way to pick up two extra cogs? Or any brands that must be avoided?
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Old 01-25-18, 01:47 PM   #18
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Unfortunately, the cheapest cogs I know of only come in 16t. It would be nice if Scrod-cogs came in other sizes just for testing out gears. All-City? Soma?
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Old 01-25-18, 07:53 PM   #19
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Unfortunately, the cheapest cogs I know of only come in 16t. It would be nice if Scrod-cogs came in other sizes just for testing out gears. All-City? Soma?
This price isn't too bad if you can get past the vendor Buy it from your LBS of course!

https://www.amazon.com/State-Bicycle...DC06R4A67XFRSZ


This set looks pretty cool too-there's a carrier so you can swap cogs on and off really easily. After the lockring is taken off, you can pop a different cog on with your fingers, then tighten with a lockring. It's $50, but looks pretty awesome.

http://tracksupermarket.com/cranks/c...set-black.html

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Old 01-25-18, 08:31 PM   #20
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This price isn't too bad if you can get past the vendor Buy it from your LBS of course!

https://www.amazon.com/State-Bicycle...DC06R4A67XFRSZ


This set looks pretty cool too-there's a carrier so you can swap cogs on and off really easily. After the lockring is taken off, you can pop a different cog on with your fingers, then tighten with a lockring. It's $50, but looks pretty awesome.

Sugino Track Cog 16t, 17t, 18t Set - Black - Cogs / Chains - Cranks & Drivetrain

Dave
State Bike Co. is my local shop! I'm in AZ where they are headquartered. Too bad they only have the 17 and no 18. Might call them tomorrow and see what they have in stock.
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Old 01-25-18, 09:11 PM   #21
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State Bike Co. is my local shop! I'm in AZ where they are headquartered. Too bad they only have the 17 and no 18. Might call them tomorrow and see what they have in stock.
Very cool! Or maybe they can order you one.

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Old 01-26-18, 06:48 PM   #22
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State Bike Co. is my local shop! I'm in AZ where they are headquartered. Too bad they only have the 17 and no 18. Might call them tomorrow and see what they have in stock.
I'm new at SS/FG too, only a couple of weeks in actually. But I can offer another option for you: Look at a smaller chainring. I just dropped from 45t to 42 because hills and headwinds were just plain brutal. All it took was $3 at the local bike co-op for a used ring and ten minutes to swap it out and pull a link from the chain.

Since I still haven't established my "ideal" setup for this bike, I figure I'll experiment with whatever I can find on the cheap. Then when I figure out what's working for me I can eyeball some nicer parts to finish it off.

You said AZ... Tucson? Phoenix?
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Old 01-27-18, 04:33 AM   #23
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I like 49/18
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Old 01-27-18, 09:50 AM   #24
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I'm new at SS/FG too, only a couple of weeks in actually. But I can offer another option for you: Look at a smaller chainring. I just dropped from 45t to 42 because hills and headwinds were just plain brutal. All it took was $3 at the local bike co-op for a used ring and ten minutes to swap it out and pull a link from the chain.

Since I still haven't established my "ideal" setup for this bike, I figure I'll experiment with whatever I can find on the cheap. Then when I figure out what's working for me I can eyeball some nicer parts to finish it off.

You said AZ... Tucson? Phoenix?
I'm in Phoenix. More specifically, I live right on the boarder of Chandler and Tempe, so I tend to ride the canal path either all the way east towards Gilbert, or West towards Tempe. Where are you?
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Old 01-27-18, 10:55 AM   #25
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