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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got about 500 miles under my belt in the last 3 monhts running a 42 x 18 gear setup that gives me 61.6 gear inches. I know that is low compared to a lot of you, but I'm still pretty new to this and I didn't want to start off too high and kill myself on some of the climbs I have (not long, but some are steep).

At first some of the climbs hurt, but I didn't have to walk any. Just a lot of time out of the saddle.

Now I'm finding I can make just about all the climbs sitting down and I'm thinking of changing the gear setup but not sure what to do.

My average ride is 20-25 miles in roughly 90 minutes to 2 hours. At first I was fried after this ride, but now I can get thru it and it seems like a casual ride. Not ending on fresh legs, but hardly wiped out.

I have two thoughts and wanted some input from the seasoned riders:
- Stick with what I have for a few more months to get stronger in the seated position at lower RPMs.
- Up the gearing to 42x17 which gives me 65.2 gear inches and I'll likely be back to satnding up on some of the climbs again until I get stronger.
- I had thoughts of even trying 42x16 but I suspect that would definitely be too big of a jump at this point.

What is the conventional wisdom? Stick with what I have for now because I've just become comfortable and need to reinforce that, or up the gearing and perhaps struggle a bit at first, but get stronger faster?
 

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I'd up your gearing to 42x16, unless the hills your climbing are steeper than 14%... I've ridden fixed for several years - commuting and recreational distance riding, and there's not a hill over 5-6% that I don't climb out of the saddle. I've done climbs of 30-60 minutes standing.... all in relative comfort and with happy knees. I think it's a false goal to strive to climb steeper hills on a fixed gear bike while seated... at least if you don't want to have such low gearing that you have to crawl down the other side...

I'd give the 42x16 a good solid try and drop back down if it seems too much...
 

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Agree with Mark

Standing on climbs with a fixie should be thought of as SOP, rather than something to grow out of. You need to be careful and use proper technique, of course, but I'm suspecting you've got that. The taller gear will make the descents faster, more fun and arguably safer, too.

That 42x16 would give you about a 69-inch gear. That doesn't seem too big. I run something around there on my rain commuter, which sees mostly flat roads and often carries a few pounds of stuff in the panniers. On my lighter weight fixie that I occasionally take on hillier routes, I run a 39x14, a bit over 73 inches.

I've been riding fixed for 10 years or so. I'll be 59 next month.
 

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I run a 42/17 on my ss which is about a 65; 42/16 is 69 gear inches and I'll run that sometimes - I have it opposite the 17 on the hub. I go 48/18 on the fixed gear, which is about 70. I run the single speed a little lower than fixed because if the fixed is too low it is a beating on the downhills.
 

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Golden gear.

In my experience, most fixed-gear riders eventually settle on about a 70-inch gear after experimenting with all sorts of lower and higher ratios. As said by others, my advice would also be to go to that ratio (42 x 16, for example) now and have your body adapt to it, which it will—much quicker than you think. :)
 

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On my single speed road bike I have a 76 inch gear. My usual loop has one brutal short climb and I have to crank like a mofo to have enough speed to get me up and over. Other than that 76 inches works well for me.
 

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What you'll discover is that it's easier to stand with more gear inches and that you will be encouraged to stand more and that you will incorporate it, more and more, into your style.
One thing that I have discovered that it is a big help, when standing, to have as little handlebar/stem/steerer tube flex as possible. I have found that having the stem as low on the steerer tube as possible really helps in this regard.
I've been SSing for six months and I've settled on about 80 gi.
I'm big, fifty something, and live in a hilly area.
 

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Let me by the sole naysayer here. I think jumping two teeth may be too much. What is wrong with going to the 17 and trying it and then if need be going to the 16. Buy two cheap cogs try them out for twenty dollars or buy two good cogs for sixty. You can always sell the cog you don't need.

I tried the two tooth jump, 18 to a 16, and it was a mistake at the time (single speed) and it was a White Industries freewheel so not cheap. I went out and bought another White Industries 17 tooth which was much better for my knees. Just this morning I thought maybe I am strong enough to make that jump again and try the 16 again. If it doesn't work oh well, I still have my 17. It is nice to have choices.
 

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blakcloud said:
Let me by the sole naysayer here.
Caution is a good thing. A two-tooth step will require a thoughtful change in riding style. Seated jack-rabbit starts from stops are not a good thing at 70", for example. I think it is do-able, but listening to one's knees is important at 70".
 

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go 42x17, stand and get stronger... you might or might not want to go 16 later
 

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taller

Nickel II said:
I've got about 500 miles under my belt in the last 3 monhts running a 42 x 18 gear setup that gives me 61.6 gear inches. I know that is low compared to a lot of you, but I'm still pretty new to this and I didn't want to start off too high and kill myself on some of the climbs I have (not long, but some are steep).

At first some of the climbs hurt, but I didn't have to walk any. Just a lot of time out of the saddle.

Now I'm finding I can make just about all the climbs sitting down and I'm thinking of changing the gear setup but not sure what to do.

My average ride is 20-25 miles in roughly 90 minutes to 2 hours. At first I was fried after this ride, but now I can get thru it and it seems like a casual ride. Not ending on fresh legs, but hardly wiped out.

I have two thoughts and wanted some input from the seasoned riders:
- Stick with what I have for a few more months to get stronger in the seated position at lower RPMs.
- Up the gearing to 42x17 which gives me 65.2 gear inches and I'll likely be back to satnding up on some of the climbs again until I get stronger.
- I had thoughts of even trying 42x16 but I suspect that would definitely be too big of a jump at this point.

What is the conventional wisdom? Stick with what I have for now because I've just become comfortable and need to reinforce that, or up the gearing and perhaps struggle a bit at first, but get stronger faster?
I try to gear as tall as I can, and still get up the hills. I also take into account my flat ground speed, normally shooting for around 95-100 rpms for my typical flat ground speed.

There is a lot to be said for being progressive about this. When I first started on my fixed bike, I started out with way too tall gears. My knees hurt and I could not make it up the long climbs. I backed way off and worked my way up.

You will get much stronger standing in taller gears up long climbs. I got back into this back in October, and at first I could not even get up my longer (2,700') climbs. I had to turn around half way up. I've been working on it a lot, and this last Sunday I did a 20 mile loop, with a 2,700' climb, twice back to back, and it wasn't even that hard the first time up, even with 15% grades near the top of the hill (profile of the loop below). I'm using a 47x18 now, about 70 inches (similar to a 42x16). This is standing nearly the entire way up. Standing is much easier on your knees at lower rpms, by the way. The point is that it can be amazing how you can improve, but take it progressively.

Unless the hills are easy now, I'd suggest taking it one cog tooth at a time. I'd go ahead and buy a couple of cogs at once, so you can change when you want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all the advice. I think I'm going to order a 17 and give the 42x18 a few more weeks to build up a little more and then install the 17. I think going to the 16 might be too big of a jump.

I wouldn't call my hill experience in 42x18 "easy" at this point. At first I'd get to the tops of some of them and be like "crap - I don't want to do that again" and would be gaspi ng for air, and now I get to the top and think "Not so bad - definitely getting stronger". Winded but not out of breath.

So I think I'll give the 18 a few more weeks before going to the 17.

Thanks again.
 

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Nickel II said:
Thanks for all the advice. I think I'm going to order a 17 and give the 42x18 a few more weeks to build up a little more and then install the 17. I think going to the 16 might be too big of a jump.

I wouldn't call my hill experience in 42x18 "easy" at this point. At first I'd get to the tops of some of them and be like "crap - I don't want to do that again" and would be gaspi ng for air, and now I get to the top and think "Not so bad - definitely getting stronger". Winded but not out of breath.

So I think I'll give the 18 a few more weeks before going to the 17.

Thanks again.

Sounds like a plan. good luck. Don't forget to keep working on the standing thing.
 

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I would go with the 17 also...
 

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I'd go with the 16 and try and plot flatter rides for fixie days. It's the combination I use, and while I can still grunt some pretty steep hills when necessary, my flat road speed and technique has benefitted greatly. Keep mixing it in with hilly road bike rides and you'll be killing the pack on the flats in no time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
frmrench said:
I'd go with the 16 and try and plot flatter rides for fixie days. It's the combination I use, and while I can still grunt some pretty steep hills when necessary, my flat road speed and technique has benefitted greatly. Keep mixing it in with hilly road bike rides and you'll be killing the pack on the flats in no time.
That would be a good idea except this is my only road bike now. My old road bike was 10 years old and was on its last legs. Funds were tight so I bought a high quality fixed gear instead of a so so quality road bike.

Plus I wanted to change of pace in riding as I had gotten somewhat bored and lazy on a geared bike. Wife and I also have kid #2 on the way in 4 weeks and I know my riding time is going to drop a little, so I wanted a bike that would force me to get a better workout in shorter periods of time. You can't exactly fake it with just one gear!
 

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I have a different take on hills which makes me agree with the 42x16 crowd (which is what I run via default Specialized Langster mass market setup). Is it the uphills that really bother you? I have live in a fairly hilly area. Nothing over ~600 vertical but plenty of ups and downs and sometimes very steep. I've had to grind up a couple at near walking pace but so what? It's like a serious of one legged squats over and over.

Downhill is the killer. I can't imagine a decent downhill on a 42x18. 42x16 is tough enough. I need to relent to the brake on some of the longer/steeper hills which is no fun at all. If anything, I've always thought of going with a harder gear like a 44x16.

The worst is downhills in group rides (not talking total hammerfests - couldn't do that on my fixie). I'll be out of breath at the bottom while all the gearies are fresh.

Buy the 42x16. It's not a big gear by any means.
 

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just stay where you are...

I ride at 44x19 approx 64 it's fine - even with lots of hills. At this point just ride whatcha got the rest will take care of itself.

vtw
 
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