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Discussion Starter #1
Firstly, I have to appologize for posting this thread in the fixed gear forum, but I dont know where else to ask!!

I'm riding a single gear (read: freewheel) road bike as my commuter and was wondering what those of you who do so run for gearing?

(yes, i've checked searches...all gearing discussion was for fixed). Obviously, on a freewheel you no longer get the flywheel effect that a fixie would provide...and i was just wondering what people run in hilly areas for comparison's sake.

I'm running 42x19 or a measely 59 or something silly gear inches... I can average a pace of about 30kmh comfortably with rpms at about 100 (cadence is only a guess). i've tried 42x13, and that was totally impossible for me to climb anything worth mentioning :D
 

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For general purpose road riding, a lot of people start with a 70" gear and adjust from there. Since you have a freewheel, you can get away with a smaller gear since you don't have to pedal down the hills like a maniac. If you live somewhere really hilly, you might find a 65 - 68 is light enough for climbing, but won't slow you down too much on the flats. If you're a flatlander, you can probably turn a 74" gear and really haul the mail.

As it stands now, your 42 x 13 is a humongous 87.2 g.i., and your 42 x 19 yields about a 60 g.i. If you like the 42T ring size, get a 16T cog and you'll be at 71 g.i., which I'm willing to bet will feel pretty good to your legs.

Best of luck!
 

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Game on, b*tches!
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I had a 42x18 on mine. Able to climb most things and still carry a decent pace on the flatlands.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
BianchiJoe said:
For general purpose road riding, a lot of people start with a 70" gear and adjust from there. Since you have a freewheel, you can get away with a smaller gear since you don't have to pedal down the hills like a maniac. If you live somewhere really hilly, you might find a 65 - 68 is light enough for climbing, but won't slow you down too much on the flats. If you're a flatlander, you can probably turn a 74" gear and really haul the mail.

As it stands now, your 42 x 13 is a humongous 87.2 g.i., and your 42 x 19 yields about a 60 g.i. If you like the 42T ring size, get a 16T cog and you'll be at 71 g.i., which I'm willing to bet will feel pretty good to your legs.

Best of luck!
i totally agree with what you're suggesting here...but i dont know how workable a 42x16 on a freewheel would be on climbs. I mean, on a fixed gear u kind of have the wheel helping the cranks turn over...but on a freewheel, it's all your legs! isnt the 70 gear inch range really proposed more for fixed gear bikes in general? :confused: (i honestly have no clue, i've never even ridden a fixed gear bike to know what it really feels like on climbs!)

kram59's gearing on the other hand, sounds pretty good :D
 

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boroef said:
but i dont know how workable a 42x16 on a freewheel would be on climbs. I mean, on a fixed gear u kind of have the wheel helping the cranks turn over...but on a freewheel, it's all your legs! isnt the 70 gear inch range really proposed more for fixed gear bikes in general?

On climbs, I don't think the rear wheel is helping much, honestly. And like I said, you might find a 65" or 68" feels better to you if you live somewhere hilly. The 70" is just a starting point.

My fixie has a 69" gear (but the bigger cyclocross tires add to that), and I can clmb almost everything except the really long, really steep ones. I think whether fixed or free, that's the gear that would be most comfortable for me. Any lighter, and I'd be spinning out on the flats. Any bigger, and I'd be in the hurt locker on the hills.

FWIW, the singlespeed freewheel-equipped Bianchi San Jose comes stock with a 42 x 17, or a 66.7 gear inch.
 

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Funny, I was just going to post something like this. I took my new SS roadie (Bianchi San Jose) out for a good ride in moderately hilly northern DE / eastern MD yesterday. (great bike, BTW; there's a review in the SS forum on MTBR, written before any long rides). I have the stock 42/17 (66.7 GI) gearing on there.

I'm a strong singlespeed mountain biker, but I thought some of those hills were going to kill me. Granted, I haven't been road riding since the fall on a Lemond gearie, but it seems SSing on the road is a whole different beast than offroad. I'm used to shorter standing bursts rather than long grinds out of the saddle. I rode ~35 miles and was beat. I don't know if I should gear down or just let it come to me, like it did on the mtb.

Okay, bottom line, 67 gear inches felt too big on some hills, but on the flats it spins out a bit to quick for my liking. So I guess it depends on what your goals are. For now, I'm going to tough it out on the steep parts and see if my legs get stronger. I hope that helped.
 

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n00bsauce
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Whether it's fixed or free, gear for the hills. That's why no one can give you a definitive answer because no one knows how strong you are or what the hills are like around your neck of the woods. On a fixed gear you're also limited by your ability to spin downhill but a freewheel eliminates this problem. A typical fixed gearing is 2:1 but free will probably be a little more agressive. If you find 42/19 too easy and 42/13 too hard you already know you need something inbetween. This doesn't leave too many choices. I'd start with a 16 or 17 and see how it goes. Cogs are pretty cheap and plentiful. Don't worry about gear inches and ratios and whether 42/19 is measly or not. Go with what works for you.
 

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And how FAR are you riding?

I'm a noob, and no monster roadie- but I'm no longer roadkill, either.

I'm running 46/17 which is about 71 gear inches, I think- on fixed gear. Yeah, fixed gear really does climb better, for me. It's very cool, that way.

What kicks my butt is a 20+mph headwind. Hills around here- you can avoid them or go looking for them, and ya can get over them in a few minutes, usually. Wind... that's just unrelenting, this time of year.

I took my fixed-gear out on a 28 mile out-and-back that is my "sprint" route on my geared bike... the wind kicked my butt... 14 miles straight up wind... I was once again Dogmeat, although I was looking pretty spiff for the first 7 miles, even considering hitting some energy-sapping bigger hills at the start of the ride. I just could not keep up the power required to keep the rpms up past about 30 minutes. So.. for me, it's how LONG I'm fixin', and what is the wind doing.

Personally, I don't see the point in single speed- a nice 3 speed or even higher hub looks pretty interesting... makes for a nice clean drivetrain. Fixed, on the other hand... wow- I'm learning a lot!

Step in to the light.... C'mon, just try it. You won't get hooked, or anything. You can go back, any time you want. All your friends are doing it. Just once. Hey, I'll even spot you your first cog...

'meat
 

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Discussion Starter #9
BianchiJoe said:
On climbs, I don't think the rear wheel is helping much, honestly.
ouch. then you fixed gear riders must all be total monsters spurting track racer legs-the-width-of-your-torso's 'cause 70 gear inches is pretty big to climb long/steep hills with!

i had always figured that a fixed gear bike would at least marginally help you on the climbs since the wheel is directly connected to your crank/leg/you!

i'm pretty okay with the whole 42x19 thing that i have...i'm running 25 width tires so it makes it a bit taller. i dont have issues spinning, since on my geared bike i ride at high cadences anyways. The only thing I might try is drop it a tooth and see how it feels...the entire thread was just a feeler for seeing what you guys run for comparison's sake, since there were no previous discussions on freewheeled ss riding!

i dont really ride far with this bike: 30km per day, 5 or so days in a row every week. just that the route i commute on has several hills, and in one direction there is a slight constant grade :D
 

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I'm running 48x20 with 700x23 tires for 63 gear inches.
 

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Mel Erickson said:
A typical fixed gearing is 2:1 but free will probably be a little more agressive. .
A 2:1 ratio is typical for singlespeed mountain bikes, not fixed gear! A 2:1 ratio gives you a 54" gear - way too low for fixed riding. Typical fixed gear for the track is usually 3:1, or 81", and even that's often too light for experienced track racers.

I stand by my original recommendation for freewheel singlespeed road riding: use 70" as the baseline, and adjust from there. A range of 65" - 68" will probably work if the terrain is hilly.
 

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BianchiJoe said:
A 2:1 ratio is typical for singlespeed mountain bikes, not fixed gear! A 2:1 ratio gives you a 54" gear - way too low for fixed riding. Typical fixed gear for the track is usually 3:1, or 81", and even that's often too light for experienced track racers.

I stand by my original recommendation for freewheel singlespeed road riding: use 70" as the baseline, and adjust from there. A range of 65" - 68" will probably work if the terrain is hilly.
81 would be way too light for experienced track riders. they might turn something like an 84-86 during training, but most times they run close to 90, somewhere around an 88 to 94. Maybe up close to 100 in a world class team pursuit. i almost always run a 90 or 92.
 

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n00bsauce
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Most SS mountain bikers don't run anything near 2:1. I ride a 32/20 or a 32/18 depending on the terrain. Few but the monster riders will run a 32/16. Something around 3:2 is more common.

I also stand by my statement. Don't pay attention to the gear inches. Your legs will tell you what works and what doesn't. Individual fitness levels and terrain vary so rules of thumb aren't much use. Sure, you've got to have a starting point but he's already got that. Gear for the hills (or hill substitutes like wind as another poster said, however wind is more fickle whereas hills are always there) and the rest will take care of itself.
 

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You're laboring (pedaling?) under a misconception

"I had always figured that a fixed gear bike would at least marginally help you on the climbs since the wheel is directly connected to your crank/leg/you!"

The "flywheel" effect may smooth out the stroke, but it doesn't "help" you turn the pedals. Any kinetic energy that the moving bike puts back into the cranks only got there because you pushed in the first place. On the climbs there's basically no effect. There's no free lunch. A fixed-gear bike is not a perpetual-motion machine.

The reason people often use a taller gear on a FG than on a SS is not because they're "total monsters" (well, some are, but sure as hell not me), but so they don't have to spin so fast on the downhills. If you ride FG in hilly terrain, you basically choose the gear by finding the biggest gear that you can push up your worst hill without injuring yourself. It will still be too low when you spin wildly down the same hill. My lightweight fixie has a 75-inch gear, and I occasionally ride it up hills where I bog down to about 25 rpm. When I turn around and go back down the hill I have to ride the brake to keep under 150 rpm or so. If I had a SS freewheel I'd use a lower gear to make the climb easier, and I could coast down. That's why people sometimes use a flip-flop with a fixed cog on one side, and a bigger (i.e., lower) SS freewheel on the other, as a bailout if they get tired or get caught in worse terrain than they expected.
 

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boroef said:
i totally agree with what you're suggesting here...but i dont know how workable a 42x16 on a freewheel would be on climbs. I mean, on a fixed gear u kind of have the wheel helping the cranks turn over...but on a freewheel, it's all your legs! isnt the 70 gear inch range really proposed more for fixed gear bikes in general? :confused: (i honestly have no clue, i've never even ridden a fixed gear bike to know what it really feels like on climbs!)

kram59's gearing on the other hand, sounds pretty good :D
I actually think you have this a little backwards. The wheel doesn't have enough momentum to really help you when you grind, only when you spin, and on a freewheeling SS you can rest a tiny bit between pushes, where as on a fixie you must simply go, and go hard, till you either reach the top or can't go any more. There is no rest stroke option.
That said, I agree with 70" being a pretty good gear. I run 42X16 and I can now spin short downhill distances at 150, and cruise the flats at 100-120 for quite a while, while also climbing reasonably long 6-7% grades and short grades up to 12% (if they are in the few hundred yard range and I get some momentum up ;).

Best,
Gordon
 

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I built up a fixie/SS commuter this past January and have only put on a couple of hundred miles, but as a newbie here's my experience so far. Started out with a 42/18 free and 42/16 fixed ratios. The 42/16 fixed was initially too difficult for the quarter to half mile 6% grade hills where I live, but on the other hand I couldn't keep a decent pace on the 42/18. so I purchased a 17 free wheel and found this to be my sweet spot. This past week I found a really nice 44 tooth chain ring and installed it. While the 44/17 is only marginally easier than the original 42/16, I'll try to stay with the 44/17 ratio (69.9 gi) and hope that I get stronger it's easier to keep a comfortable pace on the flats. As mentioned earlier a ratio which produces ~70 gear inches seems to be the best way to go.


As for fixed verses free, I spend most of my time in free as I'm overly cautious in traffic and my 56 year old bones don't need to meet the pavement.

Sam
 

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I run 42:16 on the fixed side and 42:18 on the free side of my flipflop hub. The 42:16 is fine for me most of the time, unless I have a lot of climbing to do in which case I flip it over for the lower ratio of the 18 and the freewheel for the downhill side. I seldom use the 42:18 free side though.
 

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Mel Erickson said:
Few but the monster riders will run a 32/16
Then I guess I and everyone I ride SS with are monsters. Good to know.

Mel Erickson said:
Don't pay attention to the gear inches. Your legs will tell you what works and what doesn't.
You and your legs will go broke buying cogs and rings trying to randomly determine what might feel right. Gear inches provide a standard unit of measurement that establishes a baseline, and accurately tell you how much of a differenece you'll make when you switch cogs or chainrings.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
wow, great discussion! i never expected to get so many responses!!!

i'll maybe give a 42x18 a shot, or even a 42x16 and see how it feels like. but to my ears, they sound like pretty big gears to be pushing up any notable climbs!

in conclusion, all you fixed gear riders are total monsters!!!

riding behemoth sized gear ratios and climbing hills...while never being able to stop pedaling? animals, i say--animals! *shakes fist*
 

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boroef said:
i totally agree with what you're suggesting here...but i dont know how workable a 42x16 on a freewheel would be on climbs. I mean, on a fixed gear u kind of have the wheel helping the cranks turn over...but on a freewheel, it's all your legs! isnt the 70 gear inch range really proposed more for fixed gear bikes in general? :confused: (i honestly have no clue, i've never even ridden a fixed gear bike to know what it really feels like on climbs!)

kram59's gearing on the other hand, sounds pretty good :D
To me a 42/16 is perfect with a freewheel. I'm running that with a freewheel right now. Trying to decide if I want to pull the trigger on a fixed wheelset. I'm in a very hilly area (Lynchburg, Va) at the edge of the Blue Ridge and I'm able to climb every hill on my normal training rides which around here aren't flat. I had my worries about a loop that has some nice short climbs but I can actually climb a lot of them seated. It has taught me that I'm falling into the spin up the hill mode too fast on my geared bike. In one month it has made me a stronger climber on both bikes. I know there are some climbs that would kill me because of thier length but for the most part even around here I think that 70 gear inches is about perfect.
 
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