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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Sep 2013

    First post: Gears question

    I used to ride back in the late 80's, early 90's. Haven't ridden since then but plan to start again. While browsing various sites looking at bikes I see the number of gears ranges from 20 to 30. Some of the bikes that have piqued my interest only have 20 gears and I can't help but think more is better. Set me straight on gear numbers.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    the 10 speed rear cassette is the most common right now.. 11 speed rear cassettes coming on the highest end. The 10 speed cassettes usually have a 36tooth gear which USUALLY eliminates the need for a low tooth count ring gear (like 22). Having only two gears in the front and 10 in the rear can usually give close to the same ratios as 9 speed cassettes with 3 ring gears..

    Only you will be able to determine, based on the area your ride and your abilities, what works best for you.

    Use a gear calculator such as this to figure out gear ratios. Youll be able to tell if certain 2x10 gearing compares with 3x9 or 3x10 gearing
    Put a mountain biker in a room with 2 bowling balls and we'll break one and lose the other - GelatiCruiser

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: hey_poolboy's Avatar
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    Jul 2012
    I'm running a 2x8 right now. It has worked fine for me. The only reason I would consider upgrading to 9 or 10 speed is when (not if) I break my current cassette. It's easier to find better/stronger components for the 9 and 10 spd. stuff.

    I find myself only using 2-3 gears on the average ride with the exception of riding out of the lot to the singletrack. With my riding style and the terrain I ride I would be perfectly happy with 1 x 10, but someone else may prefer to have a granny ring still.

    There's no wrong answer. It depends more on your terrain, strength and riding style. I go fast and try to carry momentum through hills/obstacles. One of the guys I ride with takes it a little slower, and uses more gears because he doesn't have the momentum or speed to help him along. We both manage to get to the end of the trail and have fun.

  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Better sounds good, but more is really just more.

    I thought 8-speed cassettes were pretty cool. Freewheels were supposed to blow for MTB. I'm not quite old enough to have had a MTB with one.

    The big issues are really range, available low gears, shift patterns and fashion.

    Sounds like you're looking at new bikes. So you're going to have a 10-speed cassette and it's not worth stressing about.

    As far as a double vs a triple crank, I have to say that with most OEM doubles, I miss having a granny ring. The small ring almost always has more than 22 teeth as these cranks ship. It's true that a 36t cog gives me back some low end, but a 29" wheel takes that away again anyway.

    The larger ring on a commercial double usually falls between the middle and large ring sizes on a triple. I find I use mine like my middle ring, except I don't spin out on the steepest few grades. So that works fine for me. I thought my large ring on my triple was pretty redundant most of the time.

    I guess my bottom line is that when I moved to a double, I gave up some top end I didn't care about and a low gear I sometimes miss. I haven't really gained anything. My shift patterns have started pretty much the same. I didn't care enough to build my latest bike from a bare frame or make a swap at time of purchase, and I had an ulterior motive for picking from one particular brand, which limited my selection.

    Hope that helps.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JoePAz's Avatar
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    May 2012
    I run an old school 3x9 triple. I like it and have no desire to change to 2x10 or 1xAnything. The day I will be forced to "upgrade" I will have to do some gear calculations to really figure out how to not loose to much
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Ignore the number of gears, that's just mathematics.
    The 3 front chainrings have different purposes.
    The small granny chainring is for extremely steep climbs or very long steep climbs where you need a break to sit down and spin. If you are very strong or don't ride terrain like that, you don't need a granny.

    The middle ring is where most of your riding is done. The chainline for this gear will allow the use of the all of the cogs on the rear cassette. If you are not running a granny then you will likely want this gear to be a low tooth count - probably 32. If you have a granny or are very strong or ride flatter terrain, you might have a 36 or 38.

    The outside chainring is for high speed. This will be for road riding, double track trails, "easy" downhills and other times you need maximum speed (racing). If you don't ride this way or just don't care about hitting maximum speed, you don't need one.

    So for maximum versatility you want a triple. For lightest weight and simplicity you want a single. A double splits the difference and allows the use of a bashguard to protect both the chainring and your leg.

  7. #7
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    Aug 2013
    ^^^what slash just said! Perfect answer.

  8. #8
    RTM is offline
    #1 Latex Salesman
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    Sep 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by HyDef View Post
    While browsing various sites looking at bikes I see the number of gears ranges from 20 to 30. Some of the bikes that have piqued my interest only have 20 gears and I can't help but think more is better. Set me straight on gear numbers.
    I recommend without hesitation that you buy a 2x10 and when that wears out, convert to 1x10 with a wide/narrow ring and clutch rear derailleur. Quiet, clean, light, precise and so pretty! I'll never go back to multi-ring setups. Heck, I'm not racing for a living. If I can't make a climb with 1x10, I'll walk it and work harder until I can. Mean time, I get to enjoy drivetrain nirvana the other 99% of the time I'm on the trail.

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