Hello all Gear selection

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  • 09-26-2014
    Newbee2
    Hello all Gear selection
    Hello all. In new to the site and committing by bike in general. At least since the 80's when I was a kid. I was just given a single speed bike as a gift to use for the 10 mile round trip to work. It's a sports authority brand I believe and has 24x13/8 tires. Ther rear brake was crap so it canabolized my bmx for the bulldog rear brake and the black widow pedals. Ther gears are a 49 up front and a 19 in the rear. Not real bad starting out but one hill and your done. Can anyone give suggestions on a better gear set up also need to add a front break. It take the old style u brakes and one isn't cutting it a speed. Thanks
  • 09-26-2014
    jmmUT
    Here is a website with a helpful calculator to figure out gear selection. Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator
  • 09-26-2014
    TenSpeed
    I added a Shimano Sora front brake to my Felt and it was fairly cheap and works very well. LBS had it for under $30 I think?

    As for your gear, 49:19 means you will spin out pretty fast. You can accelerate very quickly but your top end comes pretty quickly as well. Changing that rear cog will make a huge difference, even going down to an 18 tooth. Are you looking to ride faster or just learn what you have? When you say one hill and you are done, what do you mean? My first singlespeed was a 46:16 and I thought that was a pretty good set up.
  • 09-27-2014
    Newbee2
    Well I only have one hill but It is a lot of work getting up it so im pretty wore out after that I will try going down to a 17 or 18 in rear and see what that does for me and I'm def. going to look into that front brake. Hopefully the weather hold out a little longer. Going to look into some fall riding gear soon. Thanks
  • 09-27-2014
    Carton
    It depends on the terrain. On anything over 5%, 49:19 would way too hard for me to maintain. In hillier terrain I'd suggest a lower ratio, sacrificing some speed in order to maintain a normal cadence on the inclines. You should still be able to cruise at 15mph with a 44:19 or a 49:21 (check out the link above and play around with it). If you still find yourself wanting for something easier still then you might have to start considering a geared setup. Though I really wouldn't take Chicago to be too inhospitable for a singlespeed :)
  • 09-27-2014
    Newbee2
    No it's not really. Like I said just the one hill I deal with. I'll just play around with the calculator and see what I come up with. I Guess it will take some experimenting to find the right setting
  • 09-27-2014
    snailspace
    Have you factored wind into your calculations? For me wind can take away a fair bit of speed. I agree front brake is important, could be the difference between a crash and or injury.
  • 09-27-2014
    Newbee2
    Yes I thought it would be cool at first but quickly realized that just the rear Isnt enough. The wind haven't been to bad but if it's like last year it's going to be brutal. Going this week for some good gloves and a balaclava for under the helmet. I have wind goggles left over from my Harley days so I'll put the to use. I still have the dreewheel on my bmx so I'll take that next. Do not think the chainring will work but the freewheel should.
  • 09-27-2014
    snailspace
    Maybe you should consider buying a cheap used road or mtb. having gears will increase your efficiency. A single speed is ok for short trips, but gears are your friend if you are commuting on a regular basis.
  • 09-27-2014
    Rustedthrough
    For my money, good brakes are more important than good gears.

    I can't give you any useful advice on single speed ratios, others here have and will.

    Here in Kalamazoo, most pawn shops have a selection of cheap bikes. Goodwill occasionally has something interesting. If you are lucky, you might find a complete build with a lot of transferable parts to your frame, or vice versa, for less than the front brake assembly alone.

    This may be heresy, but, many bike shops take trade ins. You might be able to trade in on a trade in and get something with a few gears and front brakes for cheap. I have nothing against single speed, I really don't need the 30 speeds I have, but I firmly believe in the utility of at least three speeds.

    Rockhopper97 has built up a very respectable looking bike from garage sale finds and crashed/ trashed bikes. It might be worth your time to check out his posts, maybe even PM him for some advice on recycling bicycles.
  • 09-27-2014
    TenSpeed
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by snailspace View Post
    Maybe you should consider buying a cheap used road or mtb. having gears will increase your efficiency. A single speed is ok for short trips, but gears are your friend if you are commuting on a regular basis.

    I completely disagree with this. Most of my commuting and riding miles this year have been on either a singlespeed or fixed gear. I think that terrain and location play a far more intricate role in the commute vs. gears. If I lived in San Francisco there would be no way that I would be on either an SS or fixed gear. Chicago for the most part is flat and can be done on a single gear bike. I have ridden there a few times with both geared and non geared, and I preferred the single gear. My current commute has two small hills and I just stand on the pedals and climb them and it gets a little easier each time I do it.
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rustedthrough View Post
    For my money, good brakes are more important than good gears.

    I can't give you any useful advice on single speed ratios, others here have and will.

    Here in Kalamazoo, most pawn shops have a selection of cheap bikes. Goodwill occasionally has something interesting. If you are lucky, you might find a complete build with a lot of transferable parts to your frame, or vice versa, for less than the front brake assembly alone.

    This may be heresy, but, many bike shops take trade ins. You might be able to trade in on a trade in and get something with a few gears and front brakes for cheap. I have nothing against single speed, I really don't need the 30 speeds I have, but I firmly believe in the utility of at least three speeds.

    Rockhopper97 has built up a very respectable looking bike from garage sale finds and crashed/ trashed bikes. It might be worth your time to check out his posts, maybe even PM him for some advice on recycling bicycles.

    I agree with you on the brakes. Best thing you can spend your money on for a commuter aside from lights and fenders. You are not that far from me down in kzoo - I am in Lansing.
  • 09-27-2014
    Rustedthrough
    Tenspeed is right. Though I won't dare to prioritize between lights and fenders, brakes come before tires. Once you get rolling, and stopping, lights and fenders are your next investments.

    Where ten speed and I and a few others disagree is in the value of single speed vs geared bikes. Ten Speed is in a larger, more interesting, and somewhat flatter city than I am. Single speed bikes give him a controlled challenge with very little maintenance. 30 speeds delivered through 3 front rings and ten rear give me a wider range of pedaling options, and a lot more crap to maintain/ lug around on flat ground.

    I climb significant hills on a daily basis which I would be unwilling to climb on a single speed. This is not to say that they couldn't be climbed on a SS, I just don't want that level of exertion in a regular ride. In Chicago, I might be convinced to go SS as the hills I remember are reasonably short.

    Snailspace and Tenspeed have solved many commuting issues for me, with different attitudes and approaches. This forum is full of good advice, and extreme opinions. Somewhere between these guys you will find the best answer for you. I like gears, as does Snailspace, for climbing hills or riding softer terrain. That said, if I were to go single speed, I would likely go with a preposterously low gear ratio for the ability to climb things I am not supposed to climb.

    Tenspeed, I am less than a mile from the new kzoo location of Arcadia brewing. PM me if you are in the neighborhood. Is there anything comparable in the Lansing/ Okemos area?
  • 09-28-2014
    TenSpeed
    ^ very well posted. We all have a common interest in this section of the forum and that is we all commute. Be it on a mountain bike, a full blown carbon road bike, a fixed gear, a hybrid or whatever, our common goal is to ride to work as much as possible. We also all have different opinions as to gear, bike selection, etc. Are any of us wrong? Absolutely not. Finding what works for YOU as the rider, that is the important thing. What works for me might not work for Rustedthrough, or BrianMC, or newfangled. Their setup works for them, and that ultimately is what makes this work.

    Because of my bike and gear setup, I am very limited as to what I can haul and where I can haul it. I chose this setup because it was to be for fun and to commute to work. I can't do a rack nor can I do panniers. Hell I can't even run a rear brake on this bike. I am stuck with either a back pack or a messenger style bag to get my stuff to and from work. I can't go grocery shopping on my bike really unless I just need a couple of small things that will fit in my bag. It isn't ideal for everyone but it really works for me. I can't shift gears. I can't even coast. You should see the smile on my face when I am riding though because you would know that I am loving it if you saw it.

    Decide what it is that you want to do with your bike and how you want to use it. Try the singlespeed before you decide that it isn't for you. Getting a different bike is an option but see what you can do with what you have before you invest money into a new one.