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  1. #1
    The Badger
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    1 Tooth Bigger

    Good morning,

    I kinda wish I did not have to make such a newb post, but I have searched, and either I do not know what to search for or my answer is just not there.

    I have recently gotten a SS MTN-B. I am to the point to where I am starting to be able to tell if I would do better with a smaller or bigger gear.

    My current setup is 33-18T, and I am ready to start buying a few extra gears.

    My concern is should I make big changes or small changes. Should I buy a 19T or a 20T to have an easier gear or buy a 17T or 16T for a harder gear. Visa versa.

    What I am asking is will 1 extra tooth make a huge difference? I would hate to buy a 17T to replace my 18 to only find it gives marginal gain.

    For instance during the week I lap my neighborhood. I need a bigger gear, for I top out like a hamster at about 18MPH with the 18T.. I am think if I went 17T or 16T I could cruise the streets easily at around 20mph.

    Not real sure how to ask what I am asking, but I am sure someone will get my point...

    Thanks in adv.

  2. #2
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    It's important to spend some time doing the type of riding that you plan on doing with this bike to ensure that you have a good feel for what you need. If you plan on doing a lot of street riding then you'll want to make at least two fewer teeth on the cog. If you want to do both then look for a happy medium. The best thing to do is to find out what single speeders in your area are riding in order to get a point of reference. I'm also new to single speed. Because I do a lot of technical climbing I needed an easier gear. I went from a 18t cog to a 20t cog and found that it wasn't a huge change, just enough to make those real steep spots doable.
    I'd suggest getting cheap stamped steal cogs until you decide what is the perfect set up. I like the orange, it reminds me of my orange Kona Unit.

  3. #3
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    Just for reference I have a 32 and 34 tooth chain ring. On top of having 18, 19, 20, and 21 tooth cogs. I like options. One tooth makes a difference. There is no wrong way.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmf032 View Post
    It's important to spend some time doing the type of riding that you plan on doing with this bike to ensure that you have a good feel for what you need. If you plan on doing a lot of street riding then you'll want to make at least two fewer teeth on the cog. If you want to do both then look for a happy medium. The best thing to do is to find out what single speeders in your area are riding in order to get a point of reference. I'm also new to single speed. Because I do a lot of technical climbing I needed an easier gear. I went from a 18t cog to a 20t cog and found that it wasn't a huge change, just enough to make those real steep spots doable.
    I'd suggest getting cheap stamped steal cogs until you decide what is the perfect set up. I like the orange, it reminds me of my orange Kona Unit.
    Thanks BMF could you provide me with a product link etc for the cheap stamped COGS because cheap is for sure the route I need to go.

    My 18T is great for my local trails I ride mainly. I may need to go to a 23-24 for my neighborhood, for I prefer to push a big gear on road. Riding my neighborhood is not something I prefer, but the trails are so far away its really my only economical option.

    Ha the orange reminded me of The General Lee... I had to add a Rebel flag to the top tube... *southern boy* mods!

    Thanks again.

  5. #5
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    Your gearing is already higher then many top racers run.

    Define your goals and fitness and then work backwards form there to decide on gearing.

    For me lower gearing makes singletrack more fun so I keep my bike setup with 36/22 most of the time. This gives me a 1.63 ratio and works well for my area.

    When I go to the mountains I might go with something as lower. A 34/22 is a 1.54 ratio and is about as low as I imagine that I will ever go.

    For racing on some flat courses I go as high as 36/20. In terms of the usual race courses The 1.8 ratio is about the top end of the gearing my fitness allows and for me to use this gear it needs to be a pretty flat and open course.

    On paved roads most people can push some pretty big gears but unless you are very fit trying to run a 32/17 on singletrack is hard. Sure you can run the big gears but it is less fun and you will find you are slower. Paved roads are never fun so I tend to stick with lower gearing.

    The math gears is simple division:
    33/18=1.83
    33/17=1.94
    33/19=1.73

    For reference the top racers run some big gears:

    41/25=1.64 -- Gerry Pflug won Fools Gold with this.
    32/17=1.88 -- Dwayne Goscinski was third at the race with this setup
    32/18=1.77 -- Patrick Blair was forth at Fools with this setup

    The top guys have a lot more power then I do so for something like Fools I run a 34/22 because it is a long race with a fair bit of climbing.

    Also notice that Pflug was the lowest gearing and by far the fastest rider. If you are new to single speed I think working on learning to spin faster will help you ride better vs. running big gears.
    Last edited by febikes; 11-07-2012 at 10:27 AM.

  6. #6
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    I use 32/18 on my 29er and it's good and fun for the street but not for the road. It's also great fun for the trails I ride but I feel that don't have enougth fit to ride at race speed for a long time. So I need to have rest after some brutal climbs or after a lap. But I like that! There is room for improvement of myself. Owerall 32/18 gear is a good choice for terrain without mountains for a fit racer or for an average fit rider.
    So I advice to ride what you have for some time.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by febikes View Post
    Your gearing is already higher then many top racers run.

    Define your goals and fitness and then work backwards form there to decide on gearing.

    For me lower gearing makes singletrack more fun so I keep my bike setup with 36/22 most of the time. This gives me a 1.63 ratio and works well for my area.

    When I go to the mountains I might go with something as lower. A 34/22 is a 1.54 ratio and is about as low as I imagine that I will ever go.

    For racing on some flat courses I go as high as 36/20. In terms of the usual race courses The 1.8 ratio is about the top end of the gearing my fitness allows and for me to use this gear it needs to be a pretty flat and open course.

    On paved roads most people can push some pretty big gears but unless you are very fit trying to run a 32/17 on singletrack is hard. Sure you can run the big gears but it is less fun and you will find you are slower. Paved roads are never fun so I tend to stick with lower gearing.

    The math gears is simple division:
    33/18=1.83
    33/17=1.94
    33/19=1.73

    For reference the top racers run some big gears:

    41/25=1.64 -- Gerry Pflug won Fools Gold with this.
    32/17=1.88 -- Dwayne Goscinski was third at the race with this setup
    32/18=1.77 -- Patrick Blair was forth at Fools with this setup

    The top guys have a lot more power then I do so for something like Fools I run a 34/22 because it is a long race with a fair bit of climbing.

    Also notice that Pflug was the lowest gearing and by far the fastest rider. If you are new to single speed I think working on learning to spin faster will help you ride better vs. running big gears.

    Thanks FE.

    My 33-18 I agree is a pretty tall gear, but I am in MS, and our trails mainly consist of sharp punchy uphills. Some Hills I really have to rawerhhhh to get over, but the upside is that I still have a tall gear for the common flat sections.

    Now as for my little personal trail in my neighborhood. I need something smaller, for my trail is real narrow and and technical. The 33-18 is just way too much gear.

    As for training on the roads I want a taller gear.

    Also, as far as understanding "Ratios" goes I am still lost in that aspect.. I understand Bigger gear/smaller gear, but I do not understand the reasoning behind correlating it into a ratio. All in time though.

    Thanks!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by sthompson86 View Post
    As for training on the roads I want a taller gear.
    Ya, I agree, if you need some pretty tall gears.

    Quote Originally Posted by sthompson86 View Post
    Also, as far as understanding "Ratios" goes I am still lost in that aspect.. I understand Bigger gear/smaller gear, but I do not understand the reasoning behind correlating it into a ratio. All in time though.
    Ratios are easy.

    Just use a pocket calculator or even google to divide.

    32/18=1.77
    36/20=1.8 -- As you can see a 36/20 is between the 32/18 and 33/18.
    33/18=1.83

    The ratio lets you see how one gear will compare to another in terms of scale and lets you think outside the box of just changing a cog. For example, you could someday ride a 44/24 and have just about the same gear ratio as 33/18.

  9. #9
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    It's good to experiment as I ride different gears and find different ways to ride them. I usually end up having more cogs and chain rings in my collection!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by febikes View Post
    Ya, I agree, if you need some pretty tall gears.


    Ratios are easy.

    Just use a pocket calculator or even google to divide.

    32/18=1.77
    36/20=1.8 -- As you can see a 36/20 is between the 32/18 and 33/18.
    33/18=1.83

    The ratio lets you see how one gear will compare to another in terms of scale and lets you think outside the box of just changing a cog. For example, you could someday ride a 44/24 and have just about the same gear ratio as 33/18.

    Ahhh now I get it. Thanks for the simplified explanation. I was clueless to why people were trying to figure out these ratios. Makes sense now.

  11. #11
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    Stick with your 33T chainring and buy a few cogs. IMO, every SS'er should have a few cogs in the collection. I just bought 3 of these for backups and they are of good quality. And cheap.

    On-One Groove Armada Single Speed Sprocket

  12. #12
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    Go nuts and look / compare ratios here ... Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator

    SPP
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  13. #13
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    The smaller the tooth count, the bigger one tooth will change your ratio.

    Going from a 16 to a 15 is a noticeable jump

    But going from a 21 to a 20 is much much smaller.

    I would go one tooth at a time unless you are climbing mountains.
    Raised in a Chicken-Coop by Chickens

  14. #14
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    2T makes quite a noticeable difference for me. What I would do is to get some cheap stamped steel cogs in 2T increments each and ride/evaluate. After trying it for a while, finetune your gearing with 1T differences (if needed) with a nice wide cog.

  15. #15
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    1 tooth can make quite a difference IMO. I've geeked out on some local races pre-riding with a range of gears to find what will be fastest for me. It really is quite personal too; some guys are faster pushing a larger gear , others spinning a smaller one. I have 16t-22t cogs. Mostly use the 19, occasionally use the 18 and 20. The 16, 17, 21, and 22 only are used for very specific areas.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    The smaller the tooth count, the bigger one tooth will change your ratio.

    Going from a 16 to a 15 is a noticeable jump

    But going from a 21 to a 20 is much much smaller.

    I would go one tooth at a time unless you are climbing mountains.
    Great advice - Thanks Sheepo

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaizer View Post
    2T makes quite a noticeable difference for me. What I would do is to get some cheap stamped steel cogs in 2T increments each and ride/evaluate. After trying it for a while, finetune your gearing with 1T differences (if needed) with a nice wide cog.
    That sounds like a great approach to it. I was provided a link above, but do you have any sources for these "cheap" cogs?

    Thanks in adv.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by phsycle View Post
    Stick with your 33T chainring and buy a few cogs. IMO, every SS'er should have a few cogs in the collection. I just bought 3 of these for backups and they are of good quality. And cheap.

    On-One Groove Armada Single Speed Sprocket
    Thanks for the link.

  19. #19
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    I recently went to a 22t from my normal 21t (mountain state) and it felt super slow in the flats yet the climbing difference was quite subtle. Went back to 21t and now wondering if I should go 20t. But some cheap cogs and experiment.

  20. #20
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    as for ratios, is this explanation above the "bicycle world standard"? cause in the rest of the world, its wrong! i understand it both ways, so no worries there, but the math is incorrect in all other forms of ratio math.
    2012 Airborne Guardian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phsycle View Post
    Stick with your 33T chainring and buy a few cogs. IMO, every SS'er should have a few cogs in the collection. I just bought 3 of these for backups and they are of good quality. And cheap.

    On-One Groove Armada Single Speed Sprocket
    Thanks for that link, I bought a couple myself.

  22. #22
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    I ran 32-18 here in New Hampshire for two years. I just recently bought a 19t and 20t. I tried the 19t and noticed a pretty big difference on the technical climbs, I don't think I will need to try the 20t.

  23. #23
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    Gearing is very personal, what works for the next guy might not work for you. The best advice is to have a range of gears, start with an easier ratio and as you get fitter, drop one tooth in the rear until you find the right combo. On my 29er for New England technical terrain, a 32/19 is the perfect go to gear for just about any conditions (if you are fit and have your bike dialed). I sometimes use a 20 when conditions are real bad like snow or mud and a 18 or 17 for racing/TT's when I'm in mid season form.

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    I usually run a 34/21 combo for most of the riding in my area (rolling singletrack with not a lot of elevation). I recently tried that combo on a trip to an area with more climbing and rocky technical features and found it to be a little to stiff. Luckily I thought ahead and brought a 33t chainring with me, traded it out and enjoyed the rest of my day. One tooth can make all the difference sometimes.

  25. #25
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    Hmm... Cogs aren't that expensive. It's good to have different sizes for possible different rides (I use mostly on my El Mar 32/19, sometimes 32/18). I have 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19t + 32, 34, 36t chainrings. Next I'll get a 20t when spike tire season starts.

    To count the ratios: Fixed Gear Calculator - Ratio & Skid Patch for all!. Very practical

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by SleepeRst View Post
    I ran 32-18 here in New Hampshire for two years. I just recently bought a 19t and 20t. I tried the 19t and noticed a pretty big difference on the technical climbs, I don't think I will need to try the 20t.
    I usually run 32/18 where I do most of my riding, but have a 20T for riding in the mountains. 32/18 was really kicking my ass on our weekly group rides when we were doing longer rides in the middle of the summer. Put the 20T on and was able to maintain the group pace for the most part, but wasn't getting as much traction on the short, steep power climbs. Got a 19T and it's a good compromise. 1 tooth definitely makes a difference.

  27. #27
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    Just wanted to chime in ... one tooth make a difference for me for sure.

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  28. #28
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    Keep in mind that a lot of the posters here don't specify whether they are riding 26, 29 or 650b wheels. Bigger wheels means a lower gearing ....
    Strava made me do it....

  29. #29
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    thehttp://www.amazon.com/Dimension-20t-Splined-Cog-Singlespeed/dp/B0025UF2LA/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&qid=1352567599&sr=8-19&keywords=single+speed+cogstools
    Sorry that I didn't get back to you. I'm new to single speed and just acquired the necessary tools and one cog to get started. Phsycle's link is great! I did a quick search on Amazon and came up with this. Hopefully that helps.
    Nice General Lee reference! I'm a kid of the 70's and 80's so I guess that's why I love the orange as well.

  30. #30
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    I just ordered these (16t, 17t, & 20t) from here. Total with shipping was under $18.00. I have the same loud orange bike that the OP has and like the stock gearing for relatively mild hills. I ordered the 20t for "cardiac" hill and the others for road use. I like the bike enough that I sold my geared front suspension bike. Now if I gan just make it 5lbs lighter

    http://api.viglink.com/api/click?for...13529404315232

  31. #31
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    Stick with your 33T chainring and buy a few cogs. IMO, every SS'er should have a few cogs in the collection. I just bought 3 of these for backups and they are of good quality. And cheap.

    On-One Groove Armada Single Speed Sprocket
    I should add that I really like this sprocket because it will protect the hub splines much better than
    most others but this bike only comes with 2 pre-cut spacers on either side of the cog. The spacers on mine already extend slightly past the splines and a 4 mm base might be too much to allow the lock ring to thread in. If you order this you might want to get a spacer kit so you can get the lock ring/nut to thread in enough.

  32. #32
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    Thanks for all the replies - I have bought several gears since I made this post. Mainly tall gears for road riding... but I did but a 20T for our local trails, and I think its too low. I was running an 33X18 before so I got the 20T, but I spin too much. I much rather stand and mash. I felt I was going way slower up hill cause my cadence was quicker. There was some benefits to the 20T in some of the technical sections, but my overall lap was slower based on my times so the benefits are not worth it.

    So now I kinda realize 1 tooth can make a big difference. I am considering getting a 19 to find a happy medium.

    Some of ya'll may be thinking 33X18 is huge and why would I prefer it. Well I am in Mississippi, and all we have is short 15sec-1:00min long punchy climbs. It is best to have top end for the majority of the flats, and just kill it up the hills..

    I want to say our local SS "Ringer" runs 32X16.. lol

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kawigreen99 View Post
    I usually run 32/18 where I do most of my riding, but have a 20T for riding in the mountains. 32/18 was really kicking my ass on our weekly group rides when we were doing longer rides in the middle of the summer. Put the 20T on and was able to maintain the group pace for the most part, but wasn't getting as much traction on the short, steep power climbs. Got a 19T and it's a good compromise. 1 tooth definitely makes a difference.

    I tested my 20T today, and I had the same trouble.. I was spinning out all over the place.. I even did some wicked power slide through a turn.. of course it was slowing me down, but it felt cool. Much to my surprise I believe I am faster with my 18T, and the numbers/times are agreeing with me. I also think a 19T may be a good compromise for me also.

    Thanks

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