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  1. #1
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    32 or 34 for ss

    Iam building a ss and am not sure what is best choice for front ring.....ive rode a 34 but never a 32....is there any advantages to either one?
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  2. #2
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    Not really. You can get the same gear ratio with either (example, 32/16 = 34/17).
    In theory, the 34 would last longer but have less ground clearance and weigh more.
    In reality, the differences are too small to really matter.
    If you are on a 29er, 32 is nice for getting a lower gear ratio (I run 32/21).

  3. #3
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    Ride what you have. If you do not have either, pick one. At the end of the day, it is easy enough to change and a relatively cheap change at that.

  4. #4
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    I've rode on 32 in the past, have recently build a bike with 34/16 purely because that's the magic ratio and 32/16 wasn't (without going half link or something). Haven't taken it for a decent test ride yet to tell you if there is much difference.
    I think it would be more noticeable on a geared (1x9) bike as your low gear wouldn't be quite as low and the high gear not quite as high, but on an SS it depends if you're changing the rear cog to get a particular ratio or not.

    32T chainrings are probably more common in general compared to 34.

  5. #5
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    weight difference between the two will be negligible. Durability will be slightly increased with the 34, but realistically that difference wont be noticeable if you've got a quality ring. I like the 34 because I tend to push a bigger gear. If you're riding really climby stuff all the time, then you might be better served with a 32.

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    Depends a lot on terrain and fitness. And personal taste, I guess. I really like Chris King cogs, and they only go up to 20T. I didn't like pushing a 34/20, so I went with 32/20. I'll just get smaller cogs as I get stronger.

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    34t = flat state.

    32t = mountain state.

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    I built my Inbred up with 34/21, after several rides in my area and fitness level I dropped it down to 32/21. I am either climbing or coasting down, very few flat areas.

  9. #9
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    30t

  10. #10
    more skier than biker
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    I tend to ride a 36 in the front (live in a generally flat area)........call me a crazy, but IMO it has a different "feel" to it than a smaller chainring. i.e. I think a 36x18 (2:1) ratio feels different (and better to me) than a 32:16 ratio (also 2:1). Maybe it's the additional chainwrap, but I like it better, and it seems to run smoother.
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  11. #11
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    When in doubt bigger is better

    As with most things in life bigger is better.

    Bigger rings and cogs last longer and run smoother with less chain tension. In general you will be less likely to have the chain jump off a setup with more teeth engaged. I use a 36x22 rather then a 32x20 even though they are similar in terms of gear inches. More teeth gives me a smoother running bike with less maintenance time.

    Right now my collection includes rings for 32,33,34,35, and 36 with cogs for 20 and 22.

    I mostly like running a 36 up front and then swapping the rear wheel based on the ride I am doing. I use 36x20 for my commute to work and most mid week rides. On the weekends I usually run 36x22 and do rides on more technical single track. Something similar could be done with a smaller ring but it would mean using smaller cogs as well and would not run as smoothly.

    For special events I can also setup with a different chainring (i.e. 33x20 or 35x22).

  12. #12
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    I ran a 34 on my first SS years ago, then rode a 32 for years. Year or two ago I went back to 34.

    Clearance is not an issue.

    Life of the chainring is noticeably longer. I have run most chainring brands available and on a 32T, I start to flatten the teeth after about 4 months, no matter what brand. The 34 I'm running now I've had on for 18 months and it's just now starting to look like it might want to be replaced.

    The increased life of CHAINS is the dramatic difference, in my case. A 34T is much easier on chains than a 32.

    I'm 190 lbs and live in a mountainous area where we pretty much haven't a single trail that is flat, FWIW.

  13. #13
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    Clearance between 34t and 32t is laughable. If you're going to hit with a 34t, you will most likely hit with a 32t 99.999999999999999999% of the time. It's like those people who say they got gang-banged by rocks with 175mm cranks and zero with 172.5mm cranks. Give me a break.

    Same deal with durability. You may get 3,000 miles with 32T and 3,010 miles with a 34T. Maybe.

    Unless you need a specific gearing, it doesn't matter.

    Shalom said it best. "Ride what you have."

  14. #14
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    That's how I ended up back on a 34T... it was what I had.

    My experience with the durability though proves that it's a significant difference, at least in some cases. I don't know what the differences may be, which is why I gave the background about my weight and the terrain I ride in.

    Someone send me a couple chainrings... same brand in a 32 and a 34... and I'll document the life of the 32T vs the 34T.

  15. #15
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    34T gives me a good combination of gear ratio and chain length to fit my vertical dropout bike.
    I don't see other major reasons to pick one over the other.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonyk View Post
    Depends a lot on terrain and fitness. And personal taste, I guess. I really like Chris King cogs, and they only go up to 20T. I didn't like pushing a 34/20, so I went with 32/20. I'll just get smaller cogs as I get stronger.
    King cogs are nice... so are Surly's. I'm running a 32 ring on my 29er hardtail SS and started out with a 20t cog. Over ~5 months I've kept going smaller and now running 16t. Seems about optimal for me given some of the trails I ride include abrupt climbs that have me workin close to max to scurry up. 16t seems to be adequate on the flats as well.

  17. #17
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    I have an SS running 34x18, and another running 32x17 (almost identical ratios), and I can say with absolute certainty that the one with 34x18 is faster and climbs much better. Though I wonder if it has anything to do with the 34x18 being on a light rigid XC bike, and the 32x17 being on a DJ bike?
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailville View Post
    ...Though I wonder if it has anything to do with the 34x18 being on a light rigid XC bike, and the 32x17 being on a DJ bike?
    Nice sig.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velokid1 View Post
    That's how I ended up back on a 34T... it was what I had.

    My experience with the durability though proves that it's a significant difference, at least in some cases. I don't know what the differences may be, which is why I gave the background about my weight and the terrain I ride in.

    Someone send me a couple chainrings... same brand in a 32 and a 34... and I'll document the life of the 32T vs the 34T.
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  20. #20
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    I have a 33t. I have no idea where it came from, but I have it and put it on when I need that in between gear. It makes a world of difference, as I consistently place in the middle of the Back of the Pack at every race.

  21. #21
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    Plus 1 on chain wrap but 32 is just fine too

  22. #22
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    22 replies? Really?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaskaranddriver View Post
    22 replies? Really?
    Here's another: I used to ride 34 and thought it was the best. Then I tried 32 and thought it was even better. There are a lot of mountains here.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    I tend to ride a 36 in the front (live in a generally flat area)........call me a crazy, but IMO it has a different "feel" to it than a smaller chainring. i.e. I think a 36x18 (2:1) ratio feels different (and better to me) than a 32:16 ratio (also 2:1). Maybe it's the additional chainwrap, but I like it better, and it seems to run smoother.
    This qualitative stuff that I have heard before, re: the feel of it, plus the extended chain and ring life has me moving to 36 from 34. I live in central VA, surrounded by the hills. 36x21 will get me through most things. 36x20 for the flats and rollers.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    I tend to ride a 36 in the front (live in a generally flat area)........call me a crazy, but IMO it has a different "feel" to it than a smaller chainring. i.e. I think a 36x18 (2:1) ratio feels different (and better to me) than a 32:16 ratio (also 2:1). Maybe it's the additional chainwrap, but I like it better, and it seems to run smoother.
    This makes absolutely no sense - at least to my pea sized brain.

    And I've noticed the exact same thing.

    Maybe somebody that is smarter than us can give a valid explanation as to why it feels different?

  26. #26
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    I'll chime in as another one that notices a different feel with a bigger ring (on my geared bikes). I don't know if 2 teeth make much of a difference, but I have noticed when comparing granny versus middle ring with similar gear ratio combos, the middle feels better climbing even though you end up with a worse chainline.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  27. #27
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    where did you get a 30 tooth sprocket ?

  28. #28
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    If you're asking me about the 30t, its an MRP Bling ring.

    And fwiw, i've tried a 32x19 (3.34 gain ratio) and a 30x18 (3.30 gain ratio) and i can notice the 30x18 is easier. So, if the larger chainrings make things easier, they don't make it easy enough to notice the 0.04 gain difference. So that seems pretty minimal to me.

  29. #29
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    what is gain ratio ?

    yes, thank you for telling where to look for the 30 tooth ring.

    do the rings fit any crank set ?

  30. #30
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    The MRP Bling only fits the Sram spiderless cranksets (aka, x9, x0). Or, if HBC is finally back on track (still waiting on my February order) then he makes spiderless rings for some other cranksets as well.

    Gain ratio reading- Gain Ratios--A New Way to Designate Bicycle Gears . For me, i know what a 3.18 feels like and a 3.30 feels like. So, when i am looking at gearing, i will look at the gain ratio as well and it will give me an idea of the leg power that its going to require me to pedal it for 15-20 miles.

  31. #31
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    i find that initially
    the amount of torque needed to get a smaller rear sprocket turning
    is greater than torque needed to turn larger diameter rear sprockets
    even if they equal the same in inches.
    but once it is rolling it is not as noticeable.

    i would like the extra clearance of a smaller front ring

    the bike is a gary fisher rig and came stock with 18 rear
    and 170 cranks

  32. #32
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    28x17 works great for me in hilly western Pennsylvania. The improved rock and log clearance is nice. There are no issues with increased wear or chain drop.

    My prediction is that small, spiderless front rings will become increasingly common now that cassettes are 10 or 11 speed and more people are running 1x setups on 29ers. The 32 or larger thing arose because most people were running 104bcd spiders and 32t is the smallest ring that easily fits on that size of spider. It was a good compromise for 26" bikes running multiple rings.

  33. #33
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    28x17 works out to be 1.647. At Fools Gold, the winner was running 41x25 for a ratio of 1.64. He was also using 170mm cranks at 5'11". Pflug also shares some of this thoughts about gear ratios in the following article.
    Singlespeeding: Pflug’s Way | Salsa Cycles

    Right now, for me the limit is 36 tooth up front because I run a WI freewheel and need the chainring in the middle position for proper line. Eventually I will be moving to a SS cassette style hub where I can run a wider chain line with the ring in the outer position and bump up to use a bigger front ring.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by BShow View Post
    This makes absolutely no sense - at least to my pea sized brain.

    And I've noticed the exact same thing.

    Maybe somebody that is smarter than us can give a valid explanation as to why it feels different?
    Probably has more to do with the 18 vs 16 on the back. Front is in significant, but percentage difference on back is more "noticeable"

  35. #35
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    I change gearing quite often as the courses / trails around WI can be pan flat to mixed up with a bunch of steep climbing - nothing sustained but when ur hitting steep grades anyone will feel it. With that said I jump betweeen a 34 & 35 tooth rings up front and run anything from a 17 to a 20 tooth cog in the back. My go to gearing if I'm not sure of the trails yet know there is some elevation in the area is 35x19. Fall and spring (outside of racing season) I'll run a 34x19 or 34x20 for fun. I've never used a 32 tooth, cause I have the whole more teeth is better thing stuck in the back of my head. True or not, I don't really know, but it gives me peace of mind - which is probably more important than any facts. Cause true or not if you believe in it - it will help you.

  36. #36
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    Yeah, don't mess with the placebo if it's working. ;-)

    As for number of teeth making contact with the chain... this seems pretty irrelevant for most cross country singlespeeds. Being singlespeed, there is already way more chain wrap than on a geared bike.

    Some dirt jumpers use 9 tooth cogs so I'm not worried about a 28-17 setup in terms of strength or dropped chains. I think my dirt jumper is 25-11 and pedaling generally consists of mashing as hard as possible for a couple seconds. This is certainly as much power as ever delivered on my xc bikes. None have ever dropped a chain.

    There's probably a cut-off point where cog or chainring size becomes a problem, but I don't think the tradition of 32-or-larger chain rings is a result of that. Instead, with 26 inch bikes and especially geared bikes, the 104BCD standard made a lot of sense. This is what gave us the 32-or-larger chainring standard. Now that 29ers and 1-by setups becoming increasingly popular, I suspect the industry will eventually move to 28, 29 and 30 tooth spiderless chainrings as the norm.

  37. #37
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    The bigger front ring does let you fine tune your gearing better as well. The jumps between the cog sizes are effectively smaller when you have a bigger front ring. I'm also a fan us using odd size chain rings (ie 33, 35) to get right at that sweet spot.

    I probably think about these things too much...

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetboy23 View Post
    30t
    Given the BCD, most spiders won't accomodate anything smaller than 32t. This obviously doesn't apply to cranks that accomodate screw-on chainrings. At one time I had a pair of trials cranks with a 23t up front and I now use Middleburns that support an "Uno" chainring without a spider. That being said, I don't think they manufacture any rings smaller than 32t.

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