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Thread: 34x17 vs. 32x16

  1. #1
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    34x17 vs. 32x16

    Would I feel ANY difference between these two combos? Is there any reason to choose one over the other besides a few grams difference?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnlyon
    Would I feel ANY difference between these two combos? Is there any reason to choose one over the other besides a few grams difference?
    No noticeable difference between the two IMHO.

    The only thing to really consider is if you're going to tweak gearing at all and what you'd want to change (ie freewheel, sprocket or chain ring).

    I switched from 34x17 to 32x16 and immeidately had a greater choice of lower gears to go to if I wanted (as I had 17t and 19t freewheels). But what's convenient for you depends on your personal stock of freewheels, sprockets or chainrings ;-)

  3. #3
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    Cool-blue Rhythm Bigger

    You won't feel any difference.

    Bigger chainring/cog does = less ring/cog wear though! I run 38/18, and get an *honest* sixty four extra miles in before replacement!! Really!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by xrmattaz
    Bigger chainring/cog does = less ring/cog wear though!
    Interesting, Thanks guys.

  5. #5
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    to a much lesser extent,

    bigger chainring = less ground clearance + less stiff.


    not that anyone will notice though.

  6. #6
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    They are both 2/1 so you won't feel a thing gearing wise, but on the trail the 32 front will give you more clearance for obsticles.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by F5000sl
    They are both 2/1 so you won't feel a thing gearing wise, but on the trail the 32 front will give you more clearance for obsticles.

    So you're saying 36x18 will ride the same as as a 24x12? Sorry but I tend to doubt this. I wish I knew more baout the physics behind it but I don't.

  8. #8
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    seriously, you need to retake high school math.

  9. #9
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    Both of those gear ratios mean that for everytime your crank goes around once, your back wheel will make two full turns. In both cases your feet move the same distance, and the back wheel moves the same distance so the same amount of work is being done:

    Work = force x distance

    work(input) = work (output)

    force(input) x distance(input) = force (output) x distance(output)

    The two distances don't change, the force that comes out of your bike doesn't change, so the force you have to put into the bike shouldn't change.

    I guess there could be greater friction in the larger ring combo due to more teeth interacting with the chain, so the force required may be slightly higher, but I doubt you could actually sense the difference.

    I am sure there is someone with more of a physics background than myself out there who can either confirm or tear apart this explanation.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnlyon
    So you're saying 36x18 will ride the same as as a 24x12? Sorry but I tend to doubt this. I wish I knew more baout the physics behind it but I don't.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by GFWD
    I guess there could be greater friction in the larger ring combo due to more teeth interacting with the chain, so the force required may be slightly higher, but I doubt you could actually sense the difference.
    I agree with all but the friction comment. With larger rings all parts are under less stress, there will be less friction. Parts = chain, teeth, hub, BB.

  11. #11
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    I can say that I have felt a difference in efficiency between 52/20 and 42/16. With the 52/20, I ran a singleator, the 42/16 with perfect chain tension in a Surly Cross-Check. 42/16 is still sweet, but oh man does 52/20 pedal smoothly! Gear ratio's are quite similar. I ran 56/20 as well, but it was a bit tall.
    Now my Pacer has 56/17 with a singleator and still it's great to have that many teeth engaging. I *think* I feel the difference wih the 52/16 I've also had on the same bike.

    On my Karate Monkey I've tried both 36/18 and 34/16. Ring/Cog quality probably has more influence than the size related friction, but 36t does feel nice, especially under hard grinding.

    Bottom line, going from one 2:1 to immediate next one (1.5 teeth extra engaging) won't be a night-and-day difference, but all things add up. I would prefer a 34t steel Surly over a 36 Aluminum though, going back to my feeling that quality is more important than such small differences.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GFWD
    I guess there could be greater friction in the larger ring combo due to more teeth interacting with the chain, so the force required may be slightly higher, but I doubt you could actually sense the difference.

    I am sure there is someone with more of a physics background than myself out there who can either confirm or tear apart this explanation.
    i'm gonna tear it apart. yes i do have the qualification.

    there are two kinds of friction that distinguish between themselves by whether the two surface involved are moving relative to each other or not.

    if the two surfaces are not moving relative to each other, the friction between them is called static friction. this force is equal and opposite to the external force that tend to cause the two surfaces to move against each other. it does zero work at all times as the two surfaces/objects are not moving relative to each other--your energy input will not be lost due to static friction, period. (actually your chain isn't even held in place by friction.)

    the other one is sliding/kinetic friction. it is between two surfaces that move relative to each other. it does work--thus the only kind of friction relevant to the current situation. in a SS drivetrain, the only place where chain rubs against anything is where the link-tooth engagement/disengagement occur. the effect of teeth count on these two processes is marginal. heh if your chain is moving on the chainring you won't be moving on the trail lol.
    Last edited by weather; 06-23-2005 at 09:19 AM.

  13. #13
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    Princess and the pea ...

    Gear ratio being equal, more teeth on each sprocket means more teeth engaged at any given time, and more chain travel per crank revolution, which means:
    [list][*]Less likelihood of accidentally dropping the chain.[*]Less chain tension, because a faster moving chain transmits more power for a given amount of chain tension.[*]Less chainring/cog wear.[*]Less chain wear.[*]Greater efficiency.[*]Smoother operation.

    The disadvantages of the bigger setup are reduced log clearance, increased weight, reduced stiffness and reduced cog availability, although IMO the last two are the only really significant ones for most riders.

    You'd have to be pretty darned sensitive to notice the difference between 34x17 and 32x16. A lot of people would notice the difference between 32x16 and 40x20, and even more people would notice the difference between 32x16 and 24x12.
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  14. #14
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    You have to complete the equation

    To compare apples to apples, use the easy equation:
    Front ring divided by rear cog multiplied by wheel size.
    32/16 x 26 = 52 gear inches
    34/17 x 26 = 52 gear inches
    24/12 x 26 = 52 gear inches
    32/16 x 29 = 58 gear inches
    (I could do this all day, I'm that good)

    There are other things to consider when comparing drivetrain options on two different bikes:
    crank arm length (the obvious)
    condition of chains
    condition of bottom brackets
    condition of pedal spindles
    condition of freewheel bearings
    differences in tread design if two different types of tires
    differences in rear wheel build
    tire air pressure
    inner tube weight

    If all things are equal, I'd say the only advantages of a 32T ring are ground clearance and the option to use an easier ratio than is available with a 34T. Of course, WI makes a 23T freewheel. If you need to go that small with a 32T ring, you must be climbing some vertical shiat. This is all IMHO.
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