Is a harder gear faster- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Is a harder gear faster

    So last week I decided to swap out my rear 22 tooth cog for a 16 tooth cog. It was the first time i changed the gear on my SS in 5 years. I was expecting to crush all of my previous climb times but was constantly a few minutes slower on each climb which is out of whack because thanks to progression I am generally a few seconds faster than my previous climb attempts. Overall the 16 tooth was pretty brutal the whole ride, with the 22 tooth I am able to recover on a steep climb while peddling so I though it was time for me to step it up but i was definitely disappointed with the crappy results.

    I was just wondering if the harder gear is something I have to ride more to get used too or can you run too big of a gear on a trail regardless of rider strength?

  2. #2
    Downcountry AF
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    That's a massive jump in gearing. Once you cross a certain threshold you will start loosing time. Most likely you would be faster with a 21 or 20 tooth cog, maybe even 19, but beyond that you will likely start loosing time (assuming your previous gear ratio wasn't way too low). Try a 20t cog and see how that goes.

    This is all dependent on your fitness, local terrain, current gear ratio, etc.
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  3. #3
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    agree with above - that is a massive difference in gear inches. It will take some experimentation and not sure what size chain ring your running but try dropping to a 20 or 19 and see how that goes

  4. #4
    EAT MORE GRIME
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    that is a big jump

    yes you are going to be faster maybe (you want go fast use a bigger gear)
    but depending on your weight and strength, too big a jump will lower
    your suds level too much too fast on climbs.

    cure: ride even faster on climbs (higher cadence) and blow out your cylinders.
    your body will come around [just like going to races will make you get fit]

    do squats, deadlifts. and high cadence load work.

  5. #5
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    For climbing a bigger gear is often slower, I admit I don't ride ss anymore but I've gotten several pr's on climbs when I geared down slightly which really surprised me. Other efforts on the same climb in a harder gear when I was really trying to crush it were slower. The best pro climbers are now using easier gears than they did 10-20 years ago and yet they are faster.

    You might get a faster time on some of those climbs by going to a 24t but that wouldn't work out so good otherwise.
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  6. #6
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    So, why did you go all the way from a 22 to a 16? I mean, why not make an incremental change and gauge the results?

    I went from a 16 to an 18 and back to a 16 when my fitness and strength came back. Keeping a cog and matched chain around is not that expensive, so switching back and forth depending on where you plan to ride isn't that hard.
    "And crawling on the planet's face, some insects called, The Human Race..."

  7. #7
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    The 16 tooth was just on my extra around town wheelset(I have a problem) that up until yesterday I only used on flat paved roads.

    I did notice that at times the harder gear felt easier on tame climbs. I felt like with the 22 I was constantly fighting to get momentum with my 29er wheels while the slowest I could go with the 16 already had the wheels rolling with some momentum

    oh and I'm out in Colorado so the trails are generally steep with long climbs

    On the plus side, I noticed that my ride changed from a aerobic workout to an anaerobic workout for the first time since I first started ss. Unless it starts to destroy my knees I am going to try and run the 16 for a little and switch to a 19 from there. hoping the 19 gets me closer to the feeling of having good momentum that I get from the 16 with the space to recover that I get from a 22

  8. #8
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    so after reading chuckha62s post, is the key to just have a specific chain for each cog you use?

    I have just been adding/removing chain links which is a pain?

  9. #9
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    what chain ring are you running a 32?

  10. #10
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    depending on what set up you have - horizontal drop outs or EBB etc. you can sometimes get away with a 1 or 2 tooth change on your cog by adjustments but more than that your best bet is to have another chain to use and sized correctly.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Singletrackd View Post
    So last week I decided to swap out my rear 22 tooth cog for a 16 tooth cog. It was the first time i changed the gear on my SS in 5 years. I was expecting to crush all of my previous climb times but was constantly a few minutes slower on each climb which is out of whack because thanks to progression I am generally a few seconds faster than my previous climb attempts. Overall the 16 tooth was pretty brutal the whole ride, with the 22 tooth I am able to recover on a steep climb while peddling so I though it was time for me to step it up but i was definitely disappointed with the crappy results.

    I was just wondering if the harder gear is something I have to ride more to get used too or can you run too big of a gear on a trail regardless of rider strength?
    yes and no..

    My singlespeed has a 34x19 and 34x20. I have ride with 4-8 min 5% to 8% avg grade climbs. I am fast on the 34x19 vs 34x20 on these climbs. The reason is that I have to stand in both gears, but when I stand and grind in the 19 I just go farther/faster vs the 20. I tend to have my body set the cadence. If I went to an 18t instead of the 19 I might be slower because I might stall out more. Going from the 19t to a 16t is a massive change not to mention 22t to 16t. That really changes HOW you have attack the climbs.

    In the end the smaller cogs are faster only if you keep the wheels turning. If the gearing to tough forces to stand where you could sit and spin it will slower. I have ridden with other SS riders of similar overall strength with different ratios on rolling/mixed terrain. There certainly are time they pull ahead and other times I pull ahead and alot of that has to do with particular grade and how the bikes are geared and when you have to transition from seated to standing and for how long.

    Also there is no real reason to go from 22 to 16. There are so many inbetween ratio to use. I suggest going form 22 to 20 first. Even so I can't say if 22t or 16t is not right since I don't know your terrain nor your front chainring size. Or wheel size
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Singletrackd View Post
    so after reading chuckha62s post, is the key to just have a specific chain for each cog you use?

    I have just been adding/removing chain links which is a pain?
    I do it because I am riding an old frame with vertical dropouts and a Soulcraft Convert tensioner in the push (up) position. The Convert is not spring tensioned, so it's a "set to the chain" and forget sort of affair.
    "And crawling on the planet's face, some insects called, The Human Race..."

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