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  1. #1
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    New question here. newbie question

    I'm running 32x20 right now (for past 6 months now), and I think I'm ready for lower gear. I am thinking about switching to 32x19. Is it too less of difference? should I go for 32x18?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Just go 18T. If you're questioning it, there's probably a good reason to go 18T. And it's not like cogs are that expensive. I would refrain from cutting the chain too short though. At least, not yet.
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

  3. #3
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    I say go for 18T if you're finding it easy with 20T and spun out a lot on the trails you ride. It's always a matter of finding a balance for what you ride and your capabilities with your bike.

    FWIW, I started out with a 20T on my first SS and meant to buy a 19T...but accidentally ordered 2 17T cogs. I still don't have a 19T and have never found a need for one anyway. For the trails I ride now I'm on 18T or 17T.

  4. #4
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    I find a single cog tooth significant, so I vote for 32/19, which is what I'm riding lately. It'll also keep your chainstay length a wee bit shorter than 32/18 (unless you can drop a whole link when going to 32/18).

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    http://www.bikecalc.com/gear_inches

    Use this website to understand gear inches and how it is affected by gearing.


    Cannondale CAADX 105
    Cannondale CAD3 SS 96er build (circa 1997)

  6. #6
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    It's really tough for us to say. I think if you are sensing a need to change go for a two tooth switch. One tooth is significant, but more of a fine tuning move.

    I recently wanted a tad more climbing ability for my local trails and went up one tooth count. It's just noticeable enough.
    Pedal through it!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatDirt View Post
    BikeCalc.com - Bicycle Gear Inches Chart

    Use this website to understand gear inches and how it is affected by gearing.
    What the heck does gear inches have to do with anything? He's not changing wheel or tire sizes, just the gearing. You can easily calculate the percentage difference between two different ratios without any reference to wheel or tire size since that doesn't change. Sheesh. I used to think that single speeders were smarter than average but every time I see someone refer to a gear inch calculator in these types of discussions, I realize that maybe some single speeders just couldn't figure out how to shift gears.

  8. #8
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    I ride 32x18 all the time, and race 32x18, x16 or x14 depending on terrain. If 32x20 makes you spin out, go 18. if 32x20 feels good but a little light, go 19.

    On my Unit x18 and x16 run the same chain, x14 needs one extra link.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by wood80 View Post
    I'm running 32x20 right now (for past 6 months now), and I think I'm ready for lower gear. I am thinking about switching to 32x19. Is it too less of difference? should I go for 32x18?

    Thanks!
    That's changing to a higher gear BTW, not lower.

  10. #10
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    thanks! I'm going to try 19t first then. I found used one online.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryder1 View Post
    I find a single cog tooth significant....
    Changing one tooth in the back is about the same as two teeth in the front. In addition you need to remove the rear wheel, get out your chain whip, set your torque wrench, switch the cog and put it back on.

    Swapping a chainring is fast and allows you to make smaller change. To make the smallest changes you can swap both.

    So basically 32/20 is a 1.6 ratio. To go higher 33 will move you to 1.65 while 34 gets you a 1.7 ratio. Using 32/19 gets you 1.68 while 32/18 is 1.77.

    The best approach is to collect all the chain rings so you have a lot of options to play with. Right now I am on 35/20 but often change things around. Generally I like riding big ratios like 36/18 or even larger but in order to ride fast on true trail conditions lower gears that favor acceleration and a punchy style of riding are faster.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy R View Post
    That's changing to a higher gear BTW, not lower.
    Quote Originally Posted by febikes View Post
    Changing one tooth in the back is about the same as two teeth in the front. In addition you need to remove the rear wheel, get out your chain whip, set your torque wrench, switch the cog and put it back on.

    Swapping a chainring is fast and allows you to make smaller change. To make the smallest changes you can swap both.

    So basically 32/20 is a 1.6 ratio. To go higher 33 will move you to 1.65 while 34 gets you a 1.7 ratio. Using 32/19 gets you 1.68 while 32/18 is 1.77.

    The best approach is to collect all the chain rings so you have a lot of options to play with. Right now I am on 35/20 but often change things around. Generally I like riding big ratios like 36/18 or even larger but in order to ride fast on true trail conditions lower gears that favor acceleration and a punchy style of riding are faster.
    Thanks guys! this is very helpful

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by t_surfer View Post
    On my Unit x18 and x16 run the same chain, x14 needs one extra link.
    Am I missing something? When you put a smaller cog on the rear wheel, you shorten the chain, right? Not add an extra link?
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by febikes View Post
    Changing one tooth in the back is about the same as two teeth in the front. In addition you need to remove the rear wheel, get out your chain whip, set your torque wrench, switch the cog and put it back on.
    Crap, I've never used my torque wrench when removing/installing a cog. Do you use it when affixing the end cap thingee (before re-installing wheel)? Do you attach the torque wrench to the chain whip somehow? I'm not mechanically astute (to put it mildly).

    If you just change the rear cog, you only have to monkey with the back. If you change the front ring, you have to monkey with front and back. For me, swapping the rear cog is the easiest part of the whole ordeal (compared to realigning rear wheel, getting chain tension perfect, and torqueing down dropout bolts: I have six). Larger chainrings are possibly more likely to ovalize (although oval chainrings are all the rage!), and gives you a wee bit less clearance. Some say a larger rear cog is more likely to eat your hub (or is that just a myth?)

    To each his own. Doesn't make much difference to me. My goal is achieving the gear ratio I want and the chainstay length I want. Everything else is secondary. I certainly agree that being able to change both maximizes your flexibility.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by watts888 View Post
    Am I missing something? When you put a smaller cog on the rear wheel, you shorten the chain, right? Not add an extra link?
    The chain stays the same length unless you remove/add a link. When going to a smaller cog, you have to effectively lengthen the chainstay by moving your dropouts rearward (or EBB rearward), in order to maintain proper chain tension.
    Last edited by Ryder1; 12-11-2015 at 11:11 PM.

  16. #16
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    If you have flat or uphill tech sections, a smaller (easier) gear ratio is preferable because it provides more acceleration in slow/tight stuff, and ratcheting is easier. It's like trying to start a manual transmission in 1st vs. 2nd gear (ok, not nearly as a big a difference, but still...).

    Finding yourself in the second half of a long ride with tired legs and a big gear ratio is not fun. It can start to feel like work ("another friggin' climb???"). When in doubt, I go with an easier gear.

    Also, with a smaller gear ratio, you can more easily ride super slow in the flats while you wait for your geared friends to catch up.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by watts888 View Post
    Am I missing something? When you put a smaller cog on the rear wheel, you shorten the chain, right? Not add an extra link?
    yes. you are right. sorry. x14 needs one less link! (i actually use a different chain for x14 that is one link shorter, and use a quick link to change them out).

  18. #18
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    Wow. I cannot conceive of a situation I could use 32/18.
    I did gear my Unit up to 34/20 once for a flat 6-hour. It's 32/21 for everything else though and I'm still having to hike a bike most rides.
    Must be my skinny legs.

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