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I am building my first 29er SS. Before the snow melts in the hills, i want to ride on relatively flat dirt roads, and use possibly for early season commuting. Will a 32:16 be the right ratio or should I maybe go to a 14? I know it depends on each rider but any ideas would be appreciated.
 

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as you say it depends on rider's fitness and terrain, but it sounds like a good starting point.... try it first and switch to 14 if necessary... personally over 2:1 would be hard if you have an occasional steep climb
 

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I commute on my 26" wheel bike with a 32:16. It's high enough that I can actually pedal going down the road, but low enough that I don't die when the road turns uphill. I don't have any real climbs on my commute, only a few little rollers. I don't have any problem with them, and I'm not in the best shape. Someone in better shape than me (which is most everyone) could probably spin a 32:15. Of course, like I said, I'm not on a 29er, so your results may vary.
 

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I found that a 2:1 ratio (36:18/34:17 depending on which bike I take out) suits me best on WI singletrack, semi-technical trail systems. It might be a bit tall on large hills for some people, but I excel at climbing real steep stuff, so I find it comfortable. If *I* were riding flat-ish trails, I would definitely bump it down to a 32:14 or so if I had a 32:16 setup. However, as stated above, YOU need to decide what suits you best. If you're using a cassette-style hub, it's just a matter of swapping cogs - cheap. If you have an SS-specific hub with a freewheel - you may want to see if you can test a bike with a similar ratio before dropping money on an expensive freewheel.
 

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Huh, yes, back when I was riding my ss before it was stolen (bastard!) I rode it on wisconsin singletrack and commuting around the city with 32:16. For just general singletrack riding I felt it was fine but commuting around downtown it was low. But if you are not planning to go fast, then I guess it wouldn't be a problem.
 

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hi, Its pretty flat where i am and originally ran a 32:16 but dropped to a 32:15 to get a magic gear. I ride this off road, but like i said, its not too hilly. I have a local commuter which is 46:16 and i use this to build up my leg strength. It's hard going, but fast once you're going. but i'm not going far so i want it to feel it when i arrive.
 

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All the usual disclaimers apply:
-depends on fitness/strength;
-depends on terrain; and
-try a gear and fine tune.

That being said, I ride 34:16 on 26x2.25 tires with 175mm cranks and race 34:14 on 26x1.9 tires. My own research, on Sheldon Brown's gear calculator, for future 29er build has your proposed gear smack between the two with 175mm cranks.
 

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It also depends on what time of year you are going to be riding it. If it is winter go with something a bit taller. The snow takes a ton out of you if going long distances. also something less than 2:1 on a 29'er is ideal.
 

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I've still got the triple chain ring on my cranks and run 38/16 off road and 48/16 on road. Commuting is mostly flats with a couple of hills, but I just get a good run up and then stand and crank it (by then I'm passing the 'roadies' busily clicking their little shifters! hahaha).
 

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If you're strong I think you'll find 2:1 too low even on a 29er. I ride 36x18 on a 26er in the Front Range all the time and on the flats it's WAY too low to go fast. But I can't go too much taller and still climb the 1k to 2k climbs that seem to start every trail out here (not that I'm complaining about that).

Only you really know your power and local terrain though so starting at 2:1 isn't bad. I've got a range of gears now that covers everything from 36x22 all the way up to 40x16. 4 cogs, 2 chainrings.
 

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ravingbikefiend
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My commuter runs a 38:16 and my off roader runs a 32:16... the commuter will get geared down in the spring as it also sees a lot of XC and singletrack and I have a few other bikes that will get used for the commute from spring until the snow flies.
 

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For "relatively flat roads" as you said,

a 2:1 would be far too low in my opinion. The only way it would work is if you are riding in snow or hauling around some very heavy, slow rolling tires (which would get real boring, real fast, the slow tires that is, not the snow riding). Relatively flat even semi buffed roads let you get away with much lighter and faster tires, which is nice because it makes it much more fun. Anyway, with skinnie tires on my 26" mtb I could get away with a 44 x 16 on rolling dirt roads. The roads were pretty buff though. On the otherhand, most of it is really determined by trial and error, so ride what you got and tweak from there.

Mike
 

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You should change the title of your post so some people with 29"ers will weigh in. I believe a 29"er with a 32 x 18 is the same gear inches as a 32 x 16 on a 26"er.
So I think a 32 x 16 would be a good place to start for flat terrain, but 32 x 15 might be better.
My road single is a 38 x 15, I can handle most Connecticut hills with it, and not completely spin-out on the flats (on the flats I'm spinning well over 100 rpm, but thats ok), but it wheel run out is similar to a 26"er because it's tires are 700 x 32.
 
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