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fly like a beagle
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I try to stay in the big ring as much as possible. What does everyone prefer. I know that a 27 speed really only has 17 gears do to duplicate ratios. I guess its personal choice, some guys I ride with never use the big gear. Any thoughts?
 

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Middle is probably better

I tend to stick to my granny gear and my middle ring. I only hit my big ring when I'm flying on single track. I can climb with my middle ring for the most part and there is still many gears for the single track. The big ring would be way to difficult for me in single track without cross-binding the chain.

If you can push those gears the go for it. Can you run single track with them at a good cadence? Can you climb? Do you have acceleration available all the time?

I would suspect that when your in single track you probably rarely shift, up 1 down 1 type shifting. Whereas in your middle ring you probably could be making use of a couple more gears as they are closer together, this would make life a little easier at times. Personally, I rarely use the big ring enless I'm hammering on single track in which case I'm probably in on of the tallest gears I got.

I'm curious, are you new to mountain biking?
 

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I already rode that
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GaHeckler said:
I try to stay in the big ring as much as possible. What does everyone prefer. I know that a 27 speed really only has 17 gears do to duplicate ratios. I guess its personal choice, some guys I ride with never use the big gear. Any thoughts?
Im usually in my middle ring, sometimes in the big and never in the granny.
I used to race and came to the conclusion that if Im in the granny ring I might as well be pushing the bike up the hill.. for racing anyways. Out riding for fun I'll only use the granny if Im climbing some really steep hills but most hills around here I ride are doable in the middle-32 with 34 in the back.

Most of my friends ride in the granny though for the same hills. Yea Im just an animal :p
 

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fly like a beagle
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Discussion Starter #4
witcomb said:
I tend to stick to my granny gear and my middle ring. I only hit my big ring when I'm flying on single track. I can climb with my middle ring for the most part and there is still many gears for the single track. The big ring would be way to difficult for me in single track without cross-binding the chain.

If you can push those gears the go for it. Can you run single track with them at a good cadence? Can you climb? Do you have acceleration available all the time?

I would suspect that when your in single track you probably rarely shift, up 1 down 1 type shifting. Whereas in your middle ring you probably could be making use of a couple more gears as they are closer together, this would make life a little easier at times. Personally, I rarely use the big ring enless I'm hammering on single track in which case I'm probably in on of the tallest gears I got.

I'm curious, are you new to mountain biking?

I was out of cycling for awhile but im back in it atleast 3 days a week. I seem to keep a good cadence. I turning slower than my friends who are very quick. Ive found that when im in the big ring and need to accelerate i drop a gear, stand up and mash the peddles for 4 or 5 revolutions i can get past them quickly. as far as hills go i peddle till i feel im about to stall and i drop it onto the middle ring. Not sure if this is the best technique, but its working for me. I tried using the granny couple times but it seems like im just wasting energy. dont get me wrong i would use it on some slippery ,rocky, steep singletrack thats what its there for right? Thanks for the reply
 

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Mashing vs. spinning

Some folks perfer to push really hard gears due to their muscle type (big quads) and some (like me) perfer to spin. I am 5' 11" and weigh about 158lbs. I have been lean all my life and have a real hard time putting on muscle mass. My riding partner is 5' 4" weighs in at about 220 and can mash real big gears due to really big leg muscles. He kills me on the flat stuff but I totally smoke him on climbs where I usually use the middle chainring (32 tooth) and spin. Occoasionally I use the granny gear, but most trails up in North GA where I live don't reqiure it.

I find this to be pretty much universal as I ride road and mountain. The road guys that are skinny and light fly up most climbs because they perfer to to spin and let their aerobic system do the work not so much their legs.

If you are racing then do what you got to to pass but overall the big ring is for fast flater stuff and the drop to middle or granny to climb.
 

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I'm a granny gearhead. I love to keep RPM up and gear low. For downhills and fast singletrack i'll use my second ring. The big'ole ring rarely sees my chain unless i'm on the road riding back to the car.
 

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That is not the best technique, you want to keep your effort the same the entire way up the hill. Pick a gear that you can maintain for a while. Then, as you start to slow drop down a single gear in the rear and repeat. Don't wait until you have so tons of tension on the chain, that is a good way to break it, then your all downhill and no uphill. Luckily your only shifting your FD. If you pick a gear right, you can sometimes stand and sprint up some momentum instead of dropping a gear for a while.

It is great if you can push hard gears, but sometimes your just burning yourself out. Keep in mind that if your able to spin your gears more you will be able to accelerate. What do you do when something unforseen comes along? You need to put down some power and fast, but with a tall gear you can't do that usually enless you have monster power. With a lower gear you can spin up some rpm with relative ease and get yourself through it. This applies for when the hill grade starts to increase, you have someone to pass, there are roots which you don't have momentum for, etc.

People should know there is no shame in using the granny gear, my friend seems to believe this. I love to kill him when he is being stupid with his gears. He learns and he knows why I do it.
 

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fly like a beagle
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Discussion Starter #8
witcomb said:
That is not the best technique, you want to keep your effort the same the entire way up the hill. Pick a gear that you can maintain for a while. Then, as you start to slow drop down a single gear in the rear and repeat. Don't wait until you have so tons of tension on the chain, that is a good way to break it, then your all downhill and no uphill. Luckily your only shifting your FD. If you pick a gear right, you can sometimes stand and sprint up some momentum instead of dropping a gear for a while.

It is great if you can push hard gears, but sometimes your just burning yourself out. Keep in mind that if your able to spin your gears more you will be able to accelerate. What do you do when something unforseen comes along? You need to put down some power and fast, but with a tall gear you can't do that usually enless you have monster power. With a lower gear you can spin up some rpm with relative ease and get yourself through it. This applies for when the hill grade starts to increase, you have someone to pass, there are roots which you don't have momentum for, etc.

People should know there is no shame in using the granny gear, my friend seems to believe this. I love to kill him when he is being stupid with his gears. He learns and he knows why I do it.
Ill try that technique tommorow on my ride, momentum is always a good thing. I understand burning yourself out climbing, my quads can get torched, I have strong legs so sometimes I just grunt it up the hill. As with most athletics technique is so important.The better your technique the faster you will go. Thanks again
 

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Pushing bigger gears ...

GaHeckler said:
Ill try that technique tommorow on my ride, momentum is always a good thing. I understand burning yourself out climbing, my quads can get torched, I have strong legs so sometimes I just grunt it up the hill. As with most athletics technique is so important.The better your technique the faster you will go. Thanks again
... is just easier than spinning for some of us. High RPM just knocks it right out of some folk. And no doubt that bigger folk are going to opt for lower RPM just like a tall runner has a slower cadence but longer strides.

BTW, little guys zip up hills easier because they're not hauling as much weight up with them ;-) All you weight weenies should understand that all too well ;-)
 

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Agreed, I'm not saying that everyone should spin at 90+ rpm. All I'm saying is you should be at a rate where you can react and control your way to the top. If your getting sloppy as you start to drop below 40rpm, wandering all over the trail just to keep from tipping over you should drop some gears.
 

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witcomb said:
People should know there is no shame in using the granny gear, my friend seems to believe this. I love to kill him when he is being stupid with his gears. He learns and he knows why I do it.
When some of my friends hit some hills I sometimes edge em on by telling them it looks like a granny ring hill and they better shift into it... :p

I dunno. I just find it funny sometimes to see seasoned riders in their granny ring when its still doable in the middle. To me you just spin too much when in the granny and seems such a waste of energy. But I'm also the kind of person that thrives when out on the dirt. Riding on the road is another story *yawns*
 

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Which chainring?

To protect my knees I prefer to keep the RPM's reasonably high, and I don't push a big gear uphill. (So, you won't find me doing any true mountain biking on a singlespeed.)

I figure I've got the only two knees I'll ever have. They're working well, and I want to keep it that way. To be young with bad knees is one thing, but my impression is that to be old with bad knees is, um, bad. Same goes for feet... my sense is that they'll only take a certain amount of heavy strain, and only for a period of time. After that, there's trouble coming.

Similarly, I don't do heavy leg presses in the gym. I compensate by putting more leg press rep's in each set, by also doing three sets of leg extensions (a less risky exercise), and by carrying weights during some of my cardio routines to add a muscle-building aspect.
 

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If you make it up the hill with breath to spare, your in the right gear. Which you use is a matter of preference, strength and fitness. I use to use granny gear all the time to make it up the tough hills because I was out of shape and a newb to MTB (but I made it up and didn't brake the chain by shifting at the wrong time). Now I'm a little stronger and I use the middle chain ring on the hardest hills (and I don't feel I'm wasting energy).

But my goal is to be like the big brauny spandex guy on his over priced bike using the big chainring (compensating for other things???) so at the end of the day I tell my less experienced friends how great I am...now that's a goal to reach for :p
 

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I like a fairly high cadence

GaHeckler said:
I try to stay in the big ring as much as possible. What does everyone prefer. I know that a 27 speed really only has 17 gears do to duplicate ratios. I guess its personal choice, some guys I ride with never use the big gear. Any thoughts?

I feel that I'm more efficient keeping a fairly high cadence as opposed to slogging in a big gear. Consequently I've been training at lower cadences to improve my power output and find myself now pushing the big ring more frequently.
 

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Knees Absolutely

Penn State said:
I'm a granny gearhead. I love to keep RPM up and gear low. For downhills and fast singletrack i'll use my second ring. The big'ole ring rarely sees my chain unless i'm on the road riding back to the car.

Now that I am in my mid 30's, I definitely prefer spinning high RPMs versus mashing. When was younger, I use to compete in olympic style tae kwon do, and my knees now feel it. I think it was more from all the running for cardio versus the fighting. But, I read several articles and talked to MTBe'rs and roadies, and spinning is the key. I have now been 3 years without pain and can ride all day epic rides.

I have been working some brief standing, big ring climbing. It does help work your muscles differently and I have noticed I can spin faster and stronger on steep ascents.
 

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Stretching without strengthening

Moo Shoo Pork said:
Now that I am in my mid 30's, I definitely prefer spinning high RPMs versus mashing. When was younger, I use to compete in olympic style tae kwon do, and my knees now feel it. I think it was more from all the running for cardio versus the fighting. But, I read several articles and talked to MTBe'rs and roadies, and spinning is the key. I have now been 3 years without pain and can ride all day epic rides.

I have been working some brief standing, big ring climbing. It does help work your muscles differently and I have noticed I can spin faster and stronger on steep ascents.
I too used to do TKD (took and taught) and I can tell you that you have to approach stretching very carefully. Some of the stretches that many practitioners do put a lot of lateral stress on the knee. They also can lead to hyper-flexibility of the knee joint.

The best bet is using active stretching over static stretching. Some type of resistance training should ALWAYS accompany stretching activities. This could be as simple as doing standing squats and lunges. Static stretching simply doesn't train your body to move correctly.

I go to the point where I would lead warmups that were 90% active stretching. The only static stretching I could do is when I couldn't think of a decent static stretching alternative.
 

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My philosophy ...

willtsmith_nwi said:
... is just easier than spinning for some of us. High RPM just knocks it right out of some folk. And no doubt that bigger folk are going to opt for lower RPM just like a tall runner has a slower cadence but longer strides.

BTW, little guys zip up hills easier because they're not hauling as much weight up with them ;-) All you weight weenies should understand that all too well ;-)
Spinning is best for longer climbs. Higher RPM also makes gear changes easier.

Mashing is for short climbs and bail outs. Really, small elevation changes are best handled by getting out of the saddle and banging on the gears. It saves you a couple gear changes on the fall side.

Once your in a mash, you're pretty much stuck there unless you can get some speed going to find a taller gear.
 

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About Stretching

willtsmith_nwi said:
I too used to do TKD (took and taught) and I can tell you that you have to approach stretching very carefully. Some of the stretches that many practitioners do put a lot of lateral stress on the knee. They also can lead to hyper-flexibility of the knee joint.

The best bet is using active stretching over static stretching. Some type of resistance training should ALWAYS accompany stretching activities. This could be as simple as doing standing squats and lunges. Static stretching simply doesn't train your body to move correctly.

I go to the point where I would lead warmups that were 90% active stretching. The only static stretching I could do is when I couldn't think of a decent static stretching alternative.

Alot of the "old school" instructors were just aweful. I alo taught TKD and would properly warm up before stretching. Actually, the best time to stretch is after working out. And, although I do agree to certain active stretching, properly done, static stretching (no bouncing and also no pressure on joints ex. knees) is more effective to produce true flexiblity. And, we would hit the weights during off season tournaments. What style do you practice, WTF, or ITF? I do miss it. Especially, the competition.

On another note, the U.S. one Silver Medal today in TKD in the women's division, Nia Abdallah. I hope that Steve Lopez mauls thecompetition and wins a gold for the U.S.
 

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About Stretching

willtsmith_nwi said:
I too used to do TKD (took and taught) and I can tell you that you have to approach stretching very carefully. Some of the stretches that many practitioners do put a lot of lateral stress on the knee. They also can lead to hyper-flexibility of the knee joint.

The best bet is using active stretching over static stretching. Some type of resistance training should ALWAYS accompany stretching activities. This could be as simple as doing standing squats and lunges. Static stretching simply doesn't train your body to move correctly.

I go to the point where I would lead warmups that were 90% active stretching. The only static stretching I could do is when I couldn't think of a decent static stretching alternative.

Alot of the "old school" instructors were just aweful. I alo taught TKD and would properly warm up before stretching. Actually, the best time to stretch is after working out. And, although I do agree to certain active stretching, properly done, static stretching (no bouncing and also no pressure on joints ex. knees) is more effective to produce true flexiblity. And, we would hit the weights during off season tournaments. What style do you practice, WTF, or ITF? I do miss it. Especially, the competition.

On another note, the U.S. one Silver Medal today in TKD in the women's division, Nia Abdallah. I hope that Steve Lopez mauls thecompetition and wins a gold for the U.S.
 
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