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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(i hope im using the correct term.) i ride my single speed with a 32t chainring/ 14t cog. i rode some trails for the first time with my bike and i was dying. im not sure if i should stick with it and toughen up or lower the ratio. i want to get use to riding a good gear ratio for trails and maybe eventually race.

so a repeat of the question : what gear ratio do most single speed mtb racers use?
 

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Depends on wheelsize but since you're posting in the 29er forum I'm going to assume that you're riding a 29er. 32x14 for offroading is extremely steep. I don't know anyone riding that ratio and I'm riding with some extremely fast SS guys. The burliest SS rider I know rides 32x17 and can clean any climb. I ride 32x18-20 depending on the course. I prefer 32x18 but for longer and steeper climbs it can be a killer.

Try 32x19.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
yeah its because im mostly a commuter. the 32x14 makes street hills a challenge and more fun. i recently moved close to some trails and i plan on taking full advantage. i guess im going to my local shop to switch up then.

thanks for the advice.
 

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Monkey Junkie
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I don't race, but I usually ride 32x20 just so I can make it up just about everything. I like 32x18 better but can't make it up the steeps. My bike now has 32x16 gearing for the winter just to ride pavement/gravel when I want to mix it up between my other bikes. I'd try 32x19 so you won't be spinning on the flats so much, but you may have trouble still making it up the steepest climbs.
 

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It also depends alot on where you are racing, but 32-14 sounds really steep! My normal ration is 34-24. I am in the NE and my trails are all either going up or down, not much in the way of flats around here. They are also very tight, twisty, technical, rooty, and rocky. I do a couple of races each year, and will put a 22t on the back for a faster course, but that is about it. It all depends on what the trails are like you are riding.

Mark
 

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more skier than biker
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The ratio totally depends on the race course. I raced in over 30 local and regional events last year all on my SS and each race I did an assessment as to what gear ratio I would run.

My background = Cat 2/Sport racer for first half of 2009, then bumped up to Cat 1/Expert for the 2nd half and that's where I will race this year. My most common gears I supposse were 34x17 and 34x16 for the flat, sprinty stuff and most things under 2 hours. (i.e. at Sea Otter last year, I got a 4th in Cat 2 SS on a 34x17). But for 8-hour events and hillier stuff I'll be on 32x19, 32x20 etc. I think 32x20 is the lowest gear I used for a race last year.

I raced a cyclocross race (lots of long flat wide open spots) this week on 36x16 and did well. My chain actually popped off after the first lap, and I had to stop, flip the bike upside down, fiddle with it, losing over a minute, and that gear still allowed to catch back up and take 1st in Open SS.

Also, it's obvious to gear low for hillier races. But one mistake I found myself making this year was I would not take into account for "twistiness or tightness" as well. Even if a course is flat with little hills, if it's a very twisty course where you'll be slowing down a lot for corners and them stomping on the gas a lot, gear lower than you might think so that you can accelerate fast. I've made the mistake of saying "oh this course is flat, very little climbing, so I can gear huge today". But then I'd find that I'd lose time by not being able to use that available top speed from the huge gear by being bogged down in the tight stuff the entire race.

So it's a tough question to answer.....very specific to the individual rider, the course layout, and the conditions of the day.
 

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The advice I got from my friend, who makes SS bikes, is that for off road, start with a two to one ratio and adjust as you need to. 2:1 = 34:17 or 32:16 generally. It's kind of the ultimate comprimise on most trails between climbing and flats. 32:14 sounds painful! I've read (Surly website?) that for offroad that you should never go below 16t in the rear because there is not enough tooth contact with the chain on smaller rings to endure the stresses of off-roading, so keep that in mind too.

I ride 33:17 and never change it. FYI, I ride mostly rolling technical trails with real climbs but no mountains. One tooth makes a real difference, so don't think you necessarily need to move 3 or 4 to make it possible to make a climb or be quicker on flats.

Good luck!
 

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On my superfly single speed 38x16 was a good choice for the Iceman this year. I spun out the first mile on the street so am tempted to go bigger next year... only if I'm a little lighter and stronger. I did have to run-up the two steepest climbs.
 

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''some of the flatter courses like Singlespeed-A-Polooza''

That's one of the flatter courses? I did the Darkhorse 40 (same place) last year on my geared bike and it killed me. I'm planning to do Singlespeed-A-Polooza this year on my new singlespeed. I guess I better get ready for the pain!
 

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Jam Econo
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Sweeney said:
''some of the flatter courses like Singlespeed-A-Polooza''

That's one of the flatter courses? I did the Darkhorse 40 (same place) last year on my geared bike and it killed me. I'm planning to do Singlespeed-A-Polooza this year on my new singlespeed. I guess I better get ready for the pain!
I'm pretty sure they had to change the course for the Darkhorse 40 due to rain. I rode SS-A-Polooza with a 53" gear and was able to ride everything, but would get worked over on the fireroad sections. Others would have to dismount for the short steeps, but could pull away on the flats.
That being said, the guys who finished 4th and 5th both were running 52" gears.
 

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Virtus pre nummis
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I just asked this basic question about a weel ago. I bought a Monocog 29er last May and it came with a 32/20 gearing. I changed the 20t to a 16t to pick up some extra speed for commuting. I assume that the 32/20 is a standard gear ratio for most mtn bikes coming out of a LBS. Don't know for sure.
 

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T Smee
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Loggahead said:
32 x 18 fits most trails i ride. I rode Oak Mountain (AL) fowards and backwards with this ratio and it was a perfect fit.
I too ride Oak Mountain and i use 32x19. For me, i can barely make it up all the climbs (not walking or running when im out for a "ride"...) but i am topped out spinning on the flats. It depends on your size and fitness. Bigger guys can use their weight to push a tougher gear, likewise with better fitness. Im 145lbs and not in the greatest shape, so take that for what's its worth
 
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