Author Topic: Best gear for novice singlespeed user  (Read 3484 times)

Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« on: August 22, 2017, 10:25:24 am »
I'm considering a singlespeed (cheap as chips one) for a winter commuter. Probably use it in summer too if I like it. The question I have is what gearing would be best?

How long is a piece of string? Well terrain is a mix of very easy undulating road followed by a gradual incline over a mile with a bit of a steep rise halfway (rise, flat then another rise to the high point of 180m). Then a downhill that I can freewheel to reach just over 23mph without pedalling. Then a flat and a rise over a bridge passing over a main road. Freewheel to about 20mph. Then it's downhill or flat to work. It's slightly different going home because tyre mid point hill is in one rise not two but once passed it is a long fast downhill until the final undulations.

I tend to run my chain on the 50t chainring mostly mid cassette 12-32t. Sometimes I don't change gear much other than a cog each way.

So what's your view? 44-17? What's your recommendation?

BTW I think I'll not run it as a fixie. Any cheap bikes you'd recommend? I'm based near Lancaster and would prefer to be able to try one out if you know any bike shops with singlespeeds in store.

Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2017, 10:30:48 am »
Ride it on your normal geared bike in one gear but don't stop pedalling. that will tell you what gear you can use.

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2017, 11:03:53 am »
single free is different from single fixed. If considering the former just ride the usual route using one gear and see what suits you best.

BTW I would choose a 16T freewheel (with a chainring to suit) for a purely pragmatic reason; they are commonly available and relatively inexpensive. 17T freewheels are less easy to come by and cost a little more IME. 

FWIW I prefer single fixed than single free on the road in the wintertime; gets (and keeps) your legs moving.

cheers

Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2017, 11:21:47 am »
If you're buying a complete bike (as opposed to building one), why not just try the gear it comes with for a while, then decide whether it's too high/low or just right?

zigzag

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2017, 11:47:02 am »
i'd start from 48x18

PaulF

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2017, 11:48:47 am »
If you're buying a complete bike (as opposed to building one), why not just try the gear it comes with for a while, then decide whether it's too high/low or just right?


That's what I did.

In the end I geared down a little and now run 46:16. For me it's a good compromise between having a reasonable cruising speed on teh flat and not having to walk up too many hills.

At the end of the day it will depend on your level of fitness and the "lumpiness" of your route

Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2017, 11:50:29 am »
For a winter bike I'd go for 42/18, fixed.

Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2017, 12:24:44 pm »
I was looking at genesis bikes, flyer or day one 10. Both use 42/17.

I'm not sure of the relevance but the suggestions above and the genesis options seem to run at 2.33 to 2.67 ratio between chainring and rear cog. The Genesis option is about 2.47, in the middle.

What is the effect of more teeth with the same ratio? What I mean if the ratio of two setups come out at 2.67 but one had more teeth on the chainring (plus cog) - if that's possible - or m then would you feel the difference? Or more realistically would you notice much difference between a 42/17 and a 48/18? Or 48/18 & 40/15 if that's possible?

I'm guessing if one revolution of two different chainring options turns the corresponding cog options by the same multiple the effort to turn it would be the same.

One more thing, chain length and changing cogs/chainring, what do I need to know I assume you need to adjust the full-length and make sure the wheel is positioned right in the rear dropout. Do such bikes have an adjustment / limit screw to keep the wheel located and chain tight? If you get a puncture is it easy to take the wheel off and.back on once the puncture has been fixed?

I'm really new to the singlespeed thing.

PaulF

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2017, 12:44:49 pm »
If you have the same ratio but a greater number of teeth, for example 20:10 vs. 40:20 to take an extreme example the theory says the one with more teeth will be "better" but at the ranges that you're talking about it won't make an difference.

Don't know about the specific bikes that you mention but they will generally have horizontal drop outs so that you can tension the chain and remove the wheel. Some may have an eccentric bottom bracket to tension the chain instead

Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2017, 12:48:32 pm »
Bigger rings and cogs should last longer as you'll spread the load over more teeth and have lower chain tension when pedalling.  It'll feel the same when you're riding it.

Some bikes have adjustment screws or you can fit a chain tug.  Use a decent hub with track nuts or good sized hex head screws to secure the rear wheel and you'll probably not need tugs or adjusters.  If you use track ends (rear facing slots) then wheel removal can be a bit of a faff, particularly with mudguards, but it's not much harder than mucking about with a derailleur.  The Flyer (and Condor Tempo, IIRC) uses forward facing dropouts that are easier if you do have mudguards.

Also consider the On One Pompino, as long as you don't know any Italian(s).

vorsprung

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2017, 01:34:33 pm »
I favour a gear around 70".  I mostly ride on roads.  I live in Devon, it's lumpy

My current single speed is an On-One Inbred 29er
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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2017, 02:07:48 pm »
This really is one of those 'it depends' questions.

It depends on...

- your overall fitness
- your strength and endurance
- the terrain
- the load you will/won't be carrying
- the bike/tyre size/crank length etc.
- your tolerance for having to get off and push (I have no tolerance, I HATE pushing)

People will recommend what they use as it works for them, but you need to work out what works for you.
Go ride your geared bike over some of your normal loops, and do them in one gear only, but try a few different gears over different days to get a feel for what you like and more importantly, what you can handle.

Don't forget fatigue and headwinds can mean a gear that you're OK with 99% of the time can become arduous torture very quickly on a bad day, so in some regards it's better to gear for a bad day than a good one, you can always coast or work on your spinning if you're undergeared, but if you're overgeared there's not much you can do!

FWIW, I live in hilly Devon, and have run 46x17 on a nice light racey SS with 23mm tyres, and 44x17 on a slightly bigger 28/32mm tyred Audax SS bike.

Both are fine on moderately hilly (up to 1000ft/10mile) rides up to 100k, but for hillier or longer rides I sometimes gear down a bit, the extent of which depends more on how much hillier rather than distance as it's the hills that take it out of your more.


LEE

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2017, 02:13:17 pm »
My summer Single-speed is classic 48x18 -  72".  It's a light bike and a blast to ride.

My heavier (Genesis Day One) is re-geared to 66" (I think, possibly 64")  for winter use.  I tend to carry more, mudguards, heavier tyres, skoggy roads, night riding..etc....
Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2017, 02:22:21 pm »
Most riders on fixed/as tend to go for a gear of about 70 inches and for the riding you have described that sounds about right. If you go for a freewheel it will be a bit easier downhill. However 23 mph downhill wouldn't give you to much of a problem anyway on fixed. Try to keep the chain as tight as possible,it's not to critical on freewheel but fixed can be a bit scary if it de-rails going fast downhill.
My advice is to try fixed for a couple of weeks and if you don't like it turn the wheel around. It took me 200 miles to get used to fixed. Headwinds were a eastward and so was trying to keep up with my mates with a tailwind.Enjoy!

Biggsy

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2017, 02:37:09 pm »
There's also the question of odd or even numbers of teeth regarding wear.  I've seen arguments in favour of both so I'm none the wiser.
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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2017, 02:41:09 pm »
I was looking at genesis bikes, flyer or day one 10. Both use 42/17.

.....I'm really new to the singlespeed thing.

even though both those bikes have the same chainrings and sprockets, the gear size is different. This is because the tyres are different sizes and the wheel rolling diameter is different as a consequence.

There are many ways of expressing gear ratios but the traditional thing (in the UK and the USA and some other places) is to use gear inches.  This gives an equivalent wheel diameter (as if you were riding an 'ordinary' bicycle).

Wheel dia (inches) x (chainring T/sprocket T) = gear (inches)

So comparing the flyer (28mm tyre) and the day one ten (35mm tyre)

http://www.gear-calculator.com/?GR=SGLS&KB=42&RZ=17&UF=2185&TF=90&SL=3.5&UN=MPH&GR2=SGLS&KB2=42&RZ2=17&UF2=2150

you can see that the gear size is slightly under 67" for the flyer and slightly under 68" for the day one ten.  [NB the wheel size is listed on the calculator  as 28" but that is because the guy that programmed the calculator is German. For their own peculiar reasons they refer to 700C wheels as 28" wheels (*)... but the diameter and rollout are at least accurate.... ;) ]

*  -which has a whiff of logic to it, more than you would think; the rim size was first used in the 1900s in the UK when it was known as a 28 x 1-3/4" size or something like that. The French later pinched the rim size and called it '700C' and today 700C wheels (622mm rims) vary in rolling diameter from around  26-1/2" (~20mm tyres) to about 29" (fat MTB tyres).

To this day most folk use gear inches when describing gear size.

cheers

Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2017, 02:51:23 pm »
There's also the question of odd or even numbers of teeth regarding wear.  I've seen arguments in favour of both so I'm none the wiser.

I like to have a combination of primes.  43/17 is a really nice gear. 8)

LEE

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2017, 02:59:16 pm »
There's also the question of odd or even numbers of teeth regarding wear.  I've seen arguments in favour of both so I'm none the wiser.

I like to have a combination of primes.  43/17 is a really nice gear. 8)

My winter S/S is such a setup.

My own argument in favour of odd/prime numbers is that your chain and sprocket wear totally evenly.  Even numbers mean that your chain and sprocket wear in an odd and even links pattern.  I've found that this can result in an annoyingly "rumbly" drivetrain if you repair a puncture and refit the chain 1 tooth out. (it's 50/50).
It does take a hell of a  lot of miles to wear this way and the fix is simple, move the chain left or right one link, so it's no real big deal.

Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

LittleWheelsandBig

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2017, 03:13:26 pm »
Wouldn't the solution be to have a wide/narrow chainring that ensured a fixed or singlespeed chain always engaged with the 'right' teeth?

I imagine that this sort of chainring would also make it more difficult to unship a loose chain, given the claims for such MTB chainrings.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2017, 03:20:47 pm »
Wouldn't the solution be to have a wide/narrow chainring that ensured a fixed or singlespeed chain always engaged with the 'right' teeth?

I imagine that this sort of chainring would also make it more difficult to unship a loose chain, given the claims for such MTB chainrings.

I don't think that would work terribly well with my 43T rings.

LittleWheelsandBig

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2017, 03:22:53 pm »
So you are willing to put up with chainrings that comparatively easily unship chains?
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2017, 04:13:36 pm »
There's also the question of odd or even numbers of teeth regarding wear.  I've seen arguments in favour of both so I'm none the wiser.

I like to have a combination of primes.  43/17 is a really nice gear. 8)

My winter S/S is such a setup.

My own argument in favour of odd/prime numbers is that your chain and sprocket wear totally evenly.  Even numbers mean that your chain and sprocket wear in an odd and even links pattern.  I've found that this can result in an annoyingly "rumbly" drivetrain if you repair a puncture and refit the chain 1 tooth out. (it's 50/50).
It does take a hell of a  lot of miles to wear this way and the fix is simple, move the chain left or right one link, so it's no real big deal.

I'm not convinced it makes much difference.  Change the chain every couple of thousand miles, change the cog every other chain, change the ring every other cog.

Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #22 on: August 22, 2017, 04:14:48 pm »
So you are willing to put up with chainrings that comparatively easily unship chains?

Never lost a chain yet, and I usually use rings for geared setups, with ramps and cutouts and such.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #23 on: August 22, 2017, 04:29:41 pm »
Others don't replace chains or adjust chain tension as often as you.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

simonp

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Re: Best gear for novice singlespeed user
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2017, 04:32:47 pm »
I have a 47T chainring on my fixed bike and have usually 18T or 19T sprocket.