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Fixed-gear gearing question...(13 posts)

Fixed-gear gearing question...bigdave
Apr 22, 2001 7:38 PM
To those of you with fixed gear bikes: what kind of gear do you use on your bike and what kind of riding, and rider (spinner, masher) are you?

I tend to spin (90-100) mostly on my regular road bike. I just put a beater fixed gear together and took it out for the first time... the 45x14 (approx. 87 inches) gearing was too steep for comfort to me, even though the route was relatively flat. I plan on riding it in relatively flat places, or rolling hills at worst... no mountains to climb in Wis. :-)

Just curious what real-world gearing people use. This is a 70s vintage Schwinn frame with semi-vertical dropouts... the gearing I think was set up when it was used as a track bike (it had tubular rims on it when I got it) but I'm going to set it up with fenders and make it my slop/beater/commuting bike.

Any suggestions would be appreciated...

re: Fixed-gear gearing question...tommyb
Apr 22, 2001 7:46 PM
I use a 46 x 18 on my fixed gear, 69 gear inches. That works great for flat land cruising for me at 90 rpm and 18 mph. I've done long stretches at 120 rpm with a stiff tailwind, and that's the fun of a fixie. I'm at a disadvantage because I used my old cyclocross bike to build up a fixed gear. It has vertical dropouts, and that's the only gear combination that gives me good chain tension. So even if I wanted to move up or down, I'd have a hard time coming up with rings and cogs to fit this good.

Have fun with your new toy.
Only gear combination?Brian B.
Apr 23, 2001 4:37 PM
This is kind of interesting - what I am missing? Can't you just pick the the gear combo you want to use and make your chain shorter? Why are you limited to this one combo?

-Brian B.
Only gear combination?tommyb
Apr 24, 2001 1:16 AM
You can only remove chain links in whole numbers. Adding or removing a full link effectively changes the distance between the bottom bracket and the rear hub by 1/2 inch. Adding or subtracting one tooth to either the chainring or cog effectively changes this distance approximately 1/8 inch. Therefore, in order to maintain chain tension, only certain combinations of total teeth (front + back) and total links of chain, will work. This is explained much more eloquently at:
re: Fixed-gear gearing
Apr 22, 2001 8:24 PM
I have been riding fixed gear in the winter and early spring for about 5 years and i generally use a gear in the low 70's gear inch range. I think if you take your gearing down at least to the middle 70's you will find it more comfortable. If you go to high 60's and low 70's you will find you will be able to climb some hills without too much trouble and you will be able to go in the flats also. Most important, i think you are riding too big of a gear right now. When i started, i did as you, i asked some experienced fixed geared guys and they told me what i just told you. Another thought, i have a different cog on either side of my rear wheel, this way i just rotate the rear wheel, and i have a different gear for that particular ride. I have one cog for primarily flats and small hills and the other cog for rides that might have some more significant hills. In the old days this used to be the way they raced when they had no derailers, they stopped and flipped the wheel for their climbing gear.
re: Fixed-gear gearing question...Greg Taylor
Apr 23, 2001 4:53 AM
I run 46 x 16, which is a touch over 75 inches. This is a good compromise for me...

The fixie makes a good commuter. One thing that I did was to repack the bearings with blue Sta-Lube boat-trailer grease. The hubs (Suzue) are basically unsealed, and I felt guilty riding it in the wet. The blue-death grease does't seam to wash out as fast as other bike-specific lubes. I still tear it apart and repack the bearings fairly frequently, but then I am compulsive about stuff like that..
Thanks to all for the replies...bigdave
Apr 23, 2001 7:33 AM
I'm currently hunting for a 16t... so if I can scrounge one up from some of my trackie teammates, I'm good to go with the 45x16 gearing.

My goal for the bike is *spin-ability* so the 87 inch gearing has *got* to go.

Oh, and thanks for the boat grease tip... that's what I'll repack with since this thing is going to be abused in bad weather. :-)

Thanks again...

similar to others, 42/15, 77 inches. 70's Batavus frame nmclimbo
Apr 23, 2001 5:07 AM
The lower the better.Alex R
Apr 23, 2001 6:23 AM
If you're using the fixed gear to improve your spin, I would suggest a lighter gearing. 65-70 inches tops. Spin this at 120 and see how fast your form improves.

Fixed gearing...Mass Biker
Apr 23, 2001 6:34 AM
My first fixed gear was 42x17. Just right for Eastern Mass. The past two years, I have run 42x16 - a little tall for some of the climbs around here (but good for that uphill, slow-RPM grunting) but fine for longer rides, and certainly enough to hang with the group on those winter/early season group rides. Towards the end of my singlespeed training for the year, I went back to a 42x17 - perfect for 4+ hour rides over varied terrain. Keep in mind though that I am pushing 700x38 cross knobbies around, so going to a 42x17 made all the difference in the world. I would also say that if you want a singlespeed that can "do it all" over varied terrain and distances, think about going with a freewheel as opposed to a fixed gear - you have more control over the downhills, and can think about venturing farther. I have found that "spin" rarely fades from season to season - the gear-restricted riding that characterizes most folks' winter training ensures that you must pedal faster to go faster. Or, you could have the best of both worlds and go with a flip/flop hub with a taller gear on the fixed side and a shorter gear on the free side. - MB
re: Fixed-gear gearing question...Stampertje
Apr 23, 2001 7:12 AM
I used Sheldon Brown's online gear calculator ( to match my target speed (around 20-22 mph, flat terrain) to my target rpm (90). I came up with a 42x16 fixed, and I have an 18 tooth freewheel on the flip side.

I've only ridden it once so far (blame work), about 35 miles total, but it was great fun even up and down some of the longer bridges in the area. I maxed at 48.5 km/h, which means about 144 rpm...
re: Fixed-gear gearing question...Jiggy
Apr 23, 2001 7:15 AM
Based on an informal survey of about 20-30 fixees, I found that the majority (about 70%) run a gear of about 65 inches or 42x17 or 39x16. A few run larger gears, particularly if riding on a track, less go smaller, but by far there two combos were the most common.
jan ulrich trains on a fixy i heard nmishmael
Apr 25, 2001 6:46 AM