Thursday, October 18, 2007

A New Bike And Gearing Talk

Twenty Nine Inches just received this SE Racing Stout 29"er for test/review yesterday. SE Racing? Yes......that company! Yes, they do a 29"er and have since 2005. They also have a few really cool fixies in their lineup as well. Anyway........this 29"er is just a bit different than most that you see out there these days.
A lot of these 29"er single speed bikes are a bit complicated......for single speeding. Sliding this, eccentric that, and disc brake worries. SE Racing just does it the ol' fashioned way. Track ends baby! Linear pull brakes, nutted axles, and track ends. Couldn't be simpler, or easier unless it was "fixed". That said, there is a gizmo on it that allows a derailleur to be mounted and there are full cable stops for a triple crank drive train on the frame. Don't worry! I won't succumb to the temptation of gears on this bike. It's got a 51.5" gear on it, so it's geared about perfect for our trails in this area. I shouldn't have any problems with this set up.
Speaking of Gears: In my "Endurance Racing and the 29"er" post's comment section, I received a comment pertaining to how I would gear a 29"er to compensate for the wheel size. I know that the prevailing wisdom out there is to reduce your cranks chain ring sizes to something like 40-30-20, although I've seen guys going for a set up with a 29T middle ring and a 20T granny too. Gearing is such a tough topic. Everybody is so different, how can you recommend a gear package and say, "this is it"? I don't think it works like that. There just isn't an easy answer.
Fitness levels, terrain demands, and individual riding styles and makeup are too varied and complex for there to be an easy answer. The thing is, you just have to experiment. What works for you won't for someone else. Or you could just take the single speeder way and live with what you've got and mash until you have to walk up the climb.
Here's what works for me, and in no way am I recommending this for anyone else! Single Speed: I gear on the tough side just a bit for the course. If I get down around 8mph I walk. Easy. Multi Speed Drive Train: I almost never use a granny gear (smallest chain wheel on the crank set) Heck, if you are going that slow, you can walk as fast and use different muscles for a bit. If I do get into the granny, it's in the middle of the cassette, which might be one gear lower than a middle ring/biggest cog combo. If manufacturers made a 29-42 crank set, I'd be all over it. Maybe a Stronglight or a custom assembled one is in my future. Whatever it is going to be, that granny ring is going away. It's dead weight and I don't need it. I mean, why would I ever need something lower than a 29 X 34? Again, I might as well walk if I do need something lower than that!
I had a crank set with a 20T granny once and a 32T rear cog in the cassette. It was ridiculous! So much torque that it spun the rear tire on climbs and you couldn't go faster than 10mph anyway spinning like a madman. Crazy I tell ya! I just don't need that. Your mileage may vary.

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