Best gearing for 26" single speed

Jul 25, 2016
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Going thru some parts and I have enough stuff to start planning a 26" clunker. Rear wheel will accept a spin on freewheel, what's the preferred gear ratio front/rear for 26" wheels, 175mm crank.

I'm used to 44 or 45/16 on 20", 2.75 ratio, don't know what's good on a 26" rim.

This will be a casual comfortable rider that anyone can jump on and go.
 
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Feb 19, 2011
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44/16 on a 20" bike is a 52" gear, so 44/22 on a 26, or basically anything 2:1 (eg, 32/16, 40/20, etc...)

Personally, I like to go a little lower than 52" on trail 26" bikes, and a little higher than 52" on street 26" bikes, but i live in the flatlands....
 
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LukeTheJoker

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Nov 17, 2012
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It is interesting the ratios people use, I must have trained my legs hard riding when I was a kid, flat pavement I like a 3:1 on a 26" and pretty much the lowest I will go is 2.2:1 for Back40 on the rough stuff.

Personally 2.6:1 is my cruiser ratio...

I wonder if having long legs has an effect on preferred spin speed while riding?
 
Jul 25, 2016
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Good call, I guess I should find the preferred gear for all around on the mountain bike and try to replicate that. I prefer steeper gearing as opposed to spinning. Lot of weight lifting in my past, and I ride standing a lot of the time.

Since I don't have a freewheel yet, I was trying to lay this out with the stuff I have then purchase the freewheel to match. Have some nice 26" chrome rims, a frame, etc, just a nice cruiser, very simple.
 
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Sep 14, 2013
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Ok, I was calculating the gearing a while back for my Harlequin T build in the 2017 WBO...

I had a 42t sprocket with a 18t cog and a 26 x 2.125 rear tire for 70.6 gear inches and it was too easy to pedal.

Then I had a 65t sprocket and an 18t rear cog and a 26 x 2.125 rear tire for 109.2 gear inches I could roll, but it was a little stout.

Now I have 65t with a 22t cog giving me 89.4 gear inches, and I like it. I read somewhere that some Olympic teams use 90 gear inches on the cadence trainers...

Carl.
 
Jan 21, 2009
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My new Typhoon in 1981 had 44/18, 62 gear inches, a little too easy for me, but I was young and light and could wind it out. but now would be just right for cruising around, like my 52/22, also 62 gear inches. on my 42 Hawthorne now. That's good ratio for anyone to hop on and ride.


DSCI0023 - Copy.JPG
 
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)n my WBO 2017 build Red roadster, I was sure gearing would be too "tall" for me on steep hills around here.
http://ratrodbikes.com/forum/index.php?threads/red-roadster-completed.102353/

The crank came from a 1980s vintage Schwinn road bike. SR Japan Silstar with 52 and 40 t chain rings.
Due to lack of clearance,
the 40 tooth cog had to be removed.
Calculated gear inches using 52 t front sprocket are as follows:
1st gear 28 t = 49 gear inches
2nd gear 24 t = 56 gear inches
3rd gear 21 t = 64 gear inches
4th gear 18 t = 75 gear inches
5th gear 16 t = 85 gear inches
6th gear 14 t = 97 gear inches.

When I built my Schwinn Cruiser four a couple years ago I thought the factory gearing too "tall" also. The Nexus 4 is direct and 3 overdrive gears.
using 46 t front sprocket (original) and 22t rear sprocket (original)
1st gear (direct) = 52 gear inches
2nd gear (1.244 overdrive) = 65 gear inches
3rd gear (1.500 overdrive) = 78 gear inches
4th gear (1.843 overdrive) = 96 gear inches

using 36 t front sprocket (from kids 20")and 22t rear sprocket (original)
1st gear (direct) = 42 gear inches
2nd gear (1.244 overdrive) = 52 gear inches
3rd gear (1.500 overdrive) = 63 gear inches
4th gear (1.843 overdrive) = 77 gear inches.

Ironically, The bike I just built has almost same gear ratios as the bike I thought was to high geared 2 years ago!

They are totally different bikes frames tires ect. Of course. 6 speed derailleur with caliper brakes vs 4 speed IGH with coaster brake. Maybe more "drag" with IGH coaster brake? I have read as you ride more your legs get stronger so maybe I can pedal a higher gear ratio now. I know I start shifting down earlier for hills now to attempt to keep the revs "up" longer, tho my cadence is usually 60 or less. Age has something to do with it too as I'm 61. :)
 
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Jan 21, 2009
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When I rode a bike everywhere as a teenager, I had a ten speed I put a 3 speed wheel on. With the 52 tooth chain wheel and 18 tooth cog, I would usually ride around in high gear. Florida is flat, so there were no real inclines. The gear inches if I calculate right were 133% of 72.19, making it 96.01 gear inches. If I subtract 10 gear inches per decade since then, I'm right where I need to be now.:39:
 
Feb 19, 2011
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i spent like 5 years pretty much only riding a track bike with an 80" fixed gear.... I could probably still do that if i had to, but i don't really wanna, anymore.

These days, even when setting up a road bike, i don't really need any gears much over 100". Even round here where it's flat, I'd rather spin in top than mash it. I guess that's a sign of "maturity?"
 
Jul 28, 2016
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My single speed klunker type is 28/19 which is 1.47:1 or 38 gear inches. Very low but geared toward hills and sand. Would cause a lot of spinning if you wanted to get much speed at all.

It's pretty cool how you can custom tailor a single speed bike with gearing to do a specific job.
 
Jan 21, 2009
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This is where a 2 speed with coaster would be handy. Either a kickback or auto. No cables, and you can hit a higher or lower gear, and be able to change your gearing by the chainwheel or cog, just like a one speed.

I wish I could afford another 2 speed w coaster.
 
Mar 5, 2014
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It depends....:39: Is it flat? Are there climbs? Pavement only? Dirt only? Mixed surfaces? Gravel? Riding ability? Bike weight? Bike itself? Bike rider?
A very complicated algebraic equation I say because it depends on many things. Sounds like it has to please everyone, and not sure you can do that, but if it is flat, paved and a one-speed I would go 48x22 or 44x20
 
May 6, 2016
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I'll have to study up on gear inches I guess, I don't know the ratio, but awhile ago I swapped the drive train on my daily rider from a men's set up to the women's gearing.
Love the ratio now for easy riding!
Another bike I ride alot has a kickback 2 speed, but I like the bike with the ladies gearing better...
 
Jan 21, 2009
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The old Bendix yellow band kickbacks had one more tooth on the cog on women's versions, 19 instead of the usual 18 teeth. On my walmart cruiser, I changed out the cog, added 2 teeth, now it's just right for cruising.
Smooth tires helps too.