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Why Does Gear Ratio Matter? — Bicycle Gear Ratio Explained

bicycle gear ratio explained
Written by James Jordan
Last Update: August 16, 2023

You will not see much of a difference in your ride due to the gear ratio if you do not go out for long rides. But, if you love the road and if you care about the smoothness of your ride then you must care about the gear ratio at all time because it actually helps you with the smooth ride. Determining the best gear ratio is never easy as you have to consider so many factors in the way but there are some techniques that you can follow. These techniques will not only help you to get proper control over your bike but it will also help you understand the gear factors of your bike.

You may ask, what makes me such an expert? Well, I am a cyclist at heart. My passion lays in the road and I have been experimenting with the gadgets of each and every bike to determine how I can personalize them with my own taste. You see, when a manufacturer produces the bike the always apply the moderate technique and structure for each and every bike. Because different kind of people are going to buy those but if you want to have the best experience with your bike then you have to learn how to set up the best gear ratio for your bike.

So, today I am going to take you through my experience as a cyclist and tell you what gear ratio you should look for in a bike. This article is the birth child of both my expertise with the bike and some research work so I hope it will give you all the information that you need to get started with your bike. This is more of a comparative study of the whole process so let’s get on with the article;

Why Does Gear Ratio Matter? Bicycle Gear Ratio Explained

Why Does a Bike Gear Ratio Matter

Before you can move out to fix your gear ratio you need to know why it is so important to have the perfect gear ratio. There are some precise reasons which are given below;

  • Comfortable Ride: Whenever you are using a device you want to be the most comfortable experience and you cannot make your bike comfortable if your gear ratio is not right. To enjoy a smooth ride you need to fix the gear ratio according to the need of your feet.
  • Long-Hour Cycling: If you want to travel further then there is no alternative to fixing your bike with the best gear ratio settings. This will allow you to use your bike for long hours without getting tired.
  • Ensure Durability of The Bike: Your bike faces a certain kind of structural stains if you do not have the right settings for it. The paddle may wobble and the gear may stop working so you need proper settings to ensure the durability of your bike.
  • More Mileage with Less Paddle: This is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable benefits of setting your bike into the right gear ratio. You will be able to travel further with less amount of paddle if you have the best gear ratio. This will increase your speed and you will be able to paddle for a longer period of time.
  • Avoid Muscle Injury: Muscle injury is one of the most common types of the problem faced by riders. This is sometimes because of erroneous settings. SO, you need to have better gear setting to avoid injuries.
  • Speed of The Ride: There is nothing more exciting than enjoying true speed with your bike and that can only be achieved by setting the best gear ratio. This ensures that your bike is at its top speed at all time.

How to Identify the Best Gear Ratio

How to Identify the Best Bike Gear Ratio

Now, if you want those things in your daily cycling life then you should start determining which the most appropriate gear ratio is for you. There are some factors that you need to consider. Those are;

  • Height of The Seat: The height of the seat directly affects your paddling ability so you should have a quick glimpse at the height of the seat. So, if your seat is higher, then you will be able to paddle better with lower gear but if it is lower, then you should go for higher gear settings.
  • Size of The Bike: The ratio preferences might change according to the size of the bike. The bigger bikes perform better with low gear while the smaller ones run faster. So, the size of the bike will ultimately help you figure out the appropriate gear ratio.
  • Length of Your Feet: The length of your feet is another factor contributing to your ability to paddle the bike. So, the larger they are the quicker you will be able to rotate and change the best gear ratio according to that.
  • Gear Type: There is basically three type of gear sets that you will find in the market. The Standard ones that start at 53 and ends at 39tin gear measurement. The Semi-compact ones starting at 52 and ending at 36t and finally the Compact ones that start at 50 and ends at 34t. So, you should check which one you have at hand.
  • Body Weight of The Bike: The weight of the bike is also another considerable factor. You cannot expect a heavy bike to run faster in a lower gear but the light bike will perform better with a lower gear. So, you can set your gear ratio according to that.
  • Purpose of Your Ride: This is an obvious point but people tend to forget it so I decided to include it anyway. If your purpose is to have a simple ride down the road then you should have a tighter gear setting but if you are looking for long rides or races then a more loose setting would be the best gear ratio for you.
  • Other Accessories Available to You: If you have a lot of gear controlling accessories, you should set your gear to the moderate ratio as you will be able to fix it later. But, otherwise, you should fine tune the ratio settings.

Fix the Proper Gear Ratio for Your Bike – Gear Fixing Process

Bike Gear Fixing Process

There is a certain process that you can follow in order to fix the proper gear ratio for your bike.

  • Determine and Fix: First, you have to determine your desired ratio and set your bike gear according to that. Be careful of your chainset and your cassettes at this time and fix it according to your need. You may go through different tips and trick articles to find out the techniques to fix the ratio.
  • Test Run: Then you have to take your bike for a test run to see if you have achieved the best gear ratio or not. You need to concentrate on your paddling, the smoothness and the speed of your bike and see if they have met your desires or not.
  • Fine Tune: If there is any deviation from your expectation then you got to fine-tune your settings again. You need to target each blade and easy turn of the cassettes separately and fix them to your need.
  • Repeat: Then you need to repeat the whole process again and test it to see if the fine tuning worked. If it did then congratulations, you have earned a perfect ride with your bike.

I hope that now you understand why the best gear ratio matters so much and how it can completely change your game if you manage to set the gear right. So, to enjoy your ride to its fullest I recommend you fix the gear properly. Even the most positively reviewed bike would not perform better if the gear set is not right.

Be safe on your way to the road and always wear safety gadgets. There are a lot of people who do not want you to get hurt. So, with that note, I am signing off on the article. Catch you next time. Until then, have a good time with your bike.

About the author

James Jordan

As a kid I inherited the love for mountain bikes from my father who used to ride for weeks through the Colorado trail in the city of Denver. He had his gang, and I followed pretty much the same track.

Later on, my interest in biking grew more after joining the Enduro race back in 2013. My buddies and I also participated in the Downhill racing for the third consecutive year, and it’s been an amazing experience.

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