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Fixed gear bikes: What's the best gear ratio?

June 09, 2015 47 Comments

Fixed Gear Bike Gear Ratio

When buying a fixed gear or single speed bike it's very important to find the right gear ratio. Two of the most common gear ratios are 44:16 and 46:16 - what does that mean? Here we break down those gear ratios and help you find the perfect one to match your riding needs.

Really there’s no “best” gear ratio. Certain bikes are better for certain situations, and you should keep that in mind when searching for the right ride. 

Here's what you need to know:

A gear ratio is determined by the number of teeth you have in the chain ring and the rear cog. We personally recommend riding a fixed gear or single speed bike with either 44 or 46 teeth in the chain ring (hence the first number in the gear ratio) and a rear cog with 16 teeth. 

A 44/16 gear ratio, also sometimes written as a ratio of 2.75, allows for easier acceleration, but has lower top speeds and is generally more suited for leisurely cruising. It's also great for commuting to work or casually riding around with friends on the weekend. So, if you’re in a predominately flat area without hills, a bike with this gear ratio is the best choice for you.

All of the bikes in the Hi-Ten Series use a 44:16 gear ratio. Click here to learn more about the bikes.

A 46/16 gear ratio (2.88) on the other hand, provides higher top speeds, and is more efficient than the 44/16 - however acceleration will be more difficult. The 46/16 will permit you to travel farther with each pedal (you’ll basically have longer legs) and therefore cover more distance with less effort. While these bikes are also great for commuting and cruising around town they are best for trick riding or more performance related rides - like alleycats, crits, or distance races.

The CRMO Series bikes use a 46:16 gear ratio. Click here to learn more about the bikes.

 

Questions or concerns? Hit us up! 

Call us: 844.672.0637

Email us: support@tribebicycles.com

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Because of coronavirus, I wanna do my ussually train travel on my bike. I used to ride 10km only in a 42-18, now I bought a 53t and will keep the 18, is it a good choice? I will do 40km, I used to feel that my legs could fo far far far more than the top speed of 42-18…

Alex
Alex

April 21, 2020

Hey Jerran,
gearing up from 44/15 to 46/13 is a huge step.

It’s about the same as changing only your front ring to 53.
If 2,93 is to slow, I’ consider something like 53/17 (3,11)

Jerran Melcherts
Jerran Melcherts

April 15, 2020

Old forum but i hope to get some response. i’m currently riding 44/15 (2.93) on flats and i’m looking to gear up to 46/13 (3.54) is this to ridiculous or doable if 2.93 is to slow for me? my legs arent the greatest and there are no real hills here , is .60 to much to upgrade ?

John A. Stone
John A. Stone

April 02, 2020

I agree too. RAtio 44:16 and 46:16. depend on. My best city bikes is also same ration, Thanks!

JT
JT

March 31, 2020

Matthew, the difference is minute, but a chain is more efficient if the angles are larger. So a larger chainring and larger cog means that the chain is not bending as tightly, and is therefore marginally more efficient.

mohd acir
mohd acir

September 21, 2018

I think gearing is too subjective, u need to tailor made them according to ur ability, surrounding & geography. For starters i think try something around 2.7 or lower, and gradually change as u move on. You might be able to notice this minute differences (±0.05) on climbs! Surplace is a good web calculator to help u figure out ratios & stuff. Be wary of the limits of the chain itself; theres chances that if u increase the chainring’s (faster/heavier pedal) or the cog’s teeth (slower/easier), the chain length won’t be enough to accomodate. Happy riding people!

Jason
Jason

August 14, 2018

I beene riding on a 13 rear cog not sure my chain ring but whats the best ring size for a 13

Kirk
Kirk

August 07, 2018

The real world difference between the 2 gearings in this article is so small even the most skilled rider would not feel the difference between 2.82 and 2.75. Less teeth on the rear cog makes a difference

A more typical commuting, casual gear ratio is more around 2.5 and lower

Laura
Laura

July 31, 2018

I am very new to cycling and shall be using my single speed bike to get to and from work, there are a few hills and was wondering what the ratio should be to assist the ascent. I am not fussed too much about losing a top speed on the flat but will need to have a fairly swift move off when in traffic. Any suggestions gratefully received. Thanks so much :)

panagiotis
panagiotis

June 26, 2018

I use 46/18.i need more speed.what can i do???

William P. G. Shaw
William P. G. Shaw

April 17, 2017

It would be useful to specify gear ratios for very hilly country, like Scotland, so that you do not have to continually get off the one-speed bicycle at the slightest hill. Speed is not very important, just a moderate running pace.

bill louca
bill louca

February 07, 2017

single speed ,cipollini speed converted for road ,i.e. brakes andcwater bottle ,use an 87 x16 ,its not a typo the best feeling in the adelaide hills here in australia, custom carbon fibre chainring ,play with gear ratios from 82×17 to 92 x16 172.5 cranks,can provide pics

bill louca
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single speed ,cipollini speed converted for road ,i.e. brakes andcwater bottle ,use an 87 x16 ,its not a typo the best feeling in the adelaide hills here in australia, custom carbon fibre chainring ,play with gear ratios from 82×17 to 92 x16 172.5 cranks,can provide pics

caleb bissell
caleb bissell

December 19, 2016

i use a 52:14 ratio.. so much fun

Bongo
Bongo

October 10, 2016

I’ve been riding 46×18 for years. Have been experiencing more knee discomfort recently (old injury) and switched to 44×18, wow what a difference. My knee feels better and my no-hands riding is so much smoother. Top end speed is slower, however I my speed to my destinations is just as quick because I can stay at above average speed longer with this gear ratio, especially in stop-and-go city traffic.

Matthew Kersys-Hull
Matthew Kersys-Hull

July 30, 2016

What would be the difference between riding a 44/16 and a 36/14 (except the very slightly different ratio)?

jake
jake

July 04, 2016

I use a 48:15 as a coursier in Geneva (moderate hills, but not like Lausanne or Frisco) …… is that crazy… I guess I happened upon it by accident and worked into it over a few months . 52km/hr is about top speed drafting trucks and buses

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