Gears and Gear Ratios

Bicycle Gears and Gear Ratios

Unless you’re riding a single speed, you’ve got gears on your bike….but many cyclists don’t know a whole lot about them or how to use gearing to their advantage.

In this podcast on gears and gear ratios, Victor and Rob go over everything you need to know on the subject and will leave you educated and ready to make the most of your gearing on the bike.

  • The different types of gears:
    • Triple
    • Compact
    • Mid-compact
    • Standard
  • What are typical gear measurements and what do I have
  • Front chain rings, rear cassettes, and gear ratios
  • What is the magic formula to shifting smoothly
  • Loading and unloading the driveline
  • How terrain can affect your gearing
  • Shifting strategies for:
    • High speed corners
    • Climbs
    • Descents
    • Pack riding
  • Common shifting problems

Additional Links:

Victors Basic Bicycle Maintenance Class

Life in the Big Ring

Subscribe to iTunes | Subscribe to MP3 Feed


  1. Khelang Velo says:

    Loved this episode especially – just like they say about New York, I had to listen twice and will again.

    Victor the GoooRooo(in a Darryl accent) mentioned about cross-chaining. I’d be interested in your recommendation for a triple on an MTB if it applies.

    A friend of mine asked why I wanted to get a Pro Bike Fit and I told him “Haven’t you listened to anything Victor says!?” – We’re not worthy!

    Love the podcast theme tune, I’d love it for my Velobeat Ringtone.

    Just keep the podcasts coming.

    We love you guys up here in Northern Thailand.

    • Thanks for the kind words. Nice to hear from Nothern Thailand! Cross chaining still applies to mtb triples. Generally you want to avoid the extremes. How about some pics of where you ride? Best Victor

      • Hi Victor, Are you able to provide a link to that calculator you mentioned in the podcast? Lovin’ the Cycling360!! Thanks guys!

  2. Jen Filipiak says:

    Hi Guys – GREAT SHOW! This was so helpful – I’ve been racing for 4 years and all I ever knew about gear ratios was that the numbers meant number of teeth! I just noticed that my chain rings are showing significant wear, so I’ve been talking with my mechanic and teammates about gearing options. That coupled with this show’s info (and how I feel on my bike – I’ve always thought I could use just one or two more “heavier” gears in crits) helped me decide to move from 50/34 to 52/36.

    I couldn’t find the gearing calculator either – but here is another one that helped me evaluate my options:

    Thanks for a great podcast!

  3. I had a question on gearing. I currently have a compact double 9 cogs 12-25. What is the disadvantage of having gearing line 11-13-15-17-19-21-23-25-27? It seems like it would give me a higher high and lower low. Why is it 12-13-14-16-17-19-21-23-25?

    • Dave you are correct that it would give you higher high and lower low. You are also loosing some popular gears on the 11-27. Very few people actually need a 11t, even with a compact up front a 12 is sufficient. If you are riding with a 50t up front and an 11 in the back at 90 rpm you will be going about 32mph, at 100rpm about 35. Question is how ofter to you ride at that speed? – Victor

  4. Marcus Lancaster says:

    Hi all.

    This was an excellent podcast – learnt loads of really useful stuff… but also learnt that my choice of an Allez double was probably a poor decision. Should have spent the extra few quid and gone for the triple.

    I ride hills a lot and am always running out of low gears… so I’m then up, out of the saddle, straining to keep the bike moving…

    I could buy a new crank / chainring set to lower the gearing… or a new cassette… but is it possible to replace the large cog on the cassette, with an even larger gear… leaving everything else unchanged? Then I’ve got one super low gear for those nightmare short climbs that you get in the Chilterns… but I still retain the higher gears for normal riding on the flat…

    Or does this pick and mix approach to cassette building just end up causing shifting problems?

    Just wondered what your thoughts were?

    Cheers! Keep up the good work!

    • Marcus

      Unfortunately mixing and matching gears is a thing of the past. Modern gears are designed to work in sets. Its not always as simple as changing cassettes or chain rings. Often you will have to replace derailleurs.


  5. Sharon PALKOWETZ says:

    Where is the gearing ratio calculator?

    Thanks and love the show!

  6. Being an engineer, I have always understood the importance of gearing, but I didn’t stop to think about how much trouble someone else could have with gears. My wife struggles on hills and has bad knees. She also like to have a gear or two in reserve when she is climbing. After listening to your show I think I might have to make some gearing changes to her bike.

    I didn’t see your gear calculator, but I have one of my own. With her current ratios my wife theoretically should be able to go 42 mph in top gear at 90 rpm. Only downhill will this ever happen and then she will be riding the brakes.

    I think smaller rings in the front will allow her to spin easier and still leave a gear or two in reserve when she hits the big grades.

    Thanks guys. Your show is the most helpful of all the cycling podcasts I listen to.

  7. Loved the pod cast! I recently suffered from sciatica which left me off the bike for two months. Like Daryl, I love life in the big ring, but as I quickly found out after loosing some of my power and not being able to “dance on the peddles” on the climbs, I rediscovered my full range of chain rings and cogs. I had three weeks to get ready for the MS 150 and was able to better my times from last year by working smarter, not harder with the gearing.

    Where is the link to the calculator mentioned in the podcast?

    Thanks again!

  8. lloydfour says:

    I learned about gearing this spring after soo many years. I ride on flat roads. My old cassette had a very wide ratio and was wrong for the road. I now use a close ratio cassette at riding is so much better. Still got to get my cadence higher.


  1. […] beginning the ride in my middle ring.  I was following the advise from the cycling360 podcast ( to shift often.  I typically went straight to the granny gear, but today, I decided to try […]

Speak Your Mind