Question: I’ve set up fixed-gear bike with a 48-tooth chainring and 16-tooth cog. This gear seems too big. What ratio would you recommend, and what cadence should I maintain? — Larry M.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: There isn’t an exact recommendation.
The best ratio depends on your terrain, fitness and goals. But in general, start with a 42×18 or 17 (63 or 67 gear inches) and see how it goes.
A 48×16 (81 inches) is almost certainly too big and may overstress your knees on climbs.
Likewise, it’s wrong to recommend a specific cadence for fixed-gear riding.
The whole idea of having only one gear is to force you into pedaling in a wide range of cadences. You have to pedal slowly and powerfully on climbs, then fast and fluidly on downhills.
Of course, you shouldn’t ride a fixed-gear bike on severely hilly terrain, but rolling roads are great for expanding your pedaling range.