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I am a CX newbie that wants to give it a try this fall. I know that asking for SS gear choices is taboo, but that is not exactly what I am looking for.


What I am looking for is some gearing ranges for what you use on the CX bike compared to normal XC type riding or gravel riding. Please note the size of your wheels if they are not the same for all bikes.


Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Last year I used a 39x17 or a 39x16 for all the races I did. I used a tensioner as well. I rode it on a number of different types of courses and I was good to go. In MTB I started with a 2:1 ratio and worked from there, gearing for hills. In 'cross that was not the case. If you have a geared CX bike, try different combos with your 39 to see which one would suit you. I kept it simple and did not but a larger ring up front and used a Salsa outer plate to keep the chain from dropping.

In NorCal, 39x17 or 42x18 seems to be the standard on 700c wheels. I run the former, and I go 32x20 or x19 on my 29er for mountain biking. 


Heavy mud (which we don't have a lot of) might necessitate a lighter gear. 

the offroad rule is 2 to 1, on most cyclocross ourses i go up a little 16X38 is the middle, i also carry a 35 and a 42 depending on conditions, there that was easy.....
Last year I ran a handful of combinations based on the courses 42x17,18,19 while on my 26 mtb I run a 32x16.


I run a 39x18 all the time.  seems like everyone I race with is geared differently and it's always interesting to see how that plays out on the course. usually the guys near the front are geared higher, the guys near the back geared lower, I buck the trend by spinning fast AND riding at the front.


I don't like to change my gearing, as I assume I'll just be second guessing it on the course.  I have to spin a little faster than the other SS dudes, but I rarely get bogged down and I'm able to accelerate out of corners and get "on top" of my gear faster, which is a huge advantage.  it's exhausting pushing a gear that's too tall, I find it easier to work on my pedal stroke and get comfortable spinning higher cadences. 

Wow, I thought that by setting my SS up as 36 x 18 I would be about spot on but reading this, I think I may go to a 16 in back.

Thanks for all the input on this. I am currently running 42x20 on the bike I plan to use, but it has race king 2.0's on it right now. I have been using it for commuting and it has worked out fairly well, but some hill can be tough.


I plan on putting some cross tires on it and maybe just see how this gear works out. It seems to be in some peoples range, so maybe it will not be too bad. I think they plan on having some practice nights before the racing starts, so I should be able to get a feel for it.

I ran a 39 ring with 17, 18, 19 last year. Obviously dependent on your course and ability level. It is good to have a bunch of cogs to change out. It is imperative to pre-ride the course and also consider the end of the race when you choose your gearing. Its all good when push a good gear in warm up, but can you push that gear on your last lap
the 42x20 I am thinking about would be real close to the 39x19

Eric, if you want to know how gearing matches up go here:

lots of opinions out there on gearing, test some stuff out to see what works for you...Katsu's last point is also a very good one to consider.


Take into consideration, 

1.Are you a pedal masher or spinner?

2.Crank arm length (gain equation via

3.Area (mud races most season or mostly dry races)?

4.What look cool?

Eric, I used to run a 42x20 but switched to a 36x16 as my 20 sprocket was worn out.  I thought the shorter chain, smaller ring and sprocket would be an advantage with weight and clearance.  It worked pretty well as I was on the podium every race last year save one.  This is on 700C x 30 Michelin Mud 2s.  I think the really strong guys (1's & 2's) typically use something slightly taller.


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