Big or small chainring on kickr?

Im currently using the small chainring to train on my kickr as I train early in the morning to trying to avoid too much noise. Is there any difference between using the small or large chainring if all workouts are done in erg mode. (I had previously read somewhere that the big chainring was more realistic to riding on the road)

I had issues being in the Big Ring and having the KICKR brake correctly. So now I stay in the Small Ring and line my chain up on the back to a 21 or a 23.

No problems since.

Gearing does have an impact. It is essentially affecting the flywheel speed and inertia, which impacts how it loads your body and muscles.

Here is a video showing some of the differences.

This has been discussed in other threads. I will search and add links to them.


So I am new to a kickr core. I prefer riding in the big front and middle rear vs small front and middle rear,

Should I be swapping back and forth between the 2 modes to have variation in what muscles are being worked?

It’s really a personal choice as we don’t have any definite answers. Try them both and see.if you notice any difference for you and your needs.

Am I missing out of any muscle adaptations riding in the small ring?
I’m guessing I’m loading the muscles for longer of the pedaling circle but are there any negatives coming from this? Missing out on a higher load for certain muscles?

Again, no one knows. Everything around this is a ‘maybe’ for now. There is no firm data.

Personally, I think using a mix is a good idea. But that can depend entirely on the rider and their needs or preferences.

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Better get outdoor as soon as possible then :nerd_face:

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I recently switched this up and then switched back, and I have some N=1 advice . . .

Since it has been hypothesized that there might be a slight benefit to using the small chainring . . . but we are talking about marginally marginal gains . . . I submit the following:

Use the big ring for Vo2 and Threshold work. It’s somehow easier. If hitting your power numbers and interval times is the #1 priority, this makes it more likely. After I switched to the small ring, my fail/backpedal rate on Vo2 work went way up. I didn’t really notice it at the time, but looking back at my calendar, it is clear as day.

I’m 50/50 on what to use for Sweet Spot – I use the small ring just because. I don’t fail Sweet Sport work hardly at all, so I’ll take whatever marginal gain there is.

Use the small ring for endurance work – it’s actually easier to control your pedal cadence when you spin up/spin down.

Also – if you are focusing on out of the saddle work – use the small ring. For the cadence reason above.

I use a 2016 Kickr, by the way.

This is just my 2c.


Thank you all for the info!

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Pimping my old article, and building on the advice above, here is my recommendation about using shifting in ERG mode, for standing efforts.


Good to know. Unfortunately I have an inguinal hernia and cannot do any standing riding. Ive been doing everything seated for just over a year now. Luckily surgery is this month and then I can get back at it!

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great stuff on when you use small and big ring on the trainer, thanks for posting!

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I have recently started splitting my intervals up big to small ring. This way I figure I’m covered no matter what the next round of data suggests. Seriously thought I absolutely feel a difference between the two. I’ve come to the conclusion that my FTP is higher in the big ring than the small ring. In other words the work itself should be the same across the two as a watt is a watt is a watt but the measuring of the work has some discrepancy. As far as muscle usage. I do believe the two provide a slight difference in muscle usage as well.

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A really good video explaining erg mode.

But it also has some good information on Big ring vs small ring.

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Hi All


I had exactly the same effect with my Cyclops Hammer H2.

I use the middle of the cassette and when on the small ring at the front I hardly see any fluctuation in Cadence numbers but find it harder to keep and increase the cadence for V02 and Threshold work.

After saying that riding on the smaller ring actually feels like an outdoor ride.

When on the big ring it is the exact opposite, cadence fluctuates a lot but easier to increase cadence. Certainly seems a lot less quad intensive and more of a spin. I don’t actually know where that leaves me but will just keep testing.

mcneese.chad thanks for the Climbing Tip, that makes perfect sense and I have been struggling with that.



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