Chain wheel 52/36 (Gearing Choice for Training)

Hey guys just a quick question, I have my turbo trainer set to EGR mode my question is what chainwheel should I be in on the front big or small?

Simple question… complicated answer… maybe.

This can be influenced by:

  • Trainer flywheel, resistance range and the wattage floor.
  • “Feel” that you want (the pedal feel around the circle as a result of the flywheel inertia)
  • Goal event for your training (muscular loading in the pedal circle, likely related to “Feel” above)

One rule of thumb:

  • Flat and Fast Road Riding = Large Gearing and Faster Flywheel Inertia
  • Hilly and Off-Road = Small Gearing and Slower Flywheel Inertia

The above is NOT a perfect solution for all riders and needs.
This whole topic is very debatable and been covered in great depth in this thread.

I recommend playing with each chainring and evaluate your own experience. Overall, there is not “perfect answer”, and any differences between them likely fall well into the “marginal gains/losses” category. So I don’t think either is necessarily better than another in all cases.


Not complicated at all.

The “correct” answer is the gearing that allows you to get the highest number possible on your FTP test. After all, that number is the most important number ever! :joy:

On a more serious note, @mcneese.chad summed it up nicely!


:rofl: There is some truth to that.

To add, I recommend testing in the same gear you plan to use for most of your training. There are good reasons to alter gearing, so it’s fine to mix it up. But test in the most used combo for more accurate results in workouts.

Another consideration for gearing choice may be noise. Depending on what trainer you’re using, the gearing can make a big difference on noise levels.

On my Kickr I usually perform my TR workouts on the 36 and middle of the cassette for a good chain line. I use this gearing for all my workouts in ERG, because it helps keep the noise levels down…apartment living :smirk:

If I was to perform the same workouts on 52/11, I’d still be pushing exactly the same wattage/cadence, but the noise levels would be significantly higher, definitely annoying for family and maybe even for the neighbors too :joy:

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