Does a higher gear mean higher effort in TR?

hi there,

i am wondering, if you are driving through your sessions on your smartrainers in high or low gear, especially while working close or above your FTP?

Do you use lower, easier gear and simulate an uphill ride? Or are you able to push the big gear?

For my understanding: does the gear make a difference in the smarttrainer? Is a higher gear more difficult to push than a lower gear at same Watt? Should not, but does it feel so?

I am using a Wahoo Kicker.

Thank you!


I use a gear I would typically also use outdoors on the flats.

even when you are pushing your FTP?

Yes, I don’t change it.

Plenty of discussion (more than most care to read :stuck_out_tongue: ) in the mega thread below:

Usually you want to consider applying the gearing in a way to mimic your event needs. The rule of thumb is to try to match the flywheel inertia to the majority of your events. Over-simplified summary below:

  • Flat and Fast Road Riding = Use Higher Gearing and Faster Flywheel Speed
  • Hilly Road and/or Off-Road Riding = Use Lower Gearing and Slower Flywheel Speed

Those are just one consideration. Here are others:

  • You simply prefer a specific gearing for “feel”. This may differ from prior experience, rider weight as it pertains to feel outside and other reasons.
  • Trainer and drivetrain noise and vibration is usually lower with lower gearing as well.
  • Chain line and potential drivetrain wear are also valid considerations.
  • Ramp Testing is usually best performed in a gear similar to what you plan to use for training. Making big changes can impact the test results and the training afterwards. Consistency, if possible, is a good plan.
  • Even the Tacx Neo and it’s unique “virtual flywheel” can feel different in different gears when compared to other trainers with real, physical flywheels.
1 Like

Thank you!

So by running on a lower gear like simulating a hilly ride I do not substantially have less effort to deal with than in a higher gear, right? It jsut feels different

There some speculation that the power measurement by some trainers and power meters may change depending on big ring vs small ring. Some of the posts in the mega thread Chad linked to cover this. Main thing is if you are riding in erg mode, pick a gear and use consistently.

Lower gearing with a Kickr or similar trainer, feels to me that I have to apply force around more of the pedal circle when compared to higher gearing. It is like power from 1-4 around the clock in low, vs something like 2-4 in high. “Power” is the same, but there seems to be a loading duration difference for me, that is more like the typical loading I feel outside.

on the Kickr direct-drive using lower gearing might feel harder, and higher heart rate.

These are interesting reads:

the paragraph about dead spot in particular. Lower gearing on Kickr means flywheel is spinning slower, and has less momentum. To me it feels a little like having to chase the pedals around the circle. However I usually pedal around the circle on flat rides, so its not that big of a difference unless I’m sloppy doing square-pedaling. More info here:

1 Like

Thank you - very helpful!