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I ride a fixed gear bike and I wanted to change the rear wheel, I'm sort of new to all the bike knowledge but i couldn't find an answer to this. i ride 46 x 18, i don't know if its good or bad, i can change it to 46 x 16, which is better? another thing is i got this rear wheel which has a fix cog on it but it wont sync with my chain, whats the deal with that? i have no clue what to do, can i please have a hand?

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the only difference between your two cogs is that riding with 18 teeth will be slightly easier on your legs. But I'd urge you to explore @WTHarper's answer, which sounds spot on to me. Whenever I've shopped for a new cog I've had to specify what width chain I'm buying the cog for. Ideally your front ring, chain and cog should all be set up for the same width, which can generally be 1/8 or 3/32 –  PeteH Jul 6 '13 at 16:34

1 Answer 1

Chains for modern bicycles all have a 1/2" pitch - the distance from roller to roller or from pin to pin. However, multi-speed bicycles have rollers that are 3/32" wide (or narrower), while many single speed drivetrains (fixies, track bikes, BMX) have rollers that are 1/8" wide. Similarly, there are chainrings and cogs which accommodate wider or narrower chains. Since single speeds and fixies have diverged from the world of track bikes, lots of bikes are set up with parts from multi-speed bicycles (i.e. ubiquitous 3/32" chainrings, cogs, freewheels, and chains) rather than with wider 1/8" track parts.

Chains

Unfortunately, if you use a narrow chain on wider chainrings/cogs the drivetrain will bind up! The opposite is possible - a 1/8" chain on 3/32" hardware - because the chain is wide enough to fit over the teeth. It's possible that you bought a wheel fitted with a 1/8" cog to mesh with a drivetrain fitted with a 3/32" chain. The easiest thing to do would be to buy a 1/8" chain. There are different opinions on mixing component widths, but so long as it is adjusted properly it should work quietly and safely.

Before you do anything, measure the width of your chainring teeth and compare it to the width of your rear cog teeth.

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