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Is there evidence that men and women prefer the same or different gearing when riding a road bike? In other words, in the same conditions, would both men and women generally ride in the same gear or does one group statistically prefer to ride in a higher or lower gear?

I understand that the question is quite academic as everyone is free to pick their preferred gear.

  • As very general rule of thumb, larger more muscular riders tend to push a bigger gear and smaller slimmer riders spin a smaller gear. With this in mind it stands to reason that women would (on average) use a lower gear than men. – Andy P Feb 28 '19 at 14:47
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    You're probably going to find more variation within each group than between the average of each group. – whatsisname Feb 28 '19 at 16:43
  • You will have to normalize for other stuff like: Wheel size, crank lenght, bike fit, clip or clipless pedals, etc. Then you will end up with something comparable and I believe results will be very disperse. On the other hand on high tier riders(professionals) won't variate that much, most of them want to go as fast a possible. – dmb Mar 1 '19 at 19:23
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    Too many variables in the equation. – Carel Mar 3 '19 at 18:39
  • Even among pros of the same gender in the same event there is large variation. Eg Armstrong and Ullrich got similar times in many time trials, but Armstrong’s cadence was much higher, indicating that he was using a lower gear ratio. – Andrew Feb 8 at 2:41
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Really this question is far too broad, but I'll mention some things that dictate gearing, ultimately, non have anything to do with sex or gender.

  • Strength - Stronger people can push heavier gears
  • Cadence preference - someone who prefers a higher cadence might choose gearing for quicker pedaling
  • Terrain - Hillier = easier gearing, flatter = bigger front and smaller back
  • Type of road cycling - TT will use harder gearing, endurance racing lower
  • Compete vs training - Some people have different bikes for training and competing

There's other factors too, and as most sports, there is a difference between top male and top female competitors and I'm sure it will be something like top males might have larger front rings than top females. Although the difference within the male and female groups might be of more interest than just the difference between avg male and female.

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