Big ring vs little ring

Could anyone help me with this question please and i will apologise now as it might well be a silly question !
If i am in lets say gear 14 - big chain ring and 3 , or in the similar cadence/speed gear in the small chainring about 8 or 9 . are my legs working harder because i am in the big chain ring . It even sounds a stupid question as i am typing ! maybe its all in my head but it seems like it tires me quicker in the big ring . Quite prepared for a barrage of sarcasm but would be nice to be told if there is any difference eventually as well - thanks

Smokin Joe

Legendary Member
If the gear ratio is the same there will be no difference in effort required. I think you're suffering from "If I'm on the big ring it must be harder" syndrome.

Happens to us all. Now be quiet and finish your dinner.


An Peanut
It totally depends on your exact gearing. There are plenty of gears that are the same/similar depending on big/small ring and in theory if the gearing is exactly the same then big/small should not matter unless you have friction from cross chaining or rubbing on a mech.


Mancunian in self imposed exile in leafy Cheshire
You should consider which ring to use by which gives you the best chain line. Unfortunately compacts have a big jump from large to small so can encourage staying in the big ring even if your chainline is not good.
berty bassett
thanks for quick replies - and some were even helpful !! but are you definitly sure ? i've been thinking of this while i have been having my dinner and i know little demons can creep in when your trying hard and i might be finding excuses - any chance of a scientific formula


any chance of a scientific formula
Just consult one of the many gear tables available on the internet.

Dan B

Disengaged member
any chance of a scientific formula
Divide the number of teeth on the chainring by the number on the sprocket (higher numbers are harder to push, but will make you go further). If you have more than one bike with different wheel sizes, multiply by wheel size (radius, diameter, circumference, whatever)
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