“Gears”: what could it mean?

What might the idea of “gearing” describe in skateboarding? Should it be a catch-all phrase, or could it connote a simple, usable concept? I took it to a skate forum and I had a productive discussion. I post it below. [Context: the discussion was about reversing the rear truck and I suggested that’s going up a few “gears.” In brackets is the name of the author and my interpretation of the argument]

[quote=Alex (Changing Angles)
“‘Gears’ means turning radius”]
Reversing a truck is not something specific you try on for size to see if it fits. It’s not an accessory. It should be considered an option only when you need it, eg. when you have reached 0° and you find you need a higher “gear” still. If, for instance, you go from 0° to -1°, your turning radius (whichever point of your board you take to define it) will increase approx. 1%. On the other hand, if you have a 35° truck and reverse it, your turning radius will increase 135% (that’s double plus one third).
So, don’t try it. You’ll just be disappointed and then you’ll come here and call it a “myth”🤓
I take it for granted that the turning radius is the best (and only) proxy for “gear” Please do raise any objections you might have.

[quote=MacIak
“It’s more than simply turning radius”]
I’m thinking that we have a complete different understanding of “gearing” here.
Board Gearing: you know as well as i do that this is more, much more than rear truck angle.
The actual gearing is the combination of rider and deck but also this is known.

[quote=Alex
“Please elaborate”]
If you want, please elaborate. That’s very interesting, but I don’t understand your point (as mentioned earlier, for me it’s just the turning radius).

[quote=MacIak
“It’s about the rider’s abilities and equipment quality”]
Simply assuming that the rider remains the same and advanced pumper:
Low geared system accelerates fast and giving a certain effort will reach/have a lower sustained velocity. Yet at this velocity the energy consumption is still at high level. Endurance will be marginal. Think of carver c7/cx deck.
High geared system typically will be harder to accelerate but in hands of an experienced rider the difference will be visually/measurably small although the effort will be at a peak level. Once up to a way higher sustainable velocity (compared to low gear) the energy consumption will be quite a lot lower giving room for endurance. This will be a deck where LDP is achieved.
How we get this kind of system is way beyond just turn radius and until now the achievement has merely general guidelines. Rest is up to rider level.

[quote=Alex
“Consider the concept “gear” from cycling. Does it include rider ability”?]
So, you’re including in your concept of “gearing” everything from angles to bushings to wheel duro to rider experience. Is that right? If so, could you do a mental comparison between this concept and the concept of gearing from cycling? Do these two appear analogous to you?

So, you’re including in your concept of “gearing” everything from angles to bushings to wheel duro to rider experience. Is that right? If so, could you do a mental comparison between this concept and the concept of gearing from cycling? Do these two appear analogous to you?

[quote=MacIak
“Different riders perform better with different setups”]
That’s right. But comparison between differently geared decks must be executed by same rider since it has a lot to do with rider preference (think of deck flex corresponding to preferred style. Some use it to shift gears, some not).
Mental comparison:done. Analogous: no, I don’t think so.
Still I’m curious about your thoughts on this.

[quote=Alex
“Same is true in cycling too”]
I’m glad we agree on this. My thoughts? Just one: the aforementioned turning radius. What is our “pedal strokes” but our pumps? The shorter the turning radius, the easier it is to accelerate with each pump and so on. It really couldn’t have been neater than the turning radius.
All the rest concerns energy efficiency and/or taste. I obviously wasn’t saying anything about that here.
You mentioned “comparison between differently geared decks by the same rider”. Would I (or did I ever) disagree on that? Not only same rider, but exact same conditions too, and also in double blind tests. But I mentioned nothing about that here.
Turning radius. It’s right there, in front of us, measurable and universal. What else you guys? We have gears.

What is our “pedal strokes” but our pumps? The shorter the turning radius, the easier it is to accelerate with each pump and so on. It really couldn’t have been neater than the turning radius.
All the rest concerns energy efficiency and/or taste.

[quote=Skully
“Cycling is not pumping”]
I agree with Maclak: Gearing from cycling cannot be compared to pumping.
With cycling, the gear ratio will be set: “This” gear ratio = “This” many revolutions of the wheel for “Each” revolution of the cranks.
With pumping: There are way too many variables to compare it to cycling.

[quote=Alex
“Yes, but we are trying to define “gears” for pumping”]
Skully, I don’t think you understood Maclak. I think you are taking the cycling analogy way further than I intended (I meant it as a way to explain that our concept has to be more abstract and reductive than what Maclak proposed).
Have you understood what the turning radius is and how it influences the capacity to pump in certain speeds?
Also, the fact that pumps are fuzzier than pedal strokes doesn’t mean you can’t directly compare the turning radius on which pumps actually take place. As a matter of fact, that ought to be the basis of any comparison of equipment (otherwise -another analogy- it’s apples and oranges).

[quote=Skully
“Pumping equipment contributes to “gearing” more generally than chainrings in cycling”]
If you are simply making the comparison: Shorter turning radius is equal to a lower gear on a bike, and longer turning is equal to a higher gear on a bike, then yes, I’ll agree that is a fair comparison.
But as far as “gearing” on a skateboard, turning radius is ONE variable that will effect gearing. Truck/track width, bushing duro(s), bushing shape(s), deck flex/lack of flex, and I’d venture a guess even the type of truck are also likely to effect the “gearing” on a setup with the “same” turning radius. And then there’s the wheel “variable” also…

[quote=Alex
“Cycling equipment also contributes to performance, but not ‘gearing'”]
That was my whole point using the cycling analogy, Skully! 😏 Do cyclists include crank length, frame compliance, drive-train stiffness, tire type and width, fork rake and type etc etc in gearing?
Of course all these things you mentioned matter in energy efficiency, style of ride and of course top speed. But that doesn’t make it right conceptually to file them under “gearing”, does it?
If it can mean anything at all, “gearing” has to have to do with a fundamental characteristic, like the one I proposed. Otherwise, it means everything and nothing.

If it can mean anything at all, “gearing” has to have to do with a fundamental characteristic, like the one I proposed. Otherwise, it means everything and nothing.

[quote=MacIak
“‘Gearing’ for pumping is what I want it to mean”]
Gearing is something we made up in LDP. We need to be able to describe some sort of efficiency for given conditions.
You started off the can o worms by saying that a very negative angled reversed truck is very high gear. This is simply not true, not for me at least.

[quote=Alex
“We were discussing precisely what it should mean, in case we could agree”]
I can neither refute nor confirm this statement without implicitly rejecting my own concept, which is also the point of the whole conversation so I won’t do either 🙂
But even if I did use your more loose concept of ‘gear‘, how could I definitively declare “simply not true” and then add nonchalantly, “not for me at least”; a subjectivity that completely undermines any use for a new abstract concept which then describes everything (and nothing).

[quote=MacIak
note: The others agree with me]
With most others i clearly understand the “gear” thing when it comes up.
You interpret it your way no problem, all good with me.
Not intended to be nonchalant. “Not for me” simply indicates that i KNOW for a fact many others think the same way but i cannot reserve the right to voice others, just myself.

[quote=Alex
“I wouldn’t be discussing this if the outcome was predetermined”]
You seem to be implying that just because others would agree with you (which may or may not be a fact) your concept is correct. But I wouldn’t be arguing against it if it was already common knowledge that it’s wrong and nobody defended it, would I? So, all my other points still stand.

2 thoughts on ““Gears”: what could it mean?

  1. Absolutely agree with your definition of gearing, most of all I really like comparison with bike gears!
    Surfskate setup is “first-gear”: one can start from standstill, but has stability issues at higher speeds. Racing LDP-setup is “third-gear”: one got to bring it to some speed before pumping will be possible/efficient, still very stable at higher speeds.
    Want to add some detail to “turning radius” point: it is always coupled with board speed. My be there will be another post here on pump-ability, ride-ability, efficiency and their relation to turning radius, speed and resulting centrifugal force.

    1. Thanks for reading and for the comment!
      The bike analogy can be used to say also: a certain gear doesn’t change due to speed. The turning radius remains the same for any given tilt, regardless of speed. However, the skateboarder does control the tilt of the deck (and thereby the turning radius), while a cyclist can’t control the turn of the cranks. This is where the equivalence breaks in my view.
      The points you make further are very interesting, even if primarily marketing categories such as “surf skate” and “LDP setup” sit uneasy with me, but if you are asking me what’s pumpable and at which speed and so on, I’m afraid that’s of academic level and my math ends well before that :P. Take a look at the “peer-reviewed literature” post, because I’ve found one paper that tries to attack this specific problem. Let me know if it helps you further on this road!
      In practice, just like with single speed bikes, you have to try different gears before you settle with one suitable for you and your conditions.
      Thanks again! Looking forward to your comments and your picking a nickname!:)

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