With my 26" wheel Rohloff touring bike, I currently ride with a 42 tooth chainring at the front and a 16 tooth cog at the rear. I know a lot of people have this setup, but I find I want something a little quicker. I tend to tour very light and have never used any of the gears 1-3, even on very steep hills.
What combination would people suggest? Whatever I choose, I will want to stay with it for a while, as money is tight at the moment and I can't really justify experimenting too much. I have decided to do this now, as my current chainring is worn out, so it's a good time to do this.
Also what is the best value to quality chainring to buy? I purchased the Thorn chainring before:https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/chainrings/ ... nch-black/
Along with this:https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/sprockets/1 ... ket-steel/
Are the above products still the best bet? About 50% of my riding is offroad so it needs to cope with mud / grit relatively well.
It would be helpful if you stated what bike you actually have, what tyre width you have on your bike and crank length? Also what sort of cadence you like to ride at? Are you a grinder or spinner? What is your height and weight? Are you a tall big guy built like a sprinter or a diminutive mountain goat type of guy best suited to climbing? I have a feeling you might be a big powerful grinder riding at quite a low cadence. I am more mountain goat than a big heavy rugby player frame.
If you typically ride at a cadence of say 90-95-110 cadence in gear 14 on a 42x16 with 26"wheels and 1.75" tyres this gearing will take you to over 30mph! I like to think I am still a strong cyclist but seriously the only time I get into gears 13 and 14 is down a steep hill or a very very strong following wind. Most of the time I am riding in 10-11 on the flat in fairly undulating terrain mostly gear 11, sometimes 12 if I am riding faster 20+mph, although the gear markers have now worn off my twist grip, carrying moderately heavy rear panniers. On tour I have never not been able to get up a steep slope, hill or mountain pass even 30% in bottom gear, nor have I found I needed a higher top gear to change into. I would rather have the lower gears for when I am crawling up an incline and my legs are screaming for lower gears to winch me and my bike up the gradient.
However I have a spare 17T rear sprocket, but have never used it yet. I have a spare Thorn 39T front chain ring, but have never had need to use it yet. Currently I use a 5 arm 130 bcd FSA Vero chainset with 172.5 cranks iirc. I will have to check. I have a Hebie Chainglider fitted as well. At first it was a PITA to get to sit properly and not rub due to it being a little too tight on the Thorn 5mm 7075 42T front chain ring. At the time I bought their front chain ring and Hebie Chainglider, SJS marketed it at as fitting. They no longer do as their chain ring is very slightly too thick for the chainglider. But I managed to make it fit better by trying to widen the Chainglider casing around the chain ring part using hot water and wedges over night to splay it out slightly. This seemed to partially work, but nevertheless in the years since the Thorn chain ring has now worn where it was initially in contact with the front portion of the plastic guard. Now the front chain ring doesn't make contact with the plastic housing of the chain guard and all is fine and quiet. I did look at getting a Surly front chain ring but they are steel and heavier. I was trying to keep my bike set up light. The Thorn front chain ring is 7075 aluminium and reversible and high quality. They were only about £34 when I bought mine.
The Thorn front chain ring is reversible which I have not yet had to do as it still looks like new in terms of wear on the teeth despite having about 30k miles on it which is testament to the protective performance of the Hebie Chainglider. Of course there is the very slight wear mark scoring the edge where it rotates inside the chain glider. I'm not bothered by this as I now keep the Chainglider on the whole time. The first year I took it off in the summer. Waste of time, the chain still got dirty and crappy so I now keep it on the whole time. On reflection I really like the Hebie Chainglider cover. At first it was a PITA now it is fine and wouldn't ride without it.
As for your gearing query I would ask what sort of cadence and power outputs are you pushing in gears 11 and above as I mention above 42x16 in gear 14 is more than high enough on a flat road with little wind to get you above 30mph! Given you have a touring bike with 26" wheels this is some feat to be habitually spinning out.
I tried a friend's bike the same a Troll with 26" wheels but with 1.5" tyres and they had their bikes built with a 44Tx16 set up, no Chainglider so chain needed more maintenance, but the gearing was so high. I didn't get much above gears 9-10. I stuck it in 14 and it was like riding a track bike. I could only just about turn the pedals at about 17-18mph in top gear. I know you would typically be riding faster when you did change into gear 14 but I thought "Jeese that's high!" when would you ever use the higher gears let alone gear 14 except when going down a steep mountain pass when you'd probably be doing well over 35-40mph anyway and free wheeling and likely braking trying to slow your bike down not speeding up before you lost it on a hairpin bend!
My suggestion to you would be to fit a Thorn 7075 44T 104 bcd front chain ring and see how you go with that. If you like it then fit a Hebie Chainglider although initially you might have rub so will have to open up the channel a bit as I did and expect some wear on the chain ring but it isn't that much and frankly nothing to worry about if you have the chain glider fitted the whole time anyway. I wouldn't go above a 44T front chain ring as that is frankly too highly geared but each to their own. Your knees would likely suffer premature failure if they haven't already. If you go for a chain ring other than the Thorn one you have linked to you need one specific for a single speed. You don't want a chain ring with the pins, ramps and cut outs in that are present in chain rings used on double and triple chain sets. Just pointing this out. Sorry if I am stating the obvious.
With respect to chain I use a KMC X1 silver single speed and Rohloff specific chain (now discontinued) with the supplied quick link which has never ever broken so I don't know what you are doing with your chains? Is the chain line for your bike set up correct? It should be around 54mm. Each chain lasts nearly 20k mile before it gets to the 1.0 mark on my Park chain checker tool. I've only had to change the chain once.
Depending on the bike you are riding and available clearance using a larger 700c wheel might be another option using a wider and higher tyre akin to a 29" set up to raise gearing but of course this will not be a cheap option as there would be considerable cost perhaps something that you are unable to do at present given you have stated money is tight. When isn't it!
I hope my thoughts are of help to you and you are appreciative of the time I have taken to give you them. I do actually ride a bike with the gearing and components you are asking about and have the experience of how they perform as opposed to others on here with seemingly key board experience only.