Gear ratio

Overview

**gear ratio**of a gear train

Gear train

A gear train is formed by mounting gears on a frame so that the teeth of the gears engage. Gear teeth are designed to ensure the pitch circles of engaging gears roll on each other without slipping, this provides a smooth transmission of rotation from one gear to the next.The transmission of...

is the ratio of the angular velocity of the input gear to the angular velocity of the output gear, also known as the speed ratio of the gear train. The gear ratio can be computed directly from the numbers of teeth of the various gears that engage to form the gear train. The torque ratio of the gear train, also known as its mechanical advantage

Mechanical advantage

Mechanical advantage is a measure of the force amplification achieved by using a tool, mechanical device or machine system. Ideally, the device preserves the input power and simply trades off forces against movement to obtain a desired amplification in the output force...

, is defined by the gear ratio.

The input or drive gear in a gear train

Gear train

A gear train is formed by mounting gears on a frame so that the teeth of the gears engage. Gear teeth are designed to ensure the pitch circles of engaging gears roll on each other without slipping, this provides a smooth transmission of rotation from one gear to the next.The transmission of...

is generally connected to a power source, such as a motor or engine.

Unanswered Questions

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Encyclopedia

The

is the ratio of the angular velocity of the input gear to the angular velocity of the output gear, also known as the speed ratio of the gear train. The gear ratio can be computed directly from the numbers of teeth of the various gears that engage to form the gear train. The torque ratio of the gear train, also known as its mechanical advantage

, is defined by the gear ratio.

A gear train is formed by mounting gears on a frame so that the teeth of the gears engage. Gear teeth are designed to ensure the pitch circles of engaging gears roll on each other without slipping, this provides a smooth transmission of rotation from one gear to the next.The transmission of...

is generally connected to a power source, such as a motor or engine. Thus, the drive gear engages the remaining gears in the gear train, and transmits power through to the output or driven gear.

where input gear G

The number of teeth on a gear is proportional to the radius of its pitch circle, this means that the ratio of the radii equals the ratio of the number of teeth, that is

where N

This shows that a simple gear train with two gears has the gear ratio R given by

This equation shows that if the number of teeth on the output gear G

The speed ratio of this gear train is obtained by multiplying these two equations to obtain

Notice that this gear ratio is exactly the same as for the case when the gears G

gear -- it is not connected directly to either the motor or the output shaft and serves only to transmit power between the input and output gears. There is a third gear in the upper-right corner of the photo. If we assume that gear is connected to the machine's output shaft, it is the output or driven gear.

The idler gear in this particular gear train has 21 teeth and the input gear has 13. Considering for the moment only those two gears, we can regard the idler as the driven gear. Therefore, the gear ratio is driven/driver = 21/13 = ~1.62 or 1.62:1.

The ratio means that the driver gear must make 1.62 revolutions to turn the driven gear 1 revolution. It also means that for every one revolution

of the driver, the driven gear has made 1/1.62, or 0.62, revolutions. In practical terms, the larger gear turns more slowly.

Now suppose the third gear in the picture has 42 teeth. The gear ratio between the idler and third gear is thus 42/21, or 2:1, and hence the final gear ratio is 1.62x2=~3.23. For every 3.23 revolutions of the smallest gear, the largest gear turns one revolution, or for every one revolution of the smallest gear, the largest gear turns 0.31 (1/3.23) revolution, a total reduction

of about 1:3.23 (Gear Reduction Ratio (GRR) = 1/Gear Ratio (GR)).

Since the intermediate (idler) gear contacts directly both the smaller and the larger gear it can be removed from the calculation, also giving a ratio of 42/13 = ~3.23.

The pitch of a gear G

In order to mesh smoothly two gears G

This equation shows that the ratio of the circumference, the diameters and the radii of two meshing gears is equal to the ratio of their number of teeth,

The speed ratio of two gears rolling without slipping on their pitch circles is given by,

therefore

In other words, the gear ratio, or speed ratio, is inversely proportional to ratio of the radii of the pitch circles and the number of teeth of the two gears.

A gear train is formed by mounting gears on a frame so that the teeth of the gears engage. Gear teeth are designed to ensure the pitch circles of engaging gears roll on each other without slipping, this provides a smooth transmission of rotation from one gear to the next.The transmission of...

can be analyzed using the principle of virtual work

to show that its torque

ratio, which is the ratio of its output torque to its input torque, is equal to the gear ratio, or speed ratio, of the gear train.

This means that the input torque T

where R is the gear ratio of the gear trainA gear train is formed by mounting gears on a frame so that the teeth of the gears engage. Gear teeth are designed to ensure the pitch circles of engaging gears roll on each other without slipping, this provides a smooth transmission of rotation from one gear to the next.The transmission of...

.

The torque ratio of a gear train is also known as its mechanical advantage

.

s and some motorcycle

s. Again, exact accounting of teeth and revolutions can be applied with these machines.

A belt with teeth, called the timing belt

, is used in some internal combustion engines to exactly synchronize the movement of the camshaft

with that of the crankshaft

, so that the valves

open and close at the top of each cylinder at exactly the right time relative to the movement of each piston

. From the time the car is driven off the lot, to the time the belt needs replacing thousands of kilometers later, it synchronizes the two shafts exactly. A chain, called a timing

chain, is used on some automobiles for this purpose, while in others, the camshaft and crankshaft are coupled directly together through meshed gears. But whichever form of drive is employed, on four-stroke engines the crankshaft/camshaft gear ratio is always 2:1, which means that for every two revolutions of the crankshaft the camshaft will rotate through one revolution.(In case of 4 stroke engines the valve cycle is repeated after every two rotations of the flywheel.)

generally have two or more areas where gearing is used: one in the transmission

, which contains a number of different sets of gearing that can be changed to allow a wide range of vehicle speeds, and another at the differential, which contains one additional set of gearing that provides further speed reduction at the wheels. As well, the differential contains further gearing that splits torque equally between the two wheels while permitting them to have different speeds when traveling a curved path. The components might be separate and connected by a driveshaft

, or they might be combined into one unit called a transaxle

.

A 2004 Chevrolet Corvette C5 Z06

with a six-speed manual transmission has the following gear ratios in the transmission:

In 1st gear, the engine makes 2.97 revolutions for every revolution of the transmission’s output. In 4th gear, the gear ratio of 1:1 means that the engine and the transmission’s output are moving at the same speed. 5th and 6th gears are known as overdrive

gears, in which the output of the transmission is revolving faster than the engine.

The Corvette above has a differential ratio of 3.42:1. The ratio means that for every 3.42 revolutions of the transmission’s output, the wheel

s make one revolution. The differential ratio multiplies with the transmission ratio, so in 1st gear, the engine makes 10.16 revolutions for every revolution of the wheels.

The car’s tire

s can almost be thought of as a third type of gearing. The example Corvette Z06 is equipped with 295/35-18 tires, which have a circumference of 82.1 inches. This means that for every complete revolution of the wheel, the car travels 82.1 inches. If the Corvette had larger tires, it would travel farther with each revolution of the wheel, which would be like a higher gear. If the car had smaller tires, it would be like a lower gear.

With the gear ratios of the transmission and differential, and the size of the tires, it becomes possible to calculate the speed of the car for a particular gear at a particular engine RPM

.

For example, it is possible to determine the distance the car will travel for one revolution of the engine by dividing the circumference of the tire by the combined gear ratio of the transmission and differential.

It is possible to determine a car’s speed from the engine speed by multiplying the circumference of the tire by the engine speed and dividing by the combined gear ratio.

Close-ratio transmissions are generally offered in sports car

s and sport bike

s, and especially in race vehicles, in which the engine is tuned for maximum power in a narrow range of operating speeds, and the driver or rider can be expected to shift often to keep the engine in its power band

.

Factory 4-speed or 5-speed transmission ratios are good compromises for mixed street and moderate performance use, and are "staged" or "progressive", in that the engine speed loss on shifting from 1st to 2nd is higher than the loss on shifting from 2nd to 3rd and so on. The purpose is to keep the engine in its torque range at higher vehicle speed, where wind resistance requires more power for acceleration. Wider gaps between ratios will allow a "stronger" (higher numerically, e.g. 2.90:1 instead of 2.50:1) 1st gear for better manners in traffic, but increase the RPM lost on shifting. Narrowing the gaps will increase acceleration at speed, and potentially improve top speed under certain conditions, but acceleration from stopped and operation in traffic will suffer.

The 1st gear ratio for most 4-speed transmissions is about 2.50:1, and 4th is almost always .70:1. The ratios of 2nd and 3rd are placed in between these two, and are discretionary to best serve the weight, intended use, speed, engine tune, and other features of the vehicle.

"Range" is the torque multiplication difference between 1st and 4th gears; wider-ratio gear-sets have more, typically between 2.8 and 3.2. This is the single most important determinant of low-speed acceleration from stopped.

"Progression" is the next factor. This is the reduction or decay in the percentage drop in engine speed in the next gear (e.g. after shifting from 1st to 2nd). Most transmissions have some degree of progression in that the RPM drop on the 1-2 shift is larger than the RPM drop on the 2-3 shift, which is in turn larger than the RPM drop on the 3-4 shift. The progression may not be linear (continuously reduced) or done in proportionate stages for various reasons, including a special need for a gear to reach a specific speed or RPM for passing, racing and so on, or simply economic necessity that the parts were available.

The two factors are not mutually exclusive, but each limits the number of options for the other. A wide range, which gives a strong torque multiplication in 1st gear for excellent manners in low-speed traffic (especially with a smaller motor, heavy chassis or numerically low axle ratio such as 2.50) mean that the progression percentages must all be high. The amount of engine speed (and therefore power) that must be lost on each up-shift is higher than would be the case in a transmission with less range (but less power in 1st gear). A numerically low 1st gear (2.00, &c.) reduces available torque in 1st gear, but allows more choices of progression.

There is no choice of ratios that gives the "best" performance at all speeds, nor is there a choice of final drive (axle) ratio that gives the "best" performance at all speeds. It simply does not exist, all ratios are compromises, and not necessarily better than the original ratios for most use.

The advantage of a close ratio gear-set lies in the fact that the RPM loss at very high speed is reduced, allowing extra power to accelerate above 100 mph. However, of necessity, the torque multiplier in the lower gears is reduced by the same proportion, and performance at low speeds is much worse. Even for road racing

, the closest possible ratio is not always the best choice since many races begin with a grid start (favoring slightly wider ratios with high progression, where 1st gear acceleration is very important) and some with a flying start (favoring close ratios, where 1st gear acceleration is less important).

In general, engines with smaller displacement, very long duration cams, ported heads, large carburetors and so on don’t pull well from low rpm, and when the 3-4 shift will benefit more from close ratios in the upper gears, and even more so as the maximum speed at a specific course increases. If the shift takes place at a speed where air resistance is high (70+ mph), closer ratios are better. If your engine has been specifically designed for a tuned RPM torque peak (or if that is how the engine behaves), the transmission ratios must be chosen to ensure that after each shift during a lap the engine speed recovers to a point above this peak at that specific track. From the negative viewpoint, the ratios must be arranged to avoid dropping the engine into a "hole" on an up shift, where power falls off disproportionately.

If the widest ratio change gives a 25% loss, the shift RPM is 7,000 RPM, and there is a torque increase at 5,000 RPM you’re safe: 7,000 - 25% = 5,250, the engine will be in this desirable range on acceleration.

If the widest ratio change is 30%, shift at 7,000, and torque at 5,500: 7,000 - 30% = 4,900, far below the power range and the acceleration (and perhaps the jetting) will be weak until you reach 5,500. You will definitely benefit from a closer gear set, or at least re-arranging the progression to reduce the 30% drop to a better number. Depending on the bike and the track, adding to the drop in the previous gear pair (i.e., problem with the 2-3 shift: add some drop to the 1-2 not the 3-4) is the 1st choice but results will vary.

Individual race tracks with combination of maximum speed and corner speed will require different intermediate (2nd & 3rd) gears to allow downshifting for a specific gear to enter a turn, or to use only one gear during a turn to avoid traction loss. The key to analysis here is whether the track has a spot where the engine is "flat" after shifting at an awkward moment in a turn, but better as it speeds up.

An intermediate gear which does not drive a shaft to perform any work is called an idler gear. Sometimes, a single idler gear is used to reverse the direction, in which case it may be referred to as a reverse idler. For instance, the typical automobile manual transmission

engages reverse gear by means of inserting a reverse idler between two gears.

Idler gears can also transmit rotation among distant shafts in situations where it would be impractical to simply make the distant gears larger to bring them together. Not only do larger gears occupy more space, the mass and rotational inertia (moment of inertia

) of a gear is proportional to the square of its radius. Instead of idler gears, a toothed belt or chain can be used to transmit torque

over distance.

**gear ratio**of a gear trainGear train

A gear train is formed by mounting gears on a frame so that the teeth of the gears engage. Gear teeth are designed to ensure the pitch circles of engaging gears roll on each other without slipping, this provides a smooth transmission of rotation from one gear to the next.The transmission of...

is the ratio of the angular velocity of the input gear to the angular velocity of the output gear, also known as the speed ratio of the gear train. The gear ratio can be computed directly from the numbers of teeth of the various gears that engage to form the gear train. The torque ratio of the gear train, also known as its mechanical advantage

Mechanical advantage

Mechanical advantage is a measure of the force amplification achieved by using a tool, mechanical device or machine system. Ideally, the device preserves the input power and simply trades off forces against movement to obtain a desired amplification in the output force...

, is defined by the gear ratio.

## General description

The input or drive gear in a gear trainGear train

is generally connected to a power source, such as a motor or engine. Thus, the drive gear engages the remaining gears in the gear train, and transmits power through to the output or driven gear.

### Simple gear train with two gears

The simplest gear train is a pair of meshing gears. The input gear drives the output gear. Gear teeth are designed so the pitch circles of the two gears roll on each other without slipping. The velocity v of the point of contact of the two pitch circles are the same, thereforewhere input gear G

_{A}has radius r_{A}and meshes with output gear G_{B}of radius r_{B}.The number of teeth on a gear is proportional to the radius of its pitch circle, this means that the ratio of the radii equals the ratio of the number of teeth, that is

where N

_{A}is the number of teeth on the input gear and N_{B}is the number of teeth on the output gear.This shows that a simple gear train with two gears has the gear ratio R given by

This equation shows that if the number of teeth on the output gear G

_{B}is larger than the number of teeth on the input gear G_{A}, then the input gear G_{A}must rotate faster than the output gear G_{B}.### Simple gear train with an idler

If a simple gear train has three gears, so that the input gear G_{A}meshes with an intermediate gear G_{I}which in turn meshes with the output gear G_{B}, then the pitch circle of the intermediate gear rolls without slipping on both the pitch circles of the input and output gears. This yields the two relationsThe speed ratio of this gear train is obtained by multiplying these two equations to obtain

Notice that this gear ratio is exactly the same as for the case when the gears G

_{A}and G_{B}engaged directly. The intermediate gear provides spacing but does not otherwise affect the performance of the gear train. For this reason it is called an idler gear. The same gear ratio is obtained for a sequence of idler gears and hence idler gear is used to provide the same direction to rotate the driver and driven gear , as if the driver gear move in clockwise direction then the driven gear also moves in the clockwise direction with the help of idler gear.### Example

If we assume that in the photo the smallest gear is connected to the motor, then it is the driver gear. The somewhat larger gear on the upper left is called an idlerIdler

An idler is a mechanical device such as an idler pulley or idler wheel that is secondary to the main transfer of power in a mechanical system. They are support rollers on which conveyor belts move...

gear -- it is not connected directly to either the motor or the output shaft and serves only to transmit power between the input and output gears. There is a third gear in the upper-right corner of the photo. If we assume that gear is connected to the machine's output shaft, it is the output or driven gear.

The idler gear in this particular gear train has 21 teeth and the input gear has 13. Considering for the moment only those two gears, we can regard the idler as the driven gear. Therefore, the gear ratio is driven/driver = 21/13 = ~1.62 or 1.62:1.

The ratio means that the driver gear must make 1.62 revolutions to turn the driven gear 1 revolution. It also means that for every one revolution

Revolution

A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

of the driver, the driven gear has made 1/1.62, or 0.62, revolutions. In practical terms, the larger gear turns more slowly.

Now suppose the third gear in the picture has 42 teeth. The gear ratio between the idler and third gear is thus 42/21, or 2:1, and hence the final gear ratio is 1.62x2=~3.23. For every 3.23 revolutions of the smallest gear, the largest gear turns one revolution, or for every one revolution of the smallest gear, the largest gear turns 0.31 (1/3.23) revolution, a total reduction

Reduction drive

A reduction drive is a mechanical device to shift rotational speed. A planetary reduction drive is a small-scale version using ball bearings in an epicyclic arrangement instead of toothed gears....

of about 1:3.23 (Gear Reduction Ratio (GRR) = 1/Gear Ratio (GR)).

Since the intermediate (idler) gear contacts directly both the smaller and the larger gear it can be removed from the calculation, also giving a ratio of 42/13 = ~3.23.

## Speed ratio

The teeth of a gear are distributed on the circumference of the pitch circle so that the thickness of each tooth t and the space between two teeth are the same. The pitch p of a gear, which is the distance between the equivalent points on two teeth, is equal to twice the thickness of a tooth,The pitch of a gear G

_{A}can be computed from the number of teeth N_{A}and the radius r_{A}of its pitch circleIn order to mesh smoothly two gears G

_{A}and G_{B}must have the same sized teeth and therefor have the same pitch p, which meansThis equation shows that the ratio of the circumference, the diameters and the radii of two meshing gears is equal to the ratio of their number of teeth,

The speed ratio of two gears rolling without slipping on their pitch circles is given by,

therefore

In other words, the gear ratio, or speed ratio, is inversely proportional to ratio of the radii of the pitch circles and the number of teeth of the two gears.

## Torque ratio

A gear trainGear train

can be analyzed using the principle of virtual work

Virtual work

Virtual work arises in the application of the principle of least action to the study of forces and movement of a mechanical system. Historically, virtual work and the associated calculus of variations were formulated to analyze systems of rigid bodies, but they have also been developed for the...

to show that its torque

Torque

Torque, moment or moment of force , is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist....

ratio, which is the ratio of its output torque to its input torque, is equal to the gear ratio, or speed ratio, of the gear train.

This means that the input torque T

_{A}applied to the input gear G_{A}and the output torque T_{B}" on the output gear G_{B}are related by the ratiowhere R is the gear ratio of the gear train

Gear train

.

The torque ratio of a gear train is also known as its mechanical advantage

Mechanical advantage

Mechanical advantage is a measure of the force amplification achieved by using a tool, mechanical device or machine system. Ideally, the device preserves the input power and simply trades off forces against movement to obtain a desired amplification in the output force...

.

## Belt drives

Belts can have teeth in them also and be coupled to gear-like pulleys. Special gears called sprockets can be coupled together with chains, as on bicycleBicycle

A bicycle, also known as a bike, pushbike or cycle, is a human-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist, or bicyclist....

s and some motorcycle

Motorcycle

A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

s. Again, exact accounting of teeth and revolutions can be applied with these machines.

A belt with teeth, called the timing belt

Timing belt

A timing belt, or cam belt , is a part of an internal combustion engine that controls the timing of the engine's valves. Some engines, such as the flat-4 Volkswagen air-cooled engine, and the straight-6 Toyota F engine use timing gears...

, is used in some internal combustion engines to exactly synchronize the movement of the camshaft

Camshaft

A camshaft is a shaft to which a cam is fastened or of which a cam forms an integral part.-History:An early cam was built into Hellenistic water-driven automata from the 3rd century BC. The camshaft was later described in Iraq by Al-Jazari in 1206. He employed it as part of his automata,...

with that of the crankshaft

Crankshaft

The crankshaft, sometimes casually abbreviated to crank, is the part of an engine which translates reciprocating linear piston motion into rotation...

, so that the valves

Poppet valve

A poppet valve is a valve consisting of a hole, usually round or oval, and a tapered plug, usually a disk shape on the end of a shaft also called a valve stem. The shaft guides the plug portion by sliding through a valve guide...

open and close at the top of each cylinder at exactly the right time relative to the movement of each piston

Piston

A piston is a component of reciprocating engines, reciprocating pumps, gas compressors and pneumatic cylinders, among other similar mechanisms. It is the moving component that is contained by a cylinder and is made gas-tight by piston rings. In an engine, its purpose is to transfer force from...

. From the time the car is driven off the lot, to the time the belt needs replacing thousands of kilometers later, it synchronizes the two shafts exactly. A chain, called a timing

Ignition timing

Ignition timing, in a spark ignition internal combustion engine , is the process of setting the angle relative to piston position and crankshaft angular velocity that a spark will occur in the combustion chamber near the end of the compression stroke...

chain, is used on some automobiles for this purpose, while in others, the camshaft and crankshaft are coupled directly together through meshed gears. But whichever form of drive is employed, on four-stroke engines the crankshaft/camshaft gear ratio is always 2:1, which means that for every two revolutions of the crankshaft the camshaft will rotate through one revolution.(In case of 4 stroke engines the valve cycle is repeated after every two rotations of the flywheel.)

## Automotive applications

Automobile drivetrainsPowertrain

In a motor vehicle, the term powertrain or powerplant refers to the group of components that generate power and deliver it to the road surface, water, or air. This includes the engine, transmission, drive shafts, differentials, and the final drive...

generally have two or more areas where gearing is used: one in the transmission

Transmission (mechanics)

A machine consists of a power source and a power transmission system, which provides controlled application of the power. Merriam-Webster defines transmission as: an assembly of parts including the speed-changing gears and the propeller shaft by which the power is transmitted from an engine to a...

, which contains a number of different sets of gearing that can be changed to allow a wide range of vehicle speeds, and another at the differential, which contains one additional set of gearing that provides further speed reduction at the wheels. As well, the differential contains further gearing that splits torque equally between the two wheels while permitting them to have different speeds when traveling a curved path. The components might be separate and connected by a driveshaft

Driveshaft

A drive shaft, driveshaft, driving shaft, propeller shaft, or Cardan shaft is a mechanical component for transmitting torque and rotation, usually used to connect other components of a drive train that cannot be connected directly because of distance or the need to allow for relative movement...

, or they might be combined into one unit called a transaxle

Transaxle

In the automotive field, a transaxle is a major mechanical component that combines the functionality of the transmission, the differential, and associated components of the driven axle into one integrated assembly....

.

A 2004 Chevrolet Corvette C5 Z06

Chevrolet Corvette C5 Z06

The Chevrolet Corvette C5 Z06 is a high-performance version of the C5 Corvette sports car. Introduced by Chevrolet as their corporate and performance flagship, production began in 2001 and ended with the 2004 model year.-General:...

with a six-speed manual transmission has the following gear ratios in the transmission:

Gear | Ratio |
---|---|

1st gear | 2.97:1 |

2nd gear | 2.07:1 |

3rd gear | 1.43:1 |

4th gear | 1.00:1 |

5th gear | 0.84:1 |

6th gear | 0.56:1 |

reverse | 3.38:1 |

In 1st gear, the engine makes 2.97 revolutions for every revolution of the transmission’s output. In 4th gear, the gear ratio of 1:1 means that the engine and the transmission’s output are moving at the same speed. 5th and 6th gears are known as overdrive

Overdrive (mechanics)

Overdrive is a term used to describe a mechanism that allows an automobile to cruise at sustained speed with reduced engine RPM, leading to better fuel economy, lower noise and lower wear...

gears, in which the output of the transmission is revolving faster than the engine.

The Corvette above has a differential ratio of 3.42:1. The ratio means that for every 3.42 revolutions of the transmission’s output, the wheel

Wheel

A wheel is a device that allows heavy objects to be moved easily through rotating on an axle through its center, facilitating movement or transportation while supporting a load, or performing labor in machines. Common examples found in transport applications. A wheel, together with an axle,...

s make one revolution. The differential ratio multiplies with the transmission ratio, so in 1st gear, the engine makes 10.16 revolutions for every revolution of the wheels.

The car’s tire

Tire

A tire or tyre is a ring-shaped covering that fits around a wheel rim to protect it and enable better vehicle performance by providing a flexible cushion that absorbs shock while keeping the wheel in close contact with the ground...

s can almost be thought of as a third type of gearing. The example Corvette Z06 is equipped with 295/35-18 tires, which have a circumference of 82.1 inches. This means that for every complete revolution of the wheel, the car travels 82.1 inches. If the Corvette had larger tires, it would travel farther with each revolution of the wheel, which would be like a higher gear. If the car had smaller tires, it would be like a lower gear.

With the gear ratios of the transmission and differential, and the size of the tires, it becomes possible to calculate the speed of the car for a particular gear at a particular engine RPM

Revolutions per minute

Revolutions per minute is a measure of the frequency of a rotation. It annotates the number of full rotations completed in one minute around a fixed axis...

.

For example, it is possible to determine the distance the car will travel for one revolution of the engine by dividing the circumference of the tire by the combined gear ratio of the transmission and differential.

It is possible to determine a car’s speed from the engine speed by multiplying the circumference of the tire by the engine speed and dividing by the combined gear ratio.

Gear | Distance per engine revolution | Speed per 1000 RPM |
---|---|---|

1st gear | 8.1 in (205.7 mm) | 7.7 mph (12.4 km/h) |

2nd gear | 11.6 in (294.6 mm) | 11 mph (17.7 km/h) |

3rd gear | 16.8 in (426.7 mm) | 15.9 mph (25.6 km/h) |

4th gear | 24 in (609.6 mm) | 22.7 mph (36.5 km/h) |

5th gear | 28.6 in (726.4 mm) | 27.1 mph (43.6 km/h) |

6th gear | 42.9 in (1,089.7 mm) | 40.6 mph (65.3 km/h) |

## Wide-ratio vs. close-ratio transmission

A close-ratio transmission is a transmission in which there is a relatively little difference between the gear ratios of the gears. For example, a transmission with an engine shaft to drive shaft ratio of 4:1 in first gear and 2:1 in second gear would be considered wide-ratio when compared to another transmission with a ratio of 4:1 in first and 3:1 in second. This is because, for the wide-ratio first gear = 4/1 = 4, second gear = 2/1 = 2, so the transmission gear ratio = 4/2 = 2 (or 200%). For the close-ratio first gear = 4/1 = 4, second gear = 3/1 = 3 so the transmission gear ratio = 4/3 = 1.33 (or 133%), because 133% is less than 200%, the transmission with the 133% ratio between gears is considered close-ratio. However, not all transmissions start out with the same ratio in 1st gear or end with the same ratio in 5th gear, which makes comparing wide vs. close transmission more difficult.Close-ratio transmissions are generally offered in sports car

Sports car

A sports car is a small, usually two seat, two door automobile designed for high speed driving and maneuverability....

s and sport bike

Sport bike

A sport bike, also written as sportbike, is a motorcycle optimized for speed, acceleration, braking, and cornering on paved roads, typically at the expense of comfort and fuel economy in comparison to less specialized motorcycles...

s, and especially in race vehicles, in which the engine is tuned for maximum power in a narrow range of operating speeds, and the driver or rider can be expected to shift often to keep the engine in its power band

Power band

The power band of an engine or electric motor refers to the range of operating speeds under which an the engine or motor is able to operate efficiently...

.

Factory 4-speed or 5-speed transmission ratios are good compromises for mixed street and moderate performance use, and are "staged" or "progressive", in that the engine speed loss on shifting from 1st to 2nd is higher than the loss on shifting from 2nd to 3rd and so on. The purpose is to keep the engine in its torque range at higher vehicle speed, where wind resistance requires more power for acceleration. Wider gaps between ratios will allow a "stronger" (higher numerically, e.g. 2.90:1 instead of 2.50:1) 1st gear for better manners in traffic, but increase the RPM lost on shifting. Narrowing the gaps will increase acceleration at speed, and potentially improve top speed under certain conditions, but acceleration from stopped and operation in traffic will suffer.

The 1st gear ratio for most 4-speed transmissions is about 2.50:1, and 4th is almost always .70:1. The ratios of 2nd and 3rd are placed in between these two, and are discretionary to best serve the weight, intended use, speed, engine tune, and other features of the vehicle.

"Range" is the torque multiplication difference between 1st and 4th gears; wider-ratio gear-sets have more, typically between 2.8 and 3.2. This is the single most important determinant of low-speed acceleration from stopped.

"Progression" is the next factor. This is the reduction or decay in the percentage drop in engine speed in the next gear (e.g. after shifting from 1st to 2nd). Most transmissions have some degree of progression in that the RPM drop on the 1-2 shift is larger than the RPM drop on the 2-3 shift, which is in turn larger than the RPM drop on the 3-4 shift. The progression may not be linear (continuously reduced) or done in proportionate stages for various reasons, including a special need for a gear to reach a specific speed or RPM for passing, racing and so on, or simply economic necessity that the parts were available.

The two factors are not mutually exclusive, but each limits the number of options for the other. A wide range, which gives a strong torque multiplication in 1st gear for excellent manners in low-speed traffic (especially with a smaller motor, heavy chassis or numerically low axle ratio such as 2.50) mean that the progression percentages must all be high. The amount of engine speed (and therefore power) that must be lost on each up-shift is higher than would be the case in a transmission with less range (but less power in 1st gear). A numerically low 1st gear (2.00, &c.) reduces available torque in 1st gear, but allows more choices of progression.

There is no choice of ratios that gives the "best" performance at all speeds, nor is there a choice of final drive (axle) ratio that gives the "best" performance at all speeds. It simply does not exist, all ratios are compromises, and not necessarily better than the original ratios for most use.

The advantage of a close ratio gear-set lies in the fact that the RPM loss at very high speed is reduced, allowing extra power to accelerate above 100 mph. However, of necessity, the torque multiplier in the lower gears is reduced by the same proportion, and performance at low speeds is much worse. Even for road racing

Road racing

Road racing is a general term for most forms of motor racing held on paved, purpose-built race tracks , as opposed to oval tracks and off-road racing...

, the closest possible ratio is not always the best choice since many races begin with a grid start (favoring slightly wider ratios with high progression, where 1st gear acceleration is very important) and some with a flying start (favoring close ratios, where 1st gear acceleration is less important).

In general, engines with smaller displacement, very long duration cams, ported heads, large carburetors and so on don’t pull well from low rpm, and when the 3-4 shift will benefit more from close ratios in the upper gears, and even more so as the maximum speed at a specific course increases. If the shift takes place at a speed where air resistance is high (70+ mph), closer ratios are better. If your engine has been specifically designed for a tuned RPM torque peak (or if that is how the engine behaves), the transmission ratios must be chosen to ensure that after each shift during a lap the engine speed recovers to a point above this peak at that specific track. From the negative viewpoint, the ratios must be arranged to avoid dropping the engine into a "hole" on an up shift, where power falls off disproportionately.

If the widest ratio change gives a 25% loss, the shift RPM is 7,000 RPM, and there is a torque increase at 5,000 RPM you’re safe: 7,000 - 25% = 5,250, the engine will be in this desirable range on acceleration.

If the widest ratio change is 30%, shift at 7,000, and torque at 5,500: 7,000 - 30% = 4,900, far below the power range and the acceleration (and perhaps the jetting) will be weak until you reach 5,500. You will definitely benefit from a closer gear set, or at least re-arranging the progression to reduce the 30% drop to a better number. Depending on the bike and the track, adding to the drop in the previous gear pair (i.e., problem with the 2-3 shift: add some drop to the 1-2 not the 3-4) is the 1st choice but results will vary.

Individual race tracks with combination of maximum speed and corner speed will require different intermediate (2nd & 3rd) gears to allow downshifting for a specific gear to enter a turn, or to use only one gear during a turn to avoid traction loss. The key to analysis here is whether the track has a spot where the engine is "flat" after shifting at an awkward moment in a turn, but better as it speeds up.

## Idler gear

In a sequence of gears chained together, the ratio depends only on the number of teeth on the first and last gear. The intermediate gears, regardless of their size, do not alter the overall gear ratio of the chain. However, the addition of each intermediate gear reverses the direction of rotation of the final gear.An intermediate gear which does not drive a shaft to perform any work is called an idler gear. Sometimes, a single idler gear is used to reverse the direction, in which case it may be referred to as a reverse idler. For instance, the typical automobile manual transmission

Manual transmission

A manual transmission, also known as a manual gearbox or standard transmission is a type of transmission used in motor vehicle applications...

engages reverse gear by means of inserting a reverse idler between two gears.

Idler gears can also transmit rotation among distant shafts in situations where it would be impractical to simply make the distant gears larger to bring them together. Not only do larger gears occupy more space, the mass and rotational inertia (moment of inertia

Moment of inertia

In classical mechanics, moment of inertia, also called mass moment of inertia, rotational inertia, polar moment of inertia of mass, or the angular mass, is a measure of an object's resistance to changes to its rotation. It is the inertia of a rotating body with respect to its rotation...

) of a gear is proportional to the square of its radius. Instead of idler gears, a toothed belt or chain can be used to transmit torque

Torque

Torque, moment or moment of force , is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist....

over distance.

## See also

- Outline of machines
- Gear trainGear train
- Wheel train (horology)Wheel train (horology)In horology, a wheel train is the gear train of a mechanical watch or clock. Although the term is used for other types of gear trains, the long history of mechanical timepieces has created a traditional terminology for their gear trains which is not used in other applications of gears.Watch...
- Epicyclic gearingEpicyclic gearingEpicyclic gearing or planetary gearing is a gear system consisting of one or more outer gears, or planet gears, revolving about a central, or sun gear. Typically, the planet gears are mounted on a movable arm or carrier which itself may rotate relative to the sun gear...

- related to turbopropTurbopropA turboprop engine is a type of turbine engine which drives an aircraft propeller using a reduction gear.The gas turbine is designed specifically for this application, with almost all of its output being used to drive the propeller...

reduction gear boxes - Continuously variable transmissionContinuously variable transmissionA continuously variable transmission is a transmission that can change steplessly through an infinite number of effective gear ratios between maximum and minimum values. This contrasts with other mechanical transmissions that offer a fixed number of gear ratios...

(CVT) - Mechanism (engineering)Mechanism (engineering)A mechanism is a device designed to transform input forces and movement into a desired set of output forces and movement. Mechanisms generally consist of moving components such as gears and gear trains, belt and chain drives, cam and follower mechanisms, and linkages as well as friction devices...
- Virtual workVirtual workVirtual work arises in the application of the principle of least action to the study of forces and movement of a mechanical system. Historically, virtual work and the associated calculus of variations were formulated to analyze systems of rigid bodies, but they have also been developed for the...

## External links

- Gearing Commander - Online motorcycle speed calculator with bike database for gearing, sprockets, ratio, tyres, chain, RPM etc. Also creates speed graphs, final drive ratio graphs and shifting speed graphs.
- Gear ratio at How Stuff Works
- Not only BMW "Nerd's" Gearing Calculator
- "GearCalc" - a program that calculates theoretical maximum speeds in each gear, and speed per 1000 RPM
- "Gear Calculator" - online gear ratio calculator