bloody hate that gear inch stuff, way to confuse the simplest of things, gear ratios
Gear inches is derived from the main wheel size of a penny farthing. Ratios are just as good, if not easier to understand.
Gear inches are all very well if you want to get into changing wheel sizes and such, but it is not necessary for comparing different size sprockets on the same bike, and is a much more complicated equation. Ratio is much easier to work out in ones head, and to me is more meaningful. Front teeth divided by rear teeth.
Anything less than 1:1 is a very low gear (granny, spinning, winching).
1:1 is low.
2:1 is around about the standard single speed FWICS. Mid range gear. Consider that some mash up hills in this gear, and you may worry less about having that ultra-low granny gear.
3:1 high gear, about 25mph on the flat with a fast cadence.
More than 3:1 is overdrive for MTBs, useful for racing or blasting down roads.
I think the most ideal ratio for me judging by peoples comments would be:
1 x 10. 11-36. 34 or 32 upfront.
If I've understood correctly, I'm presuming 34 will be minutely worse for climbing, but better for downhill pedalling (again to an extreme / fireroads etc). 32 will be minutely better for climbing, but more likely to spin out on extreme downs.
Yes, you are right.
Consider your local conditions, your fitness, your weight, your bike (carbon XC or 6" FS?), the length of your rides, how much road you do etc.
Also consider some bikes will be pushing it to take a bigger than 32 tooth front chainring.
Best bet is to figure out what gears you will loose, and then try to ride for a few weeks not using those gears. It's a bit easier with a 3x setup as all you have to do is not use the front deralleur really.
1x is great, hope it works out for you. I'm running 32 x 11-36 10 speed now, ran 9 speed 32 x 11-32 for a while, the extra low gear helps for longer days, carrying stuff etc. Don't really miss the higher gears, even on road can still fly along on the flat fast enough.