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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-06-06, 11:02 AM   #1
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Gears or Single-Speed for Commuting?

Hi all. I have been a roadie for several years and am now in the market for a commuting bike. I will use it for short trips (one mile to a few miles) on flat terrain with little traffic (occasional stop signs, few traffic lights). I plan to run to work, to the store, etc. The idea of a fixie or freewheeling single-speed appeals to me for the simplicity, but I am wondering if I will end up wishing that I had gotten a bike with more gears (like a seven-speed Nexus hub). I am looking forward to your insights and advice! Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-06-06, 11:05 AM   #2
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You can't go wrong with a fixie or SS on flat terrain.
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Old 06-06-06, 11:11 AM   #3
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+1
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Old 06-06-06, 11:14 AM   #4
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I think a singlespeed or fixie would be perfect for you
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Old 06-06-06, 11:29 AM   #5
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Single speed or fixed, for sure. Simplicity is great in commuters when you need them to just *work*. I like the feeling of fixed gear, but single speed is faster for me. I ride fixed 100% of the time though.
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Old 06-06-06, 11:49 AM   #6
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I have both a single speed and a geared bike. I ride the geared bike when I'm cruising with my wife and when I feel like taking it a little easier in general. But I love my single speed because it's so efficient and QUIET. I run a 48 tooth chainring in the front and a 18 tooth sprocket in the back. That's just a bit easier than the traditional 48/16 fixed gear that comes on most factory fixies, and works great for reasonably varied terrain.

And also; personally, I prefer being able to coast. There are lots of times I need to pull a pedal up out of the way of a hazard, or coast a bit in order to bunny hop a pot hole. And when I do head for the hills on my single speed, I'll be damned if I'm gonna suffer and die on the way up only to have to pedal like mad on the way down.

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Old 06-06-06, 12:23 PM   #7
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If hills were involved, then you would need to factor in other things like weather and how much of a hurry you are in. Since you say it's flat, it's a no brainer. Get the Single speed.

You can always convert it to an internal geared bike later if you ever regret your decision.
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Old 06-06-06, 01:17 PM   #8
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Ive been commutting on a SS about 3 miles one way for a week or so now. Its not too bad.

Thats if your in halfway decent shape I guess. I used to do running and I'm only 22, so I guess I may still have some 'youthful spunk' in me.
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Old 06-06-06, 01:18 PM   #9
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I am building a bike right now with a Nexus 8. Sometimes my "utility" trips turn into aimless meandering about the country side. Also, the few small hills I have on my commute are rough on the legs after a day of hard effort on my road bike. I want the ability to shift down.
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Old 06-06-06, 01:22 PM   #10
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Single speeds with horizontal dropouts can be converted directly into internal gear hubs later, but I don't think you'll want to do that. Single speed is simple, easy, and fun.
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Old 06-06-06, 01:24 PM   #11
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I'd suggest looking at a Bianchi San Jose or Redline 9-2-5. I think they'd be ideal for you. Another thing you could do is convert an older road or all-rigid mtb. All that would cost you is a new rear wheel and chain. See Sheldon's Fixed For The Road webpage.
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Old 06-06-06, 01:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTcommuter
Single speeds with horizontal dropouts can be converted directly into internal gear hubs later, but I don't think you'll want to do that. Single speed is simple, easy, and fun.
Funny... I converted my internally geared hub Crosscheck to a single speed. I didn't like the Sram 7 speed all that much. 1st and 2nd gears exhibited alot of internal friction and it was heavy. I put that wheel on my wife's bike and she likes it just fine. I'd like to try the new Nexus 8 or Sturmey Archer's new 8 speed though.

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Old 06-06-06, 02:11 PM   #13
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I might as well have a single speed or fixed. I ride on the 48/18 rings exclusively on my flat-terrain commute. the only gear I use!
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Old 06-06-06, 02:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caloso
I'd suggest looking at a Bianchi San Jose or Redline 9-2-5. I think they'd be ideal for you. Another thing you could do is convert an older road or all-rigid mtb. All that would cost you is a new rear wheel and chain. See Sheldon's Fixed For The Road webpage.
New chain?

Anyway go SS if you have a bike already that you are eyeing to convert. If you're going through the trouble of building up a SS might as well go fixed!
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Old 06-06-06, 02:23 PM   #15
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I'm going to build an SS for commuting. My commute has 2 parts, the first being 3.5 miles to the station in Southampton. The other, and currently only potential, part of the commute is from Waterloo station to wherever the hell I want to go in London (usually the City, as that's where most of my clients are).

I use a geared beater tourer for the home leg, because I also use it for all sorts of other things (indeed, I like it so much it's getting less and less beater - I keep cleaning and polishing things), and it's also my grocery hauler etc.

At the other end, however, I have a problem. Whatever bike I use is going to have to be locked outside the station, ridden only 2 days out of 7, mostly. It needs to be minimum maintenance, and capable of taking sitting out in the rain. I've got my eye on a Gazelle that I should get from Ebay for $20 or so, and my plan is to take off the drops, replace them with moustache bars, and single speed it. I had it in mind to make it fixed gear at first, but I've changed my mind. I'm working slowly on my street fix back here, but not having finished it, I hadn't ridden fixed yet. I've got an E G Bates track bike that I'm ebaying, and giving that a quick ride convinced me that I need to pick up some fixie skills before I make it my main transportation in one of the busiest cities in the world, on business critical missions!!

So, the Gazelle will get fenders, and a rack, single speed, and moustache bars. That should give me a nippy, capable commuter that can carry my pannier, slice in and out of traffic, but also take sitting outside most of the time, and only occasionally getting a dollop of lube.

I'm not sure this helps you, but it's good to talk.....right?
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Old 06-06-06, 02:46 PM   #16
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If you go with a single or fixie but can't decide (which I think would be really fun for you) try one of those flip wheels that come stock on the 9-2-5. Personally I like the single free wheel because of the aforementioned reasons. You DO pay more atention though when you can't coast.
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Old 06-06-06, 02:54 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ready to Ruck
New chain?
Yes. They're cheap and since they tend to wear and stretch quicker on a fixie, I like to start with a fresh chain.
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Old 06-06-06, 03:19 PM   #18
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Gears are good if you like to vary your speed, like me, but fixies are just better. Ive aready had a couple month old casette go out, and my 24 year old one is almost on its last leg. A fixie is coming in the next couple months. I'd go with a fixed gear if I was you.
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Old 06-06-06, 04:07 PM   #19
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I'm commuting on a single speed as well and my commute is around 5-6 miles one way. Mostly flat but I move in a week and will have a hills to deal with. I may change my gearing then.

I love the single speed for cruising through town, there is something fantastic about how simple it it.
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Old 06-06-06, 04:10 PM   #20
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oh......I forgot to mention the cool factor, riding fixed.
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Old 06-06-06, 04:11 PM   #21
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SS or fixie for simplicity and ease. I rode a couple charity/organized rides on a fixie that involved hills and bridges and was fine. Just make sure you have clipless pedals.
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Old 06-06-06, 04:38 PM   #22
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Yea. I ride my geared bike with platforms. But I really need clippless pedals when lugging the single speed up to... speed. Yea Baby!

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Old 06-06-06, 04:51 PM   #23
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I commuted 30 miles roundtrip for a year on 42-18 S/S. Perfect for my short legs and flat commute. It was quiet, smooth, and relaxing. I still had enough torque to muscle up the hill to my office.

Too bad my commute doubled in miles and danger a year ago, otherwise I'd still be out there.
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Old 06-06-06, 04:58 PM   #24
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I do somewhere around 15000 per year on fixed and SS road bikes, usually with a 52/17 gearset. More than likely you wont miss having gears, you will be mad at yourself for not doing it sooner.
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Old 06-06-06, 05:13 PM   #25
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My commute to work [and anyplace else] is anything but flat, and I'm enjoying the SS alot. Two of my bikes are SS, and the other two are geared. My flip/flop wheel is still on its way, but I'm looking forward to it.
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