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  1. #1
    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    Commuting on a single speed

    I have been been commuting on my single speed for about a week now and wow what a difference it makes. Gives me more of a workout on a couple of spots but overall is actually EASIER to ride than my geared bike, and because its a road bike vs my mountain bike with slicks, its so much faster. Yet I still get a better workout on it.

    For those wondering about it- TRY IT! Now I just gotta wait until I am fit enough to put a cog and lockring on the flop side of my hub...

    Anyway the pure simplicity of a bike with only one gear is great, and so ultra reliable. Now I just have to get a rack for the single speed roadie, and it'll be ready for any commute I can throw at it. That and fenders....

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    Now you can try switching to fixed gear. It's been a great way to commute for me for the past two years. No coasting at all. And it's alot of fun too.

  3. #3
    無くなった HereNT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rykoala
    For those wondering about it- TRY IT! Now I just gotta wait until I am fit enough to put a cog and lockring on the flop side of my hub...
    Flop is the side that coasts, I think. You're already riding on that side...

    But congrats, anyway. I'm still not sure why people need gears unless they're riding a super long way or really hilly country. That's probably just me though.

  4. #4
    Chronic Tai Shan ofofhy's Avatar
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    The best part is not having to shift at every stoplight or stop sign. Especially useful in the city.
    From Craig's List: IF its a singlespeed that means----all the other parts are broken cut off and dumped...dont buy singlespeeds, the bikes will make your balls fall off

    * no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

  5. #5
    Proshpero jnbacon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rykoala
    ... For those wondering about it- TRY IT! Now I just gotta wait until I am fit enough to put a cog and lockring on the flop side of my hub... ...
    I just took my gearing down by putting on a larger rear cog. Maybe putting on a larger cog to start
    would encourage your fixie heart.

    Spin, spin, spin, spin. Spin, spin, spin, spin. Spinnnnn, wonderful spinnnn!

  6. #6
    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    Maybe in a few months I can go fixed. For now I cannot though, as I get a terrible cramp in my left calf every time I ride, and I HAVE to be able to coast to rest it. I have to get that muscle built up. It happens if I walk too far, too. It doesn't happen on my mountain bike commuter, I would suppose because it has biopace rings on it. I'm happy single speedin' it for now

  7. #7
    Retrogrouch in Training bostontrevor's Avatar
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    Are you stretching?

  8. #8
    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    No, but then again no amount of stretching has ever worked it out either. I did stretch when I was walking and its always matter of building up endurance with that muscle. The more often I walk, the further I can walk without cramping. Its kinda weird.

  9. #9
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Well, I guess I'm just a soft newbie. I took up riding two years ago specifically to commute, having not ridden much as an adult before that. The first thing I noticed was how nice it was climbing hills on the new 24-speed hybrid my LBS sold me.

    Now, in my defense, I hardly ever use the smallest ring, so no, I don't really need 24 speeds. However, it's hard to imagine having just one, although I suppose it would be possible if it were the right one. But it's nice having both extra power for downhill and help going uphill, even though my commute is neither very long nor especially hilly.

    What I hear about the reason for multiple gears is to try to maintain a constant cadence, and in my experience, it's nice to be able to do that. But I guess to you, the simplicity, reliablity, or just fun is worth the extra muscle and cardio exertion of just one gear. I'm sure I'll think about that next time I'm cleaning the grit out of my dereilleurs!

  10. #10
    Senior Member NYCommuter's Avatar
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    I think it is perfectly fine to like all your bikes...
    My hybrid is great to ride around the park with my daughter in the back seat, run errands, leisurely stroll around
    My Fixie is awesome to get a great workout fast, spin like a madman around the park and cleaning up after a ride in the rain is a piece of cake.
    My road bike is a thing of beauty... it takes me to far away places, over hills or mountains and always gets me home.
    They each have something they are more suited for than the others... and each bring a different experience to the ride.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by HereNT
    Flop is the side that coasts, I think.
    As if there's a standard nomenclature for flip/flop hubs.

    Is there?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by HereNT
    Flop is the side that coasts, I think. You're already riding on that side...

    But congrats, anyway. I'm still not sure why people need gears unless they're riding a super long way or really hilly country. That's probably just me though.
    How do you define hilly? I live in a place that probably would be hilly. And I'm old. So my fixed gear has a 38-17 (59.5 gi) set up on it. Sounds really wussy. But then I wonder how some of you hard-core fixed gear guys would cope in my terrain with your 44-17s or 16s.

  13. #13
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
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    after riding singlspeed (initially just built to keep it simple for the winter commuting months) for a three-four months now (44x18) i have started to like climbing and look for hills to ride on the way home a few days a week!

    in the beginning, i never thought i could climb in this gear (i was never a good climber and am always down in the easiest gear i got when push comse to shove); but it is amazing what you can do when you have no shifter and a big old hill just staring you in the face!

    often by the top i am so whupped form trying to maintain a decent cadence for as long as possible and many standing lunges for the steeper sections that i can barely keep the pedals going round; but i usually make it...

    i have noticed the improvments in my fitness bigtime! no bailout gears really mean your gonna get a workout if you go looking for one.

    now i am not saying i started with the biggest ugliest hill i can find (there are still hills i wont even consider) i actually rode only the flatter sections and walked the big hill each day for a month or so working on my spin and my power and even now i only tackle the hill 3 days a week if i am feeling good.

    once the weather gets nicer and spring finally returns for good, i can't wait to bust the geared roadie out of its winter slumber. on that little rocket those same hills are gonna be easy now!!!

    finally, (and i am sure all singlespeeders and fixed gear nuts will attest to) there is a lot to be said for the smooth chainline and efficient pedalling you get without your chain having to wind around all those pulleys while getting tugged from side to side as well. simple might just be better in some cases, once you get used to it that is.
    - the revolution will not be motorized -

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill
    <snip>there is a lot to be said for the smooth chainline and efficient pedalling you get without your chain having to wind around all those pulleys while getting tugged from side to side as well. simple might just be better in some cases, once you get used to it that is.
    Agreed. Captain Bike thinks so, too:


    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    Paradoxically, a singlespeed is, in another sense more efficient than a multispeed bike! While the single gear ratio will not be the "perfect" gear ratio for all conditions, in the conditions which fit the single gear, it is considerably more efficient mechanically than the drive train of a derailer bike.

    A singlespeed bike dispenses with the weight of the derailers, shifters, cables, extra sprockets and longer chain. In addition, a singlespeed gear train runs the chain in a perfectly straight line from sprocket to chainwheel, and avoids the serpentine wind through the pullies of a derailer. You can really feel the difference! A singlespeed is noticeably quicker and easier to pedal than a multispeed bike in the same gain ratio.

  15. #15
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    I'm about to build up my first fixed gear (no option for free wheel-no rear brake). I'll probably set it up w/165 length cranks.

    --Has anyone noticed problems once they get back on a geared bike with a different crank length (different muscles?)? My geared bikes have 175's.

  16. #16
    Retrogrouch in Training bostontrevor's Avatar
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    Some say yea, other nay. I personally predict that unless you're building up an exactly identical bike, that will just be one of the many things that characterizes the difference between your bikes. It's flavor.

  17. #17
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    Agree with all of you - the fixie (early 80's Fuji conversion) is great as a commuter (at least for *my* commute - relatively flat; worst hill is the 1st 1/2 mile leaving home, then a few overpasses) vs. my mtb with slicks. (I prefer the MTB when the weather may be nasty or I just want to take it easy) Even an old 10-speed improves when you remove all the unecessary (and heavy) components. It feels and *is* faster. I have better gearing on my road bike, of course, but I don't worry about leaving the bike during the day, mounting racks, etc. I find I pay more attention to my pedaling, road conditions, and scenery as I don't think about which gear I should be using.

    My most noticable "problem" is actually going from road bike to fixie - I have to remind my legs I CAN'T COAST (the attempt to pause to clip in the other pedal usually takes care of that).

  18. #18
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    My favorite part of riding a fixed gear around time (applies to freewheeling ss too) is being able to stand and hammer at anytime without having to worry about gears slipping. I notice this a lot when I'm riding around town with friends on geared bikes. At an intersection they'll slow and start shifting. When it's clear I'm off in a sprint and I just hear a *click click snap ping grrrrrrrrind* behind me. I look back and I already have 5 bike lengths on them by the time I cross the intersection. For me, there's more than enough to pay attention to in the city without having to worry about gear choice. I save the geared bike (both road and mtn) for the epic rides and major climbs, and every year the bar for "epic ride" or "major climb" is set higher.

  19. #19
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rykoala
    I have been been commuting on my single speed for about a week now and wow what a difference it makes. Gives me more of a workout on a couple of spots but overall is actually EASIER to ride than my geared bike, and because its a road bike vs my mountain bike with slicks, its so much faster. Yet I still get a better workout on it.
    I too have been riding a fixed gear for a couple of weeks. I have a 5 mile commute with approximately 6 points where I have to stop, and two hills. It is great. I love not worrying about shifting. The fixed gear bike really does feel more efficient and faster to me. Also I like the ability to slow down in traffic without using the brakes, just by gently resisting the motion of the pedals. Also this bike is definitely light although it's an '83 ten-speed frame with mostly original parts. One thing I would recommend for single-speed commuters is bullhorn bars: these look funny but for me they're an ideal comfortable position between drops and flat bars, and they give a very good grip for climbing hills.

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  20. #20
    Senior Member smurfy's Avatar
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    I think it also depends on the bike. I have and old three-speed (formerly S-A) I converted to an SS for use as a grocery-getter and I wasn't happy with it. It weighed 32 lbs despite the aluminum Sun AT18 rims. I converted it back into a three-speed, this time with a Shimano 3S instead and it's much better.

    Unfortunately I couldn't remove the "One ****ing Speed" sticker from chainstay so I guess it just has to stay there!
    "You handle it like you handle a bicycle" - Jacques Rosay, Airbus A380 test pilot

  21. #21
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camel
    I'm about to build up my first fixed gear (no option for free wheel-no rear brake). I'll probably set it up w/165 length cranks.

    --Has anyone noticed problems once they get back on a geared bike with a different crank length (different muscles?)? My geared bikes have 175's.
    Chances are, you'll hardly notice the difference in crank lengths.
    However, getting back on a geared bike after months of riding nothing but fixed, you'll initially notice some disorientation, perhaps a little queeziness, feeling of nothingness under you, and not remembering how to coast...
    Last edited by roadfix; 02-18-05 at 11:12 AM.
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  22. #22
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Fixer
    Chances are, you'll hardly notice the difference in crank lengths.
    However, getting back on a geared bike after months of riding noting but fixed, you'll initially notice some disorientation, perhaps a little queeziness, feeling of nothingness under you, and not remembering how to coast...
    My 2 geared bikes have 175 mm cranks. My fixie has 170 mm cranks and this feels fine. I actually appreciate the shorter cranks because I can lean just a bit more into the turns.
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  23. #23
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    I set-up a surly karate monkey as a single speed bike in april of 2004.I have since put over 3500 miles on it.I love it!!!

  24. #24
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    My 2 geared bikes have 175 mm cranks. My fixie has 170 mm cranks and this feels fine. I actually appreciate the shorter cranks because I can lean just a bit more into the turns.
    Great to hear, that's why I would go with a short length crank on the fixed build. Thanks

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rykoala
    Maybe in a few months I can go fixed. For now I cannot though, as I get a terrible cramp in my left calf every time I ride, and I HAVE to be able to coast to rest it. I have to get that muscle built up. It happens if I walk too far, too. It doesn't happen on my mountain bike commuter, I would suppose because it has biopace rings on it. I'm happy single speedin' it for now
    I'm going to start using my singlespeed as soon as I get it put back together. I did commute a couple of times on it and it is nice having the simplicity of one gear. It isn't fixed yet but as soon as I get a flip/flop hub I'll be dialed...or was that flop/flip?

    Regarding your calf...do you have one leg longer than the other? If so perhaps an orthotic insole might help (I think this only works though if the length discrepancy is in your lower leg).

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