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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 08-23-13, 07:24 AM   #1
Anurag21
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Single speed bike for a 16 mile each way commute?

Hey,
Recently I've been let down way too much by the public transport so I've decided to cycle to school/work instead. I've got a single speed bike but I'm not too sure if its good for a 30 mile round trip but if I was to purchase a new bike, my maximum budget would be around 250. Which type of bike would be the best bike for this commute given my budget?

I have no idea on the benefits of different types of bikes and was hoping someone could shed some light on this.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 08-23-13, 07:34 AM   #2
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How hilly is your ride? The biggest draw back to a single speed is you can't shift for hills.
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Old 08-23-13, 07:43 AM   #3
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How hilly is your ride? The biggest draw back to a single speed is you can't shift for hills.
+1 on this. I ride SS to work here and there, but my gearing is lower for the hills, and my commute is only about 7.5 miles. It still wears me out attacking those hills sometimes...for a 16-mile one-way commute, I would at least suggest having a 3-speed setup, or perhaps a 1 x 9/1 x 8 setup.

If it's mostly flat terrain, I'd say a SS bike is fine though.
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Old 08-23-13, 08:37 AM   #4
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+1 on this. I ride SS to work here and there, but my gearing is lower for the hills, and my commute is only about 7.5 miles. It still wears me out attacking those hills sometimes...for a 16-mile one-way commute, I would at least suggest having a 3-speed setup, or perhaps a 1 x 9/1 x 8 setup.

If it's mostly flat terrain, I'd say a SS bike is fine though.
I personally haven't done the complete route myself but its mostly along highways and flat roads. The only problem is that I'm pretty useless with gears and can't seem to understand what gear to be in and the single speed is really low maintenance. Would a road bike be a more suitable choice?
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Old 08-23-13, 08:49 AM   #5
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I personally haven't done the complete route myself but its mostly along highways and flat roads. The only problem is that I'm pretty useless with gears and can't seem to understand what gear to be in and the single speed is really low maintenance. Would a road bike be a more suitable choice?
Probably. If you can type complete sentences and post them on the Internet, you should be able to figure out shifting a bike eventually.
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Old 08-23-13, 09:06 AM   #6
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Probably. If you can type complete sentences and post them on the Internet, you should be able to figure out shifting a bike eventually.
Is 250 a decent budget for a road bike then? Road bikes look so expensive and as a student I don't have that sort of money
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Old 08-23-13, 09:19 AM   #7
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I personally haven't done the complete route myself but its mostly along highways and flat roads. The only problem is that I'm pretty useless with gears and can't seem to understand what gear to be in and the single speed is really low maintenance. Would a road bike be a more suitable choice?
A road bike will certainly be more versatile overall, but if most of your route is flat you'll be fine, provided the bike is sized/set up properly, and you find a gear ratio (number of crank teeth:Number of rear cog teeth, just in case you weren't familiar with the term) that works for you. Because of the degree of hills around here, I ended up going with a 46:20 ratio, as I'm more concerned about having a more even-keel ride than insane speed, and I weigh a lot (220lb). For most folks, anywhere from a 42:16 to a 46:18 seems to be a decent range (the most specific questions about gear ratio can more definitively be answered by the fine folks over at the Single-Speed/Fixed Gear forum, of course) for covering ground quickly enough while still getting a good workout. Some folks would suggest you should try fixed-gear instead, but I myself never took to it all that well. "Different strokes...", as they say. I and one or two others on BF ride a Schwinn Racer...it's hi-ten steel, so it's heavy, but with the right gear ratio it can roll right along with little or no problems and it's definitely a smoother ride than most of my other bikes. I originally outfitted mine with a Topeak Explorer rack (using a Sunlite Monostay Adapter) + MTX bag combo, but have since switched to a Wald 215 rack and Ibera panniers as they aren't as bulky as the Topeak option.

Hope this helps; be sure to stick around for more commuter opinions, but ultimately you'll end up finding out what works for you in the long run, through trial-and-error.
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Old 08-23-13, 09:40 AM   #8
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I left a piece of junk GBP40 (bought it in Belfast) ten speed by the front steps of my university's housing in Maida Vale in January 1999 when I returned to the States. Maybe it's still there.

Really, though, go used and go geared. It's worth it. When I skip the train, my commute is 32 miles, and I would not want to tackle it single speed, even though it really only has two real hills. I am sure that there is something serviceable for GBP200 out there, especially if forty pound sterling got me from Belfast to Galway to Dublin and around Wales a bit before hopping a train to London.

edit: and with the fixie/single speed craze, many seem to pay far too much for hip little single speeds. An old 1970's or 1980's road bike is where it's at, and probably cheaper. If you don't like shifting, find the gear you like and leave it there. When you need to, necessity will teach you to shift the old DT shifters.
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Old 08-23-13, 10:46 AM   #9
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Anurag,

If you have a single speed bike and aren't sure you need something else, just ride your single speed bike. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, it might prove unsuitable; and then you'll know. As you say, you don't know what gear to be in; so ride the single speed and, as you're slogging up a hill, ask yourself: 'would a lower gear be nice?' And as you're spinning down the other side: 'would a higher gear be helpful?' If you start thinking you need more gears, then you probably do. If you keep thinking 'this is okay' then maybe you don't. Trust me, you'll figure it out in no time.

I took my kids on a two day tour a few years ago. Going up a pretty steep hill on the last day, my son's derailleur just snapped, broke right off. I had no choice but to convert his bike to a single speed bike right then and there. Fortunately i had a chain tool with me; I just removed enough links to make the chain fit between the middle chain ring and the middle cog on the freewheel. From there on, he rode in one gear; up hills, down hills, everything. It made no difference to his speed. If you ride the way he does, you'll be fine.
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Old 08-23-13, 03:32 PM   #10
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I do my 23 mile door to door commute on my SS. Northbound Elevation gain is ~800'. Southbound is ~1500'. Flatter would be better, but I actually prefer my SS to any of my geared bikes for commuting. It's only tough the first couple of times, then you'll wonder why you even asked the question.
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Old 08-23-13, 03:38 PM   #11
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Anurag, you need to ride the whole commute once or twice on a weekend using your single-speed, and then you'll know if it's feasible or if you'd rather have something else.
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Old 08-23-13, 05:18 PM   #12
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Yeah I'll definitely give it a go this weekend given there are no trains running anyway. Thanks for all the advice
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Old 08-25-13, 04:02 AM   #13
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Depending on the frame details, it may be quite easy and inexpensive to convert your SS to multispeed. Another option to consider after you've tried it out as is.
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Old 08-25-13, 10:13 AM   #14
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Depending on the frame details, it may be quite easy and inexpensive to convert your SS to multispeed. Another option to consider after you've tried it out as is.
Really? How would you go about doing this? Does the bike have to have a specific frame and all of that?
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Old 08-25-13, 11:06 AM   #15
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I personally haven't done the complete route myself but its mostly along highways and flat roads. The only problem is that I'm pretty useless with gears and can't seem to understand what gear to be in and the single speed is really low maintenance. Would a road bike be a more suitable choice?
Gears shouldn't be too complex, but you could always get an internally geared hub and your gears will all be in simple order, and they will be out of the rain so maintenance will be less. It's possible to install it in your present frame. But I'll guess you'll want a different bike and keep your fixie as a backup bike. Here's a guy who did the conversion. It has an SRAM S-7 Internal Gear Hub.

http://www.twospoke.com/forum/f65/fi...nversion-1791/



For daily riding, you will probably want lights and fenders. A backpack or rack to carry clothes and gear. A flat kit and pump at least.
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Old 08-25-13, 12:04 PM   #16
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i live in a valley and my commutes involve multiple climbs / descents. 42:18 and 46:18 on my singlespeeds have been very manageable.
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Old 08-25-13, 12:08 PM   #17
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Really? How would you go about doing this? Does the bike have to have a specific frame and all of that?
IF ... you have a frame that will work as a single speed .. IE, it would some how bring the chain into appropriate tension, then ,

you can also build it up with a 3 speed internal Gear hub, are you an adept Mechanic ? IDK, can you do it for 250. ?

beats Me,
I'm in another country..
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Old 08-25-13, 05:34 PM   #18
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IF ... you have a frame that will work as a single speed .. IE, it would some how bring the chain into appropriate tension, then ,

you can also build it up with a 3 speed internal Gear hub, are you an adept Mechanic ? IDK, can you do it for 250. ?

beats Me,
I'm in another country..
My friend works at a cycle shop and he tends to help me with this sort of things I could always ask him to help me out with attaching it.
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Old 08-26-13, 12:05 PM   #19
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My friend works at a cycle shop and he tends to help me with this sort of things I could always ask him to help me out with attaching it.
You could also ask him for his advice on the best options for upgrading to a geared system based on your bike's existing configuration.

If you want to go into the technical details yourself, at least learning, if not doing, I recommend you post a new thread over on the C&V (classic & vintage) forum with a subject something like "recommendations for upgrading SS bike to geared system", and lead off with the background you gave here, plus detailed photos of your bike's drivetrain, which will help us determine the most feasible options.
I'd contend that this is a legit topic for C&V if your SS is a classic style. If not, just put OT in the title and see if the moderators move it.
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