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  1. #1
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    Single speed on the horizon

    Since many of my cycling friends are riding single speed bikes on some of our rides I have decided to consider purchasing one. I am looking for suggestions. Steel or aluminum or something else? Gears? Brand? I have two road bikes, 2009 Orbea Onix and a 2004 Trek 5500. Both are 60 CM. Do I look for the same size for the single speed?
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

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    I built a singlespeed four or five years ago, and I really enjoy it, but don't overmystify the process. It's just a bicycle. You use the same fit, frame and component selection criteria you would with any other bike.
    I don't even think it's necessary to buy one, unless you have money lying around. I built mine out of an old Trek touring bike for less than $15--just removed the derailleurs, shifters and all but one chainring (I kept the middle, 34t), spun off the freewheel and replaced it with a one-cog BMX freewheel ($12.95) and a spacer ($1). It took less than an hour including cleaning and waxing the frame. A bike shop that handles BMX bikes can fix you up, or you can order "single speed kits" for either freewheel or cassette-equipped bikes for $18 or $20.
    www.sheldonbrown.com is a good source of information and parts, or just google something like "singlespeed bike conversion." Pay attention to the part about chainline and chain tension--you may need a tensioner unless you can find a used bike with horizontal dropouts.
    Gearing depends on the rider and terrain. Most sources recommend starting with 2:1 (twice as many teeth in the chainring as in the cassette). I live in big mountains, and I wound up with 34-20, which gets me up the hills but limits me to about 15-16mph on the flats. You can probably go higher--I'm a geezer and Clydesdale.
    Last edited by Velo Dog; 08-14-09 at 12:22 AM.

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    Double post--sorry. My finger must have stuttered on the keyboard.

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    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    Thanks Velo Dog. I have considered putting one together as I find/acquire the parts. May be a fun way of going about this type of bike.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  5. #5
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    If you are looking for an old bike to build a singlespeed, look for a rear horizontal dropout to make the wheel transition easier.

  6. #6
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    If you are talking single speed freewheel as opposed to fixed gear, I still don't see any benefit whatsoever or any reason to spend any money or time on the project. I suspect this is another case of "for those who are into it, no explanation is necessary -- for those who are not, no explanation is possible."
    Last edited by John E; 08-21-09 at 02:38 PM.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  7. #7
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeArkansas View Post
    Since many of my cycling friends are riding single speed bikes on some of our rides I have decided to consider purchasing one. I am looking for suggestions. Steel or aluminum or something else? Gears? Brand? I have two road bikes, 2009 Orbea Onix and a 2004 Trek 5500. Both are 60 CM. Do I look for the same size for the single speed?
    I have one for sale - PM me if you are interested


    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
    If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Don't have many single speeds in my area
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  9. #9
    Senior Member 12bar's Avatar
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    I have a Felt Curbisde and my wife rides a Specialized Langster. I like both of them and they weren't all that expensive because we got them on close out as the previous years models.
    "It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for someone you love". Blazeman, Warrior Poet

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  10. #10
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    I've been riding fixed since 2000, and have never looked back. I won't address the recent advent of "fixie bashing" here, other than to say that I knew it was inevitable, kind of like making fun of people who can play the piano because you can't. Anyway, I ride a Gunnar Street Dog, that was built up at Harris Cyclery. But, you probably don't want / need to spend this much. If I wanted a production model, I'd be interested in the Raleigh Rush Hour, or Redline 925. Both look to be good buys, and both come with flip-flop rear hubs. Ride it as a single speed machine, or a fixie. Your call.
    "The People will believe what the Media tells them they believe". George Orwell.

  11. #11
    chasing down blood sugars doctordan's Avatar
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    I really like the Karate Monkey. I had some spare parts lying around and bought everything else used or on auction. Tires can be skinny or fat, although skinny tires may require shorter cranks since the ground clearance is based on fat tires. Mine has worn Pasela TG 35's, Big Apple 2.5's and Nanotaptors. I've used handlebars including Midges, traditional risers and Jones H-bar. If single-speed doesn't suit you there's a place to mount a derailleur.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lion Steve View Post
    If you are looking for an old bike to build a singlespeed, look for a rear horizontal dropout to make the wheel transition easier.
    Good point. If you can't find a horizontal dropout frame, though, sometimes you can make it work without a tensioner by changing the cog size a tooth at a time. www.sheldonbrown.com used to have a table for calculating how much slack a larger or smaller cog would take up or produce. Don't know if it's still on the site.
    I lucked out--mine worked perfectly with the gearing I wanted anyway, and it just slipped my mind that it can be a problem.
    Re fixies: I don't exactly bash them, but I'm not smart enough to figure out how to go around a corner without being able to lift the inside pedal.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Ranger63's Avatar
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    Single speeds

    I keep equating single speeds for we over 50 guys to "mechanical viagra"
    It's the big thing with the 20 somethings and we old guys need to be doing it!

    Because we (oldsters) bruise easy and bleed hard the single speed is preferred over a fixie.
    Vertical dropouts would be my choice in a frame (only because they ensure chain tension w/o having to fiddle with adjustment)
    A good quality 80s (or earlier!)road bike would make a perfect starting point for a single speed.
    There are a ton of bar options and wheel options.
    Keep the terrain in mind when you're building it.
    Keep the brakes!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Like I tell our son who races cyclocross on a single speed, " riding a single speed is like playing a game of golf using only a nine iron; sometime during the game you might have the right tool for the job"

  15. #15
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    Like I tell our son who races cyclocross on a single speed, " riding a single speed is like playing a game of golf using only a nine iron; sometime during the game you might have the right tool for the job"
    Good analogy! My feelings precisely.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
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  16. #16
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    I like riding my fixed gear bike, lots of fun and a bit of a challenge, but yes, I have brakes on it! My wife loves her single speed (42 x 16 freewheel) and rides it almost as much as her multi-geared bikes.

    Rick / OCRR

  17. #17
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    I ride fixed gear because thats what I like.I ride a bmx bike when I ride with my grandaughter it is easier to ride slow.I seldom ride my geared bikes.The mtb when the weather is bad and I just have to ride. The road bike just to make sure it still works.

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    I ride a fixed gear as my commuter bike (no hills on my commute). It's simple and cheap, has wider tires than my road bike, and I don't care if it sits out in the rain during our afternoon thunderstorms. I used to have a hybrid bike for commuting, but I like this one better.

  19. #19
    Spin Meister icyclist's Avatar
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    I also have a Langster, the base model from 2009, and it's a joy to ride.

    I like the 2010 base model, too; the steel version looks more like what the younger set likes to ride fixed, i.e., straight top tube.

    You have so many choices, I say figure out how much you want to spend and find a bike in that range.
    This post is a natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual character and beauty and are in no way to be considered flaws or defects.

    Icyclist, the blog considered too areodite for bikeforums

  20. #20
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    Surly Girly Yen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 12bar View Post
    I have a Felt Curbisde and my wife rides a Specialized Langster. I like both of them and they weren't all that expensive because we got them on close out as the previous years models.
    I just want to say I love your signature quote. To the first line, I would add "or how many miles you ride or how fast..."
    Specialized Roubaix Expert
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  21. #21
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger63 View Post
    I keep equating single speeds for we over 50 guys to "mechanical viagra"
    I started riding fixed gears back in the early 70's as winter training, and to keep my legs used to riding fixed gears since I was racing on the track in the summer. Riding a fixed gear teaches you how to pedal, and how to relax on a bike. It gives you a fluid technique, smooth pedaling, the ability to float the pedals. I don't consider a bike racer to be complete unless he rides the track. It's no accident that the best riders in the Tour de France in a tight pack situation (like a bunch sprint) learned their craft on the track. The guys that crash near the back of the pack are usually guys who've never ridden the track...

    Now I ride my fixed gear bike almost exclusively (when I'm not on the tandem). The fixie is capable of withstanding far more abuse than its effete derailleur-equipped sibling. I take it with me when I travel as I don't have to worry about the derailleur hanger getting bent, and if there's a velodrome in the vicinity, I just remove the brakes and replace the handlebar/stem assembly with a plain unit (no brake levers) and I can ride. The fixie is perfect in the winter - you can feel when the rear wheel locks up on a snow-covered descent, and a fixie gives you better control on ice. Bad weather doesn't hurt it; you just keep the chain and brakes oiled (and replace the bearing cartridges when they start feeling rough, usually twice in a tough winter. (Traditional cup and cone bearings will last all winter!) A fixed cog doesn't get packed with snow. I've had a rear cluster completely ice up, with the chain just slipping uselessly over the solid mess. This never happens with a single cog.

    But back to the Viagra quote. I think the main reason for riding a fixie, whether most guys know it or not, or want to admit it, is that it shows you are tougher than any other cyclist out there. You can power up hills in a bigger gear, and you can outspin anybody with a freewheel on a descent (because you have to). You also have a very valid excuse for getting dropped on a climb or a descent. So you get dropped, so what? You're on a fixed gear and the other guy was able to use a lower/higher gear, that's why he rode away. But if you do manage to keep up with the guys on gears, you've demonstrated that you are Really Tough, a Real Cyclist. If you're on a geared bike, you simply got dropped.

    I get a real kick out of spinning easily on my 1989 steel Benotto track bike, in 42x16 or 17, no trouble at all keeping up with all the dudes on the latest multi thousand $ carbon fiber road bikes with 10 or 11-speed cassettes and Ksyrium wheels. I think this is the sort of thing that's expected of older 50+ guys who have retired from racing, to ride a modest, unimposing bike but to ride it very, very well. Who needs all that expensive cafe racer crap? Although I must admit that it's a lot easier to spend all your time on the fixie when you've already got one or two carbon fiber road bikes sitting, waiting in the garage.

    L.

  22. #22
    George Krpan
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    I got a Motobecane Fantom Cross UNO.
    It's a very inexpensive old school steel frame and fork.
    It's very handsome with it's level top tube, long seat stays, and brazed crown fork.
    You can run tires of up to 700x42c and it rides well on both the road and the dirt.
    A lot of people think that about 70 gear inches is good.

    I love riding single speed. I don't touch my road bike anymore.
    At first I sucked but now I ride the same rides with the same people as I did before.
    I got stronger they stayed the same.

  23. #23
    George Krpan
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E View Post
    Good analogy! My feelings precisely.
    Single speeding is great it's just that you don't have a clue.

  24. #24
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    I can see getting a single speed for the simplicity of it. At least with a SS you still get to enjoy the one thrill climbing a long hill provides. The downhill on the other side. If you are going to work that hard to climb any hill it would be a crime to have to pedal down the other side. I can remember coming down a 16 mile grade at 50+ once drafting a Station wagon full of kids. Today I might be less eager to go that fast but 40+ is still pretty thrilling.

  25. #25
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    i keep thinking i want to go ss, but i cant leave my neighborhood without going uphill or downhill. gonna stick with the 18 speed i building, or rebuilding i should say
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    Hey technically I'm not crazy. The doctors even said so. I just do what the voices tell me and we all get along fine.

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