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Old 04-30-07, 02:32 PM   #1
eeyore
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Towing with a Singlespeed?

I've recently gotten back into cycling with a LeMond Tourmalet road bike. Besides group rides, this bike also works well enough getting around on the paved parts of the recreational trails in my area (Cedar Rapids, IA). Now that I've gotten my tax refund though, I've started to consider whether or not I should get a second bike (I'm pretty sure the answer is yes). The goal for the second bike would be to tow my kids in a Burley trailer, ride the ag-lime and gravel portions of trails, and maybe do some off-road riding.

I will admit that I'm cheap, but I'm also becoming something of a bike geek. A cyclocross bike like the Bianchi Volpe appeals to me, but I wonder if I'd have more fun with something I could ride more technical trails with. I've began looking at bikes like the Iron Horse Maverick 5.5 at Performance that runs in the $400 range, which would cover all the types of riding I'm interested in.

Then I went to my LBS today, and saw a GT Peace 9r. I really like the idea of not having to deal with derailleur and fork maintenance, but at $550, it's a little more money than I was hoping to spend. If I buy all the hyperbole about singlespeeds and 29 inch wheels, it might be worth it if the mountain bike gearing is low enough that I can pull my kids around. I'll try to get back and take a test ride to get a sense of gearing, but I'm not sure how to judge how much more effort is involved when a kid-loaded trailer is attached.

I'm pretty sure my four year old daughter will never let me forget the first time I have to dismount to walk her up a hill. She's already letting me know I'm getting old. That said, this is Iowa, and I've seen some very well fed (but friendly) people carrying more than my family's combined weight up the steepest of the trail hills.

So will a 29er SS bike be flexible enough for my goals? Or do I need to go with gears in one form or another?

Sorry for the long post.
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Old 05-01-07, 09:21 AM   #2
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You could struggle through the SS and trailer thing. Why not get the SS for yourself and get a geared bike for when you want to trailer?
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Old 05-01-07, 12:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by masiman
You could struggle through the SS and trailer thing. Why not get the SS for yourself and get a geared bike for when you want to trailer?
Okay, rather than admitting I'm cheap, I should have stressed that I was cheap. Two bikes sound more expensive than one bike.

That said, maybe the better question is if the singlespeed mountain bike would work well enough until I could afford a geared gravel/tow bike too.
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Old 05-01-07, 03:20 PM   #4
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It would be tough. I think if you try it 1) You will get strong very quick 2) You will quickly tire of the SS if you have any sort of rise to negotiate 3) You will quickly discover that brakes are very useful and I would say required if you have any hills or get into any tricky traffic situations (assuming you are doing a traditional SS with no hand brakes)

For cheapness, you could craigslist an old frame and modify. A buddy of mine is doing just that. He was pretty much an intro commuter about a year ago. Now he is wheeling and dealing bikes on craigslist for money and swaps. He writes every week or two with a few bikes he is looking at a few he has fixed up. All are under $300 and are pretty good quality.

Cheap can end up being expensive . Good Luck!
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Old 05-02-07, 06:20 AM   #5
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A short Bike forums thread on the GT

Another review and info. from GT here; read the comments section

If you want this bike for light trails, it's probably alright. No option for disc brakes, no derailleur hanger, uses an eccentric bottom bracket. The gear that's good for riding on the roads will be too high for the trails. The good trail gear should be good for hauling your trailer; perhaps if you get the bike you can have the rear hub swapped for a flip-flop hub to give you two gearing choices. But when you swap gears you'll have to adjust the bottom bracket to take up the chain slack.

If I were you and looking for an all-around bike, I'd go for the Bianchi Bay City or the Trek FX. Save up your money for a SS bike later. Or, satisfy that bike geek in you and go the Craigslist route. I think you'd get real tired of hauling that trailer on the GT SS.

Masiman, it's freewheel SS and has V-brakes.
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Old 05-02-07, 06:53 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by bbattle
Masiman, it's freewheel SS and has V-brakes.
Thanks, I'm not a SS rider. I do appreciate the simplicity of them but I never understood the allure of riding them. I don't think I have seen an SS with brakes, I thought people liked the backpedaling action for speed control. I did not consider handbrakes when I saw a White Ind. SS ENO freewheel yesterday.
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Old 05-02-07, 07:36 AM   #7
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If it's a freewheel, it's called singlespeed. If it's a fixed hub, like a track bike, that's a fixie or FG. The hipsters ride track bikes brakeless, smart people add at least a front brake. Mine has two brakes; so far I've not been able to skid or skip the bike to stop it. The speed control on a fixed hub bike is awesome. You can maintain an even speed while riding next to somebody walking. Most bicycle makers, including Masi, have street-friendly SS/FG bikes.

I have a Bianchi San Jose SS/FG cyclocross bike. The rear hub is fixed/free but so far I've only ridden it fixed. If I were riding trails or going on a long(30+ miles) ride, I'd flip it to the singlespeed side. I ride this bike when I'm riding with my wife or my granddaughter; much easier to maintain their pace. It's also my commuter bike, with fenders and a rack.
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Old 05-02-07, 08:16 AM   #8
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Thanks for the input folks. Since I'll probably be doing more towing that off-roading, I agree that something like a geared hybrid will be the better, if less sexy, choice. I'll keep an eye out locally for a something cheap that I can convert in the future.
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Old 05-02-07, 05:25 PM   #9
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Might be helpful to get the terminology straight here:
For what it's worth, SS (singlespeed) bikes have brakes, either hand-operated or coaster brakes (the kind you stop by pedaling backward). If they didn't, you'd have to coast until you ran out of momentum or hit something.
Fixed-gear bikes ("fixies") sometimes don't--since the pedals are directly and permanently linked to the hub, you can slow them by resisting the turn of the cranks.
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Old 05-03-07, 05:31 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Velo Dog
Might be helpful to get the terminology straight here:
For what it's worth, SS (singlespeed) bikes have brakes, either hand-operated or coaster brakes (the kind you stop by pedaling backward). If they didn't, you'd have to coast until you ran out of momentum or hit something.
Fixed-gear bikes ("fixies") sometimes don't--since the pedals are directly and permanently linked to the hub, you can slow them by resisting the turn of the cranks.
How is that different from what bbattle said?
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Old 05-03-07, 06:59 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by masiman
How is that different from what bbattle said?

It's not; he said what I said.
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Old 05-03-07, 08:58 PM   #12
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You might want to consider a fitness hybrid, such as a Trek FX or Cannondale Road Warrior. I use a Cannondale Bad Boy for towing, which is essentially a rigid mountain bike frame on street tires. It's fairly light and climbs great, and with a trailer or trailercycle, you need all the help you can get.
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Old 05-04-07, 08:48 AM   #13
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I pull my kids in the double Chariot with my singlespeed. It can tough going into a headwind, but I can grid it out. Depending on your fitness level, pick the appropriate gear and have fun!
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