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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 12-26-05, 08:13 AM   #1
Far Rider
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Best gear for offroad singlespeeding

I recently started running a 60 inch gear on my homebuilt offroad singlespeed bike. Most of the time I can ride except over the steeper sections, where riding a low gear is almost as slow as walking, anyway.

What gear are you guys using?
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Old 12-26-05, 09:29 AM   #2
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It depends entirely on your terrain. I could ony suggest that if you're walking there could be room for improvement in your selection. However as I don't know what sort of steep is steep to you it's hard to say. I never walked when racing geared bikes, I've never waked an SS recreationally by the assumptions I got racing, that I ought not have to walk. Still it could be necessary with your terrain.

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Old 12-26-05, 09:43 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by SamHouston
It depends entirely on you're terrain. I could ony suggest that if you're walking there could be room for improvement in your selection. However as I don't know what sort of steep is steep to you it's hard to say. I never walked when racing geared bikes, I've never waked an SS recreationally by the assumptions I got racing, that I ought not have to walk. Still it could be necessary with your terrain.
The uphills are long and steep enough to where a lower gear would be nice for riding up. The problem would then be maintaining speed on the downhills and level ground. I have good speed now in the flats compared to last year, when I was riding a lower gear. I am going as fast as I want to in the flats now but again, I am sacrificing the climbing ability. Short hills don't bother me.

I have seen pictures of singlespeed races where the riders were running up the hills rather than riding, so I guess I need to rephrase my question: given the choice between having speed in the flats and being able to climb anything, which would you rather have?
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Old 12-26-05, 09:52 AM   #4
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Personally I'd want to rely on my cadence in the flats and stay in the saddle on the climbs. I think it'd result in improved performance to complete the climbs and allow you to increase your gear inches incrementally as your climbing improved over a season.
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Old 12-26-05, 10:34 AM   #5
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Personally I'd want to rely on my cadence in the flats and stay in the saddle on the climbs. I think it'd result in improved performance to complete the climbs and allow you to increase your gear inches incrementally as your climbing improved over a season.
Good points, and I can see why that would work. As it turns out, I have a larger rear cog that will work with this particular setup I may try.

I neglected to mention that I have a totally new riding area this year, so I am learning as I go here. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 12-26-05, 10:43 AM   #6
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Singlespeeds actually have 3 speeds: go, stop, walk. Use them accordingly and to your benefit.
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Old 12-26-05, 12:03 PM   #7
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Run-ups are put in races as an added challege. The hill is not steep enough that you couldn't ride up it. It's just faster to run up it.

That said, I usually choose the gear that I can ride up the steepest hill, but not spin out so fast on the flats. If it's flat, I'll ride around 2.1:1 (55"). If it's steep, I'll ride 1.6:1 (41"). I ride with a cassette hub and a bunch of cogs.

One of the reasons I like riding singlespeed is that it forces you to find the flow of the trail--that point where you're maintaining or gaining speed--without pedalling. With proper technique, you can accelerate out of corners without ever pedalling.
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Old 12-26-05, 12:27 PM   #8
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i agree, the just about perfect gear for single speed mtb is hovering somewhere around 2:1. 32:16 is ussually pretty safe, its fast enough to keep decent speed but low enough to allow climbing all but the granny gear and big ring in the back climbs
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Old 12-26-05, 02:46 PM   #9
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I enjoy 32:17 on a 26" wheel or a 32:18 on a 29" wheel.
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Old 12-26-05, 04:12 PM   #10
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Kiecker, i thought the 3 speeds were sit stand and walk
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Old 12-26-05, 04:26 PM   #11
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2:1 is a good starting point just like 42:16 is for road

i personally run 33:17 on 26"
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Old 12-26-05, 04:46 PM   #12
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I like 38x20 (free) or 38x18 (fixed), offroad.

On pavement that bike is either 38x15 fixed or 38x17 free.
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