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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 12-29-06, 11:46 AM   #1
TomThumb
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Building a Single Speed

I'm building up a single speed with a steel colnago master light.
I have never ridden a single speed or a fixie and would like some gearing advice.
I have a campy crankset 53/39 and was either going to:

A) use the 39 in the front or
B) go to a 42 in the front.

My concern is gearing in the back. What would be recommended for rolling to hilly roads of upstate NY.
I was thinking 39/17. It would be hard on steep climbs but manageable on the long sustained climbs of 5-7%. I climb OK and want to use it to make me stronger. 5'9'' 155lbs.

I have a set of Mavic OP that I would like to convert to a singlespeed. Any recommendations or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 12-29-06, 11:53 AM   #2
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I'm thinking 39/15. Maybe a 16 on the flip.
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Old 12-29-06, 11:55 AM   #3
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39/17 is a pretty light gearing - but I also live in a flat country ;-)
If you go lighter, I think you'll get sick of going slow pretty soon.
Good luck with the build - I don't see a problem with the Mavic OP set, but I'm no guru...
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Old 12-29-06, 11:55 AM   #4
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I run a 42x16 on a couple of mine but Sacramento is very flat. I would say it's a good place to start. Lukily BMX freewheels are cheap. Most folks here (including myself) will tell you to experiment and find what works best for your riding style. Then again, most of us enjoy tinkering almost as much as riding.
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Old 12-29-06, 11:56 AM   #5
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any minute now...
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Old 12-29-06, 11:57 AM   #6
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Do you have a geared bike? Try not shifting it for a couple of rides. When you find a gear you like, use it.
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Old 12-29-06, 12:03 PM   #7
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39/17 may be too easy, if you are a decent climber - also you are not heavy. Also you will spin your legs off down-hill. I started out with 40/16, which still is very easy, and went to 44/16 or and recently to 44/15.

I'd second 39/16 or even 15
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Old 12-29-06, 12:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sivat
Do you have a geared bike? Try not shifting it for a couple of rides. When you find a gear you like, use it.

This may not be the best measure because of the added resistance of the derailers. I tried this years ago and wound up with a gear that was too easy.
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Old 12-29-06, 12:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomThumb
I'm building up a single speed with a steel colnago master light.
I have never ridden a single speed or a fixie and would like some gearing advice.
I have a campy crankset 53/39 and was either going to:

A) use the 39 in the front or
B) go to a 42 in the front.

My concern is gearing in the back. What would be recommended for rolling to hilly roads of upstate NY.
I was thinking 39/17. It would be hard on steep climbs but manageable on the long sustained climbs of 5-7%. I climb OK and want to use it to make me stronger. 5'9'' 155lbs.

I have a set of Mavic OP that I would like to convert to a singlespeed. Any recommendations or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks.

I see this sort of question asked a lot, around here. Most of the time, the one who asks, isn't aware of one of the most important factors in deciding the gear ratio for their FG/SS: their cadence. So, what is your cadence on flat road, no wind?

Another factor often forgotten is wheelsize. Obviously, with a smaller wheel+tire, the gear inch number will be lesser, than with a larger wheel+tire. So if a gearing is OK for 26" with thin tires, it's not going to work quite the same for 29ers.

That's why gear inches, which take into consideration the wheel diameter as well, is a more useful figure.

For the record, I am a wuss and hence ride around 60 gear inches (it's slightly less, even). But, if I need to go fast, I can rely on a cadence of about 110 rpm.

Last edited by wroomwroomoops; 12-29-06 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 12-29-06, 12:07 PM   #10
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When I first went fixed I started with 39/15. That was fine for a while, but eventually I went to 42/15. Mechanically its only a slight difference, but very noticeable if you ride the same hills over and over.

One other suggestion...if and when you plan on getting a singlespeed/fixed specific hub (rather than using a converted road hub, which is also fine for a singlespeed), I would suggest going with one that is threaded for a fixed gear (one that has the usual threads, plus reverse threads for the lockring). You can use a freewheel with that type of hub, but if you decide to go fixed, you will have that option without having to change hubs.
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Old 12-29-06, 12:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildbird
Also you will spin your legs off down-hill.
The guy is building a singlespeed, not a fixie.
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Old 12-29-06, 12:10 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by john_and_off
any minute now...
any minute now what?

To the OP - I had a hard time finding a good street SS gear after bringing my SS MTB to Chicago many moons ago. On the street, I have ridden 48x16, 42x16, and 36x16.

so far, the 42x16 SS gearing is fine on the street. the 36x16 is a bit light for being so flat out here.
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Old 12-29-06, 12:11 PM   #13
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Thanks, all good things to consider.
Tires will be 700 X 23 because I have lots floating around.
I'll be building it up in the future so I'll monitor cadence. I used to be a masher but I am trying to find a medium between spinning fast and mashing...locating the sweet spot.

Thanks again for all the responses.
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Old 12-29-06, 12:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynikal
This may not be the best measure because of the added resistance of the derailers. I tried this years ago and wound up with a gear that was too easy.

Yup...I tried this too (riding a geared bike and not shifting) and wound up picking a gear ratio that is too easy..fortunately I realized this before I actually got my first singlespeed. The trouble is with trying this is that you tend to think about what gear is best for climbing, forgetting that most of the time you will be spinning on a nearly level surface. The temptation to shift throws your judgement off you end up picking a gear thats lower than you'd really want if you were actually stuck with one gear.
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Old 12-29-06, 12:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomThumb
Thanks, all good things to consider.
Tires will be 700 X 23 because I have lots floating around.
I'll be building it up in the future so I'll monitor cadence. I used to be a masher but I am trying to find a medium between spinning fast and mashing...locating the sweet spot.

Thanks again for all the responses.
good call - I, too, am trying to rebalance mashing and spinning. There is nothing like a good spin...nothing.
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Old 12-29-06, 12:28 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by [165]
good call - I, too, am trying to rebalance mashing and spinning. There is nothing like a good spin...nothing.
i found out that if i can't feel fast, at least i can feel smooth. i fairly flew down lexington avenue on my commute this morning, quicker than ever before, for some reason.
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Old 12-29-06, 12:40 PM   #17
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I'm building up my old Litespeed Classic frame with semi-horizontal dropouts as a singlespeed. I'll probably be running a 42 up front. My wheelset is an old set of Campy freehub bodied Spinergy Rev-X's. I'm thinking of using 2 or 3 cogs on the freehub body for quick gear ratio changes. Hopefully the dropouts can handle maybe up to a 6 tooth difference.....we'll see....
I'm going with with moustache or drops, and both front and rear brakes. This bike should weigh almost next to nothing....
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Old 12-29-06, 01:50 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [165]
any minute now what?
i am happy to see that many people are posting helpful responses - i thought for sure there would be some forum members who would immediately jump on the op for converting a colnago - hasn't that been a hot topic in some previous threads?
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Old 12-29-06, 01:55 PM   #19
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This program helped me a lot in determining which gears to use. I highly recommend it.
http://www.machinehead-software.co.u...alculator.html
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Old 12-29-06, 01:56 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by john_and_off
i am happy to see that many people are posting helpful responses - i thought for sure there would be some forum members who would immediately jump on the op for converting a colnago - hasn't that been a hot topic in some previous threads?
This place is slowly getting back to the great fixed/ss sub-forum it once used to be......
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Old 12-29-06, 02:07 PM   #21
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This place is slowly getting back to the great fixed/ss sub-forum it once used to be......

Very slowly YOU are a hipseter
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Old 12-29-06, 07:16 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomThumb
I'm building up a single speed with a steel colnago master light.
I have never ridden a single speed or a fixie and would like some gearing advice.
I have a campy crankset 53/39 and was either going to:

A) use the 39 in the front or
B) go to a 42 in the front.

My concern is gearing in the back. What would be recommended for rolling to hilly roads of upstate NY.
I was thinking 39/17. It would be hard on steep climbs but manageable on the long sustained climbs of 5-7%. I climb OK and want to use it to make me stronger. 5'9'' 155lbs.

I have a set of Mavic OP that I would like to convert to a singlespeed. Any recommendations or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks.

I'm mostly a road cyclist and have been riding a converted road ss for about ten years for commuting, errands, etc. First, I'm glad to see others doing this - although I just got a fixie too, It seems like no one rides road ss bikes around here

I'd say stick your 39 on the front and buy a range of BMX cogs (15, 16, 17 or something like that - this would probably necessitate a shimano freehub body, but it might be worth converting if you have campy because cogs from a cassette make loosing your chain very easy even with good tension) - they are cheap - and a spacer kit or conversion kit form some place like Rennen Design (they have a really nice two piece spacer that telescopes to allow an exact chainline adjustment) to convert your freehub body - and try your best guess first and just change sprockets as you get a better idea - did this about ten years ago and it worked itself out pretty fast. (seems like lots of people end up around 70 inches in a wide range of terrain, which would put you at about 39 x 15). Some will say that BMX cogs damage your freehub body, but I have been beating the hell out of mine for years with no problems.
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Old 12-29-06, 07:22 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynikal
This may not be the best measure because of the added resistance of the derailers. I tried this years ago and wound up with a gear that was too easy.
True, but it will give you a good starting point. It can't be any less useful than asking a bunch of strangers on the internet. Maybe a better idea is to figure out a ratio that works on a geared bike, then add a tooth or 2 in the front, or lose a tooth in the back.
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Old 12-29-06, 07:25 PM   #24
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I'm running 42x17 in hilly Seattle. Works great. 39x16 is pretty much identical gear inch-wise.
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Old 12-29-06, 07:39 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Cynikal
Very slowly YOU are a hipseter
Haha
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