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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 12-07-07, 12:20 PM   #1
Gunmetal_Ghoul
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Uphill On a Singlespeed Beach Cruiser...

This may sound like a bad idea, but I wanna learn how to ride my 43-pound all-steel beach cruiser uphill in the San Diego area. I was thinking, I have a decent deal of endurance (as your typical 3-mile jogger), took out the chrome fenders and switched to a smaller [36T-32T] chainring I could change my gear ratio to better suit the climbs. The flats could very well drive me nuts as I spin out but there is only so much of it in my local topography. Bad idea? What are the other factors for me to consider?
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Old 12-07-07, 12:46 PM   #2
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I've got a Worksman Industrial Bike. Gearing is 44/22 with 26" wheels, and fairly heavy.

On flat land, 15mph is about the maximum sustainable speed for me. Over longer distances, somewhat less. Last time I did the White Rock Lake/Creek trail, I averaged 15.0 mph over 22 miles or so, and felt like I was really flying. You sort of get used to the "spinning out", but it does slow your average speed.

This bike works reasonably well on hills. It will make a major difference how long the hill is, how steep it is, how many there are. What I found in riding on a few hills was that you're in good shape on the first one, but once your legs start getting tired, you can't downshift, and then it's either stop and rest (what I do) or walk it up.

The amount of fatigue in your legs does not always match the height of a hill. Trying to do a hill in too high of a gear will just kill your legs, more so than spinning up in a lower gear.

If the hills there are long enough and steep enough, beware of using a coaster brake as well- it's not just the uphill that's the problem.

Anyway, on your overall plan, if you already have the bike, just go ride it and see what you think. You should find hills you can't climb and some you can.
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Old 12-07-07, 12:47 PM   #3
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My question would be: why?
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Old 12-07-07, 12:54 PM   #4
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Is it that you're too cheap to buy a more appropriate ride or that you just feel like being a badass?

Actually, thinking about somebody going up steep grades on a beach cruiser I'm having trouble imagining it being BA - all I can picture is passing some dude struggling for all he's worth instead of getting passed by someone who is taking it like it's no big thing.

So I guess I have to ask Carl's question too, why do you want to do this?
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Old 12-07-07, 01:56 PM   #5
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get yourself a 3 speed rear wheel.
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Old 12-07-07, 01:59 PM   #6
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I've seen guys riding up the big hill on their cruisers at Rosarito-Ensenada rides.
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Old 12-07-07, 03:52 PM   #7
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I say, try it with your bike as is.
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Old 12-07-07, 04:27 PM   #8
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Hmm, i dunno, what's your gear ratio as of now? And which hills in SD are you talking about?

I bike around La Jolla and there aren't that many steep/long hills w/74 gear inches (I can't say that I spin out on flat land, but I'm usually not moving that fast). It's recommended that you have around 68-72 gear inches around here. But, yeah, try out your current setup and guess which amount of gear inches is suitable.
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Old 12-07-07, 06:11 PM   #9
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-high pressure slicks
-smaller saddle (think MTB width, mounted higher and further forward than the standard fat springy beach saddle)
-BMX cruiser bars slanted forwards a bit
-and then work on the gearing

What kind of BB does your cruiser have? if its got dodgy one piece cranks, you may want to upgrade it to something stiffer, with bearings less likely to develop play. Thats usually the first thing to go on hard ridden cruisers.
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Old 12-07-07, 07:02 PM   #10
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i love it

post pics and ride reports plz
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Old 12-07-07, 07:05 PM   #11
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helmet cam that ****.
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Old 12-08-07, 01:37 PM   #12
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"all I can picture is passing some dude struggling for all he's worth instead of getting passed by someone who is taking it like it's no big thing."

You don't struggle for all you're worth- that's a multi-gear bike- with single speed, you either go up at a reasonable speed or you stop. You can't flail up at 2 mph in granny gear. Which means if you're still riding, you can pass riders who are going up in granny gear. And if you're walking, you probably won't.
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Old 09-24-08, 10:54 PM   #13
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With a new sprocket I got a 2:1 gear ratio, but I also added a front caliper brake and fenders (yep, they added about 4-5 pounds). On my summer commute it took the first hill rather well, but I feel like I have to walk the last hill on the way home. It also rides great on those otherwise pesky foothills, but the spectacle of me spinning out on the flats would be crazy to see....
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Old 09-25-08, 12:11 PM   #14
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Nice update.

My only issue with typical beach cruisers are the wide, swept back handlebars. OK for sitting back cruising. Awful and awkward if you have to get off the seat and start mashing. Maybe a modest riser bar, or something like a Wald Northroad style bar would be better.

One piece cranks probably won't be an issue. Nor coaster brakes. As an experiment, I did a long descent here in W L.A. (Mandeville Cyn Rd) riding the coaster brake all the way. It did get hot. It didn't fail, wear out, nor was the grease cooked out.

Smaller saddle is a good suggestion.

With SS balloon tire cruisers, I tend to like gearing in the 52-58 gear inch range. Not fast by any means. But I generally don't want to go too fast on these.

I have a 3speed Worksman with the 44/22 gearing. Keep in mind that the Worksman has to weigh at least 60 lbs. Feels like it anyway. With motorcycle-like steel wheels and heavy duty 2.125" tires rated for 50lbs. I'm really glad it isn't a SS in that gearing.

Tires can make a huge difference. Generally, thinner/lighter is easier to pedal. Tire quality alone is a big factor. I have an old Murray with Goodrich 2.125" tires, at least 25 years old. The bike itself isn't particularly heavy for what it is, but those tires feel as sluggish as marshmallows, even with the 46/21 (56.8 gear inches) gearing. Yet just yesterday, I built up a fixie balloon bike with new inexpensive 2.125" Kendas. Geared 40/15 (69.2 gear inches), there's a world of difference, despite the significantly higher gearing. If I were to use 1.5" or 1.25", I'm sure I could tolerate a significantly higher gear still.

Any "serious" bike (beach cruisers included) benefits from a front brake. A cheapo long reach BMX sidepull works fine.
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Old 10-16-08, 11:48 PM   #15
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i ride up hills on my beach cruiser all the time

the only thing i can say that works is hard work! i don't think there is an easy way to do it. you just have to really push it.
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Old 04-17-09, 11:22 AM   #16
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Sorry I haven't been posting in a while, but I'll be graduating from college in two weeks and spent the last few months hitting the books. I love my bike, but it just can't take those hills. When I ride it uphill it's agonizing and the last hill coming home eats up 10 minutes to walk--it's just too steep. When I get back home from school my bike will be waiting for me, but the magic is lost somewhere in the hills. I love cruisers because they are so simple to ride and work on, so simple looking and beautiful, and they're a tinkerer's dream. I have this thing where I just can't leave anything in its out-of-the-box condition. I modded my bike out with plenty of "extras". I wished I had some pictures of my bike right now and show it off, but there is this nagging thought that I should sell it and buy a...bike with gears. I thought of selling it on craigslist and shopping for something shiny and new--a winning climber. What should I do? Should I just live with the limitations of my heavy singlespeed bike? I don't think I can decide what to do unless I come home and ride it all summer....
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Old 04-17-09, 11:59 AM   #17
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don't sell it. It sounds like you really enjoy the bike but get frustrated at the things it can't do, so just save up for another bike that can do the things your cruiser cannot and you'll be happy IMO
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Old 04-17-09, 12:11 PM   #18
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I wouldn't do it... too lazy. But going up a hill is easier than pedaling an all steel cruiser while someone else is sitting on the saddle, a la Laverne and Shirley.
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Old 04-17-09, 12:32 PM   #19
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i flip the handlebars down to get more leverage
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...eat=directlink
but i agree with another poster, get a 3 spd wheel built

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Old 04-17-09, 12:55 PM   #20
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get stronger
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Old 04-17-09, 01:00 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
I've seen guys riding up the big hill on their cruisers at Rosarito-Ensenada rides.
I could not believe that when I saw it! Are you going to it this weekend?
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Old 04-17-09, 02:13 PM   #22
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I would suggest you keep at it. If you want to champion the hills, get a three speed rear wheel and keep it for school. You will only get bigger and better if keep your single speed. It will make a 3 spd, or geared bike seem boring as candy. It sounds like you love your bike and hate that last hill. Do post a pic when you take one.
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Old 04-17-09, 02:25 PM   #23
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just want to share what i did to my bike, the Kraken, with crap around the house and an old stencil of sophia loren.
DSCN2254.jpg
do you see the uncanny resemblance?
kraken.jpg
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Old 04-17-09, 05:54 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunmetal_Ghoul View Post
I have a decent deal of endurance (as your typical 3-mile jogger)
lol

"i have a decent deal of strength (i can do fifteen pushups)"
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Old 04-20-09, 11:13 AM   #25
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Hey, I can do [just] 15 pushups too. A real feat would be to touch my toes w/ locked knees!
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