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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 06-04-10, 08:31 AM   #1
Vinylisbest
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Anyone raced a Criterium with Single Speed?

So I'm thinking of getting into road racing, but don't have a road bike and don't want to drop a lot of money on one until I know I like it. The USA Cycling rules say that you must have two brakes and a free wheel. So, has anyone tried this? I don't mind coming in last, I just don't want to look like a total ****** out there (althought I will race Cat 4/5 so I'm sure that won't matter).

I live in Milwaukee, so most of the crits in this Area are generally flat, not like I can't handle hills--I ride my fixed gear all over the place.
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Old 06-04-10, 08:42 AM   #2
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Depends on the course, but odds are you will get slaughtered on a SS. The ones I race are typically very curvy, which requires lots of shifting as you slow down significantly and stop pedaling through the turns.

Don't get cocky about the races being cat 4/5 either, they are still plenty fast. Our cat 4/5 race usually averages like 24mph, which is pretty high considering how much we slow down for turns.

I would just wait and get the proper bike. If you want to do the whole roadie thing, you can do it on a SS. My friends and I have all done pretty fast group rides on our FG/SS bikes, but racing is different. It costs money and it's called a race for a reason...there's not really much of a point in showing up if you know you're gonna fall off the back, IMO.
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Old 06-04-10, 09:01 AM   #3
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Yeah, that's what I figured. On the one hand I want to try it out, but on the other hand looking like a fool doesn't appeal to me either. Would you say the same thing applies for time trials? I can actually use my fixed gear in that and I could probably get up to 24mph for a 20km TT coming up in July.

I should just shell out for an entry level road bike and try it out. Even if I don't like racing, its not like I won't get use out of it.
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Old 06-04-10, 09:06 AM   #4
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I'm not sure about TTs b/c I've never ridden one, but I do know a few friends who do triathlons on their FG bikes (one of my riding buddies got 3rd in his age group on a pista). Anyways, I think TTs are kind of similar to the bike portion of a triathlon, so that might be a better option. At least those are mainly flat and you're not riding in a tight pack that forces you to brake and accelerate suddenly.

Crit racing is fun as hell (dangerous, but fun). I would recommend pursuing it whenever you do get the proper bike. I would say borrow one from a friend, but there is a chance you will lay it down, and it would suck to have to buy someone a new Cervelo/Scott/Orbea frame or w/e.
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Old 06-04-10, 09:08 AM   #5
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The problem with a single speed is that you can really only comfortably cover about a 15 mph range from fastest sprint to slowest mash with your gearing. You get to pick whether you mash on the hills or start bouncing on the sprints and downhills.

Last edited by Dan The Man; 06-04-10 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 06-04-10, 09:09 AM   #6
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I would not want to be stuck in one gear for these. There is a big accordion effect in Cat 5 and shifting correctly can help you avoid burning up from surge after surge on every corner.
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Old 06-04-10, 09:11 AM   #7
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The problem with a single speed is that you can really only comfortably cover about a 15 mph range with your gearing. You get to pick whether you mash on the hills or start bouncing on the sprints and downhills.
He's talking bout crits, there are no hills. It sounds like you're thinking of fixed gear, and your poor experience with it.

Last edited by hairnet; 06-04-10 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 06-04-10, 09:52 AM   #8
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He's talking bout crits, there are no hills. It sounds like you're thinking of fixed gear, and your poor experience with it.
Our courses have some hills. Not big or anything, but some steep, quick little sprint hills. I guess that's not typical, though.
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Old 06-04-10, 10:10 AM   #9
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The issue is not just hills or sharp turns with slowing down and speeding up, but also wind. There is a Wednesday nite training crit where I live that is held on a flat course with no sharp turns, that is basically run at full speed throughout the course with no braking. However, on the headwind side of the course we rarely get over 20 mph, but on the tailwind side we can exceed 40 mph. So, again, having just one gear would be a severe disadvantage. The same would apply to TT's.
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Old 06-04-10, 10:45 AM   #10
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Thanks for the replies. Considering its June, I should probably just start training on my fixed gear, buy a road bike over the winter and consider racing next season. I am just left unfulfilled with my commuting and the minimal amounts of alleycats that go on in Milwaukee. Not to mention I am now married and in Grad school so its hard for me to hang out with all the young hipster fixie kids and drink PBR to 2am every morning--not that I DON'T do that...from time to time
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Old 06-04-10, 11:27 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Vinylisbest View Post
Yeah, that's what I figured. On the one hand I want to try it out, but on the other hand looking like a fool doesn't appeal to me either. Would you say the same thing applies for time trials? I can actually use my fixed gear in that and I could probably get up to 24mph for a 20km TT coming up in July.
Here is a link to a local TT's course records.

http://nebc.us/cbtt/course-records/

You can see that the fg/ss are slower then a full out tt bke, but if it is in a specific category then that is where you would be grouped. The difference in records is about 1.5 mph slower Aero and about 1/4 mph faster in non-aero.

Go have fun!
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Old 06-05-10, 11:55 PM   #12
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The issue is not just hills or sharp turns with slowing down and speeding up, but also wind. There is a Wednesday nite training crit where I live that is held on a flat course with no sharp turns, that is basically run at full speed throughout the course with no braking. However, on the headwind side of the course we rarely get over 20 mph, but on the tailwind side we can exceed 40 mph. So, again, having just one gear would be a severe disadvantage. The same would apply to TT's.
This.

One could assume that SS/FG would work better for TT's, but really only in the most ideal settings (flat, no wind). The point to riding a TT strategically isn't to maintain a specific speed (which is mindless on SS/FG), but a specific power level (which is almost impossible on SS/FG). You would get crushed riding into the wind, and on the way back, there would be almost no way of taking advantage of the tailwind. Same applies to grades.

If you want to race, stick to the track.
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Old 07-31-12, 07:52 PM   #13
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I've been curious about the same thing, so it's good to find this thread. Pending my purchase of a proper (used) road bike, however, I'm curious about gearing generally. For instance, on a flat course, assuming that winds aren't as severe as TT describes above, do you ever come off the big ring?
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Old 08-01-12, 02:36 PM   #14
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TIM MITCHELL IS A BEAST I rode the "ride to clouds" with him and few other 2 winters ago thread hijack soryy

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Here is a link to a local TT's course records.

http://nebc.us/cbtt/course-records/

You can see that the fg/ss are slower then a full out tt bke, but if it is in a specific category then that is where you would be grouped. The difference in records is about 1.5 mph slower Aero and about 1/4 mph faster in non-aero.

Go have fun!
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Old 08-01-12, 02:38 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by rudypyatt View Post
I've been curious about the same thing, so it's good to find this thread. Pending my purchase of a proper (used) road bike, however, I'm curious about gearing generally. For instance, on a flat course, assuming that winds aren't as severe as TT describes above, do you ever come off the big ring?
Depends on the course. for a flatish crit you'd be lucky to need anything more than 11-21 straight block cassette and your 53T
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Old 08-01-12, 03:41 PM   #16
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There's a couple guys that do crits locally in my area and they do fine on ss. You have to ride differently, of course, but it can be done and you can do well. You just have to find the right gearing and just like everyone else, train a lot.
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Old 08-01-12, 04:18 PM   #17
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Aren't there SS/Fixed divisions for crits now?
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Old 08-01-12, 04:32 PM   #18
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Depends on the course. for a flatish crit you'd be lucky to need anything more than 11-21 straight block cassette and your 53T

So you will only need a 66-126 gear inch range?

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Old 08-01-12, 04:40 PM   #19
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Aren't there SS/Fixed divisions for crits now?
Sanctioned by USAC? I think it's becoming much more popular for unsanctioned street races but I can't find/haven't seen anything about any USAC santioned fixed road racing.
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Old 08-01-12, 04:45 PM   #20
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Sanctioned by USAC? I think it's becoming much more popular for unsanctioned street races but I can't find/haven't seen anything about any USAC santioned fixed road racing.
I dunno. Hahaha

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Old 08-01-12, 04:45 PM   #21
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There are few races around here I could probably do with a single speed, but only to hang with the group. I don't know if I'd be able to place well, though. It certainly would be a good test of bikemanship, though.
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Old 08-01-12, 04:48 PM   #22
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There is no rule against racing USCF crits with a ss. People do it, as well as my local training ride where we hit 30+mph.
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Old 08-01-12, 05:19 PM   #23
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there are some regular crit series in socal that are totally ss-able. there was some wolfpack hustle young gun out there in the 4/5s this year and he seemed to do just fine, i.e. he wasn't getting dropped.

i say pick a gear that is commonly used in mass-start track racing (like 50-15) or something slightly lower and do it!
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Old 08-01-12, 06:12 PM   #24
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Can/has been done.

As Caloso said, it would take one hell of a rider to pull it off effectively, though.

If you're trying to break into racing, save up for a decent road bike and go that route. You will probably have a much better time - stack the deck in your favor, not against it

Or just give it a try and report back!
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