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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 07-19-10, 11:00 AM   #1
mommus
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Hills

What's the steepest hill you can tackle on your single-speed? I'm (still) working on a design for a SS folding commuter bike, so have been riding my Rockhopper, with road tyres, in one gear to work and back. It's about 6 miles each way, fairly hilly and have been doing it for about 6 months.

I've found that any crank speed that allows decent progress on the flat or down hills causes me to slow to a painful walking pace on anything much steeper than about 1 in 10. I've come up with a ratio that I think gives the best of both worlds (i've forgotten exactly what that is, will post it later) but I still have to freewheel down most hills and accept a lower speed on the flat.

A road, when tackled near the end of my commute is about 1 in 6 and I almost have to get off and push. How often do you other guys get off and push? or do you just avoid steeper inclines?

I am a convert to singles though. It is reassuring knowing what to expect every time you pull away from lights and not have to arse about with changing gear needlessly through dozens of speeds. I also think it allows your body to become used to employing one spread of effort/torque
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Old 07-19-10, 11:17 AM   #2
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Depends how long it is. I have done a 100 metre %11 grade with 81 gear inches. I wasn't happy.

In all honesty, a %7 grade is about what I could sustain.
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Old 07-19-10, 11:20 AM   #3
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would you find a different route? or bite the bullet and get off and push?
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Old 07-19-10, 11:24 AM   #4
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I ride with road shoes. I don't walk much on my bike. I just sweat it and crank up it.

There are hills in my neighbourhood that are insane. You know the type where you are at the top, can see the bottom but not HOW to get there? Yes, I find a creative way to lengthen the grade. Heck my city has even entertained the idea of a bicycle escalator the hills are so crazy.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-col...bike-lift.html

And I am an irresponsible person who often rides brakeless. I find creative ways to go DOWN these hills as well.
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Old 07-19-10, 11:25 AM   #5
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Usually only push if there is too much snow for my studded tires to get a good bite... Got a nice 10% grade for 4 blocks on one of my routes home, I avoid that way on the track bike (48x16), but can make it up with a bit of work on my grocery getter/beater/winter bike running 38/16.
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Old 07-19-10, 11:25 AM   #6
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I wish I knew of an accurate way to measure grades without dragging a tool (which I don't have) along on rides.

If I believe what mapmyride tells me, I routinely ascend 20% grades with ease.
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Old 07-19-10, 11:35 AM   #7
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If I believe what mapmyride tells me....
Don't. I tried calculating grade with it once and it was so stupidly off. Most single ratio cyclists walk anything steeper than %11 unless they have sub 50 gear inches.
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Old 07-19-10, 11:36 AM   #8
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I ride with road shoes. I don't walk much on my bike. I just sweat it and crank up it.

There are hills in my neighbourhood that are insane. You know the type where you are at the top, can see the bottom but not HOW to get there? Yes, I find a creative way to lengthen the grade. Heck my city has even entertained the idea of a bicycle escalator the hills are so crazy.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-col...bike-lift.html

And I am an irresponsible person who often rides brakeless. I find creative ways to go DOWN these hills as well.
That lift seems like it may be a little tricky when riding fixed...
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Old 07-19-10, 11:41 AM   #9
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Don't.
I know, I haven't ever lent much credence to ANY online grade counter, and don't intend to start now.

What's frustrating is that I have quite literally never been able to find even a baseline to measure by. If I could find a road with a marked grade and ride up it, at least then I'd know if I was doing something more or less than the "7%" or whatever was marked.

Unfortunately, no such luck.
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Old 07-19-10, 11:46 AM   #10
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so the consensus seems to be 'grit you teeth and pedal'. I can live with that.

I wonder whether you could have variable length crank arms? I mean by maybe just a few cm

I suppose you'd lose too much torque, even on hills.

has that even ever been tried?
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Old 07-19-10, 11:47 AM   #11
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That lift seems like it may be a little tricky when riding fixed...
I'm willing to give it a shot. LOL.
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Old 07-19-10, 11:52 AM   #12
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so the consensus seems to be 'grit you teeth and pedal'. I can live with that.

I wonder whether you could have variable length crank arms? I mean by maybe just a few cm

I suppose you'd lose too much torque, even on hills.

has that even ever been tried?
Yes, and it was decided that a dérailleur was best. While not a true variable length crank arm the old hinged arms did something like that.

However I guess you are after something like this:



Pedal harder?
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Old 07-19-10, 12:38 PM   #13
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I say pedal harder.

I have a 14% incline on my ride to school everyday. After about 8 months, it hasn't gotten any easier. It is pretty short, but then there is a gradual incline once I reach the top. I find this slightly annoying.

Keep it up!
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Old 07-19-10, 12:49 PM   #14
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it usually goes the higher they get, the shorter I can climb them.
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Old 07-19-10, 01:02 PM   #15
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I say pedal harder.

I have a 14% incline on my ride to school everyday. After about 8 months, it hasn't gotten any easier. It is pretty short, but then there is a gradual incline once I reach the top. I find this slightly annoying.

Keep it up!
How do you know it's 14%?
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Old 07-19-10, 01:15 PM   #16
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The %11 grade I mentioned above has a municipal sign that says so. Maybe he does too.
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Old 07-19-10, 01:29 PM   #17
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That would be convenient.
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Old 07-19-10, 02:20 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommus View Post
I wonder whether you could have variable length crank arms? I mean by maybe just a few cm

has that even ever been tried?
There's practically nothing in cycling one could imagine that hasn't been tried in the past, including things that worked really, really well and are still around after more than 100 years.

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Old 07-19-10, 02:22 PM   #19
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How do you know it's 14%?
I used a GPS to measure the altitude at the top and the bottom, then measured the distance between the points, then calculated the slope.
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