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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 11-30-11, 07:50 PM   #1
Chief Brody
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For those of you who also ride bikes with gears

In terms of average speed, how much faster (if any) are you when you ride on your geared bike?

I average a little of 16 mph on my SS (42x18) on my longer rides and was just wondering how much faster (if any) I might be on a geared bike.
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Old 11-30-11, 08:03 PM   #2
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You're using a very low gear, so you will undoubtedly be faster with gears. Others with more all-around gears on their SS/FG bikes may be a little faster to a lot faster or not at all faster - kinda depends how and where you ride. Although, average speed isn't very useful, gears will make it easier to achieve the same average speed.
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Old 11-30-11, 08:10 PM   #3
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I should have mentioned that this is my SS CX bike. The ratio is pretty good for the CX rides/races around here, but obviously not ideal for the street.
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Old 11-30-11, 08:21 PM   #4
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If you are coming from riding a CX bike on the road you should be looking to get a road oriented SS or geared bike (or possibly another wheelset with 23-28mm tires_ if you want to increase your average speed on longer road rides. When I compare my road oriented ss and geared bikes I don't notice any meaningful difference in average speed.

Last edited by Charlie_Zulu; 11-30-11 at 08:21 PM. Reason: extra info
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Old 11-30-11, 08:48 PM   #5
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When I compare my road oriented ss and geared bikes I don't notice any meaningful difference in average speed.
All things equal, you suspect that I would not see any increase? I understand that there are things I can do to make my SS CX more road capable, but I was just curious what gain in mph there might be with gears.
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Old 11-30-11, 09:20 PM   #6
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Lately I've been switching back and forth between my SS and my geared roadie. My SS is geared 46x16. Both have 700x23's.

I've been logging my rides for the last 2 1/2 months. You may find it interesting that my average speed is about the same with both bikes. Some of my higher averages have been with the SS. The loops I typically ride range from 12-24 miles.

The big differences I see are, with gears I can attain higher momentary (a few seconds to a few minutes) speeds on flats and/or with tail winds. I'm working on my spinning and I can do 120 rpms for short bursts without bouncing all over the place. If I could improvement on that, there is my opportunity for increasing speed on flats. On downhills, once a grade reaches a certain pitch I stop pedaling and tuck in to reach 35-40 mph or more, so gears don't help me there.

I may try my SS on a 30 mile group ride this weekend, one where everybody uses gears. It will be an interesting experiment, but I think I can keep up as well as I would with my geared bike. We'll see...
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Old 11-30-11, 09:23 PM   #7
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Not taking into account hills/wind/etc you have the following:

With a 42x18 gear ratio you are developing about 61 gear inches of travel (very low), @ 88rpm avg you would get your 16mph avg (since this is an average, I take it you spin much faster than that at times)

Typically, my workhorse gear is a 50x16 @ 82 gear inches of travel. At 88rpm (what seems to be your average) that's 21mph avg.

Of course that is pretty unsustainable over long distances. So far, my fastest solo average over a 40mi, almost entirely flat section, is 19.8mph.

Anyway, there are WAY TOO many factors that affect your average speed to use it as a valid basis for comparison. That being said the fact is a) you are using a pretty small gear ratio b) you would spin out before being able to reach the upper-end speeds you could achieve with gears.
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Old 11-30-11, 09:29 PM   #8
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Lately I've been switching back and forth between my SS and my geared roadie. My SS is geared 46x16. Both have 700x23's.

...that my average speed is about the same with both bikes.
I bolded the important part and wanted to add that my FG bike was a 42x14 and I was perfectly capable of hanging with my roadie buddies on that 40mi commute. Averages in the 17.5-18.5mph range depending on the pace of the different groups. If you get anywhere between 75 (a little spinny at 20+)->85gi (approaching too big if you have any hills/lots of stops) you shouldn't notice a big difference except on downhill sections.
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Old 11-30-11, 09:39 PM   #9
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For distance riding I don't normally notice a real difference (not that I'm really looking for it). I wonder if that is because the gearing I select is probably close to the average gearing I use on a multi-speed bike.

Thart being said, my fastest century was on a fixed gear though, but it was also by far the flattest course I've ridden.
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Old 11-30-11, 09:44 PM   #10
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......Averages in the 17.5-18.5mph range depending on the pace of the different groups. If you get anywhere between 75 (a little spinny at 20+)->85gi (approaching too big if you have any hills/lots of stops) you shouldn't notice a big difference except on downhill sections.
Last week with that same group I, with gears, averaged 18.0 over 34 miles. Definitely hilly at times (described as rolling/hilly), but no serious climbing. With my SS, I think I'm @ a little over 75 GI, which seems just about right for what I do. I'm definitely spinning a bit over 20 mph, but hills would get sketchy if I was geared any higher.
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Old 11-30-11, 10:45 PM   #11
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You're using a very low gear, so you will undoubtedly be faster with gears. Others with more all-around gears on their SS/FG bikes may be a little faster to a lot faster or not at all faster - kinda depends how and where you ride. Although, average speed isn't very useful, gears will make it easier to achieve the same average speed.
Tons of good replies here but I think this sums it up nicely.
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Old 11-30-11, 11:55 PM   #12
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I ride faster with my FG than I do on my geared bike. I think it's because I have to mash up hills as quickly as possible to avoid stalling out (with a geared bike I just put it in a lower gear and spin out, but it takes longer to get up the hill).
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 12-01-11, 12:02 AM   #13
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well that's a fault of your own and not the equipment you employed.

I'm not saying your part of this camp, but too many people fail to realize that your equipment is independent of your effort. Lots of people in the 41 fall in to this camp.

You know, the kind of people that think climbing on a heavier bike will make you stronger.
That's some bull****.

You want to know what makes you stronger? Riding your bike hard. Your speed will be dictated (in a very small part) by your equipment, among other things ofc.
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Old 12-01-11, 12:17 AM   #14
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My FG is lighter, quicker to accelerate, and handles a lot tighter so it feels faster while riding in traffic. But when I get on my road bike, hit the long straightaways, and shift up to the top gears.... It's like flying.
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Old 12-01-11, 12:27 AM   #15
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the real question is

how much faster are you on a bike with brakes?
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Old 12-01-11, 01:46 AM   #16
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+1

When I tried brakeless I pretty much didnt go over 15 if I could help it and crawled down hills. I felt confident but I did not have the nerve to go fast at all
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Old 12-01-11, 04:15 AM   #17
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In Vancouver (hilly city) if I want to do a + 5 km trip I take my roadie. It's significantly faster and tires me out less due to hills.

For short distances, though, my fixie is faster. Also, it's fun.
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Old 12-01-11, 07:08 AM   #18
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So let me ask another question. I think the smallest freewheel that I have found is 16t. Based on help from Sheldon, that will increase my GI from 63.4 to 71.3. Since freewheels are relatively cheap, and I'm poor, this is probably something I could change.

My typical ride is about 30 miles and it is lumpy; some flats, some rolling hills, no major climbs. I’ve been riding since August, and I feel pretty good on these rides. Is going from 63.4 to 71.3 doable? Should I go to a 17t freewheel first?
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Old 12-01-11, 07:15 AM   #19
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this is all up to you, your riding style, routes and body, no one can really answer that, except maybe the people you actually ride with.

that said, SS chainrings are also pretty cheap, which is another easy way to change the GI you're using. Also - depending on what type of rear wheel you have, if it's a flip-flop hub, you can maybe get a 16t and 17t cog for either side, and switch as the conditions dictate. (or any other combination your chain length will accommodate.
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Old 12-01-11, 07:49 AM   #20
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Also, why are you changing you gear? Are you spinning out too much down those "lumps" and having a relatively easy time ascending them?
If so, maybe gear up, 1t in the rear at at time (if you can afford to).

Don't fall into some machismo mode up gearing up just because you can. Cycling shouldn't be a penis measuring contest.
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Old 12-01-11, 08:56 AM   #21
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I do tend to spin out on the longer flat sections and on most descents. As for the ascents, I can maintain a pretty good pace up most of the ones that I have tried. I do think I am at the point where I can swith to a different ratio. I'm just not sure what the recommended approach is.
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Old 12-01-11, 08:57 AM   #22
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BTW, I measure my junk with a ruler.
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Old 12-01-11, 09:13 AM   #23
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well that's a fault of your own and not the equipment you employed.

I'm not saying your part of this camp, but too many people fail to realize that your equipment is independent of your effort. Lots of people in the 41 fall in to this camp.

You know, the kind of people that think climbing on a heavier bike will make you stronger.
That's some bull****.

You want to know what makes you stronger? Riding your bike hard. Your speed will be dictated (in a very small part) by your equipment, among other things ofc.
No ****, Sherlock. I never said I was dissatisfied with my speed or wanted to make myself stronger.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 12-01-11, 09:19 AM   #24
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So let me ask another question. I think the smallest freewheel that I have found is 16t. Based on help from Sheldon, that will increase my GI from 63.4 to 71.3. Since freewheels are relatively cheap, and I'm poor, this is probably something I could change.

My typical ride is about 30 miles and it is lumpy; some flats, some rolling hills, no major climbs. I’ve been riding since August, and I feel pretty good on these rides. Is going from 63.4 to 71.3 doable? Should I go to a 17t freewheel first?
~70 gear inches is what I run, similar terrain I think. I bet you'll be fine.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 12-01-11, 09:21 AM   #25
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No ****, Sherlock. I never said I was dissatisfied with my speed or wanted to make myself stronger.
ok.

I just thought your post was a good example for me to illustrate something that I find to be an interesting topic: the disparty between bike equipment, performance and effort.

I apologize if I didn't make my disclaimer more clear: "I'm not saying that you fall into this camp..."
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