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  1. #1
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    Single Speed and Old Man Winter

    While I'm contemplating the build of my new winter bike I keep flip flopping between a SingleSpeed drivetrain or using a geared. I'd love SS because of the simplicity of it, but am not sure about how well it'll handle in the windy winter of Michigan. Anyone from around these parts like to drop a line? It seems I'd need a high ass gear to power thru the wind. Does anyone else here use a SS setup for winter?
    Last edited by CrosseyedCrickt; 09-23-06 at 08:16 PM.

  2. #2
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    I find I need gears more in the winter.

    Not everyone here agrees.

  3. #3
    Senior Member divineAndbright's Avatar
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    I single speed in winter.. then again, I singlespeed all the time pretty much, I also live in sudbury ontario, a lotta snow.

    Its not the easiest if you're riding through thick snow, during say a storm on roads that havent been cleared yet, but you typically only get 1-4 of those a winter season, the rest is a walk in the park.

    Last year I rode 46X18 usually, no problemo.

  4. #4
    King of the Hipsters
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    For most of the year I ride a fixed gear bike, and prefer it to a geared bike by a huge margin.

    During the ice and snow parts of the year, I ride a geared hybrid with aggressive studded tires.
    The gears have caused me the most trouble when they freeze up or get clogged up with frozen snow and ice; and then the brakes.
    I would prefer a fixed gear ice bike because in a pinch I can use my legs as a brake, and no gears to freeze up.
    I must say, though, that when the snow ruts up and freezes, I like having a much lower gear than I would want to ride fixed.
    I think about this all the time.
    I might yet build a fixed gear ice bike for the very, very worst days.
    Nothing compares to a fixed gear bike for control, balance and precision; not to mention reliability.
    I see no advantage to a single-speed.
    If you can handle a single-speed, go fixed and you will like it much better.

  5. #5
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    Fixed gear year round here in snowy NE Ohio. I run a couple gear lower with studded tires during the snowy season. The winter winds can really make a difference so I find it better to gear a little lower and deal with a lower top speed in good weather or tail winds. If you really like your gears a hub gear should be nearly as reliable as a SS. Still I'm a fan a fixed gear in all conditions.
    Craig

  6. #6
    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    I run fixed in summer, geared in winter. I have a wide margin between bike paths which are occasionally plowed, roads which are plowed, and bike paths which are groomed for X-country skiing (and never plowed). I personally like to be able to adjust my cadence up for the icy, snowy, ruts. Its just me.
    "Where you come from is gone;
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    and where you are ain't no good unless you can get away from it."

  7. #7
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    How about an internal geared hub? Some of the ease of maintnance of a SS with a few gear choices.

  8. #8
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    35x16 SS MTB last winter. Just gear it low and don't be in a hurry. I'm thinking of gearing it a little lower (50 gear inches) this year because I have a second SS with fenders now. I think I'll go with one high geared bike for nice days and one low geared bike for bad weather days.

  9. #9
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    i live in metro detroit and i prefer my singlespeed for winter use. i really like the simplicity of commuting on a singlespeed all the time though. i kind of feel bad when i take the road bike out with all the salt we've got here in detroit, you know? getting all that gunk in the derailleurs cant be good. but i threw together a cheap single speed from a thrift store schwinn and rock it out all winter. i run 68 gear inches btw.

  10. #10
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    The single speed is by far less of a maintenence problem in winter. But I think the best compromise is a geared internal hub with three or five speeds. This is also a reasonable price especially if you can learn to lace your own wheel.

  11. #11
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    I live in Manitoba,Canada where at times it gets to -30 and colder plus we often get strong winds. What I did with my singlespeed was add a second smaller front ring up front and I don't use a deraileur for it. To go down to the smaller ring I just use the tip of my shoe to guide the chain down when I am going into a strong wind and it's cold so that nothing spins easily. when I want to move up to the bigger front ring I just bend down and use use my hand to guide it up. This worked well for me and I don't have any deraileur problems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BirdsHillBiker
    I live in Manitoba,Canada where at times it gets to -30 and colder plus we often get strong winds. What I did with my singlespeed was add a second smaller front ring up front and I don't use a deraileur for it. To go down to the smaller ring I just use the tip of my shoe to guide the chain down when I am going into a strong wind and it's cold so that nothing spins easily. when I want to move up to the bigger front ring I just bend down and use use my hand to guide it up. This worked well for me and I don't have any deraileur problems.
    Do you have a chain tensioner? If not, what is the difference in the front ring sizes? Have you had problems due to slack chain on the smaller ring?
    My advice is free of charge and of respective quality.
    1982 Miyata 912
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
    I find I need gears more in the winter.

    Not everyone here agrees.

    I agree.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by j3ns
    Do you have a chain tensioner? If not, what is the difference in the front ring sizes? Have you had problems due to slack chain on the smaller ring?
    I use a chain tensioner, its just an old rear deraileur and it works great in the winter, I also really appreciate the smaller front ring on really cold windy days.

  15. #15
    Live Deliberately. davidmcowan's Avatar
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    Has ILTB gone on vacation or something?

  16. #16
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    If by single speed you mean an old clunker bike, then I salute you and agree you are on the right track for winter bicycling.

    Old single speed bikes are good for a couple of reasons:

    First, they have coaster brakes which are more reliable than caliper brakes which can get covered with ice.

    Second, they have wide tires = 1.75" or wider which is more stable on snow and ice.

    Third, the upright position is better for control when you hit ice patches.
    Mike

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