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New Commuter: Bill hill, Single Speed, Bars? Gear Ratio?

Old 08-01-11, 06:53 PM
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New Commuter: Big Hill, Single Speed, Bars? Gear Ratio?

Hey guys, need your help. Im probably considered new, but have been lurking for a bit now.

Im converting a Peugeot into a single speed (well, did) and now due to a close new job, im making it a commuter, a SS commuter. I have an amazing 4.4 mile downhill to work, starts steep, ends gradual, maybe 3 or 4 lights between me and work.

on my way home, just the oposite. Its a single speed, I dont know the ratio right now, but ill add it in a day or two whenever i get to it, its going to be too tall though. any ideas? the last hill home is maybe a mile long, pretty steep, my app on my android while driving it said its a 7% grade at its steepest.



then i need new bars. i have the stock bar on her now, im looking for bullhorns
im thinking drop bullhorns, something like this


or this


any suggestions? i kind of want to do this cheap. help is appreciated though!

im also looking for pedals and shoes. I come from a mt bike and more recently a Ducati background, so road is totally new to me. Shoes? casual? road? pedals? egg beater? road?

no clue, i def want clipless though, for the hill home

thanks again!!!!!!!!

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Old 08-01-11, 07:52 PM
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They make these things called "derailleurs" and "cassettes" that make it so you can change gears for things like climbing.

As far as the shoes and pedals are concerned, that depends on a few things. Going on the assumption that you won't be racing this thing at a velodrome or local crit any time soon, I'd recommend getting mtn shoes. They aren't as stiff, have a smaller cleat, and often have tread, so walking small distances in them is much easier. Road shoes are just too stiff and clunky for doing any around town stuff. The clipless pedals I use are the shimano SPD dohickies. I can't remember the item numbers, but they are fairly general, and don't have much float. Hope this helped.
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Old 08-01-11, 08:12 PM
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thanks, i have a mt bike, i just like a challenge. The SS wont be impossible up the hill, just more curious on peoples opinions on handlebars and pedals / cleats. I have been looking at some dual use SPD pedals with only one side clipless so if i decide to ride in town sans shoes, it will be more comfortable.

thanks for your thoughts though. i already feel welcome here.
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Old 08-01-11, 09:10 PM
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I'm making the transition to using a SS as a commuter and using a SS is not as impractical as other forum members might make it sound. I live in the Pacific Northwest area and we have our fair share of hills. I'm currently riding 39/18 which is very, very LOW compaired to what other SS/FG riders are using but it allows me to climb hills with relative ease but I do top out at a much lower speed than I would like, but riding an SS/FG is all about compromise in that regard.

I use drop bars, but bullhorns would be my second choice for a handle bar though. Keep in mind that I've never ridden with true bullhorns before so I can speak from experience, but from my point of view I would want a bar that was completely flat along the long portion that connects to the stem to allow for more hand positions.

I also have those neat Shimano pedals that have two sides for clipless and for normal shoes, they're pretty awesome but I haven't used them in awhile. For typical commuting I'm finding that big platform pedals are my preference.

Good luck in your research, remember the search function is your friend!
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Old 08-01-11, 09:15 PM
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thanks for the reply! i am a member of other motorcycle forums so i know what its like to have newbies not using the search function, ill start using it more. still getting used to navigating here.

ill take a look at flat bullhorns, i like the upright position compared to the drop bars on the bike now, might also make the climb easier.

thanks gain!
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Old 08-01-11, 10:59 PM
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I'm also in the PNW and ride singlespeed on our hills. Just ordered the parts to convert my geared distance bike over to singlespeed, since I've been doing all my riding (including long distance) on the single these days.

I prefer a 42/18 combo for hilly courses and a 44/17 for JRA and commuting. (My commute has a couple of climbs that are 1 - 2 miles long and between 6% and 9% grade.) My SSCX bike has really low gearing, with a 38/18 for dry/flatter courses and I'll throw a 38/20 on for muddy or hilly courses.

I like regular old SPD pedals and MTB shoes for most stuff, but SPD-SL shoes with a stiffer sole for distance (I still use 2-bolt SPD cleats, though).

For your bars, look at the Soma El Toro Urban Pursuit.
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Old 08-01-11, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by DucatiTorrey View Post
thanks, i have a mt bike, i just like a challenge. The SS wont be impossible up the hill, just more curious on peoples opinions on handlebars and pedals / cleats. I have been looking at some dual use SPD pedals with only one side clipless so if i decide to ride in town sans shoes, it will be more comfortable.

thanks for your thoughts though. i already feel welcome here.
I use these on my main commuter bike.


Shimano a530.
They're pretty awesome. Shimano makes another model where the non SPD side is quill instead of platform (that is to say, spiked versus completely flat) which may be better if you get a lot of rain in your parts. My only complaint about these pedals is that if it's raining and you're wearing tennis shoes, then your feet may slip around a little.

As far as bars are concerned, maybe consider a pair of mustaches. I know they aren't for everyone, but I love mine. They offer a drop like position, but are a lot wider so you have tons of leverage, which makes for easy hill climbing. I once suffered a mechanical on a road bike and I couldn't get out of one of my higher gears, but I had those mustache bars and was able to climb much easier to the end of the ride because of the leverage they offered. Are you intent on keeping it fixed, or would you consider single speed? Because if you really want it fixed, but need a ratio that can handle a climb and decent of equal grade, then you're really going to want a brake as well.
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Old 08-02-11, 12:05 AM
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My suggestion is to put the brakes back on.
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Old 08-02-11, 05:20 AM
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yeah, brakes are ordered, and it's already SS, not fixed anymore. Just going down this hill to anywhere in town was terrifying fixed. I have seen the mustache bars, probably nor for me, but i get what your saying.

Those pedals are on my list, depending on how big they are, i may go with them, is the slipping bad? we don't typically get a lot of rain, im on thr front range in colorado, but this summer, 4 pm thunderstorms tend to be the norm.
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Old 08-02-11, 07:10 AM
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I use platform pedals on my fg with half toe clips. I don't see a need for foot retention if you have a freewheel. Brakes front and rear on a freewheel.

I like my bullhorns. More hand positions than flat bars, though I've done rides as long as 75 miles with flat bars. I think you'll appreciate the bullhorns, or drop bars for that matter, on your way back up the hill.

If I were you, I'd gear the bike for the ride up the hill. It is not against the law to walk a bike up a tough portion but I don't know anyone who'd want to do that consistently.

Last edited by scroca; 08-02-11 at 07:36 AM.
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Old 08-02-11, 07:36 AM
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I use flatpedals with toe clips and straps, on both my fixed gear and singlespeed. I like them they work well, and I can wear any type of shoes I want. Riding in hilly terrain on a SS will make you into a mountain goat , you'll be in great shape after a while. As for gear ratio you'll need to experiment untill you find something that works for your style of riding and terrain. Try 42/18 and see how that goes, also remember that spinning is healthier then mashing.
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Old 08-02-11, 10:20 AM
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A lot of good suggestions (though the comment on putting the brakes back on seemed gratuitous to me, nowhere in the OP did it say that any brakes had been removed. Though, yeah, brakes. Please. Front + rear).

I don't think bullhorns will be a big change from your drop bars, but then again I don't totally understand bullhorns - from what I see, all you do with them is lose the drop hand positions, and have to buy new brake levers. But I've never tried them. Mustache bars are something to think about, I got a set for about $15, didn't love them, but it was cheap to try (they fit my road levers fine).

I think flip flop hubs can be super useful. Not that I would necessarily flip to a lower gearing every day, but for those days when it's hot, you have a headwind, your legs are tired, etc, it can be very, very helpful to have a cog/freewheel with a couple more teeth that you can flip the wheel to. I usually run fixed/free with the same gearing on both sides, but the idea is the same - have an option that will take less than a minute to switch to. Have also been thinking about a Surly dingle cog with a double crankset, but that's pretty gratuitous for me, just maybe a fun project.

If you are set on clipless I'm no help, but I run my single speed with MKS touring pedals and power grips - I can wear whatever shoes I want, and they're easier to get into and out of than regular clips and straps.
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Old 08-02-11, 10:28 AM
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With the same ratio , it's easier to climb a hill on a fixed gear than on a single speed.
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Old 08-02-11, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by DucatiTorrey View Post

Those pedals are on my list, depending on how big they are, i may go with them, is the slipping bad? we don't typically get a lot of rain, im on thr front range in colorado, but this summer, 4 pm thunderstorms tend to be the norm.
The slipping is bad enough that if there's even a touch of rain, then I forgo sneakers and just put on my MTN shoes. And they are a bit big, to be honest. I didn't notice because the bike I've got em on also has full racks and fenders, fairly thick tubes, and wide tires. I put em on a road bike with smaller tubing and 700x23s and they looked huge. These may be a better option:

http://www.amazon.com/Shimano-PD-M32...2305398&sr=1-33

They've got better grip, and look less clunky. Just do yourself a favor and don't buy the $20 cheapos from Performance or Nashbar. They're awful.

Originally Posted by threecarjam View Post
A lot of good suggestions (though the comment on putting the brakes back on seemed gratuitous to me, nowhere in the OP did it say that any brakes had been removed. Though, yeah, brakes. Please. Front + rear).
Do you see any brakes in that picture from the OP?
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Old 08-02-11, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by defrag View Post
With the same ratio , it's easier to climb a hill on a fixed gear than on a single speed.
Why is this? It seems like if you keep your freewheel engaged, it is mechanically indistinguishable from a fixed gear. I always assumed flip-flop hubs with a taller fixed ratio were set up that way to make descents more tolerable when fixed.

I could see how a fixed gear would make you a stronger rider which would in turn make hills easier at a given ratio.

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Old 08-02-11, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by junkyardking View Post

Do you see any brakes in that picture from the OP?
I don't think that is the OP's bike, that was an example of the bullhorns he wants.

Though it does sound like he had no brakes when he was running fixed.
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Old 08-02-11, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by mikeinroch View Post
Why is this? It seems like if you keep your freewheel engaged, it is mechanically indistinguishable from a fixed gear. I always assumed flip-flop hubs with a taller fixed ratio were set up that way to make descents more tolerable when fixed.

I could see how a fixed gear would make you a stronger rider which would in turn make hills easier at a given ratio.
Fixed gear eliminate dead spots since low pedal carries itself back around to the top.
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Old 08-02-11, 07:15 PM
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I do like the idea of a flip flop SS, just diff gearing on either side, right now its FG flipped to a SS


Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I use flatpedals with toe clips and straps, on both my fixed gear and singlespeed. I like them they work well, and I can wear any type of shoes I want. Riding in hilly terrain on a SS will make you into a mountain goat , you'll be in great shape after a while. As for gear ratio you'll need to experiment untill you find something that works for your style of riding and terrain. Try 42/18 and see how that goes, also remember that spinning is healthier then mashing.

sweet thats something to think about, thanks

Originally Posted by scroca View Post
I use platform pedals on my fg with half toe clips. I don't see a need for foot retention if you have a freewheel. Brakes front and rear on a freewheel.

I like my bullhorns. More hand positions than flat bars, though I've done rides as long as 75 miles with flat bars. I think you'll appreciate the bullhorns, or drop bars for that matter, on your way back up the hill.

If I were you, I'd gear the bike for the ride up the hill. It is not against the law to walk a bike up a tough portion but I don't know anyone who'd want to do that consistently.
yeah, definitely gearing for the uphill, and i do like the idea of the bullhorns, still a little low (im tall) and wide for leverage

Originally Posted by mikeinroch View Post
I don't think that is the OP's bike, that was an example of the bullhorns he wants.

Though it does sound like he had no brakes when he was running fixed.

yeah, no brakes before, but front and rear soon (in the mail)
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Old 08-02-11, 07:16 PM
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I'll post pics of my bike this weekend once the brakes are in. I'm getting pretty excited. The new job is going to be a quick 4.4 mile ride, instead of a pair of 40 mile drives per day


upgrade!
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