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What Gear to Simulate the Single-Speed Experience?

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What Gear to Simulate the Single-Speed Experience?

Old 10-03-08, 02:40 PM
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TromboneAl
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What Gear to Simulate the Single-Speed Experience?

If I wanted to see what it would be like to ride a SS bike, what gearing might I choose (in, for example, gear inches)?
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Old 10-03-08, 02:44 PM
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70" is a good start
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Old 10-03-08, 02:46 PM
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I think you are looking at it backwards. I chose a gear for my SS by deciding which of my multiple speeds I thought would work best. FWIW, I went with 71 gear inches.
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Old 10-03-08, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
If I wanted to see what it would be like to ride a SS bike, what gearing might I choose (in, for example, gear inches)?
It'll be a rough simulation, though, because SS/Fixed are more efficient than derailleurs. The same gear inches will different on ss/fg than on a geared bike.

Still worth a try -- you'll get a sense of what it's like to not have to think about shifting, and what its like to try different elevations with the same gearing.
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Old 10-03-08, 04:17 PM
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Actually, there is no single established gear ratio. You can choose from a variety of different setups on a SS.

So what you could actually do is to take rides in a single gear, take another ride in different gear, and see if one of them floats your boat.

Beach cruisers and recreational SS are usually geared lower, around 50"-55". I know a guy who rides his fixie at 80" (52 front, 17 rear).
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Old 10-03-08, 11:45 PM
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I borrowed a geared bike from my prospective father-in-law (hi Cadillac) and rode it as an SS on our wedding century in August. I had ridden the bike a fair distance beforehand working through the gears until I struck on one that felt comfortable and similar to the one I used on my FG at home. The hills in the Jasper area and along the Icefields Parkway aren't particularly onerous, and I got through the century in comfort and in great condition for the ceremony.

I'd suggest that you ride your bike and find the gear that allows you to ride at a comfortable cadence on the flats yet low enough to allow you to ride up the hills in your area without having to get off and walk or become overly stressed.

FWIW, I ride with 61gi on my FG. If you are at all concerned about your knees or ability to get up hills, I would opt for the lower gearing rather than something in the 70" range. As Tom states, you can change the freewheel (or sprocket if you are adapting a freehub), or the front chainring as you "grow out" of your initial gearing.
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Old 10-04-08, 03:07 AM
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During the past couple of months, I've been looking at what gears I really use the most on my 1x9; with the thought that I would build up a winter bike with one most used ratio. Found myself most often in the combinations that are 36 and 63 gear in. So I was going to set up a single speed with 63, then i realized 63/36 is 1.75, almost identical to the range of a 3 speed hub. For winter riding, think I'm going to build up a Surly 1x1 frame with a three speed hub and studded tires.
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Old 10-05-08, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by makeitwork View Post
It'll be a rough simulation, though, because SS/Fixed are more efficient than derailleurs. ...
A roller chain transmission is something like 98% efficient, and the addition of the jockey and idler pulleys makes very little difference, unless one is radically cross-chained. One can perhaps push a stiffer gear with a fixed than with a freewheel, but single speed freewheel ratios should feel just about the same as their derailleur cousins. Single speed freewheel is a pointless concept, giving you all the disbenefits of fixed gear, without any of the alleged benefits.
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Old 10-05-08, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
Single speed freewheel is a pointless concept, giving you all the disbenefits of fixed gear, without any of the alleged benefits.
I don't buy that oft repeated line. Both are fun. Both are simpler and lighter than a multiple geared bike with derailleurs. Both force you to adjust your riding style and thinking to the fact that you have no gears. The fixed gear adds another dimension by not allowing coasting.
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Old 10-05-08, 09:10 PM
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I must confess that while my fixed gear bike wears a freewheel on the 'off side', it's never been used - I should take the thing off and save some weight.

Have a look at the bike you're planning to convert and work out what sized chainring you'll probably use. Then on your geared bike, use that chainring only and try to resist the urge to change gears. That'll get youy somewhere in the same planet.

The thing about fixed gearing (and I suspect it's the same with SS), is that the gear that is great for running on the flats is too high for starting and stopping and going up hills and going down hills and for when you're tired and for when you're feeling hyperstrong and for when ... You'll never simulate that with a geared bike because you need to cover insane distances to fit it all in and the human brain will always reach for the easy option, which is to change gears. You can't simulate an inability because when you're 10 miles from home and the legs are burning and some mongrel has just tilted the world upwards on you, you WILL change into a lower gear.

For what it's worth, my fixed gear bike (the Europa in my avatar) wears 42x16. She works in traffic, on the flat an in fairly hilly country (but relatively short hills). I've started with less, got used to it (which is essential for learning how to use your legs for braking, something you can't do with a freewheel of course), went higher and at some point, came back a bit. Track cogs are cheap and easy to change around so experimentation is the way to go. I haven't priced bmx freewheels in a long time so you may find the cost inhibits experimentation.

Richard
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Old 10-05-08, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
I don't buy that oft repeated line. Both are fun. Both are simpler and lighter than a multiple geared bike with derailleurs. Both force you to adjust your riding style and thinking to the fact that you have no gears. The fixed gear adds another dimension by not allowing coasting.
Almost right. The fixed gear adds another dimension by allowing you to control your speed using your legs. That's more subtle and effective than skids and more global than just stopping. Once you learn the knack, you will find yourself having more control over your speed than if you have to reach for brakes.

The not coasting bit is just ... another something. To be honest, you don't really miss it until you climb back on a bike with a freewheel and barrel into an intersection too quickly because 'the bike's broken'.

Richard
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Old 10-07-08, 10:49 PM
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my gear

I ride a 65 inch gear on my freewheeling single speed although I have a second gear that is 50 inches for steeper climbing routes or headwinds. I use a two speed White Industries freewheel (16-19T) and two chain rings up front (36x39T). These are three teeth apart so I have no problems with chain tension in the horizontal dropouts so no need for any idler wheels or whatever. I like my 'Double D' geared bike. see www.Cyclofiend.com under the single speed section and look at the latest version of the bike.
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Old 10-08-08, 12:28 AM
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I started riding track in the early 70's. My first coach was an ex-pro 6-day racer. The first thing he taught us about riding fixed gears was to NEVER, ever use your legs to slow down the bike. "It's bad for the legs."

When you ride on the track, you quickly learn who the good riders are. They NEVER, ever slow down by applying back pressure on the pedals. They slow down by "floating" the pedals and making a slight turn to the right (uptrack). You can get really, really close to their rear wheel because their speed control is so smooth. Guys who apply back pressure tend to be very "jerky" and it's difficult to ride behind them. These are always beginners or guys who don't know what they're doing. When you get to be good, you never need to use a lockring to hold on the cog. (Lockrings are more dangerous than they're worth, anyway).

On the road, you use your brakes to slow down. You can exert some non-braking control by floating, but real backpressure is only used in an emergency or when riding on ice in the winter.

66" is a good place to start with the gearing on the road. I've known people to use up to 74". I use 70"; Vancouver is somewhat hilly. As a comparison, on the track you are using gearing between about 86" to 95", with around an 80" gear to warm up. I typically run a 14 cog on my pure track bike. My warmup wheel has a 16 cog, and I carry chainrings with 46, 47, 48, and 49 teeth. For madisons, I'll use 46x14, points races 47 or 48x14, for keirins 49x14. I'll put on the chainring I'll be racing on, and warm up with the 16-tooth wheel. A good rule of thumb is that a 1-tooth difference in back is equivalent to about three teeth in front. In other words, if you want an 88" gear, you can use 46x14, 49x15, or 52x16.

L.
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Old 10-08-08, 04:06 PM
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I use a 75" gear on my fixed gear bike, AKA 42t x 15t.

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Old 10-08-08, 07:38 PM
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TromboneAl, you've got to be a fitter cyclist than I. I was out riding today, trying different gears & thinking of this. I decided that, wimp that I am, that if I had a 42t crank, that the smallest cog that I would even consider would be a 20t (56"). Any smaller than that and I would be walking up a lot of slopes.
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Old 10-08-08, 10:48 PM
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a freewheelin SS - just pick whatever gear you think you can ride over all the terrain you expect encounter.

a fixed gear - there really is little comparison. riding a fixed in any gear is way different from any freewheel setup.

that said, my opinion, fixies don;t belong on anything which isn't a closed riding environment - if it was only about the rider, I'd say fine, knock yourself out. But its also about what they're gonna be hittin.
I've seen a number of very close calls of fixie riders on the bike paths almost takin out kids.
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Old 10-08-08, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclezen View Post
that said, my opinion, fixies don;t belong on anything which isn't a closed riding environment - if it was only about the rider, I'd say fine, knock yourself out. But its also about what they're gonna be hittin.
You need to qualify that because as it stands, it's a stupid statement and one that could be made of any bicycle.

A fixie with brakes and a sensible riding position has more control than anything else on the streets and is safer than some of the extreme riding positions I've seen on geared bikes.

Richard
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Old 10-09-08, 12:17 AM
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Agreed that it is an utterly stupid statement. Fixed gear does NOT mean track bike. It also does NOT mean hipster and irresponsible.

What is does mean simply is a bike that has one gear and no freewheel effect. Nothing else.

I have yet to have any sort of incident on my fixed-gear bikes in more than 6,000km of riding.
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Old 10-09-08, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by rowan View Post
agreed that it is an utterly stupid statement. Fixed gear does not mean track bike. It also does not mean hipster and irresponsible.

What is does mean simply is a bike that has one gear and no freewheel effect. Nothing else.

I have yet to have any sort of incident on my fixed-gear bikes in more than 6,000km of riding.

+1
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Old 10-09-08, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by europa View Post
you need to qualify that because as it stands, it's a stupid statement and one that could be made of any bicycle.

A fixie with brakes and a sensible riding position has more control than anything else on the streets and is safer than some of the extreme riding positions i've seen on geared bikes.

Richard
+1
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Old 10-11-08, 06:48 PM
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My single speed Schwinn middleweight from the 60's is 66.4 gear inches.

Roughly equivalent to 6th or 7th gear using the middle chainring on a Trek Navigator, 28/38/48 chainring.
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