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Geared bikes or single speed?

Old 04-19-24, 08:15 AM
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Geared bikes or single speed?

I owned two geared bikes in the past 4 years, and sold the old one (the first one). For my N+1, I'm just thinking, what is the appeal and fun factor of single speed ? I would not get fixie because I like coasting and Love sound of free wheel.

The only thing that is appealing to me about single speed is the Zen factor and only peddling and not changing gears.
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Old 04-19-24, 08:25 AM
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Mr Spock says, “I find that highly illogical”. Place your multi-speed bike in a gear you like and keep it there - problem solved; Zen state realized - unless there is an ego thing about riding a “single speed”. <-Un-Zen.
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Old 04-19-24, 08:32 AM
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The same compulsion has overwhelmed me several times now. Each time it took me a couple rides to realize how stoopid it was for me to have a single speed. I have finally managed to flip the last one a couple months ago. I think that I've finally learned the lesson.
You may want to consider why the prices on them are so low.

Jus sayn
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Old 04-19-24, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Steel Charlie
The same compulsion has overwhelmed me several times now. Each time it took me a couple rides to realize how stoopid it was for me to have a single speed. I have finally managed to flip the last one a couple months ago. I think that I've finally learned the lesson.
You may want to consider why the prices on them are so low.

Jus sayn
So you are saying it is silly ? You prefer geared bikes ?
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Old 04-19-24, 09:06 AM
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Thought about it myself then realized a SS is not for me unless I lived in a pretty flat area.
I live in the hills so No Bueno. YMMV
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Old 04-19-24, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
Mr Spock says, “I find that highly illogical”. Place your multi-speed bike in a gear you like and keep it there - problem solved; Zen state realized - unless there is an ego thing about riding a “single speed”. <-Un-Zen.
Have you ever actually done that with a multi-speed bike? It's not the same thing.

People ride SS (or fixed) for all kinds of reasons: some ride them because they are forced to work on their cadence, some like the simplicity, some like the challenge (though you may call it an "ego thing"). It's a self-imposed discipline that isn't really achieved by trying to not shift your multi-geared bike.

I've commuted on a SS for a long time mainly for the simplicity of (1) not having a RD to bang into doors and such when schlepping my bike in and out of buildings, and (2) the ease of maintenance, which I especially appreciated when riding in foul weather. After a sloppy ride, I just wipe off the chain, maybe add some lube, and that's it. No cassette to keep clean, no shift cables, no derailleurs to clean up and adjust.

Originally Posted by Steel Charlie
You may want to consider why the prices on them are so low.
You may "want to consider why the prices on them are so low" -- which is because they have no derailleurs, no cassettes, no shifters, no freehubs, and single chainrings. When you leave off a whole bunch of relatively expensive components, then the bikes cost less to produce.

Last edited by Koyote; 04-19-24 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 04-19-24, 09:36 AM
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Koyote Posted:I've commuted on a SS for a long time mainly for the simplicity of (1) not having a RD to bang into doors and such when schlepping my bike in and out of buildings, and (2) the ease of maintenance, which I especially appreciated when riding in foul weather. After a sloppy ride, I just wipe off the chain, maybe add some lube, and that's it. No cassette to keep clean, no shift cables, no derailleurs to clean up and adjust.
I ride a Rohloff equipped bicycle. It also has no derailleur to bang and I wipe or hose off the gates belt if needed. I have held the same pedaling cadence since 1976 on all kinds of bicycles. Having gears makes life easier.
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Old 04-19-24, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Have you ever actually done that with a multi-speed bike? It's not the same thing.

People ride SS (or fixed) for all kinds of reasons: some ride them because they are forced to work on their cadence, some like the simplicity, some like the challenge (though you may call it an "ego thing"). It's a self-imposed discipline that isn't really achieved by trying to not shift your multi-geared bike.

I've commuted on a SS for a long time mainly for the simplicity of (1) not having a RD to bang into doors and such when schlepping my bike in and out of buildings, and (2) the ease of maintenance, which I especially appreciated when riding in foul weather. After a sloppy ride, I just wipe off the chain, maybe add some lube, and that's it. No cassette to keep clean, no shift cables, no derailleurs to clean up and adjust.



You may "want to consider why the prices on them are so low" -- which is because they have no derailleurs, no cassettes, no shifters, no freehubs, and single chainrings. When you leave off a whole bunch of relatively expensive components, then the bikes cost less to produce.
Remove the rear derailleur, remove links in chain, put in preferred gear and don’t bother with shift cables, etc because they are not used. If not happy, reinstate removed elements. Cleaning cogs is not that difficult. I am thinking from a purely economical standpoint where you appear to be thinking from a convenience point of view. It is possible that the two can be married.
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Old 04-19-24, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
Mr Spock says, “I find that highly illogical”. Place your multi-speed bike in a gear you like and keep it there - problem solved; Zen state realized - unless there is an ego thing about riding a “single speed”. <-Un-Zen.
Makes sense. I live and ride in relatively flat areas, so I don't do a lot of shifting.
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Old 04-19-24, 10:07 AM
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I ride all three: multi-speed, fixed gear and single speed. The fixed gear not so much any more though for safety factors. I'm 66 and although have been riding fixed gear since I was 15 a bad accident 4 years ago convinced me to limit fixed gear riding. Before anyone thinks about saying I'm chicken for not riding it, I am riding it, just not as often.

The allure of fixed gear is definitely there and they transcend typical cycling enjoyment into a whole different level of enjoyment. At least for me they do. You lose a LOT of that with a single speed with a freewheel. Is it more enjoyable than a multi-geared bike? For me yes, sort of. Do I ride my single speed as much as my multi-geared bike? No I don't.
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Old 04-19-24, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
Remove the rear derailleur, remove links in chain, put in preferred gear and don’t bother with shift cables, etc because they are not used. If not happy, reinstate removed elements. Cleaning cogs is not that difficult. I am thinking from a purely economical standpoint where you appear to be thinking from a convenience point of view. It is possible that the two can be married.
That's not what you actually suggested in the post to which I had responded.

Your suggestion would get a person a rather lousy version of a SS or fixie, as you might figure out if you actually look more closely at such bikes -- they are NOT simply multi-geared bikes which have had derailleurs and such omitted. And it would be LESS economical, since you would be starting with a more costly bike and then removing bits and pieces.
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Old 04-19-24, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
That's not what you actually suggested in the post to which I had responded.

Your suggestion would get a person a rather lousy version of a SS or fixie, as you might figure out if you actually look more closely at such bikes -- they are NOT simply multi-geared bikes which have had derailleurs and such omitted. And it would be LESS economical, since you would be starting with a more costly bike and then removing bits and pieces.
Not if you modify an existing bike - but I am through in this exchange. You must be right because you must be right. Fine with me.

FYI, I have ridden track bikes and taken track racing courses on our local velodrome - and it was a kick. Enjoyed every aspect of it - but around here, with 5-15% climbs to get anywhere, a fixie is not always the best and a single speed would be a real workout and better suited to a 20-30 year old who is not protecting their knees. OTOH, in a relatively flat area, either would work just fine.
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Old 04-19-24, 10:26 AM
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“Changeable gears are a delusion. They will always be complicated and of very little use.” - Albert Overman, Victor Bicycle Company, 1896


Hmm. That didn't age well.
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Old 04-19-24, 10:28 AM
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I fantasize about it too, from time to time. Maybe it is the nostalgia of having single speeds when I was a kid and those were the years I had the most fun and feeling of freedom on bikes.
I also remember when I got my first multi-speed bike and how much easier that made the riding.
My last single speed was a BMX, so I would stand up and mash to climb hills and coast down them.
Unlike you, I think I would give up the freewheel sound for a drum rear coaster brake. I never managed to wear one out. That way, the only cable left on the bike would be the short one for the front brake.
Yes, big hills would take the fun out of a single speed, for me, unless it was geared quite low or I was willing to walk up them.
I have one single speed eBike. It's geared for 15 mph and the electric aspect takes the pain out of hill climbing in too high of a gear. But it adds back in the complexity you're maybe looking to avoid.
Have you seen the single speed bikes the high school kids are riding these days? They look like very large BMXs. They're geared low so aren't fast at all, but their thing is that they're learning to ride wheelies everywhere on them! Fun, I would have been SO into that.

I think if I were to get a single speed bike nowadays (other than the eBike) it would probably be a build based on the Surly Steamroller frame. I'd probably do a drop bar and gear it for maybe 12 mph. Coaster brake in the rear and a simple rim brake in the front. Belt drive, to really keep it clean. Or alternately, you could keep the (outward) simplicity and fit a 3 speed internal geared hub. You could still have the belt drive, too.
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Old 04-19-24, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
Not if you modify an existing bike - but I am through in this exchange. You must be right because you must be right. Fine with me.
You're the one who has argued and changed the goalposts. And now you offer a parting criticism without rebutting a single thing I've written. That's petty and childish. You're obviously engaging in projection.

Originally Posted by rsbob
FYI, I have ridden track bikes and taken track racing courses on our local velodrome - and it was a kick.
That's cool, but doesn't bear on our exchange. You should go back to the velodrome and compare those bikes to your 11sp road bike, or whatever you've got. Hint: look at the dropouts, the spacing and wheel dish, etc.

Originally Posted by rsbob
but around here, with 5-15% climbs to get anywhere, a fixie is not always the best and a single speed would be a real workout and better suited to a 20-30 year old who is not protecting their knees. OTOH, in a relatively flat area, either would work just fine.
Still doesn't bear on our exchange, though I agree with this. But you might be surprised at some of the grades that really strong riders can clear on SS bikes. When I lived out East, I saw plenty of riders doing big gravel races, often with over 100' of climbing per mile, on SS -- and they were fast. Also rode a hill climb competition or two with such riders. And it was not an "ego thing" for them. They were just strong as hell and wanted/needed/embraced the challenges. Some of them were former messengers who were just accustomed to riding SS and/or fixed.
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Old 04-19-24, 10:54 AM
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For me, the allure of SS in relatively hilly socal was that it was like beginning MTB again. I learned how to use momentum better and move my weight around in a manner that improved performance ascending. Also, the simplicity and light weight of the system made riding (for me) more fun. I was able to keep up with my friends except on flat terrain. A real hoot and even at my advanced age, still enjoyable at times.
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Old 04-19-24, 11:18 AM
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Anytime you go against mainstream, you're going to face criticism. Whether it's SS, fixed gear, the wrong clothing, or any other deviation from norms.

People deviate from the norms for reasons, people who don't, imagine those reasons must be insanity, stupidity, or other mental failings.

The answer to your question is as much about facing social pressure, as it is about the appropriate tool for the job.
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Old 04-19-24, 11:48 AM
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I will never have another SS. They are simply not what I want/need no matter how much I would care to have that different. They cheaper cos they're simpler yes. They also sell into a low demand minuscule market and finely made machines can command high pennies prices.

Certainly YMMV tho that is of no consequence to me. Ride whatever
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Old 04-19-24, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Have you ever actually done that with a multi-speed bike? It's not the same thing
.
The OP states that "The only thing that is appealing to me about single speed is the Zen factor and only peddling and not changing gears." Indeed, one can ride a geared bike without changing gears. How was @rsrob wrong about this?
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Old 04-19-24, 12:20 PM
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Mental growth and pain, errr determination is the reason I run single speed(sometimes). Going up a hill, you have to do whatever you can. Build momentum, spin+pull, stand, shift muscle groups, etc. Of course you can do all of these things on a geared bike. That's not the point, it's to lock in your options of walking up the hill, or aggressively attacking it so you can get up it. Since I was riding single speed for most of my childhood I am just used to it. As others have said you can try it out on a geared bike before you make the decision.
I also have a single speed MTB and that one has an easy setup that locks me into zone 2 since I tend not to spin up like crazy on the flats.

I found with brifters I used to shift gears too much, and with DT levers that's a non issue, but I am weird since I ride alone and am fine with wide spaces in between my cogs.
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Old 04-19-24, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick
I ride a Rohloff equipped bicycle. It also has no derailleur to bang and I wipe or hose off the gates belt if needed. I have held the same pedaling cadence since 1976 on all kinds of bicycles. Having gears makes life easier.
I'm always curious, so maybe you can answer: Why do so many cyclists seem to think it's an impressive achievement to only be able to pedal in a very narrow cadence range? I would think being able to pedal effectively and efficiently across a wider range would be worthy of boasting, and not the opposite...
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Old 04-19-24, 12:50 PM
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I had a couple of SS commuters back when it was fashionable. They were fine, but hardly a spiritual experience, and the supposed training advantages were nonexistent. Turns out chain line and tension are things you don't have to think about much with a derailleur.
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Old 04-19-24, 01:05 PM
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Two good and one city geared bikes and two good and one city fix gear here. Started riding SS circa 1972 when I'd trashed my Peugeot UO-8's dropout enough times that getting the derailleur to work right was iffy. 1976 I started racing and set it up fixed for training. Absolutely loved it and never had an ounce of desire to go back to SS.

Fixed gear is, at it's best, simply a completely different mind set. You are always pedaling at an RPM you didn't choose, other than you can modify it little by speeding up or slowing.

Now, as I approached my 60s, I knew that I could not keep climbing the big hills I love going up on the fix gear in gears like 42-17 and also that going down in those gears amounted to crotch abuse I was no longer willing to suffer. I'd been turned on to the ride of titanium bikes and knew the builder of mine would build me any bike I could dream up. So, how 'bout a ti fix gear with a really long dropout (dropout, not track end to keep wheel changes fast and easy) and a flip-flop wheel? Ordered it, received it, loved it from the first ride and a few weeks later, learned that year's Cycle Oregon was going to Crater Lake. Also that every hilly day had one big up and ope big down except Crater Lake day which also had 3 1000' climbs to go around the rim.

Brain cells fire. I can do this on my brand new fix gear! Very few wheel flips! But I need a cog wrench so I an screw on a tiny cog to go downhill. I could make a lightweight one and strap it to the bike!

The bike. On Cycle Oregon, 14% grade, the flip-flop hub, the chainwhip, a Trixie fix gear wrench and lockring tool under the saddlebag and a 12 tooth cog strapped to the other side of the bag.



That hill was hard! The muscles standing out weren't just for show. When I touched my forearm with the bar of soap in the shower after, it hurt! (If you are thinking "but he isn't in his low gear", you're right. I thought the big hill was the next one. By the time I learned my error it was too steep to stop and start again. The now 61 yo body paid!

And Crater Lake's rim fixed? Easy. Flip-flop hub, a 23 or 24 big cog and a 12. 42 tooth chainring. All you need. There is no flat. (Well a mile of gentle up you can do in either cog.)
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Old 04-19-24, 02:06 PM
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Ever been riding along, having a good time, and then you go to switch gears and stuff starts rubbing and making noise, chain starts dropping/skipping, and eventually none of the gears work that well anymore? Single speed takes all of that away.

its different than keeping a geared bike in the same gears because the cogs themselves are much thicker and more robust, they last longer
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Old 04-19-24, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by LarrySellerz
Ever been riding along, having a good time, and then you go to switch gears and stuff starts rubbing and making noise, chain starts dropping/skipping, and eventually none of the gears work that well anymore?
Nope.
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