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Hill Climbing With Single Speed?

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Hill Climbing With Single Speed?

Old 03-23-21, 06:02 PM
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Moisture
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Hill Climbing With Single Speed?

Hey guys, I'm thinking of converting my Nishiki Olympic Tri-a to single speed. Im using 190mm crank arms. What are some things such as chainline and what not will I need to consider? My local bikehub has everything I need to make the conversion. Worst case, I can always switch back. I don't have any significant hills where I live and I don't ride to aggressively anymore due to my knees, so I think this would be a good idea for my needs.

My main question is, how do you guys fair on long or steeper climbs? Is it manageable? I'm okay with simply coasting down the hills. What sort of gears should I consider? Maybe 44x18?

And what's better, fixie or a coaster hub? Fixie takes some getting used to, but its nice to be able to control the speed of the rear wheel through the pedals. I like the direct drivetrain feel of single speed and I think I'm set on converting.
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Old 03-23-21, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I don't have any significant hills where I live
Then why did you start a thread asking about hill climbing?

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Im using 190mm crank arms.
I would never use crankarms that long on a fixed gear bike. When you lean the bike into a corner while your legs are spinning (because they can't stop spinning on a fixie), you will strike the pedal on the ground and you will crash hard. I would never use 190s on anything, but you may have giraffe legs for all I know. For me, it's 175mm on singlespeed, but on a fixie I like 165s.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
What are some things such as chainline and what not will I need to consider?
You should read Sheldon Brown's articles about singlespeed and fixed gear conversions very carefully, at least three or four times. He covers everything you will need to know much better than I can here. See links below.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
fixie or a coaster hub?
Let's get some terminology straight: A hub that allows you to coast without pedaling is called a freewheel. A coaster hub is what 's on paperboy-style Schwinns, where you push back on the pedal to activate a rear brake.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
what's better fixie or a coaster hub?
Neither a fixed hub or a freewheel hub is "better." They are both fun, in different ways. IMO, a singlespeed gives you the most flexibility in gear choice, because you only have to consider how hard the gear is for climbing, and you can ignore it for descending. On a fixie, you need a gear that is low enough to climb with but high enough to allow you to pedal on the descent without losing control.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
how do you guys fair on long or steeper climbs? Is it manageable?
Yes, it's manageable to climb steep and long hills on a single speed bike, provided the gear is low enough and/or you are strong enough. But you said you don't have any of those hills where you ride.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
What sort of gears should I consider?
Since you don't have any extended or steep climbs, try a 42 X 16 and adjust from there.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Maybe 44x18?
Sure, maybe. Put your geared bike into one gear and ride it without shifting for a few days. You'll eventually figure out a combination that works.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
its nice to be able to control the speed of the rear wheel through the pedals
Using your leg strength to slow the rear wheel down is something you need to experience to understand. Going downhill on a fixed gear really isn't about controlling the speed of the wheel through the pedals; it's more about maintaining control of your pedals at the speed the rear wheel is pushing them.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I don't ride to aggressively anymore due to my knees, so I think this would be a good idea for my needs.
If you have chronic knee issues, I think fixed or singlespeed would be the opposite of a good idea.

_________________________________________________________________________________

READ THESE BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE:

Singlespeed conversions: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html

Fixed gear conversions: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html

For more "which gear do I want" advice, read the responses to the other threads you've started on that topic:

If you Could Only Pick one Gear...
What Sort of Gearing Works Best for your Needs?

Last edited by Rolla; 03-23-21 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 03-26-21, 09:15 AM
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Stay away from the fixed gear bikes if you have chronic knee issues. I had to take few years brake back in the days because my knees were in pain.
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Old 03-29-21, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeEthics View Post
Stay away from the fixed gear bikes if you have chronic knee issues. I had to take few years brake back in the days because my knees were in pain.
They can be bad for knees. I've had both of my ACLs reconstructed, with surgeries dating back over 20yrs.

With proper fit, appropriate gearing (spin to win!) and proper brakes I don't have any excessive pain or even pain at all.

Modulating speed by skidding and gearing is when I have pain. Otherwise, it's no different than riding a geared bike for me. It's why I never understood huge ratios and no brakes.
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Old 03-29-21, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Senrab62 View Post
They can be bad for knees. I've had both of my ACLs reconstructed, with surgeries dating back over 20yrs.

With proper fit, appropriate gearing (spin to win!) and proper brakes I don't have any excessive pain or even pain at all.

Modulating speed by skidding and gearing is when I have pain. Otherwise, it's no different than riding a geared bike for me. It's why I never understood huge ratios and no brakes.
Good thinking! I am not that huge fan of huge gear ratios either. Also, as I am getting older, I tend to ride ride slower speed anyway.
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Old 03-29-21, 11:41 AM
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I ride a fix and sometimes I ride the ALL CITY .. im getting not young and recovering from broke bones when I got swiped back in Dec. Just stated riding again and Im on the SS for the time being. My brain wants the fix but my body needs the SS


all city SS 40 x 18
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Old 03-30-21, 08:18 AM
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Good point about the fixie gear with long cranks. Freewheel is the only choice.

At first I decided to try and buy a track rear wheel with a flip flop hub. Then I decided to look into a Shimano freehub to single speed conversion kit which includes spacers to get the spacing on the freehub right, because i have two rims to mess around with, one with a freehub the other freewheel. Then I realized I would need a proper single speed chainring, and probably a single speed chain.

in the meantime, should I just play around with the front chainring orientation, take some links out my 9 speed chain, pick a gear on the rear hub and tighten the chain using the horizontal dropouts?

I know this is a bad idea, because these gears are obviously designed to allow the chain to easily slip from cog to cog. So would I gain and benefit from doing this temporarily to just play around with the idea and see how it goes?
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Old 03-30-21, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
. I don't have any significant hills where I live and I don't ride to aggressively anymore due to my knees, so I think this would be a good idea for my needs.

My main question is, how do you guys fair on long or steeper climbs? Is it manageable? I'm okay with simply coasting down the hills. What sort of gears should I consider? Maybe 44x18?
Why did you start a thread and ask about hill climbing with a single speed and then tell us you don't have any significant hills where you live?

1.) Single Speed will be worse for your knees
2.) Your own person strength and stamina will determine how you fair on long or steeper climbs. It will be different than anyone here.
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Old 03-30-21, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
in the meantime, should I just play around with the front chainring orientation, take some links out my 9 speed chain, pick a gear on the rear hub and tighten the chain using the horizontal dropouts?
Sure, why not?

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Then I realized I would need a proper single speed chainring, and probably a single speed chain. I know this is a bad idea, because these gears are obviously designed to allow the chain to easily slip from cog to cog.
You don't need singlespeed-specific parts. Cogs and chainrings don't care if you shift or not; they'll hold a chain as long as you want them to. Multi-geared chains work fine on singlespeeds if the cogs and chainrings are 3/32".

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
So would I gain and benefit from doing this temporarily to just play around with the idea and see how it goes?
Sure, why not? https://www.sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html
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Old 03-30-21, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
Sure, why not?



You don't need singlespeed-specific parts. Cogs and chainrings don't care if you shift or not; they'll hold a chain as long as you want them to. Multi-geared chains work fine on singlespeeds if the cogs and chainrings are 3/32".



Sure, why not? https://www.sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html
Okay, thanks. I'll give it a try.

I've read that link through twice just to be safe .

So my understanding is that single speed specific components are useful for longer term with regards to minimizing wear?
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Old 03-30-21, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Okay, thanks. I'll give it a try.

I've read that link through twice just to be safe .

So my understanding is that single speed specific components are useful for longer term with regards to minimizing wear?
Yes, they are 1/8" instead of 3/32" so there is more material. Everything lasts longer. 190 cranks are an incredibly bad idea as far as I'm concerned. If you're going SS it'll work but unless you're crazy tall there is no reason to use them. Fixed? You'll crash hard, probably on your first ride. Gear? We have always ridden right around a 70" gear where I live(fixed gear), lots of rolling hills and some good long climbs. 48/18 is 72", 48/19 is 68", 46/18 is 69".
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Old 03-30-21, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
So my understanding is that single speed specific components are useful for longer term with regards to minimizing wear?
Yes, SS parts tend to be more robust. But while you're figuring out which gear combo you like and whether SS is going to work for you, there's nothing wrong with using your multi-speed cogs and chainrings. I mean, people put thousands of miles on their geared bikes with all of their chainline contortions, so it's not like the drivetrain parts are going to dissolve underneath you by riding them singlespeed for awhile.
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Old 03-31-21, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
Yes, SS parts tend to be more robust. But while you're figuring out which gear combo you like and whether SS is going to work for you, there's nothing wrong with using your multi-speed cogs and chainrings. I mean, people put thousands of miles on their geared bikes with all of their chainline contortions, so it's not like the drivetrain parts are going to dissolve underneath you by riding them singlespeed for awhile.
Moisture You can use your gears in the meanwhile to figure out a ratio that works for you. I don't know if you mentioned if you're running a 1x, 2x, or 3x chainring setup in the front but pick a front ring and pick a rear cog, go for a ride, AND DON'T SWITCH GEARS. If it's too hard, obviously gear down, if it's too easy for flats and climbing, gear up. Make a note of the ratio and use that to pick out a SS/fixed chainring and cog.

And I concur with everyone else, 190mm crankarms on a SS, let alone a fixed gear is a bad idea. Shorter arms will give you more direct power transfer anyway which is useful for mashing up hills.
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Old 04-03-21, 09:28 AM
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[QUOTE=Senrab62;21990107]Modulating speed by skidding and gearing is when I have pain. Otherwise, it's no different than riding a geared bike for me. It's why I never understood huge ratios and no brakes.[/QUOTE
Kind of a bummer feeling pain while modulating speed and stopping with your legs, if I couldn't slow down without using brakes I don't think I would ride a fixed gear.
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Old 04-03-21, 10:46 AM
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[QUOTE=Gods lonely man;21998390]
Originally Posted by Senrab62 View Post
Modulating speed by skidding and gearing is when I have pain. Otherwise, it's no different than riding a geared bike for me. It's why I never understood huge ratios and no brakes.[/QUOTE
Kind of a bummer feeling pain while modulating speed and stopping with your legs, if I couldn't slow down without using brakes I don't think I would ride a fixed gear.
Skid stopping and big gears on 20-50 mile fixed rides is silly and absurd. I am perfectly capable of skid stopping, it just makes no sense to me. The connection to the bike feeling isn't removed by having a brake caliper and lever installinstalled. Plus my tires don't turn to ****. And I can stop and have more functionality out of my bike as well.

​​​​​​I ride like 75 or more percent fixed. I just can't be convinced of this thought that brakeless is better. Same with big gears. When you ride as much as I have been big gears don't make me faster. They just make my knees hurt 😂.
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Old 04-03-21, 12:30 PM
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[QUOTE=Senrab62;21998512]
Originally Posted by Gods lonely man View Post
​​​​​​I ride like 75 or more percent fixed. I just can't be convinced of this thought that brakeless is better. Same with big gears. When you ride as much as I have been big gears don't make me faster. They just make my knees hurt 😂.
I've just dropped my gearing by about 5% and my average ride speeds are marginally higher, with no demonstrable loss of top speed. Big gears are less versatile and more tiring over a varied ride, with the bike being less responsive to acceleration.
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Old 04-03-21, 04:34 PM
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[QUOTE=Mikefule;21998612]
Originally Posted by Senrab62 View Post

I've just dropped my gearing by about 5% and my average ride speeds are marginally higher, with no demonstrable loss of top speed. Big gears are less versatile and more tiring over a varied ride, with the bike being less responsive to acceleration.

I just dropped my gearing from 63gi to 61 plus switched from riding heavy moster-tracklocross bikes to stripped down track bikes with 25c tires. Massive difference in responisveness.
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Old 04-03-21, 05:50 PM
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[QUOTE=Senrab62;21998512]
Originally Posted by Gods lonely man View Post

Skid stopping and big gears on 20-50 mile fixed rides is silly and absurd. I am perfectly capable of skid stopping, it just makes no sense to me. The connection to the bike feeling isn't removed by having a brake caliper and lever installinstalled. Plus my tires don't turn to ****. And I can stop and have more functionality out of my bike as well.

​​​​​​I ride like 75 or more percent fixed. I just can't be convinced of this thought that brakeless is better. Same with big gears. When you ride as much as I have been big gears don't make me faster. They just make my knees hurt 😂.
I am with you on skidding and huge gears, but I was aiming at using back pressure to slow down, it's part of the fun of riding fixed... Of course, with a brake, your bike is more versatile, especially at bombing hills with an intersection at the bottom,
It's kind of funny looking at the struggle of descending without brakes, whip and hop skidding instead of pushing a brake lever with your finger and stopping in a dime
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Old 04-04-21, 05:35 PM
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There's always the good old college single speed conversion. I live in a college town, so I see the bikes that are barely roadworthy but "good enough until graduation." Most of these were probably converted from bikes with trashed drivetrain. You remove the derailleurs, choose a gear, and shorten the chain. Extra points if you leave the shifters and cables in place and dangling.
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Old 04-07-21, 08:24 AM
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I'm no spring chicken but so far have not had too many issues with my knees, but, I converted all of my bikes to mountain bike clips because they provide a lot more "float" for the feet. That translates into more motion for the knees and fewer knee problems, at least for me.
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