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Do We Need Gears?

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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

Do We Need Gears?

Old 02-23-03, 03:40 PM
  #1  
ORBIT
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Do We Need Gears?

I tried a expriment today.
I went out on my bike and decided not to change gear on the entire ride.
The result was that i really enjoyed just riding the bike on not thinking about changing gear.The thing was i dont think i was any slower than when using gears,i had to stand on some hills
and i will admitt i coasted down some hills.But i had a good work out,and had to work my legs.So when training is it best not to use gears?.Thus just concentrating on turning the pedals.
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Old 02-23-03, 03:50 PM
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ORBIT
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NB. Some thing i would not like to do on my recumbent.
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Old 02-23-03, 03:56 PM
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Not being male, and therefore having no need to appear particularly macho and tough--YES! I NEED MY GEARS!!!

I spent enough childhood hours pushing my one-speeds up that one steep hill I still fear....even though I've pedalled up higher and steeper ones since, I always remember THAT hill as being the one I can't ever climb! (I rather enjoy letting the hill keep its rep.)
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Old 02-23-03, 04:30 PM
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ORBIT
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I dont worry about looking macho (i ride a recumbentas well)
But what im getting at is a regular cyclist can probalbly do with out gears.
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Old 02-23-03, 05:43 PM
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One thing I like about sticking in one gear is that I'm forced to speed up into a more comfortable cadence. If you have the choice of downshifting you won't push yourself as much to go faster. I think it may not be the most efficient thing but makes a great training tool and workout. Maybe I've got too much testosterone pumping but I feel so defeated when I have to downshift on a hill or when riding into a gusty headwind. Sometimes I'll be too tired to accelerate by increasing cadence but I can upshift and mash my way back to the comfortable cadence I had in the previous gear.
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Old 02-23-03, 10:45 PM
  #6  
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Having not said this yet, it really depends on what type of riding you want to do. I had a one-gear Huffy when I was smaller and I loved the hell out of it. I now have a ss mountain bike, which I thoroughly love to ride. Yeah, I can go faster on a suspension mountain bike with gears, but it's not about speed for me.

But, when my knees go, it will be time for gears. So I say that eventually, I will need gears. One of my bikes now has gears.

Remember the old acronym KISS. Keep It Single Speed.
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Old 02-24-03, 10:29 AM
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I've done probably 80% of my training this year on a SS.
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Old 02-25-03, 08:54 AM
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I love the simplicity and focus of singlespeed riding. I'm not worried about how much travel my suspension has (or doesn't have) or how well it's tuned.

My focus is completely on the trail and the next obsticle. Rather than bowl through obsticles I must pick my line, use my momentum and dose my effort for the next challenge.

The first time I heard of single speed mountain biking I was sure it's enthusiasts were a few cogs short of a cluster (literally and figuratively). Once I tried it I discovered how much fun it was. I still have multigeared bikes but I still choose to ride the mono-cog whenever I can.
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Old 02-26-03, 01:49 PM
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One trick about riding ss or fixed is that you can "choose your poison" so to speak. I use a fixer as my ultra-low maintenance commuter bike. In addition to the low upkeep, by choosing a lower than normal gear, I can insure that I don't ride too hard on the way into work. Since I don't have a shower at work, I like to take it easy. However, how many times have you set out for "an easy ride" only to come back revved up and juicy? Same with me, I guess it's just a male's nature to push it. By using a low gear on my fixer, it's much easier to not get in a rush on the way into work. I can still spin it up on the way home to get a better workout. Or, I can flip the wheel over to that 15t!

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Old 03-08-03, 09:52 PM
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YES, you need gears!!! Without a gear in the back, the chain wouldnt move the wheel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 03-08-03, 10:11 PM
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Originally posted by stumpjumper
YES, you need gears!!! Without a gear in the back, the chain wouldnt move the wheel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just use friction belt-drive. All you need is a couple cylinders and a good belt from your car or something similar. Good luck with the hills.
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Old 03-12-03, 09:19 AM
  #12  
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I feel so defeated when I have to downshift on a hill or when riding into a gusty headwind.
I think there is something here. I did the same thing as Orbit last spring. Each ride, one selected gear only, no shifting-for 3 months. I think it made me stronger and faster, and definately better on the hills. I went back to using gears just before an organized ride, and then found myself being much more aggressive (especially on the down hills.)

Some have compared the difference of singlespeed to mullti-gears to the difference between manual transmissions and automatics in a vehicle. The irony here is that the manual transmission, which requires constant shifting, is lickened to the non-shifting singlespeed bike, and the automatic, which requires no shifting is lickened to a geared bike that does. It gets confusing, but I know what the writer was getting at; it has to do with the connection of the rider to the bike and to the terrain and conditions which is more immediate when gear changing is not considered. This feel is more direct in a manual transmission than an automatic, which were originally introduced in boring "dad's cars" , while the little sporty models we all craved after were all manual. Nobody craved after the wood-panelled station wagon. Nobody wanted that station wagon in British racing green or with a close-ratio manual transmission.

I think singlespeed riding whether you choose to simply stay in one-gear for each ride on a geared bike, or you go the route of no derailleur and a single-speed freewheel is a return to a more direct connection to the idea of "pure" riding for the enjoyment of it. I have since started to wonder whether "fixed-gear" will be adding to this feeling or a zero sum game. I know I have looked forward to the coast on the downside of a hill that became challenging to get to the summit of while in a fairly high gear, and am not sure how high-cadence pedalling will feel after such an effort. I guess I will know soon after I get this thing on the road.
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Old 03-16-03, 02:18 PM
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Singlespeed riding is simpler and might be more enjoyable, but I still think that gears are important. If you're mashing the pedals up a hill at 40 rpm, it's very ineffecient- and horrible for the knees. If you make it to the top, coming back down means you need to spin really fast to "catch" and increase your speed.

Singlespeeds are fun and work great most of the time, but there's always going to be the times you wish the shifters were there. They do make awesome training bikes because it forces you to come out of your comfort zone. So instead of pedalling a steady speed and force, you either have to push harder or faster than you normally would if you could shift.

If I get a new mountain bike, I'd really like to convert my current ride to single speed. But I don't think singlespeeds will be common in racing or distance rides, they're really more of a fun type of bike.
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Old 03-16-03, 02:30 PM
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singlespeeds are cool!
They have the singlespeed world championships and in every mtb race I've ever been too had at least a few.
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Old 03-16-03, 02:46 PM
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One of the bikes I have is a comfort mountain. I find myself most of the time using just one gear. Now being in Florida hills arent a problem. If I go for just a ride to a friends or families house and I use the comfort mountain it is very rare that I shift. When the bike was new I would bang through the gears but now one gear and I am done.
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Old 03-21-03, 12:42 AM
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i've been riding single speed for pretty much all my life (i'm 21). i lvoe my fixed gear bikes and i love my BMX to death. i recently bought a road bike for the winter here in boston and i wound up hot-rodding the drivetrain on it so i'd have a 44T in the middle so i could get a 44/16 ratio. i basically only shifted to harder gears when i rode it so i wouldn't spin my legs too fast. all i know is that i feel SO MUCH more comfortable on a fixed gear bike than on a geared bike, or even a regular freewheeled singlespeed. something about the constant pedalling that helps me maintain my balance and composure in the crappy boston traffic.
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Old 03-21-03, 05:46 PM
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If you like singlespeed, then no you dont need gears, but if you ride offroad they come in handy. One thing i know is that they dont need to be changed as often as people do, I only use 1st, 7th, and 14th
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Old 03-24-03, 02:06 PM
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I do both, I prefer single speed, except for long long hills. there is no reason to push a modern lightweight single speed up hill. I have some very steep hills around my neighborhood and they are ridden by zigzagging up. For a ten mile hilly ride I'll take gears, for a 3-6 mile ride around town or to work single speed is it. check out the specialized P1 for a single speed or that Madwagon worked good but i did have to tear it apart and regrease it first. Forget those 60 pound single speeds unless your streets are flat. Deraillure Bikes with a lot of gears take me from gear to gear but a single speed takes 25 years off of my age.
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Old 03-24-03, 05:49 PM
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Do we need gears? Depends on the rider and the terrain. For me, single-speeding is much more enjoyable on level surfaces and rolling hills. But on the seriously steep stuff or century rides, yeah it's good to have some gears. But I feel that many riders have more gears than they need. I wonder how many casual riders with 24 or 27 speed mtb's never leave the flats (or the pavement). They've been sold on "the more gears, the better" philosophy. These riders can get by just fine with a ss or a 7 speed townie, they will get a better value bike, and there will be less maintenance.
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Old 03-24-03, 06:21 PM
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i'm acquainted with several people with several bikes, all of which are SS or FG. they'd all tell you that you don't need gears, but i believe that everyone has different needs. if you go to the grocery store or the laundromat on a bicycle with panniers, you'll probably want some gears---that's why i have my mtn bike. you'd also want some gears, i'd wager, if you're on a loaded tour, or if physical limitations necessitate gears (eg, bad knees). not everyone needs gears, and i rarely do. I'll tell ya what, though--when i ride trails these days, i shift to a grannied out gear when i get to the park, and i stay in that gear til i'm headed home. shifting on trails is something i'll never be likely to master, and being in too high of a gear has screwed me innumerable times.

-rob
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Old 03-24-03, 10:55 PM
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i dont need gears to have fun by myself. but gears would be nice in some other cases (hills, playing "tag"...).
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Old 04-14-03, 05:13 AM
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playing tag? on a bike? surely not....how do u do that? anyways....as I have said elsewhere, the hills around here are killers. I also suffer from bad knees so I need to have gears. I often get into 4th, and then use high/low (39/52T) and thats it. If I really get goin i use 5th or 6th.

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Old 05-31-09, 02:12 AM
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I agree that there are some times when gears are helpful, but living in SF, there are so few hills I won't climb or descend (and if there is a road I don't feel comfortable going down, I can usually find a way around it).
I know I pound harder going up hills, and that I'm exerting more energy, but I also climb faster than my geared counterparts. On long long rides, this can be a pain because I get tired faster, but I can usually keep it up for a good long while.
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Old 05-31-09, 02:32 AM
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Wow. Good job on the resurrection... LOL, rection.
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Old 05-31-09, 02:41 AM
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The fixed road bike is really fast but comparing that to my geared road bike is like comparing a house cat to a Cheetah.
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