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single speed touring

Old 09-23-10, 03:49 PM
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single speed touring

Ill be touring down the Oregon coast next spring with my wife. I'm hoping to do this on my single speed road bike since it's all I have. Ill be loaded down; Im running 700x23c tires and I have 46x16 gearing. Is it advisable to put some bigger tires on and what size? Also is that gearing ok for this kind of a ride?
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Old 09-23-10, 04:05 PM
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I would fit bigger tires if you will be carrying a lot of gear. How much frame/fork clearance do you have?

As for gearing that depends on what you can get up a hill with all that gear and how fast your wife rides. I'd probably do with as low a gear as you can that allows you to stay with your wife on the flats. You can coast downhill and worst case on a climb you'll have to walk a bit of it.

That's the compromise of having just one gear.
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Old 09-23-10, 04:11 PM
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BTW - I'm doing okay with 8 spds on my latest touring bike. One option is if you can get a 700c IGH wheel either buy one or borrow one for your tour you can quickly add 8 spds to your bike which would give you loads of gear range compared to your SS setup.

Just a thought.
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Old 09-23-10, 04:16 PM
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I have good clearance I was thinking about Vittoria Zaffiro 700x28mm because they are a cheap and good tire. I live in colorado and the gearing hasn't been too bad on me yet in these hills and mountains but loaded down Im afraid.
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Old 09-23-10, 04:24 PM
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I'd get a bigger cog, say 18t. That's what most singlespeed bikes use here, and I always did okay using that while carrying lots of things.
Just remember that walking isn't bad, it can be rather nice to get off and push the bike a bit
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Old 09-23-10, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by mburgess86
I have good clearance I was thinking about Vittoria Zaffiro 700x28mm because they are a cheap and good tire. I live in colorado and the gearing hasn't been too bad on me yet in these hills and mountains but loaded down Im afraid.
I'd suggest some tour length day rides with lots of climbing and the same weight you expect to carry on tour to make sure you are happy with your gearing.
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Old 09-23-10, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by lechatmort
Just remember that walking isn't bad, it can be rather nice to get off and push the bike a bit


+1 - On my GDR tour last summer [8spd 29er MTB] I walked once or twice a day. No big deal. When you have limited gears you don't want to go too far to the low end or you'll be spinning out at 20kph.
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Old 09-23-10, 04:48 PM
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thats true thanks for the help! That looks like a nice ride
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Old 09-23-10, 05:46 PM
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Look down this forum and read CamelDane's Portland thread. Try 42X17. That gives you 20 mph at 100 cadence. No need for a bigger gear than that. Maybe smaller. Think about how you can split the load with wife to get the weight down for you both. 23c will be fine if your load is light, unless you're a big guy. Certainly don't need more than 25c as long as you're on pavement. We run 28c on our tandem and are very happy with that loaded, as we run 25c for sport riding.
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Old 09-23-10, 06:00 PM
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Good to know. Im about 200lbs so i was even thinking of putting something bigger on the back just to take some of the load what do you think?
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Old 09-23-10, 06:11 PM
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I would ride as big tires as I could fit. That would put less strain on the wheels, and cushion bumps too. Unlike the weight of your body, weight attached to the frame won't lift up during bumps.
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Old 09-24-10, 10:12 AM
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Most single speeders seem to have in the high 70's gear inches, but for touring I'd go down to the low 70s or high 60s. You can cruise along at 17mph....who needs more on a tour.... and still tackle most hills, although once it gets above 10% for any length I find myself getting off and pushing.

https://wheelsofchance.org/england-2009/
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Old 09-24-10, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by nun
Most single speeders seem to have in the high 70's gear inches, but for touring I'd go down to the low 70s or high 60s. You can cruise along at 17mph....who needs more on a tour.... and still tackle most hills, although once it gets above 10% for any length I find myself getting off and pushing.

https://wheelsofchance.org/england-2009/
FWIW - I ride a 64" fixed gear bike without any cargo.
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Old 09-24-10, 11:00 AM
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Assuming you're a much stronger rider than your wife, your bike should be geared to comfortably go the speed that she'll want to ride. Plan to coast down hills. I'm guessing 60-65 gear inches would be good.
I've done some single-speed and fixed gear touring and load-hauling -- often wished for a freewheel while on the fixed gear. When touring, I find it comfortable to reduce my gear ratio by 10-15% compared to commuting/training.

If I were 200lbs and carrying 30lbs of gear on a 20lb bike, I'd be fitting a 32mm tire in the rear and 28mm in the front, then running them at 80-90psi.
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Old 09-24-10, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by vik
+1 - On my GDR tour last summer [8spd 29er MTB] I walked once or twice a day.
Vic, those are honking looking rims and tires...wow, what size are they? Would sure be handy on those sort of roads, would float over most soft stuff I imagine?

as for walking, I guess its all opinions, I hate doing it, would rather bike even at a slow speed---but its a moot point if he is going to be using a 60-ish gear inch ss...as he shall be walking at some point. Ive gone down teh Oregan coast and it sure aint flat.

I might as well say this, but Im not sure a single speed is really a great idea, not for the Oregon coast.

If you have your heart set and decided on it, I second the suggestion of loading your bike as per the trip and seeing what is doable for you hills wise. You then will really have an idea of what is realistic with this idea. My knees hurt just thinking about what you are thinking of undertaking.

+2 on finding gearing that allows for an relaxed run of the mill cruising speed of 20kph or so at a nice cadence. I personally wouldnt go much higher than that as you will suffer the consequences with every uphill.

My average touring speed on many trips was always around 17kph over the day, with hills and such. With a triple crank.
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Old 09-25-10, 12:12 AM
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I would focus on getting your load slimmed down to an absolute minimum. A single speed bike can be great for touring but not if you are lugging an extra 30 pounds or so up and down the hills all day. How much are you planning to pack?

+1 on loading up the bike and going for a test run before the big trip. You might find some motivation to ditch a few extra pieces of clothing, the espresso machine, and the extra books so as to make your time in the saddle more enjoyable.
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Old 09-26-10, 09:42 PM
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OP, if not familiar with gear inches, check out this link, allows you to easily see "gear inches" for a given front and rear tooth combo.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/index.html

today, with two panniers bike bags on my bike, but with less stuff you would tour with, I saw that my 39 chainring/ 18tooth cassette combo was a very doable "one-gear" of about 60 gear inches (58 actually) On the flat, with a cadence of maybe 80-90 (so easy but not too fast pedalling) I was doing about 22-25 kph (about 15 mph) --a very common, all day long speed.

Your 46/16 is 77 gear inches, effectively 2 gears higher than what I was playing with today. All is fine and dandy on the flats, no load, no headwind etc, but you will see how it is with weight on it going up a hill or with a pain in the keester headwind.
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Old 09-27-10, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
Vic, those are honking looking rims and tires...wow, what size are they? Would sure be handy on those sort of roads, would float over most soft stuff I imagine?

as for walking, I guess its all opinions, I hate doing it, would rather bike even at a slow speed---but its a moot point if he is going to be using a 60-ish gear inch ss...as he shall be walking at some point. Ive gone down teh Oregan coast and it sure aint flat.
29er outside diameter on the 4" tires. Acts like suspension.....isn't as slow on pavement as you'd expect - not that I'd recommend a coast to coast road tour on those wheels.

I hear you on the walking, but at some point you are biking slower than you can walk and shortly after that you can't balance a bike or ride straight enough to be safe. I certainly wouldn't suggest you walk if you can pedal and you have the gears for it. I don't really care as long as it's an infrequent thing on only the uber steep hills.

I don't see myself building a touring bike with more than a 9spd cassette and one chain up front or an IGH [8 or 11spds]. That level of simplicity is more important than walking once in a while.
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Old 09-27-10, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by vik
29er outside diameter on the 4" tires. Acts like suspension.....isn't as slow on pavement as you'd expect - not that I'd recommend a coast to coast road tour on those wheels.

I don't see myself building a touring bike with more than a 9spd cassette and one chain up front or an IGH [8 or 11spds]. That level of simplicity is more important than walking once in a while.
very neat, 4 inchers, wow. can see how they would be great for being on roads like and especially worse than the one in that shot of you. From the comfort side of things and the "float" aspect of them, for soft and/or wet stuff. What sort of psi do you run, lets say like in that photo--ie, load, road surface? 40 psi is my first guess?

As for the simplicity angle of not having a fd, I guess horses for courses. In rough stuff, mucky and all, I can definatley understand. As I understand, the IGHs are very well made and therefore gets rid of the maintenance issues of a rd also.
For the road touring Ive done, regular old fd and rd arent an issue, keep everything clean and lubed, they generally work.
With your terrain, the possibility of a fall and dings are going to be so much more possible, and damages with it, so I can see going simple.
But not for road touring, give me more gears and especially low ones and I am happy (me and my knees)

Oh, I can see however not wanting a front derailleur etc, as your spare tubes and fist size patches must weigh about 10 lbs so you have to take some lard off elsewhere ;-)
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Old 09-27-10, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
very neat, 4 inchers, wow. can see how they would be great for being on roads like and especially worse than the one in that shot of you. From the comfort side of things and the "float" aspect of them, for soft and/or wet stuff. What sort of psi do you run, lets say like in that photo--ie, load, road surface? 40 psi is my first guess?

As for the simplicity angle of not having a fd, I guess horses for courses. In rough stuff, mucky and all, I can definatley understand. As I understand, the IGHs are very well made and therefore gets rid of the maintenance issues of a rd also.
For the road touring Ive done, regular old fd and rd arent an issue, keep everything clean and lubed, they generally work.
With your terrain, the possibility of a fall and dings are going to be so much more possible, and damages with it, so I can see going simple.
But not for road touring, give me more gears and especially low ones and I am happy (me and my knees)

Oh, I can see however not wanting a front derailleur etc, as your spare tubes and fist size patches must weigh about 10 lbs so you have to take some lard off elsewhere ;-)
In that pic my front tire was 9psi and my rear 12psi. I'm not suggesting front derailleurs don't work or rear derailleurs for that matter. I just enjoy simple clean chain lines and I'm not finding 8spds for example any handicap at all. When I have to replace the drivetain on my LHT it will get an 8 or 9 spd setup. I'm not worried about how much it weighs now.
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Old 09-28-10, 12:12 AM
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how about a flip-flop hub? that will give you two gears, make the smaller one a freewheel use it to climb and the freewheel will allow you to coast down the hill, swap back to a bigger gear for the flats. i would run as wide a range as possible. maybe run something like a 16 or 17 fixed and then a 20 or 22 freewheel from a 29er singlespeed if you have enough dropout space to accommodate it
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Old 09-28-10, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by zzzwillzzz
how about a flip-flop hub? that will give you two gears, make the smaller one a freewheel use it to climb and the freewheel will allow you to coast down the hill, swap back to a bigger gear for the flats. i would run as wide a range as possible. maybe run something like a 16 or 17 fixed and then a 20 or 22 freewheel from a 29er singlespeed if you have enough dropout space to accommodate it
Isn't is possible to use 2 freewheels on a flip-flop hub?
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Old 09-28-10, 01:45 AM
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I dunno, if your only reason for doing it single speed is because you don't have a geared bike, and you don't know what you are getting into in terms of what gears or tires to use, and you have a partner to consider, not sure it sounds like that good a deal. One can certainly tour on single speeds, and with a geared partner. My parents did it in Ireland in the 50s, a single speed and a 3 speed at the time. Still one could find a geared bike, or parts on most garbage days. What's the actual point here?
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Old 09-28-10, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by vik
In that pic my front tire was 9psi and my rear 12psi. I'm not suggesting front derailleurs don't work or rear derailleurs for that matter. I just enjoy simple clean chain lines and I'm not finding 8spds for example any handicap at all. When I have to replace the drivetain on my LHT it will get an 8 or 9 spd setup. I'm not worried about how much it weighs now.
wow, 9 and 12, I was way off with my 40 estimate! At these pressures, the tires never feel like they are "rolling off to the side" too much in corners? Or feel "iffy" for pinch flats? To give me an idea, what sort of pressures would you run if you were going to be on really hard packed stuff (or in other words, what is the max pressure you use on them?-just curious as I find them rather intriguing and it would be fun to try a bike set up like this sometime. You know I was being silly about the tubes, makes me think of those truck tire inner tubes we used to float in on the lake as kids...

and Peterpan, my thoughts exactly (your general questioning of why)
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Old 09-28-10, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by nun
Most single speeders seem to have in the high 70's gear inches, but for touring I'd go down to the low 70s or high 60s. You can cruise along at 17mph....who needs more on a tour.... and still tackle most hills, although once it gets above 10% for any length I find myself getting off and pushing.

https://wheelsofchance.org/england-2009/
^^This. I have a FG, I live in a reasonably hilly area, and I ride 70 gear inches - 42/16. Anything bigger than that and I start to really struggle on >10% hills, and at 70 inches I can still spin along at close to 25 mph if I want to. And if I was going on a loaded tour, I would certainly gear lower than that, maybe 38/16 or even lower. Unless you are prodigiously strong, 46/16 is going to be very hard work, and very hard on your knees, when you start pedaling a full load uphill
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