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  1. #1
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    SS woes: gears or HTFU?

    I have an On-One Pompino (singlespeed CX bike) with a 39x17 gear and 32mm tires on it that a I use for commuting 7.5 miles to work. I usually put a rack and trunk bag on it and my slog to work is pretty easy. however, i went on a longer, adventurous ride on my day off and discovered HILLS. oh my! it was brutal and I crawled up all but one of them before walking the rest of it.

    I would really like to do a lot more long road rides but I don't know if the SS is going to hack it. I also don't know if the bike is going to hold me back from keeping up with a group of roadies.

    I only have storage space and the budget for two bikes: one is my mountain bike and the other is always a pavement-oriented bike. if I decide that I "need" gears, the Pompino has got to go. it has track spacing so there is no way to gear it up, at least none that I think are worth my effort. or I need to HTFU and grow some muscles and slog my way through those hills and traffic on the SS like a macho man. No IGH nonsense!

    no need for bike suggestions just yet, I think I know what I want.
    Last edited by mack_turtle; 07-27-2013 at 06:09 PM.

  2. #2
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    If you want/need gears and want to keep the On-One. Just get an internally geared hub like a Shimano Alfine or one of the Sturmy Archers. I really like my Alfine 8 on my commuter.

    Tim

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimT View Post
    If you want/need gears and want to keep the On-One. Just get an internally geared hub like a Shimano Alfine or one of the Sturmy Archers. I really like my Alfine 8 on my commuter.

    Tim
    and OP explained in his post why that wouldn't work...


    OP; you may well be able to ride whatever you like with a single - I know a couple guys that road coast to coast on fixies. Your bike absolutely will prevent you from keeping up with a roadie group though, unless you are much, much stronger than they are.
    In the meantime, I'd think about a second freewheel for the hill days.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    if I decide that I "need" gears, the Pompino has got to go. it has track spacing so there is no way to gear it up, at least none that I think are worth my effort.
    a frame swap with a Pompetamine would allow you to gear up the bike, with a rear wheel swap (the pompetamine has 135mm dropouts). It's built for an IGH like the Alfine 8, but I just bought one of these to see how it'll work to make it a 1x9 or 1x10.

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  5. #5
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    IGH is out of the question. I want a wider range of gears like a legit road bike would have anywys. I live in a place that should have a good market for a funky ss road bike so selling it should not be hard.

    In the meantime, i have a flipflop hub. So i might try 39x17 fixed for short easy rides and 39x19 free for longer rides.

    Or just suck it up!

  6. #6
    jrm
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    First things first...climbing on a SS road bike IS NOT EASY. It takes time and patience. Heck i still am not to proud to walk a hill if i need/want too. Bike set up helps though b/c the pompino frame isnt that light. I run 25 and 28c tires (300g or lighter) @ 100 -110 psi on my pompino with a nice light wheelset. Anything bigger made the bike slow to wind up, tougher to stay on top of the 39/16 gearing and messed with my Achilles tendons from having to pull up so hard in order to maintain mometum on climbs or from dead starts.

    Another thing ive done was ditch my cowbell drop bar for a on one mungo. Being able to pull straight up on a bar and not the hoods of the brake lever while standing has made it easier for me to keep a slow but constant candence while climbing without having to have a death grip.

    But in the long run the pompino cant replace my Defy 1 for comfort

  7. #7
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    It's doable (I regularly do 20-50 miles rides with a 42X16), though it takes some time to get up to it. Now, I have no problems keeping pace at 20-22 mph, unless we're going downhill. The first few months were pretty hellish, though.

    Just remember, you go slow(er) on hills no matter what kind of bike you're using, and I imagine with a bit of work on climbing technique, you'll be able to outpace most/all of the geared riders you pass, I know I've gotten to that point.

    A part of the reasoning behind my purchasing a singlespeed/IGH bike was that I could spend that much less on maintenance, both in terms of money and time. It was not fun flossing cogs and wiping down derailleurs twice a day during bad weather, so I ditched them altogether. Simplicity and lightweight would be the other two factors I would look at as a reason to grab a SS bike, and if none of those held true, then I would have had very little reason not to use a geared bike.

    For what it's worth SA makes a 2 speed kick-shift hub that is, by all rights, very unobtrusive. You set your usual flat/downhills gear to the higher ratio, so if you come to a hill, or can't keep up your pace home, you can shift down. The jump would be analogous to shifting chainrings, more or less.

  8. #8
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    Gears

  9. #9
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    Sturmy makes hubs with spacing's from 108-185. I'm sure you can find some thing to fit the frame, any frame for that matter. Also if you work out the gear range you might be surprised how close you can get to a "road bike".

    Tim

  10. #10
    jrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
    SA makes a 2 speed kick-shift hub that is, by all rights, very unobtrusive. You set your usual flat/downhills gear to the higher ratio, so if you come to a hill, or can't keep up your pace home, you can shift down. The jump would be analogous to shifting chainrings, more or less.
    I had a wheel built with a S2 hub for the pompino and its on CL now. The weight and 38% jump between gears was more of a hassle then it was an advantage. I built up a nice light rear with a a flip-flop hub and its much better.

  11. #11
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    Iíve been running 44x20 on my 2009 11th Anniversary Edition Surly 1x1 ďRat RideĒ for roughly 600 miles thus far. Not all commuting, mostly hilly training rides. Not too bad of a gear ratio, you just have to get used to those dragrace style starts to get the thing going. The 24"x3.45" fatty slicks help keep the legs in check.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
    It was not fun flossing cogs and wiping down derailleurs twice a day during bad weather, so I ditched them altogether.
    Twice a day? You must be riding through some nasty stuff. Mine doesn't get cleaned nearly that much and it shifts great.

  13. #13
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    Running one gear is all about compromise. You could try throwing the largest freewheel that your current chain length would allow on there to get a taste for lower gearing. Spinning a low gear on flat ground isn't fun though, so again..compromise.

    I think you'd enjoy a geared bike. I've been in this situation before, and switching to gears made sense in the long run. I still get the urge to ride fixed from time to time though.

  14. #14
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    I usually try to stay out of it but

    You singlespeed people are nuts. I can see that if you lived in a relatively flat area that the simplicity of a singlespeed might be nice. Or for some mountain biking where "less is more" a singlespeed might be nice. You will never bust a derailleur off in the middle of the woods on an SS.

    BUT! I really can't figure out trying to justify riding a SS in places where geared bikes would just be be better.

    -Riding a singlespeed is like using dial-up when you have a cable modem available. Sure, it costs less (lighter, less complex) but steep uphill sucks and steep downhill sucks too.
    -Why would you want to give up and walk up a hill when you could just shift?
    -No, you cannot develop a climbing technique that will get you up hills faster than a geared bike that lets you select the gear that lets you climb in the gear that is most efficient for you.
    - If I put my bike in a 42x16 gearing and try to go up my driveway after stopping for traffic in the road - I CAN'T. Standing on the pedals, pulling up on the bars I simply don't have the leverage to get up that hill from a stop in gearing that is too high. And I actually climb pretty good.
    - Why the F--- would you want to blow out your knees/Achilles/whatever by straining up the hills?

    Well, at least that's my opinion, Flame on

  15. #15
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    I know I am going to get into a geared bike at this point. surprisingly, I have gotten little interest on craigslist for my singlespeed. in Austin, TX, hipster capital of the third coast!

    considering a lot of options: a new road bike is probably not in my price range, even with a heavy industry discount. (working in the bicycle retail business means you don't get paid enough to afford any of the awesome stuff you sell to people with lots of money.) stuff is just too expensive. used bikes: get a decent used roadie, or frankenbike an old hybrid with drops or some bar ends on a flat bar. all that matters is that it's reasonably zippy, can handle a rear rack, and fits me well for short rides as well as long, rambling suburban rides.
    Last edited by mack_turtle; 08-04-2013 at 10:18 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    You singlespeed people are nuts.
    there is a time and a place for simplifying. why do you ride a bike when you could just drive a car? why not just hire a helicopter to take you everywhere you want to go? why climb a mountain when you can just watch a video of someone else doing it? why read the book when the movie is the same story but less complex and does not require all that horribly time-consuming reading? that's like using a dial up modem when you have cable! why shift down when you can just man up and mash up that hill?

    there is a certain amount of satisfaction that comes with challenging yourself by simplifying your gear. it's fun and liberating. however, there's a point where it's just silly and the challenge becomes fun-sucking. you can climb a mountain solo, but it would be just silly to trudge through the snow wearing only your boxer briefs.

    I think I am at that point where I want to ride further and faster and the SS thing is holding me back.

    riding SS might blow out your knees if you over-do it. so does riding with gears. what's your point?

    if you can't get a bike going with a 42/16 gear, you need to grow some muscles. I ride mine at 39/17 because that's the best compromise I have found. 42/16 on hills is pretty insane and I have nothing but respect for people who can do it. I think you're just jealous.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    there is a time and a place for simplifying. why do you ride a bike when you could just drive a car? why not just hire a helicopter to take you everywhere you want to go? why climb a mountain when you can just watch a video of someone else doing it? why read the book when the movie is the same story but less complex and does not require all that horribly time-consuming reading? that's like using a dial up modem when you have cable! why shift down when you can just man up and mash up that hill?
    Like I started my post, there is a time and place for it. But people justifying it for applications where it is not the best doesn't seem like the time or the place.

    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    there is a certain amount of satisfaction that comes with challenging yourself by simplifying your gear. it's fun and liberating. however, there's a point where it's just silly and the challenge becomes fun-sucking. you can climb a mountain solo, but it would be just silly to trudge through the snow wearing only your boxer briefs.
    That was kind of my point.

    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I think I am at that point where I want to ride further and faster and the SS thing is holding me back.
    That was also my point.

    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    riding SS might blow out your knees if you over-do it. so does riding with gears. what's your point?
    My point is that the higher stress you put on your knees will do it a lot faster. Maybe even suddenly.

    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    if you can't get a bike going with a 42/16 gear, you need to grow some muscles. I ride mine at 39/17 because that's the best compromise I have found. 42/16 on hills is pretty insane and I have nothing but respect for people who can do it. I think you're just jealous.
    I can't get it going from a dead stop going up that specific hill and I'm comfortable with my muscles, so, not jealous. Unless you can win at most of your races and then I might be. Just a little.

    No hard feelings. I should have said you singlespeeders have an amazing amount of passion for your obsession. No go buy yourself a bike with gears. I'd keep the singlespeed if I were you since you are in a place where it could be fun to ride.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    Like I started my post, there is a time and place for it. But people justifying it for applications where it is not the best doesn't seem like the time or the place.
    agreed!

  19. #19
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    There are plenty of "why singlespeed" threads, but I'll try to nicely address some of bedwards skepticism:

    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    -Why would you want to give up and walk up a hill when you could just shift?
    Just in terms of commuting, if someone is walking hills I'd say they're doing something wrong.

    I'm in the weird situation of living somewhere that is incredibly flat, except for one 150' deep river valley. There's no such thing as a long climb, but there are plenty of steep up-and-downs.

    My street ss is 42x16 with 2.35s for about 70 gearinches. And I can comfortable climb this hill or this hill or this hill, but have to accept that this hill is just not going to happen, so I avoid it.

    On flat ground I comfortably cruise at 29kmh/18mph, and with a bigger gear I know I could probably go a touch faster, but it wouldn't be much faster. Riding down long hills it's pretty easy to run out of gears, but around here I don't consider that a big deal.

    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    -No, you cannot develop a climbing technique that will get you up hills faster than a geared bike that lets you select the gear that lets you climb in the gear that is most efficient for you.
    The right gear ratio has very little to do with it, because the vast vast vast majority of geared riders have terrible technique - approach a hill, slow way down, gear way down, and then spin on up. On an ss you just go.

    The fact that you're in the wrong gear isn't a big deal when you've got a 50' head start, and are doing 15mph instead of 5mph.

    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    - If I put my bike in a 42x16 gearing and try to go up my driveway after stopping for traffic in the road - I CAN'T.
    There's your problem...don't stop.

    I climb ramps in parking garages from a standstill everyday, so unless your driveway is really crazily steep it should be doable. You learn that your first 2 or 3 pedal strokes when you're on flat ground really need to count.

    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    - Why the F--- would you want to blow out your knees/Achilles/whatever by straining up the hills?
    I have really bad knees, and had to stop running because of them. And when I ran I had achilles problems too. And when I was 28 I pretty much limped for an entire year. All of that was a concern when I started ssing, but after 3 years of it I haven't had a single problem.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    -Riding a singlespeed is like using dial-up when you have a cable modem available. Sure, it costs less (lighter, less complex) but steep uphill sucks and steep downhill sucks too.
    -Why would you want to give up and walk up a hill when you could just shift?
    -No, you cannot develop a climbing technique that will get you up hills faster than a geared bike that lets you select the gear that lets you climb in the gear that is most efficient for you.
    - If I put my bike in a 42x16 gearing and try to go up my driveway after stopping for traffic in the road - I CAN'T. Standing on the pedals, pulling up on the bars I simply don't have the leverage to get up that hill from a stop in gearing that is too high. And I actually climb pretty good.
    - Why the F--- would you want to blow out your knees/Achilles/whatever by straining up the hills?
    I don't know, man. I've had to pass roadies going uphill on my SS. The problem is, once I reach the top of the hill, my speed plateaus and I lose out on the downhill. On a geared bike, I struggle to maintain a similar speed all the way up the hill. If I shift and still keep the same cadence, I will slow down. Part of the fun of a singlespeed is learning how to harness momentum and use it to your advantage. It's crazy what kinds of hills you can climb without too much straining. I think SS commuters are way more fun than geared bikes.

  21. #21
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    As a fixie feasibility study, I rode to and from work one winter day without changing gears or coasting.

    Never again.

    To be fair, if I had unlimited bike resources I'd definitely have a fixed or SS bike. I just wouldn't ride it to work...

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
    To be fair, if I had unlimited bike resources I'd definitely have a fixed or SS bike. I just wouldn't ride it to work...
    My ss is just my backup bike during the winter, and last year I took it out at least about once a week. But winter is too unpredictable, and if you plan on riding everyday and not occasionally walking for blocks then at least having the option of a little extra flexibility is a good thing.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
    As a fixie feasibility study, I rode to and from work one winter day without changing gears or coasting.

    Never again.

    To be fair, if I had unlimited bike resources I'd definitely have a fixed or SS bike. I just wouldn't ride it to work...
    That might give a loose approximation, but it's hard to replicate a SS with a geared bike and harder to replicate a fixie while riding with a freehub. It's just not the same. I bet if you rode the same stretch of road on an SS with the same gearing you were using for your trial, you'd have a better ride. But if SS commuting isn't alluring to you, there's nothing wrong with that.

  24. #24
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    I've been spending a lot of time on my track bike lately including my 22.5 mile each way commute. The first day was a bit sketchy as i had to figure out when to start scrubbing speed for some downhill stops. Now that I have the route figured out it's fun. I'm a few minutes slower than on a geared bike.
    Climbing hills is no problem, its going down the other side that can get hair raising. I feel that I climb better on my track bike than on a geared bike although the geared bike wins for any steep climb more than a mile long.

    I agree with s0ckeyeus that the feeling of ss or fixed can't really be replicated. I don't know if its the drag through the derailleur or the slack in the chain but it's just not the same.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
    As a fixie feasibility study, I rode to and from work one winter day without changing gears or coasting.

    Never again.
    I've done the same which is where I'm basing my stance. I'm sure a SS is a little different but it can't be that different. Gear-inches are gear-inches. You just can't store enough momentum to make it up a 1 mile long hill at more than a few % grade.

    s0ck, no doubt you have to pass rodies, if you let your cadence drop too far you'll stall out.

    I was just stirring up you SS guys. I know how passionate you all are about your lack of gearing. I'm just trying to understand the allure and obviously so far I don't.

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