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  1. #1
    Sleek Jamis Exile Rider
    Reputation: MadMacMan's Avatar
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    Single Speed Doubt

    Yesterday, I was riding new to me single track on my Jamis Exile and handling it pretty well I thought. THe trail was fast and flowy without too much elevation change. I then caught a loop that really pushed me. Steep ups and Steeper downs. I tried to ride the ups, but had to hike a bike quite a bit.

    Mind you, Im only 46 and starting to ride more than once a week. I have nothing to prove to anyone by trying to clean hills. So I will guiltlessly hop off the bike and walk/jog up the rest of the way.

    The loop I was on was longer than I thought and some evil thoughts crossed my mind. I was contemplating what it would take to switch to 1 X 9 or even 2 X 9.
    As I continued to ride, it then occurred to me that it isn't a matter of gearing that will help me ride better, but a matter of physical and cardiovascular fitness.

    There wasn't a hill on the trail that cant be cleared on the bike I was on. So instead of running out and buying a geared bike for the trails I ride, I will continue to improve my fitness levels and riding skills. I will remain forever and always...

    A SINGLESPEED RIDER

  2. #2
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    Doubts, no doubts, single speed itīs the future

  3. #3
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    Exile is the ride to keep you going on the trails. Got any pictures?

  4. #4
    Clyde on a mission!
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadMacMan View Post
    The loop I was on was longer than I thought and some evil thoughts crossed my mind. I was contemplating what it would take to switch to 1 X 9 or even 2 X 9.
    I've been down that road too. Been riding SS exclusively for half a year or so and recently got my geared bike back. I had loaned it to a buddy to see if mtb'ing was anything for him and now he has his own bike.

    So there I was with my geared bike again, looking at it and thinking that it would give me some options that my SS don't give me. "I can just stay in one gear, same gearing as my SS and that'll be it. Maybe pick a taller gear on the flats for a bit extra speed and choose to spin up some of the hills in a low gear. How can that not be better than riding a SS?"

    I got on the bike and used the gears to get to my favorite trail a bit faster. On my SS I spin out around 16-17 mph, on my geared it's a piece of cake to go faster. At the trail I picked the same gearing as my SS and started riding. Then I got to thinking "That next hill is a bit tough, maybe just downshift once or twice?". I hit the hill, stood up and started mashing and it didn't quite work, it was a bit too slow. Going down the other side I used a taller gear and ended up pretty winded at the foot of the next climb and had to make a choice of standing and mashing or going really low and sitting and mashing. I opted for sitting and mashing, but halfway up the climb I got bored and tried standing and mashing - in a gear that was way, way too low.

    The ride went on and I was never really hitting the right gear, constantly trying to feel out my leg muscles to make a decision before the next climb and so on. I was constantly second-guessing my choices, fiddling with the gears the whole way, constantly searching for that perfect gear which always seemed to be anything but the gear I was currently using. Kinda like "the grass is always greener.." where you are never quite satisfied where you are and think something else has to be better.

    I rode my geared bike for a week before going back to my SS. Getting back on the SS was almost a zen like experience. No more fuss about what gear to choose, I have to make do with what I got. No more considerations on whether to sit and spin or stand and mash, that comes 100% natural once you hit the climb. I love that a SS is just riding, not point in trying to figure out the best gear, just pedal and enjoy the ride since you can't change a damn thing anyway.

  5. #5
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    You can also go with a bigger cog until you can clear them comfortably, then drop down in size. I've seen many posts about just keep trying on the same cog, and you'll slowly start to walk less until you eventually clear it. I took a different approach and went with the bigger cog. When I first started out on SS, I used a 22t cog matched to 32t front ring. That did a few things for me, 1) gradually make my legs stronger, as opposed to dealing with sudden strain on knees, muscles etc. and risking injury, 2) similar idea with my cardio level, gradual improvements with cardio, 3) provide instant gratification that I was able to clear the same hills without changing gears, 4) allow me to experience the same gratification again by dropping down to the next lower gear and clearing things again. Actually, I skipped 21t altogether after about 6 mos, and I'm at 20t now. I think 18t is doable for our trails here, but I still have a lot of technical challenges to clear on 20t to not even care about anything less. For example, I still have trouble clearing real tight switchbacks on the same climb I easily cleared when I ran 1x9. The way I see it, it's just all part of the fun with SS and what makes it so compelling.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadMacMan View Post
    Yesterday, I was riding new to me single track on my Jamis Exile and handling it pretty well I thought. THe trail was fast and flowy without too much elevation change. I then caught a loop that really pushed me. Steep ups and Steeper downs. I tried to ride the ups, but had to hike a bike quite a bit.

    Mind you, Im only 46 and starting to ride more than once a week. I have nothing to prove to anyone by trying to clean hills. So I will guiltlessly hop off the bike and walk/jog up the rest of the way.

    The loop I was on was longer than I thought and some evil thoughts crossed my mind. I was contemplating what it would take to switch to 1 X 9 or even 2 X 9.
    As I continued to ride, it then occurred to me that it isn't a matter of gearing that will help me ride better, but a matter of physical and cardiovascular fitness.

    There wasn't a hill on the trail that cant be cleared on the bike I was on. So instead of running out and buying a geared bike for the trails I ride, I will continue to improve my fitness levels and riding skills. I will remain forever and always...

    A SINGLESPEED RIDER
    Good for you! I'm 47, ride when I can, walk when I have to. For me the ride is mental along with physical, which works the mind and the body...SINGLE SPEED = I ride for ME!

  7. #7
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    You've got it right. Keep building your fitness and before you know it you'll be smoking most, if not all of your friends up climbs. My geared bikes rarely get ridden any longer and when I do get on one it takes me most of the ride to figure out which gear I should be in- lots of wasted energy. I love the simplicity and the added challenge to every ride, you earn every climb.

  8. #8
    the half breed devil
    Reputation: shekky's Avatar
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    i am almost 51.

    i love my singlespeed for many reasons.

    i love my geared bikes for many reasons.

    each has its place in my scheme of things.

  9. #9
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    Options

    Singlespeeding isn't a religion, it is a riding option. Some folks think of it as the former and get all ranty and fundamentalist about it, which is just silly.

    Ride what works for you, figuring in fun, level of fitness, trail characteristics etc. I keep a collection of bikes and pull out the SS when it feels right (which is much of the time :-). But other times, the geared bike works great for me and what I want to ride.

  10. #10
    Sleek Jamis Exile Rider
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    I agree that it is silly. But I love my single speed bike. I just feel like it is cheating myself on truly getting physically fit I feel the need to to gear down to granny gear just to clean a hill

  11. #11
    the half breed devil
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadMacMan View Post
    I agree that it is silly. But I love my single speed bike. I just feel like it is cheating myself on truly getting physically fit I feel the need to to gear down to granny gear just to clean a hill
    no, it's NOT silly.

    but i need my granny gear for climbing parts of hill 88 out here in marin...

  12. #12
    Daniel the Dog
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    SS allows you to be in the wrong gear most of the time

  13. #13
    Trail Junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaybo View Post
    SS allows you to be in the wrong gear most of the time
    You mean, "The right gear all the time!"

    MadMacMan - I think if you were going to go out and spend the money of a geared bike. Why not just expand your riding options completely? Spend the money on a Cyclocross bike so that you can cross train for physical and cardiovascular fitness; open you to possibly different scenery for longer rides, can be used on road, fireroad, and tame singletrack.
    I call them "utility" bikes because of their versatility. Great addition to a stable.

    A cross-training bike (road/cross) will speed your improvements faster because you sustain your cadence and wattage output throughput for your rides. It will translate to improvements on the trail, even on the SS...something to consider.
    Santa Cruz Tallboy c
    Lynskey Pro29 SS
    Cervelo S2
    Spech Tricross Expert
    Misfit diSSent

    Fut. Bikes:
    Banshee Phantom

  14. #14
    the half breed devil
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    Quote Originally Posted by dubdryver View Post
    You mean, "The right gear all the time!"

    MadMacMan - I think if you were going to go out and spend the money of a geared bike. Why not just expand your riding options completely? Spend the money on a Cyclocross bike so that you can cross train for physical and cardiovascular fitness; open you to possibly different scenery for longer rides, can be used on road, fireroad, and tame singletrack.
    I call them "utility" bikes because of their versatility. Great addition to a stable.

    A cross-training bike (road/cross) will speed your improvements faster because you sustain your cadence and wattage output throughput for your rides. It will translate to improvements on the trail, even on the SS...something to consider.
    a cross bike will also improve your line-picking skills if you ride it on some of the same trails you use your MTB on...

  15. #15
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    I agree with the CX idea. I have a road bike as well as my SS MTB and constantly wish I had something in between. I got a suitable frame and am going to start collecting parts to build my CX bike.

  16. #16
    1*14*29*2.1 & 1*1*29*2.4
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    drop bar 29er not a bad option too. I have mine set up to fill the gap between road and dirt.

  17. #17
    'Tis but a scratch
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    Quote Originally Posted by shekky View Post
    i am almost 51.

    i love my singlespeed for many reasons.

    i love my geared bikes for many reasons.

    each has its place in my scheme of things.
    +1, I agree with 75% of these statements. I am 46 though.

  18. #18
    Dive Bomber
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    I once have the thought to have gears or even convert to one, but I ended up buying rollers and slick tires which is more useful. Training and exercise makes you stronger not some high tech stuffs.

  19. #19
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    Ride, walk,whatever to get through. I rarely walk, but will take a 'breather' once in awhile to get the heart rate down, and repeat.

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