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  1. #1
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    Single Speed Racing Ethics

    Recently I spoke with a very good racer in the single speed world and he was giving me tips on how to do well in endurance (like 12hour and 24hour) events. He gave me some good tips and hints but then he said something that scared me a bit… He was saying that he usually switches gears half way through the race. Lets say for instance he may start a race 32x16 and switch in the pits to 32x17 when he cant make the hills. In the rules of this type racing it says nothing about that one cant switch gears. Here is the dilemma: Is it truly single speeding if one switches gears half way into a race???? I would have no problem if these people that do this race in the geared category but they race in a category were the title implies only using one gear. Maybe I am being too much of a purest, but this seems morally wrong to me. Half the fun of racing single speeds is working with what you have. I can honestly say that I have never ended a race with a different gear then I started with. I hope this message starts an intelligent discussion on the subject. Can’t wait to hear your point of view. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Changing gears

    Quote Originally Posted by xSSx
    Recently I spoke with a very good racer in the single speed world and he was giving me tips on how to do well in endurance (like 12hour and 24hour) events. He gave me some good tips and hints but then he said something that scared me a bit? He was saying that he usually switches gears half way through the race. Lets say for instance he may start a race 32x16 and switch in the pits to 32x17 when he cant make the hills. In the rules of this type racing it says nothing about that one cant switch gears. Here is the dilemma: Is it truly single speeding if one switches gears half way into a race???? I would have no problem if these people that do this race in the geared category but they race in a category were the title implies only using one gear. Maybe I am being too much of a purest, but this seems morally wrong to me. Half the fun of racing single speeds is working with what you have. I can honestly say that I have never ended a race with a different gear then I started with. I hope this message starts an intelligent discussion on the subject. Can?t wait to hear your point of view. Thanks.

    In my opinion, it does'nt make a difference. If you cannot change gears while riding, its still a singlespeed.

  3. #3
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    No Problem

    I don't see any ethical problem there at all. He still only has one gear while he's on the course. Is there anything wrong with switching out tires? What if you rode different bikes at different times? What makes it single-speeding is that when the hill goes up you can't shift down (and vice versa).

  4. #4
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    Yeah, but did one race a single speed race or a two speed race??? What if its less about the bike and the rules and more of what a single speed race implies. There is no class that says "single set of tires race" and if there was... Would it be ethical to race half the race on one set and then switch. Just becuase you are only using one at a time is no argument. One has still raced on two sets of tires. Right???? I need more...
    Last edited by xSSx; 06-29-2005 at 10:34 PM.

  5. #5
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    A single speed is a single speed is a single speed. What you do in the pit is your own business. I've never raced though, so don't take my word for it.

  6. #6
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    I understand that the bike is a still a single speed but can you ethicly race in the one gear/single speed group??? Rules aside because they say one can. I have a big problem with this but maybe am wierd for thinking that.

  7. #7
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    Shady

    My ethic would be that it's OK to switch in the pits if one is repeating identical laps. If it's a course with two different laps then changing the gearing is unethical, you're adapting the gearing to the terrain. But I'm sure a lawyer would say if the rules don't forbid it then it's OK.

  8. #8
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    It seems like rule nit-picking. You are just changing the semi-permanent gearing of your single-speed bicycle while in the pit. It's a race for single-speed bicycles, not a race in which you can only use one gearing.

  9. #9
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    it's a race. this weekend's start of the tour of france presents a close analogy. to remain competitive, different bikes are used at various stages. similarily, during an endurance race, riders shouldn't be questioned if they decide to tweak the gearing. even on the course-if a rider wants to whip out a 16" breaker bar and swap cogs before a strenuous climb, more power to him/her. however, the line should be drawn on blood doping. that needs to be contained to the pits.
    Huck Maestro

  10. #10
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    We are talking about an endurance event here.

    Quote Originally Posted by xSSx
    Recently I spoke with a very good racer in the single speed world and he was giving me tips on how to do well in endurance (like 12hour and 24hour) events. He gave me some good tips and hints but then he said something that scared me a bit… He was saying that he usually switches gears half way through the race. Lets say for instance he may start a race 32x16 and switch in the pits to 32x17 when he cant make the hills. In the rules of this type racing it says nothing about that one cant switch gears. Here is the dilemma: Is it truly single speeding if one switches gears half way into a race???? I would have no problem if these people that do this race in the geared category but they race in a category were the title implies only using one gear. Maybe I am being too much of a purest, but this seems morally wrong to me. Half the fun of racing single speeds is working with what you have. I can honestly say that I have never ended a race with a different gear then I started with. I hope this message starts an intelligent discussion on the subject. Can’t wait to hear your point of view. Thanks.
    An event where changing clothes and taking a nap between laps is normal. As the club race director for our local club for the last two years, I would say your nitpicking.

    Brian

  11. #11
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    The guy is only using *one gear* when out on the course. Therefore, he is "singlespeed" racing.

    It sounds ok to me, unless the race rules specifically forbid the changing of gear ratios between laps/events.

    He is using his head, and that is all part of race tactics.. imo.




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  12. #12
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    I have done a number of solo 12 and 24 race. I see no problem with it. I have even done it myself at one 12hr race. Started of with 32x16 because I knew the course was going to be tough going (use 34x16 most of the time). As a result of going out to hard I had no option but to drop things back to 32x18.

  13. #13
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    A century ago, TdF racers were already using flip-flop hubs. They found that cycling isn't all that cool when you try to ride up the (then still steeper gravel version of the) Galibier in the same gear you also ride your flat clssics with. So at the bottom of a serious climb, they'd gear down a tooth or two. Wasn't called cheating. When the derailer hit the scene, it wasn't even considered cheating, but plain stupid. SS'ers won the TdF for a few more years until the derailer actually became a function item, and got used by real contenders.
    I think, in Singlespeed class races, you should limit changing gears to the pits, and then on the same bike. If you only have to swap bikes, that's even easier than a wheel flop, but then with flip-flop you can do it multiple times per lap.

  14. #14
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    24/9

    it's ok as long as it is inthe pits. At the 24/9 last year, I switched my wheelset. The ENO wheelset I started out with had a 18t ENO cog...half way though I changed it to the 16t cog wheel. I was running out of gear and spinning too fast in some spots. The 16t felt better. Also, I carry an extra wheelset as insurance, in case I bend something I have a backup.

  15. #15
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    Voice of dissent

    I hate to be the one to disagree, but I do think you should stick with what you start with. Changing gears(in endurance racing) as you get tired seems a lot like dropping to the granny when you can't middle ring a climb anymore. You are "shifting" because you are tired. Maybe I am being too much of a purist, but it seems to me the "run what you brung" rule applies when they say "go".
    I had wondered at the Burn 24 hour race if I should have went lower to start with, but I didn't swap out. I just convinced myself that if I was turning the gear earlier in the day so it was still physically possible to still turn it 12 hours later. If I really felt whooped I got off and walked which actually provided me with a nice break.
    I realize there are no rules regarding swapping gears. I am not implying there should be. I just don't think you would see me doing it. Now, stage racing is another matter. When the course changes on a daily basis it seems to me you have to make changes.
    If it is a 24/12 hour race and you have no idea what the course is like I don't know what to say. I think if you have general course knowledge and have been SS'ing for awhile you should be able to make an educated guess. I can't imagine committing to a 24/12 without some knowledge of the course.
    Last edited by teamdicky; 06-30-2005 at 04:20 AM. Reason: q
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  16. #16
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    Not that I have much racing experience, but I'm also in the minority camp. Changing gears is changing gears whether you use a derailleur or not.
    When the going gets weird its bedtime.

  17. #17
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    For those with ethical issues changing gears in a race...I'll offer a frameset with dual-duty rear dropouts. You can fit 26" or 29" wheels, without changing BB heigh. If you'd gamble on a 17t/29" normally, go 16/29" and if you get tired, swap to 16t/26". You didn't change gears, did you? :-D

  18. #18
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    Ride one start to finish....

    I think you should ride with what you start on! However for me it depends on the level of competition. If I were racing to place in a singlespeed class, no way would I switch gears. However my wife and I do a lot of 12 hour races as a duo team. If were not racing for the money, I'll switch just to make the ride more fun.

  19. #19
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    I just ride what I got on. However, you can change tires, tubes, broken chains, brake pad, bent wheels, or even swap bikes during a race. So there should be no problems changing chainrings or cogs. Especially if you bend a chainring, and you don't have an exact replacement.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloxxki
    So at the bottom of a serious climb, they'd gear down a tooth or two. Wasn't called cheating.
    I am not 100% sure, but I think it actualy was considered cheating for a while. The rules were relaxed then to allow it.

  21. #21
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    It is a matter of semantics. If not, then the category should be appropriately called Constant Gear Ratio or Constant Gear Inches, instead of SS. What if I am running a 34:17, but conditions dictate that I need to change a gear to a 34:18? Yes, I did change the gear ratio, but I did not change the actual gear, i.e. I am still only using one while riding. If the assumption is made that the SS category implies not just only a number of gears that are usable at any given time while riding, must there also be a stipulation that the gear ratio or gear inches stay the same? (For something as pure as SS, we just got real messy…)

    Having raced for over 3 years in everything from XC to Enduros on my SS, Singlespeed is singlespeed. In some races I have changed the gear inches after 20+ hrs. My legs were just tired. In some races I have not. Was I a SS in all those races. Damn straight. I still rode only one ring up front and one ring in back. I have yet to see anyone complain at the podium that I was not riding a real SS when I did so.

  22. #22
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    Lightweight

    Quote Originally Posted by Downhill Dawg
    it's a race. this weekend's start of the tour of france presents a close analogy. to remain competitive, different bikes are used at various stages. similarily, during an endurance race, riders shouldn't be questioned if they decide to tweak the gearing. even on the course-if a rider wants to whip out a 16" breaker bar and swap cogs before a strenuous climb, more power to him/her. however, the line should be drawn on blood doping. that needs to be contained to the pits.
    It only takes a hyper-cracker.

  23. #23
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    so then ..

    Quote Originally Posted by ernesto_from_Wisconsin
    it's ok as long as it is inthe pits. At the 24/9 last year, I switched my wheelset. The ENO wheelset I started out with had a 18t ENO cog...half way though I changed it to the 16t cog wheel. I was running out of gear and spinning too fast in some spots. The 16t felt better. Also, I carry an extra wheelset as insurance, in case I bend something I have a backup.
    Is the DOS ENO ethical?

  24. #24
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    i agree with the OP 100%

    In the spirit of simplicity and doing-it-all-in-one-gear-toughguy-ness swapping gears has no place in a single speed race.

    "swapping gears in a single speed race" that statement alone is pretty silly....

    for those arguing that when you swap cogs you are still only using one gear at a time, i also use only one gear at a time bewtween shifts on my geary.
    To air is human, to dig is divine.

  25. #25
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    good discussion, fellas

    Quote Originally Posted by teamdicky
    I hate to be the one to disagree, but I do think you should stick with what you start with. Changing gears(in endurance racing) as you get tired seems a lot like dropping to the granny when you can't middle ring a climb anymore. You are "shifting" because you are tired. Maybe I am being too much of a purist, but it seems to me the "run what you brung" rule applies when they say "go".
    I had wondered at the Burn 24 hour race if I should have went lower to start with, but I didn't swap out. I just convinced myself that if I was turning the gear earlier in the day so it was still physically possible to still turn it 12 hours later. If I really felt whooped I got off and walked which actually provided me with a nice break.
    I realize there are no rules regarding swapping gears. I am not implying there should be. I just don't think you would see me doing it. Now, stage racing is another matter. When the course changes on a daily basis it seems to me you have to make changes.
    If it is a 24/12 hour race and you have no idea what the course is like I don't know what to say. I think if you have general course knowledge and have been SS'ing for awhile you should be able to make an educated guess. I can't imagine committing to a 24/12 without some knowledge of the course.
    I have to agree with TD, Wooglin and our author. Mostly for what I decide to do. If in doubt at the beginning of the race, I may opt to run a smaller gear in an effort to be more efficient later in the race. Otherwise, as Dicky stated above, jump off and push for a nice stretch break.

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