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  1. #1
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    When to make the single speed switch?

    So I am very new to the sport of Mountain Biking been hitting the trails for less than 6 months but I am a fairly strong rider. After completing a trio of beachbody.com workout programs, Insanity and P90X I joined my Dad who is a long time rider and single speed maniac on some rides. Since I was in good shape I took to the trails quickly and love to hammer up the hills.

    I have been able to ride in very tough gears on my bike my riding buddies who have at least 2 years of riding experience each are impressed since they use much lighter gears for the climbs.

    It took my Dad several years to switch over but he likes it a lot. Should I wait a while longer to ensure I'm strong enough for the change? If I convert my bike over is it a nightmare to switch back if I find I'm not ready yet?

  2. #2
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    The sooner you make the switch the better. No reason to bother with gears any longer.

  3. #3
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    Riding ss is very different to riding gears. Even if you are able to climb a hill in a higher gear what would do if you have to climb it several times in a race. That's why ssers usually use reasonably light gears. In that case it will be difficult to get to the trails fast. SS gearing is always a compromise.

  4. #4
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    I was (and still am) a noob. After about 8ish months of riding on average once a week, i tried out SS. I am not a strong rider. Regardless, i have picked gearing that suited my conditioning and trails. I enjoy riding SS more than gears and, due to my strength, find that i can walk up hills faster than i can spin on the gears. So, if i can climb on the SS then i am much faster. If i spin out on the downs, i would probably be coasting anyways. Basically, conditioning means nothing to SSing. I rode a bmx bike EVERYWHERE when i was 5yrs old. That was SS and i only hope i am stronger now than i was then.

    Depending on the bike, its easy to convert to SS. Easier if you have a frame that will accommodate both. Convert over and get an inexpensive range of sprockets (On One Armada?) from about 17-20t. Get on the trails and test it out. If the gear is too tough, just add a tooth.

  5. #5
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    Yeah, no need to wait. Just do it now. You're doing nothing now but wasting time not being on a SS. I built my first SS bike last year and after the first ride I sold my geared bike and I have a new frame on the way to build a second SS. I have no desire to ride geared.

  6. #6
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    If you can ride the hills on your local trail on your middle ring, assuming it's a 32, then you're ready to make the switch. Start with 32:20 and go from there. If the hills are really steep, start with 32:22, but you should be good with a 32:20. If you have to walk some hills, so what, you'll eventually build up the strength.

    I didn't think I'd ever be able to ride a single speed but now that's pretty much all I ride for the past 3 years. And after I made the switch I felt like I'd been missing out. It's only the long endurance rides that I like to have gears (so I don't blow up on the climbs), but for anything shorter than 5 or 6 hours, it's definitely single speed for me. You build the muscles, you learn how to use body english and lunge, you learn how to do the slow grind, you learn how to attack a hill, you learn how to ratchet the pedals. Yeah there are still climbs here and there that I might need to walk, but so what, it's probably faster to walk those anyway.

    Good luck!

  7. #7
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    I just switched today. I have a 29er and I went with 32 front and 18 back. I went for a test ride today and it felt great. Hard enough for a good workout uphill but not so easy as to where I'm spinning out so much. Except for downhill of course. I really like the simplicity of it. It's quieter and less maintenance. My bike had a freewheel so I couldn't get any kits like you can with a free hub. I lucked out and everything lined up good and I didn't need a chain tensioner. I have a new crank on the way too so I can use just one chain ring up front. I also added a jump stop just in case, although you probably don't need it if your chainline is straight. Here is a pic of my Fuji.


  8. #8
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    I started mounting biking on a SS 29er and i've never ridden a geared bike offroad Just do it!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BmoreKen View Post
    If you can ride the hills on your local trail on your middle ring, assuming it's a 32, then you're ready to make the switch. Start with 32:20 and go from there. If the hills are really steep, start with 32:22, but you should be good with a 32:20. If you have to walk some hills, so what, you'll eventually build up...
    !
    So I actually climb in my big ring it says 39t on the side the back I use the fourth gear up its a shimano drive train 2 x 10 SRAM x7 I think I'm still so new I forget all the details

    honesty it will be very hard for me to find time to do a 5 hour ride so I try to ride hard in a tough gear to get maximum work in 2-3 hour rides I am concerned that if I switch to single even if it works great on local trails it may be too difficult for new trails I find

  10. #10
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    Dont overthink it. As one poster said, you probably rode a ss 20 inch bike as a child and did just fine. I ride both ss and geared, just like to switch it up, but I dont use my gears much anyways. If you find yourself shiftin much, then you may want to think before changing. If you mostly ride the same gear, then you are probably riding ss already wiout realizing it.
    Next time you ride, find a gear you are comfortable with and keep it there the entire ride....should give you a good idea if you like it. Pretty easy experiment....
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  11. #11
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    Yeah, no need to think, just do it. Start with a 32x20 and gauge from there. Or judge by how fit you feel you are and your terrain. If you are in really good shape and/or ride a lot of flat/DH stuff, maybe start with an 19T or 18T.

    It's hard to determine how "prepared" you are by how you ride geared. Two different beasts. I was riding my geared bike in the middle ring (32T) and stayed consistently on the lower three or four cogs which should have been more difficult than riding a single speed at 32-20, or so I thought.

    I did my research and the vast majority said 32-20 was a great starting place unless you're in great shape or ride lots of flat stuff. I was neither. I started 32-20 as recommended and got my ass handed to me. Even though it about killed me, I was hooked. Your fitness level increases much much faster, at least it has for me, riding SS so don't worry about that. Every single time I ride a certain trail system, I get better and better at that trail. It's amazing. Even yesterday I dropped down to a 19T and rode as good as I ever did on the 20T.

    I just regret I haven't been on a SS for years rather than just last year. Maybe I'd be a beast on a bike like I'd love to be.

  12. #12
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    Ok guys I think I'm convinced thanks for the input my dad got a buddy to lend me a single speed for a ride today it went well almost failed on one hill. I really like the challenge I will talk to my LBS tomorrow and see about a conversion.
    Last edited by skiplocz; 06-17-2013 at 05:04 AM.

  13. #13
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    I think everyone should start with a singlespeed when first learning to mountain bike. Sure, you'll walk up a few hills. But I have observed that people are less annoyed by that then their inability to get into a good gear or stop the drive train from acting up. Long time XC riders think that walking is the worst thing that can happen on a ride. I would suggest that beginners are more put off by drive train problems due to misadjusted derailers, cross chaining, ghost shifting, etc.

    Soon the "challenge" will be forgotten and you'll just be riding again. But now... you'll experience a less distracted ride. It'll be just you turning the pedals, at one with the bike and trail. That's how I describe it. With a geared bike you're operating machinery, making decisions and consciously controlling something. While single speeding, there is nothing to control and soon you feel like the bike and you are one, as if you were simply walking.

  14. #14
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    Walk, ride, stop. Those are the only options for climbing on SS. Just because you have to walk a climb now doesn't mean that after a few months you won't be flying up that same hill on your bike. I'm still amazed at how fast I clear some climbs that used to give me trouble when riding gears. Make the switch now, you sound like your ready.

    Only time I miss gears is on the flats. But given climbing speed, my over all lap time is roughly the same. I only race against myself anyway. So it doesn't really matter!
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  15. #15
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    I started riding singlespeed when I otherwise was getting a bit bored of riding.

    I also think that starting out on singlespeed is a great idea...you can build a much higher quality bike at low price point than you can with gears.
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  16. #16
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    Just do it. Don't over-think it.
    Its all Shits and Giggles until somebody Giggles and Shits

  17. #17
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    I went SS after I broke about my 80th chain and had bought enough powerlink to make a whole new chain. Now my chains cost half as much, last 10x as long and I don't have to walk out of the trail as often.

  18. #18
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    yesterday.
    Pedal through it!

  19. #19
    Ride,Smile, Pedal Damn it
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsteitz View Post
    yesterday.
    Agreed!

  20. #20
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    If you need to ask, then you are not ready.


  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by byrot View Post
    If you need to ask, then you are not ready.

    lol, that's true. For me, it was one of those things that just happened. I wasn't making conscious decision about going SS, I just went to LBS one day and came home with it.
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  22. #22
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    I have never had a geared bike except for a brief 1x9 experiment. Just do it asap.

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