I picked up a rigid SS 32x18 29er this year after having ridden 6" 27.5 FS bikes exclusively for the past year+.
Here's what I found on the first couple of rides:
1) I torched most of my Strava climbs immediately, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
2) I was slower on the downhills.
3) My overall times were usually better as going up always takes more time than going down, so the climbs are a bigger factor.
4) It did have suspension... in the form of the loose ring my fingers made around the handlebar for the bike to bounce around inside of... This bike demanded better fore/aft balance. Once my arms loosened up, I quickly went from "What was I thinking?" to "This is f'ing awesome!"
5) My average heart rate dropped significantly even though I was going faster. Part of this was that I could pedal less on the downhill, but even looking exclusively at climbs, it was lower. Made sense; I was more reliant on muscle than cardio.
Here's what I found on first going back to the FS:
1) I beat most of my Strava climb PRs that I'd just set on the SS. I stood up more, hung on longer in higher gears, and focused more on maintaining momentum than finding the perfect cog. And, all of this with the suspension wide open. The SS simply made me more aware of my physical capabilities.
2) I absolutely crushed the downhills. The relative comfort of the bike made me more prone to plow straight through obstacles at a higher speed than I had been.
3) I topped most of my overall times.
4) I was more conscious of staying balanced over my BB. The rigid fork had made me aware of how much weight I was putting on the handlebars at times, and I carried that back to the FS.
5) My average HR was pretty close to previous levels, maybe a bit lower.
I've been going back and forth between the two bikes religiously. I might ride two days in a row on the FS if I'm riding with friends, but otherwise I've been sticking to that. Over time here's what I've found:
1) Most importantly, SS's are a goddamn lot of fun! I thought, "Okay, I've sold my road bike. I need a new torture device to make me feel like I'm actually exercising." Mission failed in that respect. Riding this thing makes climbing a pleasure and descending an edge-of-control adrenaline-fest. F'ing awesome!
2) The SS quickly regained my uphill Strava PRs, but I'm climbing harder and faster on the FS than previously. I'm far less prone to revert to my roadie spinning ways on rides where the distance simply doesn't call for conserving anaerobic capacity.
3) I am a better and faster descender than I was. I hear a lot of people talk about SS helping them learn to choose cleaner, presumably faster, lines. This is true of me to an extent. But, I've also become aware of just how much gnar even a rigid can handle and I try to aim for the fastest achievable line even if it shakes me around a bit. I thought I was doing this on the FS already, but the comparison with rigid has given me a lot of perspective on just how much a FS bike can chew up if you let it. End result is I've kicked the aggression up a notch or ten and it's paying dividends.
4) The SS is narrowing the gap on descents. The limiting factor on many trails is becoming the chainring rather than the terrain. Could be time for a 16 cog. Obviously, there are trails where the SS will never compete, but it's handling bigger drops and nastier rock gardens at a higher speed than I would have predicted.
5) No matter how exhausted I get, I remain light on the bars. Maintaining ideal fore/aft balance throughout my ride is making me faster and safer on both of my bikes.
6) I'm less reliant on my cardio and building more leg strength. I've always been a pretty good spinner, but would sometimes come up short on slow, technical features that demanded bursts of raw power. I'm cleaning more and more of those with consistency on both of my bikes.
On the whole, I'm completely sold. I wouldn't want to only ride a rigid SS, but I also wouldn't want to ever not have a rigid SS. I bought the bike expecting to throw a suspension fork on it pretty quickly. I'd probably be faster up and down the hill if I did, but nope... not going to happen. I'm having too much fun on it, just the way it is.
That's a great essay JohnnyVV. I rotate a cross bike a fat bike and an AMFS bike on some the same trails but prefer riding the 26 rigid most of the time. I have a 29 rigid too. It makes the faster times up hill. However for me speed is not the ultimate goal. I enjoy the titanium 26 ride the most. Enjoyment is glorious.
For me, single speed has been a game changer. It's no longer about how fast I go, but rather how I go fast. Anyone who intuitively understands this statement is probably a good candidate for the SS game. That being said, most people don't "get it" in my experience. They need/want gears. After several years of single speed riding, I've finally realized that geared bikes are crutches that keep people from realizing their full potential as cyclists. Not that it can't be done on a geared bike, far from it; just that people usually won't. It's so much easier to change gears and keep doing things wrong than it is to learn how to pedal elegantly and efficiently. A lot of the conversation here is about steep climbing and descending, so I should qualify my assertion by saying that I live in Florida where we don't do much climbing, but rather a lot of balls-out fast flat woods trail riding. In this context, a beautiful spin is crucial, and that's what I'm referring to above. We do have climbing of sorts, but most of it is gradual and fairly gentle- places where you can still spin and the strength you've gained by developing an efficient spin comes into its own. We do have a few steep, but short climbs here in North Florida, and I agree that those are an out of the saddle grunt most of the time. However, as I get stronger, I find myself riding more of those climbs seated. I'm definitely stronger sitting because I can use more of the muscles in my legs that way. Anyway, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. :)
Speaking for myself only, I feel certain that I would look like a drowning man the way I slowly flail and pant ×on some steep technical climbs on the SS. At least that's what I think. I do not in any way feel like I am pedaling in a better way except on certain steady gradients.
Originally Posted by 2400rdr
One thing I always suspected is a theory that my left leg is weaker than the right. SS has helped me feel the imbalance and provide a good even workout.
I have learned how to track stand on my weaker legal as well. On difficult sections of uphill trail i am able to pause without putting a foot down, and track stand for rest between bursts of effort.ß
New SS convert here.
Always been kinda curious, so I just stopped using the gears on my bikes, both on trail and on road. Started with my hilly 9.5 mile commute to work on my cross bike. Took a couple blocks to settle on a gear that I thought would be good (36-17, I think), something that was a bit too easy to pedal on flat street. Only accidentally shifted once going up a hill, but caught myself and shifted right back. Got to work, realized it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Took a super pumped shower, worked, and SS'ed my way back home at the end of the day. I have since graduated up a gear to 36-15.
Thought, "sh1t, gotta try it on the trail now". Did, and it was shockingly fun. Singlespeed fat bike trail riding might be the best thing ever, besides whiskey and bubble gum ice cream. Will probably stay geared on the fatty, at least for now, as I'm not sure how snow riding will be with one gear. Who knows, I may dinglespeed it furiously.
As mentioned already a million times, you'll be surprised how fun it is, that you can climb hills you think you need gears for.
Currently in market for a dedicated SS bike.
What I'm finding is that I like to gear the bike so that I stay nearly spun out a lot of the time because "nearly spun out" is where the advances in my pedal stroke happen. Of course, as you build strength and technique, the gear that gives you "nearly spun out" will change. BTW- a lot of guys seem to like expensive "boutique" SS bikes, but if you can live with a simple machine, the Kona Unit is a heck of a lot of bang for the buck. I love mine, and if it got stolen or lost today, I'd go out and buy another one just like it. RockShox Reba works incredibly well on this bike if you want a suspension fork on the front.
Yeah, for sure. I've been really surprised how far I can push my cadence. On paper my 32x18 seemed to have an intolerably low top end; something like 15mph at 100rpm. When I sold my last road bike, I stuck the cadence sensor on the SS and found I'm routinely spinning up to 140 on it. IIRC, good BMX riders sustain 160+ cadences, albeit on a smoother track. Still, it shows that top speed doesn't have to be quite the limitation it at first appears to be.
Originally Posted by 2400rdr
Well always interesting here. On today's ride I rode a sweet place that I never SS before that I used to frequently over a decade ago, about the time when I began experimenting with SS. I never thought about climbing these trails before, but a ride came up up there, and I thought heck yeah, I will SS. Yep some of those climbs were long and hard, but I did them. I even cleaned the technicals that were hard and no guarantee on the big squishy.
So riding with a pal on a squishy geared bike I replied in conversation that:
"When you single speed for a long time you learn so many different ways of pedaling it is like snow the and the Eskimo. We have on only one word for snow, but the Eskimo allegedly had many for each kind. And that's what single speeding has taught me; there are so many more different ways to pedal than I ever knew, and I keep finding more. These are like my gears."
Ha ha, profound - I will remember that!
Originally Posted by Jack Burns
Why single speed???
Cause everyone should find their own way of loving to ride a bike...
It really doesn't care if it has 1… 10… 20 or 30 gears. As long as you love riding your bike.
Personally 1 is enough for me ;)
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the primary appeal of a single gear set up from what i see is durability. the shifting mechanism even high end set ups have an upper limit on how much stress they can endure before failure and eliminating the component and its moving parts makes the bike more durable in high end applications such as racing.
Hello people!) I wish a good day to all of you!)
My little story...
Back in 2013 when I had custom Norco Rampage with 1x10, I remember that one day I'm just tired of frequent maintenance. This chain, this fork (160 bomber)...I wan't more riding than this). More simple bike I can enjoy more))
Made 1x1 gear (32x16) and it was good enough...
Then after a 3 months of use I sold that bike and....bought a magnificent Kona Unit 2013. Maaan it was sooo goood) 32x18, stock gear, rigid fork. Made a monstercross. It was so comfortable for me. Then...my right knee started to ache...I thought that because of 1 gear...******....I ruined such a great bike, made a 1x8 with road cassette (11-25). Put a Epicon fork. And guess what?...nothing! Even after a 6 month of riding on this set up...I sold it after a year of riding. It was my favorite year....why I didn't come back to single - I don't know....
Bought a cyclocross bike. It still with me) Rocket, what can I say...
But the idea and previous feelings of simple bike still was in my head.
And I made this!)) Single Speed on frame Skyrock AM (it is DC Amstaff). Gear 36x18 for city and light uphills. Great! But now I should pedal standing, not sitting. Now to "wake up" my knee again)
I have some videos about it and testings "in action")
You can check it if you want ^^,
Some of this videos on russian, but never mind. I can make it in english if you want it so much))))))))))
A proper SS with specific SS hubs that have wider flanges than Boost148 is critical and IMHO is what makes a SS bike feel stronger and snappy. It really feels like an oversize BMX bike,especially my fully rigid bike.
The oversize BMX feeling is so convincing I'd even go 24" from 26" :)
Hello SS community...
I felt I needed to post this because I was one of those "why singlespeed?!" people while at the same time being someone that loves simplicity.... so I had to give SS a try.
After a couple nice rides using only my 18t rear gear (32t chainring up front)..... I get it now. I enjoyed my ride so much more and for the first time I didn't wreck or smash one of my legs or arms on something. Making myself stay on the 32x18 has made me realize that before when i shifting constantly I would shift down on the flats and get going way too fast and ultimately crash or have to lay into the brakes super hard around a corner and then have to pedal like crazy out of the corner to get momentum back. Staying in 32x18 made me way more efficient and safe. It made me attack the corners at a slower speed but I was able to carry the momentum through the turn and that was awesome. Climbing wasn't an issue, which was a pleasant surprise. Running SS truly changes your mindset during a ride. I loved it! Now I just need to get all the parts necessary to make my bike a true SS.
Let me add that IMO nothing looks better than a hardtail SS. So giving my bike that look is going to be fun.
Hey SS-ers, just popped in to say that you guys must be machines! I made it a goal (it was an experiment, really) to leave my bike in the highest gear (30 front 14 back) on the way back to the house and my god...the uphills! New level of respect for what you do! O_O
I'm gonna go rock back and forth in the corner for awhile!
Are your wheels 29"? I'm just having it easy on a 32-16 rigid 26" :)
Try 30x18 or 30x19 on a 29er. I started with 32x20 and after a few years I ride 34x18 most places.
For me, 32/19 rocks on rolling hills, lets me stay in the saddle on gradual climbs, survive most longer/steeper ones, and cruise with very little effort(rest!) on the flats.
Might go 32/17 soon, even if it means a little more standing and mashing or the occasional HAB. 30/14; that's roughly equivalent to 36/17, though-not a gear I want to climb anything in at this point!
Last year I rode a 11-28 cassette on my HT and eventually broke the center gear carrier. I've hardly rode it since then and today I decided to make it a SS. Jumping right in with a 30x18 on my 29'er. I already stand and mash a bunch so I cant wait to try this out!
I'm riding 32/18 on my 29", that works for me..
Originally Posted by MCHB
30/14 sounds tough. If you try single speed I'll advise you to err on the easy side, pick a gear that have you spinning out a bit on the flat bits rather than the opposite.
I built myself a cool single speed road bike a couple of years ago. On my mtb I can cruise comfortably at roughly 12 mph on the flats and hit 15-16 mph when I spin like there's no tomorrow - so I thought I'd gear my road bike for 18 mph cruising and 25 balls out.. I did something like 49/17 or so.. It was rocket fast but I would be completely wiped out 3 miles down the road, it just didn't work for me.. Now it's 42/19 or something along those lines, much more useful because I can get into a comfortable cadence, even though the top speed is lower than before..
Apart from that, once you've picked the right gearing and done 10 rides or so, you start wondering why you ever bothered to bring gears..
Easier to climb rocky inclines, no chain slap, no rear derailleur to worry about smashing on rocks and sticks, low maintenance, cheaper to run, a point of difference to the masses, looks awesome, lightweight, nimble.... and a lot of fun to ride.
You missed the #1 reason. Teaches you to be a better rider.
It takes a subtle but critical shift in one's priorities to be able to have fun on singlespeed. Instead of thinking "I want to be able to ride this, this and that, and I need (sic) X features on my bike for all of it -- I'll keep adding features till I reach that X", you start thinking "I have X features on my bike, and am not going to add any more: let's see what I can ride this way?".
I dig the simplicity and directness of it. That's the short version.
Tabata training:Tabata was a Japanese fitness researcher at a university. He had many students as subjects and he had some lifting weights, some running 10 miles a day, etc. The group that got the most improvement in the least time was doing 20 seconds as hard as you can go 10 seconds rest, repeat for 30 minutes 3 times a week. I was a 5000 mile roadie for years and when I started single speeding I suddenly got into better shape even though I was in my mid 50's. I tried to figure out why and I stumbled across Tabata training. It makes sense, 20 seconds up the hill, 10 seconds down, 20 seconds up the hill, etc. So it is a fun way to do Tabata training.
I think of SSing as a form of fartlek, except that, instead of the intervals being randomly chosen by the participant, they are determined by the trail.
Originally Posted by yourdaguy
Well sometimes I do fart when riding, but I surely don't leak! :nono:
Originally Posted by Ryder1
(someone just had to yield to the temptation to follow that with a silly joke)
^ I learned a new word today
Agreed, high intensity is better than distance. I've never bought a road bike and have no desire to buy one for training like people say. Buying another SS next week.:)
Originally Posted by yourdaguy