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  1. #1
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    "You'll get used to it" they say...

    am I a freak of nature, or did some of you guys find that there was no "getting used to it" period for your single speeds? A little over a month ago I bought my first SS, I'm TOTALLY in love with it...it's the 2013 limited edition El Mariachi Single Speed from Salsa, hot rodded with XT brakes, Thompson Masterpiece seatpost, carbon bars, a Reba fork...all sorts of hotness. I love everything about it.

    On my full sus geared bike I used to ride 2-3 times a week, 5-10 miles a ride...loved it & I was totally happy with that...I was one of the slower guys in the group on climbs & got winded easy, but the guys I ride with ahve been at it for 20 years in some cases & I'm only a couple years into the sport so I expect that.

    But as soon as I got on this El Mar, literally that day, it's like a switch flipped. I'm suddenly out there almost every day, doing 10+ miles all the time, and on trails that I used to average a 7:10/mi pace I'm running it in 6:00/mi flat. When we hit the climbs that used to leave me gasping for air & trying desperately to catch up to the tail of the pack, I hammer past the front runners, it's nuts!

    So, ever since I got into mountain biking I heard people say single speeds are harder but if you get used to 'em they can be fun & help you become a stronger rider. I never hit the that "getting used to it being harder" phase...did you guys? Last weekend Specialized had a demo day at the trails up the road from me & I couldn't WAIT to give them back their S-Works Epic Carbon & get back on my little El Mar.

  2. #2
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    Ha....I got the same bike and did some of the same brake/seatpost upgrades....hav not ridden my road bike once since getting the SS EM....was "used to it" from day one!

    New wheels being built...CK hubs and Stans Flow rims...maybe a new crank and then I am done.

  3. #3
    undercover brother
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    I switch back and forth on my transAM since its my only bike at the moment. I am definitely faster when singlespeeding, but love the benefit of gears. Switching back and forth is where its at for me, especially because I get "bored" where I want something different on my bike. Winter/ spring on singlespeed, Summer/fall for gears. Couldn't be happier.

    I'd say after about 3-4 weeks of riding SS, the whole notion that it was harder went away. I think you just adapt to whatever you ride.

  4. #4
    cowbell
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    Yeah, I'm sure there are people who felt like they had to "get used to it" when they took up SS, but for me it was more like getting back in shape, since it was my first MTB for 5 years. But I got back in shape pretty quick. Anyhow, it's addictive and fun. And good for you. Can't say that about much in life...

  5. #5
    nothing to see here
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    Harder is relative. You can still make it harder by going faster and further. Today I did a training ride on my SS of 102 miles and 12,500' climbing. It was hard.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  6. #6
    Riding rigid
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    Also depends on your trails. If you are straight faster on the SS, then possibly your trails are like mine where its pretty flowy and smooth where a rigid single speed will be faster than a 7 pound heavier full squish. I don't have much elevation change on my rides so the SS works well.

  7. #7
    Just Ride
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    I'm out of shape from lack of physical activity over the winter. So I die on the geared bike just as much as my new SS. However, I feel that I'm getting in shape a little quicker than normal since getting my SS it gets 100% of my trail time. So I'm not sure how to answer this. It's not hard, it's just a different style of riding. More enjoyable at that!
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  8. #8
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    I grunt/curse more going uphill. I do have geared rides, but find myself in the SS saddle more often than not. I just ride the thing and I like not having having to think about what gear I should be in when approaching obstacles or hills. I can't say that I've needed to adjust and get used to it. I just throw a leg over and go with a smile. Happy rollin'
    No fuss with the MUSS

  9. #9
    HTFU!
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTB Pharm View Post
    Also depends on your trails. If you are straight faster on the SS, then possibly your trails are like mine where its pretty flowy and smooth where a rigid single speed will be faster than a 7 pound heavier full squish. I don't have much elevation change on my rides so the SS works well.
    I find it to be just the opposite. When I hit a fast flowy section of trail, guys with gears can gear up and hammer, but when we hit a climb, be it .25 mile or 5.5 mile, I often leave the geared bikes in the dust to where they cannot catch up on the ensuing downhill, technical or not. Helps that my rigid SS is lighter than many road bikes.

    There is definitely something to having "SS legs". Whenever geared riders give me props for riding a SS I am quick to give them props for riding gears as I have been on the SS long enough that I now find gears harder (I have a beautiful 1x9 that gets little love). When there is a hill, regardless of gears or not, you gotta get up it. I just find it easier to stand and mash as it is more anaerobic (lower heart rate), but with gears, legs spin faster, heart rate goes up, I start sweating, breathing hard...I hate that. Gears are hard yo!
    Sure, I can pick my gear and mash up a hill like on my SS (and ultimately do) but even though my geared bike is the same geometry w/nearly identical parts, it is 5+ lbs heavier, and you can feel it.

    So to make a long story short (I know, too late) I don't find SS harder at all, easier actually, yet a very different type of riding...and sure, it may take getting use to for some, but it doesn't take long.

  10. #10
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    I set up my 29er SS to start with, thinking I'd get to know the bike before committing to a gear array. Week after week I kept putting off the gears until a stupidly cheap Alfine became available. Now it's on and it feels...meh.

    There's no torque and fight and sense of victory at the top of a hill.

    There's no spinning out on flat and taking a deep breath to just look and really see what's around me while I cruise along.

    There are cables all over the frame and a bunch of dials and buttons cramping the bars.

    I look for excuses to stand and mash so I feel like I'm really riding.

    Worst of all, I'm impatiently shifting gears the whole ride, looking for the perfect ratio.

    I mean, hey, in a month I may be smitten with the IGH and never want to go back, but for now I miss SS.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.O.B. View Post
    I find it to be just the opposite. When I hit a fast flowy section of trail, guys with gears can gear up and hammer, but when we hit a climb, be it .25 mile or 5.5 mile, I often leave the geared bikes in the dust to where they cannot catch up on the ensuing downhill, technical or not. Helps that my rigid SS is lighter than many road bikes.

    There is definitely something to having "SS legs". Whenever geared riders give me props for riding a SS I am quick to give them props for riding gears as I have been on the SS long enough that I now find gears harder (I have a beautiful 1x9 that gets little love). When there is a hill, regardless of gears or not, you gotta get up it. I just find it easier to stand and mash as it is more anaerobic (lower heart rate), but with gears, legs spin faster, heart rate goes up, I start sweating, breathing hard...I hate that. Gears are hard yo!
    Sure, I can pick my gear and mash up a hill like on my SS (and ultimately do) but even though my geared bike is the same geometry w/nearly identical parts, it is 5+ lbs heavier, and you can feel it.

    So to make a long story short (I know, too late) I don't find SS harder at all, easier actually, yet a very different type of riding...and sure, it may take getting use to for some, but it doesn't take long.
    That's exactly my finding too. The trail right by my office (Sope Creek for anyone in Atlanta who's familiar) starts out with a 2 mile climb, then about 4 or 5 flowy miles & ends in about a 2 mile descent. BY the time I finish the first climb, I'm minutes ahead of guys who I can hang with in the flowy parts but blow me away downhill. If I don't stop & wait for 'em after the climbs, I don't see 'em again 'til pizza & beers later.

    I think you're onto something with the "SS Legs" concept. When I'm on a geared bike, I'm spinning faster, skyrocketing my heart rate, sweating & panting, to me that's hard!

  12. #12
    meh... whatever
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevob View Post
    Harder is relative. You can still make it harder by going faster and further.
    or by gearing it up... or going fixed... or all of the above.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  13. #13
    Just Ride
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    +1 for the SS legs thing. I do like standing and mashing much more vs. sit-n-spin. I always found it easier even when I was riding gears. I knew buying a SS was the right choice! Now I just need to find a gear I can get some speed with.
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  14. #14
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    Another +1 on the legs (wear a kilt with them and the ladies love ya)

    And yeah i did eventually "get used to it" and by it i mean blasting passed geared guys on the local trails. Sure they kill me on the fire roads and long flats...but we don't have alot of that it's all about the tight and twisty.

  15. #15
    cowbell
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    Oh, there's something to the SS legs thing. Think about it, even when you don't have to stand, and you're climbing a hill, you can sit&spin more gear (it's the only one you've got!) than most geared riders use when they start to climb a shallow grade. As a result, on my FS geared bike, I generally use a LOT more gear than most geared riders, and spin it very successfully. Which is part of why riding SS has made me faster on everything else I ride. Including my road bike.

  16. #16
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    I've been thinking about that too...if I can ever convince myself to leave the SS at home & bring my geared FS bike back out to the trail...I'm hoping my legs will have taught me a new trick where I never even think to go to an "easier" gear than the 32-18 I'm running on my SS, but frequently hit the faster gears when I need 'em on flat sections & downhill. At the very least, I'm more than a little tempted to convert the geared bike to a 1x9 with a taller front gear...even before trying a SS, I virtually never had a need to drop down to the granny gears on its current 3x9 setup.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.O.B. View Post
    When there is a hill, regardless of gears or not, you gotta get up it. I just find it easier to stand and mash as it is more anaerobic (lower heart rate), but with gears, legs spin faster, heart rate goes up, I start sweating, breathing hard...I hate that. Gears are hard yo!
    You keep using that word. - YouTube

    The Five Heart Rate Zones and Using Them in Your Workouts

    Anaerobic means oxygen deprived meaning that you are burning more oxygen than you can bring in. I think I know what you meant to say. You can probably recover faster and feel better by going anaerobic over a punchy climb quickly and then coming back down to aerobically than by going slower up a climb more aerobically thus making that climb take longer.

  18. #18
    SSolo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevob View Post
    Harder is relative. You can still make it harder by going faster and further....
    This.
    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son...

  19. #19
    HTFU!
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    Quote Originally Posted by tooclosetosee View Post
    You keep using that word. - YouTube

    The Five Heart Rate Zones and Using Them in Your Workouts

    Anaerobic means oxygen deprived meaning that you are burning more oxygen than you can bring in. I think I know what you meant to say. You can probably recover faster and feel better by going anaerobic over a punchy climb quickly and then coming back down to aerobically than by going slower up a climb more aerobically thus making that climb take longer.
    Ha, that is funny...and a great movie. You are 100% correct sir (I think). According to that link I was waaay off. According to this link, I am spot on (again, 'I think'): Anaerobic Exercise and Aerobic Exercise: What Is The Difference? But regardless. What I meant was that standing and grinding up a hill in my one gear is more of a muscle workout; my heart rate is lower, I don't breathe as fast or heavy. On gears, spinning up a hill, my heart rate is higher, as is my rate of breathing and I sweat more...but regardless, at least you knew what I meant...or at least now you do.
    Hola! I ride a SS, not smart enough to shift gears or adjust derailleurs...and yes I used spell check to get that word right.

  20. #20
    Just Ride
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill-E-BoB View Post
    I've been thinking about that too...if I can ever convince myself to leave the SS at home & bring my geared FS bike back out to the trail...I'm hoping my legs will have taught me a new trick where I never even think to go to an "easier" gear than the 32-18 I'm running on my SS, but frequently hit the faster gears when I need 'em on flat sections & downhill. At the very least, I'm more than a little tempted to convert the geared bike to a 1x9 with a taller front gear...even before trying a SS, I virtually never had a need to drop down to the granny gears on its current 3x9 setup.
    1x conversion is how I got into SS. I realized that I didn't need granny gear and the big gear was way to much for most situations. After going 1x, I then figured why not try SS and now that's where I am!
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cormac View Post
    1x conversion is how I got into SS. I realized that I didn't need granny gear and the big gear was way to much for most situations. After going 1x, I then figured why not try SS and now that's where I am!
    I've come to realize that riding SS is very Zen. By discarding all of the "stuff" that clutters and complicates our bikes we end up in a much more fulfilling and enjoyable experience. If only it were as easy as removing the gears, cables and derailluers of the rest of our life. Oh well, gotta get back to my grande iced chai and facebook...

  22. #22
    Dive Bomber
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    I've been riding SS for 3 years, and I never felt so fun compare to my 10 years of gears.

    Yes and I agree SS is Zen, with less equipment/parts things could be more fun and you get more. I learn so much about mountain biking, pedaling efficiency stuffs.

    LeSS is More.

  23. #23
    Outlaw
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    I just bought a new mountain bike. I haven't done that in twelve years. I bought a 130mm dual squish 29er 3X10. I've been riding a HT SS since I did a conversion about ten years ago. There was no getting used to it. It just was what it was. Now I feel like I'm cheating on my old bike and cheating myself. Don't get me wrong, the new rig is fun as hell. There are parts I am faster on and obstacles I can ride with more confidence. It plows through **** and lets me get away with being sloppy. This is the part I don't like about the new rig. I still find myself out of the saddle all the time. I just can't down shift, sit back and spin. It's not in my nature. When I save a few bucks and can replace the fork the SS will probably go back to being my primary bike.

  24. #24
    Just Ride
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    I'd like a full squish and might have to go that route if I can't figure out my damn back issue.
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

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