Single speed or 3 speed commuters- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Single speed or 3 speed commuters

    I'm considering getting a bike specifically for commuting. Would like something with thin wheels, single speed or 3 speed internal hub, would prefer aluminum over steel because of the weight, and don't want to spend a lot. Any recommendations?

  2. #2
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    How long of a commute and what type of terrain? Also what type of conditions? Will you need mounts for fenders or racks? Drop bars or flat? Budget?
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenSpeed View Post
    How long of a commute and what type of terrain? Also what type of conditions? Will you need mounts for fenders or racks? Drop bars or flat? Budget?
    5-13 miles round trip (depending if I bus it or not). Rolling hills on road with some debri.

    Don't plan to ride in the rain and do not need mounts, fenders or racks. Would prefer chain guard so my pants don't hit the chain. Probably prefer flat bars but drop is fine too. Would prefer strong bolt on wheels. The bike will be locked on a college campus so security / price is a factor. Budget is $350 but could spend more if something stands out.

    Something like this could work although not sure about weight (with it being steel) - Product: Schwinn Speedster City Bike - 2015

    I don't really need another bike and could commute on my road bike or family cruiser but I have a case of x+1 so maybe something will stand out.

  4. #4
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    I commuted on a singlespeed for a number of years. My commute was about 9mi RT. There was a pretty decent hill along the way that I'd have to climb on my way home. It was hard to gear the bike for good speed and comfortable riding on the flats (which was most of the route), but also doable on that climb. If I wanted to be able to ride up the climb at all, I had to gear it so it was a touch too low for the flats. There was no other way around it.

    I have re-built that commuter into what I have now (I used most of the same components from that bike, but swapped frames, and added gears), which is a 1x10. The 1x10 setup works MUCH better, IMO. My commute is significantly longer now, so my rides on this bike are much longer. I think I now average about 30mi per ride on it as it is now. My commute (when I choose to ride it, anyway) is about 42mi RT now. No way I'd do that commute on a SS anymore, though I did it once or twice before I rebuilt the bike.

  5. #5
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    It is in your budget and is exactly what you are looking for. I can't suggest a coaster brake as I have had bad experience with low end coasters and this unfortunately falls into that category. For me, they work, but not really as well as I would like. You did mention that there would be debris, so swapping the tires out for something with some flat protection is probably going to want to make your list as well.
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I commuted on a singlespeed for a number of years. My commute was about 9mi RT. There was a pretty decent hill along the way that I'd have to climb on my way home. It was hard to gear the bike for good speed and comfortable riding on the flats (which was most of the route), but also doable on that climb. If I wanted to be able to ride up the climb at all, I had to gear it so it was a touch too low for the flats. There was no other way around it.

    I have re-built that commuter into what I have now (I used most of the same components from that bike, but swapped frames, and added gears), which is a 1x10. The 1x10 setup works MUCH better, IMO. My commute is significantly longer now, so my rides on this bike are much longer. I think I now average about 30mi per ride on it as it is now. My commute (when I choose to ride it, anyway) is about 42mi RT now. No way I'd do that commute on a SS anymore, though I did it once or twice before I rebuilt the bike.
    Good point and I agree. I love mountain biking SS but it gets annoying quickly on the roads if you're spinning out on the flats or having to slowly grind on the hills.

    The 3 speed internal gear hub I have on my cruiser bike is great for commuting. It has a great range (Each gear has a ~33% difference), is simple, durable, and you can shift while stopped which is really nice when you hit lights. I'm surprised they're not more popular.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenSpeed View Post
    It is in your budget and is exactly what you are looking for. I can't suggest a coaster brake as I have had bad experience with low end coasters and this unfortunately falls into that category. For me, they work, but not really as well as I would like. You did mention that there would be debris, so swapping the tires out for something with some flat protection is probably going to want to make your list as well.
    I just checked out a similar bike at Performance (but SS) and it felt really heavy. It was probably close to 30 lbs. I know I can't get picky with my price range but I'm thinking I'd rather commute on my road bike than a heavy steel bike. I'll probably have to put a bit more $ into my road bike for maintenance but I'll probably prefer it for zipping around.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    Something like this could work although not sure about weight (with it being steel) - Product: Schwinn Speedster City Bike - 2015
    Well there's your problem.

    That thing isn't just made of steel - it's made of high-tensile steel. That's what they make terrible kids bikes out of.

    I love steel, but if you're looking for something steel make sure it's chromoly. (which is pricier, but not super pricey. Nashbar has a couple: Nashbar Single-Speed Cyclocross Bike Nashbar Bull Single-Speed Road Bike)

  9. #9
    jrm
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    Im on my 2nd on one pompino ss since they improved the geo. Ive found a 42 gi is pretty well suited for variating terrain. Like others are saying its all about carrying-using momentum to get up climbs And stopping and starting. I ride flat pedals & 510s on mine b/c i can position my foot over the pedal given different terrain.

  10. #10
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    I do about a 15mile round trip on my SS. It's an old 1990 'racer' but with SS specific wheels and 28mm marathon pluses, also have fender, rack, spds etc.

    My route is pretty undulating too. I run about 77GI (52:18) and find it about right for the terrain and leaves a little to battle the headwinds.

    Could I go quicker with gears, maybe, but the stop starts and traffic are the deciding factor on time. No way would I want to back to gears for this, at least not derallieur type. The Nashbar Cross linked to above would be my personal choice of those suggested albeit the gearing is a little low for my taste.
    2018 commutes - 26 days, 542 miles

  11. #11
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    Currently running an 86GI (49:15) on my fixed gear that I commute with. Mostly flat terrain, and am sacrificing the comfort of anything wider than a 23 for a lot of speed.
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.

  12. #12
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    I'd say 3 speed if you have climbs.

    I bought a $100 late 80's Centurion road bike on craigslist. Steel, which i love, is not an evil material. i much prefer it to aluminum anything. 1-2 lbs of frame weight on a commuter is no big deal. it's not about speed for me, more about comfort and reliability

    i like the nashbar cyclocross bike, i almost went that route. my commute is 10 miles RT with two short steep climbs one way, and two long gradual climbs the other. it could be easily done geared or SS. i think 3 spds would be perfect, but i'm not changing it just yet. though i still think about converting to SS.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

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