Advice: Should I go singlespeed?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Advice: Should I go singlespeed?

    Hi- It's about that time for me to buy/build a new bike, and I'm contemplating a single speed. The problem is, I've never ridden one! I live and ride and socal, and I'd say I have an all-mountain riding style (it's pretty hilly out here, compared to my native MA,), and could benefit from full suspension ( I ride a hardtail now), but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble.

    So, I'm torn between buying a fully built Santa Cruz Heckler (full gears), or buying a Santa Cruz Chameleon hard tail with a Fox 32 TALUS adjustable travel fork and building it up SS. My main concern is keeping up with my full gear buddies, both on the long climbs, flats and the down hills. I've had some serious mishaps with my rear derailler and rear derailler hanger as of late, and I'd really like to simplify my bike so I can focus on the trail, rather than my components (hence staying hardtail and going singlespeed). Does anyone have advice on the SS transition? And what's the deal with the flip flop hub, ie, could I have one side of the hub for climbing, than flip it for the way down? If not, woudn't a climbing set up just "spin" when I picked up speed, either on a flat, or a DH?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Should you go singlespeed?

    Heck yeah. Just take the plunge.

    As for keeping up with your gearie buds, going uphill you'll go faster than they will. Going downhill, if you can keep up with them now on your current hardtail then you'll be able to keep up with them on your new SS. Gravity works. The only place they'll lose you is on the flats.

    So stay away from the flats and it's all good.

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  3. #3
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    I would get an FS and convert the HT to SS.... you'll have fun in both

    you could try sticking to one gear on your HT, just to get an initial taste... it won't be the complete SS experience... but you'll see how it can be on your trails with zero investment

    you are right that the gearing is a compromise... though depending on your terrain, you may not "spin" as much...the idea of the flip flop is usually to go fixie on one side...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by crisillo
    I would get an FS and convert the HT to SS.... you'll have fun in both

    you could try sticking to one gear on your HT, just to get an initial taste... it won't be the complete SS experience... but you'll see how it can be on your trails with zero investment

    you are right that the gearing is a compromise... though depending on your terrain, you may not "spin" as much...the idea of the flip flop is usually to go fixie on one side...
    OK, I have a standard XT 27 speed set up.... what front/rear gear would give me the best SS "taste"?

  5. #5
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    If you are only going to have one bike SS is not a good idea. singlespeeds can go up hills really fast for a while until your legs give out. removing a wheel mid-ride to switch gears does not sound like a good way to simplify your bike so you can focus on the trail. and i think the idea of a flip-flop hub is to be able to run fixed gear or ride with a ratcheting-type freewheel drivetrain.
    bottom line go for a 4" or 5" trailbike and turn your old ride into a ss.

  6. #6
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    That's a very good point! Is there any sort of set up that has single speed in the back, but keeps the three chanring front? (i'm so fing tired of that rear derailler!)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by alxbrsk
    If you are only going to have one bike SS is not a good idea. singlespeeds can go up hills really fast for a while until your legs give out. removing a wheel mid-ride to switch gears does not sound like a good way to simplify your bike so you can focus on the trail. and i think the idea of a flip-flop hub is to be able to run fixed gear or ride with a ratcheting-type freewheel drivetrain.
    bottom line go for a 4" or 5" trailbike and turn your old ride into a ss.
    Blasphemer!

    On second thought you're right. I have three mountain bikes...all singlespeed!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendancahill
    OK, I have a standard XT 27 speed set up.... what front/rear gear would give me the best SS "taste"?
    I assume your middle ring is 32 teeth? If so, use the middle ring and something in the 16-18 tooth range in the back. I would not go any bigger than 18 in the back. 32:18 is what I run on my ss, because I am a wimp 32:18 is a good place to start, but many folks seem to aspire for the 32:16 (2:1) ratio or even higher

    This is ecactly what I did to try out ss. Put my old HT in 32:18 and swore I would not shift for the whole ride. I would push the bike before I downshifted (and walk I did!). Nonetheless, I surprised myself in what I could climb.

    I would also support the Idea of getting a geared FS and making the current HT a ss. I enjoy both. The geared FS is my social bike (none of my friends ride ss) and the ss is for my alone days.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendancahill
    OK, I have a standard XT 27 speed set up.... what front/rear gear would give me the best SS "taste"?

    I like 32:18...which should be mid chainring and about the 5-6th gear in your 9 speed cassette.... gearing is a completely personal choice... try a couple around...

  10. #10
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    if you have to ask, SS might not be right for you. but if you try it, you might like it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendancahill
    That's a very good point! Is there any sort of set up that has single speed in the back, but keeps the three chanring front? (i'm so fing tired of that rear derailler!)
    a spring loaded tensioner may be able to help you do that, but you will need to tune things really well for the chain not to fall occasionally...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta

    I would also support the Idea of getting a geared FS and making the current HT a ss. I enjoy both. The geared FS is my social bike (none of my friends ride ss) and the ss is for my alone days.
    I totally second this.. FS for social rides..SS for lonely self punishment

  13. #13
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Quote Originally Posted by crisillo
    SS for lonely self punishment ...............
    Where nobody can see me walking

  14. #14
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    Good advice

    [QUOTE=crisillo]I would get an FS and convert the HT to SS.... you'll have fun in both

    QUOTE]

    You should get rid of all the drivetrain junk on your hard tail and bling it up a bit if the frame is worth it, search the forum for conversions and remember that there is no one bike that is absolutely perfect for all conditions. SS is best for solo rides or going out with other SSers because it is hard on the ego's of gearie riders when you beat them up a hill, don't be surprised if they will take it out on you on the flats.
    The wheel is a extension of the foot

  15. #15
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    Give it a try before actually spending money. It's an unwritten SS rule that you are a Gomer if you spend a single penny on your first SS ride. There are a few threads about cheap conversions around here. You already have a chain tensioner with the rear derailluer, you just need to loose a bit of chain, the front derailluer, shifters, and a few cogs/chainrings. If you like it, drop some cash on a real conversion kit or a SS specific bike. Look at bikes like the Kona Explosif with sliding dropouts or a bike with an EBB if you want a new ride and are still on the fence.
    Slowly slipping to retrogrouchyness

  16. #16
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    Thanks for the advice everyone! I think I'll buy the heckler, and convert my hardtail to SS (after I try it out). And since I'm going SS on the hardtail, might as well make it a 69'er while I'm at it! But that's a whole other converstation....

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendancahill
    Thanks for the advice everyone! I think I'll buy the heckler, and convert my hardtail to SS (after I try it out). And since I'm going SS on the hardtail, might as well make it a 69'er while I'm at it! But that's a whole other converstation....
    If you want a really clean looking conversion, consider an ENO eccentric rear hub. This hub allows your vert-dropout/fixed-chainstay-length bike to look like a dedicated SS (if it matters to you).

    --Sparty
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  18. #18
    ravingbikefiend
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    I converted my Trek HT to an SS mid season last year and have loved it from the moment I put my feet on the pedals...

    Now I have three ss bikes (2 MB and one roadie) and a fixie on the way.
    I ride with 65'er...he's a mountain goat....But then again, we need to throw him in the mud and pack his pockets with lead shot before a scale will read him. - Psycho Mike

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  19. #19
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    Get the Santa Cruz Chameleon

    Quote Originally Posted by brendancahill
    Hi- It's about that time for me to buy/build a new bike, and I'm contemplating a single speed. The problem is, I've never ridden one! I live and ride and socal, and I'd say I have an all-mountain riding style (it's pretty hilly out here, compared to my native MA,), and could benefit from full suspension ( I ride a hardtail now), but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble.

    So, I'm torn between buying a fully built Santa Cruz Heckler (full gears), or buying a Santa Cruz Chameleon hard tail with a Fox 32 TALUS adjustable travel fork and building it up SS. My main concern is keeping up with my full gear buddies, both on the long climbs, flats and the down hills. I've had some serious mishaps with my rear derailler and rear derailler hanger as of late, and I'd really like to simplify my bike so I can focus on the trail, rather than my components (hence staying hardtail and going singlespeed). Does anyone have advice on the SS transition? And what's the deal with the flip flop hub, ie, could I have one side of the hub for climbing, than flip it for the way down? If not, woudn't a climbing set up just "spin" when I picked up speed, either on a flat, or a DH?

    Thanks in advance!
    build it up as a wicked single speed and get freakishly strong.
    (You can always bail out of SS by putting gears on it)


    Also don't use the old "mishaps with my rear derailler" as your excuss to single speed
    piSS or get off the pot, we all know shimano and sram have the gear issues ironed out.

  20. #20
    Duckin' Fonuts.
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    Don't mess with flipping and flopping gear choices. Find the one and ride the stuffing out of it. I like 34x18. The simpler it is for me the better. No choice in equipment on the trail is best. Ride, walk whatever.

  21. #21
    ravingbikefiend
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    A flip flop hub or a dual cogset in the rear makes sense if your ride is geared too low to get you to the trail in a reasonable amount of time... one wouldn't be swapping gears on the ride itself.

    Some of us don't chauffeur our bikes around in cars.

    On the 3 by 1... I don't figure that it could be done without keeping your derailleurs as I don't know of a tensioner with that kind of take up capability.

    * There is a whole thread devoted to the idea of running a 2 by 1 or 3 by 1 and the consensus was the same as here... just bite the bullet and go SS.
    I ride with 65'er...he's a mountain goat....But then again, we need to throw him in the mud and pack his pockets with lead shot before a scale will read him. - Psycho Mike

    -Environmental stickers don't mean shite when they are stuck to CARS!-

  22. #22
    MLH
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    Have Your Cake... And Eat It Too

    I would say go with the Chameleon. It can be run as a SS without tensioners and geared. If you buy it geared you can get a spacer set and go SS. Or you can buy it SS and if it's not for you then build it up. Just use a master link chain system so converting all the time is easy. If you want FS and SS and geared you could always go Kona.
    Mike

  23. #23
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    Late to the party...

    Quote Originally Posted by brendancahill
    Hi- It's about that time for me to buy/build a new bike, and I'm contemplating a single speed. The problem is, I've never ridden one! I live and ride and socal, and I'd say I have an all-mountain riding style (it's pretty hilly out here, compared to my native MA,), and could benefit from full suspension ( I ride a hardtail now), but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble.

    So, I'm torn between buying a fully built Santa Cruz Heckler (full gears), or buying a Santa Cruz Chameleon hard tail with a Fox 32 TALUS adjustable travel fork and building it up SS. My main concern is keeping up with my full gear buddies, both on the long climbs, flats and the down hills. I've had some serious mishaps with my rear derailler and rear derailler hanger as of late, and I'd really like to simplify my bike so I can focus on the trail, rather than my components (hence staying hardtail and going singlespeed). Does anyone have advice on the SS transition? And what's the deal with the flip flop hub, ie, could I have one side of the hub for climbing, than flip it for the way down? If not, woudn't a climbing set up just "spin" when I picked up speed, either on a flat, or a DH?

    Thanks in advance!
    Chameleon's are good versatile bikes but I don't think they make the best SSs. They ride pretty harsh. Paying the extra cash for a Talas would likely be overkill for SS IMO. Like others have said you'd likely be better off simply trying to convert your current HT (though conversions of non-SS frames can be a PITA and turn some folks off to the SS thing from the start).

    Don't worry about keeping up with your friends. It'll take your legs some time to get use to one gear and you'll likely be slower until you adapt. Ride your new SS alone for a while and you'll enjoy it far more. Take it out with your gearie friends before you are ready and all you'll do is worry about keeping up. After a few years of SS I find I'm ususally faster on my SS and have no problem with keeping up with my geared friends. Skip the flip flop hub and just start out with either a 32 x 18 or 32 x 20 and give it a shot. Oh, make sure the fork is either rigid or has a lockout for climbing.

  24. #24
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    not to steal this thread but, I got a new job as a messenger downtown.My question what gears should i run? i dont necessarily have to get top speed, thats what trucks and cars are for.

  25. #25
    ravingbikefiend
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    giga - Gearing depends what your legs and lungs are up to and what kind of terrain you'll be riding.

    For short sprints, some good top speed, and some climbing ability a 42:16 is a decent gearing and one I was running on my roadie... it now runs a 52:18 and we'll see how that works.

    The dial up and the top speed is astounding with the higher gearing and I can cruise at good speed at a lower cadence.
    Last edited by Sixty Fiver; 02-25-2007 at 07:24 PM.
    I ride with 65'er...he's a mountain goat....But then again, we need to throw him in the mud and pack his pockets with lead shot before a scale will read him. - Psycho Mike

    -Environmental stickers don't mean shite when they are stuck to CARS!-

  26. #26
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    I live in Houston, what is this climbing you speak of, like for those things called hills?? ya its all flat, and if there is an incline, its maybe 2 degrees. I got hit by a car and he bent my rear dérailleur so why not go single.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by alxbrsk
    If you are only going to have one bike SS is not a good idea. singlespeeds can go up hills really fast for a while until your legs give out. removing a wheel mid-ride to switch gears does not sound like a good way to simplify your bike so you can focus on the trail. and i think the idea of a flip-flop hub is to be able to run fixed gear or ride with a ratcheting-type freewheel drivetrain.
    I disagree. My only mountain bike is a singlespeed, and I wouldn't run gears again if you gave me a full XTR group and the frame to hang it on. That said, I also wouldn't consider a singlespeed that wasn't a 29er. You'll find that the bigger wheels not only make singlespeeding much easier, but they'll mitigate most of your suspension needs as well.

    You can get a flipflop that's free/free instead of free/fixed, but at most you'd only be able to run a 2-tooth difference with a given chain length. You'll never stop to flip that wheel anyway. Get a cassette hub and you'll be quieter and happier.
    “The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there”---Robert M. Pirsig

  28. #28
    ravingbikefiend
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    FODM... You can normally change cogs by 4 teeth without having to change chain length and the difference between a 14 and an 18 tooth cog is fairly significant.

    One could also run a double cog on a freehub to get the same result although the chainline would be a little off.
    I ride with 65'er...he's a mountain goat....But then again, we need to throw him in the mud and pack his pockets with lead shot before a scale will read him. - Psycho Mike

    -Environmental stickers don't mean shite when they are stuck to CARS!-

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