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  1. #1
    brother on a mission
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    Faster on a single speed?

    I built up a single speed with some spare parts I had in my garage about 3 weeks ago, and I have been riding by myself quite a bit since the build. I have really enjoyed riding the single speed, but I also like to ride with others, especially because it is hunting season up here now. I caught up with my regular riding partner this weekend, and yesterday we went for a ride together.

    When I ride my geared bike with him we are about the same speed, and before starting the ride I felt a little guilty that I may be holding him up by riding the single speed. However, I was surprised to find out that I actually ride faster when I am on my single speed. We have a lot of steep technical terrain, and I found that I was faster going up than I usually am on the geared bike, and I may have been a little slower descending (my single speed is a rigid). I lost speed on the flats and smooth downhills, but there are not many of those around here.

    I am sure that part of the reason I was faster is that I do not push myself hard on the geared bike and on the single speed I do not have a choice (that is why I built it in the first place). Does anyone else have a similar experience?

  2. #2
    ride your bike
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenfix
    I am sure that part of the reason I was faster is that I do not push myself hard on the geared bike and on the single speed I do not have a choice (that is why I built it in the first place). Does anyone else have a similar experience?
    Yup. I gits my lazy on when I ride the geary. SS says no to the lazies. SS is good.
    Taking it easy for all you sinners.

  3. #3
    Combat Wombat
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    Same experience here too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenfix
    I built up a single speed with some spare parts I had in my garage about 3 weeks ago, and I have been riding by myself quite a bit since the build. I have really enjoyed riding the single speed, but I also like to ride with others, especially because it is hunting season up here now. I caught up with my regular riding partner this weekend, and yesterday we went for a ride together.

    When I ride my geared bike with him we are about the same speed, and before starting the ride I felt a little guilty that I may be holding him up by riding the single speed. However, I was surprised to find out that I actually ride faster when I am on my single speed. We have a lot of steep technical terrain, and I found that I was faster going up than I usually am on the geared bike, and I may have been a little slower descending (my single speed is a rigid). I lost speed on the flats and smooth downhills, but there are not many of those around here.

    I am sure that part of the reason I was faster is that I do not push myself hard on the geared bike and on the single speed I do not have a choice (that is why I built it in the first place). Does anyone else have a similar experience?
    The trail that I ride most frequently is comprised of fast, twisty singletrack. The 2/1 ratio on my ss works great there as long as I stay seated and really spin. If I slow down, then it becomes a lot of mashing and trying to get the speed going again after every turn. I can go just as fast on my geared bike, but like you pointed out, you do not have much of a choice when on the single.

    Brian

  4. #4
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    ... and if we just ... It's the momentum thing....

    I like riding my SS with my gearie friends, up until the point I let 'em ride up front on the gnarly uphills.....that's when things get too slow for me.

  5. #5
    Nat
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    Yes

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenfix
    I built up a single speed with some spare parts I had in my garage about 3 weeks ago, and I have been riding by myself quite a bit since the build. I have really enjoyed riding the single speed, but I also like to ride with others, especially because it is hunting season up here now. I caught up with my regular riding partner this weekend, and yesterday we went for a ride together.

    When I ride my geared bike with him we are about the same speed, and before starting the ride I felt a little guilty that I may be holding him up by riding the single speed. However, I was surprised to find out that I actually ride faster when I am on my single speed. We have a lot of steep technical terrain, and I found that I was faster going up than I usually am on the geared bike, and I may have been a little slower descending (my single speed is a rigid). I lost speed on the flats and smooth downhills, but there are not many of those around here.

    I am sure that part of the reason I was faster is that I do not push myself hard on the geared bike and on the single speed I do not have a choice (that is why I built it in the first place). Does anyone else have a similar experience?
    Yes. On this morning's ride, the hill I usually have to work to get up has become kitten play. I've been riding a singlespeed about 6 or 8 weeks only, but have noticed a huge increase in fitness. My legs, lungs, and body in general has felt tired (the good worked-out kind) since I started. Even this morning my wife commented on how much bigger my thighs got all of the sudden. I too think it's because the bike forces you to either work hard or walk. So cool.
    Last edited by Nat; 11-16-2004 at 04:09 PM.

  6. #6
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    All the time

    I get comments like "Damn, we're going awful hard tonight" or " So much for an easy ride(said as I unload the s/s)".

    It's really infectious. There are about 5 in my riding circle that have built singlespeeds since I did mine 3 years ago.
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  7. #7
    Sofa King We Todd Did
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    Now, I don't think I'm particularly faster on a singlespeed bike. In fact, based on my previous thread about my induction ride, my 12mph cruising speed is well below par of the 18mph average, I'm told. But during that ride, I don't know if my friends were being lazy or sloppy or whatever, but I kept leaving them far behind, to the point that it became frustrating to have to slow to a crawl just so they'd catch up. I hate dismounting when I don't have to (clipless and all), so I used that time to practice my balance and crap. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much speedier compared to the others when it came to some of the trickier parts around the trails.

  8. #8
    Appalachian Singletrack'n
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    Yes and no.

    Most places if I ride the same loop on my SS and my geared FS bike alone I will ride the loop faster on the geared bike. I climb slightly slower on the FS bike but more than make up for it in higher attained speeds and faster flats etcÖ Of course some trails just lend themselves to one bike or the other. If I ride in a group however I am always on the front on the SS and often on the back on the geared bike. On most group rides I go on the SSírs always ride in the front. I think that group dynamics plays allot into the difference. The group only goes as fast as the front bike (eastern singletrack) when the SS are spinning on the flats the gearies queue up behind, rest a little talk etc.. Also the SSírs are typically the fastest and fittest riders in the group.

  9. #9
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    I used to think B.S., How could a SS be faster than a gearie

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenfix
    I built up a single speed with some spare parts I had in my garage about 3 weeks ago, and I have been riding by myself quite a bit since the build. I have really enjoyed riding the single speed, but I also like to ride with others, especially because it is hunting season up here now. I caught up with my regular riding partner this weekend, and yesterday we went for a ride together.

    When I ride my geared bike with him we are about the same speed, and before starting the ride I felt a little guilty that I may be holding him up by riding the single speed. However, I was surprised to find out that I actually ride faster when I am on my single speed. We have a lot of steep technical terrain, and I found that I was faster going up than I usually am on the geared bike, and I may have been a little slower descending (my single speed is a rigid). I lost speed on the flats and smooth downhills, but there are not many of those around here.

    I am sure that part of the reason I was faster is that I do not push myself hard on the geared bike and on the single speed I do not have a choice (that is why I built it in the first place). Does anyone else have a similar experience?
    until a few weeks ago, I got killed by a SSer (2minutes) in a race that I did pretty well at on my gearie. It's gotta be the bike, next time I'm busting out my SS.

  10. #10
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    I discussed this on a ride Sunday with two of my friends, Dan on his 1FG and JC on his geared "Yo Eddie" I was riding my 1x1. We concluded that on an average ride we all finish at the same time...The SS's are faster sometimes and the geared bikes others, and we all end up in the same place... I just have more fun cause my bike is rigid and steel
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  11. #11
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    I just got my first singlespeed a couple of weeks ago and have found on the 4 different occasions that I've ridden it that I am a little faster on the climbs (those that aren't too steep for me to ride) as you have no choice but to hammer along to keep in a rythmn. I find that on rolling, twisty singletrack I ride faster to try to keep my momentum going as I can't start out from a near stop and power over a little climb, etc. It is already forcing me to be a bit smoother rider and will definitely make me a stronger rider. It does suck trying to keep up on the flats or on a slight downhill if there are long stretches of it but that isn't much of a problem around here.
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  12. #12
    good ol dog dreams
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    Nice!

    I turned my Soulcraft hardtail into a SS last fall after the Shenandoah 100 for kicks. I dropped all my buddies on mostly everything we ride (rolling singletrack, tight, sometimes rough). The momentum thing is key, especially with a rigid fork because you really pick good lines and keep it flowing. I eventually built up my old Trek 990 steel frame into a SS and ride it almost more than my geared Soulcraft.


    At least until my Motolite arrives mid-February!

  13. #13
    resident crackpot
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    I have noticed mostly that up until the point of a ride that I acheive that magical 'second wind' (lacking medical teminology here), I am a tad slower on the SS from the anerobic activity. From that point on I know that I am much faster riding SS. Before the aforementioned point and time, I usually struggle a bit. Some of this is because I don't really like to warm up like I know I should...the other part is due to asthma. I also know that if I were to do a "proper" warm-up, my asthma condition could be lessened until the point of re-windage. In any case, I still think SS is faster for the simple fact that it ends the question of the whole 'I am struggling in X gear, I better shift down/up to compensate' mindset which deflects mind power away from producing energy. This, I believe, is mostly the case in any group of like-skilled riders of basically the same fitness level.

  14. #14
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    voice of dissent

    Sorry, but I must disagree. 95% of the time I am not faster on a single speed. My SS is more fun to ride and a lot lower maintenance, but it is not faSSter.

    On the non-tech flats with the SS I spin out where as with the geary I'd simply use a bigger gear. On tech flats it is a toss up.

    On climbs it is a different story. If I can climb it on the SS, I am faster. There are, however, certain climbs that I just can't climb on the SS -think steeeep and loooong-, then the geary is faster.

    Downhills are a toss up too. If they are super technical, the SS and the geary are the same. If they are smooth, well, duh.

    As for the whole 'SS riding forces you to conserve momentum while riding', I call BS here too. I say 'Racing forces you to learn how to conserve momentum.' I am pretty sure, in fact, I am certain that fast and technically skilled gearie racers 'know' all about conservation of momentum.

    Don't get me wrong, I love my SSes. I love the sound. I love the feel. I love the grab and go factor. I love the weight too. However, in a race betwee me on a SS and me on a gearie, the me on the gearie is gonna eat the me on the SS for breakfast.
    Last edited by chuffer; 11-17-2004 at 06:03 AM.
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  15. #15
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    Faster not always, mainly because my SS has more gear ratio compared to the gearie. On the tough hills, I crawl, mashing if not, I start pushing the bike up.

    Do I ride faster overall because it's SS?, no, but I do ride noticebly more aggressive. Because when I crash , there's no need to check the gears, is it shifting properly and all that gear. Just attack corners, bust from traffic lights, squeeze pass tight spots without worrying about something ripping the derailleur off.

    If I could afford it, I replace the geared trail bike's drivetrain with a Rohloff, screw damn flimsy derailleur hangers. Droping chains, chain rub, maladjusted derailleurs, wonky D hanger alignment would be things of the past.

  16. #16
    Life is Noise
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    Just to give the viewpoint of a "back of the pack" rider. On twisty moderate singletrack (which is mostly what we have in MN) I find it much easier to hang with the pack on my SS when I'm riding with gearies.

  17. #17
    Recovering Weight Weenie
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    Uphill, when I'm in shape, the SS, is always faster.
    On the uphill flats, SS again.
    On the DH, I think my Bullit wins, oh wait, yes, it does.
    On the climbs when I'm out of shape, it's a draw, since I push my SS as fast as I ride in my granny gear.

  18. #18
    brother on a mission
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuffer
    Sorry, but I must disagree. 95% of the time I am not faster on a single speed. My SS is more fun to ride and a lot lower maintenance, but it is not faSSter.

    On the non-tech flats with the SS I spin out where as with the geary I'd simply use a bigger gear. On tech flats it is a toss up.

    On climbs it is a different story. If I can climb it on the SS, I am faster. There are, however, certain climbs that I just can't climb on the SS -think steeeep and loooong-, then the geary is faster.

    Downhills are a toss up too. If they are super technical, the SS and the geary are the same. If they are smooth, well, duh.

    As for the whole 'SS riding forces you to conserve momentum while riding', I call BS here too. I say 'Racing forces you to learn how to conserve momentum.' I am pretty sure, in fact, I am certain that fast and technically skilled gearie racers 'know' all about conservation of momentum.

    Don't get me wrong, I love my SSes. I love the sound. I love the feel. I love the grab and go factor. I love the weight too. However, in a race betwee me on a SS and me on a gearie, the me on the gearie is gonna eat the me on the SS for breakfast.

    That sounds like a big difference between you and me. I am, by nature, not very competitive. The single speed does not give me a choice; I have to go. I am pretty sure that in a race on the up and down trails we have around here (northeast singletrack) my SS self would beat my geared self, and neither of us would really care.

  19. #19
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    I agree with you..

    all things being equal, I'd be faster on a geared bike. However, for me there's one condition necessary to make that true, I'd have to learn how to ride a geared bike efficiently again. Doing a back to back from an SS to a geared bike, I notice I tend to ride the geared bike like an SS which negates any efficiencies it might have over the SS.

  20. #20
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    You guys speak the truth.
    I was always feeling like I hold my buddies up on rides, but since I have been riding the SS, it's not that way anymore.
    If anything I am usually up front even on the hills.
    Mind you I live in Richmond,Va so our hills are short.

    But it really does make you a faster & better rider, and the gearing gives you a constant mid-range pace.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenfix
    That sounds like a big difference between you and me. I am, by nature, not very competitive. The single speed does not give me a choice; I have to go. I am pretty sure that in a race on the up and down trails we have around here (northeast singletrack) my SS self would beat my geared self, and neither of us would really care.
    LOL- yeah, that's funny, guy!

    i am actually not so competitive any more. i was just trying to provide you with a counterpoint. makes discussions more interesting.
    Last edited by chuffer; 11-18-2004 at 02:11 AM.
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  22. #22
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    I'm totally competitive, and have found some conditions geareis will just not be able to match my pace. Of course, I lose at speeds over 20mph, and under ~8mph.
    If speed is everything, you'd need an extra gear for the sub-8mph range, and one for the 20-30mph range. Or a bit clsoer to the typical SS ratio, if the extremes on the course are not forcing you on a 22-32 granny or 44-11 for too long.
    I have yet to try is, but 3-speed could be like singlespeed, within each type of riding : twisty singletrack and every mid-speed, high speed, and low speed. Geared opponents would be facing a singlespeeding contender on every part of the course, slow or fast. While they're running through all the 9 middle ring gears, the 3spr is just in his "2".¨
    On paper it looks so logical, but I bet while actually riding it could be tiresome, as you don't get to recover during those forced spin sessions every once in a while anymore.
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  23. #23
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    Killed by SS'r

    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Nazi
    until a few weeks ago, I got killed by a SSer (2minutes) in a race that I did pretty well at on my gearie. It's gotta be the bike, next time I'm busting out my SS.

    I just love when this happens. The look on a gearies face that's just been beat by 2 min............ Priceless

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  24. #24
    bon vivant
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuffer
    LOL- yeah, that's funny, guy!

    i am actually not so competitive any more. i was just trying to provide you with a counterpoint. makes discussions more interesting.
    I'll bet I'm less competitive than either of you! C'mon - who wants to bet me!?

    I ride faster on my SS, but it's mainly because now I ride with better riders, and I don't want to be the drag. I'm definitely more fit, now though.

  25. #25
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    my 2 pennies

    I think that gearies are faster. But, it depends on your mindset. Are you riding gears to make riding easier or are you riding gears to make riding faster? With gears you truly can get the most efficiency out of your legs. However, if you start dropping gears on the climbs too much then you will slow down quite a bit. I am sure that pro MTB racers know how to use thier gears to get the maximum velocity out of every situation.

    Moto

  26. #26
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    "I am sure that pro MTB racers know how to use thier gears to get the maximum velocity out of every situation."
    Indeed. They don't use the granny, and even rarely the middle ring. It takes more than a fit body to be fast while spinning up a climb. A big ring masher in front of you helps to ride up more efficiently.
    Since becomer a part-time singlespeeder, I and finding out about wide bars (even with barends on them), I rarely use middle ring anymore. If I can make a climb without looking bad on the big ring, it's faster for me.
    As a SS'er, I take big advantage out of the moments where gearies stop pedaling, or take time to shift down a handful of gears. Attacking a steep climb at high speed saves a lot of time that's hard to make up, even when the last few meters are really hurting the SS'er. I find myself attacking even the smooth downhills, to at least reach my spin-out speed asap, which not seldomely makes me overtake gearies even at the fastest point, while they're in 44/11, doing some serious pacing. Just that quick sprint in the beginning of a rolling DH without braking points makes a huge difference, and probably played a mayor part in winning the inaugural naSSional title. You sprint for a few secs, and cruise down at higher speeds, for a longer time before you have to pedal again. If you're out of shape, you need to be smart. Playing the momentum game helped me stay with the lead group of the 2003 Berlin race for a full hour, whilst being way overgeared and less fit to begin with.

    At the finish of a SS race, I always feel much more satisfied, tired in a good way, than geary races of the same duration ever manage to make me feel. Guess I'm a lazy gearie rider. Perhaps 3x1 will one day make me feel even more satisfied after a gearie race.
    Klok - XC - Skate - Ski

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