Single-speed Mountain Bike Question- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Single-speed Mountain Bike Question

    I have a question:
    I'm looking to get into 29er's, but the cost is deterring. As single speed 29ers are much more affordable, they are the logical choice. Other than the fact that all of the trails around here have elevation gains in the thousands of feet for a trail that is between 1 and 3 miles long total (so most of the elevation is in the first .5-1 mile). A single speed in this case would only work for going downhill.
    So what I am wondering is, why can't you just use the regular 32 or 36 tooth rear cog on the real, instead of the 20-22 that a lot of people use? I realize the front cog is smaller, which helps.
    So my question is, why can't you have a singlespeed which is always in the lowest possible gear?

    One more question:
    Here you go up, then straight down. So you need the lowest gear, then the highest. If you have a chain tensioner on, can you use just two gears that are far apart, and manually shift (using your hands)?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    So my question is, why can't you have a singlespeed which is always in the lowest possible gear?
    there's no reason you can't.

    you can run a 22 in the front and a 34 in the rear if you like (granny combo on geared bikes) - the problem is that if you ever hit any flat surface, or an uphill that's not so steep...you'll be coasting or pedaling at a whooping 2.5mph.

    Here you go up, then straight down. So you need the lowest gear, then the highest. If you have a chain tensioner on, can you use just two gears that are far apart, and manually shift (using your hands)?
    a chain tensioner won't take up that much slack. you could probably do something with a couple tooth difference, but you'd have to adjust where the chain tensioner sits in relation to the line of the chain each time you manually switched gears...and that's a pain. or you could probably rig a derailer to only change between two gears. but...doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of singlespeeding? if you want to change gears, get a geared bike....even if you need to wait and save up another couple hundred dollars - it'll be a whole lot better than getting off your bike and fiddling with the chain every time you crest a hill. the whole challenge and uniqueness of SSing is staying the the same gear regardless of the terrain.

    i also think you're overstating the climbs on the trails you ride and/or the need for such small gearing. i run a 34:16 (over 2:1) in the frontrange of the rockymountains. i'll regularly climb a thousand feet in a couple miles...and i can do almost everything i can on my geared bike, i just have to do it faster, standing up...and it's more difficult cardio-wise. the only times i walk is when it's really washed out with small rocks (because it's hard to get traction standing up), and big 10 inch+ rises in roots/large rocks...which i'd have to walk on my gearie anyways.
    Last edited by Timon; 06-28-2008 at 08:01 PM.

  3. #3
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    nomit, thanks for your help.
    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    a chain tensioner won't take up that much slack
    If you have the same number of teeth in each combo, won't the chain be the same length for both?
    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    it'll be a whole lot better than getting off your bike and fiddling with the chain every time you crest a hill.
    I'm not talking about cresting hill stuff. The places where I want to change gears would be on different rides. So instead of choosing a different bike, I'd merely fiddle with the bike before each ride. The ones that are steep enough for the 32-36t cog are steep enough coming down that I don't need anything. The rides that I want the fewer teeth, I'd just use that the whole time.
    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    i also think you're overstating the climbs on the trails you ride and/or the need for such small gearing.
    Maybe. Two of the trails I ride rise 2287ft in 2.2 miles, and the other one 2400ft in 3.1 miles. It sounds like 34:16 might work for me here.

    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    even if you need to wait and save up another couple hundred dollars
    If a 1x2 or 2x2 doesn't work out on this bike, I'd probably sell it at the end of the season or ride it all winter and sell it in the spring. Then I'd get a geared 29er when they are cheap this fall. If it does work out and I just want a geared bike, I'll probably pick one up at the end of the season when they are cheaper and I'm richer. I just want to get something with what I've got right now, so I don't miss the rest of this season.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
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    If you have the same number of teeth in each combo, won't the chain be the same length for both?
    so you're going to change the chain ring in the front and cog in the back every ride?

    i suppose it could work (enough for the chain tensioner to make it taut)...however you'd have to fiddle with a couple combinations (each attempt will cost money in chain rings/cogs, and time)....and you'd still be faced with needing to adjust where the tensioner sits in relation to the chain each time you ride.

    If a 1x2 or 2x2 doesn't work out on this bike, I'd probably sell it at the end of the season or ride it all winter and sell it in the spring. Then I'd get a geared 29er when they are cheap this fall. If it does work out and I just want a geared bike, I'll probably pick one up at the end of the season when they are cheaper and I'm richer. I just want to get something with what I've got right now, so I don't miss the rest of this season
    sorry...it just doesn't make sense to do this at all.
    you'll waste money on cogs/rings/tensioners, you'll waste time fiddling with the thing, and then you'll waste a lot of money buying something and then reselling it...particularly if you buy it new. it'll depreciate in value rather rapidly in the first season.

    it seems much more practical to me to whip out a credit card and drop an extra (whatever-hundred) right off the bat for a geared 29er than it does to attempt to create a 2x2 out of a singlespeed that you initially get for cheaper, and then sell it, and then get a geared bike in a couple months. or why not just buy a geared 29er that's a season or two old and ride that?

  5. #5
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    A Redline D440 isn't that much more expensive than a Monocog. I bet 1x8 would be enough for most anything you would want to handle.

    Or you could buy a SS and build some muscles

    -Rob.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridata
    Maybe. Two of the trails I ride rise 2287ft in 2.2 miles, and the other one 2400ft in 3.1 miles. It sounds like 34:16 might work for me here.

    If you're fresh to SS'ing, and especially riding in general, I would shy away, FAR FAR away, from anything close to 34:16. Personally, I'd gear more like 34:20 as the smallest I would even consider. That's on a 26", for a 29" I may consider 34:22 (or equivalent with a 32 tooth cog on the front)


    Purely my opinion.

  7. #7
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    You could find a nice used El Mariachi for cheap and have the ability to run gears or switch to SS with the eccentric BB.

  8. #8
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    If your terrain is so steep that you need to push lower than a 1:1 ratio, then you'll probably be coasting and on the brakes on the descent, so it doesn't matter that your gearing is too low. You want to gear for the climbs.

    You might be in for some disappointment if you're buying a SS for no reason other than that it's cheaper than a geared bike. Part of riding a singlespeed is accepting that you have no choice in in your gearing once you've set out on the trail. If it gets steep going up, you have to pedal harder (and sometimes walk). If it gets steep going down and you spin out, then you have to pedal faster (and sometimes coast).

    There's some attitude adjustment necessary because on an SS you are rarely in what would be the right gear ratio. If you can't accept that, then a geared bike would be a better choice.

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