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  1. #1
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    Single speed or not

    Hello,

    Was looking to maybe convert one of my bikes to SS for my rides around Philly, I'm a bit concerned that I'll have to end up walking by bike up some hills due to not being able to downshift etc-. (I'm 47 and frankly get gassed on some hills from time to time).

    I have a 26, 650b and a 29 that I could convert,,looking for opinions as to how much of a change going to SS from gears is,,and which bike I should convert.

    Thanks very much.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpranger467 View Post
    I'm a bit concerned that I'll have to end up walking by bike up some hills due to not being able to downshift etc-.
    that's part of the game. if you really want to ensure you can climb every hill, every time, put a motor on your bike. unless your terrain has no real hills, or you're a total beast, you are going to have to walk a few more hills on the SS. the fun part is when you have to walk a hill a few times and then crush it after several tries. riding SS requires different techniques and tactics than riding with gears.

    I would prefer a 29er SS if you want to climb and ride "XC" type stuff. it sounds like you are not riding bike parks with jumps and berms, so a 29er should be the best choice for maintaining momentum, which is the key to riding a SS bike.

  3. #3
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    Try the 29er, a lot of people suggest that the bigger wheel is an advantage for SS. I converted my MUSS to 650b and have been very happy, but it is certainly different than a geared bike. My suggestion is to first ride in one gear ratio and resist all temptation to shift. Doing so, on all 3 bikes, should give you an understanding of what you may be getting yourself into and should also help to determine a comfortable gear ratio to use should you decide go forward. Also, get angry... sounds immature, but it does help.
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

  4. #4
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    Do it! You won't believe how good a bike feels when you don't run the chain thru a der and at crazy angles. I like to play around with gear ratios. If I were you I'd try riding one of your geared bikes on your normal type ride in just one gear. Do it a few times in different gears and get an idea on the highest gear you can handle. Then set your SS up with that gear. Most roads that a normal car can go over I can handle a 42/18 ratio on a 700c wheel.

  5. #5
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    It's a nice way to add some variety to your riding. It gets quite addicting once you've adapted to some of the nuances involved in adapting your riding style to 1x1.

  6. #6
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    Are all 3 bikes hardtails? Do they all have vertical dropouts and threaded BB shells?

    If one has dropouts or BB shell that offer the ability to tension your chain then go with that one. All else being equal, I'd say go with the 29er.
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  7. #7
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    Well my suggestion is to convert the 29 to SS.

    As far as gearing I am 61 y/o out of shape and riding a 29 with a 32 chainring and a 20 rear. Also ride a 32 ring and 18 rear.

    I am in Florida (Santos) so i DO have some challenging hills, not Frisco but hills none the less.

    I would think with a 32/18 or 32/20 you will be just fine.

    When I started SS I would usually walk the hills after crapping out. Now I have learned to get out of saddle and slowly pound my way upward.

    I will say that SS is great. No worries about which gear to be in.

    As I said i am 61 out of shape and 260 pounds. if i can ride fully rigid SS so can you.

    Lastly, i really don't think of my SS as one gear I really have 5 gears;

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  8. #8
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    Definitely do it if you have that many bikes, and the advice offered below is pretty sound in my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by dbhammercycle View Post
    ...My suggestion is to first ride in one gear ratio and resist all temptation to shift. Doing so, on all 3 bikes, should give you an understanding of what you may be getting yourself into and should also help to determine a comfortable gear ratio to use should you decide go forward. Also, get angry... sounds immature, but it does help.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by drjay9051 View Post
    Well my suggestion is to convert the 29 to SS.

    As far as gearing I am 61 y/o out of shape and riding a 29 with a 32 chainring and a 20 rear. Also ride a 32 ring and 18 rear.

    I am in Florida (Santos) so i DO have some challenging hills, not Frisco but hills none the less.

    I would think with a 32/18 or 32/20 you will be just fine.

    When I started SS I would usually walk the hills after crapping out. Now I have learned to get out of saddle and slowly pound my way upward.

    I will say that SS is great. No worries about which gear to be in.

    As I said i am 61 out of shape and 260 pounds. if i can ride fully rigid SS so can you.

    Lastly, i really don't think of my SS as one gear I really have 5 gears;

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    Sage advice. You sound awesome. If you ever come ride San Felasco, hit me up!

  10. #10
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    +1 29er.

    single speeds really have 3 speeds. sit, stand, and walk.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

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

  11. #11
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    When I built up my SS, I was a bit reluctant at first thinking it would be way to hard and I would end up hanging it in the rafters. But...........I soon realized after my first few rides that it was much easier than I had thought it would be. We have some pretty gnarly climbs here in WV and I was hammering up them with ease. I started out with 32/20 ratio and found it was just right for most of the trails I ride. My suggestion would be to ride solo your first couple of rides so your not pressured by your buds. Do it!!!!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpranger467 View Post
    Hello,

    Was looking to maybe convert one of my bikes to SS for my rides around Philly, I'm a bit concerned that I'll have to end up walking by bike up some hills due to not being able to downshift etc-. (I'm 47 and frankly get gassed on some hills from time to time).

    I have a 26, 650b and a 29 that I could convert,,looking for opinions as to how much of a change going to SS from gears is,,and which bike I should convert.

    Thanks very much.
    You'll get stronger. I started riding SS a year and a half ago. Last summer I had a let down and started questioning myself. I posted on here and got a lot of responses mostly helpful and encouraging. I stuck with it and am glad i did. A few weeks ago we did a 55 mile ride on an old rail way line turned bike trail. I was the only SS along with 3 fat bikes, a road bike, and a cheap mountain bike all with gears. I led the pack and had gas to go at the end while one of the others who was a serious rider hurt his knee and had to hang it up early. Point is I think SS made me a much better and stronger rider. The guy who hurt his knee was saying in the catch vehicle my wife was driving how I wouldn't have any problems on RAGBRAI ( I have never done it and am thinking of SS it next summer). I assume he was talking about how strong I rode with the rest of them guys. I don't want to toot my own horn but that day I outlasted 2 of them and was ahead of all but 1 and that was my longest ride to date.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclechet View Post
    Do it! You won't believe how good a bike feels when you don't run the chain thru a der and at crazy angles. I like to play around with gear ratios. If I were you I'd try riding one of your geared bikes on your normal type ride in just one gear. Do it a few times in different gears and get an idea on the highest gear you can handle. Then set your SS up with that gear. Most roads that a normal car can go over I can handle a 42/18 ratio on a 700c wheel.
    unclechet is right. It is insane how much drag derailleurs and other components put on the bike. Try it and you will be amazed at how smooth the pedal stroke is. I just want to add when my buddies and I wetn on a muddy MTB ride one day and all their shifting equipment got clogged up with mud and wouldn't function right. I looked at my pal and said my gears are shifting perfectly! He didn't have a reply for that. Plus my cleats never had an issue unclipping from the pedals due to mud cloggage but maybe that's because I had 510s and Saints but that's another thread!

  14. #14
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    I have been riding single speed for years and was one of the people involved with the very first SSWC race in Ontario CA. So I have SS experience. If you can go with the 29er. Find a comfortable gear in the early days of the 26in the standard was 2 to 1. I ride a little higher for racing and you will learn momentum is your friend so the ability to hit short steep climbs at speed is beneficial. But in time you will get stronger and it will get easier. I even know a few kooks who climb Mt Baldy in CA on SS bikes. 12 miles 7000 feet of climbing and no shifting. Good luck and enjoy!

  15. #15
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    You will surprise yourself with what you'll be able to climb on a SS. Trust me.

    I'm 50 and started riding SS this year. At first, I only rode my easiest trail with the least amount of climbing. A few months later, I'm riding SS 99% of the time and climbing nearly every hill...and faster than I was on a geared bike.

    There are some hills on my local trails that always kicked my butt on my geared bike. I was gassed and my legs were screaming and I would think "there's no way I'd ever climb that on a SS." Ha! Not only do I regularly climb them, but I've started doing multiple laps on those trails where I used to only do one...and still making the climbs on the second or third lap.

    Go for it and amaze yourself.
    Last edited by KevinGT; 12-04-2015 at 05:19 AM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by drjay9051 View Post
    I would think with a 32/18 or 32/20 you will be just fine.
    If you convert the 29er I'd start with 32/20, unless you do the majority of your riding in Jersey (or need to make a magic gear work). We don't really have enough flat/straight stuff around here to take advantage of the larger gear, and you will appreciate the extra couple teeth on the climbs.
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  17. #17
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    Like a few above mentioned, ride each of your bikes with one gear, no shifting(!). Ride around on flat road, find a gear that is a little to easy to pedal, where you're spinning a bit more than you should be. Move your shifter up the handlebar away from your grip.

    I did this method while testing out SS, and then while shopping for a SS. Now I've had a Karate Monkey SS for a couple months, and love it. Great bike to add to the quiver.

    The 29er will probably be best as a SS.

    It has definitely made me a stronger rider, and I don't walk as much as I thought I would.

    And because SS is BADASS:

    Single speed or not-andy-ghettocross-3.jpg
    it's a challenge some of us are ultimately worthy of.

  18. #18
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    I run a 29'er trail bike with 33/20 (45.6 gear inches) and a 26'er flat land with 36/16 (55 gear inches). Both have a 2.1 tire. I don't have many climbs here so these work well for me. Anything bigger than 45 gear inches for me would be out of the question on climbs.

  19. #19
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    lpranger467, when you say "my rides around Philly" - do you mean streets? Paths/trails? A mix? If you're talking about streets, 32/20 (as many suggested) is tedious, IMO. Yeah, you'll get up the hills, but be bored spinning a lot of the time. There's a reason gears were invented. If you're talking about trails, or a mix, then heck yeah, build up a SS.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryder1 View Post
    lpranger467, when you say "my rides around Philly" - do you mean streets? Paths/trails? A mix? If you're talking about streets, 32/20 (as many suggested) is tedious, IMO. Yeah, you'll get up the hills, but be bored spinning a lot of the time. There's a reason gears were invented. If you're talking about trails, or a mix, then heck yeah, build up a SS.
    There is some truth to this, but there are a lot of commuters who SS and also fixie (which is another level of crazy as far as I am concerned). The reason I first sought out the single gear was because I was taking almost as much time to clean the bike after the commute in the winter as I was commuting on the bike. Granted, many just get a beater for the season, but at the time my RM hammer was my only ride and I babied it, I babied it hard. That said I do agree that 32/20 will be annoying if all you do are city streets. I currently ride 33/16 (650b) and was 34/15 (26), but will soon be 34 asym/18 (650b).
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbhammercycle View Post
    There is some truth to this, but there are a lot of commuters who SS and also fixie (which is another level of crazy as far as I am concerned). The reason I first sought out the single gear was because I was taking almost as much time to clean the bike after the commute in the winter as I was commuting on the bike. Granted, many just get a beater for the season, but at the time my RM hammer was my only ride and I babied it, I babied it hard. That said I do agree that 32/20 will be annoying if all you do are city streets. I currently ride 33/16 (650b) and was 34/15 (26), but will soon be 34 asym/18 (650b).
    You're right. Just need a bigger gear than 32/20 and preferably a rigid fork. I did it for a couple years on an On-One Pompino and liked it, but its pretty flat here in Phoenix, AZ. Not sure what Philly's like. OP needs to chime in.

  22. #22
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    Thanks Dr Jay,,very convincing I think I'll give it a try

  23. #23
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    Sorry I had flown outta town away from my PC,,yes all off road riding

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