SS vs Geared (Workout)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    SS vs Geared (Workout)

    Ive been riding since September of this year and I love it. Started out on a geared bike and then took all the gears off and went single speed. My problem is that when I was using gears I felt at the end of the ride I felt like I got better exercise. Now that I have been riding SS I dont feel like I got as good of a workout. Now keep in mind with the SS I have been able to shave several minutes off my fastest lap around particular coarse's. And I am noticeable quicker than I used to be on gears. I have been a gym rat for most of my adult life so its not like I just got in shape before I started SS. But I just cant get my sweat on or burn calories like I could on my geared. I only ride one bike so I cant go back and forth to see if it would make a difference. Nor do I have the tools to put my rear derailleur back on to see.

    Does anybody else feel the same as I do? Has anybody put their rear derailleur back on for a better cardio workout?

  2. #2
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    It all depends as usual.

    Sent from my Desire HD using Tapatalk 2

  3. #3
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    For starters, maybe you need a smaller cog? When I had my EMD geared, I felt the opposite after completing the same route. In a way, I felt I cheated and didn't get the most out of my ride (no offense to gearies, really). I feel that the accomplishment is always greater with my SS.

    To avoid a long post, I'll try to keep it simple. If the climbs are too easy for me on my SS, then my cog is too big. Too make the most of it, I'll just try standing the whole way, even if its unnecessary. I'll be more prepared next ride. If I'm on a long flat stretch, then either I take it easy to recover from the tough climb, or if I'm feeling good on the flat, then I take the opportunity to do some spinning intervals. Spin like mad until it burns!

    Another thing that helps me is my heart rate monitor. I know many who hate wearing them, but my main goal with riding is for the workout. With my HRM, I know how hard/easy I'm taking it every point in the ride. It also helps me gauge how much I've improved or regressed (eek).

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenaustin View Post
    For starters, maybe you need a smaller cog? When I had my EMD geared, I felt the opposite after completing the same route. In a way, I felt I cheated and didn't get the most out of my ride (no offense to gearies, really). I feel that the accomplishment is always greater with my SS.

    To avoid a long post, I'll try to keep it simple. If the climbs are too easy for me on my SS, then my cog is too big. Too make the most of it, I'll just try standing the whole way, even if its unnecessary. I'll be more prepared next ride. If I'm on a long flat stretch, then either I take it easy to recover from the tough climb, or if I'm feeling good on the flat, then I take the opportunity to do some spinning intervals. Spin like mad until it burns!

    Another thing that helps me is my heart rate monitor. I know many who hate wearing them, but my main goal with riding is for the workout. With my HRM, I know how hard/easy I'm taking it every point in the ride. It also helps me gauge how much I've improved or regressed (eek).
    Great Points! I will try to stand more and see where that gets me. It make sense. Also I cant go lower on my gear as I had a 17 and my tensioner didn't work well with it and I had to go to an 18. And never considered a HRM, what brand/model are you using?

  5. #5
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    I am a newer rider and ride my SS more often. I have noticed that my overall times are faster on my SS. Unless i am ending my rides with a climb, the SS will seem like less work. Spinning and easier gear on a final flat will give the lasting impression that the workout wasn't as intense. In actuality, it is just a peaking workout over a constant effort. I will hit higher max heart rates on the SS, but, sustain a lower rate on gears. Just a different workout.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdaly1 View Post
    Great Points! I will try to stand more and see where that gets me. It make sense. Also I cant go lower on my gear as I had a 17 and my tensioner didn't work well with it and I had to go to an 18. And never considered a HRM, what brand/model are you using?
    If you can't change your cog, then go with a bigger chainring. I'm using 32t up front, but I can see going to a 34t maybe in a few months. I'm using a Garmin Edge 500, but with the HRM from my Forerunner running watch. The 500 also comes with a HRM package. But if you don't need all the cycling stats, then a standard HRM only watch can be had for cheap, maybe $20-$40.

    Amazon.com: Timex Mid-Size T5G941 Easy Trainer Heart Rate Monitor Watch: Timex: Sports & Outdoors

    I believe I'm typically standing 50% of my ride, maybe even more. Would be cool if there was a device/sensor that helps track saddle time during a ride.
    Last edited by goldenaustin; 12-12-2012 at 03:25 PM.

  7. #7
    29er and 26er
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    I'm faster on my SS as well. I account that to having to power up the hills.

    +1 on the the heart rate monitor. If your goal is a cardio workout you need to accurately know what your heart is doing.

    If your ride is mostly flat, increase your cadence or speed to raise your heart rate. Slow down to reduce it.

    I like to do interval training when my trail allows. Here is my typical "work out ride"

    Warm up ~ 5 to 10 minutes -- Work my heart rate slowly to the top of my zone 3 and then relax.

    Work Out : 20 to 30 minutes -- Start from ~ top of zone 2 and pick up your pace almost to a full sprint. Take your heart rate to the top of zone 3 or into zone 4. At this point back off until your heart rate goes back to zone 2. Repeat for 20 to 30 minutes.

    Cool down. 5 to 10 minutes -- Ride slowly until you are at the bottom of zone 2 or top of zone 1.

    Your trail may not alow you to sprint, but you can vary your speed as needed.

    You can get the same workout from riding rolling hills.

    Good luck, but if you want to get a really good cardio workout gget a heart rate monitor.

  8. #8
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    It also depends on your trails. If a big part of your trail is flat, you're not going to be able to keep your heart rate up as you will just spin out, whereas on your geared, you just shift into 44x11. Fortunately, most of the trails here are up up and up that gives me a good work out on a geared or SS. But if I really want a cardio workout, I jump on my roadie (fixed gear).

  9. #9
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    Do hill repeats at the end of your ride. SS is easier except on hills.
    12' Sir9 Rigid
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  10. #10
    Oaktown Honkey on Strava
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    Dude, you are from Atlanta? Come out to NORCAL and grind up 2000 or 3000 feet and you will cry the last mile. Then throw your bike in the bushes and hitchhike back down. Just kidding, I have NEVER thought single speeding (3 years single speed) was easier than gears (38 years of riding gears). I don't have anything helpful to say, but have fun.

  11. #11
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    All great tips guys, I guess its time for the HRM. I wanted to avoid it but it seems key to success. I do live 50miles north of Atlanta so there is a diverse amount of trails to choose from. Also on the trail that I hit the most I could hit the large uphill (Grannys Climb) at the end a few times to ensure that I feel the burn.

  12. #12
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    I've found the same ride is usually easier on my SS; a fact most of my geared only friends don't understand.
    For cardio I get a better workout with spinning the gears but I can feel the efforts in my muscles more with the SS.

  13. #13
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    I completely die on my SS. Yes I am faster on climbs however I am blowing up at end of a 15 min climb. I recover so much faster now that I am riding SS.

  14. #14
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    I've found the same ride is usually easier on my SS; a fact most of my geared only friends don't understand.
    For cardio I get a better workout with spinning the gears but I can feel the efforts in my muscles more with the SS.

  15. #15
    Robtre
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    I will say that my HR is way higher as well as my breathing but my leg muscles don't get much of a "pump"? I attribute that to standing and mashing I utilize my body weight to "hip-drive" pedal strokes which is certainly going to ruin my knees. I am way faster on a SS.
    -rides bikes for fun.

  16. #16
    Single Speed Junkie
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    If you can not go smaller with a cog then go bigger with the chain ring.

    Then try going smaller in the back and it will work. Or you can flip the chain tensioner pushing out the chain or pulling it up will expand gear choices.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoolie View Post
    Dude, you are from Atlanta? Come out to NORCAL and grind up 2000 or 3000 feet and you will cry the last mile. Then throw your bike in the bushes and hitchhike back down. Just kidding, I have NEVER thought single speeding (3 years single speed) was easier than gears (38 years of riding gears). I don't have anything helpful to say, but have fun.
    Hey we have 1,000 foot climbs that will kill you around here! SSing feels pretty rough in a mountain state. I think the OP either needs a new smaller cog or a new state.

  18. #18
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    Now I'm curious about this "knee pain" talk. Is there really a huge risk of knees going bad after a long time on SS? People say that all the time with long distance running, but I've been doing long distance for the last 6-7 years now, and so far I haven't had any knee injuries outside of the normal aches and pains that go away after recovery. I'm hoping the same is true for SS, as I'm having a blast and would hate to have to stop.

    My brother is actually having some knee pain only when on his SIR 9 SS and while standing. He's only been riding his SS for a couple months now, but he doesn't feel the pain when sitting which is mostly what he's doing on his geared EMD. He's been a gearie for years now but SS is a new thing to him.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SS Hack View Post
    Hey we have 1,000 foot climbs that will kill you around here! SSing feels pretty rough in a mountain state. I think the OP either needs a new smaller cog or a new state.
    Since we're pulling out the measuring sticks, one of my favorite non-technical climbs is on fireroad truck trail, about 3600 ft in about 6 miles. I'm sure others can share way better stats, but this is pretty much in my backyard, so it can provide a convenient workout on rainy days.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenaustin View Post
    Now I'm curious about this "knee pain" talk. Is there really a huge risk of knees going bad after a long time on SS? People say that all the time with long distance running, but I've been doing long distance for the last 6-7 years now, and so far I haven't had any knee injuries outside of the normal aches and pains that go away after recovery. I'm hoping the same is true for SS, as I'm having a blast and would hate to have to stop.
    People can run into problems when they have an existing knee issue that they did not rehab or if they don't listen to their body. If your body is structurally, sound you should be fine for single speeding. When I was younger, I had some injuries that were not related to single speeds. After six surgeries and a focus on rehab I feel like I have things back in balance so for me listening to my body is key.

    This year all my riding was single speed and I did a lot of miles and never had any knee problems. I think getting out of the saddle on climbs helps because you avoid the deep bend of the knee. Make sure to listen to your body and adjust your riding, stretching, and cross training to keep everything in balance.

    In terms of training and getting a workout a single speed works great if you have good trails in your areas. For some rides it is harder to get a steady workout because a single speed forces your workload to reflect the terrain. For my weekend rides I can pick the trails and get a great workout. When I commute to work I have sections were the single speed forces me to go easy but I can ride hard on the climbs so the ride still works as a workout.

  21. #21
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    No real problem for me. Backpacking with a very heavy load and lots of elevation gain has hurt my knees in the past much more than single speeding.

  22. #22
    conjoinicorned
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    SS can be super hard on the knees if you're riding stupid....don't sit and try to spin too hard of a gear up hills or on hilly terrain. stand when needed, walk when needed...if anything properly riding an SS will strengthen your knees (it's like rehab for me)

    as far as workout, it depends on the trail, sometimes it seems easier. overall the SS is more of a workout but i'm in the middle of mountains....
    what would rainbow unicorn do?

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