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  1. #1
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    theoretical question

    I am new to Singlespeed riding. Been riding a couple of months now and I totally dig it. I'll probably never go back to gears. But there is one thing I don't quite understand. I was in a bike shop yesterday armed with a $75 gift card from my mother-in-law and looking like a total pigeon pecking for food. While grazing, I noticed a very sweet looking singlespeed Gary Fischer with a hefty price tag. I think it was an aluminum frame or some space age material of construction. What the **** do I know? Anyway, the bike had a big, honkin, front suspension fork. I thought to myself, why the need for suspension on a singlespeed? Isn't the whole theory behind singlespeed riding to keep momentum and carry as much speed as possible uphill? Stay lean and mean? I guess it would help on the downhill, especially in very rocky terrain, something we don't have much of in the mid atlantic. But wouldn't it suck the life out of you on the uphill?

    I'll admit I've never really liked suspension, even when I rode geared bikes. But, I guess I think of singlespeed mountain biking in a purist way. Stripped bare to the essentials. Shedding the excess and clearing your head to focus on the ride. Using your mind, strength, and endurance to push you over the changing terrain rather than the aid of mechanics and air dampeners. That's what I like about it. That's the draw..... There's also the physics...but I'll leave that for another thread.

  2. #2
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    i here you,i am not into shocks eather,its a bicycle not a motor cicyle.

    but the thing is ,there are no rules to having fun. horsing around with most things is fun.

    if some one wants a single speed with a shock a smart buisness man will make one.

    if shocks are a trend the will capitalize on it if single speed is a trend they will capitalize on it.its all about the dollar to manufacturers.

    if someone wants it,needs it,thinks they need it they will make it and someone will buy it, and why not as long as its fun.

    for me i am digging a skined out no frills bike to just pedal on and haul @$$.

    but if i was going down rough hills all the time and the handle bars were geting yanked out of my hands all the time i would probably try a shock.

    if i was going up steep hills all the time but still wanted good topend flat land speed i would have a few gears. I think that 18 21 or 27 speeds is a bit overkill though. a 9 speed would do it for me just fine.

    no rules ,just right

    there is not a bicycle rule book to single speeding,it's just a stupid bike,no one will spit on you for riding any kind of bike any way you want.it is a individual sport.

    If riding a bike of any kind made me a member of a narow minded elitest club for the enlightend cyclist only,I would not have any part of it.

    And i dont have any part of it,or anything else realy. I am just a dude on a $#%$ing bike.

  3. #3
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    Just to be clear...

    I'm not saying there is anything wrong with someone who rides a singlespeed with suspension. I just think it is counter intuitive. Other than the rocky downhill reason, I guess I don't understand why someone would need or want it. Fun, although valid, is not really an answer. It's fun to fart in bed and pull the covers over my wife's head....but it doesn't make a lick of sense.

  4. #4
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    Right on

    Run what ya brung.

    But the right tool in your tool kit ain't a bad way to go, either.

    I've got a rigid SS for winter. But in summer I ride a hardtail SS with a 5.5" fork (with lockout). We enjoy our 6-8 mile epic downhills here in Orygun's Cascade foothills. I've done day rides with over 16,000' of gain/loss. I won't do an epic ride that includes serious descending on a bike without a suspension fork once the fast season arrives.

    That doesn't mean I don't love riding rigid, too.

    Like Carl250r said, everybody knows what they like best so it's up to each individual to decide what's best for his/herself.

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  5. #5
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    Suspension forks with lockouts are the way to go for SS-ing. I'm running rigid now, and I do miss the squishy fork on the rockier downhills. I just have to go slower, and pick better lines. On longer epic rides, rigid bikes can be really rough on most riders. (This one included!) But, boy, there's nothing like climbing on a fully rigid SS, huh? The front end is SO light, and the "point and shoot" steering just can't be matched by a suspension fork.

  6. #6
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    There was an article that a client today was telling me about - they did some sort of tests and full suspension was no less efficient than rigid when climbing in the saddle or out. Now I didn't read the article but they said it's in your head, not in the results. Anyone read that???

  7. #7
    i also unicycle
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    i've read similar things, and well designed suspension can make you faster in the long haul over anything that isn't super smooth. the idea is that not only does it save your body from getting beaten up, but it keeps the wheels on the ground and lets you pedal over/through sections you'd have stood up on without it. i've got a rigid ss, but i'm thinking of adding a 80 or 100 mm fork. i do mostly endurance type racing, and while the rigid bike is light and quick, the lack of shock kinda beats up my hands and arms after a while.
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  8. #8
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    Different days; different results.

    I have 2 Yo! Eddy(s).

    The first is all rigid, the second has an 80mm fork.

    They are slightly different in geometry, because the one with the fork is adjusted for that fork.

    On some days, the rigid is a far better climber. But... on some days and some trails, the suspension fork actually helps ME (emphasis on me is purposeful) climb. I have a tendency to throw the bike around a lot and mash up hills. In rougher/looser terrain, I find the fork helps me keep the rear wheel on the ground and temper my "bobbing".

    On other days, and on smooth trails/pavement, even locked out I can feel that heavy b&^tch of a fork sucking the life out of me. ;-) I'm glad I have both.

  9. #9
    is buachail foighneach me
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    i live in a really rocky area of what is classified as the 'mid-atlantic' region, northern new jersey. i bought one of those gary fisher rigs earlier this year to make into my race bike. in rocky terrain, the suspension fork makes it possible to go alot faster than i can on my rigid karate monkey, which is my usual trail riding bike.

  10. #10
    CB2
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    To go one step further, to keep it really simple we'd all ride rigid fixed gears.
    I ride and race rigid.
    I'm well aware I could go faster w/ a suspension fork, but I enjoy the precision, feel, and constant geometry of rigid. since nobody's paying me for results, I can ride whatever I please.
    Manufacturers selling singlespeed hardtails are simply reacting to consumer demand.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jh4rt
    I have 2 Yo! Eddy(s).
    /still full 'o envy.




    I agree with the common thread here to 'run what ya brung'. Me, I ride rigid.

    *I* find that (for me) a good quality fork, properly matched to a frame with big fat tires, carbon bars and foam grips to be very comfortable. Even on longer rides.

    From last weekend in Terlingua... (logged 50ish tough/rough miles in 3 days)

    first one of the many dry creek beds


    And in the middle of the Contribando trail at Big Bend Ranch State Park


    On a side note the daytime temps were b/w 65-80F. Texas winter sux.
    aLaN AT BikeMojo DOT com

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmay218
    But, I guess I think of singlespeed mountain biking in a purist way.
    This is where things started getting pretentious. It's aggravating whenever someone breaks out the "pure" - who is going start saying what's "pure" and what's not? When I last checked singlespeed wasn't a lifestyle, it was just a bike with only one gear. Don't forget what works for you probably doesn't work for the next guy.

    I ride a singlespeed with a 100mm front fork, and I never see myself riding a rigid fork offroad. I can go faster, I can carry more speed, I get tired slower, and my hands don't ache with a suspension fork.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmay218
    It's fun to fart in bed and pull the covers over my wife's head....but it doesn't make a lick of sense.
    Now there's a sig quote if I ever saw one.....
    "The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie

    CCCMB trail work for trail access - SLO, CA

  14. #14
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    Okay, let's talk marketing..............................

    Quote Originally Posted by CB2
    ...
    Manufacturers selling singlespeed hardtails are simply reacting to consumer demand.
    How true. But let's be honest... successful manufacturers absolutely react to consumer demand. No way around it. The law of supply and demand is what our economic system is based upon.

    No matter how pure or simple or noble or whatever riding a rigid fixed gear may be, it will always be fringe. Same with singlespeeding to a lesser degree. If a company wants to be successful, they'd better understand the demand (or lack thereof) for their product. Nobody's going to buy a rigid singlespeed just because somebody tells them they "should." And anyone who does is a sheep.

    Freedom of choice. Gawd, I love the good ol' U.S. of A.

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  15. #15
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    I don't get into the purist pretensions either...I ride SS bikes because they're fun, they're simple, and they're fun.

    Suspension can be rather nice to have, especially on longer, faster descents, but I prefer the simplicity of the rigid fork. Nothing to break, nothing to worry about, ever. If I'm riding I'll be having a good time regardless; not having something won't make me have less fun, that's SS.
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  16. #16
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    I don't get into the purist pretensions either...

    OK...purist was a bad choice of words. Maybe minimalist would be a better descriptor.... Believe me, I have no reason to be pretentious. However, I do believe that singlespeed riding is more of a state of mind and not merely a bike with one gear.

    Thanks a lot to everyone who responded to this thread so far. I'm new to MTBR.com and amazed at the level of enthusiasm. Good discussion and valuable information. ROCK ON, FELLOW RIDERS!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmay218
    However, I do believe that singlespeed riding is more of a state of mind and not merely a bike with one gear.
    It is both, and it is neither. It is like the Tao.
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  18. #18
    MLH
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    Theoritical does not always mean practical.

  19. #19
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    My Niner SIR has a 100mm Fox on the front and Formula disc brakes on it. To me, that's the best of everything - it's fast uphill (because I can't shift to granny - I'm basically lazy) and it's fast downhill ('cause the fork absorbs the big hits and the brakes allow me to not brake until the last second). I liked the rigid fork a lot, but I like speed even more. To me single speed doesn't have much to do with climbing. Climbing is just an evil necessity so that you can go downhill. The single speed makes it more painful but gets it over quicker.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmay218
    I guess it would help on the downhill, especially in very rocky terrain, something we don't have much of in the mid atlantic. But wouldn't it suck the life out of you on the uphill?
    Yeah, a front suspension is amazing. It reduces the stopping distance very effectively. You can brake into the turns. Amazing!

    But, I guess I think of singlespeed mountain biking in a purist way. Stripped bare to the essentials.
    We probably have different understanding of singlespeeding. For example, I also like the non-essential cycling computer and the bell on my bike.

    Additionally, singlespeeding is never as simple as it sounds. The simple riding experience would be just getting on the bike and riding. Look at all these questions about singlespeeding. Just the problem of chain tension is a complication over a bike with a derailler.

    Want simple? Just ride...

    Ali

  21. #21
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    Cool-blue Rhythm my 2 cents...

    i don't s'pose i "need" a 100mm fork on my SS to go riding...but if i wanna continue riding for as long a time as i can...or rather,to extend (hopefully) the riding years i have left,then i need to ride w/ at least some suspension...back in '01 i hadda trainee wreck the rig whilst i slept in the sleeper,and broke 2 vertibrea (c's 2&4).so when ya see's a SSer on the trail w/ a fork,it's not always them tryin ta "modernize" a minimalist machine,sometimes,it's their doc's recommendation to keep em ridin longer (my doc's an avid rider too-cool,huh?).

    like the others said tho,fun is fun,and fun is diffrent to diffrent folks,and sometimes it's diffrent at diffrent times to the same folks...sometimes i ride my gearie bikes too (don't tell anyone tho ).don't let anyone tell ya that ya has to do sumthin their,or any certain way.you's you,they's them,and i'm me,and thas what makes the world go round.jus have fun,and by the way welcome to the forums
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  22. #22
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    Are you fuSSy?

    Quote Originally Posted by j e SS e
    I don't get into the purist pretensions either...I ride SS bikes because they're fun, they're simple, and they're fun.

    Suspension can be rather nice to have, especially on longer, faster descents, but I prefer the simplicity of the rigid fork. Nothing to break, nothing to worry about, ever. If I'm riding I'll be having a good time regardless; not having something won't make me have less fun, that's SS.
    Yea, when returning from the desert, my riding buddy was telling me how his shock is now leaking. Fortunately he has a spare Fox F80X, just for such an occasion. He got tired of waiting for his shock to be overhauled, so he bought a spare. Seems he has to do it several times a year.

    Quote Originally Posted by j e SS e
    It is both, and it is neither. It is like the Tao.
    From the The Tao of Singlespeeding
    by Corvus Corvax as read in Dirt Rag

    Do you think you can take my bike and improve it?
    I do not believe it can be done.

    My singlespeed is sacred.
    You cannot improve it.
    If you try to change it, you will lose it.
    If you add a suspension fork, you will ruin it.

    So sometimes I am ahead and sometimes I am behind;
    Sometimes breathing is hard, sometimes it comes easily;
    Sometimes there is strength and sometimes weakness;
    Sometimes the trail goes up and sometimes down.

    Therefore the singlespeeder avoids extremes, complacency, and heavy traffic on climbs.
    However I ride rigid (SS and geared) not because of the 'purity', I began riding rigid in an effort to learn lines. I rode it for a year, then went back to suspension, only to find out that there is no direct translation from rigid to suspension. After going over the bars a couple of times, I retired my trusty Z2 Superfly.

    I think that Anthonys says it best when he tells us to, "Free Ur SingleSpeed, Yo!"
    aLaN AT BikeMojo DOT com

  23. #23
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    I reckon there's nothing wrong with suspension, but you have to pay a lot of good money before suspension gets measurably better than a really fat tyre and a properly built rigid fork.

    I reckon I'm not fast enough to justify suspension on my 29er - tried it both ways. On my 26" Voodoo I do need the front suspension in the rough stuff.

    My opinion is that to keep it simple go to a rigid 29er with fat tyres, unless you are a racer, in which case you don't need advice from the mobile chicane at the back of the pack
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  24. #24
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    BikeMojo, you bring up a great point: You said you started riding rigid to learn to pick better lines. While I am not the fastest guy downhill the last few years, I still like to "move along briskly". I learned to ride back in the 70's when our arms, legs and tires were our suspension - and we loved it! Even with a FS bike, I still ride as smooth a line as I can (but good suspension lets you get away with some major screw-ups!) I started riding rigid again a year ago when I got my 29" SS. I am not as fast on many of the same trails, but I don't care. I recall the early days of my riding, and am loving it. The speed is relative, I am not racing, and the challenge of riding the trail rigid is another experience. Rigid is not for everyone, and I may find that some day my body will revolt and keep me from doing it (I'm surprised that I have had no problems this last year, actually) but I think if anyone has any interest, give it a shot for at least a month or so - gears or SS, it doesn't matter. I think you will find it makes you a smoother rider even if it doesn't increase your speed. It's all good.
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  25. #25
    local trails rider
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    It is all cycling, just different.

    I have ridden a few pieces of trail on 7" FS, SS hardtail, and geared rigid bike. They all have their positives and negatives. One of the rigid positives is that the light and stiff front allows getting it over some obstacles more easily and precisely. Rock gardens at high speed? I'll take the 7" bike but that is a different kind of fun.

  26. #26
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    Rigid used to be the only choice, and thats where I learned all of my early bike handling skills back in the mid 80's. A rigid bike can be pretty precise and, as others have mentioned, they force you to ride with more finesse than a front or fully suspended bike which can bomb through bad lines with decent results.

    Although all of my SS and many of my geared bikes over the years have been rigid, I have also owned a lot of hardtails with front suspension, and short travel full suspension bikes as well. Back in the mid 90's I owned a rigid Klein Adroit with Kleins rigid fork and mission control bar set-up. With full XTR and a pressed-in ti spindle the bike tipped the scales at 22.5 lbs with pedals. Anyone thats ever ridden an old Klein knows that every bit of energy put into the pedals results in forward momentum, but they can also be a bit brutal on the body though. I also owned a 24 lb Amp B2 at the same time and, although I always felt faster on my Klein, when I timed myself on a single track circuit with lots of terrain variation the Amp always came-up the winner. The Klein still felt more connected and more agile, but I could always smoke that trail faster every time on the Amp.

    The bottom line for me is that a riding a rigid bike feels better to me personally and brings back great riding memories, but adding a fork or riding FS can provide better results depending on what you are looking for and where you ride.

    My .02

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATBScott
    I learned to ride back in the 70's when our arms, legs and tires were our suspension - and we loved it!
    I love riding REALLY rough stuff.... The faster you go the smoother it gets.... Up on the pedals, letting the bike rock and bounce..... All the time my torso remains fixed in space above the ground.




    Quote Originally Posted by ATScott
    Rigid is not for everyone, and I may find that some day my body will revolt and keep me from doing it (I'm surprised that I have had no problems this last year, actually) but I think if anyone has any interest, give it a shot for at least a month or so - gears or SS, it doesn't matter. I think you will find it makes you a smoother rider even if it doesn't increase your speed. It's all good.
    Not for everyone
    Give it a shot
    It's all good.

    I think that you got it pretty much wrapped up there.
    aLaN AT BikeMojo DOT com

  28. #28
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    Welcome!!

    Cheers! And welcome to mtbr my good friend cmay. Here's a few pics of the newest build to add to this fine first thread. Thanks to Atom Eyes for all the help FRSS29 YEY
    Attached Images Attached Images

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeMojo
    /still full 'o envy.




    I agree with the common thread here to 'run what ya brung'. Me, I ride rigid.

    *I* find that (for me) a good quality fork, properly matched to a frame with big fat tires, carbon bars and foam grips to be very comfortable. Even on longer rides.

    From last weekend in Terlingua... (logged 50ish tough/rough miles in 3 days)

    first one of the many dry creek beds


    And in the middle of the Contribando trail at Big Bend Ranch State Park


    On a side note the daytime temps were b/w 65-80F. Texas winter sux.
    How funny, I just mentioned Terlingua in a previous post regarding having the best bottle of beer there ever, (horsepiss Corona at the finish line after a dry and dusty 35 mile race). How cold did it get at night? The first time I went there it got down to the 20's at night and there was frost on the inside of my tent from the condensation from my breath. I almost didn't race because I didn't want to leave my sleeping bag.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treybiker
    How funny, I just mentioned Terlingua in a previous post regarding having the best bottle of beer there ever, (horsepiss Corona at the finish line after a dry and dusty 35 mile race). How cold did it get at night? The first time I went there it got down to the 20's at night and there was frost on the inside of my tent from the condensation from my breath. I almost didn't race because I didn't want to leave my sleeping bag.

    The coolest it got was just below freezing. According to Kathy at Kathy's Kosmic Kowgirl Kafe, her water bucket had ice in it. But by 9ish temps were up into the very comfortable range.

    For a good cup o joe, and the best breakfast burrito for miles, visit Kathy.



    aLaN AT BikeMojo DOT com

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