Why am I faster on a SS?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Why am I faster on a SS?

    Ok. I'm into my 2nd season on a SS after making the switch from gears. So I've rode on every single track, done every climb and commute that I've done with gears. Except for
    not being able to crank a big gear on a decent, or spinning out on a flat commute. I ride
    everything else faster! Is it a strength thing? Or a drive train efficiency thing? I noticed
    a big improvement after I installed my 16T ENO. Fact or mindf*#k?

  2. #2
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    I've noticed it too

    Yeah, I've had the same thing happen to me. One of my favorite trails that usually takes 1 hr 20 minutes, takes only 1 hr 10 minutes on the SS. Less weight and more efficiency (no derailleur) may play a part of it. I think the real difference is that on the SS, I have to keep the momentum up. I can't just drop the gears and granny up the big hills. Rather, I see a big hill coming and start racing toward it and then give it all I've got to get up the hill. I am MUCH faster going uphill on a SS. That's just my experience...

  3. #3
    NormalNorm
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    Probably abit of everything. I find my strength really increases when i start hittin' up the SS.

  4. #4
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    The same with me. Like norm says, is a bit of everything, but is mainly a mental thing. You focus on the trail and forget about evil gears, and you cant give up on the climbs droping the chain to the granny, because you have no granny.Then you are sprinting uphill, while gearies are keeping their front wheel on the ground.

  5. #5
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    I have noticed that I can't hammer on the flats and downhill, so I am more rested for the hill and technical parts.

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    I wish I could say the same but I am generally still a bit quicker on my blinged out 23 pound FS geared race bike although it suprises me that my ss times for my standard loops and climbs are not that far behind. I notice in races compared to those around me that I tend to ride my fully in ss style - attack climbs rather than spin up them and try to flow on single track with minimal use of the brakes. Maybe ss technique on a lightweight sorted race FS bike is the ultimate for speed?
    Although I still prefer to ride my ss most of the time.

  7. #7
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    I swapped between a Rohloff hub and a single speed, so the bike was almost identical as possible except for the rear wheel. Anything under 25 miles I found myself 10% faster on the single speed than with multiple gears -- that's based on average speed on trails that I've been riding for over a decade. I think it's all about having to aggressively attack every hill and momentum-sucking obstacle when on the single speed. On a geared bike I find I ride less aggressively, which works out well for longer rides but means I'm slower with gears on a shorter rides...
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  8. #8
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    If you drive a car 60 miles at a constant speed of 60 mph you will arrive at your destination in exactly 1 hour. If you drive 60 miles at various speeds, such as 25 miles at 75 miles per hour, 15 miles at 35 miles per hour, and 20 miles at 60 miles per hour, it will take 1 hour and 5 minutes. This equation applies exactly the same way to Singlespeed mountain biking, as your speed is relatively constant. Although your speed may not be exactly the same the whole ride, it's much more consistant than it is on a geared bike. I really noticed this when I first started singlespeeding, as I blew past guys on geared bikes.

  9. #9
    I wasn't Kung Fu fighting
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    Not to rain on the parade...

    but, I've not found that to be true. I rode a 15 mile loop on my geared hardtail at about 90% of maximum effort. Then I rode it 2 days later on my SS and I was almost 5 minutes slower. I tried again on the SS about a week later and damn near killed myself, and still was 3.5 minutes slower. Just for the hell of it, I rode the same loop on my Turner 5 Spot, which weighs 29lbs, and was still 95 seconds faster than my SS. I think terrain and the amount of climbing may factor in. I love my SS, it's by far my favorite bike to ride... probably ride it 5:1 over the other two combined, but I'm definitely slower when on it.

  10. #10
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    I think part of the improvement is often related to the more intense training a SS implies. However, if that was a matter of physical as well as technical training, that would translate into an increased efficiency also on a geared bike.

    However, it is not completely the case (at least for me), as part of the improvement is mental. For lazy people like me, riding a SS uphill forces us to stroke harder and "attack". Otherwise, we would waste momentum and would suffer even more. So we go faster.

    Nevertheless, there no reason for a non lazy person to go faster on a SS.
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  11. #11
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    I don't have a clue about my times and speeds, but I find that SS does not let me get lazy on some bumpy pieces of trail ... or going up a hill. You go as fast as you can or you walk.

    Depends on the trail too, I suppose.

  12. #12
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    I find I'm quicker on the climbs cause you have to mash the pedals to get up. On the flats in singletrack its a 50/50 thing probably quicker on the gearie. Open flats definetly the gearie and dh's are again to the gearie.

  13. #13
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    With the SS you don't have the option of sitting and efficiently spinning up a hill; you have to push generally a larger gear than you would on a geared bike up it. So if your not walking, you're probably climbing faster.
    Then on the descents, you probably aren't losing that much time.
    Still, I think you can go faster on a geared bike.
    For the record, I haven't rode a geared mtb in over 2 1/2 years.

  14. #14
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    When I'm riding SS I have more fun, but when I ride gears I am more relaxed. Ultimately, I'm always faster with gears and there is no reason why I should be faster with my SS. If I want to stand and mash on my gears I can (and do) but can also drop the hammer on the open stretches, which is tough to do on my SS (34x19).

    IMO, the SS being faster is bogus. The physics don't support it.

  15. #15
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    i can get to office faster on my SS than on a geared bike, because I like to listen to Kenny Loggin's Danger Zone.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by 88 rex
    IMO, the SS being faster is bogus. The physics don't support it.
    And physics said bumble bees couldn't fly. My experimental data was clear with the best controls I could conceive: a 10% improvement for up to intermediate distance rides on SS versus geared. I expect my personal skill set and terrain contributed to that improvement -- perhaps it's the entire reason -- but the clock doesn't lie...
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  17. #17
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    On my regular 40km loop (point to point, return actually) the SS is ever so slightly slower. there's a couple of us that do this ride regularly on both gearies and SSers and we reckon it's down to top speed limitations. The first hour is basically just climbing with a few sharper pinches but mainly a long slog. the return is descending but there are a lot of places where top speeds can be over 30km/h which is my upper limit on the 32x16. this is typically where the little bit of difference comes into it, though the split times show that we are quicker on the way up when we have 1 or 2 SSers in the pack (me or one of my quicker mates) as that ensures the tempo is right up on the climbs...

    as for why it's quicker on a SS:
    1) you have to keep your momentum up or you pay the price
    2) you have to bust a nut up the climbs or you end up walking
    3) you're lighter
    4) you don't have the temptation to kick it down to granny and take it easy
    5) you need to chase your mates on the flats so you don't suffer too much from under gearing...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeT
    And physics said bumble bees couldn't fly. My experimental data was clear with the best controls I could conceive: a 10% improvement for up to intermediate distance rides on SS versus geared. I expect my personal skill set and terrain contributed to that improvement -- perhaps it's the entire reason -- but the clock doesn't lie...

    It's pretty simple logic. What makes you think that your avg 32x18 set-up is any faster than my 32x18 on my geared? Maybe a few watts lost in drivetrain, but I can still match your speed on the climbs and exceed your speed on the flats and possible descents with additional gears. On an SS you don't have time to be lazy, and IMO is the reason most people feel faster on SS. When I'm riding geared I can relax and grind out a climb if I want. Grinding out a long climb on an SS is not all that relaxing, although there is a joyful pain about that is somewhat addicting

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dms1818
    Ok. I'm into my 2nd season on a SS after making the switch from gears. So I've rode on every single track, done every climb and commute that I've done with gears. Except for
    not being able to crank a big gear on a decent, or spinning out on a flat commute. I ride
    everything else faster! Is it a strength thing? Or a drive train efficiency thing? I noticed
    a big improvement after I installed my 16T ENO. Fact or mindf*#k?
    Because you have to be! If you have gears you will use them.

  20. #20
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    I'm definitely faster on my SS or my fixed than I am with gears. I rode up a local hill which gains a good 2000' on my chameleon SS with 32-17 gearing, and if i was on a geared bike i'd have been granny gearing it up. it hurt, but was very satisfying.

    Gear selection is crucial to being fast on a SS but if you get it right, it works

  21. #21
    808+909 = Party Good Time
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    I'm faster SS for sure but all my trails are quite rolling hills with some steep climbs.... the rolling hills are always quicker on SS cos the momentum is consistant up and down with no gear flicking. I also find I don't fatigue as quick on SS because it forces you to switch on / switch off and rest as you are riding. Sure it's not as quick on flat tracks but who cares, the earth isn't flat.

  22. #22
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    Yup: The UGLY TRUTH!

    I can climb better on my ridgid Mary SS than on my Blur LT. I think the main reason is that I'm just lazier on the BLT: I stay in the granny longer.

    I think I can ride longer on the Blur (AND descend faster on rough stuff because of the 5" of travel), but the TRUTH is that less "stuff" gettin' in the way means you just climb faster. Hell, even if I have to get off and "hike-a-bike", I can STILL climb faster than my BLT. It's the combo of the efficiency and the lack of thechno "noice" of suspension and gears and such.

    BTW, my Mary SS weighs about the same is my BLT . . . and I'm pushing 32-20 on the Mary.

    <a href="https://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v617/crazy4blues/?action=view&current=Blurlt.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v617/crazy4blues/Blurlt.jpg" border="0" alt="07 Santa Cruz Blur Lt"></a>
    <a href="https://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v617/crazy4blues/?action=view&current=29-17.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v617/crazy4blues/29-17.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

  23. #23
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    If you're not trying to win any races, SS can be a surprisingly efficient and reliable way to cover large distances.

    It has been said here before that momentum is the key and I fully agree. Good management of momentum goes a long way, and the importance of momentum conservation grows with the length of the ride. Another surprising fact that I've found is that the use of a rigid fork makes you choose the routes extra carefully, avoiding roots, obstacles and unnecessary jumps. This saves a lot of energy and keeps momentum up.

    For the average rider, all these small things add up and the result is noticeable better performance.

  24. #24
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    I think ss is not faster (more fun ). You may be faster on it because it teaches you how to ride fast/easier to save energy. It is a mind thing really. I am not pointing fingers but if all you had was a geared bike, you are more inclined to use the granny gears to go up hill which seem to be rarely faster, just easier. Sometimes you just dont know the limits of yourself until you get a single speed.Just imo.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ernesto_from_Wisconsin
    i can get to office faster on my SS than on a geared bike, because I like to listen to Kenny Loggin's Danger Zone.

  26. #26
    Duckin' Fonuts.
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    I don't know which I am faster on to be certain. I can tell you that on the SS I attack everything that can bog me down to try and maintain momentum and just try and relax and rail the downhill stuff. I think that sets the body up for periods of stress and recovery during a ride that tend to help me with overall speed. On gears when I have rarely ridden in recent years I can say that I will ride in a gear that will give me a solid speed to effort ratio with little super max efforts like climbing on my SS and not much down recovery time. Maybe the spikes of mashing and spinng on the SS have something to do with the body's system of creating and clearing lactic acid becoming more efficient and making me feel faster. Again real data is not available. I truly like the single speed it is much like running in its simplicity. That I like.

  27. #27
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    How about this...a strong SSer who rides a geared bike like he is on his SS is going to be faster on the geared bike. He'd conserve momentum and leverage the gears where he'd otherwise spin out on an SS. He wouldn't sit and spin. He'd mash everything because he'd have the gears to allow for it (assuming he had the fitness level to support such a thing).

    Then there is the average sport level, weekend warrior type rider who does his fair share of sitting and spinning with gears. Then he gets on an SS. He is forced to mash up the climbs. He's still plenty fast on technical descents. He suffers in the flats, but depending on the terrain, that might not be too much of an issue. This guy will be faster on the SS. If he takes this newfound riding style to the geared bike, he may be even faster.

    You don't ride an SS because it is faster. You do it because it is fun. Because it is simple. Because you don't have tons of little fidgety pieces to snap off. Because of the way you make that geared guy feel when you drop him on the climbs. You do it because it rocks. That's my take.

  28. #28
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    On my favourite loop (about 12km, 450m of climbing), my SS time and FS time are within about 1-2 mins of each other. The difference is the amount of energy that gets expended - I use a lot more energy (maybe 150 calories?) on the SS for that course than I do on the FS. My SS is a Cannondale 29er 1FG and the FS is a Yeti ASR - the bikes weigh about the same (Yeti is considerably more 'blinged' than the 1FG). I reckon its just that on the SS I clear the big climb on the course in 33-18 but wouldn't be running 32-16 for that hill on the FS.

    However, if I commute on the road I'm a lot faster and use more energy on the FS as you get into a big gear and work it whereas on the SS the gear is quite easy to push and I can't be bothered running a 110rpm pedal cadence for a 1hr commute.

    Both are fun, just in different ways

  29. #29
    I wasn't Kung Fu fighting
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    I'm not a heart

    monitor wearing, weight weenie... I'm just a science teacher that likes to test hypothesis. I agree that I'm much less lazy on the SS, and I go faster up climbs. However, on the Central Coast of California we have LOTS of lose over hard pack and even with a Nevegal 2.35 tire and 15.9" chain stays I spin the rear tire out and end up walking some hills. Maybe I'm a slow walker, but even hustling up the hills I was still considerably slower than climbing my geared bike in a 32/32.

  30. #30
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    When I see this sort of question I always wonder this:
    Could I outrun myself? What if one of me was sprinting on occasion while the other would walk on occasion? What if the me that walked carried extra weight?

    I think SS is easier than gears, physically and mentally. It's like 29ers or light bikes. Ask a 29 rider why they like the larger wheel and you'll get many answers, most have to do with making things easier. I wish I was a good enough rider to be fast w/ gears, or on a 26 bike.

    "Oh you're super fast racer dude? Then why do you need your bike to be so light? Why can't you manage the 26" wheel? Lots of folks brand new to the MTB world are somehow able to function on heavy kid wheeled bikes.

    Now, if you are racing the Kokopelli on a SS you are in that different league that can ride gearless for 12+ hours. You'd probably be fast on a BMX bike w/ a newspaper bag hanging from the bars.
    I'd guess that most SSers are riding random trails under 4 hours. This is short enough that I can outsprint myself.

    How about this- do you have lower heart rates on SS as you grind up a hill vs spinning on gears? Would this mean your actually working less hard? Has anyone done tests w/ SS v Gears using a powertap?
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  31. #31
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    I agree with nzumbi. If SS bikes were faster every pro would be on them. Has anyone seen pros on the World Cup on SS bikes? I did not think so.
    My rides:
    Lynskey Ti Pro29 SS
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    KHS CX 550 cyclocross

  32. #32
    Mark
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    You may be faster, but I'll bet you are more tired

    I ride SS exclusively and can say that I definitely feel "worked" after a ride for sure.
    ===============

    Mark

  33. #33
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    Worldcup pros mash uphill like singlespeeders do. There arenīt many that mount a granny gear on their bikes.

    And they use there gearing efficent on hilly terrain. Something that you donīt see much often in hobby class.

    Of course they benefit of their gearings on the flats and downhills like everyone does.

    But who cares? I like the scary faces when you sprint over some fast riders on steep climbs on a singlespeed. I know, they īll get me on the flats. But they often donīt know.

    btw: I īm faster on singlespeed too.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    . If SS bikes were faster every pro would be on them.
    I haven't noticed any pros posting to this thread -- it started off with "Why am I faster on a SS?" and it appropriately morphed into those of us who are faster on a SS into forwarding our theories. If I had a pro's physiology, dedication to training, and appropriate mental strength I too would probably be faster on a multi-geared bike. But then I'd be a pro and wouldn't waste time posting to this thread...
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  35. #35
    (Ali)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pizzaz
    The difference is the amount of energy that gets expended - I use a lot more energy (maybe 150 calories?) on the SS for that course than I do on the FS.
    The work done is the same: the same weight is carried over the same hills and brought back to the same point. By definition, work is the difference in energy, so the energy used to cover the distance is the same.

    There can be a difference only if one riding style is more efficient than the other. To my eyes, sitting and spinning is less efficient, because the legs move more: To cover the same distance, the weight of the spinner's legs are moved more. So the lower the gear, the more the energy used.

    Ali

  36. #36
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    I saw Giant's Adam Craig riding a singlespeed bike (for training?) in a Bike magazine once. I ride a singlespeed because it's fun,and even if I'm a little faster on it than on my FS, who cares? They're all bikes, and they're meant to be fun...

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