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Bella Boards > Velo Bella Fun Stuff - Public > Product and Equipment > Any SingleSpeeders Out There? Questions about SS.

Any SingleSpeeders Out There? Questions about SS.
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woodbridgejr
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 Posted: Thu Aug 20th, 2009 03:55 am

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I'm thinking I want to get a singlespeed for my next bike.  My friend recently got a 29er single speed and LOVES it.  She rarely rides her geared bike and says it's actually harder to ride than her SS. 

Just wondering if anyone else has a singlespeed..what you have, if you like it and what your thoughts are. 

I'm thinking it might be a nice change of pace for me and nice to have a lighter weight bike and a different experience for riding the same trails...

Thanks!

beth h
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 Posted: Thu Aug 20th, 2009 06:48 pm

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I LOVE my singlespeed bike.

To get into racing I decided to go back to my roots, which began in BMX (back in the Dark Ages before it was a nationally-sanctioned sport).  "Stompy" is a Kona Fire Mountain ATB, fully-rigid frame and fork, with 26" wheels. While I'm fairly certain that a 29'er would just roll right over those bigger logs with more ease, the 26" wheels allow me to lift and carry the bike more easily. This means that I can race both short-track xc in the summer and 'cross in the fall.

A singlespeed bike is nimble and LIGHT! You will marvel at the difference if you've been riding a geared ATB thus far.

One thing that I've learned during this summer's short-track season is that if you are racing against women who are riding geard bikes you will HAVE to get in front of them before you reach a hill or berm -- singlespeed bikes need more time and distance in order to work up the momentum required to ride up an incline. If you get stuck behind a geard bike, as I often did this year, you will be forced to do a run-up because the women in geared bikes are shifting into some VERY low gears to climb (instead of powering up the hill like you would on a singlespeed).

Also, you want to select a gear that errs on the side of being slightly too easy, rather than slightly too hard. If you don't your knees will let you know about it! I found that the easiest way to deal with this was to run a cassette cog with spacers in back, to facilitate easier cog changes for various terrain. I have purchased a small selection of rear cogs ranging from 17t to 21t to give myself a reasonable range of gears to choose from.

(This approach hearkens back to my BMX days, when we rode on converted Schwinn Sting-Rays with Ashtabula [one-piece] cranksets stolen from old roadbikes. In those days, the the little ring was removed and the big ring -- the one with the bolt-holes -- was ground down toothless, into a chainguard of sorts, so that we could swap in a different-sized smaller chainring depending on the conditions at the track. Most of us kept a few smaller chainrings on hand for this purpose, and took up slack on the chain accordingly. But changing a rear cassette cog is MUCH easier and faster.)

I use a Soulcraft "Convert" chain tensioner so I don't have to lengthen or shorten chain; I simply change the position of the Convert on the bike to handle the 1 to 2-tooth difference in cogs.

So far, I have had a BLAST racing on a singlespeed bike. I am firmly committed to singlespeed for as long as my knees can handle it, and next year I hope to move out of Beginner class and into Singlespeed if I can build up the endurance (Beginners race 20 minutes, while Singlespeeders race 45!).

Go for it! Singlespeed may well be the most FUN you'll have on a bike. And do write back and let us know how it's going.
Happy riding! --Beth

Below: Stompy. Crankset shown has since been replaced by a Truivativ Stylo GPX with 32t chainring (which allows me to use smaller cogs in rear).


Attachment: stompy.jpg (Downloaded 50 times)

Last edited on Thu Aug 20th, 2009 06:54 pm by

connie
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 Posted: Thu Aug 20th, 2009 10:07 pm

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I also have a SS and I love it.   (And got Kimber hooked too...)  I have a 26er though - I'm just not sold on 29ers, and REALLY don't need one more standard for wheels, tires, etc. in our bike collection.  

Basically, when I decided to get one, I had heard several people tell me that it's great training - it'll make you learn to brake less to preserve your momentum, and it'll make you strong.   I started shopping around for a SS sort of as a training tool.   Something cheap that I could experiment with.   And then I found my gorgeous pink Bianchi P.U.S.S. and the budget went all to hell, but I found myself buying a 20lb bike with beautiful pink Chris King components - even a pink chain.    And I didn't expect it to be so damn fun!   :)  This is the one of those bikes that I classify as being in my "Permanent Collection".  

Before it showed up, I figured that I'd be buying a suspension fork pretty quickly, but it turns out that it's so fun to ride rigid, that once I took it out on the trail, I haven't really considered that since.   (And I'm a DH racer... so I love suspension on all my other bikes!)

I also found that not only did it make me stronger at climbing because I had to learn that I could pedal in a harder gear than I was used to, but the super light weight and beautiful efficiency of not having suspension made me actually ENJOY climbing for the first time in my life.   Heh, if you knew me before, you'd realize how absolutely huge of a deal it is to say that.   ;)

Anyway - I totally recommend it.   It's fun, easy to maintain, light weight, and so quiet and simple it's easier to just lose yourself in the zone.  

One of the nice things about my bike is that it's built to be a singlespeed and therefore has horizontal dropouts - so you can fit a spacer in there and not have to worry about a chain tensioner.   You just slide the whole rear wheel forwards or backwards in the dropouts until the chain fits right.    Though I did help a friend convert an old hardtail to a singlespeed and the conversion kits aren't that hard to figure out either.

When it comes to gearing - you'll have to figure out what gear is appropriate for your trails.   It's pretty easy to change the rear cog, and if you know a couple other people locally who ride singlespeeds, chances are that they own a few extras in varying sizes, so with some luck you can probably do your experimenting for free.   I started with a 2:1 ratio, but that was pretty tough on some climbs and I have gradually been moving towards easier gearing.

Anyway - have fun shopping!  

 

Attachment: UT1 Willow Park 013.jpg (Downloaded 47 times)

beth h
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 Posted: Thu Aug 20th, 2009 10:39 pm

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Ditto about the horizontal drops -- if the Kona had come with these I wouldn't be using the Convert. But my Kona has vertical drops, and the Convert looks like a stealth bastard rear derailleur so people don't realize right away that I'm on a singlespeed.

But that's one NICE bike. Bring it to Portland for SSCXWC in October!

woodbridgejr
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 Posted: Fri Sep 18th, 2009 02:43 am

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thanks for all the info! i'm supposed to try out a ss sometime next week (a friend is looking to sell hers due to knee problems).  i'll keep you posted!

has anyone had knee problems from SSing?

beth h
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 Posted: Fri Sep 18th, 2009 02:54 pm

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I had occasional knee problems before SS'g. I haven't noticed an increase in the severity since I started riding SS this summer. Saddle height seems pretty key; I measured the saddle height and distance to the stem on my other bikes and started there on my SS. After the first few weeks of riding I made a couple of tiny (and I mean TINY) adjustments. My knees still hurt a little a day after 'cross practice, but they also hurt the morning after a brevet so that's nothing new. Pick a low gear to start with and go from there. I began with 32 x 16, the standard ratio for SS bikes; and eventually settled on 32 x 19. This ratio seems to work for short track, but I may go even lower for 'cross.

kbortolussi
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 Posted: Tue Sep 29th, 2009 03:01 am

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This was posted some time back and I'm just seeing it. I have a Rock Lobster single speed and I love it. They are a great work out, you can learn to use your momentum, and you don't have to worry about trashing your bike in the winter. I don't have a 29'er, but it's all good. Have fun!

woodbridgejr
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 Posted: Mon Sep 6th, 2010 02:38 am

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Just wanted to give an update. I love my SS. I'm going to graduate myself to a smaller rear cog b/c I'm spinning out on the flats now. So I'm kind of excited.

I was a little worried about if the SS was going to exacerbate existing knee problems but so far it's been fine. I really like the simplicity. My friend who has a SS laughs b/c I think tell people riding a SS is harder but easier (some ways it's harder but it's also easier in some ways)..if that makes sense!?

So far I just ride it on the easier/intermediate trails in MI and it's great.


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