Single-speed cycling

Discussion in 'Sports, Adventure Training and Events' started by Sixty, Apr 9, 2013.

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  1. Sixty

    Sixty LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. ARRSE Cyclists and Triathletes

    As above:

    My much loved old hybrid commuter bike has now gone to the big scrapyard in the sky and I'm thinking of dabbling with single-speed for its replacement.

    Does anyone have experience of these? (either fixie or freewheel). I've read the pros and cons on the cycling boards and am not entirely convinced that I could do without gears to take the pain away when a bastard of a hill approaches but know that others swear by them.

    Just wondered if anyone had ditched the gears and either never looked back or hated it utterly?
  2. A few years ago my FiL won a competition in CW or some such mag. A Pearson Touche single speed road bike. Since his OH wouldn't let him add any further to his 15-odd existing road bikes he let me collect it. After suitable pimping (kevlar tyres, name on frame) I got on with commuting.
    Having ridden a hybrid for years on Lahndahns bumpiest 'roads' I was a little concerned about the risks of tumbling, handling generally etc. NOT a drama at all. Shaved 4-6 mins off the commute, quicker and slicker all round. Plus its so flat you'll not really notice. What hills? You'll not regret shifting from fatty hybrid to roadie bliss.

    NB This was a single speed NOT a fixie. The worst part of riding a fixie is admitting you're a puff to mummy...and the tatts.
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  3. I have tried riding single speed(ie not changing gear for my commute(yes I'm a stab)) I didnt find it easy to get on with.
    Now, my commute is 26mile per day and not very flat.....add wind into that doesnt equal much fun.

    If I lived somewhere flat, didnt have a large commute(taking wind as a factor also) then I'd go single speed, less shite to maintain and repair/replace when commuting on salt covered roads.
    Oh supposedly Fixed gear riding is like cycling Nirvana so I'm told.
  4. I think in Edinburgh you're asking for trouble. There's a reason nobody wins 'King of the Mountains' by stripping their gears off.

    Somewhere flat, maybe. Unless you're planning on becoming a competition-level athlete with the fitness levels to match, keep the gears and cycle instead of pushing.
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  5. Converted my 20 year old Marin MTB to a single speed a year ago. Cost me £16 or thereabouts. I struggled hugely to start with and ended up farting about with sprocket sizes on the front and rear and was surprised how much difference they make. You really need to experiment a bit as the sprockets required vary with terrain and your fitness level. You either struggle on the hills to get good cadence on the flats or toy spin too fast in order to get a gear that works for hills .....

    As a teenager I used to ride a fixie to my girlfirends house (8 miles away ) 6 evenings a week. I was light and fit back then. As a lardier 50 year old i struggled and only use my singlie for heading into town or riding to the pub. I'd never use it for serious off-roading or hills. Personally I don't think the weight saving is worth the compromises you make in pedalling - especially in anything other than flat terrain. That's why they are more popular in cities like London. It's been a fashion thing for a few years now but is overrated in my humble opinion.

    Try to borrow one to start with and see how it goes. Very easy to get caught up in the hype of lightweight, clean lines etc.

    I use a Canondale road bike for my training. Couldn't believe how much more responsive the road bike is compared to my singlie and the 20 odd years on mountain bikes. And if you really want to go for it ......

    Martyn Ashton - Road Bike Party - YouTube
  6. If your after a bike have a look at Alpine bikes, Got a good deal on an Ex hire Trek 1.5 road bike which was just over a year old and 1/2 the price not sure if they have some left
  7. Single speed and fixies are for hipster *******. If you are going down this road, don't do it half heartedly. You must also purchase Rapha jeans which you'll roll up to just below the knee, a limited edition Brooks saddle, a beard, a 1970's retro cycling cap from prendas, a sneer and some NHS glasses.
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  8. I've converted an 80's 531 steel road bike to a Sturmey Archer internal hub 3 speed commuter. It's epic and gives you a little choice. It's light too.
  9. Does it have panniers?
  10. I have as of last week been a single-speed cyclist with my brand spanking new raleigh hybrid... mainly because in my haste to order a decent brand of bike at a cracking price I ordered it from the internet without having checked whether or not it had gears.

    I have always had mountain bikes ever since I was a little girl so I was really dubious about using it on hills around here as there are loads and they're REALLY steep (If I leave my town on the bike that's all well and good, it's downhill, but inevitably no matter what route I take I have to come back up that hill somehow).

    I started reading up on it though and what I found was that, for the commuting cyclist/leisure pedaller gears are really not necessary... I am not Bradley Wiggins, I never will be but that doesn't mean I don't love getting out on my bike :) I haven't found it that hard at all.

    As a child and a young teenager I always found that getting up the mega hills round where I lived required getting up off my saddle and using my weight as a driving force along with gears, leaving me knackered by the time I was at the top.... but with this gearless bike I have now (and about 6years of not cycling outside at all) I suddenly find I can tackle the same hill I couldn't manage as a teenager, with EASE and while sitting down the whole time :)

    I never thought I'd have anything other than mountain bikes, as I was a big fan of them in my youth and was under the illusion they were what the cool kids had, but after a bad experience of having a super heavy mountain bike at uni that I had to pretty much get off and walk up hills with (it got stolen, I didn't mourn) I decided to look at other types, not necessarily gearless but I definitely looked at the weight aspect when choosing my current bike.

    Definitely a gearless convert though. When I did have gears I just found them a pain in the arse as being no bradley, I had no clue what optimum gear should be so probably made life a lot harder for myself at times.

    Perhaps I just find it easier because I'm a spin class enthusiast though and am still in my 20s... I do all my gearwork and building my leg muscles for an hour most days in the spinning gym and have a fairly decent level of fitness so maybe I just find it easier by being conditioned to resistance work.

    As for being in Edinburgh, the steep hills there are similar to the steep hills I'm talking about here, so if I moved over tomorrow I'd be confident I could handle them on my singly. Probably more hills in Edinburgh but I'd see that as a benefit to my fitness rather than a reason not to have my gearless bike... after all if you are going to go up them on one part of a journey, it's likely you will be coming back the same way later on and can freewheel down them at your leisure, reap the reward of your earlier hard work!

    Anyway, not an expert or anything but just thought I'd relate my experience. Haven't tried sticking a bag on my pannier rack yet so that may well have an impact of some sort on hills!
  11. Not yet- don't make me do it :)
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  12. When I lived in Edinburgh I rode a single speed. My flat was at the bottom of Dundas Street and my university campus was in Merchiston so it was up hill most of the way. Not a bother.

    Fair enough your legs were burning by the time you reached the top of some of the slightly steeper hills in Edinburgh but by and large it was fine. The gear ratio on most single speeds is set to be able to handle most hills.

    The only problem I found was that when you were on the flat you couldn't really crank up the same speed you could on a regular road bike by knocking it onto the big ring and going hell for leather.

    But yeah, it was absolutely fine. Couldn't recommend them enough.
  13. Then you need to learn how to ride a bike.
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  14. I was a child, and a female... Strangely enough I wasn't really interested in how to make things work more efficiently and more interested in getting up the hills purely to go flying back down going "wheeeeee!".

    In any case I've since discovered that gears are only useful to the poncey arse in the air lycra clad racing brigade so it's of no matter to me now to learn how to use them.
  15. Yeah take the gears off. While you are at it you might as well remove the brakes, the tyres and the chain and pedals.
    Go totally retro and back to the unsullied birth of "real" cycling.

    Having had that little rant I suppose the easiest way to see if it is for you is to go for a ride on your normal route and just see exactly how many times you actually have to change gears on your present bike.