advice on perfect bike: single speed or gears

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by tombolaprize, 30 Jun 2008.

  1. tombolaprize

    tombolaprize New Member

    I have been cycling on my ridgeback whatever for a couple of years now, and now it feels too slow and clunky. I am ready to upgrade to something lighter and faster as I move to a longer commute - Hackney to South Kensington (8.5 miles).

    Single speed is very alluring and I had a great whizz round the block to test one out. Yes! This is the bike for me!! I felt like Beryl Burton.

    But - can anyone advise about hills as I will be up Margery Street/Pentonville Road every day. Can single speed do it?

    And - drop handlebars for commuting? Yes, or no?

    Any (non-technical) advice much appreciated.
  2. kushtrim

    kushtrim New Member

    I don't have a single speed but I never change by gears on my bike, which arguably is worst of both worlds, but iv found it very easy to ride. The hill up Pentonville road is quite steep but you can quite easily avoid using this road by taking a more central route.

    Also you bike will be a fair bit lighter if you have a single speed which will make a bit of a difference

    Drop handlebars if your going down long straight roads as you will build up quiet a lot of speed
  3. Crock of Gold

    Crock of Gold Guest

    Hmmm... deffo need both.

    At least, that's what I told my wife.

    "One is a spare, you see. Save money in the long run." I said to her.
  4. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    South London
    Yep, one geared bike, one fixed bike at least. Single speed - having a freewheel with your one gear is just wimpish.
  5. hackbike 6

    hackbike 6 New Member

    The Mile End Road.
    We aren't all as tough as you mikey.
  6. mootaineer

    mootaineer New Member

    Well I don't know what the hill up Margery Street/Pentonville Road is like.
    I use my singlespeeds (68in and 70in) to commute...and cycle up from St Johns Wood up to Whitestone Pond on the way home.

    I've also taken the 68in'er up Ventoux (although never again) so most things will be possible.

    I use drop bars now but I used to ride MTBs so I suppose it's just personal preference.

    Additionally, if you do get a SS (or fixed) I'd highly recommend getting a chaintug (I've got 2 Surly chaintugs - 1 each for my bikes).
    The help to keep your chain tension, which I always found a problem until I got these. :biggrin:
  7. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    I commute from Wanstead to Bishopsgate on my fixie, absolutely perfect for cycling in London. I would definitely go for the fixed wheel rather than single speed as it increases your speed control and manoeuvrability no end. Personally I'd say it makes you faster too! :tongue:

    Here's mine, I got it from Brick Lane Bikes.

  8. liambauckham

    liambauckham Über Member

    brick lane eh? was it stolen?
  9. Halloway

    Halloway New Member

    (My first post so hello everyone.)

    What's the current thinking on the legality of no brakes on a fixed-gear bike? I have heard that this is illegal, despite the fact that the lack of a freewheel is a bloody effective brake in itself.
  10. Freewheeler

    Freewheeler Well-Known Member

    Hi Halloway. I'm pretty sure that UK law says a bike needs two independent brakes, but doesn't specify how the brakes are implemented, so you are right in thinking that the drivechain itself counts as a brake on fixed. Speaking practically rather than legally, nearly all of your braking power comes from the front brake anyway. See here for full details.

    I've never ridden fixed myself, but even on a freewheeling bike I only use the rear brake to scrub a bit of speed off if I've taken a corner too fast (front wheel lockups in a turn make a crash almost certain).
  11. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    South London
    Crikey Freewheeler! First off, don't brake in turns on two wheelers. Second, brake with the front brake, not the rear, because there's far more stopping ability available.
  12. Freewheeler

    Freewheeler Well-Known Member

    Well BM, you're right about not braking in turns and I always aim not to. Very occasionally I misjudge the speed and find myself going too fast through a curve, then I will *gently* apply the rear brake to lose a bit of speed. I'm talking about very gentle braking here, and one thing I do know is that a front wheel lockup means a certain crash if banked (and pretty probable even in a straight line).

    Sorry, I didn't mean to advise braking in corners and you're right it isn't advisable, but really I was talking about the only time I'd prefer the rear brake over the front. Front wheel skids frighten the life out of me!
  13. Riding in Circles

    Riding in Circles Veteran

    Alternatively get a three wheeler and brake in turns for fun.
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