Pondering SS

Eurygnomes

Active Member
Location
London, UK
So, there seem to be quite a few threads in this forum that address this whole "should I? shouldn't I?" issue.

Turns out: nearly everyone who has one, and even those who don't, wax rhapsodical (for the most part). But I don't actually KNOW anyone with one (anymore).

They certainly LOOK the deal on the commute (which is a very paltry 1.5miles in the flatlands of central London: certainly no hills!), which I basically do in one gear anyway (reserving all the other gears for the FNRTTC).

I would pop into the LBS, and start asking questions. but they frequently want to bombast me with jargon: headsets, cranks, hubs, brackets etc. Even with a properly annotated diagram I feel a little lost.

When all I really want to do is try the damned bikes out, see what they're like, and then see whether I should consider purchasing (or buidling, which would require a whole LOAD of annotated diagrams!). So the question is: do you have a single speed bike you'd be willing to let a 5'8" girl (with longish legs) ride around a bit somewhere central either at lunchtime or after work one day? If you don't mind being associated with a geared bike, I'm more than willing to swap for a go on one of those behemoths (I have a Trek WSD7.5) again (if you aren't already a 2+bike individual)!

(fixed gear scares me a little too much at this point: all that 'over the handlebars' talk!)

(also: if I get one: do I have to dress in Messenger Chic? :whistle:)
 

colinr

Well-Known Member
Location
Norwich
headsets, cranks, hubs, brackets
My understanding is that a bike requires all of these things, I have no idea what makes them better/worse, you are not alone.

(also: if I get one: do I have to dress in Messanger Chic?
)
Yes, it's Rapha only. Or Swrve at a push, but only if you can back up the decision by claiming you spent the rest of your money on a really expensive seatpost. :rolleyes:

(I'm not in London so can't help but have nothing better to do than post on forums :whistle:)
 

crumpetman

Well-Known Member
Give the LBS a try, take your bike along if you can and they will see that you are already riding a decent bike. If for some reason they will not let you try one then go to another shop.


For riding a couple of miles I don't know why anyone would not enjoy a single speed.

Are you looking to purchase one if you like it? Have you got a budget in mind?
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game procrastinator!
 If you are already riding about in one gear then you already pretty much know what a singlespeed bike feels like except that. a true s/s will have a perfect chainline and no jockey wheels to wrap the chain round so the transmission will feel more efficient. I was surprised that I could feel the difference when I built mine, but I do. A s/s bike will be lighter too, which is always nice. 

singlespeed_bike_corley_rocks.jpg

single-speed-bike-salcey-forest.jpg
 

They are very simple machines and if you hunt around for bits, you can put them together pretty cheaply. Mine only cost me £25 but I had lots of bits in my junk box, and have borrowed the wheels, frame and forks from a mate who has emigrated.

I can get up 6% or 7% hills okay and short stretches of 10% and can ride comfortably at 20 mph on that bike. I say - go for it!
 

Coco

Well-Known Member
Location
Glasgow
Aside from the fun factor. There's also less maintenance for a SS. That's the main reason I got mine. After one Scottish Winter I wanted something that took less time to clean - its amazing the crud that gets into rear mechs.

I've got a 5 mile commute with a steep downhill followed by a steep climb (about 10% I think) then a gradual slope into the city centre. Then the reverse on the way back. I can do those hills reasonably easily (as in I don't stop or die) and I'm by no means fit. If your commute is flatter then you'll have no bother. You'll wonder why it took you so long to go SS and even more so if you go fixed. 
 

Alan Whicker

Senior Member
Some places which claim to be bike shops are effectively boutiques. If they won't let you do a test ride, they aren't worth your custom - so find another.

I've got a 1980s hi-ten steel 'racer' which I'm going to convert to SS for winter. I only do a 5-ish mile commute.
 

gbb

Legendary Member
Location
Peterborough
SS ? I'm sat here thinking of the pro's and cons.
Having had one for a short time, i'm in two minds about it. Mine is just a cheap throw together, but fully functional.

Pros...
It 'seems' cool. I just feel different on mine. Scalping a normal geared bike seems to have more meaning:biggrin:
It 'mixes up' the ride. Instead of a steady cadence thanks to normal gear changes, you find yourself occasionally spinning, occasionally grinding, working harder on hills etc etc.
Switch your brain off re gear changes...slightly refreshing.
Its just nice to do something different. That has its own value.

Cons..
I'm relatively fit and have had bikes for years,but i'm finding it moderately hard work on inclines (we dont have proper hills here)...and even harder work in a headwind.
To be fair, this years been hard for me, my fitness isnt as good as normal, workloads been heavy and i've been generally tired for a few months, so perhaps now wasnt the right time to try SS. I'm not doing the mileage generally and i'm certainly not as fit as last year.

I'm enjoying riding one, but at times i miss the gears. Perhaps i need more time to adjust, perhaps i'm better suited to riding at a more regular cadence, perhaps because i want to ride as fast as i can (always) and at times i know i could be faster with gears (on the flat and on inclines)...and i cant on a SS.

It's fun to do something different, but it certainly doesnt make me want to dump gears. For me its a bike i'd ride when the weathers fair and maybe shorter rides, perhaps 10 to 15 miles.

Just my take on the subject. :rolleyes:
 

colinr

Well-Known Member
Location
Norwich
It's nowhere near as hard as you'd think only having one gear. Especially on a relatively flat commute.
Sure, there are some days I curse it, but I'd be cursing any bike on those days.



Don't write fixed off, I don't know anyone that has actually been thrown off – the bike will remind you very quickly that you need to keep pedalling should you stop!
(If it throws your foot off, just take them both off and brake. It looks really cool :smile: )
 

crumpetman

Well-Known Member
It's nowhere near as hard as you'd think only having one gear. Especially on a relatively flat commute.
Sure, there are some days I curse it, but I'd be cursing any bike on those days.



Don't write fixed off, I don't know anyone that has actually been thrown off – the bike will remind you very quickly that you need to keep pedalling should you stop!
(If it throws your foot off, just take them both off and brake. It looks really cool :smile: )


+1 My first time riding fixed I tried to do what I always do after getting out of the saddle to peddle a bit harder - free wheel while I get my arse back on the saddle. But no! I think one foot came off the peddle and the other just kept going round while I laughed and managed to get back on the saddle.
 
OP
Eurygnomes

Eurygnomes

Active Member
Location
London, UK
WOW! Thanks for all the responses, people, VERY friendly!

Popped into my LBS today, which turns out is an LBW (actually, those are it's initials too!), which meant that I could watch as my bike had it's brake pads/cables sorted out (insert appropriate technical replacement term here) and chat with the boys. Neither of whom have a SS/F bike. :smile: There were two bikes hanging up (possibly only to demonstrate that this shop has something to do with bicycles though) so I baulked.

I guess I'll pop along to Evans later today instead and wheedle a ride. Only problem is that Evans near me is right on a main road. If I screw up, it's quite possible I'll be mashed up by the traffic.

Ahhh, but adrenalin is good for the soul, right?

Okay. Will branch out from the geared rides and give it a whirl. Thanks for the candour - especially from those of you who posted about the pros and cons and how you've REALLY found riding them.

Eury
 

Rob3rt

Man or Moose!
Location
Manchester
Quite frankly, (owning a very nice £1k geared road bike and an ugly £300 fixed wheel bike) I'd choose fixed every time (unless there was some steep hills to get over), I ride 85" gearing, I roll at about 22mph for little effort and can push that thing on up hills with some gurning and a bit of effort! Most people ride lower gears so unless you are pretty weak in the leg department or you are riding some sharp inclines then you should be fine, if you can sprint, you can climb most short hills on a fixed.

IMO single speed is offers very little advantage over riding geared, but carries a fair few dissadvantages. Fixed however is probly equal advantages and dissadvantages. Its obviously everyones own descision and everyone has their own opinions, but I dont see the point in SS!

Dont be scared to try fixed, if you get bucked over the bars, you were either doing something stupid or very unlucky. You might get bucked out of the saddle when you forget to pedal in a moment of madness, but over the bars? Chances are low, sounds like the sort of crap people who havent cycled fixed or those whom wish to keep riding fixed within some sort of elitist group say to put people off!



Be prepaired to be called a hipster or old school though. I get a lot of remarks, maybe thats because I have lo-pro bars and tri bars on it though. But when people notice its fixed they always remark and call it hardcore or old-school, lmao
 

colinr

Well-Known Member
Location
Norwich
I ride 85" gearing
Translates as: I hate my legs and punish them on a daily basis :biggrin:

Most stock fixed/singlespeeds will be more suitable to the new rider.

but I dont see the point in SS!
Can freewheel downhill. Handy if you've bad knees I'm told.
Still get the weight / maintenance saving of no gears.
 

Rob3rt

Man or Moose!
Location
Manchester
Translates as: I hate my legs and punish them on a daily basis :biggrin:

Most stock fixed/singlespeeds will be more suitable to the new rider.



Can freewheel downhill. Handy if you've bad knees I'm told.
Still get the weight / maintenance saving of no gears.
Yeah but really are these small benefits worth the loss in versatility? IMO no, in some other peoples opinions, yes! :biggrin:
 

tyred

Legendary Member
Location
Ireland
I ride the same bike as both SS and fixed with the same gear ratio. The fixed is different  and probably more fun to ride (also makes an interesting conversation piece) but there is a steep hill near my house which I need to ride up to get home from basically anywhere I usually cycle to. I don't see that it's any easier with fixed gear. There may be some advantage to the "flywheel effect" of fixed on gentle hills where you can maintain a highish cadence but once it gets to the grinding stage, there is no advantage (IMO). In general, I prefer the SS as I can coast down hill at higher speeds than I can spin.

To the OP, I would say go for it. You'll be amazed at how much more efficient the drivetrain feels after a geared bike and maintenance is minimal compared to a derailleur geared bike.

If you feel like you like the idea of a low maintenace bike but feel unsure about coping with only one gear, find a bike with a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub and lower the gearing on it.
 

Rob3rt

Man or Moose!
Location
Manchester
I ride the same bike as both SS and fixed with the same gear ratio. The fixed is different and probably more fun to ride (also makes an interesting conversation piece) but there is a steep hill near my house which I need to ride up to get home from basically anywhere I usually cycle to. I don't see that it's any easier with fixed gear. There may be some advantage to the "flywheel effect" of fixed on gentle hills where you can maintain a highish cadence but once it gets to the grinding stage, there is no advantage (IMO). In general, I prefer the SS as I can coast down hill at higher speeds than I can spin.

To the OP, I would say go for it. You'll be amazed at how much more efficient the drivetrain feels after a geared bike and maintenance is minimal compared to a derailleur geared bike.

If you feel like you like the idea of a low maintenace bike but feel unsure about coping with only one gear, find a bike with a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub and lower the gearing on it.
If you sprint at the hill on the fixed, your momentum and the flywheel effect may possibly get you further up the hill before you are reduced to griding? Dont know, havent riden a SS road bike before, onyl fixed and full geared affairs.
 
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