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Singlespeed Questions(13 posts)

Singlespeed QuestionsFez
Dec 29, 2003 8:42 AM
I have been riding singlespeed-style for the past week. Its fun. Don't have a singlespeed bike, so I just use the 16T cog and don't shift.

A few questions:

1) Why do I go so fast? Avg speed is the same or more than when I use gears. Is it because my legs are so fresh from NOT using the taller gears so I can just power thru the moderate uphills at a faster cadence and speed?

2) When should you stop spinning and just coast? Coast once 120rpm is exceeded?

3) Can singlespeed cause knee and joint problems since it forces riding uphill at a taller gear than when riding a geared bike?

Its a little different since people pass me on downhills but I fly by on the uphills.
re: Singlespeed Answerscyclopathic
Dec 29, 2003 8:56 AM
#2 when you start to bounce
#3 yes it can
#1 too much fun
re: Singlespeed QuestionsDave Hickey
Dec 29, 2003 9:02 AM
1) Why do I go so fast?- You are probably using too easy of gears on your geared bike. When you can't shift, you end up using the higher gear(at probably the same cadence)

2) pedal as fast as your legs will carry you. I max out at 130-140rpms.

3) Yes it can cause knee and joint problems. Most of my 6800 miles this year have been single speed and the only time my knees hurt is when I ride onto a strong headwind. I standup to climb so it's easier on the knees. In headwinds, it's harder to stand. If I'm doing a ride with a lot of steep climbs, I'll ride my geared bike. Fortunally, here in North Texas that's not a problem.
hmm. Interesting.Fez
Dec 29, 2003 9:34 AM
1) I kind of think its the opposite. I find on the geared bike I am always exerting effort, even when I am going downhill. On gentle rolling terrain, I find myself constantly running 95-100 rpm at speeds ranging from 13-27 mph with little or no coasting. My legs are constantly working, so I guess I show some fatigue on the climbs.

In contrast, with one gear, I find my legs are fresh since they are not subjected to the stress of spinning the harder gears. So I find I can go thru the uphills much easier.

I guess the gains from riding singlespeed on the uphills & flats exceed the losses downhill. This is on a gently sloped route. If I were doing steeper hills, I'm sure the geared bike would be a better choice.
hmm. Interesting.Dave Hickey
Dec 29, 2003 10:22 AM
I'll ride my geared bike this afternoon. I like to ride 42 x 16(70 gear inches) single speed and I can usually outclimb anyone(I'm talkin charity rides here so don't be too impressed.) I don't think I climb my geared bike in anywhere near 70 gear inches.
Well, I went riding todayFez
Dec 29, 2003 3:10 PM
And I rode a 39x16 (easier than your gear) over a hilly course today. The hilliest to date for me on a singlespeed. And once again, I went faster.

I felt like a very slow Jan Ullrich climbing hills in a 16 cog that I usually spin thru in a 21 or 23 cog, but you kind of learn to do it. Climbing speed was surprisingly fast and it didn't feel that bad - just felt very odd using a much slower cadence than the 85-90 that I usually use when climbing. For the really steep stuff I got out of the saddle to up my cadence a bit.

How was your geared ride?
re: Singlespeed Questionsdzrider
Dec 29, 2003 1:21 PM
1. Better prepared to hit little hills hard seems to be the difference for me.

2. Not until you absolutely have to.

3. I haven't found that to be so. You'll pick up a feel for riding up hill at a slower cadence without pushing harder than necessary. I have had very few knee problems in many years of running and riding so I'm probably not the one to ask.
You really ought to get or make a true SS.MB1
Dec 29, 2003 4:19 PM
First of all let me apologize in advance to anyone that is offended by this post. It is likely my lowly educational background and too many miles face down on the asphalt that caused me to express myself so offensively.

Your higher average speed for a hilly ride on a SS vs. shifting is because on a SS you get to the top of the hills so much faster. Therefore you are on the downhills well before you would be if you had down shifted.

In a pack situation the group would chase you down on the descent but without the break away rider in front you can usually keep up with geared riders on downhills. Just spin and tuck gets you downhills plenty fast.

On the flats speed is mostly just effort produced vs. wind resistance. How fast do you go on the flats when you are riding by yourself anyway? 20mph is not a really big deal in a 39/16 so you are likely to have no lost time on solo rides on the flats.

Therefore since you are no slower on the flats, much faster on the climbs and perhaps only slightly slower downhill your average speed for the ride is higher on any course that you can climb SS.

Now weight and efficiency is why you ought to ride a true SS. The chain line of a true SS is close to perfect so little energy is lost to chain deflection. Without derailleurs and all their moving parts and springs even more energy is saved. If weight matters to you there is no bicycle lighter than a SS properly set up. All of the things you have noticed riding your geared bike without shifting are enhanced by removing all those extra parts that are needed for shifting. And just wait until you try riding fixed if you think SS is fun and exciting.

BTW Fez, what size do you ride? I am not averse to loaning out my 58cm Gunnar for a day or two if it fits you. Or for that matter Miss M's 49cm Fuji. She would kill me if I ever tried to pry her Waterford out of her hands (she hasn't ridden any of her other bikes since she got it).
You really ought to get or make a true SS.Fez
Dec 30, 2003 7:26 AM
Thanks for the offer. But I ride bikes in the 53-55ish size range, so neither would likely be a good fit.

I never noticed from your ride reports, but do you use gears or singlespeed on your local 100 mile weekend rides?

And what gear is on your singlespeed?
Both. 42/16 fixed, 42/17 SS.MB1
Dec 30, 2003 2:05 PM
Once again let me note that if this reply gives offense to anyone it is surely unintended and I apologize in advance.

We ride both fixed and SS around here on our long rides.

Lately it has mostly been SS since Miss M has totally fallen in love with her Waterford set up SS. We have been searching out harder and more climbs to do SS (just ask poor LenJ). I think that climbing SS is going to make us a lot stronger for next years long rides.

Fixed would really kill us coming off the climbs but I do believe that riding fixed is a little more efficient than SS.
The Mechical Efficiency Of A SS/Fixie Is NoticableGregory Taylor
Dec 30, 2003 7:43 AM
While the friction losses caused by chain deflection (and working the chain around a rear derailleur, not to mention the drag from a freewheel) is small, I swear that it is noticable. There is a "sweetness" in the pedaling action that you can feel through the cranks.

I agree that most of the gain in your average speed that you are noticing is coming from the fact that you are pushing a bigger gear up the hills. I've noticed this phenomenon with my geared bikes as well. I have one bike set up with a 12-25 cluster and a 39 tooth small ring, and another with a 12-21 cluster and a 42 tooth small ring. Which one goes up hills faster? The one with the 42 tooth small ring and tight cluster, naturally. With the higher gearing you have to always attack the hill in order to maintain a good cadence. In contrast, my "climbing" gears entice me to spin easier gears, making me lazy and, as a result, a slower climber. Go figure.

Now there is a point of diminishing returns with this approach. You are climbing faster because you are working harder, and at some point you will find a hill where gravity will overcome muscle. With a 39/16, that's going to be a good sized hill.

As for descending on a fixie, RPM's are what it's about. There is also a technique used back in the old days when pretty much ALL bikes were fixed gears. Riders would take their feet off of the pedals and either rest them on the rear axle stubs or just hold them up in the air away from the pedals. I've tried this, with mixed results. It screws up your position on the bike, makes you a bit more unstable, and I was worried about putting a foot into the rear spokes.
The real reason you go faster is....bigrider
Dec 29, 2003 6:25 PM
because of the theorem:

Your speed is directly proportional to the size and duration of the smile you are wearing while riding.

Since a fixed or ss speed makes you smile more you go faster.
1) can't downshift 2) never 3) yup nmJS Haiku Shop
Dec 29, 2003 8:04 PM