I am wrong about single speed?

Noel PT
Noel PT Posts: 627
edited March 2008 in Commuting chat
Am I wrong in thinking that drop down bars are for longer faster rides?

And single speed is for fitter individuals who have above average technique on a bike?

The reason I ask is, the lbs is trying to sell a friend of mine a Genesis Flyer (single speed).

She has never ridden before and wants it for a 3 mile ride to work.

Personally I think she would be better off with a nice hybrid. Am I wrong?
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Comments

  • fossyant
    fossyant Posts: 2,549
    For a beginner a hybrid is better as you'll have more use out of it - not just commuting - bit of trails and stuff..
  • Noel PT
    Noel PT Posts: 627
    Thats another point I never thought of.

    I just think her lbs is trying to get rid of old stock and has seen her coming.
  • BentMikey
    BentMikey Posts: 4,895
    Your theory is quite possible, but a single speed isn't that much for fitter and above average riders, especially not if it's a flat 3 mile ride. Drop bars are great, btw. Better in traffic and more hand positions for more comfort.
  • Big Red S
    Big Red S Posts: 26,890
    It depends.

    For three miles, most bikes would suffice. Drop bars are good for longer rides, but they're entirely appropriate for shorter ones, too.

    Singlespeed does, arguably, take more fitness than riding with gears. But if it's not a particularly hilly route/area, gears could be entirely unneccesary.

    On the other hand, having gears you don't know how to use can take more effort than being forced to use a vaguely appropriate gear.

    Singlespeed bikes are more simple, too. Not only is the bike cheaper for the same quality, but servicing is cheaper and easier, too.
  • Noel PT
    Noel PT Posts: 627
    All good points but I can't help but feel, that a hybrid would be a better choice for her. I just think that a single speed drop bar would limit her options when it comes to rides.
  • SamWise72
    SamWise72 Posts: 453
    You can do three miles on anything, and actually, a single speed road bike is a lot of good, simple, fun. You don't need any kind of special technique, unless there's lots of uphill, and there's actually LESS for a new cyclist to deal with (no gears and derailleurs)
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  • redddraggon
    redddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Hybrids are rubbish.

    Drops rule. Singlespeed should be entirely adequate for even a slightly bumpy commute.

    A lot of people get a hybrid then go over to a road bike, and then realise how crap hybrids are. Get drops first.
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  • grahamcp
    grahamcp Posts: 323
    I'm not entirley convinced a £500 single-speed road bike would be entirely suitable for a new cyclist commuting 3 miles. Don't get me wrong - I have a Flyer myself which I've been riding all winter and I love it, but I would have to say as a first bike it would take some getting used to - even if your friend was expecting to become serious about cycling in the future I would still say go for a hybrid to get started. I ride a Specialized Globe on my commute and that does the job nicely for a couple of hundred quid less. SS are more specialist bikes although I take the point about simplicity and ease of maintenance. Remember too that rear wheel puntures on the Flyer would be a bit more tricky to fix.
    I'd go to a different shop and take a test-ride before purchase.
  • SamWise72
    SamWise72 Posts: 453
    You can do three miles on anything, and actually, a single speed road bike is a lot of good, simple, fun. You don't need any kind of special technique, unless there's lots of uphill, and there's actually LESS for a new cyclist to deal with (no gears and derailleurs)
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  • Shadowduck
    Shadowduck Posts: 845
    Noel PT wrote:
    I just think her lbs is trying to get rid of old stock and has seen her coming.
    Aye, it's funny how that bike they're having trouble shifting often turns out to be perfect for the first newbie who walks into the shop. :evil:

    "Yes, madam, this purple 68cm carbon framed time trial bike will be perfect for pootling along towpaths with the kids. Of course your trainers will work ok with clipless pedals, exactly what they were designed for."
    Even if the voices aren't real, they have some very good ideas.
  • Noel PT
    Noel PT Posts: 627
    All the points taken in to consideration. I feel better informed, I suppose only she will know once she has bought it.

    Thanks for the feed back.
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    Surely a road test will give her a better idea, I presume she will have one on similar roads to her commute before parting with the cash.

    I tend to agree that drops are better, I certainly find them more comfy, but I also think for a complete newbie, flat bars may feel more stable and may allow a more "heads up" view of the traffic, and a flat bar road bike may be a better first puchase, accepting that the upgrade to a drop bar bike may happen sooner or later.
  • Big Red S
    Big Red S Posts: 26,890
    Grahamcp wrote:
    I'm not entirley convinced a £500 single-speed road bike Remember too that rear wheel puntures on the Flyer would be a bit more tricky to fix.

    Not at all. Just different.

    Unless you're comparing tyre removal, I suppose. But that's as much down to choice of tyre as width.
  • SamWise72
    SamWise72 Posts: 453
    Of course, she could buy a single-speed roadie a LOT cheaper on eBay, used. I paid £80 for this, which is way more awesome than any that I've seen available new:

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  • TheBoyBilly
    TheBoyBilly Posts: 749
    Personally I think the young lady should go for a nice woman-specific road and trail bike from Trek like the 7.3 FX WSD for around £350. It tcks all the boxes, such as having guard and rack mounts. Specialized have their Sirrus series bikes or even Claud Butler should have something suitable. Try before you buy. I honestly think, and this is from a Langster owner, that a single-speeder may quite probably be not be quite the right bike at the moment.
    To disagree with three-fourths of the British public is one of the first requisites of sanity - Oscar Wilde
  • attica
    attica Posts: 2,362
    I too am a single speed rider and think it's quite possibly a step too far for a newbie.
    The suggestion of a flat bar road bike is one that I would echo, all the benefits of narrow slicks and good gears with flat bars for a more reassuring ride (though not necessarily actually better). You'll generally find that a hybrid is lots heavier and therefore slower.

    That said, once a bit of confidence is aquired, a single speed is ideal for commuting, low maintenance and - if you want to push - improved fitness. I still haven't got enough confidence to ride fixed wheel in a city centre yet though!
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  • niblue
    niblue Posts: 1,387
    I've got a singlespeed and would also agree that it's probably not a great idea for someone new to cycling. Even if the live somewhere completely flat, on windy days there will be times when they could struggle with the gearing unless it's really low (which brings its own problems).
  • DavidTQ
    DavidTQ Posts: 943
    I couldnt comment on single speed not used it since my BMX days :D but when it comes to hybrids for commutes I think they will put a lot of people off cycling due to the extra effort needed to cycle them compared to a skinny tyred road bike.

    My old (as in previous not as in age only seen 3 months use) hybrid feels like cycling through treacle compared to my road bike. The road bike makes far lighter work of hills, accelerates better from the lights etc etc, Its a shame many people are put off road bikes by memorys of cheap 80's racers with suicide brakes and nasty saddles. Im pretty sure my dads last "racer" was as much a BSO as a £80 MTB is today.

    I wouldnt be without gears on my commute though Ive got some nasty hills on my commute :D
  • niblue
    niblue Posts: 1,387
    DavidTQ wrote:
    I wouldnt be without gears on my commute though Ive got some nasty hills on my commute

    Agreed. I'm more likely to use my granny ring when commuting than I am when mountain biking.

    Uphill and into the teeth of a howling gale after a 12-hour day in the office - I find gears to be wonderful things...
  • jedster
    jedster Posts: 1,717
    I think they will put a lot of people off cycling due to the extra effort needed to cycle them compared to a skinny tyred road bike.

    is terminology causing confusion here? Lots of hybrids come with road gearing, road wheels and skinny tyres - just one example would be the Spec Sirrus range

    I'd agree that something like this would be a good bet for her. I ride ss on one leg and a road bike on the other leg of my commute but I think a road-based hybrid would be better for a beginner
  • DavidTQ
    DavidTQ Posts: 943
    jedster wrote:
    I think they will put a lot of people off cycling due to the extra effort needed to cycle them compared to a skinny tyred road bike.

    is terminology causing confusion here? Lots of hybrids come with road gearing, road wheels and skinny tyres - just one example would be the Spec Sirrus range

    I'd agree that something like this would be a good bet for her. I ride ss on one leg and a road bike on the other leg of my commute but I think a road-based hybrid would be better for a beginner

    I think the problem is so many bikes come under the term hybrid, my hybrid had MTB gears 700c wheels but with 32mm tyres not MTB tyres :D so although they may have been "near road wheels" they were still too wide for efficient road cycling. If a bikes got road gears and wheels then surely its a flat bar road bike not a hybrid, I thought the nature of a hybrid was supposed to be its semi offroad capabilities, eg heavier wider wheels?
  • SamWise72
    SamWise72 Posts: 453
    I thought a hybrid was supposed to provide roadstyle wheels, but an upright riding position, though I know most of them don't. We should stop getting hung up on terms, and just put together bikes that suit our purposes
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  • BentMikey
    BentMikey Posts: 4,895
    I really don't get this singlespeed is too advanced stuff - I think that's complete bollocks. The most common type of bicycle in the Netherlands are singlespeed roadsters. Now you might say that's fine, because they don't have much in the way of hills, but they have something far worse than hills, being unrelenting wind.
  • niblue
    niblue Posts: 1,387
    BentMikey wrote:
    I really don't get this singlespeed is too advanced stuff - I think that's complete bollocks. The most common type of bicycle in the Netherlands are singlespeed roadsters. Now you might say that's fine, because they don't have much in the way of hills, but they have something far worse than hills, being unrelenting wind.

    Having lived in the Netherlands I don't recall them getting anything like the winds we get here in Scotland.

    Most of the riding on singlespeed bikes there seemed to be short trips in (flat) towns - if that's the sort of riding this new rider is going to do then I suppose singlespeed would be ok, however the UK isn't all flat(!) and therefore getting a singlespeed would severely limit their options.

    My wife is fitter than me but doesn't do anything like as much cycling so when we're out as a family I take my singlespeed and they use their geared bikes. They struggle much more on the climbs, even using low gears, than I do on my singlespeed and from that I'd have said that if you live somewhere remotely hilly then singlespeed is an "advanced" skill.
  • BentMikey
    BentMikey Posts: 4,895
    *Disagrees*. Admittedly I ride fixed some of the time, rather than singlespeed, and all but the steepest of hills are faster on fixed when compared with a geared bike. A 3 mile flattish commute is pretty much perfect for a singlespeed. Simple, no need for advanced anything.
  • niblue
    niblue Posts: 1,387
    BentMikey wrote:
    A 3 mile flattish commute is pretty much perfect for a singlespeed.

    As long as that's all they even want to do. If they only have the one bike then fancy doing longer & hillier routes at the weekends then gears definitely adds to a bikes flexibility.

    My commute is only 3-4 miles each way and I could use the singlespeed but I don't. Part of the reason for that is gearing - my route is downhill and with the wind one way, and uphill and into the wind the other. That would make any singlespeed gearing quite a compromise and therefore a fair bit slower and/or harder work than my geared bikes.

    My old commute was 10 miles each way however it suited the singlespeed much better as it was uphill & with the wind one way, and downhill & against the wind the other. It was still too low geared in several places but it wasn't a major problem because I just used to rest and freewheel (none of that silly fixed wheel nonsense for me!) which left me fresher for the climbs which I then tended to attack more. The combined effect was that there was virtually no different in commute time between the singlespeed and geared bikes on that route.
  • BentMikey
    BentMikey Posts: 4,895
    I think my point is that gears do make it easier, but most people seriously overestimate the effect. The improvement is tiny, really a small percentage, and yet singlespeed/fixed is made out to be this huge thing only for advanced riders, which is clearly nonsense.

    I'll bet you'd be surprised to learn that quite a few audax riders thought that fixed was slightly harder work, but also slightly faster than geared over longer rides.
  • secretsam
    secretsam Posts: 5,117
    Hybrids are rubbish.

    Drops rule. Singlespeed should be entirely adequate for even a slightly bumpy commute.

    A lot of people get a hybrid then go over to a road bike, and then realise how crap hybrids are. Get drops first.

    Wrong. My Sirrus is a nice bike, does the job. I admit I'd prefer drops for longer rides, but for novices a flat bar is far less intimidating. And the Sirrus is actually fairly brisk. I can see the case for flats and drops - and I ride both.

    I'd say a focused single speeder with drops is a rotten choice for a novice. It's too limited in its application and is intimidating. She'd be better off with something far less dramatic, which she can use to get into cycling more, and then decide if a more specialist machine is appropriate.

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • SamWise72
    SamWise72 Posts: 453
    I regularly ride 24 mile training rides on rolling terrain on my single-speed. I actually find it better on the climbs than my geared roadie (I push hard and get up there quick, instead of labouring up). What I love most about it is that it's no-thought FUN. It's light, fast, has good bearings so it rolls well, and I only have to think about two things - go, and stop. Whatever I'm dealing with, I'm in the right gear, cos it's the ONLY gear.
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  • 2wheelzgood
    2wheelzgood Posts: 373
    wow lots of talk about hyrbids and SS.
    I have just converted my Dawes 301 hybrid to one gear 42/16 which is the middle ring and second to hardest rear cog on standard Dawes gearing.
    It's much easier than I though.

    I have 38 specialised crossroads on as I used to liek cutting through the woods on the way home. I may even try now still but it's steep in the woods. The steep roads ections are most fun and lots easier than I thought.
    I have had skinny tyres on and even the Schwalbe Marathons it came with. Yes it made a difference but as with SS vs gears, I think the percieved difference is much greater than what you'll find it to be... I mean the rolling resistance on the tarmac.
    That's the reason I run the 38 tyres even when not going on dirt much cos it's not much harder on tarmac but the extra grip on mud is amazing!

    As for bars and weight. Honestly, I think my Dawes even with the mechs and cassettes on was not much heaver than a couple of friends' road bikes. They are not high tech or brand new but similar tech level IMHO to my hybrid. I think it used to weigh the same as my Commencal Combidisc hardtail MTB which is, from a brief glance around, one of teh cheaper entry-mid level harttails at 13kilos.
    I;ve not had other hybrids but would say that most are not heavy looking, have a look at the sirrus, scot bikes and higher end Dawes, for the same cash on a roadbike, I reckon they'd be simiar in weight. I could be wrong.

    I have flat bars (slight sweep) and yes wish I was lower on windy days. They are not wide like a trials bike and have bar ends to knock mirrors before my hands hit anyway.. not that I do that! I've not had drops so cannot comment but I have no trouble filtering aggressivley too (you need to sometimes).

    One of the other mods was gettign rid of the silly creaking constantly self loosening adjustable stem and have fitted a 10 degree rise 110mm Easton thing.

    So even in Leeds which ain;t super flat, I reckon I've hit teh bullseye firt time and made some sweet guesses to gears and bars.. well until we get a headwind.. I;ve ridden it twice as a ss so far.

    I'd not be put off by an ss for a flat commute. the skills are no more than for a geared bike, just be more careful to make space when settign off around cars etc.. a cyclist will learn to maintain momentum more on a ss too and it's strangley liberating to not have to think about gears! (yeah I'm thick and cannot multitask!)

    However, get a cheap ss esp as a first bike incase it's not goign to be the passion it is for some of us!

    my tuppence
    K
    FCN4: Langster Pro
    FCN8 Dawes Audax
    FCN13: Pompetamine dad and daughter bike

    FCN5 Modded Dawes Hybrid R.I.P.
    FCN6 Fixed beater bike (on loan to brother in law)