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Advantages & Disadvantages of Single Speed for XC

Asif TufalAsif Tufal Posts: 109
edited October 2012 in MTB beginners
Are there any advantages to using a single speed bike for XC, other than avoiding gear problems? Surely the lack of gears is also a disadvantage when it comes to climbing hills? I've seen the occasional rider doing XC on a SS and wonder why they forgo the benefits of gears.


  • Chunkers1980Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    A triple is what you want
  • u05harrisbu05harrisb Posts: 531
    Any body who owns a SS will also have a normal bike to. as an addition for very muddy gear ruining trails its a good extra but only worth it in monetary terms if you have a fancy expensive bike. 9 time out of 10 inless you just want a ss for the sake of it it will be cheaper to just ride your bike and replace parts as they need them. e.g. il have new bearings for BB and chains etc. after winter season is done then over summer i get the joy of a nice slick drive chain but then when winter comes ive had its use so winter screwing it up doesnt really matter so much :)

  • JayKay3000JayKay3000 Posts: 163
    I would go for the new 11 speed coming out if you can. 1 on the front and 11 on the back, but that might be a tad costly to upgrade to.

    I've got 30 speeds and use 30% of the gears. Easiest for going up and hardest for going down. Then some of the middle ones if the trail gets flat.

    I used to have this fear. Gear problems can be avoided by simple cleaning after every ride. An old toothbrush and muc off if your friend. Run a cheap chain cleaner over the chain every 4 - 6 rides depending on how muddy it is or gunked up it looks and keep a small amount of oil on the chain. Remember to clean the rear derailer hanger cogs as they often get gunked up. If it starts jumping or not changing smooth then give it to your lbs before it gets bad and they won't charge much for a quick tweak of if you have time look at the guides on the net.

    I prefer to jet wash the gears, but a hose with a good output is just as good. Simple fact. Metal and grit don't mix so keep it fairly clean to slow down the wear to the chain and the gear teeth. Try to do smooth changes as well.
  • YeehaaMcgeeYeehaaMcgee Posts: 5,740
    Asif Tufal wrote:
    I've seen the occasional rider doing XC on a SS and wonder why they forgo the benefits of gears.
    Because they're.
    a) mental
    b) in posession of a holier than thou attitude
    c) have a superiority.inferiority complex
    d) because it's "trendy"
    e) because they can't set their gears properly
    e) all of the above
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    JayKay3000 wrote:
    I've got 30 speeds and use 30% of the gears. Easiest for going up and hardest for going down. Then some of the middle ones if the trail gets flat.
    Then you are not actually using your gears correctly.
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  • paul.skibumpaul.skibum Posts: 4,068
    A friend of mine used to ride single speed around the chilterns. He was a strong guy and could get up hills I struggled with on my 27spd bike.

    I set up an old bike as a single speed for a short while to try it. Seemed like I never had a good gear but I still think I didnt give it a decent go.

    Personally I think that if you have a sensible ratio on a SS and are a strong rider then you may be able to get about as long as you are patient but I still think the compromise is not worth the supposed benefits.

    For the OP - the kit to give it a trial is not expensive - there is a simple DMR SS kit for 30 bucks or something - only really works for Hardtails but the easiest way to try it is just to put your bike in one gear and try and ride without shifting - sure you are carry a bit of extra weight but if you cant get about in one gear then SS is not for you. Something like 2 to 1 ratio is normally quoted I think so a 36t middle to an 17-19t rear should give a feel for it.

    I personally dont think its worth playing with - gears exist for a reason.
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  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    I used to work with Rob Dean, he rode a lot of XC SS, mind you he's a big guy and very strong and fit - and mental.....seriously though there are times when SS will be an advantage (and factor in a gear failure means you won't win however quick you fix it), othertimes not, so it's a case of riding the right bike for the right event.

    He used SS when it was
    1/ Fairly flat
    2/ Fairly flat with really steep bits (when pushing/carrying was as fast as pedaling)
    3/ Really grotty conditions when failures of gears much more likely.
    or a combo of the above!
  • warpcowwarpcow Posts: 1,448
    I rode SS exclusively for about 5yrs. It was fun, and I could do everything I can do now with my geared bikes. It does teach you quite a bit about carrying speed too. Not that you couldn't learn it on a geared bike, but on an SS you don't really have an option.

    The simplicity/low-maintenance/'purity' isn't that true either. It's just as easy to obsess over different ratios, 1/8" or 9/32" chains and Boone Ti cogs as it is about X0 vs. XTR, 9spd vs. 10spd.
  • compocompo Posts: 1,370

    SS is for hipsters and masochists

    Gears are getting too many nowadays. Think of your average ride. Will you really use 33 gears? I think not.

    So yes, gears are good, but its starting to get silly now.

    Having said that, I run 3x10 on the Canyon....
  • Chunkers1980Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    Not sure how many triple 11s are out there, but yeah.
  • I've had a singlespeed in the past. It was a winter toy, saved on cleaning my bike and was great fun for a quick thrash on the hills. With job/family I didn't have as many opportunities to go out for longer challenging rides so singlespeeding was a nice alternative for a challenge.
    On a geared bike it's hard to pace yourself with a singlespeeder as they hammer it up the steep stuff when you want to be in granny gear (or they're walking). Similarly they spin out on the flat or long descents.
  • bloghogbloghog Posts: 40
    I have a singlespeed, but it is not my main bike, I also have a geared hardtail and a full suspension bike. Riding singlespeed makes a change, yes it can be hard to get up some hills, but you do gain an advantage with the bike being lighter. If I am going out for a quick blast I take the singlespeed, for a longer ride or trail centre then it is the full suspension bike, horses for courses I guess.
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