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Am I missing out not having a single speed?

londoncommuterlondoncommuter Posts: 1,550
edited December 2013 in Road buying advice
I've always commuted on a road bike and (after failing to lock it up.....) am now after a new bike. I've got a cushy 6 mile ride in London on the flat, ride year round and am pretty nippy. I was all set to get another road bike but am I being daft ignoring singlespeeds? I've never tried one, I like gears and don't mind changing chains and cassettes every so often but am I missing out?

The gears sound really low even compared to a compact road bike. Do you just get used to running a higher cadence?

Are they just to look cool on? Not sure the price differential is really there considering everything you don't get on them (was just going to get a £600 road bike as it's just for trashing in traffic). Then you've got the whole steel v's aluminium question.........

Posts

  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Yes you need spin a bit more no bad thing. For riding in London a single speed is all I would use. Again you buy a bike that fits and one that has decent wheels but most single speed do at leat even the cheap ones.

    The lack of price difference come down to component pricing. Less of that kit is made so prices are higher. Also the market will support current pricing so that is were it is.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    I'd learn how to ride fixed. I was a bit snotty about it when I started thinking it was just for hipsters and Hackey tw*ts but I've learnt to love it. I ride 48x17 and that is a nice mixture of fast enough to keep a decent pace and easy enough to get away from the lights. Today I have just ridden to Brighton on it and despite a little push on Ditchling (I was doing "fine", but started to cramp up) on the last section, it was really enjoyable (although downhill spinning to do 30mph was a little "tricky"!)

    The benefits of riding fixed over single speed - you are pedalling every step, so its a more complete work out. Because you can't coast I find I look at the road more. Easier to track stand. You have 3 brakes rather than 2.

    Benefits of single speed over fixed - you can coast. Less likely to pedal strike going up the inside near the curb.

    Your gear costs a lot less to run and maintain - a (cheap) chain, one cog (also cheap) and front single ring rather than 2. No derailleur wear and tear. You learn your speed limitations pretty quickly! You go through rims and brake pads less if you are riding fixed as you can leg break rather than use the brakes.

    I've got a Boardman single speed. Its perfect for the city. I've (touch wood) left it outside the tube often with a double lock (neither "great") and no-one has tried to half inch it (its a bit bashed up and taped up). Gone over once - damage was wrenching the brake lever back into place. When I got taken off by a taxi on my geared bike - it was a new rear derailleur and all the hassle of re-indexing the bike at the scene to try and get it in a fit shape to ride to work. The worst thing that happens on a single speed/fixed gear is that your chain comes off.

    Aluminium with a carbon fork. I've got a steel one to build up. Don't know what the difference will be!

    Unless you're going up one of London's few big hills regularly, I think its all the bike you need (and all the bike you need for a London to Brighton as well!)
  • 47p247p2 Posts: 329
    I bought a single speed 4 weeks ago, first time in 45 years I have ridden S/S and I love it. So far in my 4 weeks of ownership I've cycled 423 miles with over 23,000 feet of elevation (according to Garmin). It has a 70.2" gear from 48T-18T and gives me approximately 21mph per 100rpm and 25mph per 120rpm.

    When I started riding S/S I was bouncing all over the place when my speed increased, now I can happily sit at 26/27mph without bouncing. I did flip the wheel to fixed 48T-17T but I was finding it too much of a problem clipping into the SPD pedals when cycling around the city so it was a short lived experience that will not be repeated until I change the pedals to SPD-SL in the better weather.

    The routes I do are certainly not flat, I try to challenge myself to harder climbs every ride and so far have not had to dismount and push it up any hills.

    If you are 'into' your cycling and enjoy the challenge then I would say you should go for a single speed/fixed as I'm sure you won't be disappointed
  • Thanks guys for all advice. I've had a quick look and was focusing on those with drop handlebars and brake levers in the "conventional" road bike position, just because that's what I'm used to. Are some of the crazier looking bars worth considering?

    Really stupid question but if they have a flip flop hub it means you can switch between fixed and freewheel just by flipping the wheel over?

    I'm tied to Evans on our Ride2Work scheme and want to fit proper mudguards so was drawn to the Kona PaddyWagon:

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/kon ... e-ec044037

    Any good? The reach and stack figures look a little odd with it being quite long and low. Is that par for the course for SS?
  • Sorry, that Kona has TT bars. I guess I'd be choosing between this 2014 one at £649 or the Genesis Flyer at £700 (still seems steep without derailleurs or shifters!):

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/kon ... e-ec055958

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/gen ... e-ec055507
  • mrushtonmrushton Posts: 5,182
    The flyer is the same steel as the On-One Pompino, the latter uses V-brakes (might be a disc version). Condor Tempo is well worth a look.
    M.Rushton
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    I've had a quick look and was focusing on those with drop handlebars and brake levers in the "conventional" road bike position, just because that's what I'm used to. Are some of the crazier looking bars worth considering?

    Really stupid question but if they have a flip flop hub it means you can switch between fixed and freewheel just by flipping the wheel over?

    I'm tied to Evans on our Ride2Work scheme and want to fit proper mudguards so was drawn to the Kona PaddyWagon:

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/kon ... e-ec044037

    Any good? The reach and stack figures look a little odd with it being quite long and low. Is that par for the course for SS?

    I'd get one that matches the position on your current road bike as much as possible. You can get some odd bar positions - but if you have one that works for you, I'd try and replicate it. Some of them seem to have Bull horn bars - I prefer proper drops for the multitude of hand positions.

    Yep - you just turn the wheel, no worries go from fixed to free and back again. I rode my bike free for a year and fixed for the past 2 (the freewheel has rusted up!)

    A mate has the old paddy wagon and it had funny bars, but he loves it. They don't have many sizes on that link - sure that that works for you?

    I think the Specialized Langster and the Bianchi Pista both get decent user reviews, I haven't ridden either, sorry.
  • 47p247p2 Posts: 329
    From memory the Genesis Flyer doesn't have mudguard eyes, mine is the Genesis Skyline which does have mudguard eyes but they don't make that model any longer. I bought mine second hand, the original owner bought it a few years ago and travelled a total of 20 miles on it, so when I bought it the bike was like new.

    As bought
    Skyline.jpg

    P1050685.jpg

    P1050686.jpg

    P1050693.jpg

    P1050690.jpg


    Mudguards were supplied and I have now fitted them
    DSC00002.jpg

    WHIB.png
  • The Bianchi Pista is a fantastic ride, I ride circa 400km a week on mine and for an off the peg bike, it does feel like a good fit. I changed the handlebars and fit a White Industries freehub (worthwhile long term investment) and will replace the chainset in the new year. A beautiful frame deserves a nice Miche finish to it.

    My only gripe is the white rims, pain to keep clean.
  • 47p247p2 Posts: 329
    Just in after a nice wee 53 mile loop with 3875 feet of elevation on the single speed. Glasgow up the Crow Road over the Campsies and down the Tak Ma Doon Road, this gives me a weekly of 120 miles with 8000 feet of elevation all on the S/S

    photo-1.jpg

    photo-2.jpg

    crowtak49.png

    crowtak40.png
  • northpolenorthpole Posts: 1,499
    Just to add my slightly different perspective. I don't get the single speed bike thing at all. Can't see why you would want to have no options available on the gearing front - are you never going to want to go more than ride on your regular commuter route? Perhaps one thing you could try out for a week or so would be to figure out the gearing which would match a single speed and borrow a road bike. Leave the bike in that gear, do not change gear, and in a week's time look back and decide what the positives and negatives are. Long term you will incur the expense of replacing a cassette (they are pretty cheap) but nothing else of consequence should be more costly.

    Unless of course you want to pursue the madness of a full on fixie - that's another beast altogether - great for Herne Hill and the like, but not IMO for the streets of London.

    Peter
  • crakercraker Posts: 1,739
    northpole wrote:
    Leave the bike in that gear, do not change gear

    That's a non starter IMO, if you've got gears you use them. That's what makes it fun not having them, you just have to get on with whatever the road throws at you.

    I agree that 'only' having a fixie might be limiting, I've yet to put to the test mine on anything other than a 15 mile commute (where it's the most fun bike for the job). There's carbon bling in the shed, I'll take that if I'm doing distance / speed. But I wonder if the same argument goes; if you didn't have a geared bike, would it really put you off doing whatever riding you do?
  • yeah but he's saying do that as a trial to see if the op would get on with a single speed
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,132
    I had to ride home single speed when I smashed up my mountain bike a couple of months back (only had one functional gear). It was rubbish - spinny on the flats, OK uphill I guess but hardly ever felt "right". I guess if you got your gearing right I can see how it might have some benefit in terms of simplicity and encouraging better pedalling technique. Fixed on the other hand is madness in busy traffic. I just can't see how the supposed benefits can overcome the obvious drawbacks (not being able to coast through sharp bends, not being able to filter along the kerb etc etc). The worst thing for me is that a lot of those who ride fixed really shouldn't - I'm sure there are plenty who can adapt to it quite well but they seem to be outnumbered by the idiots who just cruise through red lights because they can't stop, or ride round in circles, or track stand really really badly...
  • craker wrote:
    northpole wrote:
    Leave the bike in that gear, do not change gear

    That's exactly what I'm doing - the plus side is you can try out two gears a day (one out, one home) to work out the ratio you'd want when you actually get a fixie. I think I'll want a slightly larger ratio than seems to be standard on fixies in the shops, as my commute is quite short and I like the tough starts to make sure I get tired.
  • edhornbyedhornby Posts: 1,780
    I commute fixed and have done for years - none of those considerations apply tbh

    I have a front brake, so I can stop fine and wait at lights, most people just ride through reds cos they want to, not cos they can't stop
    you'd be surprised at how far you can lean a proper track frame with 165mm fork :D
    kerbside filtering? a bad idea with gears or fixed
    "I get paid to make other people suffer on my wheel, how good is that"
    --Jens Voight
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,132
    edhornby wrote:
    I commute fixed and have done for years - none of those considerations apply tbh

    I have a front brake, so I can stop fine and wait at lights, most people just ride through reds cos they want to, not cos they can't stop
    you'd be surprised at how far you can lean a proper track frame with 165mm fork :D
    kerbside filtering? a bad idea with gears or fixed

    You've done it for years though. You also sound like you have a proper track specific frame. My issue is with the hipsters on converted 80s steel frames who would be a liability on any bike never mind a fixie. But yeah, maybe its fine once you get used to it, I just can't see the appeal (also don't fancy the idea of either grinding uphill or spinning to 150RPM downhill - neither sound ideal for my knees!)

    Kerbside filtering is fine a lot of the time. Just part of riding in heavy traffic - if there's a safe route from A to B it beats sitting in fumes.
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