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Single speed tips

pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,033
edited March 2017 in Road general
Greetings, All,

Having ridden road and cycle-cross bikes for a while I have just caved in to the n+1 rule and put a down payment on one of these:

32774_1024x1024.jpg?v=1484334691

While it's being imported from the USA, I thought I would swot up on the do's and dont's of single speed riding.

Here's where I am so far:

It's got a flip flop hub, but I will ride it as a single speed rather than a fixie as I don't fancy pedalling down the many hills around here.
It comes with flat and drop bars, but although the drops are sexier I will ride with the flat bars to give a more upright position so I can watch out for the multitude of deaf-blind pr!cks who dawdle all over the cycle lanes in this part of the world.
I will keep the flat pedals on to save unclipping.

Please feel free to share advice about riding single speeds, tips, information etc. I've already grown the hipster beard..

Cheers,
Steve
Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
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Posts

  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    I've moved recently across to fixie/single speed for the winter but it's so addictive it looks like a long term move alongside geared bikes.

    It's soooo relaxing once you get into the flow - no need to worry about gears or owt, just get in a fluid pedalling motion and go.

    More fun smashing geared bike heroes on a s/s.

    Only a couple of mph cruising speed down on geared so just pedal faster.

    I don't understand why if you ride a drop bike now you want to go to flats and normal pedals: s/s are just the same as a normal bike. Or am I missing something?
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • pastryboypastryboy Posts: 1,385
    Other than stating fixed is much better, there's really nothing to it. Make sure your back wheel isn't going to slip forwards and find a gearing that works for you.
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,632
    I would go clips .... pulling away from lights or grinding up a hill on a SS is easier being able to pull up on a pedal at the same time as pushing

    Likewise drops .... I use aero positions a lot more on my SS due to not being able to change gear to make life easier

    Apart from that enjoy the simplicity and freedom .... my SS is my favourite of all my bikes
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,033
    Thanks for the tips so far, guys. The reason for my choices is that I have fallen out of love with riding over the last few months. Here in HK, it's illegal to ride on the road when there is a cycle lane. However, the cycle lanes are busy, not well designed, full of obstacles and full of kn0bhead pedestrians with headphones on. I do ride roads sometimes, but these are very busy and the traffic is dangerous unless you go out at about 5 in the morning. Cyclists always have to give way to other vehicles, so I'm constantly unclipping at junctions etc. as my track stand skills are not up to the challenge. My job also means I work long hours and don't get time for big 3 or 4 hour rides. I want something where I can hop on in normal street clothes and shoes and just go cruising about for half an hour a few times a week to maintain fitness and clear my head. I'll stick to flatter routes.

    All that, and n+1, of course....
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    pastryboy wrote:
    Other than stating fixed is much better, there's really nothing to it. Make sure your back wheel isn't going to slip forwards and find a gearing that works for you.

    Planet X chain tugs are cheap and good (so far). Tad fiddle to fit but once on all tip top tasting.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,033
    pastryboy wrote:
    Other than stating fixed is much better, there's really nothing to it. Make sure your back wheel isn't going to slip forwards and find a gearing that works for you.

    Planet X chain tugs are cheap and good (so far). Tad fiddle to fit but once on all tip top tasting.

    Pardon my ignorance, but why might the back wheel slip forward?
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    The only other thing I would say is that although that bi-cycle looks cool it may well weigh a ton: I fell out of love with my Plug Charge because it was so heavy that it was rubbish riding it.

    I now have a Felt courier (light-ish Ali frame, carbon forks) but have dumped a couple of kilo through use of Chinese carbon seat and seat post, sales bin FSA full carbon stem and some carbon bars from somewhere. Also dumped front sprocket Gide, slammed the stem, a few other bits.

    All easily done for under £80 and saves a ton of weight.

    It's also got 4 spoke carbon Spinergy tubs but only because I had them lying around: Carbonzone carbon tubs at £150 would be lighter if you went that route. Make yourself a gorgeous retromod bike with that frame. Big fat carbon rims, tan walls ... Pwhooooaaarrrr.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    pottssteve wrote:
    pastryboy wrote:
    Other than stating fixed is much better, there's really nothing to it. Make sure your back wheel isn't going to slip forwards and find a gearing that works for you.

    Planet X chain tugs are cheap and good (so far). Tad fiddle to fit but once on all tip top tasting.

    Pardon my ignorance, but why might the back wheel slip forward?

    Horizontal drop outs means that as you pedal forward the whole thing gets pulled forward. You tighten or loosen your chain by moving it forwards and backwards.

    It's a nothing so long as you do your back wheel up properly - chain tugs also minmise this and keep chain tension. 14mm socket so it doesn't slip, do it up FT. Job jobbed.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,033
    Got it, thanks. I guess that also means I have to carry a 14mm socket wrench in case of punctures (which are blissfully rare here). I'll make sure it's set up correctly before I take it out of the shop.

    The bike is a Fuji Feather - steel frame and fork, 46 tooth chainring with 16 tooth rear cog. I assume that will do for general pottering about. Claimed weight is about 10.3kg, but I don't know what size that is for - I'll be on a large frame.
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    pottssteve wrote:
    Got it, thanks. I guess that also means I have to carry a 14mm socket wrench in case of punctures (which are blissfully rare here). I'll make sure it's set up correctly before I take it out of the shop.

    The bike is a Fuji Feather - steel frame and fork, 46 tooth chainring with 16 tooth rear cog. I assume that will do for general pottering about. Claimed weight is about 10.3kg, but I don't know what size that is for - I'll be on a large frame.


    If you can, track down one that comes with the Felt courier: one end spanner, one end bottle opener :)

    Alternatively, cheap small ratchet with 14mm socket - smaller than equivalent spanner. Don't go opennded if you can as it'll slip. I presume there is an equivalent of B&Q or Halfords out your way: that sort of stuff is fine for occasional home mechanicing.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,033
    The spanner will be no problem - I think I may already have one. I might get the shop to put tugs on when I collect it, if it will save me tensioning the chain all the time. If it's only needed every so often I can live with that.
    Thanks for the advice,
    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    Tugs are also cool as when you take the wheel off or tension the chain you don't have to gaff around pulling wheels and holding this and fingering that and stroking the other and telling white lies: adjust tugs equally, 6mm chain tension, add a bit as it will tension by itself when you do the big bolt up, job jobbed.

    Then find something to smash with a hammer and chuck in next door's garden and jobs a fish.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,033
    Tugs are also cool as when you take the wheel off or tension the chain you don't have to gaff around pulling wheels and holding this and fingering that and stroking the other and telling white lies: adjust tugs equally, 6mm chain tension, add a bit as it will tension by itself when you do the big bolt up, job jobbed.

    Then find something to smash with a hammer and chuck in next door's garden and jobs a fish.

    Thanks, Matt. I had a look online and it seems pretty simple to tension the chain, but I don't want to be doing it every week so I think tugs will be fitted to save hassle.
    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    No problem - pleasure to help if I can. S/s really does rock - it'll take a couple of rides to get into the flow but it is well smart.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    I commute / train in Devon on a single speed. 48 x 16 and do 100 miles a week in and out of work. I have three loops I can use, 9, 11 or 13 miles each way to manage my mileage target, the latter being a climb. For example, yesterday I did 23 miles in and out. To me, the whole process expedites fitness, power, strength and of course FTP. The beauty of it is, when the weather changes and I get my best bike out, then it flies, I fly and it feels like an F1 car. Your power and souplesse will be up along with cadence. It works for me, hopefully it will work for you. Due to the single speed, I stopped long slow winter miles years ago and much prefer starting the process in Jan/Feb.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,033
    Thanks, Pete,

    This sounds very encouraging. I doubt I will be able to devote the time that you do but if it improves my pedalling and strength that will be great.

    Thanks also, Matt, for the information and advice.

    Please feel free to add anything else relevant, although I get the impression the beauty of the ss is its simplicity...

    Cheers,
    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    pottssteve wrote:
    Thanks, Pete,

    This sounds very encouraging. I doubt I will be able to devote the time that you do but if it improves my pedalling and strength that will be great.

    Thanks also, Matt, for the information and advice.

    Please feel free to add anything else relevant, although I get the impression the beauty of the ss is its simplicity...

    Cheers,
    Steve

    I hear you, but maybe make it part of a commute ? I realised that riding the bike 10-25 miles 5 days a week is better than one long sloggish ride once a weekend weather pending. I have also learnt about rest as I have got older. If I do 50 miles on a Tuesday on Wednesday I stay off the bike. You'll enjoy it for sure.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,033
    I can and have commuted to work. It's a 25km ride, which I can do in about an hour. However, I then have to get off at the station, take off the front wheel, take the bike onto the train to go through the tunnel from Tai Wai to Kowloon Tong, replace the wheel and then ride the last 500m to work. This adds about 20 minutes to the ride, and is a pain in the @rse. In the afternoon I have to repeat in reverse, however, by then the bike lanes are clogged with the aforementioned d!ckheads, turning the 1 hour ride into about a 90 minute one. It's do-able, but not that much fun. However, I agree that the regular commute is a great way to put in the miles. If I fall big time for the single speed I will certainly give it a go.

    Cheers,
    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • MoonbikerMoonbiker Posts: 1,706
    People who ride single speeds what gear ratio are you usung & does anyone use one regulary & live in hilly a place?

    I quite fancy trying one as a winter bike but live in North Wales so hilly.

    All the marketing for them seeems aimed @ urban hipster types, & they mostly seem low spec & have heavy wheelsets unless you pay alot.
  • I pretty much ride fixed exclusively, it's a LeMond Filmore, 48:16 for training/general road riding, 53/16 for hard, flat stuff and 47/17 for Sportives. It's brilliant once you get into it and you can do pretty much anything you want. There is a bit of pushing involved if you go and push the limits but I've done lots of stuff on it that I've seen people push up with gears. I can send you a link to my Strava, I did 105ishKM with 1850m climbing on the Kintyre peninsula the other week and I've done pretty much all the major climbs around the Trossachs/West of Scotland on it and the Cavendish Rise Above Sportive twice. Basically you can pretty much ride whatever you want on a SS/fixed and you might find you enjoy it much more than a geared bike. I'm doing the Etap Du Dales on mine this year too.

    Apart from the "ride fixed" and "go clipless" advice that seems like it wouldn't work for you I would recommend some big canvas straps for easy foot retention, even on SS it helps. The gear should be fine, you'll struggle at first on hills but get used to it quickly.

    The best tug available is the Surly Tugnut. Two reasons: 1) It has bottle openers on it. 2) You tighten it with your fingers. Most of the tugs need a spanner or allen key to tighten it and if you have to fix a puncture it's an added pain. The Surly can just be unwound with your fingers and adds 30 seconds tops to the wheel change. And because it's done with your fingers it's much easier to operate with gloves on in the cold and wet.

    Personally I would fit the drop bars. The levers are top levers so you can ride on the tops when people are about, then you can use the drops when out in the quiet/on the roads.




    To me the beauty of riding fixed is that riding takes second place to the scenery/experience out on the road. On my geared bike I'm always looking for the next gear, wanting to push on and go quicker etc. On my fixed wheel I look around me and appreciate where I am. You almost forget about riding the bike because your legs just keep turning at a cadence to match the road and you brake naturally anyway like on a geared bike (I always run two brakes, even riding fixed). The silence of a fixed wheel drive train is magical as well. Nothing beats cruising along rolling country lanes with only the sound of the wind and the wildlife surrounding you.
  • Moonbiker wrote:
    People who ride single speeds what gear ratio are you usung & does anyone use one regulary & live in hilly a place?

    I quite fancy trying one as a winter bike but live in North Wales so hilly.

    All the marketing for them seeems aimed @ urban hipster types, & they mostly seem low spec & have heavy wheelsets unless you pay alot.

    I've ridden in North Wales a fair bit. For getting out and riding I would use either an 81" (48x16) or a 74" (47x17) gear depending where I was going. I did the 120km route of the first RiseAbove Sportive and the 165km route of the second RiseAbove Sportive on that gear. The only point I had to get off and push was on the bits of Penbarras that many were pushing on anyway. I rode it fixed, but some of the descents weren't much fun. Each time included the Horseshoe from Llangollen and lots of other ramps and steep stuff.

    Unfortunately the cost is a little higher than road bikes. The units shifted are lower making manufacturing costs higher and yes, there is definitely a hipster scene that many brands are trying to milk. If you can get hold of a frame you are much better off building up a bike yourself. Bare in mind that the parts aren't really that much cheaper. A decent set of wheels will be similar to road bike wheels, as will a decent crank/pedals, but the drive chain is significantly cheaper. Even the frames are pretty much the same price as a road bike frame of a similar spec.

    Get yourself on LFGSS forum. They are not limited to London and there are loads of good bikes on there for sale. If you want new stick up a thread with a budget.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,033
    Thanks for the detailed information, guys. I have already ordered the bike but will check out the website for advice and tips. I would prefer the drop bars so if there's no difference between those and the flat bars in terms of position I will stick with the drops. Not sure I can get surly tugs here, but I will try. I think it will just be a case of getting used to it for a while and then building up distances and having some fun.
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    Moonbiker wrote:
    People who ride single speeds what gear ratio are you usung & does anyone use one regulary & live in hilly a place?

    I quite fancy trying one as a winter bike but live in North Wales so hilly.

    All the marketing for them seeems aimed @ urban hipster types, & they mostly seem low spec & have heavy wheelsets unless you pay alot.

    I live in Devon and ride some hills with 48 x 16. The odd hill a bit of a gurn, but I use it to train for the geared bike. If you want to you can run 17,18 - what ever suits your terrain and strength based on inches.
  • pottssteve wrote:
    Thanks for the detailed information, guys. I have already ordered the bike but will check out the website for advice and tips. I would prefer the drop bars so if there's no difference between those and the flat bars in terms of position I will stick with the drops. Not sure I can get surly tugs here, but I will try. I think it will just be a case of getting used to it for a while and then building up distances and having some fun.

    I got mine from charlierthebikemonger. It will depend what your import laws are I guess but he's good at answering questions so worth an ask if you want one and are struggling.
  • crakercraker Posts: 2,060
    Moonbiker wrote:
    I quite fancy trying one as a winter bike but live in North Wales so hilly.


    I live in hilly South Wales and ride the stock 48 x 17 that came on my Langster (75" or so) and I'm no massive legged grinder. That's good for 28mph or so downhill and I get up a 5-10% mile long climb on my commute OK. Did a 100 mile audax in January on it, OK one of the flatter ones in the calendar, it's just a fun bike to be on.

    Up to a point it doesn't really matter what ratio is on your bike, you've got to ride the hills whatever. I find myself choosing routes by gradient rather than destination.

    To the OP - your use case sounds a bit different to mine (& everyone elses) I can't imagine riding on flats though, half the fun of the bike is hammering it up short sharp climbs and I wouldn't do that on flats. It's got drops too - you'll be standing up alot, I climb much better on the drops, though some here swear by bullhorn type bars.
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    pottssteve wrote:
    Thanks for the detailed information, guys. I have already ordered the bike but will check out the website for advice and tips. I would prefer the drop bars so if there's no difference between those and the flat bars in terms of position I will stick with the drops. Not sure I can get surly tugs here, but I will try. I think it will just be a case of getting used to it for a while and then building up distances and having some fun.

    I got mine from charlierthebikemonger. It will depend what your import laws are I guess but he's good at answering questions so worth an ask if you want one and are struggling.

    I only went for P/X ones as they were the only ones I could find to fit Q/R - I'd trust HCC advice re Surley.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • pottssteve wrote:
    Thanks for the detailed information, guys. I have already ordered the bike but will check out the website for advice and tips. I would prefer the drop bars so if there's no difference between those and the flat bars in terms of position I will stick with the drops. Not sure I can get surly tugs here, but I will try. I think it will just be a case of getting used to it for a while and then building up distances and having some fun.

    I got mine from charlierthebikemonger. It will depend what your import laws are I guess but he's good at answering questions so worth an ask if you want one and are struggling.

    I only went for P/X ones as they were the only ones I could find to fit Q/R - I'd trust HCC advice re Surley.

    The Surly ones will fit a QR, they come with an insert. However with a QR I'd probably want to run two and then the Tuggnut becomes expensive and I might consider the P/X ones.
  • rnathrnath Posts: 176
    Moonbiker wrote:
    People who ride single speeds what gear ratio are you usung & does anyone use one regulary & live in hilly a place?

    I'm a averagely fit 50yr old and find 48:18 is a good compromise for being able to get up hills and not spinning out too soon on the flat.
  • RiderUkRiderUk Posts: 71
    I also run a 48/18 gear ratio which works well for me, some hills of course being to steep to get up so I avoid such hills.
    I use to ride fixed gear, but have changed to freewheel so that I can coast down hill.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 24,234
    I converted a geared bike to single speed to go to work... it's handy, less maintenance, easier to clean with fewer cables and appendixes around, lost a bit of weight, which makes it easier to shoulder up a staircase if needs be. I use a 42 x 15, with 30 mm tyres, which is about 74-75 inches... can go up gentle climbs, up to 3-4%, If they are steeper it's a bit of a struggle, unless they are very short bumps.

    It's not dramatically different from riding a geared bike... basically it boils down to having to spin very fast on occasions and very slow on others, whereas with gears you can adjust your cadence
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