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Advice for newbie please - single speed or hybrid?!

paulportsmouthpaulportsmouth Posts: 3
edited May 2010 in Commuting chat
Hi guys and gals,

Thanks for taking the time to read my first post on here. I am currently applying for a new bike through the cycle to work scheme, although me being me has left it until the last week or so! My last bike was just a bog standard cheapy mountain bike.

I have a budget of around £800, and have tested a number of hybrid bikes which I have been told will suit me best. The one that has come out favourite for me so far is the Specialized crosstrail expert which seemed a nice ride when I tested it.

Most of my riding (95% plus) will be on roads and cycle paths, and some riding on very light gravel possibly but nothing of any note. I see the crosstrail will be fine for this, but wonder if it will be tiring on the road due to the variable suspension etc and if so, what hybrid the experienced people on here would recommend?

The other bike I really love the look of and am waiting to test is the Trek Urban District 2009 model (the orange and grey one). This looks lovely and sounds good, but I have no knowledge of single speed bikes and although it reads as being very flexible, ask the following....

is a single speed bike suitable for riding up hills on roads? For anyone local to Portsmouth it is the road past QA hospital, which is a long, fairly steep road. Without gears would this be an absolute nightmare, or should the gearing on the Trek be set up in such a way to allow for these sort of roads?

I am testing the Trek tomorrow but sadly there are no hills anywhere near the shop for me to easily try out?

I am 6 foot, 11 stone and fairly fit so I am more concerned about the bikes capability with hills that my stamina to get up them, and at a pace to keep up with other people I go out riding with who may be on bikes such as the Crosstrail!

Any advice greatfully recieved!

Many thanks,

Paul :)


  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Single Speed is a preference thing - my advice is to try and demo the bikes first.
  • MrChuckMrChuck Posts: 1,663
    Hard to say about the singlespeed (although those Treks are very nice!) but I'd steer clear of suspension for the kind of riding you mention- there's no need for it, and it just adds weight, cost and, as you say, will just sap a bit of your effort on the road.
  • roger_merrimanroger_merriman Posts: 6,156
    even as a MTB loving Hybrid commuting man, have you thought about road bikes? I know they have funny drop bars and such but if your rolling along roads with the odd gravel track well, thats well within the capabilities of a roadie.

    reason I say this is i get the impression from your post you want to go for rides with mates etc.

    A fast fun bike sounds like the one for you, a racier hybrid or roadie? great that your test riding them, but see if you can try some thing a bit racier and see how it grabs you?
  • stickmanstickman Posts: 791
    Suspension - avoid like the plague.
    With singlespeed when you've got it set up with the ratio that's right for you it will be great.
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    Gears - Obscuring the goodness of singlespeed
  • SalsamanderSalsamander Posts: 53
    Test ride them both, preferably on the road you mentioned and see how you feel. Which ever bike feels the best, buy it :-)

    Also as stickman said, finding the right ratio is very important. If you can't do the hill on the SS, try it with a different ratio before deciding against it
  • stuaffstuaff Posts: 1,735
    Paul, you're a masochist if you want to climb Southwick Hill Road every's an absolute killer (well, it was for me, couldn't keep going even with a 22" bottom gear!). +1 for the other points.
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  • vorsprungvorsprung Posts: 1,953
    For a couple of years I had a single speed bike which I used for commuting and short trips to the shop etc

    I live in Devon so there are lots of hills

    I had the single gear set up so that I could make it up most of the hills and go on the flat at around 20mph

    The single speed had the advantage that it was easy to maintain. I also found it relaxing to ride compared with a geared bike, no thoughts of gears just pedal.

    Speed wise, on routes I was used to such as the commute the bike was surprisingly fast

    However, I got a new bike with gears to replace it in January

    The reason for this was that I wanted to be able to ride to work even when I wasn;t feeling 100% and the slower gears should let me do that

    After a few months of switching from SS to gears I can say that I will be getting another SS at some point
  • MeddersMedders Posts: 152
    Totally personal experience here but...

    I have just stopped commuting on a SS after 5 months solid 30 miles a day. Shortly after I changed my route to include short steep inclines my knees started giving me serious gyp. My physio is certain of the link and told me to go back to gears and pootle until it resolves and avoid hills even then.

    Am now having to pootle commute on my best bike with a screwed knee - which is quite frankly embarrassing with old ladies on shoppers claiming the scalp - until my new geared commuter bike is delivered.

    I also found myself becoming v lazy/forgetful on my geared bike - mashing away in the big ring when I should be changing.

    The lack of constant maintenance/cleaning over the winter was a pleasure tho....

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  • bearfraserbearfraser Posts: 435
    love commuting on my hybrid even up some crazy hills and on dualcarriageway,be carefull you dont go for minimilast number of spokes in your wheel, mine collapsed (and yes i probably eat tooooooo many pie's) :)
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    Test ride a road bike. I suspect you'll be seduced by just how quick and nimble it is. Anything else will feel like a real effort.
  • Thanks VERY much for all the advice all, what a forum! :D

    I tried to Trek District single speed today, not for me.

    I am also avoiding front suspension based on advice, so thanks again.

    I am going for the Cube SL Cross, just got to choose between the comp and pro, am trying them both in the morning. I tried the comp today and loved it, but just want to try the pro also to see if it is owrth the extra money :)

    Thanks again!

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