Any of you biking Dopers Singlespeeders?

I just converted an old early '70s Raleigh Record (found in a yardsale for $10) into a Singlespeed roadie, all it needed was tires, tubes and brake pads, she rides quite nicely for a bike almost as old as i am, still needs a clean-up job and the drop bars retaped, but other than that, a nice old classic…

why did i singlespeed her, as opposed to fix her up with more modern shift componentry?

well, first, it was cheaper (free) as all i did was yoink off the crappy Derlin plastic Simplex components, and shorten the chain

second, there’s something…pure and simple…about riding a singlespeed bike, it’s closer to the bikes i grew up on as a kid, those were largely singlespeed (well, my old Schwinn Stingray Chopper had a 3 speed internal hub, but other than that…), a singlespeed is quiet (no deraileur clatter or chain rattling)

it’s simple and reliable, a front gear, a back gear, and a chain, can’t get much simpler than that, there’s no deraileurs to constantly or worry about going out of whack or getting damaged

it’s more efficient, the chainline is completely straight and doesn’t have to wind thru a series of serpentine pulleys, or be angled off center, nearly 100% of your pedal stroke goes to driving the rear wheel, and you don’t need to worry about being in the wrong gear for the conditions, because there is only one gear

it makes you a stronger biker, no “cheating” and switching down to the “granny gear” for hillclimbs, you need to maximize your efficiency for climbing hills, even if that means getting off the seat and standing on the pedals to get a stronger pedal stroke

the only drawback is it’s addictive, once you’ve ridden a well-tuned SS, you’ll either fall in love with the simplicity and pure power delivery, or hate it and go back to your gearie, if you find you like the SS, you’ll begin to formulate plans to switch all your bikes (assuming you have more than one) to SS…

i’m looking at my commuter Fila Taos MTB thinking that IT would make a nice Singlespeed, i just need to save up and slap on a chain tensioner and i can yoink off all the crappy Suntour shift componentry…

as a side poll, what’s your favorite frame material?
Carbon Fiber/Aluminum hybrid
Carbon Fiber

personally, i love the old classic steelies, steel framed bikes just feel more “alive” to me, it’s hard to put into words, but to me, a classic steel frame bike just feels…right

I haven’t ridden much since college (I raced on my schools team), but one of the bikes I bought and kept was a track bike (an inexpensive, but really pretty decent, KHS). I bought a second stem/handlebars with a front brake for riding on the road. Had a sweet old pair of Suntour Superbe Pro levers from the days when brake levers without a shifter built in came on top-of-the-line models.

Only had to switch two bolts (stem and front brake caliper) to switch it to a track-legal brakeless setup.

Was a very fun bike. If I ever get back into cycliing, I think I’ll be spending a lot of time on it. It’d be a blast in the area I’m in now, which is flattish with low, rolling hills.

I’m with you on the steel, too. My road bike was a Bridgestone RB-1 frame with modern components…

I was told, and I quote:

“You had a single-speeder when you were a kid? BWAHAHA! How old-fashioned! How quaint! Don’t buy that!”

Oh well. shrug :slight_smile:

Track bikes are ‘all the rage’ now. Can’t say I see the attraction. Can say I see the danger.
I do have a single speed BMX bike that I put waaay more miles on than my expensive mountain bike.
It’s so quick and light and maneuverable. I’ve said before “I’m better on these two wheels then most people are on their own two feet” and I stand by that.

One of my husband’s bikes is a fixed gear. (This one )He loves the thing. It’s the one he chooses whenever we take short rides around town and when he rides to work. I tried it once just in our little circle and hated it, but I’m not into cycling as much as he is.

I’ll stick to the 24 speed, thanks.

My most favoritest bike is a Raliegh Colt frame from the 50s (root-beer and white) set up as a single speed with a Brooks saddle and drum brakes. I wuv it. So very simple and fun to ride. I use it for tooling around town doing errands or if I go biking with people who are more out of shape than I am.

Personally, I don’t get the appeal. I have, on occasion, been forced into single-speed mode by mechanical difficulties in the derailleur, or shifter, or whathaveyou. I always feel confined and hills become maddenning. I cannot imagine doing that “for fun”.

I felt the same way as you at first… “why would i want to limit myself to one gear?”, SS isn’t for everyone, some people love it, some hate it, but what sold me was the silence and sheer mechanical simplicity, i also felt a real and measurable difference in the power delivery to the rear wheel

when the Raleigh had it’s deraileurs on, there was always a slight delay between pedal stroke and power delivery, it’s hard to describe, but i felt a “lag”, when i SS’ed the bike, the power response was immediate and powerful, to put real numbers on it, it took 20 pedal revolutions to travel from the road to the end of my driveway in deraileur mode, it took 16 revolutions in singlespeed configuration and the only thing that changed was the removal of the deraileurs and the shortening of the chain, i used the same gear ratio and everything…

Single speed or fixed gear?

I could see the appeal of fixed gear. It actually looks somewhat enjoyable. But it’s really funny how trendy it has become. . .it’s so cool now that people who never really ride bikes much have been riding them. I guess that’s good, but it’s an accident waiting to happen for some of them.

SS is just somewhat limiting. A guy on a single speed can’t ride with us on group rides, can’t race.

If I had spare dough, I could see trying out a fixie. I even have an old steel bike that could probably be converted, but I’ve heard there are difficulties if you have vertical dropouts. I use the bike just for leisurely errands, though, so I don’t have a lot of maintenance worries with it.

I do love the feel of my Steel but it just doesn’t have the modern niceties of the Al & Cf bike.

Yeah, it’s a pity that SS/fixies are getting so popular, the way i see it, there’s 3 types of SS/fixie riders…

the trendy poseurs who buy a brand new SS/FG because it’s the “in” thing, ride a few times and either crash and give up, or end up storing the bike in the gararge and never riding again

the biker who builds up a SS/FG from an old salvaged frame, learns on it, loves it, then buys a new one because they legitimately love it (i see myself leaning this way)

the biker who loves the old retro bikes and builds up an old frame into SS/FG (me again :wink: )

problem is, now i’m also hooked on the old classic style boardwalk cruisers, simple, basic bikes you can fix with an adjustable wrench and screwdriver, nothing more, but i already have 3 bikes, and i don’t want to fall into “collector-itis”

it’s bad enough that i’ll be ordering a Rennen Rollengater chain tensioner for the Fila, pulling the rear Shimano cassette and slapping on a BMX freewheel and cog, the Fila will become a singlespeed, think i’ll keep my Trek 4500 as a gearie though…


You forgot track cyclists (most velodromes have some kind of beginners program–check it out! It’s a blast…) and competitive cyclists looking to improve their form/get a change of pace.

In case anyone reading this has an opinion, I am buying a new bike.

I’ve always wanted a fixed gear, but never got around to building one. I had a frame to build, but a friend wanted a bike to start racing so I sold it.

I know a guy who built up a fixed gear shop bike a few years ago. he worked at a bike shop, and built it what whatever was available. It was ugly, but fun to ride. He was going to school and would take it to class, never bothering to lock it up. One day a bike thief tried to ride off on it. My friend came out of class to find the bike missing. He found it 50 ft away.

I knew of another guy who would tie up his bike (not a fixed gear) with a rope, rather then get a lock. That bike was eventually stolen.

I have an old 16-speed Huffy mountain bike but I don’t bother changing gears 'cause I never figured out which is which. Does that count?

If it’s a Huffy, it doesn’t even count as a bike. :wink:

How could you ever consider it “a pity”? It’s nice that you put yourself in categories that you consider cool but it comes across as being elitist and, IMO, that’s much worse than being trendy.

What category am I in? I started hearing a lot about fixies a couple years ago and ran out and bought a brand new one because I heard they were fun and great for training and also because I think they’re damn sexy bikes(Who can say this isn’t hot?) :slight_smile: I ended up loving mine but even if I hadn’t who cares? At least I would have tried. I never see it as a pity when peopple try new things, even if it’s because they are trendy.

Mmmm, veloporn!

More, please.

point taken, the main thing i was trying to get at, and maybe i didn’t word it correctly, is not the fact that it’s a pity that more people are trying SS, that’s a good thing, as parts for SS will be easier to find, it would be a pity if SS’ing were “dumbed down” to appeal to “the masses”, you know, low quality components, deartment store bikes that fall apart after a couple rides, etc…

part of the appeal of SS for me is the simplicity and durability of the components, no fussy deraileurs to go out of whack or need adjusting, bikes that are as simple or as complex as you want them to be…

i’ve seen SS bikes ranging from a simple rigid frame and fork bike, all the way up to a 6" travel full suspension mountain bike with disc brakes

the beauty of SS is it’s as simple, or as complex as you want to make it, personally, i like the feel and simplicity of a classic rigid steel frame bike

I’ve being riding a singlespeed mountain bike for the past four, five years now. Its not my main ride, but I take it out maybe once a week/fortnight on the trails. Its great training, getting the SS round a tough trail can be agonising. I don’t know much about road bikes, but I’m surprised to hear that singlespeeding with a freewheel is popular on the road, although I know plenty of folk ride fixed SS (even off-road, which is just silly IMHO).

The SS MTB teaches you to choose the best line up a technical climb. If you don’t, then you’re walking up it. I can’t really see the analogous situation on the road, unless you’re talking about running a really tall gear ratio that you’ve got to redline up the hills. I can see that making a man out of you. :slight_smile:

32x16 is the classic MTB singlespeed set-up. I’m a bit too wussy for this around my local trails, and run 32x18. What’re you running on the road?

Why are people saying they are dangerous? I’ll admit I don’t know much about them, but my BF was looking at one earlier today when we stopped at the local bike shop to get a tire fixed. He is about as non-trendy as a person can get, but he commutes by bike to his job daily and is thinking about a new bike. I worry about him as it is; part of the ride is along a highway (part is on less-trafficked streets), but if single-speeds are dangerous I’ll have him stick with a safer bike.