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View Full Version : Single-speeds (and fixed-gears)


Chris Forbis
07-05-2007, 06:09 PM
So I finally got my Redline 925 single-speed commuter bike in today (picture below). The 60 cm frame that I needed was out of stock so it has been on backorder since the middle of May.

The nice thing about the 925 is it can be run as single-speed OR a fixed-gear. Right now I have it setup as a single-speed and plan on trying it as a fixed-gear at some point in the future.

I had not ridden any bike since my old Murray two-speed that I got rid of around age 15. I rode the Redline up to work (time of the commute is almost exactly the same as by automobile) and around the neighborhood where I live. Tons of fun. I'm really happy with the purchase. I've got 5-6 weeks left of summer to get some miles on it. It seems like it will serve as pretty good metcon, as we have decent hills around here. I have a feeling I'm soon going to be lusting after a Redline Monocog (their mountain SS model).

Any body else ride SS or fixie here?
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/images/redline925-425.jpg

Sam Lepore
07-06-2007, 05:06 AM
Hey Chris--

I am a Mountain Biker and just recently bought a Niner. 29" wheels.(www.ninerbikes.com) It is geared and I love it. I have friends that ride Single Speed and will NEVER go back to geared. I have a feeling I will be going SS next summer. :D

I ride in Wissahickon Park in Philly. Probably some of the best and technical trails you will find in a large city (still within city limits) in the country. It is has some hills that are truly mind blowing. You will never breath this hard. These guys on the SS's ride the hills with NO Problem and in most cases are faster than the geared guys.

Enjoy the new bike Chris. Get a Mountain Bike. Look into the 29er's. It kicked my training to the next level...big time.

Garrett Smith
07-06-2007, 06:05 AM
Chris,
I have been a fixie junkie ever since I converted an old thick-tube Cannondale.

I have no interest in gears. I'd rather walk/run.

In the future I may get a SS mountain bike...

Robert Allison
07-06-2007, 07:06 AM
My brother in-law has a SS mountain bike. I had the opportunity to give it a spin on a couple of occasions, and it was fairly brutal. Where I live (Western NC), the trails can be pretty steep.

I am pretty sure I could work up to SS, but if you're not used to that style of riding, it feels like you're losing a lung. Having said all of that, I am still looking at picking up a SS sometime next year.

Mike ODonnell
07-06-2007, 09:15 AM
I have a trek 4500 MTB bike that is 7 years old....snapped the derailer off while riding a year ago (thank goodness the tree softened my crash landing)...so brought it to the bike shop and had it converted to a SS for $15 and now love it....the best part are the faces of people on the trails when I go buy and then they see a single speed single suspension bike whooping their ass on a hill as they wonder how come their $2000 dual suspension bike doesnt go as fast.....then again I really wouldnt mind some disc brakes to keep my forearms from going numb....

I did a road duathalon on my MTB a few years back when I had gears.....yeah, a whole slew of people on light skinny tires road bikes and then my 36lb beast with fat tires....was just for fun....but I crushed them on the hills....and then watched them blow past me at 50mph down the hill as I just sat there and ate pretzels since my gears aren't made for over 25mph...overall not a smart idea but makes for great stories......which pretty much sums up my life...

Garrett Smith
07-06-2007, 09:41 AM
Fastest I've had my fixie up to is ~35 mph...crazy leg pumping going on!

Yvana van den Hork
07-06-2007, 10:02 AM
Since I'm Dutch.. hell yeah, did I have a single-speed! Nowadays less common than they used to be, but it was my favourite bike for short stints. Easy here with the flat roads.
I only had a fixed gear as a kid and that's how I learnt to cycle when I kept falling over with a normal bike.

Used to have 2 single speed bikes at one time for a double commute: home to/from railway station and railway station to/from work. One got stolen , the other got vandalized and I bought a Brompton folding bicycle (5 gear, now 6). Also have a 24-gear touring bike.

For use in winter and/or when you don't like a lot of maintenance, single speed is the way to go. Plus.. single speeds can have better chain protection so you can even wear skirts or dresses on the women's bike. At least that's what we do.

Mike ODonnell
07-06-2007, 10:18 AM
Since I'm Dutch.. hell yeah, did I have a single-speed! Nowadays less common than they used to be, but it was my favourite bike for short stints. Easy here with the flat roads.
I only had a fixed gear as a kid and that's how I learnt to cycle when I kept falling over with a normal bike.

Must be a pain with those wooden shoes and all......:D

Mark Fenner
07-06-2007, 10:29 AM
Hey Chris--

I ride in Wissahickon Park in Philly. Probably some of the best and technical trails you will find in a large city (still within city limits) in the country. It is has some hills that are truly mind blowing.


For the sake of intra-state rivalry, Frick Park in Pittsburgh also has some ridiculously nice riding for being in the center of an urban area.

Go Steelers! Boo Eagles! *chuckle*

Regards,
Mark

Dave Van Skike
07-06-2007, 10:54 AM
..Have messengered on fixies, trained gobs of miles and raced track..Just built up a single speed mnt. bike to ride with a buddy who is training for SS cyclocross. It's a Fetish. (http://http://www.mtbr.com/reviews/singlespeed/product_125444.shtml).was dirt cheeeep.it's kind of fun. limiting for any real epic mnt. biking in my neck o the woods, most of the climbs here are two hours plus to get anywhere good.

John Seiler
07-06-2007, 06:58 PM
Single speeds are the bomb-diggity. Just had my Redline Monocog stolen last week. :( It was an '06 in the army green with a 3:1 ratio and Avid discs. What really blows though is that the '07's are baby crap brown. I either have to find a used one or wait and hope the '08 is better looking.

Allen Yeh
07-06-2007, 07:13 PM
I recall there was an old CFJ that talked about SS vs. fixed gear but any particular reason one or the other is better? Just curious I haven't had a bike since my Trek got stolen in college.

Dave Van Skike
07-07-2007, 09:45 AM
Fixed is harder and takes mega-more skill to do well in traffic esp....and. all things being equal, it's slower. It's also a lot of fun, engages your brain in different way than riding freewheel bikes. Riding a fixied on semi black ice streets in the winter is quite thrilling....

John,

sorry to hear about your bike...that sucks...embrace Brown (http://antbikemike.com/images/Bikes/XO/brownbig.jpg).

Garrett Smith
07-07-2007, 01:29 PM
Those handlebars are really cool, what are they called (in case I was shopping)?

I have bullhorns with a front brake right now...after a quick brake at a yellow/red light at the bottom of a hill the other day, I'm really thinking about adding a rear brake...

Dave Van Skike
07-07-2007, 01:37 PM
Those handlebars are really cool, what are they called (in case I was shopping)?

I have bullhorns with a front brake right now...after a quick brake at a yellow/red light at the bottom of a hill the other day, I'm really thinking about adding a rear brake...


Moustache Bars. (http://www.rivbike.com/webalog/handlebars_stems_tape/16027.html)

You'll need a way shorter stem to make them work right if you are replacing drop bars.

You could also look at fleegles (http://www.on-one.co.uk/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page&PAGE_id=68&MMN_position=72:72) and mary bars. i run a set of marys (http://www.on-one.co.uk/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page&PAGE_id=6&MMN_position=5:5) on my mountain bike. Love em.

Garrett Smith
07-07-2007, 07:24 PM
Muchas gracias, Dave.

John Seiler
07-08-2007, 06:39 PM
Thanks, Dave. Unfortunately, the Redline brown is not nearly so cool a shade of brown.

Steve Shafley
07-08-2007, 07:47 PM
I've got a 1990 Giant 770 21 speed that I've beat the hell out of since,uh....1991, in urban "extreme" biking and some of the tougher single tracks in Michigan. . I gave it to my brother for 3 years and he beat the hell out of it as a commuter bike in Chicago year round, and then in the Roaring Forks Valley area in Colorado before he gave it back. It's seen mostly mild duty since pulling a baby trailer and as a vacation runabout. I'm seriously considering changing it over, but, hell...I still have the original equipment on it, except the tires, and it still holds up to the abuse I give it occasionally (my son bet me I wouldn't ride it down a long flight of stairs this last week, and I really shocked him by doing it) and I can still get all 21 gears to work.

I thought it was funny that Walshy mentioned the utility of the big U bar bike locks as a impromptu instrument of destruction. I'll back up his statement that it could potentially do significant damage to an automobile.

You want to talk old school? Cro-moly, Shimano DX, no suspension. Minimalist leather saddle. I've got to pick up some new hand grips and take off the climbing bars, since I don't ever use them anymore, and didn't use them much anyway when I did a lot of uphill climbs with it.

Steve Shafley
07-09-2007, 10:48 AM
You bastards have me coveting a 29" mountain bike now.

Dave Van Skike
07-09-2007, 10:55 AM
Michigan...rolling terrian, some hard short climbs but mostly flat right? That's 29'er country right there. SS 29'er like the raleigh (http://twentynineinches.com/2006/06/06/trying-out-the-raleigh-xxix-29er/) is a good go.

Ron Nelson
07-09-2007, 12:43 PM
Shaf just described my bike, sans the flat front tire.

My friend ordered his 29" fixie, but I doubt he'll be taking it on the trail.
Why do most fixie riders go without brakes? I'm not that interested in developing that particular "skill," but I am Jonsing for a 29"er.

Dave Van Skike
07-09-2007, 01:13 PM
Fixie's don't need brakes becauxse you can use your legs to slow the rear wheel...which is to say, Most peol who boaught their firt fixie last year when they read up in it in the NYT are such slow cusses that they don't need brakes becuase they only stop at the coffee shop and the REI.

If you put in any actual mileage on a bike and are interested in going fast, you need brakes. messengers can get away without using them but proper use of the front brake is the key to speed.....

the 29'er thing is a bit fadish right now but there is something legit to bigger wheels, not better or worse but very different.

Before there were 29'ers we would just go mountain biking on cyclocross bikes or road bikes with fat tires.....in really pristine conditions a road bike with slicks is fracking fast off road, braking is a bit skittish but it's truly a joy to blow past some chuffer boy DH rig rolling on skinny-ass tires and drop bars....

Chris Forbis
01-01-2008, 04:49 PM
Yesterday I changed my first flat tire. I came back from Christmas at my parents' house, and my back tire was COMPLETELY deflated. It took a while for me to figure everything out, but I finally got it taken care of.

Then, the brilliant thought: "Since I have my back tire off, why don't I flip it around (to make it fixed-gear) before I put it back on?"

All I have to say is, WHOA. It is a completely different experience. I think I like it, but I'll need to try it on a day that is not cold as balls to be sure. It is hard as hell to get my second foot in the clip this way.

Bike messengers on fixies without brakes are insane.

Gant Grimes
01-03-2008, 06:19 PM
Your leg strength will greatly improve.

Now there's only one step left to take. http://www.63xc.com/index.htm

Chris Forbis
01-04-2008, 08:31 PM
Your leg strength will greatly improve.

Now there's only one step left to take. http://www.63xc.com/index.htm

That may be the next step.

Since my last post, I have become fully sold on fixed-gear biking. Cliche, I know, but the feeling of oneness with the bike and the silence of the ride cannot be beat.

Mike ODonnell
01-05-2008, 03:51 AM
That may be the next step.

Since my last post, I have become fully sold on fixed-gear biking. Cliche, I know, but the feeling of oneness with the bike and the silence of the ride cannot be beat.

Personally I enjoy passing someone on a hill and say "Hey it could be worse...you could have one gear like me"....Yes I am a dick sometimes. lol

Garrett Smith
01-05-2008, 12:26 PM
Chris,
Glad to have you in the club!

Chris Forbis
01-18-2008, 02:01 AM
I've got a question for all you fixie-fanatics: I am currently out of possession of a bike and am looking to purchase a new one come spring. I'm going to have to make my next one last me a good long time. Having not ridden a bike for a couple months (and being only a marginally consistent rider before that - 25miles every once in a while) would it be insane to get a fixed gear instead of a normal bike? If I got one with a switchable-hub that had freewheel on the other side perhaps? Or based on the feeling of a try-out at a bike shop if I can arrange one? (I plan on researching, getting fit to the bike, and looking at used/converted bikes if new ones are too expensive.)

The reason I'm so interested is a hatred of gears (both mechanically and the feeling you get when you're going up a hill windmilling on a tiny gear - I'd rather muscle it up, switchback, or just walk the d*mn thing then try it again another day!) as well as a fascination with the possibilities it opens up - stronger legs, bike-&-me-oneness, pedaling backwards, track-stands, better winter biking (does the control of the fixie help in winter? I'd think so). There aren't too many hills around me so I would be able to practice pedaling quite a bit before I jumped into hills and out of my seat! Any thoughts on a beginner trying out a fixed gear (even if it was reversable hub)? Or should I just get a new regular bike and practice practice until I'm richer, more competent, and handsomer?

My feelings were almost exactly the same prior to buying this past summer. The people at the bike shop were trying to talk me into a geared bike. They were worried that the single-speed would beat me up and I would abandon biking completely (having not biked for fifteen years or so). Better to ease my way in, they thought.

I ignored them, and I couldn't be happier with my purchase. Mine has a reversible rear wheel that has freewheel on one side (where I started) and fixed on the other. I recently switched to fixie and I absolutely love it. I will note that I use mine for shorter rides of 1-7 miles rather than the 25 mile ones you referred to.

Redline 925. Great bike. It's a commuter, so it comes with fenders and a chain guard. I got mine for $500. I would imagine you could get a decent frame converted for cheaper.

edit: Forgot to mention, sweet name.

Derek Simonds
01-18-2008, 04:33 AM
Wolgang is sweet but Moebius rocks! You have two cool names.

Garrett Smith
01-18-2008, 05:27 AM
Wolfgang,
I second what Chris said.

My only suggestion for newbie fixie riders is learn to ride them first without anything securing your feet to the pedals (cages or clips). Being unable to quickly remove your feet plus learning to stop a fixie equals looking stupid and falling over (once, just once...).

Now I ride clipped in and love it. Go for it. Zen on a bike.

Oh yeah, I'd suggest you put or keep at least one hand brake on it.

Paul Findley
01-18-2008, 08:44 AM
I got one of the ebay motobecane's, perfectly adequate for what I do at least for a while (in town with the kids, or trips to the store).

What I know now: I should have bought a $50-$75 used craiglist list mountain bike and a $30 Nashbar coversion kit.

I might still do this to have a better quality (tougher) bike with a more hill/trail friendly gear ratio.

Mike ODonnell
01-18-2008, 10:25 AM
What I know now: I should have bought a $50-$75 used craiglist list mountain bike and a $30 Nashbar coversion kit.

I might still do this to have a better quality (tougher) bike with a more hill/trail friendly gear ratio.

I've had a Trek 4500 for 6 years and it has taken a beating and still is great....well minus the whole derailer snapping off. Find some frame with no derailer...take it to a bike shop...get a used gear sproket or whatever the things are called...half a derailer to keep some tension...and make your own....I did for $10. I so know nothing about technical single speeds and sizes...all I know is I have one gear and I have to peddle my ass off up a hill.

Like I say...if the gear is too hard...get stronger legs!

Chris Forbis
01-18-2008, 07:59 PM
Wolfgang,
I second what Chris said.

My only suggestion for newbie fixie riders is learn to ride them first without anything securing your feet to the pedals (cages or clips). Being unable to quickly remove your feet plus learning to stop a fixie equals looking stupid and falling over (once, just once...).

Now I ride clipped in and love it. Go for it. Zen on a bike.

The name compliment was intended for both first and last. Wolfgang is cool enough, but Moebius puts it over the top.

Yeah, what Dr. G said. I have a bitch of a time getting my second foot into the cages. It is really flippin' hard to get that second foot in when the pedal is continuously moving!

Patrick McIntosh
01-19-2008, 04:12 PM
Wolfgang,
I second what Chris said.

My only suggestion for newbie fixie riders is learn to ride them first without anything securing your feet to the pedals (cages or clips). Being unable to quickly remove your feet plus learning to stop a fixie equals looking stupid and falling over (once, just once...).

Now I ride clipped in and love it. Go for it. Zen on a bike.

Oh yeah, I'd suggest you put or keep at least one hand brake on it.

I wouldn't suggest riding without clips/staps or a clipless setup unless your gear ratio is something suited for mtb stuff (like 30x20 or something). If you're running a high gear on a road bike and your feet aren't attached to the pedals some how, you risk smashing your legs up pretty good. Assume that you're going to tip over at a light every now and then, it happens to the best of us.

I was an idiot when I started riding fixed and took the brakes off within the first 2 months - despite running a 48x14 gear ratio. It's kinda ridiculous riding in the street with a straight up brakeless track bike, but if you're strong and sharp mentally, you'll live to have some incredible legs (imagine having to exert the same intensity to stopping as you do sprinting).

edit: I'm not suggesting people should or shouldn't ride brakeless, it's personal preference.

Garrett Smith
01-20-2008, 05:15 PM
Patrick,
I wanted to clarify, I only meant not securing the feet to the pedals when initially getting used to starting and stopping on the bike. I'd also skip clipping in if one wanted to learn a track stand (at first). I still haven't gotten to that point, as my typical ride doesn't require me to really stop at all.

Definitely secure your feet to the pedals once you have the hang of it!

John Seiler
02-01-2008, 10:52 AM
What I know now: I should have bought a $50-$75 used craiglist list mountain bike and a $30 Nashbar coversion kit.

Seriously, Paul, half the fun of being a guy is wasting money on toys to show the other guys.

(Don't laugh, ladies. We know you don't buy all those shoes to look good for us.)

Mike ODonnell
02-01-2008, 11:00 AM
Seriously, Paul, half the fun of being a guy is wasting money on toys to show the other guys.

(Don't laugh, ladies. We know you don't buy all those shoes to look good for us.)

If women think guys even know if they have shoes on.....they are sadly mistaken....and yes, it's all about being the alpha male dominant one within the same species...(pounds chest)

How to Hook up with a woman: "Wow, I love those shoes...have you lost weight?...Your hair looks great.."

How to Lose a Woman: "I could care less about how much you spent on those shoes and hair...what a waste of money...."

Paul Findley
02-01-2008, 11:55 AM
I just got my wife a 90's Raleigh Technium mountain bike for $55. Should be single speed in a few weeks. Going to try to build my first wheel :-). It's going to be way better than mine. If that is not an expression of love, I don't know what is.

Ben Moskowitz
02-11-2008, 07:57 PM
I've got a "single speed..."

A 10-15 year-old, rusty, Huffy girl's bike that has a mangled front set of gears and a detached cable to the rear gears. It's stuck in "low." At least it squeaks enough so that people get out of the way... although there is a bell, haha.

The things I buy from old people in town to get around campus...

Paul Findley
02-19-2008, 12:27 PM
I just finished the conversion to SS. I spent about as much doing this as on a new low end SS mountain bike. Maybe what I put together is a little better though.

I could have done it for cheaper if I just converted the rear wheel that came with the bike as opposed to building a new whole rear wheel, plus this bike needed new rubber and saddle :-) ...there goes about another 100.

Frank Needham
08-14-2008, 07:29 PM
Need to get a bike for riding while on break at work. I don't sit around and eat donuts so I need to dream up things to do with time and this seemed like the ticket:
http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-720TR-MESSENGER-FIXED-SINGLE-SPEED-TRACK-BIKE-FRAME_W0QQitemZ380053178560QQihZ025QQcategoryZ9808 4QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
Only thing is, it would be a project. What could I buy for a pretty good SS that would be inexpensive and ready for riding?

Dave Van Skike
08-15-2008, 08:10 AM
road mountain or cross? redline makes a nice little 29'er for about 4 bills. road bikes should be dirt cheap if you have scrounging skills. i put one together for about 50 bucks but i had a bunch or parts laying around.

Frank Needham
08-15-2008, 08:29 AM
I guess mountain would be my choice. Getting a beater off craigslist and doing a conversion is always and option I suppose.

Is this the Redline you mentioned?
http://www.redlinebicycles.com/adultbikes/monocog-29er.html

Dave Van Skike
08-15-2008, 08:57 AM
I guess mountain would be my choice. Getting a beater off craigslist and doing a conversion is always and option I suppose.

Is this the Redline you mentioned?
http://www.redlinebicycles.com/adultbikes/monocog-29er.html

Yup. I have rid the actual bike and it's fairly nice for a lower end unit. The next one up the food chain has disc brakes but then you're sort of conflicted technology wise, ss should be fun and easy like a bmx bike....

another option is to invest in one of these....

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/white-hubs.html

build it up in whatever config you need, (700c, 29er, 26" 650b) and then converting a vertical drop out bike gets really easy, you could pick and choose from a bunch of nice old steel frames for cheap and not have to run a ...(ick)....chain tensioner

Craig Brown
08-15-2008, 09:08 AM
http://www.mile43.com/peterson/Turtle/MountainTurtle.html

Kent Peterson from around here used that Redline in the GDR (Canada to Mexico). It's an interesting read. Kent is a bad-ass.

Frank Needham
08-15-2008, 06:25 PM
would something like this be worth messing around with and converting?
http://lasvegas.craigslist.org/bik/798698334.html

Dave Van Skike
08-16-2008, 08:59 AM
would something like this be worth messing around with and converting?
http://lasvegas.craigslist.org/bik/798698334.html


I'd say starting with just a frame would be easier in many respects. i've never had much luck working with department store bikes...there's always some weird parts that don't mesh with anything standard. what is your max budget?

Frank Needham
08-16-2008, 11:33 AM
I found an old local boy here who deals in used bikes on craigslist. He had an older specialized hardrock sport gx 17" for $80 and I grabbed it. For just messing around on breaks at work it will be just fine I think. Its actually a nice bike and now I have it I'm second guessing converting it. If I do it shouldn't be a problem though, no vertical dropouts. They are horizontal. Thanks for the suggestions Dave, you're obviously up on bikes. I haven't ridden seriously in a couple decades at least.

Dave Van Skike
08-16-2008, 01:48 PM
I found an old local boy here who deals in used bikes on craigslist. He had an older specialized hardrock sport gx 17" for $80 and I grabbed it. For just messing around on breaks at work it will be just fine I think. Its actually a nice bike and now I have it I'm second guessing converting it. If I do it shouldn't be a problem though, no vertical dropouts. They are horizontal. Thanks for the suggestions Dave, you're obviously up on bikes. I haven't ridden seriously in a couple decades at least.


glad that worked out. a steel specialized is perfect. check out cyclofiend for some ideas on conversion.

http://www.cyclofiend.com/ssg/

and sheldon brown (RIP) for parts and advice.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html

Frank Needham
08-17-2008, 07:48 AM
The link you gave us showing the redone specialized bikes was great. Lots of good ideas for mine.
Here's what I got:

ryan mac
08-21-2008, 02:41 PM
Sweet.....people who appreciate 1 gear. I roll a Surly Karate Monkey. Previously had a Specialized Rockhopper (geared) and a Santa Cruz Blur (full suspension and geared). Once I got the Blur, I converted the Rockhopper and I was hooked. After a year of collecting dust I unloaded the Blur and haven't looked back.

As you might guess, I'm a fan of big wheels. The Monkey is a 29'r like others have mentioned here. My Monkey is the black one on the left. http://home.swbell.net/r_e/comparing_big_wheels_to_little.jpg

If you have a few minutes to burn....here are a few mtb videos I made. All riders in the vid's are on SS's. I'm the camera man.....and I do have a little wreck in there somewhere. :D

Day time ride #1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czeNTMLIGNQ)

Night ride (http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=rcp+night&emb=0#)

Ryan

Dave Van Skike
08-21-2008, 02:56 PM
Night rides.....almost makes me miss it.......

I had one season where I showed up to teh first race having not ridden in the daylight for about 3 months....depth perception was a shade wonky.

Gant Grimes
08-22-2008, 07:14 AM
I should point out that all the guys in Ryan's video are of highly questionable character. :)

ryan mac
08-22-2008, 08:45 AM
I should point out that all the guys in Ryan's video are of highly questionable character. :)

Not much of a question really. :D