/ Single speed mountain bike?

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wushu - on 19 Oct 2012


Well, I'm contemplating switching my hard-tail mountain bike to a single speed. I was wondering if anyone has done this and has any experience of it?

I think because I used to go bmx-ing and trials biking I'm leaning more towards doing it.
Radioactiveman - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to wushu:

If you actually go offroad up decent ized hills be prepared for pain,pushing,knackered knees unless you are superhuman would be my advice.

You may find a ratio that suits but it will be a challenge would have thought owning a single speed road bike was hard enough on a lumpy commute
flipper - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to wushu: I converted my hardtail to SS and love it, although I do ride other bikes alongside it. I think the choice depends on what kind of rider you are. Yes, it's hard work on some climbs, but the simplicity is quite liberating (especially night riding it seems) and the lack of maintenance when plugging through a gritty, wet winter is a godsend. I tinker with the ratio depending on where I'm riding, who I'm riding with (better to be with other single speeders) and how fit I am. Great full-body work out!
cousin nick - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to wushu:

Yeah, did it with my old MTB, steel frame, rigid fork, V brakes and one speed. Great fun for mucking about on short rides, but I wouldn't like to have done a full days riding on it - neither knees nor butt would have survived!!
Sadly the frame died (chainstays rusted from inside).

N
wushu - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to all:

Thank you for the info, I shall have to have a think!
Chris the Tall - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to wushu:
Quite a few guys completed the Kielder 100 on single speeds, so it's definately do-able, but too much like hard work to me. Plenty of them beat me, but I did overtook a few on quite gentle hills towards the end.

Going for a Alfine or Rolhoff hub I could understand, but single speed seems like masochism to me
wbo - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to wushu: I've done it to my commuter bike as the offroad bits are ok and a challenge rather than a nuisance with only one gear. It's not for everyone,. 1x9 seems a decent compromise
Wee Davie - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to wushu:

As an ex-BMX'er I have no idea why anyone would think single speed was a good idea for travelling any distance over 400 yds. IMO Single Speed is a triumph of marketing over sense.
lost1977 - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to Wee Davie:

the exception is fixed wheels under the right conditions
Wee Davie - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to lost1977:

I'd rather have a coaster brake!
unclesamsauntibess - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to wushu: I am 60. I have six singlies, five full rigid, one full suspension. One is a 29er. I ride in a club. I went on MTB holiday to the Alps with an SS and them. My knees are fine. They didn't leave me behind.

The usual UKC no-knowledge comments and prejudices getting aired again. Most people on here know nothing of climbing let alone cycling. Do it. Best form of cycling there is.
Alun - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to Wee Davie:
> As an ex-BMX'er I have no idea why anyone would think single speed was a good idea for travelling any distance over 400 yds. IMO Single Speed is a triumph of marketing over sense.

How bitter! I used to ride a single-speed steel hardtail. I had 38x16 for commuting (mostly on road) and would switch down to 32x16 for off-road rides.

It is amazing how much stuff you can ride up as your legs get stronger - you have to really attack the hills, but do it regularly and you get loads better very quickly.

Part of the joy of singlespeeds is the simplicity, no faffing with gears, just pedal. They're also easier to clean and maintain. Plus, it's adds a different dimension to the same old trails. Plus, it's fun.

This all said, I have now converted the bike back to gears. A change is as good as a rest!

BTW One nice halfway house is a single front chaining. I would guess that most riders spent 90% of their time in the middle ring anyway!
Dave Kerr - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to wushu:

I would ignore the advice of both extreme camps above and instead think about the kind of riding you like to do before going SS.

This might help:

Against SS:

If you are all about going fast then SS may not be for you. Although people do ride them very fast most people feel a SS slows them down.

SS is harder work as there is no bail out gear option so good basic fitness is required (you'll build it pretty quick anyway)

Not ideal for really big hills although it is surprising what you can ride up SS.

Not ideal for large distances.

Not as versatile. People do use them for all sorts of stuff but...

For SS:

It's the cheapest way to get a light bike.

Low maintenance.

It makes you think about how you tackle climbs so it makes riding more interesting and makes you a better rider.

Simplicity is appealing.

It isn't nearly as hard work as some might have you believe.

You will get stronger.

IMHO SS is great but if I could only have one bike it wouldn't be SS. I don't personally know anyone who only has an SS but I know several people who have them predominantly for local jaunts.

Once you've gone SS and had a play with that finish the job and go fixed wheel...
FrankBooth - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to wushu:
I bought a SS dirt jumper at a car boot sale this morning. I bought it for the kids, of course(!) Peddling around the block was alarmingly hard work. I'm thinking of putting on slicks and drop handlebars for eccentricity value
Snax - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to wushu: I've been riding single-speed hardtails for about 10 years and love um... (but I do have other bikes as well) the best bike to ride in the muddy winter! I regularly beat most of the folks I ride with up hills despite them having gears and i have no problems riding it anywhere in the North York Moors or places like Glentress. You build up fitness very quickly, learn tons about bike handling and efficiency and it needs little cleaning after a late night mucky winters ride. Currently working on building up a fully rigid for the winter, although that may start life as a 1x9. Buy a DMR singlelauter (about 30) and try it, if you don't like it pop your gears back on... and sell the singulater, but give it at least a month's worth or riding....

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