Headquarters for the Slender Fungus Cycling Association

Headquarters for the Slender Fungus Cycling Association
Brewers of Hardy Rides.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Results from Singlespeeding since last year

I wish I remembered where I took this great picture

Shirley, Surly? BTW, this carbon fork is history. 
I have been riding a singlespeed for a while now and just wanted to jot down some thoughts and ideas. On my Surly steamroller I was riding a 42x15 and then arrived to Upstate New York and got shelled by the hills. I could not even make 1 revolution. I quickly swapped out the manly 15 for an 18 tooth and life got easier. I got in shape and was able to climb 90% of the hills around the Syracuse area. Upon returning to Illinois I switched out the 18 for the original 15 cog. I ride this bike on group rides and can maintain 19-20mph with outspins in the low 30 mphs. This bike rolls on 23mm tires. 
     ON other notes I have been riding a 34x17 on my Gunnar Ruffian Singlespeed until I started to ride it more offroad. That had to change to a 34x18 and that felt better for going up the hills. Crank length on the bike is 175mm and tires were 2.1
     My Selma Ti has a 34x18 with 180mm cranks and that has been my bike for Iowa missions. That made my legs very sore, got my knees "cracky" and exhausted my whole body. Some of the hills in the sacred land were un-do-able. We walked long uphills bringing our speed down to 3mph. The Selma is set up perfect and will not have any changes. I got rid of some doggy Specialized Fastrack tires for some Kenda Karmas that were on closeout. 
     Then came the "Troy Krause Experiment". You see Troy Krause is a beast that finished in second place in Trans Iowa and to my continuing disbelief he turned a 42x18 for the whole event. He rode a cross bike with I would guess 35mm tires. 
     I built up my crosscheck with a 42x18 and donned the road rims with 35mm tires and turned 172.5mm cranks. I rode it to work everyday and I felt the strain on my knees. Then I did an 80 mile ride on it and got really tired. The wide Salsa bars were great for cruising and jamming up the hills. My last change has been to install some sram cranks in 177.5mm and to drop the 42 chainring for a 38. Yes, 4 teeth. Yesterday I got out in the frosty morning and rolled 30 miles with new setup. I really enjoyed the longer cranks and lower gear ratio. I was able to cruise around 15-16mph on the road and climbs the rollers without any effort. 
     As a result from all this I have become addicted to riding a single cog. I got back on the geared bikes and felt wrong. I feel that bikes with gears feel dead and heavy. I also feel that singlespeeds put your body in a hurt zone, high zone that becomes addictive. My knees have been sore for a while. It might be the singlespeeds, it might be the cold weather. This coming week I will go back to geared bikes and see what happens. 
     In any event, I see that singlespeeds have a place in Cycling. They offer a much cheaper alternative to us broke-ass mechanics. They are machines that become the #1 go to bike when you need to go somewhere and don't have time to fiddle with prepping before a ride.
I really think that selecting you gear-ratio is super-important. Riding Trans Iowa on single speed is super-hard. Do you ride a stiff gear to not spin out on the flats? Do you ride an easier gear to make all the hills and not kill yourself? Will there be permanent damage? In any case take the time to experiment. Changing cogs and chainrings is not as expensive as changing 11 speed cassettes. You owe it to yourself and your body to find the right combo. 
If you have any questions or help on this let me know. I stay awake thinking about all this. 




John said...

Good luck with the SS gearing obsession for TI. I would try and go with the spinniest gear you can. Low 50 gear inches. I did a 39x19 last year with 35 tires would have liked a 20 rear cog! The wind gets you on a ss there more than the hills. Have fun!

Guitar Ted said...

While I have not ever ridden Trans iowa, (since I'm kinda busy that day, ya know?), I have ridden DK 200 and Gravel Worlds on a single. I think "too spinny" is really bad. I was about to go nuts at the DK 200 on a 34 X 18. Yes- the hills and head wind were okay, but the flats! oh my!

I am pretty convinced that big, long cranks and big gears are where it is at for me. 180mm cranks and my 36 X 17 or my 37 X 18 are on the two SS bikes I have for gravel.

I also did a large portion of this coming T.I's route to checkpoint #1 on a geared bike that I left at 44 X 17. 80 miles, steep hills, wicked wind that day.

So I think it all depends on your make up, how your body responds, and the bike. Everyone will arrive at a different solution. I know what works for me, but it may seem ridiculous to someone else.

Ari said...

Thanks John and G.T. Even though we are dealing with a single chainring and cog it is amazing the different results there can be. All this imput is really helpful for everone seeking out this kinda info. Thanks for the imput.

joe said...

I am prepping for my first big gravel (Almonzo 100)and although I've been on a fix for 7 yrs, I'm not a masochist, so I am going SS.
Can someone explain the benefit/tradeoff of longer cranks? I ride 170,'cause on the fix you gotta watch the corners. How does it factor in w/ gear ratio? Comments please.