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Elevation Gain on a Single Speed

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Elevation Gain on a Single Speed

Old 12-21-21, 11:56 PM
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AJW2W11E
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Elevation Gain on a Single Speed

I took this ride today. on my Pista SS 52 x 18. I don't think I will ever try this again.
I was curious if I could climb. 2000' feet but I just didn't have it.
I couldn't even get to 1500'. I think in a year or two my days of SS are over,
The only thing I will miss is that maintaining and repairing a SS Bike is so simple and economical compared toa Geared Bike,
But after today, I think it's time for a Geared Bike.
I'm curious how high other riders have gone here. and what a Geared Bike would do on this course

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Old 12-22-21, 02:08 AM
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52x18? Holy cow man. That would suck on flat ground with no wind, I could never get a smooth pedal stroke with that high gearing and I'm a strong rider. Try getting a smaller chainring before you quit single speeds. Try a 46 or 48.
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Old 12-22-21, 07:20 PM
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I/m waiting to get my 16 T free wheel parts from White . That should make it easier.
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Old 12-22-21, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by AJW2W11E View Post
I/m waiting to get my 16 T free wheel parts from White . That should make it easier.
Nope, 52/16 would be harder.
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Old 12-23-21, 02:31 PM
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I gear all of my SS bikes for the local hills -- for me, that means about 62 gear inches. On your bike, that would be more like 42 X 18. Yes, it gets spinny on the flats, but I can climb pretty much anything in town, and I'm used to high RPM pedaling, anyway.

But ... I also own a geared 1 X 11 gravel bike for rides that are really steep. "Horses for courses," and all that.

IOW, just because you suffered on that route doesn't mean you should give up singlespeeding.
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Old 12-23-21, 03:47 PM
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That's a super brutal gear for climbing like that. That's like, high 70s gear inches, no? That's approaching the high end of my gearing on my 1x11 rig.
Here in the LA mountains my ss gravel bike is geared at about 55 gear inches and even then it's too tough much of the time. I did only own one bike for about 3 years, a ss 29r mtb, and I just geared for the climbs at 32x20--that's about 46 gear inches--still some walking involved on our super steep trails and fire roads.
I'd seriously consider going significantly smaller in the front if you're gonna be climbing like that. You don't wanna injure yourself. Heck, maybe try as low as 42. Then you can play around with going up or down a bit with swapping out your rear cogs. I have 17t, 18t, and 19t that I swap out from time to time depending on where I'll be riding.

Last edited by pbass; 12-23-21 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 12-23-21, 05:23 PM
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WOW... Great ride... I think I could do that first five miles but not more... Ha

There's a guy down the street that converted his single speed to a three speed hub... Man... He's climbing without difficulty...
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Old 12-24-21, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by zandoval View Post
WOW... Great ride... I think I could do that first five miles but not more... Ha

There's a guy down the street that converted his single speed to a three speed hub... Man... He's climbing without difficulty...
Thank you very much with all humility and respect. Some of it was course memory.
Actually, if you use your downhill segments to build speed for the uphill segments, it's not that bad.
Also, I'm on Christmas vacation and well slept and relaxed
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Old 01-12-22, 04:44 PM
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I run 42 at the front, and a 16/18 flip flop at the back. You can always lear to spin faster, or feather the brakes on the descent, but there's a limit to the torque you can apply on the steep ascents.

The OP wanted to climb 2,000 feet on 52 x 18. I wouldn't commute on the flat in that gear.

The comment about 3 speed hubs is a good one. Most production 3 speeds were geared too high. However, if you set up a Sturmey Archer with the middle gear (direct drive, less friction) at a comfortable ratio around 65 inches, then top gear gives you 33% more for downhill or downwind, and bottom gear gives you 25% less for the occasional steep climb or headwind. Simple, low maintenance.

Last edited by Mikefule; 01-12-22 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 01-13-22, 08:06 PM
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Yeah that seems like a really high gear for anything with hills.

I have two bikes, and both are SS. The MTB is a 26er with 42/17 at about 64 gear inches which seems about right on our trails system. Especially now that there is often a lot of soft mud to slog through.

The roadish bike has 700x32 and 40/16 for a bit over 67 gear inches. That seems good, too. The bike is a bit lighter and the wheels definitely so, so it is also plenty quick up the hills. Iíve ridden it at 71 gear inches (42/16) also but that seems more stressful on my knees and the steep hills really get brutal.

If you try something more in the mid-60s you just may find that it works out a lot better. And spending some time at a higher cadence is good exercise.

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Old 01-14-22, 09:52 AM
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This has to be a troll. I've never met a SSer who didn't know how to pick a reasonable gear for the ride.
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Old 01-14-22, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Mikefule View Post
I run 42 at the front, and a 16/18 flip flop at the back. You can always lear to spin faster, or feather the brakes on the descent, but there's a limit to the torque you can apply on the steep ascents.

The OP wanted to climb 2,000 feet on 52 x 18. I wouldn't commute on the flat in that gear.

The comment about 3 speed hubs is a good one. Most production 3 speeds were geared too high. However, if you set up a Sturmey Archer with the middle gear (direct drive, less friction) at a comfortable ratio around 65 inches, then top gear gives you 33% more for downhill or downwind, and bottom gear gives you 25% less for the occasional steep climb or headwind. Simple, low maintenance.
Yes. I ride fix gear, love to climb and been doing both for 40 years. At the start I used to train on the local hill, 400' in 9/10s of a mile on a 48-16. Didn't take long to hear from the vets in my race club I had it all wrong, that 42-17 would be far better. Now, if I still had my young stud legs, it would be 42-17 for the winter, going to 16 and maybe 15 for the days I feel really strong.

I'm no longer young and here in Oregon a lot of the sweet climbs are far longer. I run double sided fix-fix hubs, have the bike of my photo with a dropout slot long enough to run any cog made and carry a chainwhip so I can screw on tiny cogs for the descents. Cheating I suppose. But I have ridden 5 Cycle Oregon weeks with that bike. Fix gear every inch. At least three with 30,000 or more feet of climbing. (Two included riding up to and around Crater Lake.)

Having both the 16 and 18 tooth FWs sounds about perfect Now go out and get a double sided wheel (freewheels screw onto fix gear hubs just fine) and a reasonable chainring, 42, 43 or 44. The wrench for the hub. (Trick: if your bike has fender eyes on the dropouts, you can insert an M5 (usually) screw from the inside secured with nuts so the head protrudes toward the wheel. Instant chain peg. Now consider getting a Pedros Trixie wrench/lockring spanner. With it, you can both unscrew the hub nuts and lift the chain off the FW with clean hands and have a place to put it while you flip the wheel. (And if you ever decide to take the big jump, you know have one of the tools for the fix gear. (That lockring spanner is a really good one. I prefer it over my Park.)
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Old 01-14-22, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
With it, you can both unscrew the hub nuts and lift the chain off the FW with clean hands and have a place to put it while you flip the wheel. (And if you ever decide to take the big jump, you know have one of the tools for the fix gear. (That lockring spanner is a really good one. I prefer it over my Park.)
My bike has double-sided fixed. For where I live, I seldom need to flip it though.
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Old 01-16-22, 07:58 AM
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I ride WNC two weeks at a shot, 2 or 3 times a year, some steep roads up there. However I gear down to 42 x 20 for most, 42 x 23 for some, anywhere over 11-14 mph I am spun out. Not really an issue unless I need to get away from the occasional hunting dog.

I really can't tolerate anything more than that on some of the longer climbs, 9 miles of that near constant up hill just wears me out. The coasting down is very sweet. For those of you that know the area coming down the North side of Waterrock Knob is pretty nice, you don't
hit a lick for about 8 miles.

Climbing on the course the OP mentions using 52 x 18 would be a feat, my knees would be done is a flash.

I find a lot of joy riding a single speed, even under the stress of climbing it, part of it though is I run into cyclists on most of the roads all day long, especially at the pull offs, I have yet to run into a single speed rider though. Different is nice sometimes.
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Old 01-17-22, 10:48 PM
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I used to ride with a local LD champ who rode a 90" gear fixed in the mountains. I rode a 67" gear on our local 10% grades. I was the slowest climber in the bunch but I could do it. We all used about the same gear and were in our 50s.. Gear depends on how strong you are and to a lesser extent, fixed or SS. It's always a compromise, especially in a competitive group where your gearing makes a difference. Most of us can spin 135 or so for only so long..
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Old 01-17-22, 11:03 PM
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I am very grateful and thankful for this forum. Don't know a single SSer, never seen another one on the roads, so all my education has been here.

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Old 01-18-22, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by AJW2W11E View Post
I am very grateful and thankful for this forum. Don't know a single SSer, never seen another one on the roads, so all my education has been here.

Gearing is the whole thing for me, I have 3 SS bikes and a collection of White Ind freewheels (always looking for good deals on them) a collection of chainrings for my 144 cranks and my 130 cranks and a butt load of chains in all different cut up lengths , as I ride SS more and more I can expand my tolerance for being in the wrong gear but , as a SS guy with lots of experience once told me, you are always in the wrong gear.

I'd still rather be on a single speed than anything else, my DI 2 Domane sit in the shop for months at a time.
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