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The singlespeed workout - is that a feature for you?

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The singlespeed workout - is that a feature for you?

Old 11-14-22, 07:04 PM
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pbass
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The singlespeed workout - is that a feature for you?

I have both geared and singlespeed drop bar gravel rigs. I live where it's very hilly (mountains, actually), and 80% of my riding is dirt. One of the top reasons I grab the ss over the geared is the very different workout I get muscling that thing on the trail - I clearly get a more all-body workout. I don't ride as far as w geared, but I'll tell ya, I'm more ripped if I'm keeping the ss in heavy rotation than if I were only riding the geared bike. I know, some will say you could just leave your geared bike in tough gears and stand up a lot, but we know it's a different animal.
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Old 11-15-22, 05:46 AM
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I agree. It’s a different game with SS or fixed. I do some road with my track bike. And to keep the cadence I need to go up the hills with another kind of power. It gives a lot of variety to the ride. Also the cadence in the downhill sections are sometimes… crazy.
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Old 11-15-22, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by wannabe_me View Post
I agree. Itís a different game with SS or fixed. I do some road with my track bike. And to keep the cadence I need to go up the hills with another kind of power. It gives a lot of variety to the ride. Also the cadence in the downhill sections are sometimesÖ crazy.
I've never even tried fixed - but I can imagine what you're talking about. For me what stands out is how much the upper half of my body gets worked riding ss offroad. Not to mention the fact you rarely sit down!
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Old 11-15-22, 09:18 AM
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Agreed. Having to pull the bars on hills, and the associated core workout is much more intense than spinning gears. This is partly why my SS and FG are my most used bikes.
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Old 11-19-22, 10:46 AM
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The SS effect is definitely a feature for me.

​I've been routinely single speed mountain biking since 2010. I can still remember that when I started out doing it, I got so fatigued that I thought I might puke. I was in okay shape then, freewheel mountain biking-wise. I know that's a fact looking back on some of my tracks from before single speeding.

I did try fixed gear for a short time on that first single speed bike, a Soul Cycles Hardline, by putting a six hole disc mount cog on a flipping the rear wheel, I think in 2013. But that was a short lived experiment because the idea was to ride dirt and I quickly found out that the terrain was too technical for me to be safe. I do not think I will ever trail ride for extended periods on a fixed gear bicycle.

Yes single speed climbing does work the heck out of me. The pull on the bars is tremendous. The need for this type of strength renewed the daily requirement of doing pull-ups. Doing pull-ups keeps the body ready for the hard single speed rides.

​​​​​​At first single speed was a sort of toe in the water and then up to the thighs immersion. I was sceptical.

Even though I was achieving some successful measures the thought of doing certain routes was very intimidating. Gradually I was able to cover most of the local rides on SS, and that still blows my mind.

I still ride a geared mountain bikes and have other rides. Sometimes when I ride the geared bike on a tough hill I have cleared on SS I still can't believe it.

I've always been a bike commuter. Forever I would ride a double or triple chain ring road bike. At some point I got tired of regularly changing the front derailleur cable. It got worked too much for shifting from the middle to big ring all the time from starting out from stop lights. I also began to get so soreness from pulling the bar-con in my wrist.

​​​​​​I converted the bike to a 1x. It's okay.

But around that time I got a steel sliding drop-out paragon style 29" wheel frame and made that into a commuter. Single speeding to work was revolutionary to me. I had been missing out on this for decades! At some point I went to pinned platform pedals and thrilled at the luxury of not having to have special shoes to ride.

This year on October 31, the commuter bike became fixed. At first it was geared too low and I started out with platform pedals, but in a week I had to make changes. It's now 45x17 - feels very reasonable for what I'm doing on the commute. Went back into SPDs too - because I'm not interested in getting strapped in (good lord that is what I did in the 1970's and I hate toe clips and Christophe straps).

It's not yet a month of fixed gear riding and I am totally worked out in new ways. I don't think I'll be able to beat the geared bike records on fixed, but I think I'm at parity with single speed freewheeling. Anyway the elapsed time doesn't matter except for getting there on time.

Freewheeling mountain biking is a fantastic workout. What got me to go all in was a friend had a 26" hard tail with a White Industries enO hub rear wheel. I had never heard of this before and was only aware of the manufacturer as a name. Bought this bike and happily rode it.

Of course there are always the challenges of descending involved with mountain biking. These are fun and demanding - and seemingly the primary focus of suspension oriented mountain biking.

SS mountain biking turns the uphill and XC into it's own type of sport. It's really intense. It's too much for most people and then of those who would do it, there are fewer who would choose it - that's my guess.

One of the aspects I'd read about SS before I tried it, it was in the defunct Dirt Rag magazine I bet, was that you could get more exercise in the same amount of time Another alleged benefit was that SS on varied terrain builds interval training into the ride.

​​​​​​SS is not all positive though. Wonder what people think are the negative aspects. There could be more negative than positives, depending.

Another benefit, speaking positively, is in riding technique overall, such as crossing deep gulches for one example and carrying the momentum to get up the other side (whereas on a full suspension geared bike it's possible to gear down and charge) . Things like this are forced upon the single speeder and I think it has improved my overall skill a lot. When I get on my geared full suspension mountain bike l, which is rare and rarer, the experience is surreal.

Now that I'm starting to ride fixed gear in an urban commute scenario - and using the bike for grocery getting and other errands - single speeding is more than a workout. Single speeding is simply a reliable mode of basic transportation.

In the time it took me to write this, some may have been playing video games, practicing their music, learning about engineering and mathematics, gardening, and taking care of their livestock, walking the dog, visual art, what have you. Cycling takes up a lot of time that could be used for other choices in life.

Single Speed requires regular riding or else there's the risk of it becoming too difficult to carry on with.

​​​​
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Old 11-20-22, 11:42 AM
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"Sometimes when I ride the geared bike on a tough hill I have cleared on SS I still can't believe it."
Absolutely. This happens to me all the time now. I'll go out on the geared rig on a trail I also ss on, and feel like I'm barely exerting myself.
And even though you get worked a lot faster, I think the variety of movement- the body english - required for riding with one gear offroad also actually leads to less chance of repetitive stress aches and pains. I've been mindful lately of standing up more on the geared bike for example and mixing it up, instead of just sitting there spinning.
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Old 11-22-22, 11:53 AM
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I'm gonna present a dissenting opinion and state that I no longer enjoy riding SS/fixed on open road or trail. I sold my Wabi about 6 months ago as well for this reason, big sad. My background is a competitive road and track cyclist of 15 years that flirts with dirt sometimes, although nearly all of my MTB riding is purely recreational.

For me, I just don't enjoy having the terrain be the deciding factor in my effort. I like to use gears to be in control of my output and shift up or down to suit the cadence and power that I wish to produce at the time. I get the whole-body arguments above, and riding SS/FG "in the wild" is a good way to do that. I take care of that stuff with some strength and core exercises that I do at home, off the bike.

I started riding fixed in a more urban capacity in college and began road racing shortly after that. After all this time, my SS/FG riding may be limited to track and that is OK with me. I do still enjoy the culture, aesthetic and general vibe of SS/FG riding outside of track racing, and understand the sentiments above. It's just not for me. I am an elite level road racer and my opinion is that riding SS/FG on open road and trail is too hard! Y'all are badasses.
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Old 11-22-22, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
I'm gonna present a dissenting opinion and state that I no longer enjoy riding SS/fixed on open road or trail. I sold my Wabi about 6 months ago as well for this reason, big sad. My background is a competitive road and track cyclist of 15 years that flirts with dirt sometimes, although nearly all of my MTB riding is purely recreational.

For me, I just don't enjoy having the terrain be the deciding factor in my effort. I like to use gears to be in control of my output and shift up or down to suit the cadence and power that I wish to produce at the time. I get the whole-body arguments above, and riding SS/FG "in the wild" is a good way to do that. I take care of that stuff with some strength and core exercises that I do at home, off the bike.

I started riding fixed in a more urban capacity in college and began road racing shortly after that. After all this time, my SS/FG riding may be limited to track and that is OK with me. I do still enjoy the culture, aesthetic and general vibe of SS/FG riding outside of track racing, and understand the sentiments above. It's just not for me. I am an elite level road racer and my opinion is that riding SS/FG on open road and trail is too hard! Y'all are badasses.
I'm absolutely not an elite anything; my focus is randonneuring and formerly some 24 hour races. In that world, it's all about keeping the level of effort sustainable, never going deep. Gearing is obviously critical, and lower than typical for road riders. Maybe it's because I ride so many miles at 70% or whatever, but I'm absolutely loving the variety of effort FG/SS requires I put out. I think I get a different kind of workout in the process, but that's a side effect of doing something fun.
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Old 11-22-22, 12:52 PM
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To that end, doing a brevet like that SS/FG sounds real tough. Esp. if the course is hilly and you need to moderate your efforts. I'm good for riding my bike for 5-7 hours at a time with some hammering here and there, but after that, I need a warm meal and a shower!
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Old 11-22-22, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
I'm gonna present a dissenting opinion and state that I no longer enjoy riding SS/fixed on open road or trail. I sold my Wabi about 6 months ago as well for this reason, big sad. My background is a competitive road and track cyclist of 15 years that flirts with dirt sometimes, although nearly all of my MTB riding is purely recreational.

For me, I just don't enjoy having the terrain be the deciding factor in my effort. I like to use gears to be in control of my output and shift up or down to suit the cadence and power that I wish to produce at the time. I get the whole-body arguments above, and riding SS/FG "in the wild" is a good way to do that. I take care of that stuff with some strength and core exercises that I do at home, off the bike.

I started riding fixed in a more urban capacity in college and began road racing shortly after that. After all this time, my SS/FG riding may be limited to track and that is OK with me. I do still enjoy the culture, aesthetic and general vibe of SS/FG riding outside of track racing, and understand the sentiments above. It's just not for me. I am an elite level road racer and my opinion is that riding SS/FG on open road and trail is too hard! Y'all are badasses.
I rode my last fix gear Cycle Oregon two months ago. A week of 450 miles, 30,000' of climbing. I changed gear ratios a lot but this was my Peter Mooney with its standard late '80s horizontal Campy dropouts. I'm 69 years old and have know for more than a decade I cannot and should not even try to do the climbs and descents I used to do on 42-17. The bike of my avatar photo has such a long dropout I can (and have) run cogs from 12 to 24. For the Mooney, I made a triple 1/8" crankset, 46-42-36 and set up a two-sided hub with 21-17 on one side and whatever tiny cog I felt like that day. (And sometimes carried 24 also.)

So it can be argued my fix gear ride wasn't "pure". But I did have to stop and cool down every time I changed gears so it was now free ride. And it was hard. Two of the seven days were hard to the bone, days 5 and 7. I was totally done after. Riding to use my new found form? I wanted no part of getting on a bike and forced myself to go for a few rides to not have my muscles and joints freeze up. (I also wanted to/needed to rest up my groin pull I got trying to lug my downhill gear up a small hill back in June trying to boost my strength. Spent the next two months doing the balancing act of resting the groin pull and riding the required training including hard fix gear hills. I don't think I could have pulled this off much better but it took its toll.)

I wasn't given the gift of a body that could be an elite racer. Raced three seasons. Ended as a 2 and I could have gotten better but not a lot (though I could have gotten a lot smarter!) Now, had Cat 2 3-week mountain stage races existed, that would have been an achievable podium. GC would be a long shot but mountain? A challenge I would have loved.

Instead, I have ridden road fix gears ever since those racing days with the road deciding my effort slowly tapering off on the really hard climbs as I aged until I had my avatar built 11 years ago. Fell back in love with the fix gear. I now have three (and rarely ride my workhorse winter/rain/city one ratio only bike. Many of my rides now are flattish and I run two cogs a tooth apart. That love is still there, even if I'm aging. And those two rides? My old Peter Mooney which is completely at its best as a fix gear and the ti TiCycles which is a high end 1980s race bike for a fictional world that never invented gears. Two sweet (and quite different!) rides.
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Old 11-22-22, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
To that end, doing a brevet like that SS/FG sounds real tough. Esp. if the course is hilly and you need to moderate your efforts. I'm good for riding my bike for 5-7 hours at a time with some hammering here and there, but after that, I need a warm meal and a shower!
Yeah, conservation of resources. Much more important on a fix gear (esp) than with gears. Yes, calories, sugars, "lactic acid", muscles ... but on a fix gear it is also muscles! (and many more, like arms, hands ..., your butt (and downhill abuse) and overall physical drain. On the hard days of Cycle Oregon I made it a point to carefully monitor how hard I climbed the early hills. Until this year, my feet were always part of the resource picture. Pulling up that hard for that long took its toll. That red bag under the DT in my avatar? Tevas so I could get out of my shoes at rest stops and give both blistering toes and the bones over my arch a break. (Got the new expensive leather Boa Lakes for this year's CO. What a treat! No foot issues all week save from being clumsy with those powerful BOA wheels.)

Edit: those Lake shoes: CX-237. (Lake's upgrading it to the 238 next year. Looks identical except they don't offer the red which I got.) CF sole, really nice leather uppers. Big, wide toe box like no shoe I've had. Wonderfully padded tongue so no BOA strings felt until you really over-tighten the laces. (Which the BOA wheels have to e power to do easlity - be gentle)

For fix gear riding - they work really well with the Exustar track cleats - aluminum slotted traditional cleats with the 3-bolt LOOK pattern. I rode with the cleats pushed all the way back and the forward BOA wheel cleared the toestrap. Close but it worked. I was prepared to remove that BOA and install grommets and laces but 1st ride, everything worked, tightening and loosening the strap with the wheel there simply wasn't an issue. Did pop the BOA wheel a couple of times over the Cycle Oregon week but with both a toestrap and the second BOA, it was never an issue riding on 'til the next stop. Now, adjusting that BOA while riding? Don't!
Drag your fingers on that descending wheel and you've just tightened that BOA to foot crunching.

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Old 11-22-22, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
To that end, doing a brevet like that SS/FG sounds real tough. Esp. if the course is hilly and you need to moderate your efforts. I'm good for riding my bike for 5-7 hours at a time with some hammering here and there, but after that, I need a warm meal and a shower!
My first exposure to FG on a brevet was at Paris Brest in 2011, when I realized the Belgian guy I was riding with was on a FG. We were coming into Paris for the finish, which gets a little lumpy, and I was pretty much in awe. Then in 2019 Ian Hands finished PBP in Charlie Miller time on his fixie, which boggles my mind. At London Edenborough London earlier this year, I was riding behind a gentleman who looked straight out of the 50's - wool head to toe, fixed gear, toe clips, helmetless - who looked to be 70 years old. What finally pushed me to get one myself was a 1000k earlier this year, when Ian bent the front wheel on his geared bike on day 2 and switched to his FG for day 3. We rode much of that day together, and it was pretty inspiring. I'm not 35 (or 45 or 55), but I'm going to give it a go.

My longest ride FG was this past Sunday, 60 miles mostly flat with 1300 ft of climbing. Harder than geared for sure, but do-able. The plan is to ride a P-12, that's 12 consecutive months of 100k populaires. Maybe by summer I'll know whether I want to try anything longer. Portland to Eugene 200k looks enticing. We'll see.
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Old 11-23-22, 11:16 AM
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I ride a FG once a week or so. I keep it around 20 miles with some hills.

It keeps me "honest" and forces me to muscle up some stuff, and keeps thing fluid on the flats. I am not a slacker by nature, so I can easily get an awesome workout with a geared bike, it's just that a FG is different enough.
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Old 11-23-22, 12:09 PM
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I threw an edit into my second post (#11) with a description of the Lake shoes I wore at Cycle Oregon. Very expensive, very comfortable and they work very well with toestraps. Never knew fix gear climbing could have my feet so happy.
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Old 11-24-22, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Erzulis Boat View Post
I ride a FG once a week or so. I keep it around 20 miles with some hills.

It keeps me "honest" and forces me to muscle up some stuff, and keeps thing fluid on the flats. I am not a slacker by nature, so I can easily get an awesome workout with a geared bike, it's just that a FG is different enough.
Gosh, I get those vibes and that kinda makes me want to build one up again, lol. This wouldn't be the first time i've gone through this cycle <-- (pun intended)! What ends up happening, is I just get too lazy to ride in and prefer a road bike nearly all of the time.

I think if I do it again, I might make it a little more utilitarian, like a Steamroller with racks/panniers, and have it SS/FG flip/flop. That way, it would serve a more specific purpose, and if I wanted to, I could flop the hub and go on a fg road ride.
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Old 11-25-22, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by bigblackcrank View Post
Sometimes, I think the low cadence drills even at high resistance offered by SS/FG is counter-productive to speed-endurance. I've only done it once and my speed suffered so I stopped doing it.

Best training results I have always involved some sort of intervals in each training session per day. I still push high resistance in intervals but always at high cadence like 20 to 30 second sprints / attacks but I never do high resistance at low cadence anymore. The only times I do "low" cadence drills is standing on the pedals but I try not to have my cadence drop below 60 rpm unless I'm really tired or feeling lazy and I'd rather stand than sit. I think for cycling performance, muscle power (watts) is more important than strength (torque).
I've had friends who's coaches prescribed them low-cadence intervals on the bike before, and it sounds pretty rough tbh. Never tried it. I've also never worked directly with a coach and won't pretend to be an expert in that sort of thing, so not sure what benefits it provides.

Power is certainly the more important metric for an endurance racer, road or track. I prefer to make mine with low torque/high RPMs, spinning a relatively small gear. However, some amount of torque is almost always required to win a bike race in the form of a sprint or an attack. Maybe SS/FG riders have more musculature developed for that sort of thing? Could be another benefit to SS/FG, all those starts from 0 MPH at high torque.
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Old 11-25-22, 03:43 PM
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i am usually on my SS. if i do a group ride, its on the geared bike (nobody likes to wait or be held up by a stubborn SSer) i also ride/race SS on the MTB and Gravel bike (obviously in the SS category). if you ever want to challenge your SS legs, give
ride/race a try. i've completed it 3 times on the SS. this year was the first time with gears. weird, it didn't feel any easier.
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Old 12-05-22, 07:31 PM
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At this point, yeah. After about two years of riding only SS, I have lost patience for long seated climbs. Actually at this point Iím mainly running and walking, so Iím losing patience for seated exercise in general.

I do appreciate that the standing work of SS requires more core as well as upper body work. It also gives me more time out of the saddle, which is more comfortable.

Now both bikes have a rear cluster but I rarely use anything larger than the 16t I would run as SS. With biking becoming an occasional event, I can probably be content with SS and just choose the route based on the workout I want.

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Old 12-09-22, 06:37 AM
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Bikes: 2017 BMC Roadmachine 01 Enve wheels, Sram red etap,Cinelli Vigorelli single speed, 2009 Cannondale Capo, 2016 trek Domane 6.9, disc and Di2, 2016 Scott Scale 710, 27.5 plus tires and boost rims

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I have an excellent condition Trek Domane 6.9 disc bike and yet, in most cases, I use one of my single speeds for day rides even in the mountains (WNC) I have seen an amazing improvement in my fitness level by sticking with the SS program.

Last weekend an 80 miler spread over two days, yesterday a 73 miler in one day.

Most interesting to me is, at a stopping point, none (zero) of other riders never notice or say anything about it being a single speed. I can't help it but I always look at the other riders cluster, no wise cracks please
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