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I have been riding and racing a single speed for many years now and I truly love it (it feels the most natural to me). During this time I have built several geared bikes, both hard tails and full suspension all very nice high end builds. Every time I build a new bike I do direct comparisons with the single speed that I am riding at that time and every time I am faster on my single speed. Obviously on single track, not double track or road because who really cares about that crap anyway. Not only am I faster I feel less fatigued on the single speed. I live in Maine and our trails are fairly technical with plenty of roots and rocks so in theory and according to all my friends the FS should be faster, but I just can’t make it happen.

Am I the only one? Thoughts...?
 

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Low speed, High Drag
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Well, I have set more PR's on STRAVA with my single speed, but my other bike is a 150mm travel, 32 pound beast.

But, I do get around our trails a lot faster on my SS. It also gets me in shape faster, since it doesn't allow me to be lazy!!
 
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No I’m not. I tried one once...I had to walk all of the tech sections; single speed is not for me.
 

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Always in the wrong gear
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All day.


I'll admit. It might well be solely due to familiarity. I've ridden a 29+ singlespeed with a 100 or 120mm fork as my only bike for like 4 years now. I'm very comfortable on it.
Without sounding pompous, it takes some really ugly sections of trail for anyone to truly leave me behind. I suspect they'd do it on any bike, being rider and not rig. The MBAA state champion in Expert class (racing SS) is a good friend of mine and I can almost hang with him, but he's got better lungs.

I recently inherited a 26" wheeled 140mm FS Trek and I'll be honest... it feels foreign. Wrong. Slow. But plush. Time and Strava will tell the tale. A 32x42 bailout gear whispers " give up, it's fine. Just spin and recover." That 34x19 screams "Ride or die mother-effer!"
 

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I built up a geared HT earlier this year and found that I had to ride it different than the rigid SSs I had been riding for the last 13 years. I really noticed it on the climbs. I have always felt that I am a strong climber and figured going to gears and a 130mm fork would just make me faster. What I found was that the out of the saddle, over the bars and mashing technique does not fair so well on a HT. On steep climbs, gearing down, staying seated and shifting my weight forward on the saddle has worked best. Because of the different technique and I am guessing different muscles involved in this change, this seriously wore me out. It has taken me several months to feel strong on the HT.
 

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No. Hilariously no. On rolling intermediate singletrack it's close, and the average speed is often higher. More fun, too. On doubletrack i find my 85rpm happy place and the SS gets dropped. On our numerous/inevitable steep 1000-3000' climbs the SS is a joke and i take it out to suffer with my unfit friends. On descents being able to pedal in to the expert features means i'm not scared to hit the big boy line.

There are rides and trail systems where i trend faster on the SS, but if i push the geared bike is faster. I split my time somewhat evenly between them.
 

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Living Life with a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury is not Fun so go foe a Ride
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Yes and No
It depends on my mood and and on the day.

One gear, one speed and one wheel = a load of fun


Sent from my SM-G960F using Tapatalk
 

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ya like dags?
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I have had a couple of my riding buddies mention in passing that I am faster on my SS. I think there's a couple reasons for that; the biggest one being familiarity. It's what I put most of my miles in on and I feel more comfortable clearing things on a bike that I know how to handle properly. The other is that we have mostly short, punchy climbs here which means I am out of the saddle a lot. My sit and spin quad muscles aren't as strong as my other leg muscles, so when I get on a geared full suspension bike I lose a bit of time spinning up those punchy climbs (as opposed to getting out of the saddle and mashing up them).


I am with a couple others here though, in that I don't really care how fast I am these days. I am more interested in having fun.
 

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I'm with the OP. I'm faster on the SS HT and also less fatigued at the end of rides.

Geared FS: Slow on the ups, fast on the downs.

SS HT: Fast on the ups, pretty close to fast on the downs.

So overall, faster on the SS.

...plus it's more fun.
 

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Life's a Garden, dig it!
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It's been so long since I've ridden a geared bike, I guess I can't honestly say anymore. When I was riding them both, I was always faster on the SS.
 

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For pedal heavy XC singletrack, yep, absolutely faster on my 29+ rigid single speed than on a full suspension XC bike or on a more trail geometry single speed (140mm fork, slack angles, etc.).

For me, like a lot of others here it seems to be in part comfort in that I know exactly what a rigid bike is going to do when I choose the wrong line and I know exactly how hard I'm going to have to push to get up a given climb. It's also terrain. XC riding on rolling terrain = awesome single speeding, but start throwing huge climbs or really gnarly descents in and I'd rather have gears and/or suspension.
 

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I'm less slow on my single speed bikes. I believe all my PR's on trails I've ridden on both my geared and single speed bike...are on the single speed.
 

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No, I'm not and it's not even close. I'm minutes faster on my full suspension bike on longer segments. It's fast, you have to be in 34x18, but it still doesn't touch my 24 lbs marathon rig.

When I'm climbing the gear is too hard so there's no recovery, on the double track the gear isn't big enough, and if it gets too tight and twisty 34x18 is too big again.

All the above problems are remedied by a simple shift and changing a couple teeth. This doesn't take into the fact that when the trail gets rough I'm forced to slow down on a hardtail.

Don't get me wrong I love the SS, but it's not nearly as fast as an xc fs if you have the discipline not to downshift.
 

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Yes and no, depends on the trail system and conditions. I am not on Strava and my only feedback is my buddies I ride with. Their opinion is I am faster on the SS on fast and flowy trails. When riding these they want me to lead (if I ride my SS). On rocky technical trails, I'm in the middle of the pack on either my SS or FS. Now if I ride rails to trails with the g/f, no way as I'll spin out especially trying to catch her on her commuter bike.
 

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I'm more often faster climbing on the SS - it depends on the terrain though. I'm rarely doing anything flat so that helps. My SS is certainly slower downhill on a lot of trails - it's a Raleigh XXIX with a pretty low grade suspension fork by today's standards so it's not really fair to compare it to a well set up Spark.

I ride both lots depending on the day and depending on the terrain and depending on who I'm riding with. One thing I do find is that if I've been riding one bike more than the other and I'm a bit fatigued, then riding the other bike feels like a rest.
 

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No, I'm not and it's not even close. I'm minutes faster on my full suspension bike on longer segments. It's fast, you have to be in 34x18, but it still doesn't touch my 24 lbs marathon rig.

When I'm climbing the gear is too hard so there's no recovery, on the double track the gear isn't big enough, and if it gets too tight and twisty 34x18 is too big again.

All the above problems are remedied by a simple shift and changing a couple teeth. This doesn't take into the fact that when the trail gets rough I'm forced to slow down on a hardtail.

Don't get me wrong I love the SS, but it's not nearly as fast as an xc fs if you have the discipline not to downshift.
I tend to agree. I've been riding SS almost exclusively for the last 4-5 years and there's no way a geared FS bike is slower. It's faster in technical sections, downhills, and on the flats. As noted above, it's all about the bailout gears. If you have the "discipline not to downshift" then it's impossible for the SS to be faster. That being said, I recently put gears back onto my SS because I felt it was faster. Just this week I removed said gears due to that lack of discipline. Ride what makes you happy!
 
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