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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Rationally, I can't come up with a reason why a SS would be remotely as "fast" as a multi-speed bike. But, after riding for years and only recently (3 months) getting into the SS thing... I'm beginning to think I'm faster on my SS than my MS. On group rides - with the same group, I'm further out front... but this could be a product of having been riding the SS - and just getting stronger. See, like many of you, I haven't been on my MS since building my SS. Yeah - I know... not so scientific.

But, more non-scientific data... One of my regular riding buddies just built a SS. On the very first ride, he was considerably faster - okay, sure... excited about the new build, great conditions... I know even less empirical.

So, has anyone tested this - riding the same loop (and timed it) on the SS and MS enough to add any bit of subjective data here?

I do think a lot has to do with "riding mandates", e.g. MS guy can downshift and crawl a steep hill... SS guy must sprint/hammer the same hill - thus going "faster". But then there's that whole fatigue thing that we're supposed to feel for hammering that hill... hmmm
 

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Depends on the terrain and power of the SSer I think. With more climbing the SSer will not be spinning like mad and crawling up a hill like the MS guy. Fatigue only really comes into play with a TON of extended climbing and then its up to your fitness.

Smart folks will be quick to point out that a MS guy can leave it an equiv. gear to the SSer on climbs and still have the advantage of the big front little rear on the flats.

Wiser folks will be quick to point out that fatigue makes cowards of us all, and I've met very few who can resist the temptation of the easier gear. Not having the option means your breaking point is when you have to stop and wheeze and that is far beyond when folks tend to shift down.
 

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Didn't some guy say, it's not the bike.

If you've got the strength and stamina, you'll be faster on a climb because you have to ride fast enough to keep turning the pedals over. I've also noticed that riding a rigid 29er SS, on a moderate climb over a rough trail, I seem to be using less effort than my 26er MS FS buddies. Of course, optimal tire pressure, gearing, grade, etc. play into this.

But, things change on the flats and downhill. As long as I can stay close or keep them in sight, I'll make it up on the next climb.

I think of it as getting closer to your maximum performance potential or using most of the "gas" in your tank. Maybe you use 80% of your performance potential riding a MS bike, but you definitely get closer to 100% on a singlespeed. If you keep hammering those climbs, your tank gets bigger. Plus, mentally you've got no other choice but to hammer.

-Chuck
 

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I'm faster. Haven't timed any loops but I know I feel faster on the SS. I think the only real area I'd be faster geared is long, smooth, straight downhills and flats (for obvious reasons). If it gets techy then the gearing really has nothing to do with it. With rocks, roots, switchbacks the more gears, even going downhill, aren't really an advantage. It also depends on your gearing. I ride a 32x17 and can usually keep up with my buddies on the geared bikes. I switched to a 32x20 for a race and left it on for a couple weeks and those same buddies dropped me on some fairly short straights. But I'm having more fun and they all want SS's so I guess it really doesn't matter. :)
 

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My first data point -- about 3 years back at the end of the race season, I converted my Rohloff-equipped custom 29er to SS. Everything else was the same and I rode the same trails. On a multi-geared 26er and the Rohloff 29er I averaged about 10.5 mph on a 20 mile ride time-after-time on those trails. I went SS and suddenly I'm averaging about 11.4 mph -- nothing else has ever given me such a speed boost.

My second data point -- first race this summer at the local race series I rode multi-geared and finished middle of the sport class field. Two weeks later I rode my SS and won against the same field -- my first win ever in any type of organized race. I got kicked up to the open class and got beat pretty handily, but I toed-the-line on the SS to keep it respectable. I know I'm faster on short to middle distant rides on a SS, but I'm not sure if it that's true at longer distances. My one experience on a longer race was the Laramie Enduro 111 Kilometer -- it went pretty well, but I still don't have enough data.

I think it was Travis Brown who flat out claimed that in cyclocross racing he was faster on a SS, and he noted that it made him work harder and ride more aggressively than he could make himself do when he had more gears to fall back on. I think that's pretty much how it is for me...
 

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I'm sure I'm faster on my steel Bianchi SS than I was on my 3lbs lighter Litespeed Ti geared bike. But it definitely isn't the better chain line or anything like that....it's mental. It's the way I attack a climb rather that just settle in and spin, the way I bomb a short downhill 'cause I need my momentum for the following climb rather cruise down it knowing I can just shift down. I tend to exhaust myself earlier on in the climbs, but I'm still getting my SS strength up. I've only done a few really long rides. Much more of a work out. HOWEVER, after busting my butt on some SS rides, I went for a 5 mile hike while camping with some buddies and my quads were BuRnInG....You gotta cross train!
 

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For races that last about 75 minutes or less I'm faster on a singlespeed on most courses. If courses are all up and downs OR are mostly flat. BUT, if the courses have several climbs AND several flats the geared bike is faster. In the last two years I have won 6 races, four of them were on singlespeeds. The four races I won on the SS were courses that I could gear for and courses that I knew really well. Both are important on singlespeeds.
 

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I have to say that I'm faster on the geared bike. I love singlespeeds and ride them 90 % of the time, but after a bunch of rides pushing that one gear, I get on a geared suspension bike and just seem to be able to crush the pedals.

Alas, my comparison may be skewed, as my geared bike has suspension, whereas my singlespeeds are rigid, so it may just be that I can mash the pedals and ride over and thru everything, where on my SS I do have to pick a line and slow down a bit for technical stuff.

I will say that I agree with the mental aspect, I now find myself downshifting a lot less on climbs with the MS, I didn't realize how much I was wussing out by constantly downshifting on hills. Now that I take a more of a SS attitude towards my geared bike, I ride it much faster. Not to mention that I am definitely stronger from riding the SS.
 

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I just turned my SS into a 2x5 and I an definitely lazier when it comes to the climb. I will downshift it in a heartbeat. I have even tried to keep it in the same SS gear on easier trailks but I just don't have the disipline it takes to keep it there! I am definitely faster on the flats with more gearing. I am getting soft it think. I think I'm going to make it a 3x5. Merry Christmas to all!
 

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at my local hard effort loop(seven oaks in boone iowa) i'm faster for about a single lap on the SS. after that fatigue becomes a factor. so 45 mins or so of steep up and down is enough to shell me out and make me want gears. granted my geared bike is 1x9 so i can't drop to a silly low gear but i'm nearly as fast on a single lap with that bike and for 2 or more laps i'm much much faster.
 

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I keep asking the same question to myself. I have a loop available to me, I just hardly ride the geared bike anymore. Only on group rides, and since they are group rides I don't have the option of doing the loop I do on the SS. Most of the time we do the loop we do it backwards which is pretty much useless for comparing. I did time myself on the SS, pretty pathetic really, 37 min 34 sec for a 6 mile loop, about 29 min of which was climbing for atleast half of the loop. But that wasn't bad, first time I did the cflimb without stopping.
 

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About that fuel tank thing: don't forget that with a SS you have something like an effort limiter on the flats, so you end up by sparing yourself for the hammering on the climbs.
A friend of mine, who's registered here by 350Plus, is going to do some tests with a SS and a MS. Maybe he will be able to have some answers with GPS data, etc
 

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Hmmm, I think gears are probably a bit faster, BUT if you like riding your bike, why not extend the enjoyment by riding SS?

It's the engine that decides if a bike is fast not the attachments.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Velobike said:
Hmmm, I think gears are probably a bit faster, BUT if you like riding your bike, why not extend the enjoyment by riding SS?

It's the engine that decides if a bike is fast not the attachments.
I agree it's the engine - that's the "constant" in this with the SS and MS being the "variables". The bikes are different enough that they dictate, to some degree, the riding style... so, the outcome is different. Faster or slower is the debate.
 

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In my experience, in situations where ss is faster its because you are forced to go the speed of the gear you have on the bike. You can't down shift and stay in the saddle. You have to stand up and mash. You are encouraged to maintain your momentum too.
 

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I'm probably faster on my SS. It makes sense to me that I'd climb faster standing and pushing 32/18 on the SS rather than sitting and spinning 32/34 on my geared FS bike. That said the really really really fast guys I've seen and/or ridden with run geared setups and actually use those gears to climb faster rather than more easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
gotboostedvr6 said:
OP:
did you really need to post this to realize that SS is slower then MS?
:skep:
Did you really need to chime in with such a useless comment?

If you don't think it's an interesting topic, go play video games or something to entertain yourself.
 

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tomimcmillar said:
bike doesn't matter.

few years back, when racing my friend Buck on his ss, me on a geared hardtail....sometimes he'd win, sometimes I'd win.

Then I started racing ss, and again, sometimes he's faster, sometimes I am...

ride watchya like.:cool:

and Dicky rolling gears? did I miss something....
Yeah, you missed that was not really Dicky, just some guy using the same avatar! :madman:
 
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