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What's a Singlespeed?

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holding back the darkness
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may seem elementary, but as I have recently been informed, it might not be. What constitutes a singlespeed bike?
Personally, I was under the impression that a Singlespeed had one speed, as in one available gear ratio, as in no other options than the 1 gear you have. I thought this was the case because of the name: singlespeed. I took this very literally. So I would contend that singlespeeds have one gear. That's it. Anything else is something else. Dingles are two-speeds. Flip-flops are two speeds. I have a Sachs Duomatic 2-speed kickback that is also a two-speed (despite the fact that it may LOOK like a SS and even ride like one). SRAM XX is 20 speed... etc.
My view may be considered purist. Perhaps that is true. More than that I feel that my view is pedantic, in that I really don't care what a person rides, but I find it curious that a bike with any number of gears (ratios, options, whatever) could still be considered a singlespeed as this seems very contrary to the definition.

A number of us rudely interrupted SlowerThanSnot's thread about his kickass Tour Divide conquerer that he's constructing. He's off to a gorgeous start and I encourage all to check it out and to get up to speed on our sidebar discussion here: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=688309

So what do you think? Can a singlespeed have more than one gear and still fit into the word "Singlespeed"?
 

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30-ton War Machine
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no, singlespeed is when you ride at one speed every where you go :) Single-speed, to me, means one gear ratio, two cogs and a chain.
 

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No offense, but I didn't know you took our little discussion so seriously. Opinions and standards are always going to differ, especially when there are so many grey areas
 

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holding back the darkness
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No no, none taken... I'm just honestly curious now. I'm asking the masses to establish a peer consensus. It honestly never occurred to me to consider a dinglespeed or flipflop as a singlespeed. Seemed counter intuitive. Hence the incredulity. I guess I really don't see the gray area. At all. Pretty black and white to me. Absolute even. But the discussion is entertaining so I opened it up a bit. :D
 

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Beware the Blackbuck!
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A single speed bike can never have it's gear ratio changed, ever.

ShadowsCast said:
Once your bike has had it's cherry broken by a different gear ratio it's singlespeed street cred (because street cred is the real reason people ride ss, obviously) is now gone.

I propose a new singlespeed definition standard: Every time you change your gear ratio (on the trailhead, in your garage, or on the moon) you have to scratch a tick mark into the top tube and forever refer to your bike as the number of gear ratios it's ever had. For example I've changed my gear ratio three times, I have a triple (tringle?) speed bike.

Desperate times call for desperate (and ridiculously narrow) definitions of things.
More seriously, since when did convenience, and location of tool usage dictate whether or not your bike was a singlespeed? I always thought it was only having one gear while riding. What you do on your own time... well that's up to you.
 

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what a debate...philosophy & semantics rolled up into one (speed?)

but...
subliminalshiver, as seriously as you seem to be taking this, most of SlowerThanSnot's threads & videos are about...fixed gear

you left that out of your equation/poll & it is not the same as singlespeed!

bet this thread gets interesting, where's that popcorn smilie when i need it?
 

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Ovaries on the Outside
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This is clearly going to be an argument that I am going to win. I am the Don of SS, the Ruler of Ratios and several other ridiculous honorifics.

Anywho, this is gray ****ing territory, my friends. Singlespeed means a single speed. No one rides solely and only 6, 45 or 5,000 miles per hour. Except me, because I get about as far as the end of my driveway, start missing beer and the cold friendship of mtbr and I head back in, legs weak and ego shattered. But it does make me the only pure SSer, as I stayed at a steady 1.1 mph.

As rational individuals, you all must agree that what I have said is Truth. From here forth, I will be the one who defines SS. Send me a photo of your bike, and if I deem it a SS, it is. Some will be venerated, but there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.
 

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holding back the darkness
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
markaitch said:
subliminalshiver, as seriously as you seem to be taking this, most of SlowerThanSnot's threads & videos are about...fixed gear you left that out of your equation/poll & it is not the same as singlespeed!
Yes. STS is a notorious fixed-gear pusher. gotdirt from the CO-Front Range forum made this movie about him that was featured at the Boulder Adventure Film Festival.
http://terrybreheny.com/video/video1.html

And I understand the difference between singlespeeds and fixies, and I think that fixies still fit into this discussion in that free or fixed, a singlespeed (by my definition) has only one possible gear ratio. The element of a freewheel mechanism is really not relevant to this discussion.
The way I have understood a singlespeed, as in the one cog, one chainring, one chain/belt version, most fixies apply to the definition just fine. However... I would contend that fixed gear bikes with dingle or flip-flop type setups are not singlespeeds either, but rather multispeed fixed-gear bikes.
 

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subliminalshiver said:
However... I would contend that fixed gear bikes with dingle or flip-flop type setups are not singlespeeds either, but rather multispeed fixed-gear bikes.
Like I said in the other thread:
If I'm riding a fixed gear bike with the same size cog on a freewheel on the other side of the hub, then by your definition I'm still riding a "singlespeed" but I'm somehow not actually riding fixed because the freewheel option is somewhere on my bike?
 

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Retro Grouch
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boomn said:
Like I said in the other thread: If I'm riding a fixed gear bike with the same size cog on a freewheel on the other side of the hub, then by your definition I'm still riding a "singlespeed" but I'm somehow not actually riding fixed because the freewheel option is somewhere on my bike??
This how my SASS is setup; I can't change the gear ratio so I contend it is the fabled exception that proves the rule.
 

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Beware the Blackbuck!
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subliminalshiver said:
The way I have understood a singlespeed, as in the one cog, one chainring, one chain/belt version...
Exactly. If you own more than one of any of those things, your bike(s) are not singlespeeds, even if the spares are still in their packaging on some shelf, buried in dust. In fact if you own more than one bike with different gear inches, you are not a singlespeeder, and should probably have posting rights in this forum revoked.

It's the only way to settle things.

:rolleyes:
 

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holding back the darkness
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
boomn said:
Like I said in the other thread:
If I'm riding a fixed gear bike with the same size cog on a freewheel on the other side of the hub, then by your definition I'm still riding a "singlespeed" but I'm somehow not actually riding fixed because the freewheel option is somewhere on my bike?
No.
Gear ratio is the same, so you've got a singlespeed. I'd say you're riding a fixie when the fixed gear side is on the drive side and freewheel when the freewheel is on the drive side. If the ratios were different, you'd have a two-speed that is sometimes a fixie and sometimes not. As in your example they are the same, your singlespeed is sometimes a fixie and sometimes not. I suppose one could try to reason that you're riding a 32x20 singlespeed when that side of the flip-flop is active and a 32x16 singlespeed when the other is side is going, but that still violates the core principle of only one possible ratio per bike. And it's not just "somewhere on your bike". It's not sitting in your bottle cage, or in a seat bag or your camelbak or stuck on the end of the handlebars. It's attached to your drivetrain in a meaningful way. Even if it weren't, and you just carried around the tools intending to make inconvenient gear ratio changes someplace mid-ride, wherever that point may be; on the road commute home in the middle of the night, before a burly climb or for a descent, you really aren't singlespeeding, are you? As you retain the ability to change gears you are still kinda cheating. You're missing the point.
You may have something that could arguably be construed as a singlespeed, but now I think this situation begs a different, more profound, more difficult to answer question: Are YOU really a singlespeeder? :ihih:
 

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holding back the darkness
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
aka brad said:
This how my SASS is setup; I can't change the gear ratio so I contend it is the fabled exception that proves the rule.
As above:
subliminalshiver said:
Gear ratio is the same, so you've got a singlespeed. I'd say you're riding a fixie when the fixed gear side is on the drive side and freewheel when the freewheel is on the drive side. If the ratios were different, you'd have a two-speed that is sometimes a fixie and sometimes not. As in your example they are the same, your singlespeed is sometimes a fixie and sometimes not.
So I don't think your bike is an exception at all. It's a singlespeed as it has but one possible gear ratio, fixed or free, as long as the ratio is the same.
 

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surly inbred
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umarth said:
This is clearly going to be an argument that I am going to win. I am the Don of SS, the Ruler of Ratios and several other ridiculous honorifics.

Anywho, this is gray ****ing territory, my friends. Singlespeed means a single speed. No one rides solely and only 6, 45 or 5,000 miles per hour. Except me, because I get about as far as the end of my driveway, start missing beer and the cold friendship of mtbr and I head back in, legs weak and ego shattered. But it does make me the only pure SSer, as I stayed at a steady 1.1 mph.

As rational individuals, you all must agree that what I have said is Truth. From here forth, I will be the one who defines SS. Send me a photo of your bike, and if I deem it a SS, it is. Some will be venerated, but there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.
'Bout an hour ago I found some Old Rasputin RIS at the lbs. I thought my day had peaked ...and now this gem? What a day. Sig worthy, my friend.

ps. put me down for option D.
 

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Out spokin'
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subshiver, I'm afraid you might have a tough time wiping this off your shoe.

Best of luck. I know you meant well with the poll and as you're already aware I lean the same direction you do on this argument. But argument is the operative word and I like to avoid these on internet forums (in spite of evidence to the contrary). So I think I'll sit back and munch my popcorn while you tilt at windmills.

Best to you,
ssParty
 

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subliminalshiver said:
No.
Gear ratio is the same, so you've got a singlespeed. I'd say you're riding a fixie when the fixed gear side is on the drive side and freewheel when the freewheel is on the drive side. If the ratios were different, you'd have a two-speed that is sometimes a fixie and sometimes not.
I think you missed the very direct parallel to your own logic. It's "fixed" because of the unique and challenging properties of how the bike rides and operates and especially for the things it gives the rider no choice but to deal with and overcome while riding. In the same way a bike is functionally a singlespeed because of the unique and challenging properties of how the bike rides and operates and especially for the things it gives the rider no choice but to deal with and overcome while riding. If a bike is no longer a "singlespeed" because it can possibly be modified in some way to have a different ratio without stepping into the safe zone of my garage to do said modification, then my fixie can no longer be called "fixed" either

subliminalshiver said:
As in your example they are the same, your singlespeed is sometimes a fixie and sometimes not. I suppose one could try to reason that you're riding a 32x20 singlespeed when that side of the flip-flop is active and a 32x16 singlespeed when the other is side is going, but that still violates the core principle of only one possible ratio per bike. And it's not just "somewhere on your bike". It's not sitting in your bottle cage, or in a seat bag or your camelbak or stuck on the end of the handlebars. It's attached to your drivetrain in a meaningful way. Even if it weren't, and you just carried around the tools intending to make inconvenient gear ratio changes someplace mid-ride, wherever that point may be; on the road commute home in the middle of the night, before a burly climb or for a descent, you really aren't singlespeeding, are you? As you retain the ability to change gears you are still kinda cheating. You're missing the point.
You may have something that could arguably be construed as a singlespeed, but now I think this situation begs a different, more profound, more difficult to answer question: Are YOU really a singlespeeder? :ihih:
I know we'll never convince each other, but all the circuitous and complicated clauses to your distinction between singlespeed and not singlespeed makes me just feel more convinced of my personal distinction.

Why do I have to be a singlespeeder anyway? Can't I just be a guy who rides both singlespeed and geared bikes?
 

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Retro Grouch
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boomn said:
Why do I have to be a singlespeeder anyway? Can't I just be a guy who rides both singlespeed and geared bikes?
You mean there is another way? Damn, anyone know how to erase an old tattoo?
 
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