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Why one speed? Ten things to think about

Posted by RL Policar On September - 9 - 2008

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We asked Eric Hunner, a single speed rider to provide us a guest article that helps geared riders understand why so many people are doing it.

Just in case you wanted to know, Eric is a pretty legit rider, here’s a BIO on him:

Eric Hunner age 30,
245 pounds, 225 fighting weight, married, one child, mechanic, home: South Orange County. Started riding mountain bikes in second grade. Began riding SS seriously 2002. Racing on SS Counting Coup 2008, set a new SS course record. Raced the Traverse 2008, finished in the extreme heat. Leisure riding Whiting, Aliso/Laguna, and Saddleback Mountain. On a race riding a 9 speed bike @ 24Hour Hurkey Creek 2007, he was frustrated by all the single speeds passing him. Eric thought it was time for change. He has been running SS in the last two races trouble free, he stated “it was hard but worth the extra effort.”

Ok enough of the introductions, I present to you Eric Hunner’s article.

No Gears, No suspension, No problem. I ride Rigid Single Speed mountain bikes for a variety of reasons.
single speed santa cruz

1. Most importantly it is simple. By simple, I mean to maintain, or total lack of maintenance. You can get on your bike and know it is going to run hard and not be upset that you didn’t wipe her down, pump up the shocks, and oil the chain right before the big ride. No derailleurs to adjust, chains last a lot longer no fear about a bad shift that tweaks the chain and breaks right when hammering down.

2. I ride to get away from all of life’s distractions, it is easier to change your cadence then changing gears when going uphill and keep your flow, such as driving up and over a rock pile in the middle of a trail that every one else is taking the safe easy way around, great passing opportunity.

3. You find out exactly what you are made of when riding a familiar loop. Single Speeds are great training tools, you just don’t have the option to bail out on a climb to an easier ratio, you find out real quick how strong you really are.

4. No gym required. Riding SS aggressively is a full body work out and a great personal challenge. Set goals on making a hill climb and keep trying till to make it. I have lost weight kept it off and gained muscle just by riding SS.

5. Knowledge gained while riding SS is transferred to all other forms of riding. Bike handling skills improve due the fact you are always in the same gear and can concentrate on how to plant the tires instead thinking what gear should I be in.

6. King of the hill, first one up first one down. Time gained on climbing can be used going down hill when the others are still climbing with their geared bikes.

7. Sand crossings are not and issue, you carry your speed pulling bigger ratios than your geared counterparts that ran out of speed and gas half way though the sand.

8. The respect from other riders single and geared calling out “Go SINGLE” in races will give the energy to finish.

9. SS look cool, No clutter on the bars. They are easier on the wallet as well, my first SS was around $500.00 a Redline Monocog in 2002. 3800 miles later and only $300.00 it still rolls today.

10.I feel like a kid again on an over grown BMX bike

Eric Hunner

10 Responses to “Why one speed? Ten things to think about”

  1. RL Policar says:

    Thanks to this article, I’ve already placed an order for a KHS Rigid One fork to install on my Gary Fisher “red rocket.”

  2. Joe S. says:

    One day I want to build a rigig SS. I do love the simplicity of a SS and the work that comes with it.

  3. RL Policar says:

    I should have mine ready to go this Thursday!

  4. Geir E says:

    1. Most importantly it is simple.

    A hardtail isn’t very hard to maintain either. I haven’t pumped my fork for a couple of years. it keeps the air very well thank you. I wash it down and oil the chain after every trip. only time I need to adjust the derailleurs is after changing wire because of the initial stretching.

    Beside, just tell yourself to use that particular gear on your favorite bike for the entire trip and you get the SS feeling without spending money on making your bicycle dumb and have less resale value. not to mention having to buy a bicycle frame with the right dropout, wheelsets with one cog and a new crankset. All that money wasted just to be “cool”.

    But by all means. It’s not my money you’re spending. And for clutter – go for gripshift if the bar is getting too crowded. ;)

  5. albert says:

    hey, great great article. i am at what you would defenitely call the entry level of riding. i have now a kinda dual purpose bike, just put on new knobbies and new pedals to help me on the trails and in the woods. I have been going back and forth on the idea of single speed. The bikes look brutal, strong and simple, perfect for me.I also am into just hopping on and going as i have no experience in fixing bikes. I want that motobecane outcast, as it would be easy on the wallet, and a really good buy. Would it be cool to maybe upgrade to a front shock after a while, or would that mess up the bikes set up??..thanx 4 the great read, now i gotta have one..al

  6. Ghost Rider says:

    Albert, that Motobecane looks like a nice entry-level singlespeed. If you can find a suspension fork that matches the axle-to-crown measurements of the existing rigid fork, you should have no problem throwing a “boinger” on the front of that bike. The bike is set up as “suspension-corrected” already, so it should be a piece of cake to make the swap.

  7. albert says:

    ghostrider, thanx for the chat back! ya, the more i hear about these single speeds, the more i like the idea. I am just wondering if the stock chain will be ok for some hill climbing, and if the bike is big enough. Like i said, I am new to all this, but I am what I found to be called a “clydesdale” lololol i am 230 lbs, and i dont want to break the bike. As for my ride, i do the trails, some hills, etc, but I do hit the roots and rocks hard.

  8. Eric says:

    Albert, The stock chain should be fine for about 300-400 miles. I like running the SRAM 971 on my SS the E-Z quick link is key. I have learned my lesson’s before, carry an old extra chain with a new E-Z link in case you snap a chain unless you like hiking. Ride the bike rigid as long as you can stand it. You may love it not bobbing on uphill climbs. Run your tires with more psi to prevent pinch flats when running rigid.

  9. albert says:

    thanx again to all for the feedback. as a matter of fact, the thinking is over…….i ordered the beast yesterday morning {thank you discover card lolol} anyway, looking forward to it, and i will take into consideration all the hints you guys have given to me. like i said, i am sure it will be fun, and it will all work itself out, the only real concern i had was my size, but nobody has said anything negative, so i will take that as a good sign. heres to living large!!! p.s. i called my sister colleen a “mtb diva” since she wants a real pricy cannondale lololo

  10. Mike Lammers says:

    I feel like a kid again on an over grown BMX bike (which incorporates all the other arguments).
    Cool.

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