Has my single speed made me faster?

Articles Main Mountain Biking

From what other folks that I ride with have told me, yes it has.

Priscilla, Khoa, and even our very own Speedy Gonzales, Jeremy recently told me that I’m faster on my single speed. Moe, with his new 29er single speed has seen the same benefit as I have.

Here’s why I think I’m faster. First of all, I’m running a 32t in the front and an 18t in the back. This has been the right gearing for me. I had a 17t before and that was too hard to climb, a 20t was too spinnie for me. But what happens is, when I’m on the flats, I HAVE to spin at a higher cadence because of my gearing. Then when I’m about to climb, I have to gain enough momentum in order to make it up to the top.

Another factor that I’m finding is, I HAVE to keep spinning to maintain my momentum. It’s harder to start from a dead stop on a single speed than a multi geared bike. On a 9spd cassette, you can simply shift to the biggest cog and drop to your granny gear. But on a SS…what you have is what you get to work with.

Prime example, on a hill at this morning’s ride, I was spinning at a really high cadence. I had to make sure I kept that speed just so I could sail up the hill. But since I drank beer last night…my legs eventually gave out. I had to stop to rest. When I started again, it was hard to get going at first. So I spun fast enough to get the right speed and cadence to help me get to the top. But I gassed out at the last part of the climb…and I walked. But you get what I’m talking about right?

If you want to try to see how riding a single speed is. Then keep your chain on the middle gear in the front and about the 3rd or 4th gear from the bottom on the back. If you’re a 29er, then try to keep at a 20t in the back. You need a lower gear to get those big wheels moving. You’ll be tempted to shift because you think you’re going slower, but what ever you do, don’t! Spin with it and see how it feels. You’ll be surprised on how great of a work out you’ll get!

RL Policar

RL Policar is an avid mountain biker and the Editor In-Chief of MtnBikeRiders.com and BikeCommuters.com. Between the two sites, he's published well over 4,000 articles (and growing).


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