Single speed commute - 13km each way

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Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby De Profundis » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:17 pm

Hi guys
First time poster here. New to cycling and researching bikes.
Appreciate your feedback on the following.
I have a 13km each way commute, dead flat but half of it is an exposed section of the Swan River (Perth).
Is a single speed a silly idea? It gets quite windy. I am moderately fit.
Single speed appeals because I have a family and home renovations ongoing, so very little time and money for bike maintenance. The bike will be kept outdoors and undercover.
Thanks!
T
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by BNA » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:49 pm

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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby Boognoss » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:49 pm

13km flat would be a dream, although I life on the other side of the country and don't know the specifics of Perth.

I mix up my 24km each way commute with a SS bike some of the time, and have about 400m climbing each way too. If I can do that anyone can do half the distance without hills :wink:
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby CLP1972 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:54 pm

I do a similar length commute on a single speed, as well as a few extended rides after work. Key point is to find a gear ratio that works well for you so that you can comfortably ride it day after day :)
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby ldrcycles » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:03 pm

I've done my hilly 42k each way commute on the single speed a few times and it's pretty good, as above it's all about getting the right gear for your legs and terrain.
As you say, with a single speed the maintenance is very minimal, big fat chain that will take a lot of use, no shifter cables, no spindly little cassette teeth, love it.
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby human909 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:09 pm

Its quicker easier and less fiddling to get a geared bike. If necessary get one with hub gears then you get the best of both worlds.

Single speeds are for fashion.
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby Percrime » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:22 pm

single speeds are for lazy trackies to get some sort of training effort out of. And for pub bikes cos its cheaper
THat ride is perfect for a SS
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby dougalh » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:39 pm

Presuming your talking about the freeway? It's a great idea. I commute 7ks (nothing compared to some people I know) on my fixie up kings park from nedlands but get around a fair bit on my bike (its that or public transport). My girlfriend lives in Applecross so pushing into the freo doctor along the freeway and mounts bay road is a good challenge and SS is great for low maintenance and cost. Unless you crash it like i did and have to buy a new fork because you bent it...
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby Philipthelam » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:08 pm

SS will be ok for your commute...

But if you have money you could go with something with a belt drive (even less maintenance!). Something like the Avanti inc 2 seems great for commuting
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby Chris249 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:06 am

Out of interest, is there really much less maintenance on a SS?

I find that my gears (which range from cheapies like 2200/Sora, up to Ultegra) take very little tweaking and cleaning. Given that fixing the occasional flat takes me longer on the fixie (due to having to mess about with track bolts and re-setting the back wheel) and I sometimes change gear inches, it seems to take about as much maintenance per k.

Others may have very different experiences, of course.
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby sb944 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:24 am

I don't think it will be a real challenge for a flat commute, given a little practice. I bought a Reid Harrier for a hilly 13km commute, and took only about 6 weeks of commutes until I had no hills on my commute I couldn't climb with it. That said, I started really getting frustrated on flats and downhills once I was fitter.

In my opinion it's a great cheap way to try out the sport, and if you don't get serious you've spent next to nothing and should have no problem commuting on that bike, and if you do get serious, then you can buy a nice expensive road bike later on, and you haven't wasted a medium amount of money on a bike you won't want in 6 months.
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby Alistair » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:13 pm

A single speed sounds perfect for what you want. I love mine and use it daily, and only ever ride the roadie when there are serious hills to get over.

I find that the SS needs significantly less maintenance than my geared bikes, and when it is in need of attention it will still function fine and get me to work.

Just make sure you pick a ratio that will allow you to push into a decent headwind.
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby ldrcycles » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:09 pm

Chris249 wrote:Out of interest, is there really much less maintenance on a SS?


It's not really a big difference, it's not like you have to change shifter cables or rebuild derailleurs every week, for me it's more a matter of having fewer things to break or need adjusting. Apart from the occasional clean and lube of the chain i don't do anything on my singlespeed.
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby De Profundis » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:19 pm

Excellent feedback, thanks!
Surprised at the support for the SS, maybe due to the thread title?

Anyway, yes Dougalh, I'm talking Kwinana freeway, I'm in Alfred Cove, so it's similar to your Applecross ride.

Sb944 you hit the nail on the head, whatever I buy could be a white elephant though I will certainly get into a geared road bike if I get into it,which I hope to. The ss is a minimum investment.

Ps. I'd imagine maintenance becomes a differentiator moreso at the low low end where I'm looking.
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby nickobec » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:02 pm

I assume you are south of the river and half your commute is along the Kwinana Freeway PSP from Mount Henry Bridge to the CBD.

I regular commutes 42km from Kwinana to Perth (3 times or more a week), including that section along the river. I do slack off and do not ride home that often (lucky if once a week). I regularly use a 52x16 (86 gear inch) singlespeed for my commuting (about once a week). It is well geared for the commute to the CBD, though the trip through the CBD is interesting and riding home into the sea breeze can turn into a grind.

So a 13km each way commute on a singlespeed should not be an issue.

You need to find the right gear ratio for your. I do not recommend 86 gear inches, it took me a couple of years to build up to that, and even with that experience and decent leg strength, riding into a stiff sea breeze can be frustrating at times.

I would suggest starting around 70 gear inches to balance the lack of top speed with a tailwind,with a decent cadence when riding into the sea breeze. Then
slowly building it up.
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby high_tea » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:19 am

Chris249 wrote:Out of interest, is there really much less maintenance on a SS?

I find that my gears (which range from cheapies like 2200/Sora, up to Ultegra) take very little tweaking and cleaning. Given that fixing the occasional flat takes me longer on the fixie (due to having to mess about with track bolts and re-setting the back wheel) and I sometimes change gear inches, it seems to take about as much maintenance per k.

Others may have very different experiences, of course.

Yeah, I've ridden thousands of k on Sora and it's pretty robust. Cheap cheap bikes might be another matter. I've not tried it, but I'd rather a cheap singlespeed (e.g. a Repco Preset, which I've read good things about) than a cheap multispeed.
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby Mugglechops » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:58 am

nickobec wrote:
I would suggest starting around 70 gear inches to balance the lack of top speed with a tailwind,with a decent cadence when riding into the sea breeze. Then
slowly building it up.


I am running 70 inches on my fixie and on the flat it's fine. Even small hills are ok. With that gearing it's fairly easy to avg about 26-27km/h without spinning out too much.
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby ldrcycles » Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:17 pm

My 46-16 is 76.9 inches, i can spin that out easily if i'm really pushing, but i wouldn't want TOO much harder for hills. My first SS was 52-16, 88 inches, and that was just painful, but i was pretty slow back then. Might give it a shot again one of these days.
My Repco Preset is 44-16, 73.6", doesn't quite work for me like the 77".
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Re: Single speed commute - 13km each way

Postby nickobec » Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:46 pm

The main issue for De Profundis is not hills, but the 13km commute home into 20 to 30 kph gusting to 30 to 50 kph headwinds.

My first attempt on a 42x16 into the sea breeze for 12km commute to the 2nd closest train station was painfully slow and got passed by a lot of geared bikes.

But after riding that for a while and spinning out on the commutes to work, I upgraded to 52x19 then 18, 17 and now 16.

Pushing 52x16 into the sea breeze is hard work, but I am fit enough to manage a cadence of 60 or higher, (which I could not manage on my first attempt on a 42x16) and generally pass far many more geared bikes than pass me.
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