Singlespeed

Eight days later, I’ve had ample time to reflect on the Hampshire 100 mountain bike race. It was hard, real hard. Earlier this summer, I toyed around with the idea of getting a singlespeed mountain bike. When I signed up for the Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run, I thought about entering the singlespeed category as a push towards getting a new bike. I didn’t do it, but I’m still thinking about it for the future.

Last year, I converted my commuter bike, an Ibis Hakkalugi, to singlespeed. I’ve enjoyed the singlespeed experience. The 14 mile (each way) commute is easier in the morning because it is slightly downhill all the way to Hartford. In the afternoon, the ride takes 10 to 15 minutes longer because the route is slightly different (to avoid traffic) and uphill most of the way.

As for the singlespeed mountain bike, I just think the simplicity of it would be cool. I was definitely wishing I had a singlespeed at mile 60 of the Hampshire 100  when my rear derailleur was reversed 180 degrees and wedged in my spokes. I was thinking, “Gee, wouldn’t it be convenient to have not had a derailleur at all right now? I would still be pedaling instead of standing here on the side of the trail with my hands on my head and my derailleur jammed in my wheel.” Of course, I would have had to have ridden the previous 60 miles without gears. That isn’t easy and pushing a big gear all of the time can do a job on your knees. 

Check the results, there were guys in front of me who rode singlespeed. Gears aren’t always an advantage. The argument could be made that you walk more on the uphills and end up spun out on the big downhills, but that in the end, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. Your cadence changes depending on the grade, but for the most part, you ride steady. There must be stats out there that prove singlespeed bikes have less mechanical problems. Without gears and shifting mechanisms, they are lighter. 

I think I’ll make the switch for 2009.

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