Monday, November 13, 2006

And then my therapist said ...

Singlespeeders often make a big deal about the simplicity and purity of their bikes. No technology contaminates their riding experience, dammit.

Well, actually it does. I know this because I passed the same SS rider three times during one lap in this year's 24 Hours of Kincaid. He was younger, fitter and faster, but he was still riding a device susceptible to mechanical malfunction. And that day, my 9-speed derailleur was working a hell of a lot better than his one gear. Every time he got ahead of me and then had to stop and fix his bike, I felt like my XTR deserved a little tongue action.

But I digress. In a disturbing way. The point is, lately I'm seeing a lot more singlespeeds with disc brakes and suspension forks. Isn't that a bit of a contradiction?

OK, I can understand the brake thing because discs are easier to maintain once they're installed and set up. But suspension forks? They require maintenance. And they make it easier to ride technical terrain, just like gears do. So why is a Rock Shox acceptable, but a shifter isn't?

Seems to me, a true purist and lover of simplicity would ride rigid. Anyone who has a suspension fork and only one gear, well, they're just working too hard to ride up hills.

I don't pretend to be a purist. I'm a technology slut. (Why else would I think of a derailleur and tongue action?)

I give myself to the granny gear and beg for hot, sweaty mercy.


Anonymous said...

You got a point there. Maybe the dirt riders should consider why they went singlespeed in the first place.

On the street however many fixee riders move towards simplicity. It is rare that someone should clutter up a good fixie or singlespeed with extra stuff except maybe fenders or lights for a commuter. In fact many fixie riders aspire to remove that last piece of optional hardware and go brakeless.

I'm not about to trade in my regular road bike just yet but since I added a fixie to my stable, it sees a lot less road. There is something about the simplicity; the feeling; the control; and the look on someone's face when I pass 'em on a track bike.

Jeff said...

I think a single speed should be rigid. Lightness is your friend on a single speed, and you can save a pound or two by running a rigid fork. I run a 2.5 tire in the front at 32 psi, and the 27 inch bars on my bike have a little bit of twang to them. It's like having an inch of travel. I converted a full suspension bike to a single speed one time, and it just isn't the same...too complicated and too heavy.

I have rim brakes on my single speed, but I don't think disc brakes would be bad. I like to ride my single speed in the winter, and the sand and snow wear down the rim brake pads they don't stop too well when they're wet.

This debate kind of reminds me of when I see a Honda Gold Wing or some other touring motorcycle. Windshield, stereo, cigarette lighter, pulling a trailer...why not just drive a car at this point?

Anonymous said...

Those SS guys are all freaks. Freaks do things we can't understand. If we understood it, we would be freaky too.

Don't ask why. It won't help you.