Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Somebody stop me

"You may ask yourself, am I right? Am I wrong?
You may say to yourself, my god, what have I done?"
—Talking Heads, "Once In a Lifetime"

Holy shitballs, I must be out of my mind.

After years of calling singlespeeds a dumb fad, I've broken down and converted my old Stumpjumper so that I can see what all the excitement is about.

I'm not a convert, just an experimenter. Like most people, the first bikes I rode as a kid were singlespeeds. We didn't call them that, they just were. And I remember pushing a bike up a steep hill every hot summer afternoon on my way home from the town swimming pool.

That's why I place good derailleurs somewhere up there with vaccines and indoor plumbing. They make life better.

But I've known too many people who added a singlespeed to their collection and found that they loved it, so now I have to give it a try. They say this will make me stronger, and I like the sound of that. I'll have to wait and see how my knees like the extra work.

My goal is to make it through the sloppy mess of spring without worrying about gunked-up derailleurs, and then decide how I feel. For all I know, the new Surly Singleator and other bits will be in a spare-parts box by July, and I'll be pulling out my cable cutters and re-installing a drivetrain for sane people.

For now, well ... it does look kinda cool.


Fat Lad said...

Ye Gods!! I have never understood the desire to take out the bits of bicycle evolution that work...

Fat Lad

(good luck with the ineveitable creaky knees!)

Tim said...

Well, if it helps any of this nonsense seem slightly less insane, my drivetrain was due for replacement anyway.

Invest in Advil stock. It's about to go up.

Victor Chisholm said...

Perhaps I appreciate my single-speed even more in winter. (I commute by bike year-round in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.) Shifting's tricky when things get sticky (or frozen). Plus fewer gears = less surface area to collect slush (and therefore less yucky junk to melt away when I take my bike inside). Have fun!

1234567890 said...

Sniff... Reminds my of my first time. I thought it was the stupidest idea ever, I could not understand how people could climb hills at all. My rear hub needed work, so I borrowed the SS wheel from my road bike as an experiment.

I haven't ridden a geared mountain bike in almost two years now, other than my Pugsley.

YMMV, but it's one of those things that you can fall in love with or probably hate.

I had some knee issues, they seemed to get better from riding SS. You develop a lot of strength, but for the first while you definitely feel the strain on your knees.

I find I'm usually out of the saddle almost as much as I am sitting down, so that really helps keep your knees limber.

Anyways, good luck!

Jeff Moser said...

Hard to tell, but I imagine this is a hard tail? My 1st single speed experiment was a full suspension bike, and it didn't work out so well. If you're running a front suspension fork, I think a lock out would be a necessity. I like a rigid fork to keep the weight and complexity down, but I also ride some pretty smooth terrain. I compensate with big tires.

My hard tail's fork is at Fox getting $350 worth of repairs, so I've been on the single speed for days now. Pure and simple. I love it!

If you find you get chain skip with that Singleator, change the spring to push up instead of down. You'll get one or two more teeth engaging the rear cog that way.

I'm proud of you for finally trying!

Tim said...

Yup, it's a hard-tail, Jeff. Well, it used to be. Now it's fully rigid since I dumped the old suspension fork and put on a Surly Instigator for my commute. Got tired of destroying seals in cold weather.

It'll be mostly just an ice bike in winter, and a slick-equipped commuter in summer.

Jeff Moser said...

How do Pugsley tires do on ice?

Tim said...

On ice, they're about as useful as regular tires, which is pretty damned useless. They seem a tad more stable, but not much.

I definitely prefer a layer of snow under Endomorphs.

Unknown said...

Well, this explains the post about the slotted screws. BTW, not sure what your issue was with those, I haven't had any problem removing them to convert bikes to SS.

I disagree that a lockout front is a necessity. Plenty of SS 29ers running around my neck of the woods with non-lockout front suspension. But, we don't have long climbs here. Tough, both my SS are rigid (26in with Nokians for snow/ice and a 29er).

I think you will find this a nice change of pace. The simplicity is refreshing.

Tim said...

The slotted nuts, and the related tool, are a pretty crappy combination when an old bolt is seized up. I had one on that crank that had to be drilled out after the slotted nut got stripped.

Jeff Moser said...

I guess I was being geographically centered on my "necessity" comment. Living at the base of the Sierra Nevada, I'm climbing for most of my ride. This includes a lot of standing. The constant bobbing would be annoying and inefficient for me. I can see it being great for rolling terrain though where you just had short climbs here and there.

JordyB said...

Ahh, singlespeed, I stared this fall and fell in love. I hope you will too!

The Donut Guy said...

I had a SS for a couple years....I absolutely loved it.

My 49 year old knees did not.

Vito said...

You will love it!!!

Punkatronick said...

Welcome to the darkside... Although, when you do the transition of single speed or fixed gear, then you decide to ride a multigear bike, it kind of feels like having sex with your old high school girlfriend after ten years. Yep that bad, keep it single speed brother.