MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

"SS" BICYCLE BUILD - INTRO

"SS" COMPONENT - CHOICES

CONVERT A "SS" WHEEL

POSITIONING "SS" HUBS

"SS" CRANK/RING SET

ASSEMBLING "SS" FRAME

INSTALL - CHOICES

INSTALL - WHEELS/CRANK

INSTALL - BAR & SADDLE

INSTALL - BRAKE CALLIPERS

INSTALL - ADJUST BRAKES

RIDING THE "SINGLE SPEED"

 

CUSTOMIZED BICYCLES

BICYCLES OF CANADA

 

  

RIDING THE "SINGLE SPEED"

 

One of the nice things about building your own "Single Speed" is the opportunity to create.  Since the bicycle already falls into the customized category, the sky becomes the limit when choosing both looks and performance.  There are no period correct issues.  No color or art must do's.  The builder can seek the really vintage look even though the components might not all be all that vintage.  Or, the builder can seek to deviate as little as possible from original issue and appearance.  Then, of course, function can impact form, allowing for just about any "user friendly" component grouppo one could want.

Though I truly enjoy riding my restored vintage road bicycles, they do leave something to be desired in modern traffic.  The Old School shifters, usually mounted on the down tube, almost always demand that the rider remove his or her hand from the handlebars, in order to execute shifts.  Not only that, but the inexperienced rider will often times feel the need to look down to find the shifters.  Or, worse yet, look to see what gear they are in, once again taking their eyes off of the road.  If the rider reaches down too far, he or she will get their fingers slapped by a front wheel spoke or two.  Please don't laugh - each of these things has happened to me on more than one occasion.  Actually, the finger thing only once and I didn't get hurt.  Just surprised and you know what the second thing I did was?  Yep, I looked down.

But the "Single Speed" bicycle does not have multiple gears to deal with.  One ring driving one cog.  There is no need to shift.  No need to remove one's hands from the bars.  No need to look down to find a shifter or see the gear selected.  Just a hands on the bars experience where all one has to do is pedal, brake and balance.

The "Single Speed" bicycle is a lighter steed from a measured stand point, simply because parts of have been removed.  The "Single Speed" bicycle will feel lighter when lifted or ridden.  The lifting thing is obvious because the bicycle actually weighs less.  The "Single Speed", thanks to the absence of several components, will also look lighter.  But why a lighter ride feel?  Is the bicycle actually more nimble?  Does it accelerate any faster?  Does it stop quicker?

The easy answer is no to all of these questions, however..

Though the bike's geometry has not changed, the "Single Speed" will feel more nimble just because it weighs a bit less.  And because the bicycle is lighter, all other things being equal, it will accelerate faster.  So the bicycle, though little changed will feel lighter, faster, quicker, and more lively.  And that all translates into a lighter feel.   It is also entirely possible that this is a psychological issue of some sort.  Then again, there could be other factors in play here.

The "Single Speed" bicycle will be very easy to pedal when compared to any bicycle other than a road bike.  With a 40 tooth ring driving a 16 tooth cog, the bicycle will be easy to start off on, maintain a comfortable 12 to 15 mph cruising speed with and yet still be able to reach 20+ mph when the legs decide to go there.  And this ease of pedalling is another one of the things that contributes to the feeling of lightness.  If you are used to riding a mountain bicycle, or even a "Single Speed" roadster, you will be amazed at how easily the SS bicycle can be made to go.

Then, of course, there is the psychological impact of the bicycle.  The "Single Speed's" appearance is simplified simply by removing the derailleurs and shifters.  This contributes to a less cluttered, smaller mass look that can easily be thought of as lighter.

I have ridden several "Single Speeds" and they are without a doubt my choice for city traffic.  There are some pretty big hills in Thunder Bay and only a couple force me to hop off and walk.  And when going down those big hills, I coast.  I know that I will run out of gear long before I reach the bottom of the hill, so why waste time pedaling?  But for simple, uninterrupted getting around, the bicycle style cannot be beat, in my humble opinion.  For simplicity of maintenance, the bicycle style is a winner with no transmission to tune thanks to cable stretch, component wear and what ever else it is that causes so many poorly adjusted derailleurs to find their way into The Old Shed.

And for me there is another aspect of the "Single Speed" ride that bears consideration.  No other bicycle, that I have ridden, brings me closer to the bike than does the "Single Speed".  I cannot depend on the transmission for speed or comfort.  If I want to go fast, my legs must get involved.  When running errands around town, I tend to want to get it over with.  This suggests haste and I do tend to ride faster just to get from here to there.  And I must work harder to go faster.  I find that this helps me keep more fit than if I were to rely on the transmission.  This, of course, is a personal issue but those of you who give the "Single Speed" experience an honest try, might come to understand what I mean.

 

 

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