La vie de vélo

Adventures in cycling and life

Singlespeed vs. Gears at Lory

I’ve been riding a singlespeed for years; I think i converted my old S-Works M2 hardtail to SS in summer 2001. I’ve always loved riding them but never raced them. I decided the local XC race at Lory State Park would be my testing grounds. Last week I raced with gears, this week on my SS. Of course I cant do anything without making it an analytical numbers game… so here’s the breakdown of singlespeed v. gears.

3×9 drivetrain Singlespeed
Specs Salsa Mamasita w/ Reba Race 80mm Fisher Rig w/ Fox F29 80 mm
Gearing 22-32-44 chainrings with 11-32 cassette 32×18 SS
Weight (lbs) 24.2 24.8
Race Date Aug 03 2010 Aug 10 2010
Overall Time (Average HR) 1:02:53 (170bpm) 1:03:02 (163bpm)
Timber Climb #1 11:53 (171bpm) 12:18 (166bpm)
Timber Climb #2 12:34 (172bpm) 12:08 (168bpm)
Valley Loop 24:24 (172bpm) 24:44 (166 bpm)

And the graphs…

Racing Geared:

Racing Singlespeed:

Some thoughts:

  • The SS race was 2 days after my XTERRA race so I approached it a bit more mellow.
  • Though my HR and my exertion were noticably lower for the SS race, I only finished 9 seconds slower than gears.
  • Climbing times were more consistent and running negative splits. Theres no way to slow down on a climb with a SS – you gots to keep pushing!
  • My HR recovered a lot more on the downhills on the SS. Notice all the little dips in my HR on the SS graph whereas the HR for my geared race is steady. Rather than push the downhills and fast flats, I just relaxed and saved my energy for the climbs.
  • I wish I had a cadence sensor on my SS, i was cranking out 110 rpms for a lot of the valley loop. That combination of fast spinning, resting, then forceful cranking feels so much different than keeping a steady 80 rpm with moderate force the whole way. A power meter would help show this too .. maybe Santa will bring me a MTB Powertap.
  • I can say with some confidence that on this course (really a middle ringer the whole way), the SS is at no overall disadvantage. What it lacks in dieseling the flats, it gains by allowing some spinning and resting, forcing you to save the hard efforts for the climbs.
  • Oh and it’s hard to get good positioning on a fireroad start when you’re battling guys with gears!

Its a whole different challenge and I will definitely be bringing the SS out to more races next year if the course is right.


August 11, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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