On the Joys and Pains of Single Speed Cycling

I’m sure that those of you who have started out riding as a kid, first used a single speed bike. It was fun, tiring yet very much fulfilling. When I bought a bike in late 2012 after almost two decades of not using  one, I found gears quite complicated. Though the learning curve was manageable, I felt that riding a bike has become so complex because of the developments in technology (yes, there’s 12 speed gearing now)…but after a couple of years bike commuting, and recently touring, I’ve had a renewed interest in having single speed as part of my stable.

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Arnold Rivera Herrera’s Surly 1×1 after a day tackling trails (Courtesy of Arnold Rivera Herrera )

So why single speed?

It’s simple. Let’s face it. Single speed bikes boast of that clean build. No shifters, corresponding cables and all those gears and derailleurs. It’s clean as it is.

 

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Anton Giron and Jacobo Santiago’s single speed rigs in Infanta, Quezon (Courtesy of Jacobo Santiago)

It’s (almost) maintenance free. Given its simplicity, single speed bikes are easy to maintain-no tune ups, very little adjustments and all those complex things we need to consider with our geared bikes arent a concern anymore.

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My Surly Troll en route to Tagaytay

It saves us stress and worries. Since some of us take a bus going home after a tour, we need not worry about small parts getting crushed or damaged in the compartment. I remember when I did Vigan last October, I just practically removed the front wheel and just stashed my bike on the compartment without being hyperconscious about my drivetrain or cockpit.

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My Surly Crosscheck during the Manila-Vigan Tour

For those doing long distance cycling, single speed riding affords you greater opportunities to get better at pacing and strengthening endurance. As they say, you’re likely to be always in the wrong gear (too slow on flats, too heavy during climbs)-and that allows you to study gearing vis-à-vis route details closely. I’d always think of this during difficulties when using SS-it’s always humbling to travel on your own powers!

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Jim Dell’s Surly Straggler at the Sungay-Talisay Climb (Courtesy of Jim Dell)

But perhaps the nicest thing about single speed cycling is that, it has that charming sentimentality behind it. Personally, I found single speed cycling a tribute to our youth…where cycling was all about adventure and exploration of the great unknown.

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Vincent Palisoc’s SSCX Crosscheck during the ride of hope last 2016 (North Luzon Loop, Courtesy of Vincent Palisoc)

For some who might wonder who’s touring on single speed check, these riders out and hopefully that might inspire you to consider having that ss build for touring!

Markus Stitz’ world tour using single speed

http://markusstitz.com/round-the-world-singlespeed/

Jaime Perez and Arthur Reblando and company’s Cavite to Mindanao Bike tour

https://www.facebook.com/bikepackingph/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

Ride of hope with Vincent Palisoc and company (North Luzon Loop)

https://www.facebook.com/thebreakawayph/

 

featured image-courtesy of Cyrus Misoles (Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Ilocos Sur-Manila to Pagudpud ride)

 

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