All entries for Thursday 28 September 2006

September 28, 2006

Winter singlespeed

Follow-up to Summer Singlespeed from Secret Plans and Clever Tricks

I love my Inbred . I’ve been riding it almost exclusively over the summer, mostly at Cannock, but also for pootling round town, trips out with the kiddie-seat / tag-along, and even the odd commute in and out of work. One of the best things about it is that you pretty much never have to clean it – no derailleur means no need to worry about the state of the chain. So it seemed like an interesting possibility for a winter bike.

However, the rigid forks, whilst great fun through the woods, are too unforgiving for me when I’m out over rocky terrain. I ended up creeping down stuff at 2 mph, waiting for the front end to hook up and throw me over the handlebars. So, ebay furnished me with a nearly-new pair of MX Comps; forks whose primary claim to fame is not so much the plush suspension action as their complete imperviousness to mud and grime. A perfect match for the singlespeed, then.

So, with new bouncy-front end, I took the bike up to the Peaks for an inaugural spin round. The burning question: Is a single gear any use in the peaks, or would I just end up walking all the climbs and spinning out on the descents? And the answer? A resounding “Yes it is; No I wont” :-)

We rode a loop from Wildboarclough, out to Macclesfield Forest, down through the forest to the dam, up from the Leather’s Smithy pub to Charity Lane, down Charity Lane to Forest Gate, up to the Cat and Fiddle, over the moors to Three Shires Heads, up to Turn Edge, on to the Llama Farm at Flash, down into Gradbach, over Burntcliff Top and then down the road to ford Clough Brook, then back to the car. About 20 miles, and a metric shed-load of climbing.

There were only 3 sections where I got off and pushed; The last 50 yards on the road up to Charity Lane, the steep drive up from the Llama farm, plus a couple of dabs on the climb up from 3 shires head (which I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned on a hardtail, though I have on the Coiler). The two road climbs I could have got up, I think, but I was a bit worried about pulling a muscle. The big climb up to the Cat & Fiddle was no problem at all :-). So in other words, whilst it was a bit more effort than the geared hardtail, it was no less effective. And the only time I wished for a higher gear was on the road descent back to Clough Brook, where to be honest I was quite happy just freewheeling at 30 MPH.

The lighter back-end of the singlespeed seems to make it easier to flick about on the loose, rocky climbs, too, which is a definite bonus. This could, of course, just be down to the Genius Frame Designer – on-ones, and inbreds in particular, have a reputation for handling much better than their price-points would suggest, and this one certainly fits into that category. It just seem to go where you tell it to, whether on the climbs or the descents. Very pleasing.

The only downside was that I ended up with a bit of a sore back from thrutching the bike up some of the steeper climbs. But I expect that with practice, that’ll stop. And it was great to be able to get home, throw the mud-encrusted machine back into the garage without a thought to cleaning, and know that It’ll be ready for me the next time…

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