Single Speed Fraud

26 Jan

I’m a fraud. I’ve been riding and racing a single speed mountain bike for many years and thinking I’m pretty cool. I’m not.

I don’t own a geared mountain bike so I think I’m entitled to opine about single speeds.

Pretty much every race I’ve ever raced a spectator or fellow racer will comment on the fact that I’m on a single speed. I just kind of smile and cruise on by. It makes me feel cool and like a fraud all at the same time. The dirty little secret is that in a lot of situations it’s actually an advantage to be on a single speed.

I’ll be the first to admit that I love passing someone on a geared bike and having them say, “Damn! dude, that is hardcore.” It feels great. there is no denying it. Here’s the thing though, It’s not hardcore. I have suffered way more on a geared bike than I ever have on a single speed. Yep, it’s true, single speeding is easier than gears. You get more breaks and recovery time on a single.


I’ve heard a number of single speeders announce that they just did such and such ride and that they were on a single speed no less. I say, big deal, you cheated.

It’s time to abolish the single speed category at all mountain bike races. Dug and I have discussed this for a few months and think you should race whatever category happens to be your ability but race it on your singlespeed. There doesn’t need to be a separate class for singlespeeders. It’s not a handicap nor a badge of honor. We need to get over ourselves. It’s fun and we know its special but we don’t need our own class. That’s just dumb.

I vow to not race in the single speed class anymore forever and ever. Amen.

20 Responses to “Single Speed Fraud”

  1. Forrest January 26, 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    Your right! I just have no idea what category I am?

  2. jamie p January 27, 2008 at 12:31 am #

    First off, is that my old rim (bike) you’re abusing down in Moab in that photo?
    Cool, never cared for that rim.
    Second, I can’t tell you how glad the SS class is that you’ve made this vow. Now can you get Kenny to make the same vow?

    Seriously,I have been feeling the same way. Expert 40 plus on the SS seems like a bigger challenge for me.

  3. brkeyes7 January 27, 2008 at 8:07 am #

    forrest-Expert. Duh!

    jamie p-Expert 40+ is going to hurt on any bike. I think we’re up for it. Was that a Salsa Delgado rim? It had some good hook-up.

  4. Tony January 27, 2008 at 7:56 pm #

    Is that the same rim that squeeks every revolution? Geez BK, can’t imagine how it got that way.

  5. tolbert January 28, 2008 at 8:53 am #

    good call but somebody better tell gallager and kenny or they will continiue to go beat up on the young bucks,

    singlespeeds are for girls and beach cruisers

  6. dug January 28, 2008 at 9:31 am #

    singlespeeds are for everyone. but calling attention to your singlespeed is for girls and people who ride beach cruisers. ride what ya got.

    we don’t have special classes for front suspension or rear suspension, we don’t care what your lowest cog is, or disc or rim brakes, aluminum vs steel, WHY do we have a singlespeed class? if you choose to dispense with your gears, good on ya, but to tell people about it is vanity.

    course, if someone ASKS, well then, that’s an invitation to spread the gospel.

  7. KanyonKris January 28, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    Good on ya Brad, (and others?) for breaking out of the SS category! Pretty gutsy. But maybe I just don’t buy your argument that there isn’t that much diff between SS and geared bikes. When I try to envision riding a SS, I also picture my knees exploding. At the St. George race last year I admired a SS guy pass us lowly 40+ Sports, but he had to wait for passing areas and his crank rpms were so slow I don’t know how he did it. I can’t give up my training gears yet. πŸ™‚

  8. kenny January 28, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    i’ve raced 40+ on my single speed before and have done well. That third lap kicks your ass. I think the compitition is equally as tough in the ss cat. The reason I like the ss cat is that it doesnt have categories for gender, age or ability. You race against any one that shows up without gears, including the women and pros or semi pros. If you win in the geared cats you’re still racing against men between 40 and 50 of similar abilities.

  9. kenny January 28, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    hey… I got a good section of the rim ride on my garmin on saturday. It will be good to have that single track section between gold bar and the portal. It’s hard to follow. the blue lines are really faded. I still need you to send me jamies cd so i can load some topo on my etrex. I’m going up to sandy on wensday. maybe we could meet at starbucks.

  10. dug January 28, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    kenny, what you’re looking for is an OPEN class. but why make it dependent on gears?

  11. LyndaW February 4, 2008 at 9:33 pm #

    but..but…I love racing with you guys in the SS class. I’ve gotta bling bling SS build in process too.

  12. wunnspeed February 22, 2008 at 1:55 am #

    Interesting thoughts on SS riding/racing. It’s what I love and I too find it easier in many situations than riding geared. Hmmm.

  13. jules March 6, 2008 at 9:06 am #

    Amen Brother…. having raced both the ss class and reg class i completely agree Singlespeeders do not need a separate class. i as well will not ride the Handicap class again, just ride your age and ability.

    Also that bit about ss class being more laid-back and just having fun is hogwash every race i did they were just as competitive.

  14. ET May 29, 2008 at 5:11 pm #

    OUCH, I cant help but feel that directed in my way a little bit after last night. I felt much less pressure in the Singespeed group than the Pro group, honestly.

  15. ET May 29, 2008 at 6:02 pm #

    just noticed the post was from January……silly me, nice work last night!!

  16. Marky February 15, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    If you can ride just as fast on a SS you dont know how to use your gears properly πŸ™‚ he he. ….PS, I ride XC SS MTB, SS comuter 27″, DH bike with gears, XC bike with gears, BMX (SS obviously). I live in NZ but used to live and ride in the UK. I can manage the same rides much faster on my geared XC bike no matter what SS ratio I use (only exception is really flat areas)

  17. MARK September 2, 2009 at 8:10 am #


  18. Brad Sneed January 5, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    I will have my Vassago Jabberwocky built some time next week. It will be fun to see how I do next year in my 40 + cad. I’m just love riding any bikes…1st or 10th it’s all good. Point 2 point, now that will be a long day out of the saddle.

  19. Steve February 14, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    wow… Right on man

  20. The Crayfish August 17, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    I raced single-speed in the mid-80’s in N Cal. Back then there were 5, maybe 6 guys that showed up at the races with no gears (we had no suspension or clipless pedals back then). My bike was built from a schwiinn supersport frame found in a dump and salvaged parts. We (the SSers) always were in the top 10-20% of riders, (pros like Joe Murray, Jackie Phalen, John Tomac), but we rode against each other for the friendship, fun and beer at the end. You were pretty much guaranteed a spot on the podium (if there was one).

    Can’t see why you would want to ruin that except for a reverse kind of ego!

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