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Terrain?

Would probably play a big role in determining if a 40 mi RT commute on a singlespeed makes sense. Big mountains? Probably not the best choice. Bike path/flattish/some rises and descents? - pick your gearing.

On my (shortish) fixed gear (39x16) commute I have no qualms. I like the simplicity, the silence, the ease of maintenance, the ability to steer with one hand, hold a pizza in the other and use legs to help with the braking...the fixie certainly gives me better control in poor conditions.

If I had to do it again (and I do think about this) I would go with some kind of internally geared rear wheel - it would help when pulling the 2 year old + groceries around on the weekend.

Regards,
 

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I commute 56 miles round trip on my fixed gear. I can't do it every day for a number of reasons, but the reasons have nothing to do with my bike being a fixed gear. My route is pretty flat except for six miles near work and it takes me about the same amount of time riding my fixed gear as my geared bike.

That said, a bike with gears can meet your requirements for steel and durability. It will just require a little more maintenance.
 

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I just took the leap of faith towards a single-speed road bike myself (sorry, no digital camera in my house). I can't complain, though admittedly my rides are mostly flat and over rolling hills. I tested the Bianchi San Jose (out of curiousity) when buying my recent bike, and it felt very nice: plenty burly, but smooth over the rough stuff. As mentioned earlier, if you live near steep hills, it might not be best, but for everything else, it's tops. Ease of maintenance, simplicity in riding, etc. Also, the San Jose has all the commuter perks (ability to run wide/studded tires, room for fenders, etc.) I have noticed on my beater commuter, however, that the more I load my messenger pack, the more laborious the ride becomes...
 

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I like SS and Fixies....

and commute 40 miles (round trip) 2 to 3 times a week. My terrain is rolling with 3 really big up and down hills.

Honestly, the fixed and SS typically take 15 minutes longer in each direction than the geared bike takes. So when time is critical, I opt for the multi-geared bike.

If time is a factor, then you may want to consider multi-geared. But, the workout you get on a SS or Fixed is way more intense than the multi-geared.

As far as durability, steel will out last you, even with the worse weather you can throw at it. Components are much more of an issue. If you want simplicity in a multi-geared, look into down tube friction shifters or bar-con friction shifters. Either of these will rarely need any type of adjustments.

Just my 2 cents worth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm so confused, can you tell?!?!?

In addition to commutting to and form work, I want to use the bike for shoping and maybe touring. Essentially, I want to avoid using my car, unless I have to. My thinking now is, perhaps I should just get a Surly Long Haul Trucker, for it seems to be the end all, do all bike.
 

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I'd recommend getting a Cross-Check w/road tires for commuting & a Long Haul Trucker for touring.

I love my CC & highly recommend it as a commuter or short distance bike. I'm not a touring expert, but the CC might be "adequate" as a tourer as well. I think the Cross Check is the only bike you can obtain from Surly already built up - my dealer provided road tires and pedals - I like my Cross-Check very much. If all my bikes got stolen, it's the first one I'd replace - I use it more than the others.

BTW - w/a Cross-Check, you can build it as or change it to a SS, geared, whatever - it's a great "do it all" bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
here is my concern with the cross check

Steel_SSer said:
I'd recommend getting a Cross-Check w/road tires for commuting & a Long Haul Trucker for touring.

I love my CC & highly recommend it as a commuter or short distance bike. I'm not a touring expert, but the CC might be "adequate" as a tourer as well. I think the Cross Check is the only bike you can obtain from Surly already built up - my dealer provided road tires and pedals - I like my Cross-Check very much. If all my bikes got stolen, it's the first one I'd replace - I use it more than the others.

BTW - w/a Cross-Check, you can build it as or change it to a SS, geared, whatever - it's a great "do it all" bike.

my concern is this . . . can i use it, fully loaded to carry food and the like home . . . i think the long haul might be better for this . . . thoughts?
 

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Country Road Bob

Check out the Van Dessel Country Road Bob.

http://www.vandesselsports.com/crb.php?bike=9

It has track ends and a rear derailleur hanger. I had a custom bike built-up like this a couple years ago. It's great versatility. With two rear wheels, a spliced break in your gear cable housings, and a second right-side crank arm, you can easily switch between geared, fixed (or SS). Campy shifters work better than Shimano for this two-mode set-up because of the interal cable routing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
steel frame please!

PdxMark said:
Check out the Van Dessel Country Road Bob.

http://www.vandesselsports.com/crb.php?bike=9

It has track ends and a rear derailleur hanger. I had a custom bike built-up like this a couple years ago. It's great versatility. With two rear wheels, a spliced break in your gear cable housings, and a second right-side crank arm, you can easily switch between geared, fixed (or SS). Campy shifters work better than Shimano for this two-mode set-up because of the interal cable routing.
thanks for the advise, but i want a steel frame.
 

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If you intend to use this bike as your car, consider the wheel base. A touring bike like the Long Haul Trucker should have a longer wheelbase to handle racks and panniers. It is important to ensure that you have heel clearance with panniers, especially if you intend to haul groceries and the like. A cross bike would be fine for commuting and might even be ok for panniers if you have small feet. If you did a 40 mile daily commute on a fixie or single speed, you would be the man. Take a look at the Soma Fabrications website, they have some nice frames at good prices. All steel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Soma = Interesting

bigbill said:
If you intend to use this bike as your car, consider the wheel base. A touring bike like the Long Haul Trucker should have a longer wheelbase to handle racks and panniers. It is important to ensure that you have heel clearance with panniers, especially if you intend to haul groceries and the like. A cross bike would be fine for commuting and might even be ok for panniers if you have small feet. If you did a 40 mile daily commute on a fixie or single speed, you would be the man. Take a look at the Soma Fabrications website, they have some nice frames at good prices. All steel.

Very interesting suggestions . . . the Surly is over 1 inch longer in the wheel base.
 

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bigbill said:
If you did a 40 mile daily commute on a fixie or single speed, you would be the man.
Yeah, I have actually been pondering doing a whole week of my long commute (not necessarily all on my fixed gear). Since I just finished my spring semester, now would be the time. I think four out of five days is a lot more likely, but either way only for one week and then back to my normal 2-3 days a week.
 

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Krafcik said:
Very interesting suggestions . . . the Surly is over 1 inch longer in the wheel base.
I've heard really good things about the Surly LHT. I cannot remember if it has horizontal drops. If it does, you could always make a fixie out of it, whereas if you buy a frame that only has the reverse/single speed drops, you can never put a derailleur on it.

If you are on the fence, I'd go with a bike that can run a derailleur or a SS/fixie hub, something with nice, long horizontal dropouts. If you don't want to invest big $$ in the experiment, you can always find beautiful used steel frames CHEAP on:

http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/BOBishBikesFS

This is a Yahoo group in which the owner scours craigslist ads across the country and cross posts ads for nice steel frames. eBay and other steel bikes also find their way onto the list.

Good luck!

- Forbes
 

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just a simple suggestion if you're not sure about the single speed thing...

why not just try to commute on your existing bike without switching gears for a week or so? that'll probably give you a good idea if a single speed is a good idea for you. if you want to match up ratios, i believe the stock ratio is 42 x 17 on the san jose. you could find the closest ratio to that and use it for your commute. i'm sure if you find a gear ratio you're more comfortable with the shop will swap out a new freewheel for you.

as some of the folks who've replied to you have already mentioned, hills are an issue. i use a 46 x 15 fixed gear for my 14 mile (each way) commute. it's flat and i only commute once or twice a week on average (and only on bright sunshiney days). i'm no diehard and i've never claimed to be...but hey, i'm just out there to have fun!
 

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Downhill Juggernaut
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I have a Cross Check myself, and like Steel_SSer, I find myself always reaching for it first. I use it as a daily commuter and for shopping or running errands. I haven't had a problem with my feet hitting the panniers... but my panniers aren't huge either. It rides great fully loaded. I was running 28's (Conti Top Touring 2000's) on them, but I just went down to 25's for the summer.

One thing to consider with the LHT. Make sure you check your frame sizes. Any frame size below 56cm can only fit 26" wheels. My road bike is a 56cm bike, but the Cross Check is a 54cm. The LHT aren't so bad, but if you're teetering on the edge of 2 frame sizes ( I believe the LHT 54cm frame is actually 55cm or so) that could be an important factor for you. Food for thought.
 

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Krafcik said:
my concern is this . . . can i use it, fully loaded to carry food and the like home . . . i think the long haul might be better for this . . . thoughts?
The cross check is TOTALLY capable of heavy loaded use. The thing is a tank. No worries about that. I wouldn't hesitate to use a cross check on a unsupported cross country trip. Wouldn't hesitate a second.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Soma Double Cross vs. Cross Check???

jplatzner said:
The cross check is TOTALLY capable of heavy loaded use. The thing is a tank. No worries about that. I wouldn't hesitate to use a cross check on a unsupported cross country trip. Wouldn't hesitate a second.

Seems like the Cross check is the way to go . . . now, someone before mentioned the Soma Double Cross . . . which is nicer? It appears to me that the Soma frame is nicer, am I correct?
 

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no ss on the soma

Krafcik said:
Seems like the Cross check is the way to go . . . now, someone before mentioned the Soma Double Cross . . . which is nicer? It appears to me that the Soma frame is nicer, am I correct?
the somas more $, it's got a Reynolds tube main frame and is presumably a tad lighter. however, the soma's got vertical drops. you'd have to use a tensioner if you wanted to singlespeed it, where the surly has horix drops (no tensioner needed, just pull the wheel back). Im not sure what the soma's got for eyelets either. I know the current cross checks have eyelets and rack mounts for rack/fenders.
 

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I commuted 19 miles one way through the city on my Cross-Check 2-4 times a week from late February through April and loved it. I rode it set up as a 1x9 for a while and that was great and now it's been fixed since early April and it was no additional sweat for me fixed. My commute only had one hill (short, decently steep) and the rest was flat. It's the only bike I've ridden since January and it's been great.

Bullet-proof, unfortunately a bit heavy, but plenty of room for fenders, big tires, it has a pretty comfy ride, and I've been really happy with it.

Also heard great things about the LHT.
 
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