Sunday, October 07, 2012

Cyclocross - Single Speed vs. Geared

My mouth is still gaping in the shocked, open position after seeing the results of timed runs on Cyclocross bikes (Single Speed vs. Geared) at the Sky Ranch Cyclocross course in Moscow, ID. Yes, I'm mentally insane and totally obsessed with things like this.

The bikes in the test were:
  1. On-One Dirty Disco CX disc carbon geared bike that I have been using as a commuter on the road mostly - Geared 2x10.
  2. Gunnar Crosshairs CX steel geared bike - Geared 1x10.
  3. All-City Nature Boy CX SS with an ugly rattle can paint job (which I'm sure will change soon since I have no love for lime green) - Geared 1x1.
The lightest bike is the Gunnar, followed by the On-One, and All City is definitely the heaviest of the bunch. All riding positions are set up very similar since I am very sensitive to my riding position.

I timed myself on diffent weekends riding many, many loops at the CX track on each bike on the same day. The results are not what I expected. The Gunnar has a more comfortable feel to me and also "feels" the fastest. The All City feels great, but "felt" the slowest. The On-One is just another piece of crap carbon (plastic) bike and it feels unforgiving on bumpy CX courses as most plastic bikes do to me.  After numerous runs the results were consistent every time (in order of fastest to slowest):
  1. All City SS
  2. Gunnar Geared
  3. On-One Geared

The time difference was consistently 10-15 seconds between the All-City and the Gunnar and 25-30 seconds between the All-City and the On-One. In a CX race doing 6-7 laps this could be a big difference. I was in such disbelief about the time diffences and the SS being faster that I rode many extra loops on each bike confirming my times. Then I set out to prove the geared Gunnar was faster (because it felt faster) but as hard as I tried I could not make it go any faster that my All-City on this course.

On a CX course designed with more long runouts (i.e. a road toad designed course) there would most likely be a different result. For example I have a 23-mile loop near home that has 10-miles of pave and 13-miles of gravel in which the Gunnar is the champion by a whopping 2-3 minutes typically. I'm anal enough to time both the gravel and paved sections though and I have found that I can make my SS go just as fast as a geared bike on the gravel, but on the pave there is no way the SS can keep up with the geared which accounts for my loss.

Oddly enough though the On-One is stupidly slow on this same loop. Maybe everytime I ride the On-One I'm having a bad bike day...maybe it's just not an efficient riding bike - wouldn't be the first time I've been on a bike that sucks your pedal efficiency from your riding soul. I wish I could explain some of this to my mentally derranged mind and out of shape body because I'm having a hard time coming to terms with my timed results. 



Greg Heck said...

Just ran across your blog. I raced SS this whole season and never felt like I was losing much over my geared bike. My results on my SS in geared categories were right where I would expect to finish. Colby Pearce has some interesting thoughts here

On a side note, what gear do you ride on your Superfly in the big mountains?

Eric Kop-ski said...

Greg, you need to get your blog going again. Nice link!