This year I have decided to ride the Low Key Hill Climb series and the Diablo Challenge on a steel single speed bike. I did consider using fixed (which I believe would be faster) but the hassles of flip flopping the wheel for the downhills put me off. Perhaps next year I will try fixed. My weapon of choice is a Wabi Classic made from old school Reynolds steel. It isn’t particularly light but as pictured above it is less than 20.5 pounds which isn’t too bad. I could probably drop a pound by stealing the wheels from my other fixed gear bike but I doubt it would make me significantly faster. I could also have used my Wabi SE, which weighs in a 17 pounds, but I didn’t want to convert it to a two brake setup and risk the cable clips scratching the top tube.
I don’t expect to be very competitive but the beauty of the Low Key series is you can do what you like and just have some fun. I think the biggest challenge will be choosing an appropriate gear, especially on Mount Diablo and Mount Hamilton, for the varying gradients. Three of the events are also super steep so just getting up them on my lowest available gear of 32 x 22 will be a massive challenge.
I did my first test ride on Diablo on the Wabi today and felt I was under-geared for 90% of it but good for the steeper section after the junction and the last steep push. I think I need to drop a couple of teeth on the rear as I am not particularly efficient at much above 100rpm up hill (I am no Chris Froome).
- 90rpm = 10.3MPH
- 100rpm = 11.4MPH
- 120rpm = 13.7MPH
My time was not particularly encouraging for the upcoming Diablo challenge at 1h9m24s. It is certainly a long way from the 55m I did last time I rode it. I don’t have any illusions that I can beat the hour on a single speed.