This test almost end before it started.
After the pathetic display that I didn't even finish at Moser Farm, I was thinking what's the point?
Singlespeed is just more fun, and I really can't complain about my performance.
But way back in a tiny little dark corner of my mind there is that question; what if?
What if you ran gears? Would you be faster?
Twice before I tried gears, and both times I found I was consistently as fast as my fastest, but not faster. I also got bored with it after about a month and switched back to singlespeed before actually contesting a race.
So in the spirit of be all that you can be and all that jazz, I dug the late twentieth century shifty bits out of the bin.
Last attempt at gearededness I used a front derailleur with an extra long stop screw as a chain retainer. This time I'm giving a MRP X.1 a shot. I had a hard time dialing out all the rubbing, and although I doubt it would have a significant effect on performance, I hate all that noise, noise, noise, noise, noise! After much bending and twisting I ended up modifying the cage by widening it. I used a chain roller to space the halves out. That seemed to give me enough clearance Clarence to run rub free. I'm sure there is some smug, snarky mechanic out there saying "Mine worked fine, no rubbing right out of the box". Well good for you; you rule. Now fuck off.
Another difference is a full length cable housing. I think it's sort of ugly. Well, more really ugly, but I digress, I think it will be effective. The shifting was pretty much dialed when I bolted it on. No setting the housing and removing all the slack because it runs completely from point A to B. This might be more effective in the Winter too. One of the advantages to the SS in the Winter is your drivetrain can't freeze leaving you in a gear you don't want to be in. Without all the exposed cable, this problem might be minimized.
My first test was last night. I had done the same ride last Tuesday. I was almost 9 minutes faster with gears. Now last Tuesday I was still running the massive meats, but the condition were pretty similar otherwise. Even with the more XC oriented tires, the geared version of the Swift is still about a pound heavier (than Swift + big tires).
Obviously this is just the initial test, and hardly conclusive by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I might have learned something (finally). Certain areas are best ridden like a singlespeed. Keep it in a heavier gear for technical sections, using momentum to carry you through. If you try and "spin" through a rock garden you will be slow. Only use the little gears when you can stay seated, or close to seated; if your standing use those muscles to their full advantage.
I think I'm going to try and keep it rigid too. Last time I thought a HT would let me fully capitalize on the gears, but I think it just added to the boredom.
Let's see if I can make it past a month.
I usually build my own wheels, but I found a new wheel, built with this Circus Monkey hub, DT Revs., and Stan's Crests for less than I could buy the parts. It was round and true, but the tension was on the low side. I ruined a nipple bringing it up to tension, and in replacing it, it doesn't look like any type of spoke prep was used. I'll have to keep a vigilant watch on these.