Proving Grounds

I was sleeping off jetlag and didn’t race this weekend, but heard and posted about the derailer-eating mud. Frustrated with their contaminated drivetrains, I expect many Cross racers were wondering about Single Speeds and then belt-driven Single Speeds, like this one seen in Chris Mahan’s photos.


Did it slip, shed the mud, or grind to a halt like a Cuisinart blending concrete? Don’t know, but working on the answer.

Any readers see the bikes with belts in action?


My son is a junior racer and switched to single speed this year.  It sure is my favorite bike to clean after a muddy race! 

He’s not using a belt—I wish there were more frameset options.  It is probably a good sign to see the high-end Raleigh carbon frame supporting a belt.  If someone can figure out how to make a belt that links together—that would be cool.

In previous posts, I’ve wondered why there isn’t a 3-speed drivetrain for Cross—the market must be too limited.  Back in the day, racers would run Sturmey-Archer hub 3x5s. That’s 3-speed internal with two external cogs. Drop the chain onto of the two and then have three speeds to run through. Rutledge raced and won on a MTB equipped like that. Hopefully as the sports grows, components manufacturers will find a market and by now should’ve noticed the bling and size of the single speed categories.

For me, racing single is all about you, your power (or lack thereof), and technique—making it even more a dirt TT with obstacles. I’m also racing geared this year, but don’t think I shift more than 3 speeds during a race. Maybe up to 5, but certainly not 2x9. Also, as they bikes have changed to match the modern course, dirt crits, the components haven’t caught up. New cross bikes are essential crit bikes with cantis and treaded tires.

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