A Certain Ratio


I’ve bought a 5th bike and it’s a single speed and it’s gorgeous.

I decided I needed to add to my fleet of bikes after I was easily overtaken by Ed on his Dolan single speed about 3 weeks ago: The Saracen was labouring along Bury New Road (okay, so was I a little bit) and Ed drifted past me.  This set me thinking. I tried to catch him at the next lights but in my excitement and efforts to catch up my rear light jumped off and I had to stop and pick it up. Ed was long gone, but I messaged him later asking what gear ratio he had on his bike.

Whatever it was I didn’t want to be that high if I was to commit to a single gear.  The ride to work is slightly downhill and thus the return is slightly uphill.  Going home there are a lot more stops and starts for lights and congestion so I definitely needed to focus more on the return ride when choosing the ratio for my primary commuting bike.

Over the next few days I experimented by committing to certain gears on the Saracen:  5th gear against the middle cog was comfortable, 6th was a little less but still manageable.

A couple of days later I was overtaken by another single speed on the way home. Using a bit of local knowledge I regained my position by taking the cobbles at the end of Great Clowes St rather than Knoll St and as she passed me for a second time along Bury New Road I asked her what gear ratio she had.  She didn’t know but said something about it being a 72″ cog and had the option of 68″ or something and this confused me.

About 10 minutes later whilst walking through Prestwich Precinct I met another single speed cyclist and quizzed him about his ratio.  This Eastern European chap didn’t really understand what I was asking (on reflection a bizarre initial question from a complete stranger) but assured me he could hit 30mph on his bike. Nice.

Whilst in London a couple of weeks ago I popped into an Evans shop and looked at what they had to offer. Plenty of single speed bikes there but mostly with drop handle bars whilst I wanted straight ones. They had a 2013 model Fuji Declaration reduced from £475 to £310 and in orange too and suddenly whatever the ratio it had I wanted it.  A couple of days later I was told by the Manchester store that it was out of stock but then the magic of browser history induced adverts made the same bike pop up on my screen whilst I was considering a cheap (and probably rubbish) ebay single speed.  Low and behold it was not actually out of stock, I ordered it and it arrived yesterday.


It looks gorgeous and I am going to have to change my cycling wardrobe to feel worthy enough to ride it.  Tomorrow will be spent rearranging the bikes in my garage to make space for this 5th bike. I’ll grease and hang up the Mighty Saracen which has served me very well over the last 3 years.  She is the only bike I have ridden over 100 miles upon and whilst I might not ride her as often my message to her is “I won’t stop loving you”.


About holmesinho

Happily married father of 2 living in Prestwich 5 miles north of Manchester, England. I cycle most days though mostly commuting and also enjoy running and triathlon.
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