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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 03-18-10, 09:16 PM   #1
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Anyone riding fixed gear bike?

I have to admit that riding a fixed gear bike looks like a lot of fun. I grew up with what I guess would be called a single speed bike with a coaster break. I remember how weird it felt to ride my first geared bike. I didn't like it. I seemed to loose the feel of the road or something.

My question is, would I be crazy to try to learn to ride one of these at my age/weight? Are they 'dangerous'?? (I would definitely want front and rear brakes.)

Is the feel of the old coaster break bikes similar to single speed bikes?
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Old 03-18-10, 10:53 PM   #2
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I don't think anyone would be crazy to try a singlespeed. Fixed gear, very slightly crazy. (I have a fixed gear that I enjoy very much, but I've wondered if I'd be better off flipping the wheel over to singlespeed).

I would say a single speed (with front and rear brakes, as you mentioned) would not be dangerous at all (extremely similar to your geared bike).

With a fixed gear, there are a couple more questions to determine 'danger' -
1. Brakes - a front is all I have, I would never consider not having one. I think you already have this question covered.

2. Foot retention - if the bike is moving, the pedals are too - and they can hurt if they swing on around and hit your leg. I always use some clipless pedals, others seem to be fine with straps.

3. Type of riding, terrain, etc - Do you want to pedal down hills, or would you rather have a freewheel? Also, any condition where I could even potentially worry about pedal strike (some trails or mountain biking terrain), I would not consider riding fixed. (Others can and do)

Overall, if you are interested I definitely say give it a try. Many such bikes have rear wheel hubs that are 'flip-flops', which often means that turned one way, it is a single speed (freewheel, allowing coasting), and the other is fixed. Run both brakes regardless, and you can try both styles pretty easily.

It has been forever since I've been around a coaster, so I can't speak to the last question.
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Old 03-18-10, 11:02 PM   #3
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Overall, if you are interested I definitely say give it a try. Many such bikes have rear wheel hubs that are 'flip-flops', which often means that turned one way, it is a single speed (freewheel, allowing coasting), and the other is fixed. Run both brakes regardless, and you can try both styles pretty easily..


Wow, learn something new everyday. For some reason, I thought a flip flop had a different gear size on each side!
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Old 03-18-10, 11:03 PM   #4
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That old hipster named Tom rides a fixed gear...
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Old 03-18-10, 11:19 PM   #5
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Yep, I ride fixed, as well as geared.
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Old 03-18-10, 11:31 PM   #6
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Any advice Tom? I have pretty flat as a pancake terrain and would feel better if I started with front and rear brakes. I'm comfortable with my SPD clipless pedals now. No desire to be a NOLA messenger rider through the CBD, but it does seem like it would be fun every once in a while, especially to ride around the neighborhood, to the store etc.
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Old 03-19-10, 01:02 AM   #7
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Nola, the best advice I can give is make sure you at least have a front brake. You can control your speed at the crank very nicely on flat ground, though. I wouldn't run over about 70 gear inches, either, or you will have a hell of a time with even a small hill. The other thing your going to notice is the sheer simplicity of FG. It's zenlike, and will make you a lot stronger rider.

Last, don't forget, when riding fixed, if you stop pedaling, you're over the handlebars.
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Old 03-19-10, 06:51 AM   #8
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Last, don't forget, when riding fixed, if you stop pedaling, you're over the handlebars.
Before I started riding fixed, I kept saying "no, that can't be true. I can't see how that would happen". I got my fixed gear bike, rode it down my driveway, stopped, and over the bars I went. I can't figure out the physics of it though, but it can and does happen.

Oh, and this is the fixie I have: http://www.eighthinch.com/scrambler_complete_bike.html

If you are looking for a fixie, they offer complete bikes starting at $599...
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Old 03-19-10, 08:19 AM   #9
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I took up riding fixed gears in my 4th decade. Run a front brake at least and use it. Start around 70 gear inches and go up or down depending on how you feel. Foot retention is very important for control because you can control speed w/ your legs. When you shoulder check, don't coast. When you come up to a red light, don't coast. When you try to get your feet in the pedal retention, don't coast.

Don't try to coast or you'll go over the bars. The physics of it is simple: your legs go from moving to not moving so all your momentum carries you forward as does the pedals which assist you over. Couple that w/ a panic grab at the brake to stop the bike even faster and there you go sailing gracefully over the bars.

@Beanz: a flip flop hub can be fixed fixed/fixed free/free free. You can put whatever combo of cogs on either side although ideally you want them to both fit w/ the chain you have and still stay in the track ends. I've never used the freewheel on my wheel, but it's sized for fewer gear inches in case I need a bailout gear.
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Old 03-19-10, 08:20 AM   #10
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All this time I thought fixed gear and single speed were the same thing. Learn something new every day. So let me get this straight... Fixed gear is when the pedals move, the wheels move and vice versa. They're directly connected. Single speed allows you to move while not pedaling as well, like coasting. There is no coasting on a fixed gear bike, right?
I think fixed gear sounds pretty cool.
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Old 03-19-10, 08:31 AM   #11
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I have one set up in the trainer.

As for coaster BRAKES, they don't have the same feel as a fixed gear and are NOT the same thing. Unlike a fixed gear, a coaster brake can coast and uses a threaded driver to push a set of brake shoes against the inside of the hub shell. That action gives about 20 degrees of play between the brake fully engaged and the bike moving again.

Then, there is single speed. That is just what it says, a bike with a single gear. Usually the bike has a freewheel and a set of BRAKES. My fixed gear has a double sided hub with a freewheel on one side and a fixed cog on the other, allowing me to ride either a fixed gear or single speed by simply removing the wheel installing it the other way around. The bike does have a set of dual pivot caliper brakes.

There is one thing all three have in common: you must maintain chain tension with a wrench.
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Old 03-19-10, 08:51 AM   #12
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All this time I thought fixed gear and single speed were the same thing. Learn something new every day. So let me get this straight... Fixed gear is when the pedals move, the wheels move and vice versa. They're directly connected. Single speed allows you to move while not pedaling as well, like coasting. There is no coasting on a fixed gear bike, right?
I think fixed gear sounds pretty cool.
A fixed gear is a single speed since typically, it's only got the one cog. On BF, singlespeed typically refers to a cog that can coast. Fixed gear refers to a single speed that can't coast. So whichever direction you pedal a fixed gear, that's the direction you move in. If you pedal backwards, the bike moves backward.
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Old 03-19-10, 09:42 AM   #13
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Okay, so going over the handlebars is the big risk of riding one of these. Someone said on the FG/SS forum that when he started he lowered his seat to reduce the likelihood of his knees locking. I guess that is what he was referring to...That's really good to know. The last thing I need are broken bones.

I think it would be fun. I don't think I can justify just going out and buying a new one now, but every once in a while I'll see them on craigslist. If one shows up in my size, I just might give it a whirl!
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Old 03-19-10, 10:46 AM   #14
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I have a ss/fg conversion, which is usually the cheapest way to go if you're wanting to get started with it. Take any old geared bike with horizontal or semi-horizontal dropouts and buy/build an inexpensive flip/flop wheel. Shorten your chain, and have fun with it.

I tore apart my old wheel and spent about $60 for spokes and an IRO high flange fix/fix hub. The nice thing about a fix/fix hub (Fixed threading on both sides) is that you can run any combination:
Fixed on both sides
One fixed, one freewheel
Freewheel on both sides
I keep the same gearing for both sides; 18t fixed and 18t freewheel, and tend to ride the freewheel more than the fixed cog. The fixed cog is great for my rollers, the nice flat MUP, or rides where I don't have to do much descending. I rode a century with 6500' of gain on it last year, and that made me realize I don't like having to pedal at the speed of sound coming down a big 9% grade. Now, I ride the freewheel quite a bit and I'm looking to do my first 200k brevet on it this season.
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Old 03-19-10, 11:08 AM   #15
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@Beanz: a flip flop hub can be fixed fixed/fixed free/free free. You can put whatever combo of cogs on either side although ideally you want them to both fit w/ the chain you have and still stay in the track ends. I've never used the freewheel on my wheel, but it's sized for fewer gear inches in case I need a bailout gear.
Thanks! Don't know much at all about single/fixed bikes. But now I know a little more. Thanks for clearing that up!
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Old 03-19-10, 12:43 PM   #16
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Going over the bars depends on how fast you're going and whether you completely freeze when you realize you can't coast. Most people do a jerky up and down motion when they try to coast and find out they can't. It usually doesn't take more than 2-3 times trying to coast before you remember you can't. Even when you're experienced, every once in a while you'll still try to coast, but you recover quickly. Plus the foot retention helps keep you from going over a little.
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Old 03-19-10, 01:08 PM   #17
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Either SS or fixed in NOLA would be allgood.

I didn't begin riding fixed until my 40th I believe - it was scary thinking about it, but when I got rolling it all fell into place.
Just a few times now, during a really long ride, I have completely forgotten about riding fixed & tried to coast & it is indeed a wake-up call.
Never went OTB or to the pavement/dirt, just got popped up off the seat for a split second to let my legs know to keep spinning.

Too high a gear inch combo will make it difficult to take off & stop - but you will be running a front brake for the majority of your stopping power, si?
A flip flop hub is a great idea - if you decide fixed isn't for you, continue on w/it set up as SS - where you will want both front & rear brakes.
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Old 03-19-10, 01:57 PM   #18
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@Beanz: a flip flop hub can be fixed fixed/fixed free/free free. You can put whatever combo of cogs on either side although ideally you want them to both fit w/ the chain you have and still stay in the track ends. I've never used the freewheel on my wheel, but it's sized for fewer gear inches in case I need a bailout gear.
Thanks, I kind of hedged on that part of 'flip/flop', since I've never really seen the point of fixed/fixed hubs - unless you carry a second chain, it doesn't seem like you can vary your gearing by enough size to really matter (assuming you don't have some crazy crazy long dropouts).

Some people claim to find them useful, but I don't get it, personally. For anyone starting out with FG/SS, I think a fixed/free hub is a great option to have, and I like that many such bikes come standard with those hubs (something to keep in mind when looking around, NOLA_gal).
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Old 03-19-10, 04:06 PM   #19
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I've got a fixed/ss bike, but ride it exclusively as a single speed; I tried the 'fixied' side but just couldn't get used to it. I've got a lot of flat, open ground with only some small hills and very few stoplights in my area (one of my favorites is the the SART, for you So Calif riderz), I use 53:16 gearing. That gearing makes it slow as mud to start, but great once up to speed. Its a great workout bike, and I found it helps my riding form in that I'm now better at riding in a higher cadence (rpms?) vs. formerly just mashing out the miles on my multispeed bike. And since there's no gearing, deuralliers, etc, ss/fixies are a little easier to maintain.
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Old 03-19-10, 10:21 PM   #20
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I ride a fixed conversion made out of an old steel frame I had leftover when I upgraded to my Felt. I love it for goofing around town or running errands. It has definitely improved leg strength and pedal stroke. It definitely took some getting used to, but once I did, coasting just feels funny. I notice my average speed on the roadie has increased. Plain and simple, its just fun. I highly recommend anyone who has the chance to give it a try to do it! Its also a fun weekend project and a great way to learn the mechanics of a bike!
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Old 03-24-10, 05:10 PM   #21
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It was mentioned that you could turn a geared bike into a single speed. Are there any resources one could use to get information on doing that?

I have already checked the ss/fixie forum here and found they are not nearly as accepting or laid back as the inmates here; which is why I am asking here.
Plus this is the forum I've been lurking in since I am a Clydesdale.

Thanks.
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Old 03-24-10, 06:03 PM   #22
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The search function will reveal all. So will a search of sheldon brown's site. The first question is: does your target frame have horizontal or semi horizontal dropouts? If so, proceed w/ the conversion. If not, you might want to re-think the conversion.
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Old 03-24-10, 07:13 PM   #23
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It was mentioned that you could turn a geared bike into a single speed. Are there any resources one could use to get information on doing that?

I have already checked the ss/fixie forum here and found they are not nearly as accepting or laid back as the inmates here; which is why I am asking here.
Plus this is the forum I've been lurking in since I am a Clydesdale.

Thanks.
Remove lock ring and cog and replace with a single freewheel. Just make sure you have a braking system to install.
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Old 03-24-10, 07:30 PM   #24
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It was mentioned that you could turn a geared bike into a single speed. Are there any resources one could use to get information on doing that?

I have already checked the ss/fixie forum here and found they are not nearly as accepting or laid back as the inmates here; which is why I am asking here.
Plus this is the forum I've been lurking in since I am a Clydesdale.

Thanks.
Here's a link to an article on conversions from Sheldon Brown's site.

And, this is the friendliest forum!
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Old 03-24-10, 09:19 PM   #25
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It was mentioned that you could turn a geared bike into a single speed. Are there any resources one could use to get information on doing that?

I have already checked the ss/fixie forum here and found they are not nearly as accepting or laid back as the inmates here; which is why I am asking here.
Plus this is the forum I've been lurking in since I am a Clydesdale.

Thanks.

Buy this and you can turn your vertical dropout, cassette rear wheel geared bike into a singlespeed. Takes about 15 minutes of work.
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