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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-09-07, 10:09 AM   #1
Tequila Joe
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First Commute on the Fixie – Lessons Learned

Things learned on the way into work today and other muses by Tequila Joe

1. Your face will hurt after one hour of continuous smiling.
2. Brakes are a must for Fixie newbs. I wound it up and was descending at a high speed down from my neighborhood, eventually I realized that my legs were going to blow apart like piston rods in an over revved engine. I must’ve looked like the Road Runner when he drops Willie Coyote with a blurred circle of legs underneath me.
3. Bunny hopping sewer grates and road debris is difficult on a Fixie. I need to practice doing it in various pedal positions.
4. The 48x16 ratio is a bit high. I could spin it forever at 90 rpm & ~21mph on flat ground but as soon as there was an upward grade, my cadence dropped. I could push it back up to ~90 rpm in most cases but I’d quickly surpass LT and couldn’t hold it for the entire hill. I suppose this is the training I was looking for…. since this is early season for me, I’ll keep the 16 fixed for now. I’ll try a 17 on the freewheel later.
5. Skidding is difficult to do the first few tries. I need to ensure the shoes are on tighter next time.
6. A Fixie is really quite. I couldn’t hear the drive train over the noise from the tires or traffic.
7. I started to look down upon folks riding geared bikes. Is this a normal reaction?

Feel free to add your experiences when you first started riding your Fixie.

T.J.

Last edited by Tequila Joe; 04-09-07 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 04-09-07, 10:20 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tequila Joe
Things learned on the way into work today and other muses by Tequila Joe



Feel free to add your experiences when you first started riding your Fixie.

T.J.
Other than the time I forgot I was riding fixed an tried to coast I had swapped the wheel around on mine and tried to do a track stand at a traffic light on the freewheel side and fell over

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Old 04-09-07, 10:21 AM   #3
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1. Don't smile so much or bugs will get caught in your teeth.
2. HELP! JANE! How do you stop this crazy thing! No shame in using your brake on descents.
3. Ride around the potholes and crap or just pop the front wheel over and stand up so you don't pinch the back wheel.
4. It's a challenge to ride w/ one gear.
5. Balls on stem. Or learn how to skip. More effective and saves the rear tire.
6. Yup. Great way to sneak up on people.
7. Yup. You are now badass.

Tip: Don't try to coast. It can be unpleasant.
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Old 04-09-07, 10:24 AM   #4
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8. Your choice in saddle is even more important. No more stand-coasting to give the rear a break.
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Old 04-09-07, 10:36 AM   #5
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9. Within a couple of weeks, you'll know the timing of every traffic light on your route.

10. Don't stop pedaling. Ever.
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Old 04-09-07, 11:00 AM   #6
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11. Always carry a 15mm wrench because you no longer have quick-release wheels.
12. You will coast a lot less on your geared bike and will so much smooother.
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Old 04-09-07, 11:16 AM   #7
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13. chicks dig fixies.
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Old 04-09-07, 03:47 PM   #8
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14. Become much more aware of your surroundings, keeping additional blocks ahead of you in sight, to avoid nasty surprises. Become much more aware of how fast you're actually going, and you actually slow and stop more effectively.
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Old 04-09-07, 03:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tequila Joe
Things learned on the way into work today and other muses by Tequila Joe

1. Your face will hurt after one hour of continuous smiling.
the tires or traffic.
``````````````````< snip >`````````````````````````````````
7. I started to look down upon folks riding geared bikes. Is this a normal reaction?

Feel free to add your experiences when you first started riding your Fixie.

T.J.

Yep.
Welcome to the club.

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Old 04-09-07, 04:41 PM   #10
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Things learned on the way into home today and other muses by Tequila Joe

1. I had visions of my pedal clipping the ground on sharp turns. It didn't happen but I will have to test the maximum lean angles tonight. I'm use to standing on the outside pedal on sharp turns.
2. There are no hills along my commute that I can't handle. I easily hammered up to my suburb without problem. I suppose I under-estimated my strength.
3. I'm able to flex the Langster frame on heavy up hill outputs. So much in fact, that the rear brake rubs the rim. Maybe it just needs adjusting or somethin'...
4. I will keep the 16t fixed and put on a 17t cog onthe freewheel side as a bail for when I have a heavy headwind.
5. I'm thinking about selling my geared bikes as I don't believe they will see much action anymmore.

T.J.

Last edited by Tequila Joe; 04-09-07 at 05:01 PM.
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Old 04-09-07, 04:50 PM   #11
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After one-gearing for a while, both S.S and fixt, as a normal "I dont care how
fast I go
" commuter, I cant see the need for gears anymore.
Sort of like the way some people grow out of training wheels, I suppose
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Old 04-09-07, 05:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyossarian
5. Balls on stem. Or learn how to skip. More effective and saves the rear tire.
Skip? What is this "skip" you speak of?
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Old 04-09-07, 05:06 PM   #13
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Don't coast! I forgot where I was, stood up to coast, and nearly launched myself over the handlebars. I launched myself, all right, but my bike stayed attached to my feet and I landed rubber side down.

Also, allot some extra time; because the gearing compromises for hills, commutes take longer.
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Old 04-09-07, 05:40 PM   #14
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To skip: pop you rear wheel up and stop it then let the ground start it up again. And when you let that pedal hit the ground hard you'll whip your self into the pavement-at a high speed, I just did it last week. Riding the fixed regularly is great inspiration for perfect geared bike drive train maintenace, any noise is too much noise.


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Old 04-09-07, 06:11 PM   #15
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15. Learn to do a rear dismount.
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Old 04-09-07, 06:16 PM   #16
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Jim's got it re: skipping. As my right leg comes up, I like to jump off my left and lift my right knee up which lifts the rear wheel off the ground and voila! skipping. Do the same w/ your left knee and you'll be ambi-skipping. After a while, you'll stop standing up to skip and just skip while you're sitting.

As for the rear dismount, watch Kevin Bacon do a clumsy one in Quicksilver.
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Old 04-09-07, 06:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
Also, allot some extra time; because the gearing compromises for hills, commutes take longer.

My commute on my fix is as fast as the geared bike, if not faster.
I can only suppose because I unconsciously ride 'sloppy' on the
gearie....coasting, shifting down for hills etc.
On the fix, spinning 70"s like a wild man I make great time.
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Old 04-09-07, 06:39 PM   #18
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16. Be careful while doing maintenance, you can easily lose a finger or part thereof. Sheldon Brown has graphic pics, sorry for the gross out.
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Old 04-09-07, 06:53 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyossarian
Jim's got it re: skipping. As my right leg comes up, I like to jump off my left and lift my right knee up which lifts the rear wheel off the ground and voila! skipping. Do the same w/ your left knee and you'll be ambi-skipping. After a while, you'll stop standing up to skip and just skip while you're sitting.

As for the rear dismount, watch Kevin Bacon do a clumsy one in Quicksilver.
Ahhhh.... so its like a bunny hop but you are pulling the back of the bike up with your legs?
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Old 04-09-07, 06:57 PM   #20
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17. not only must you always pedal while standing on a fixxie, you must always pedal while moving between seated and standing...that was the one that really bugged me the first few times.
18. you will stand while climbing on hills and you will make it up them that way or you will do a walk of shame.

oh and +1 to all of the above so far. My first FG commute was today, definately the best worst commute ever. (best for simplicity, not caring about the fact that I forgot my cyclometer. worst for not knowing how to stop, having a flat for fg unrelated reasons)
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Old 04-09-07, 08:50 PM   #21
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Yeah, the first commute can be a clumsy one, especially if you haven't gotten over the coasting and pedal clearance issues. It can be unnerving in the middle of rush hour traffic to get distracted by the newness of the experience. And coming to a stop at an intersection where the kid next to you is doing a trackstand for the duration of the light while you have one foot on the ground.

For a couple months, I was essentially riding my FG like a geared bike, depending primarily on the handbrakes for stopping (with the help of backpedaling). It was like those riders who never change gears when they stop and end up having to start at too high a gear. It was when I discovered the "pacing" required to travel my commute distance with minimal stopping that I understood how riding fixed makes you better connected not only to your bike and the road, but to practically everything else around you.

It took a little time, but I'm beginning to feel safer and in better control on my fixie than my geared bikes.

And I too am wondering about the necessity of keeping my other bikes.
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Old 04-09-07, 09:10 PM   #22
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You will learn to trackstand.
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Old 04-09-07, 09:14 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tequila Joe
Ahhhh.... so its like a bunny hop but you are pulling the back of the bike up with your legs?
Yup, when done right, it actually does feel like you're skipping on the ground sorta. Or you could try coasting and you'll kinda do a skip if you don't get launched over the handlebars.
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Old 04-09-07, 09:38 PM   #24
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One time, I miscalculated a speed bump. There is this gap/break in the speed bump, enough for my tire and pedal to get through. That fateful day, my pedal hit the summit of the bump, lifted the bike, and boy did it hurt. I bounced off my Brooks and bike wobbled. I was able to recover and did not take a spill, but my crotch sure hurt all morning.
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Old 04-09-07, 09:55 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tequila Joe
2. Brakes are a must for Fixie newbs. I wound it up and was descending at a high speed down from my neighborhood, eventually I realized that my legs were going to blow apart like piston rods in an over revved engine. I must’ve looked like the Road Runner when he drops Willie Coyote with a blurred circle of legs underneath me.
If you took the brakes off, put the damn things back on and don't take them off again.

Quote:
3. Bunny hopping sewer grates and road debris is difficult on a Fixie. I need to practice doing it in various pedal positions.
If you get air under either of your wheels at speed, you will either skid or your pedals will become catapults.

Quote:
4. The 48x16 ratio is a bit high. I could spin it forever at 90 rpm & ~21mph on flat ground but as soon as there was an upward grade, my cadence dropped. I could push it back up to ~90 rpm in most cases but I’d quickly surpass LT and couldn’t hold it for the entire hill. I suppose this is the training I was looking for…. since this is early season for me, I’ll keep the 16 fixed for now. I’ll try a 17 on the freewheel later.
DO NOT worry too much about cadence with a fixed gear. The whole idea is to get your legs used to a variety of cadences. I've found that when I ride fixed gear, the bike decides how fast it's going to go.

Quote:
5. Skidding is difficult to do the first few tries. I need to ensure the shoes are on tighter next time.
Just keep your brakes and don't worry about skidding or stopping.

Quote:
6. A Fixie is really quite. I couldn’t hear the drive train over the noise from the tires or traffic.
Thing to remember is that when they do make noise, something really bad is about to happen.

Quote:
7. I started to look down upon folks riding geared bikes. Is this a normal reaction?
Yes, it's normal. After all, they are lesser beings. I feel cheap and dirty whenever I ride my 27 speed Crosscheck to work. Which is actually almost every day.

Quote:
Feel free to add your experiences when you first started riding your Fixie.
I found the transition from geared to fixed to be almost seamless. Other than the occasional misstep when I forget that I'm on a fixed gear and try to coast, causing the bike to become a catapult, it's all been pretty easy.
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