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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 03-02-08, 09:35 PM   #1
PaginaVilot
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Fixed gear or single speed commuting?

Hi,
Kind of new here..
I just bought my first track/road bike yesterday.. It's a 2008 Fuji Track, everything is stock except for some Soma bullhorns. Prior to this, I probably hadn't ridden a bike since 2006.. I used to ride my 20" BMX everywhere with my friends all day long.

Today I took a trip to my friends house which is about an 8 mile round trip. I did not realize how much more tiring a fixed gear is, but I was pretty tired. It wasn't even very hilly at all, just a bit windy. But then again, I'm not exactly in good shape. Not overweight or anything.. just not in shape.

When I was initially looking for what bike I wanted.. I was looking for one with a flip flop hub, but when I got home last night from getting my bike, I realized the Fuji Track doesn't have one. Do you guys think I should invest in one? Either way, I know I'm going to struggle a bit, I'm just curious, what you guys prefer for commuting between fixed and single speed?

The Main reason why I'm asking is because I'm planning on riding my bike to work and back, which would be a 24 mile round trip as soon as I feel comfortable with longer commutes.

EDIT: also wanted to ask is my gearing was alright for me. Everything is pretty much flat around here, I have to go up/over a bridge once in awhile, but other than that.. everything's flat. My stock config is 48/15.
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Old 03-02-08, 09:45 PM   #2
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Hi,
Kind of new here..
I just bought my first track/road bike yesterday.. It's a 2008 Fuji Track, everything is stock except for some Soma bullhorns. Prior to this, I probably hadn't ridden a bike since 2006.. I used to ride my 20" BMX everywhere with my friends all day long.

Today I took a trip to my friends house which is about an 8 mile round trip. I did not realize how much more tiring a fixed gear is, but I was pretty tired. It wasn't even very hilly at all, just a bit windy. But then again, I'm not exactly in good shape. Not overweight or anything.. just not in shape.

When I was initially looking for what bike I wanted.. I was looking for one with a flip flop hub, but when I got home last night from getting my bike, I realized the Fuji Track doesn't have one. Do you guys think I should invest in one? Either way, I know I'm going to struggle a bit, I'm just curious, what you guys prefer for commuting between fixed and single speed?

The Main reason why I'm asking is because I'm planning on riding my bike to work and back, which would be a 24 mile round trip as soon as I feel comfortable with longer commutes.

EDIT: also wanted to ask is my gearing was alright for me. Everything is pretty much flat around here, I have to go up/over a bridge once in awhile, but other than that.. everything's flat. My stock config is 48/15.

So you have a track bike with high gearing, bullhorn handlebars, and it's fixed, to boot? That's not the bike I would choose for a 24 mile round trip, no offense.

If I was choosing, I would pick something with multiple gears. You don't need a triple, but something with an 8 speed hub would be ideal for you. That being said, having the ability to switch between fixed and single speed would be much better than dedicated fixed gear.

Was your decision to buy the bike you have motivated by logic or fashion? A fixed gear isn't something you just jump into. You're going from a BMX to a track bike. Big difference, I think. Be careful.
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Old 03-02-08, 09:52 PM   #3
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48/15 is really high gearing... well suited for use on a track, but not on a commute. Try getting a 17 or 18 tooth cog.

Most folks are comfortable with 70-75 gear inches for off-track riding. You can use Sheldon Brown's Gear Calculator to get an idea of the gear ratios various combinations will give you.

And don't listen to the naysayers... riding fixed gear is fun, it's a good workout, and replacement parts are cheap.
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Old 03-02-08, 09:52 PM   #4
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brakes.

Gear it down a bit... get a 16t rear cog for starters.

Also, bring your rain gear in a backpack... and spare socks.... and a change of clothes for when it rains... and keep spare shoes at work...

lol
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Old 03-02-08, 09:55 PM   #5
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Get some rides in and see how it goes. Fixed gears are an acquired taste and take a while to get used to. I have a fixed gear I commute on occasionally, windy days can be a challenge with higher gearing.
I have a couple of touring bikes, they're my favourites for commuting, I can carry my work stuff on the racks and they're a pretty comfortable ride.
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Old 03-02-08, 10:13 PM   #6
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So you have a track bike with high gearing, bullhorn handlebars, and it's fixed, to boot? That's not the bike I would choose for a 24 mile round trip, no offense.

If I was choosing, I would pick something with multiple gears. You don't need a triple, but something with an 8 speed hub would be ideal for you. That being said, having the ability to switch between fixed and single speed would be much better than dedicated fixed gear.

Was your decision to buy the bike you have motivated by logic or fashion? A fixed gear isn't something you just jump into. You're going from a BMX to a track bike. Big difference, I think. Be careful.
Riding BMX from ages 10-17 might have something to do with it.. Maybe since I was 10, it was about fashion too. I wanted the small cool looking bike. And I was out on my bike daily, riding from morning to night. It was nice to have that feeling where I didn't need gears to get up a hill or something. Yes, I bought my bike cause it looked super cool, but there were plenty of geared bikes that looked cool as well. I just thought, since I had ridden single speed all that time, it wouldn't make much of a difference.

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48/15 is really high gearing... well suited for use on a track, but not on a commute. Try getting a 17 or 18 tooth cog.

And don't listen to the naysayers... riding fixed gear is fun, it's a good workout, and replacement parts are cheap.
Thanks for the tips buddy. I'll try them out.

Last edited by PaginaVilot; 03-02-08 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 03-03-08, 01:03 AM   #7
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I'm riding single speed for the winter, since there's less to go wrong and it's easier to clean. Did 48/17 for the fall, went down to 48/19 in the winter. I can't really take advantage of downhills or tailwinds or traffic drafts with 48/19, but it cruises so nice at 14-16mph on level ground.
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Old 03-03-08, 01:14 AM   #8
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Gear down, get a brake, and take it easy. Should be no problem.
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Old 03-03-08, 02:10 AM   #9
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Thanks again. I had a frontbrake installed the day I bought it, so I think I'm good. I actually bought it in Sacramento as well, at thebikebiz.. though, I live in the bay area.
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Old 03-03-08, 02:28 AM   #10
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It will take a few weeks, but after awhile you will find yourself being a stronger rider from the commute. Just got done my SS commute home, which is only 4 miles, but I decided to take the highway instead of the backroads where the hills are steeper. Thankfully at 3:00 am, there was only one vehicle that passed me the entire trip.

I just started back this season commuting on a SS, as I was using a MTB last year to go back and forth. I find the 1st few weeks more tiring than ever, but it seems to help immensely when I go out road racing with my friends and MTB'ing on the weekend.
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Old 03-03-08, 02:59 AM   #11
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I would also say that a track bike is not the optimal bike for commuting due to it's geometry which will impart a harsher ride... a road or touring frame will ride better and will have allowances for fenders and wider tyres which also make things more plush and reduce to possibility of flats.

I commute 12,000 km a year and most of those miles are done on a pair of fixed gear bikes; my fixed road bike sees the dry roads and my fixed mtb sees wetter weather and snow.

My thought is that if I am only going to be running one gear it will be fixed and my touring bike (another fixed gear) runs 2 fixed cogs instead of a fixed free combo.

I do have a few geared bikes that see a fair bit of use too but for sheer simplicity, efficiency, and low maintainence, nothing beats a well made fixed gear.

And they are also really fun to ride.
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Old 03-03-08, 06:02 AM   #12
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I commute to work on a fixed gear bike. However, my commute is short (~5.5 miles each way, rolling hills), and I am in decent shape. I would not be daunted my a 12 mile trip. I would, if I were you, drop the gearing down to about 72 gear inches. Maybe change your cog to a 17t. Also, please add on at least a front brake.

If you're serious about commuting, then you may want to consider fenders, lights (essential, if you're traveling at night), a reflective vest, and maybe a large saddlebag or panniers to carry your stuff.

Even though I like the idea of commuting fixed, it may be a better idea to get a decent geared bike, so you can really enjoy your commute.

EDIT: Whoops! Just noticed that you have a front brake.
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Old 03-03-08, 06:09 AM   #13
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Even though I like the idea of commuting fixed, it may be a better idea to get a decent geared bike, so you can really enjoy your commute.

I really enjoy my commute... at least 80% of that enjoyment comes from doing it on a fixed gear.

Mine is a 26 km round trip if I take the shortest route possible.
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Old 03-03-08, 06:12 AM   #14
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bah humbug

One can enjoy a long commute on a fixed gear just as well as a geared bike. I once had this incorrect opinion until I switched to a fixed gear. Now I wonder why I would ever bother with a geared bike for commuting.
Then again I am a wee bit loopy. My route is 56 miles RT 3 times a week with a 1000 feet of climbing on the way in.

Gear down and it should not be a problem. I also threw a set of raceblade fenders on mine. Not perfect but they are better than nothing. I may eventually jury rig a set of full fenders.
Also, if you are getting in shape it will be a wee bit more tiring with riding a fixed gear.IMHO God knows mine beats me down.

Have fun!
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Old 03-03-08, 06:43 AM   #15
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Long rides on a fixed gear are more than possible and something that would have been commonplace when my Lenton was sold back in 1955.

I did a metric and a full century on this bike last year... it runs two fixed cogs (16 and 18) on a double stepped hub with a 46 tooth front chain ring.

I have also commuted on this bike although it is not a regular in the commuting rotation.

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Old 03-03-08, 07:01 AM   #16
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Fixed gear bikes are for lazy people, like me. I sooooo love the flywheel effect and the fact that the bike pushes the pedals through the dead spots for me. That distance is not a big deal on a fixed. Before you know it, it won't feel like work to push that gear.
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Old 03-03-08, 07:16 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaginaVilot View Post
Hi,

The Main reason why I'm asking is because I'm planning on riding my bike to work and back, which would be a 24 mile round trip as soon as I feel comfortable with longer commutes.

EDIT: also wanted to ask is my gearing was alright for me. Everything is pretty much flat around here, I have to go up/over a bridge once in awhile, but other than that.. everything's flat. My stock config is 48/15.
I did a 24 mile roundertripper in the hills of Vermont for a year or so on a Fixie before
I went to a SS. You get used to riding the distance so tiring out will not be a problem
all the time but the stuff that I would worry about on your commute is if you are in
rush hour traffic, how much stop & go is there ? That stuff gets sort of old fast on a
fixie unless you are a real die-hard. Another thing I found frustrating is limited top
speed...when you gear for traffic, and stopping and starting, you wish you had more
gear when youre hammering.....I love fixies, dont get me wrong, but you might want
to go SS for a while until you are totally comfortable with your commute and where
any problem points are along the way.
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Old 03-03-08, 07:30 AM   #18
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My stock config is 48/15.
As others have mentioned, that's too high...

I would go buy an 18 and see how that feels. Once you're comfortable there, consider dropping a gear at a time until you find the right combination for you.
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Old 03-03-08, 08:27 AM   #19
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+1 to everyone that said gear down and put a brake on. Get a 17t cog so you have at least 17 skid patches, 34 if you ambi-skid. Since you may not be used to skipping/skidding in a hurry, slap a front brake on. Keep your pant leg out of your chain and keep riding. You have to build your stamina and endurance back up after taking a few years off.
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Old 03-03-08, 10:04 AM   #20
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Just so you know, a bmx freewheel will thread on a track hub. You will need two brakes then though. Gear down a little bit, and your 12 mile commute should be easily doable in under an hour.
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Old 03-03-08, 10:57 AM   #21
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Wow, thanks everyone. You guys are a lot nicer than the FG/SS people.. haha.
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Old 03-03-08, 10:59 AM   #22
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It's funny that we tend to think of our fg bikes as short-trippers. It may be that most of us use them for urban adventures and errand running, but I've found that the fg really shines on the open road (unless you have mountains to climb, of course). The constant pedalling builds endurance and suppleness in a way that can't be duplicated on a geared bike.
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Old 03-03-08, 11:34 AM   #23
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24 miles is fine on a fixie, but I +millionth on the gear down. I have a very flat commute, 18 miles one way, and I'm riding my single speed 42x17. If it was fixed I might go 44x17 or 42x15, just so I wouldn't spin out, but I like where my RPMs are for most of my ride-right around 90.

Your knees will get sore on a flat commute with tall gearing unless you have the uber-strength to spin that tall gear!

Fixes are fun, and if you feel good with the geometry then go for it.

Personally I wouldn't ride a track bike outside of a track, but I have short arms and like a more relaxed position for my commute.

Good luck!
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Old 03-03-08, 11:34 AM   #24
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It's funny that we tend to think of our fg bikes as short-trippers. It may be that most of us use them for urban adventures and errand running, but I've found that the fg really shines on the open road (unless you have mountains to climb, of course). The constant pedalling builds endurance and suppleness in a way that can't be duplicated on a geared bike.
I think these fellows would agree.
http://www.the508.com/2004web/fixedfeature.html

My fastest century ever was logged on a fixed gear. I found some problems with butt fatique over the 100 miles but it was a lot of fun.
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Old 03-03-08, 11:42 AM   #25
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Great link, Sawtooth. And I notice that these guys are climbing 10% grades on their FG bikes. Hard core.
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