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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 08-15-13, 09:56 AM   #1
tjspiel
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Not feeling the full fixie Love so far, - looking for thoughts on foot retention

So I recently put together a fixie by resurrecting a crashed bike and throwing on some spare parts.

As icing on the cake and like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it also turned out to be hot.

However, after riding it several times to work I found myself not looking forward to the ride home last night which is unusual for me. Part of it is definitely fit issues. The handlebar I had on there before was bent and I replaced with an older style of drop bar that's never worked that well for me when it comes to riding on the hoods. It bugs my wrists. So I found another bar and will be replacing that soon.

The other thing that bothers me some is that I don't feel quite as confident on it as I do my other bikes. Part of that is just because I'm new to riding fixed. Another part is worrying that my feet are going to slip off if I go over some rough pavement or something, so I've been wondering about foot retention.

Has anyone used power grips on a fixed gear before? I have a set which I've used before and liked but I'm not sure how easy it's going to be to have to flip a moving pedal and get my foot in.

I also have platform/spd combo pedals but again, the moving pedal thing has me concerned. I can see the advantages of two sided spds or egg beaters in this case but I don't want to invest in new pedals just for this little fixie experiment.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-15-13, 10:03 AM   #2
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I'm looking at buying a multicolored fluorescent fixie before I leave CPH and head to England because they're somewhat unique here.

However, I am slightly worried about doing a 40km RT commute on a fixie (the commute is very flat).

Could you describe how it is to ride one compared to a geared bike?
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Old 08-15-13, 10:12 AM   #3
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I have Power Grips on my fixed-gear. Since the bike is my winter bike, I wanted something that would hold my feet in place, but could bail from easily.



They turn out to be nice to use -- after a little practice, it becomes second-nature to move your foot with the pedal while engaging it.
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Old 08-15-13, 10:25 AM   #4
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I'm looking at buying a multicolored fluorescent fixie before I leave CPH and head to England because they're somewhat unique here.

However, I am slightly worried about doing a 40km RT commute on a fixie (the commute is very flat).

Could you describe how it is to ride one compared to a geared bike?
As a noob, there are things that I was expecting and things that were a little surprising.

1. Pedal position when starting out is more of an issue. You might have to pick up the back wheel to get things where you want them. It's easier if you squeeze the front brake while doing so.

2. If you're used to throwing your bike into a turn, you have to be more careful. Since you can't step pedaling you need to make sure you're not leaning over too far.

3. I coasted in more situations than I realized. Going over curbs and rough pavement. Cresting a hill, etc.

4. Feet coming off pedals while going downhill is bad.


On the positive side it's not as tiring as I thought it would be. My commute is not very hilly and what hills I do have I was able to adjust to riding without gears pretty easily. While you do have to pedal the whole time, you don't necessarily have to pedal hard. In situations where you might normally coast to get a little rest you can let your legs just sort of ride the pedals.

Rolling hills would definitely be a challenge.

The quietness and the smoothness of the drivetrain are definite pluses, but my Alfine hub on the winter bike coasts silently anyway. Some people have reported feeling a new freedom by not having to think about gears. I guess I've never found gear changes to be a burden on my psyche.

I wouldn't be too worried about covering the same distance on a geared bike vs a fixed one as long as it's relatively flat and you don't have to stop every couple of blocks. I personally find stops to be more annoying because of the pedal issue I mentioned earlier and because it takes longer to get up to speed. The first I think is just a matter of getting used to and the second might be too. I guess if I really got to be bothered by slow starts I could change the gearing.

Last edited by tjspiel; 08-15-13 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 08-15-13, 10:31 AM   #5
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I have Power Grips on my fixed-gear. Since the bike is my winter bike, I wanted something that would hold my feet in place, but could bail from easily.



They turn out to be nice to use -- after a little practice, it becomes second-nature to move your foot with the pedal while engaging it.
Good to know. Are those the standard Power Grips or the fixed gear version? I have the standard ones.

I'm especially happy to find that they worked well for winter. I've been anxious to try fixed during the winter but foot retention would be a potential drawback as I prefer platforms for the very reason you mentioned. I think having two bikes would be good. My fixed gear could maybe take 35 mm studs and I'd just use it on days that weren't too bad.
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Old 08-15-13, 10:38 AM   #6
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Good to know. Are those the standard Power Grips or the fixed gear version? I have the standard ones.

I'm especially happy to find that they worked well for winter. I've been anxious to try fixed during the winter but foot retention would be a potential drawback as I prefer platforms for the very reason you mentioned. I think having two bikes would be good. My fixed gear could maybe take 35 mm studs and I'd just use it on days that weren't too bad.
They're just the regular ones, as far as I know. Another thing I like about these pedals is that you can just put your foot down and ride them like platform pedals -- the strap (if your foot lands on the top side) mashes down much more gracefully than the cage of a toeclip pedal.
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Old 08-15-13, 11:07 AM   #7
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there are velcro closed wide straight across the pedal types for the wide MTB pedal . too..
essentially a parallel pair of straps on each pedal ..

Track Sprinters , match races , like those Chris Hoy wins so often really lock their feet to the pedals

but there is no intersections on a Velodrome..
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Old 08-15-13, 11:42 AM   #8
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I've ridden fixed gear with both SPDs and quills with toe clips. I like the toe clips best for commuting because I can wear my regular shoes... I ususally keep the straps on the loose side.
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Old 08-15-13, 12:30 PM   #9
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I put eggbeater cleats on the bottom of my regular shoes. Works great. Can't even tell they're there.
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Old 08-15-13, 12:52 PM   #10
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it's the green wheel. Swap it out and I guarantee your experience will improve.
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Old 08-15-13, 01:31 PM   #11
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When I first got my fixed gear I tried standard toe clips and straps. Took me forever to get my feet in the clips (I'd been riding Speedplays for so long, I'd gotten out of practice on how to do it); and I never could figure out how to tighten the straps. Then I tried some eggbeaters. Much, much better. But I missed the float of my Speedplays. Eventually I just switched over to the Speedplays on my fixed gear. I don't think you could pay me enough (well, you probably could, but you wouldn't want to) to switch back to clips and straps.
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Old 08-15-13, 02:37 PM   #12
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I just used the same spds as on other bikes.
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Old 08-15-13, 03:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
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When I first got my fixed gear I tried standard toe clips and straps. Took me forever to get my feet in the clips (I'd been riding Speedplays for so long, I'd gotten out of practice on how to do it); and I never could figure out how to tighten the straps.
It was a lot harder in the days of slotted cleats. I almost always get my sneakers in on the first try though... sometimes even cowboy mount!




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Old 08-15-13, 04:05 PM   #14
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as with most things, flipping the pedals to get your feet in will become second nature with practice
muscle memory is a nice thing

i like clipless the best but on my commuting bike which is also fixed i use clips/straps ao i dont have to change shoes

either way is fine just get those feet stuck to the pedals, i cant imagine riding fixed with no retention
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Old 08-15-13, 04:35 PM   #15
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either way is fine just get those feet stuck to the pedals, i cant imagine riding fixed with no retention
yep...
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Old 08-15-13, 04:58 PM   #16
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I'm using regular road pedals/shoes (Shimano PD-R540). When I first started riding fixed it was with no retention and I also hated life. Now skid stops are easy and I feel connected to the road like people talk about.

I've been told by the hipsters that power straps and cages are outdated and the popular choice if you don't want clipless is something like this:

http://www.fyxation.com/collections/...with-strap-kit
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Old 08-15-13, 05:02 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
The other thing that bothers me some is that I don't feel quite as confident on it as I do my other bikes. Part of that is just because I'm new to riding fixed. Another part is worrying that my feet are going to slip off if I go over some rough pavement or something, so I've been wondering about foot retention.
Just keep riding and you will get used to it. Practice makes perfect...Foot retention is extremly important on a fixed gear bike, I'll go even further and say that it's absolutly essential for safety, unless you running a very low gear ratio and riding slow. I have been using toe clips and straps for the last 4 years and I can trackstand for a very long time or until my muscles become numb and then I have to put my foot down , but I am thinking of trying some SPD's and changing over to clipless because I've heard good things about them...During winter time I run a very low gear ratio and I use BMX pedals with pins.

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Old 08-15-13, 07:48 PM   #18
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double sided SPD's here as well; whether geared, fixed or singlespeed.

tried Powergrips and velcro straps, neither felt as good.
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Old 08-15-13, 09:26 PM   #19
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I've had pretty good luck finding SPD pedals for cheap at the bike shops - they often have a bin of take-offs, and I've picked up a few sets for $20/pair. They're not top-of-the line pedals, but that might be an option if you're looking for something cheap for your experiment.
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Old 08-16-13, 02:36 AM   #20
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For the longest time I've been running the same MKS GR-9 pedals, clips and leather straps I bought in April, 2004. I keep the left strap tight and the right strap a bit loose so I can slip my foot out with control.

Several years ago I tried some SPDs, and hated them because of a hip problem that I've had since birth, but this last year I've tried them once again and I'm starting to like them (on a geared touring bike with Shimano sandals). I still like having a bike I can ride wearing sneakers, though.
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Old 08-16-13, 06:10 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
So I recently put together a fixie by resurrecting a crashed bike and throwing on some spare parts.

As icing on the cake and like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it also turned out to be hot.

However, after riding it several times to work I found myself not looking forward to the ride home last night which is unusual for me. Part of it is definitely fit issues. The handlebar I had on there before was bent and I replaced with an older style of drop bar that's never worked that well for me when it comes to riding on the hoods. It bugs my wrists. So I found another bar and will be replacing that soon.

The other thing that bothers me some is that I don't feel quite as confident on it as I do my other bikes. Part of that is just because I'm new to riding fixed. Another part is worrying that my feet are going to slip off if I go over some rough pavement or something, so I've been wondering about foot retention.

Has anyone used power grips on a fixed gear before? I have a set which I've used before and liked but I'm not sure how easy it's going to be to have to flip a moving pedal and get my foot in.

I also have platform/spd combo pedals but again, the moving pedal thing has me concerned. I can see the advantages of two sided spds or egg beaters in this case but I don't want to invest in new pedals just for this little fixie experiment.

Thoughts?
I rode fixed on one of my Schwinn's for awhile, and the best thing I can say for them is that they're fantastic for hills, as they make better use of one's already-forward motion, and they make foot retention seem truly "worth it"...sadly, at all other times it felt like the bike/road were more in control than I was (and I missed coasting), and after a few months I went back to SS/Geared. I used Power Grips on that same bike for awhile, but it really bothered me that even in the "X-Large" size category, I couldn't use them with certain footwear (I'm a jump-on-and-go-at-a-moment's-notice kind of guy) due to my shoe size (US 12)...more of a personal problem, I'm sure, but if I were to ride fixed again, I would definitely go with either clips + straps or just the straps that go across the pedal.

I don't think riding fixed is for everyone, personally speaking. I can definitely appreciate some of its finer points, but for lazies like me who love to coast and not have to fight to keep up with one's own momentum downhill, SS is more our speed.

:-)

That's my 2 cents.
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Old 08-16-13, 10:02 AM   #22
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it's the green wheel. Swap it out and I guarantee your experience will improve.


The problem is that if remove the green wheel it would not longer be a fixie.
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Old 08-16-13, 10:03 AM   #23
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Thanks all for the tips.

I've had clips and straps on two different bikes and have never cared for them. Ultimately I may go the SPD route but I think I'll try the Power Grips for now.
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Old 08-16-13, 10:37 AM   #24
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The problem is that if remove the green wheel it would not longer be a fixie.
See?
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Old 08-16-13, 11:43 AM   #25
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I had similar questions when I built my bike last year. I put eggbeaters on it, although I had no previous clipless experience. 16 months of commuting later, conclusions;
  • clipless pedals make a night and day difference. The single biggest improvement to my over-all cycling experience.
  • eggbeaters, for a number of reasons, are not suitable for riding fixed. They are just not secure enough. The cleats are too soft and wear too fast. Around 6 weeks after installing new cleats (each time) they start disengaging under load, eg. leaving traffic lights or slowing up. I tried adjusting them, but can't do that any more, having scuffed the ends on a few curbs. They're light and look interesting but aren't up for the job. I've switched to Shimano SPD m520s; heavy, clunky, but better fit for purpose. Might have to switch to a proper road pedal system next.
  • I'm safer riding fixed. No tumbles or accidents in the last 16 months (several in the previous few years). Lots of possible explanations. *shrug*
  • I used to get through a set of brake pads every 3 months. I'm still on the first set on my fixed gear.
  • As they say, riding fixed is an engaging experience. More tiring perhaps, till your muscles adjust, but fun. I love it.
  • I just built myself a racing bike - now I'm struggling to adjust to these weird gear things and the freewheel. Ugh, I loose contact with the bike when I stop pedaling!

Good luck.

Last edited by MarkN; 08-16-13 at 11:52 AM.
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