# How do I get quicker on acceleration?

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• 03-28-14, 10:59 AM
I-Like-To-Bike
Quote:

Originally Posted by AlTheKiller
Coming from a guy who commuted solely by fixed gear for two years... Um, you are wrong. You are imagining a perceived benefit which does not exist. Yes, that style of riding, staying in a decent gear and either mashing or spinning can be quite useful. However you can do it on a geared bike. Good riders on a geared bike who understand both their bike and themselves will always be more efficient and faster in street scenarios compared to a fixed gear. There is simply no basis for the assumption that fixed gears are somehow better even though they extremely limit your ability to adapt to the scenario.

Knowing the limitations of a fixed gear bike, why did you stick with it for two years?
• 03-28-14, 01:22 PM
caloso
Quote:

Originally Posted by cyccommute
"...And oh how they danced
The little children of Stone'enge..."

I think you are having a Spinal Tap moment...unless you are really slow getting off the line. My grandmother was faster than fifteen inches in 15 seconds...and she was using a stroller!;)

You are off on the distanced covered in 15 seconds. It would depend on the rate of acceleration and time. Consider: If you were crossing a 4 lane intersection, that's about 60ft. If the final speed is 15mph, the acceleration is 4 ft/sec and the distance is covered in 3.7 seconds. That's a leisurely pace. Assuming that you stop accelerating once you hit 15mph, in 15 seconds you will have reached 112 feet. If you accelerate at 7 ft/sec to 20 mph, you'd cover that distance in around 2 seconds and you'd have reached 150 feet in 15 seconds.

mstraus has it right. A single speed bike has no advantages over a multigeared bike in terms of acceleration or speed. A single speed is limited to what speed you can get out of that single gear. Once the rider hits a maximum rpm at the cranks, they don't have any more ability to accelerate. On a geared bike, I can change gears and accelerate even further. I could do the same as you can on a single speed and not shift but why would I want to do that?

I believe you misunderstood my post. The OP asked how he can get quicker acceleration. My reply was to describe a workout or drill that he can do a few times a week to improve his jump. The 15 seconds is how long each rep of the drill lasts.
• 03-28-14, 03:42 PM
Leisesturm
I really wish that there wouldn't always be at least two, often more, but usually at least two, mutually exclusive, strongly held opinions to every question that is asked in this forum. I don't even want to muddy the discussion further with my own opinions. I will observe though that we have hardly helped the o.p. with all the various and sundry conflicting opinions. IMO, a solution has to be practical above anything else. Yeah, the o.p. could start on an interval workout program and in a few months... ... might... see scant improvement in 'jump'. But.... really? I've never done an interval in my life and I cross some pretty gnarly intersections, more or less safely, without them. I think when you have a bike that is stripped of all running gear and accessories (except maybe a brake. One brake) the way most FG/SS tend roll. . I think that bike is going to be a LOT lighter than a fully appointed commuter rig, and there will be an increase in 'jumpability' by default. Is that practical? I think not.

Some of you are calling the o.p. a 'he'. I hope the o.p. will not take umbrage at being outed as being female by yours truly, because I feel that that fact is germane to the discussion. In Portland, where I now live, as many women as men are out on the streets on bikes and it is truly awesome to behold. Awesome, because for most of my life I lived in a place where very few women rode at all. It's just not something I'm used to seeing. They haul you know what, too. But I notice that men and women use far different gears getting it done. This is undeniable. Men mash, and women whirl. My usual cadence is in the high 80's when I'm cruising, and that is a lot faster than most guys who mash at 70's cadences for the most part. I am 55yo, I can't mash a 105" gear @ 60rpm like a guy in his 20's. Neither can most women. In fact, most women routinely spin in the high 90's when they are cruising across Burnside Bridge. I get exhausted watching their feet whirl round. Using gears that are as low as the ones commonly employed by most women will not have a huge acceleration potential.Women have to time their traffic opportunities, rather than attempt to develop explosive power because it just doesn't work that way. I will overshare and reveal that I have had close personal experience with a female bodybuilder who was using anabolic steroids. She was insanely strong and used weights beyond what mortal women couldn't even consider. But these weights were more or less, easily within my ability to lift for reps, even though I had been training for only a tiny fraction of the time that this woman had been training. Without drugs a woman's ability to train for additional strength (jump) is minimal to nil.

The o.p.'s lack of 'jump' might be entirely a perception. I don't know how much experience she has, but increasing experience confers better technique and this has the effect of increasing confidence and ability. I said I wasn't going to muddy this discussion with my opinions, what have I done! Well I've worked too hard on this to delete it all. FWIW.

H
• 03-28-14, 04:13 PM
AlTheKiller
Quote:

Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Knowing the limitations of a fixed gear bike, why did you stick with it for two years?

I was broke and cheap.
Pretty much maintenance free. Since I relied on it for transportation and was unfamiliar with the finger details of derailleur tuning, I couldn't afford to leave it at a shop for a day or two to get tweaked.
And because I liked it.

Nothing wrong with fixed gear at all, especially in my flat city. But for people to argue it's faster just because many people use gears wrong more often than not is massively misleading.
• 03-28-14, 04:25 PM
caloso
Quote:

Originally Posted by Leisesturm
I really wish that there wouldn't always be at least two, often more, but usually at least two, mutually exclusive, strongly held opinions to every question that is asked in this forum. I don't even want to muddy the discussion further with my own opinions. I will observe though that we have hardly helped the o.p. with all the various and sundry conflicting opinions. IMO, a solution has to be practical above anything else. Yeah, the o.p. could start on an interval workout program and in a few months... ... might... see scant improvement in 'jump'. But.... really? I've never done an interval in my life and I cross some pretty gnarly intersections, more or less safely, without them. I think when you have a bike that is stripped of all running gear and accessories (except maybe a brake. One brake) the way most FG/SS tend roll. . I think that bike is going to be a LOT lighter than a fully appointed commuter rig, and there will be an increase in 'jumpability' by default. Is that practical? I think not.

Some of you are calling the o.p. a 'he'. I hope the o.p. will not take umbrage at being outed as being female by yours truly, because I feel that that fact is germane to the discussion. In Portland, where I now live, as many women as men are out on the streets on bikes and it is truly awesome to behold. Awesome, because for most of my life I lived in a place where very few women rode at all. It's just not something I'm used to seeing. They haul you know what, too. But I notice that men and women use far different gears getting it done. This is undeniable. Men mash, and women whirl. My usual cadence is in the high 80's when I'm cruising, and that is a lot faster than most guys who mash at 70's cadences for the most part. I am 55yo, I can't mash a 105" gear @ 60rpm like a guy in his 20's. Neither can most women. In fact, most women routinely spin in the high 90's when they are cruising across Burnside Bridge. I get exhausted watching their feet whirl round. Using gears that are as low as the ones commonly employed by most women will not have a huge acceleration potential.Women have to time their traffic opportunities, rather than attempt to develop explosive power because it just doesn't work that way. I will overshare and reveal that I have had close personal experience with a female bodybuilder who was using anabolic steroids. She was insanely strong and used weights beyond what mortal women couldn't even consider. But these weights were more or less, easily within my ability to lift for reps, even though I had been training for only a tiny fraction of the time that this woman had been training. Without drugs a woman's ability to train for additional strength (jump) is minimal to nil.

The o.p.'s lack of 'jump' might be entirely a perception. I don't know how much experience she has, but increasing experience confers better technique and this has the effect of increasing confidence and ability. I said I wasn't going to muddy this discussion with my opinions, what have I done! Well I've worked too hard on this to delete it all. FWIW.

H

• 03-28-14, 04:25 PM
wolfchild
Quote:

Originally Posted by AlTheKiller
Coming from a guy who commuted solely by fixed gear for two years... Um, you are wrong. You are imagining a perceived benefit which does not exist. Yes, that style of riding, staying in a decent gear and either mashing or spinning can be quite useful. However you can do it on a geared bike. Good riders on a geared bike who understand both their bike and themselves will always be more efficient and faster in street scenarios compared to a fixed gear. There is simply no basis for the assumption that fixed gears are somehow better even though they extremely limit your ability to adapt to the scenario.

2 years ??, is that all ??...I've been commuting 18-20 miles roundtrip on fixed gears and singlespeeds for 6 years, and I don't even own any multi geared bikes anymore... It's not for everybody. Some people experiment with FG and fail and come to a conclusion that nobody should be using FG for commuting or recreational riding. The limitations that you speak of are small, minor and irrelevant to my daily commute.
• 03-28-14, 04:41 PM
wolfchild
Quote:

Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Knowing the limitations of a fixed gear bike, why did you stick with it for two years?

I still want to know what limitations are we talking about. Is it the speed ??. Is it the handling and control of the bike ??.. I think the limitations he speaks of are more in the rider then a bike... Yes top speed is limited, but so what ??. This is commuting not racing. On a good day I am happy to be cruising at 17-22 MPH. I know it's too slow for most of the pros on commuting forum but it's good enough for me.
• 03-28-14, 04:43 PM
GhostSS
Quote:

Originally Posted by lhbernhardt
If you want to do REALLY fast standing starts, ride the track. Get a track coach to show you how to do a real standing start. There is a definite technique to it. Watch youtube videos of standing starts on the track to see how it's done. You need to use your whole body. The biggest secret is to drive your hips forward, like you're humping the stem of your bike. With this technique, you can start just as fast in a big gear as someone trying to spin up a smaller gear. You can also use this technique on steep climbs, so it's worth knowing.

Most uneducated riders make the mistake of using side-to-side motion, rocking the bike. This is wasteful. You want forward and back. This technique has been useful for doing stuff like climbing Haleakala on my fixie.

This is a good secret. Don't tell anyone! I'm posting it here because nobody listens to me anyway; they already know everything. But you might...

Luis

I'll agree with lhbernhardt here, but also add that it depends on the gearing you are in when you do a track style standing start. Bigger(ish) gears make standing starts more practical as you don't have to shift as early (if you are geared at least), and you can focus on putting power down longer without reaching a dead spot in the pedal stroke during standing acceleration, then focus on higher cadence and circular pedaling when you get momentum once seated. Also foot retention makes a huge difference. I don't consider myself a track (tarck?) star, but I use track 'inspired' standing starts on my commute and I'm able to keep up with cars up until escape velocity. Key is to get good at getting into your foot retention quickly so you can utilize the up stroke.

Watch Yudai Nitta for his standing starts:

• 03-28-14, 05:58 PM
Rudz
Tried to track stand today, fell over and cut my leg. Maybe I shouldn't have been so confident and stayed clipped in. Smh

I'll try again this weekend. Unclipped!
• 03-28-14, 08:08 PM
I-Like-To-Bike
Quote:

Originally Posted by wolfchild
I still want to know what limitations are we talking about.

The limitations specifically called out by AltheKiller, "Good riders on a geared bike who understand both their bike and themselves will always be more efficient and faster in street scenarios compared to a fixed gear. There is simply no basis for the assumption that fixed gears are somehow better even though they extremely limit your ability to adapt to the scenario."
• 03-28-14, 09:04 PM
Giant Doofus
Quote:

Originally Posted by Leisesturm
I really wish that there wouldn't always be at least two, often more, but usually at least two, mutually exclusive, strongly held opinions to every question that is asked in this forum. I don't even want to muddy the discussion further with my own opinions. I will observe though that we have hardly helped the o.p. with all the various and sundry conflicting opinions. IMO, a solution has to be practical above anything else. Yeah, the o.p. could start on an interval workout program and in a few months... ... might... see scant improvement in 'jump'. But.... really? I've never done an interval in my life and I cross some pretty gnarly intersections, more or less safely, without them. I think when you have a bike that is stripped of all running gear and accessories (except maybe a brake. One brake) the way most FG/SS tend roll. . I think that bike is going to be a LOT lighter than a fully appointed commuter rig, and there will be an increase in 'jumpability' by default. Is that practical? I think not.

Some of you are calling the o.p. a 'he'. I hope the o.p. will not take umbrage at being outed as being female by yours truly, because I feel that that fact is germane to the discussion.

H

Thank you for this very thoughtful post. I do not at all mind being identified as a woman, for that is what I am. Some of the advice her has been very helpful. I'll try some interval sprints on my weekend ride and might add a few body weight exercises to my yoga stretches. The posts about using the pavement foot to push off and downshifting have so far turned out to be the most practical. Still, I learn a lot from the endless technical dates that inevitably follow from even the simplest queastions.
• 03-28-14, 09:09 PM
Giant Doofus
Quote:

Originally Posted by caloso

Yep. I'm going to try adding some intervals to my normal weekend rides, which are usually just fun, ramble around rides. It won't hurt to throw in a few sprints to see if it helps. Probably won't hurt.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rudz
Tried to track stand today, fell over and cut my leg. Maybe I shouldn't have been so confident and stayed clipped in. Smh

I'll try again this weekend. Unclipped!

Ouch! I'm a klutz who stays happily with platform pedals.
• 03-28-14, 09:56 PM
Reynolds
I'd suggest trying to increase your max cadence. That way you can start in a lower gear (more acceleration) and reach the same final speed (for a few seconds) as in a higher gear.
• 03-29-14, 02:01 AM
First, I gotta say the "fixed gear are quicker" thing is absurd, and I will eat my derailleur if I'm ever beat across an intersection by fixie. Can't happen, won't happen...and by the time I'm 3/4 across spinnin' 95rpm they're just hitting 85rpm while I'm snatching the next gear and am gone...

To the OP, I don't see how this foot push-off is working, in that your lead foot should be on the pedal and at the top of the power stroke, i.e. 1 o'clock. When the light goes green, you should be jumping on that lead foot and driving forward with your full weight. Your down foot, or trailing leg, has no leverage to push; if it does, you're doing something that is far less effective at propelling you forward.

Furthermore:

Have your hands in the power position, on the drops like Caloso talked about, or out on the barends if you've got those on your flatbar (if you don't, get some).

Lift off the saddle on launch, putting all your weight and force into driving that pedal through the lower stroke.

Practice getting your down foot on the pedal as quickly as possible, so that it can be there to work when that pedal hits the top of its stroke. This is key: seAmless, quick, power.

Are you using foot retention? You outta be. It's more secure and helps you deliver more power. However, don't worry about getting the trailing foot in on that first stroke, or even before clearing the intersection; you need to focus on pedal speed and confinuous power. Once you're clear, flip the toeclip or get the cleat in then; as you improve your coordination, you'll get proficient and getting your down foot secured immediately, but it's nothing to worry about up front.

Launch in the right gear that allows you to accellerate to your max cadence by just past midway of your sprint zone, and get on that next gear and spin it back up ASAP.

That'll get you goin' good.
• 03-29-14, 08:04 AM
Reynolds
Quote:

Originally Posted by moochems
Also, single speed / fixed gear drive trains are "more efficient" (is that the right term?).

Less chain mass to spin up, less resistance, better chain line, no spinning the pulleys of the derailleur. Individually, insignificant, as a sum it's less insignificant.

If it is a safety concern, how fast you get through that intersection, then stack the odds in your favor. If, for example, the major hinderance to going through fast is clipping in, consider staying clipped in if you can, or even platform pedals.

Safety first, is especially true at intersections. Sometimes speed means safe, perhaps more often that is not true, but at some intersections it may be.

You can have this on a geared bike - Cambio Corsa!
• 03-29-14, 09:10 AM
Giant Doofus
Quote:

Have your hands in the power position, on the drops like Caloso talked about, or out on the barends if you've got those on your flatbar (if you don't, get some).

Lift off the saddle on launch, putting all your weight and force into driving that pedal through the lower stroke.

Practice getting your down foot on the pedal as quickly as possible, so that it can be there to work when that pedal hits the top of its stroke. This is key: seAmless, quick, power.

Are you using foot retention? You outta be. It's more secure and helps you deliver more power. However, don't worry about getting the trailing foot in on that first stroke, or even before clearing the intersection; you need to focus on pedal speed and confinuous power. Once you're clear, flip the toeclip or get the cleat in then; as you improve your coordination, you'll get proficient and getting your down foot secured immediately, but it's nothing to worry about up front.

Launch in the right gear that allows you to accellerate to your max cadence by just past midway of your sprint zone, and get on that next gear and spin it back up ASAP.

That'll get you goin' good.

What I'm doing now is pushing down on the top pedal with my left foot while pushing back on the pavement with the right one to sort of help myself hop up. I stand on the pedals through the intersection. Your advice about getting that down foot on the pedal as quickly as possible so that it's ready on that first revolution makes sense. I'm not using foot retention, but your post (along with some others) makes me wonder if I should try some power grips. I've had my foot slip off the pedal on the downstroke (the pedal was wet), and it really rattled me, so at the very least having the top foot held in place would give me greater confidence in powering down on the pedal without fear of my foot slipping.

I am using flat bars and don't have bar ends. I have a new bike on order with north roads style bars, so I'm not sure how that is going to change the equation.

• 03-29-14, 10:04 AM
CharlyAlfaRomeo
Quote:

Originally Posted by Giant Doofus
It won't hurt to throw in a few sprints to see if it helps. Probably won't hurt.

If you're doing it right it will. :p
• 03-29-14, 10:26 AM
acidfast7
Quote:

First, I gotta say the "fixed gear are quicker" thing is absurd, and I will eat my derailleur if I'm ever beat across an intersection by fixie. Can't happen, won't happen...

thankfully for your teeth you live nowhere near me!
• 03-29-14, 10:56 AM
halcyon100
This is an interesting thread. I have one stop on my commute that is fairly tough to accelerate from - a stop sign about a quarter mile past a long downhill where I really pick up speed. The stop sign is at the beginning of a second hill. If the stop sign weren't there, I could easily coast up the hill based on the speed from the prior downhill, but c'est la vie. It seems that I am using my arm muscles and core muscles more when I accelerate from this stop.

I have been doing intervals and I think they help my speed and overall power, but I'm not sure how much they might help me accelerate after stopping. I do think that weight lifting, especially upper body / upper back muscles is helpful for me. Increasing core strength is helpful too. Tom Danielson's book Core Advantage is pretty good. I got it because I have a disc issue in my back and I was looking to build up core and upper body strength as a way of maybe mitigating the negative impact on my back from being hunched over cycling.

I do intervals on a stationary bike at the gym. I aim for brief periods of high power (the highest resistance level I can handle while trying to spin at 105-115 rpm). I've only been doing this for a couple months now, once or twice a week. I have been slowly able to increase the resistance while keeping the rpm up.

I currently commute on a road bike with recessed cleat mtb pedals. I'm not very good at track stands, but I have found that if I switch into just the right gear before a stop and very gradually moderate my speed, it helps to be clipped in and moving (even very slowly) when I re-start.

I'm female and it is interesting to think about the impact of that on this issue. I take thyroid hormone and do feel that I'm overall slower and less strong during that "time of the month"... Too much hormones swirling around, maybe. I used to do lots of long-distance road riding in my early 20's and then stopped riding in my late 20's due to the back injury and was diagnosed with the thyroid problem around 30. I have recently been reading that it is not uncommon for endurance athletes of both genders to develop thyroid problems and some articles attribute this to the "constant stress" of steady-state exercise. I do find that when I do regular long rides, it is about impossible for me to lose weight. When I stop exercising or do just brief intervals / weights in a week, it is much easier for me to eat less and lose weight. I would like to lose about 20 pounds. I find this depressing because I love taking long "steady cardio" rides. I don't love intervals at all, but all the current fitness research seems to say that they are more helpful than anything else.

www.runnersworld.com/health/how-does-endurance-training-affect-your-thyroid-and-vice-versa

• 03-29-14, 11:04 AM
Giant Doofus
Quote:

Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo
If you're doing it right it will. :p

Ha!
• 03-29-14, 01:16 PM
Quote:

Originally Posted by Giant Doofus
What I'm doing now is pushing down on the top pedal with my left foot while pushing back on the pavement with the right one to sort of help myself hop up. I stand on the pedals through the intersection. Your advice about getting that down foot on the pedal as quickly as possible so that it's ready on that first revolution makes sense. I'm not using foot retention, but your post (along with some others) makes me wonder if I should try some power grips. I've had my foot slip off the pedal on the downstroke (the pedal was wet), and it really rattled me, so at the very least having the top foot held in place would give me greater confidence in powering down on the pedal without fear of my foot slipping.

I am using flat bars and don't have bar ends. I have a new bike on order with north roads style bars, so I'm not sure how that is going to change the equation.

You're description raises another question: are you seated at the stop with one foot down? That position will give you the fastest, most powerful, most stable start. I know some people dismount forward and stand flat-footed, but while that technique has merits, it's not the max launch.

I think that foot retention is an absolute must for max acceleration efforts, but it's also great for general commuting safety, as you note. I've also had a boot slip off a cold, wet, bike pedal while navigating traffic, and it could have easily ended me if not for some lucky bike handling. I've never used Powergrips, so I can't comment on them specifically, and I'm sure they're just fine, but the do rely on foot position for tension on the retaining strap rather than a manually tightened strap as you have with a toe clip setup, so you give up some potential security and ease of adjustment in that sense, but they offer other advantages (e.g. less shoe scuffing).

Regarding the northroads bars, they are going to hurt your effort. Because they sweep back, they inhibit getting forward, outfront, and driving the pedals from a low position, as well as reducing your hand leverage while sprinting out of the saddle. So, in the narrow context of going harder and faster from a stop, they're a poor choice, and you'd almost certainly be better served by adding bar ends to your existing flat bar. Oh, whole new bike I see...still, nothing equipped with northroads is optimized to get you out of the gate rapidly.

In any case, and no matter what you ride, you can also improve your getaway speed by training your sprint. Work at it, push yourself, and you'll get faster, I'm sure!
• 03-29-14, 04:06 PM
AlTheKiller
Quote:

Originally Posted by wolfchild
I still want to know what limitations are we talking about. Is it the speed ??. Is it the handling and control of the bike ??.. I think the limitations he speaks of are more in the rider then a bike... Yes top speed is limited, but so what ??. This is commuting not racing. On a good day I am happy to be cruising at 17-22 MPH. I know it's too slow for most of the pros on commuting forum but it's good enough for me.

Sometimes I fell like reading comprehension is a lost art. Yes, the limitations for fixed gear on the street are small, I never said they were large or insurmountable. What I gave were facts while arguing against blatant misconceptions certain people have about their super sweet fixed gears.

I simply stated they will always be at a disadvantage to a geared bike, whether you look at acceleration, top speed, cruising, handling, etc... Gear ratios are very simple things, if used correctly they give you a noticeable leg up on anything with one gear. I loved riding fixed gear, the reason I stopped is because I broke my knee.

Go back and look at who I responded to, and what I actually said. There's no way anyone could take issue with it unless blinded by fixed gear fan boy sight.
IMO the maintenance issue with fg is the biggest plus. The drawbacks are often minor, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

Just please don't spread lies about being limited to one gear somehow making your acceleration faster, its completely false, and luckily easily seem that way by anyone with a modicum of objectivity.

At the end of the day, my thought is to ride whatever makes you happy. Which is why I still have a junky single speed that puts a smile on my face, in addition to my road bike and old hybrid junker.
• 03-29-14, 04:11 PM
wolfchild
Fast acceleration is based upon how much power you have.. Power is the ability to generate high amounts of force over short period of time..Fast acceleration is an explosive movement, so the more power you have the faster you'll be able to accelerate. Explosive strength applied as fast as possible=power.. The only way to develop power and explosive strength is through training and practise.
• 03-29-14, 07:29 PM
cyccommute
Quote:

Originally Posted by caloso
I believe you misunderstood my post. The OP asked how he can get quicker acceleration. My reply was to describe a workout or drill that he can do a few times a week to improve his jump. The 15 seconds is how long each rep of the drill lasts.

I see what the confusion is now. A double quotation mark is far more commonly used for inches than seconds.
• 03-29-14, 07:44 PM
cyccommute
Quote:

Originally Posted by Giant Doofus
Ouch! I'm a klutz who stays happily with platform pedals.

That's going to be a large part of your problem for improving your acceleration. Acceleration is about putting power to the pedals. With platforms, you can only put power to the front side of the pedal stroke. On the back side of the pedal stroke, you can only let the pedal return to the top of the stroke so that you can push down on the pedal again.

With clipless, you can pull the pedal up to get it back around to where you are pushing down again. There's not a huge amount of power developed during the backstroke but there is some. How much power you get depends on how hard and fast you can pull the pedal back up. It's worth learning how to use clipless or, at the very least, toeclips. Toeclips have some other issues but they are at least better than platforms.
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