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Old 09-08-06, 08:34 AM   #1
bcoppola
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Fixie, anyone?

Last weekend during the first annual Rochester (MI) Cycling Festival, I tried a free ride on a fixed gear track bike at the local velodrome. That pretty much satisfied my curiosity about velodrome riding but the fixed gear thing intrigues me now.

Anyone here have a "road" fixie for fitness, improving technique, etc.? How do you like it? I have a nice park road here that would be a great, safe place to ride it.

Seems that, at least, finding a bike at a thrift shop or garage sale and converting it over the winter would help allay cabin fever when I tire of fly tying or building my basement man cave. (Last winter I built speakers and amps for my audio obsession: www.bruce.coppola.name/audio/ )

And yes, I've found Sheldon Brown's pages on fixie conversions.
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Old 09-08-06, 10:18 AM   #2
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I train on one, a converted Schwinn Prelude, and convert and sell a few to college students. They are a great way to train, much more of a workout per time spent. And I prefer one in icy, snowy conditions as the control you have is much, much more than on a bike that coasts. Find ya an old 10 speed with horizontal rear lugs and have a blast...doesn't take much to convert one, and is worth more on the open market as a fixed gear than it was as an old 10 speed...
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Old 09-08-06, 10:22 AM   #3
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I built myself one from an old Raleigh. I haven't ridden it in awhile. I'll tell you this, you don't realize how much you coast until you can't.
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Old 09-08-06, 10:34 AM   #4
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I built one from a frame I got at a thrift store,spare parts and a new surly rear wheel. I use it for going on shorter training rides( less than 25 miles) and I love it.Your legs get much better, faster than you can believe
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Old 09-08-06, 04:46 PM   #5
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I ride a fixie regularly (over 3000 miles this year--on the fixie)--I have ridden centuries on it, and hills--I posted a ride report of Skyline Drive on the fixie a few days ago--

It's a blast--but get a brake

train safe-
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Old 09-08-06, 05:33 PM   #6
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I got one of the cheap Motobecane ones and replaced the wheelset. I ride it for training. It is definitely different. I go as fast over the 20 mile course around my house on the fixie as I do on my good road bikes. I guess it is just the fact that all there is to do is pedal,no gears to overthink or try to get comfortable at a decent spin, just pedal,pedal,pedal.
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Old 09-08-06, 05:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baggsy
I train on one, a converted Schwinn Prelude, and convert and sell a few to college students. They are a great way to train, much more of a workout per time spent.
I agree with Baggsy - especially early season.
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Old 09-08-06, 06:29 PM   #8
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For the 50+ group, much higher risk than freewheel bikes. Kinda like putting on a pair of Roller Blades for the first time at the top of an incline. If you indulge, do so with caution. The first time you hesitate, yer screwed - if that moment of indecision happens to occur in conjunction with a motor vehicle, yer more than screwed. The end.
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Old 09-08-06, 07:16 PM   #9
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I'm planning to convert my Fuji (Uncle Duke) to a fixie one of these days. First I have to build up the MTB frame in my shed so I can convert the Trek 970 into a commuter/general purpose bike. It's like a balancing act to keep changing the function of my bikes, moving toward that mythical perfect blend of bikes to cover all the types of riding I want to do.
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Old 09-08-06, 07:48 PM   #10
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I am addicted to my fixie. It's a Gunnar Street Dog frame, not a track frame. The geometry is relaxed, and I have such things as water bottle cages, clearance for fenders and wider tires, and a brake on both wheels. (What I like about being well over 40: I don't have to care what people think)

Some people have suggested that one reason for the growing popularity of fixed gear bikes, is because many riders have become fed up with gear systems that border on the absurd in their complexity. They may be right. (File under "who asked for it?")

Riding fixed does take some getting used to. The learning curve varies from person to person. Some people pick it up right away, others take a few weeks of nominal riding. Expect some muscles to get sore the first few weeks, as you're using them differently. This will pass, sooner than you think.

What gear you pick depends on what works for you. I ride a 42 x 15, which works out to about 75 inches. Some people prefer something lower. Track bikes are geared extremly high, as you probably found out.

It's all true: riding fixed makes you stronger, and is quite addictive. It's difficult to explain beyond that. Check out the fixed gear gallery for some ideas. www.fixedgeargallery.com
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Old 09-08-06, 08:18 PM   #11
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A buddy of mine built one two winters ago..... We can't hardly get him off the darn thing. One of these years I'll build one just to see what the attraction is.
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Old 09-09-06, 02:33 AM   #12
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What scares me about a single speed is hitting a long/steep hill before I'm warmed up...
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Old 09-09-06, 06:06 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Paulie
What scares me about a single speed is hitting a long/steep hill before I'm warmed up...
What scares me about a single speed is hitting a long/steep hill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terex
For the 50+ group, much higher risk than freewheel bikes.
Hmm! And if you are 49? What does the higher risk have to do with 50+. Please explain. I sense assumptions herein!
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Old 09-09-06, 09:22 AM   #14
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I can remember one of my friends had a fixie Racing bike back in the 60's He loaned it to me when we went on a ride once and I realised why he had just got one of the Raleigh Blue streak racing bikes with 5 gears. Gearing was tough up some of the hills-(I was only 15 or so) too low on the flat and I could not pedal fast enough downhills. Next ride I went back to my Raleigh Trent Tourist with a 3spd sturmey archer.
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Old 09-09-06, 11:20 AM   #15
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I have two, 3029 and 3502 in my signature. The red one is a converted Univega and the other was built from a new frame made specifically for a fixed gear bike. It didn't take too long to get the hang of riding at the age of 60... no crashes or horror stories. One thing I did notice was that if you ride only a fixed gear bike, as I did for the first two months I had one, you can get lazy with your pedal stroke. What I mean is thatyou might not pedal in a complete circle because the momentum from the other side pedal will pull your foot through the upstroke. A quick spin on a geared bike will cure this bad habit.

Going down a hill will teach you how to spin smoothly at high rpms. If you find yourself rocking from side to side, try lowering the saddle a little and point your toe down slightly at the lower front quadrant of the pedal stroke. It will take a few days to learn how to descend withoput overspinning. I have brakes... using backward pressure on the pedals to stop or slow down is hard on the knees.

Building a fixed gear bike is an excellent cure for cabin fever. You might also find yourself building wheels. I built the wheels on #3502 (my first set) during the record setting month of March,2006, when it rained every day. I have an old Fuji frame sitting behind the couch just in case this year is a wet one too.

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Old 09-09-06, 11:25 AM   #16
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Well, alrighty then. I guess I'll keep my eyes peeled & wallet handy for a suitable candidate at thrift shops, Craigslist, etc.

As for motor vehicle/bike interactions, I plan, as I said, to mainly use it on a local park road or MUPs where vehicles are few and bikes are common. It has some long, low angle grades that should give a good safe workout.
Originally Posted by Terex
For the 50+ group, much higher risk than freewheel bikes.

To which DnvrFox replied:
Hmm! And if you are 49? What does the higher risk have to do with 50+. Please explain. I sense assumptions herein!
+1, Dnvr!

Trackhub: Great link, thanks!
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Old 09-09-06, 03:05 PM   #17
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Fixed-gear is a real personal preference issue. Since I am a gearhead who is also cursed with sub-par physical coordination, fixed-gear is not my thing, but, as you have read, lots of folks swear by (rather than at) the concept.
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Old 09-09-06, 03:53 PM   #18
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There are lots of fixies here, but with San Francisco's hills most of the riders are young (and have young knees).

I'm really tempted to build one up just for the flats (Golden Gate Park, Waterfront Route, City Loop).
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Old 09-09-06, 04:15 PM   #19
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bcoppola, this Redline 925 is one of the best values I have seen in a store-bought fixie.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/redline-925.html


The nice folks at Harris Cyclery told be they sell them almost as quickly as they come in.


The addiction factor is quite real, believe me. Don't be too surprised if you find yourself ignoring your other bikes.
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Old 09-09-06, 05:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trackhub
bcoppola, this Redline 925 is one of the best values I have seen in a store-bought fixie.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/redline-925.html

The nice folks at Harris Cyclery told be they sell them almost as quickly as they come in.
Looks nice but I have two objections:

1) Don't want to go to MA to pick up a bike.

2) I'm hoping my fixie will cost closer to $49.95 than $499.95
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Old 09-10-06, 06:48 PM   #21
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Oh I understand that. Finding the right frame will be the hard part. Don't forget yard sales. Many a fine road bike that was purchased in the "bike boom" of the 70's are stashed in garages and basements, just waiting to be reborn. One of the nicest fixies I have seen lately was built from a Raleigh Professional frame, probably manufactured in the mid-70's. Its owner bought the bike at a suburban yard last year for fifty bucks. He had to have a shop pull out the seatpost though, as it had been frozen in place, probably for a long time. (Yech!) Once you have a suitable frame, you'll be on your way.

In all fairness, there are some gotcha's in fixed gear riding. There are some hills in my area that will stop me cold, because of their sheer steepness. One is right near the Watertown, MA police station. You come around this sharp corner, and wham! It's not that high, but it goes up like a vertical wall of blacktop. No, I won't be riding my fixie up that any time soon. On the other hand, I regularly ride up the Commonwealth hills, near Boston College, with no problem. I just stand and put some butt muscle (?) into it. It almost feels as though I'm getting a push, and it's easy to keep my rhythm up.

The other gotcha's are more basic: Don't lean to far into curves. Remember, you cannot stop pedaling, so you don't want your inside pedal to bottom out on the pavement. If this happens, your rear wheel will lift, and you might go down. Not good. Get used to the handling of the bike before heading out into traffic. All the standard advice.

One big advantage to riding fixed: Like most working folks, I don't have as much time to ride as I would like. A fixed gear gives me a really nice workout, in the time I do have available. This could have something to do with the growing popularity of fixies.
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Old 09-22-06, 01:31 PM   #22
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Aaaannndd...we have a candidate! Schwinn "World Sport", made in Taiwan double butted cro-moly main tubes, lugged frame, nice looking alloy crank (Sakae). Yes, it has the front wheel too. Tires have seemingly unused tread and no rot. Frame might be a tad small but if so I'll find a longer stem. (I'm short anyway). Price: $10.80 at thrift shop. Just brought it home. Let the wrenching begin!

(Think I can get my money back with the freewheel and derailleurs on eBay?)







I also saw an interesting, very old bike there: a "Bismarck". Single speed rear (freewheel, not fixed), double chainrings but no derailleur, lugged steel, wheels held on with huge, ornate wingnuts. Going to see if I can find out more about it online and maybe go back for it. It's in pretty rough shape, but there is a computer mounted on the stem and both pedal and wheel sensors! So someone was using it fairly recently.

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Old 09-22-06, 01:41 PM   #23
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- nice find at a great price!

- quick! get the old bike just for the wingnuts - some collectors go 'ga-ga' over 'em...

:-)
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Old 09-23-06, 12:52 AM   #24
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I started riding a fixed gear in the winter shortly after I started racing, back in 1972. I just put a front brake on a cheap Gitane Interclub track bike. A little dangerous on ice, as there's always the temptation to use the front brake because it's the only brake you've got. After a few crashes, including an endo on a steep hill where the ice turned to dry pavement, I converted an old road bike to fixed and kept both brakes on it. Now the ice is much easier to handle.

The really nice thang about riding a fixed gear is that it teaches you to pedal, and it improves your form. You start to ride like a trackie, which is the ultimate compliment. You've probably seen mountain bikers plodding along with their upper bodies bobbing up and down? Very ugly, very inefficient. Riding fixed would cure this! Upper body would be perfectly still, all motion would be below the hips.

I equate riding a fixed gear with using a wooden sword. Japan's greatest swordsman was Miyamoto Musashi, who wrote the famous Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho), the "book of strategy" that high-falutin business executives are supposed to have read (along with Sun Tzu's Art of War). Well, Musashi was so good that towards the end of his career, he took to arming himself only with wooden swords, since no one could defeat him in combat. In his most famous battle, he beat his opponent (who was armed with the traditional steel katana and wakuzashi) with a "sword" he'd carved out of a boat oar as he was being rowed to the island where the combat was to take place.

Anyway, one of the thangs that annoys me these days is anytime you're out riding peacefully on popular bike streets, some dude always comes blasting by, like he needs to prove he's the fastest thang on two wheels. Typically, I'll be cruising along at around 27 kmh, and he'll blast by at around 40 kmh. So I flip the bike up to him, and I'm sitting on his wheel and watching the speed drop. 37...34...30... and eventually he's going slower than I was when he first passed me. And he's always in his top gear, pushing along at about 60 rpm or less. So I have no trouble getting the fixed gear (42x16, around 70 inches) up to 40+, but because I'm already at a disadvantage equipment-wise, there is no shame in dropping back if the guy happens to be a real bike racer on a hard tempo day. It's like fighting with a wooden sword in any street race.

I think it's also becoming popular because it denotes "expert." Only experts ride fixed gears. Well, at one time you had no choice. And it really is the most elegant expression of the true nature of a bicycle, next to a track bike, with only the most essential parts. To paraphrase Mozart, "it has exactly the right number of notes, no more, no less."

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Old 09-23-06, 08:19 AM   #25
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Here's my choice for a fixie. Must confess, in part this is due to the fact that they are only about half a mile from my younger brother's house. However, the bike are great!

http://irocycle.com/id12.html
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