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  1. #1
    King of the molehills bcoppola's Avatar
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    More fixie impressions

    This has been a gray, wet, and cold autumn in the Midwest and Great Lakes, so riding days have been few. But the other day I managed to take my new fixed gear conversion out for a 20 mile ride on a paved MUP. I really enjoyed it! When I first became aware of fixed gears being used anywhere but the track I thought "why would anyone want to?" Now I see. Because the momentum of the bike actually assists your pedaling keeping a brisk speed and good cadence on the flat is, if anything, easier than on a freewheeled bike. You just sort of soft pedal along and hey presto, you're doing 18+mph without breaking a sweat.

    I've yet to try it on hills, but on the mild grades of this MUP I either just put more oomph into the upstroke (I'm using Look clipless pedals), or on a bit steeper upgrade stand and mash. Once you have the hang of it it's pretty easy. And even on upgrades I think you have a bit of that momentum push helping you pedal; the same grades seemed easier than I remember on my road bike (I ride this path often). Getting started you can accelerate slowly in the seat without strain or stand and mash (and imagine yourself sprinting in the Tour).

    This is all quite unexpected. Esepecially for a guy whose sole bike at the beginning of this season was a Trek hybrid. I really thought a fixie would be the bike equivalent of eating your spinach; something I'd have to make myself do for the sake of training and fitness instead of riding my geared bike for "fun". But they're both fun! You do not ride a fixie for raw speed (well, unless you're a track racer) but it is an enjoyable (unexpectedly so!) way to improve your pedaling technique and strength.

    I really hope I get to try it out on a hilly course before winter clamps down.

    The thrift shop 80s vintage Schwinn World Tour 4130 CroMo main tube frame might not be the lightest or have any "cachet" but it is a comfortable and fairly responsive ride. When I got the bike I overhauled the hubs, headset and BB and it's smooth and quiet.

    But I have been coveteously visiting the IRO Website lately...

    Give it a try! I think a fixed gear conversion would be an ideal winter project for you tinkerers and dump divers like Pastor Bob.

    I'm probably going to sell the hybrid.
    Last edited by bcoppola; 10-20-06 at 08:55 AM.
    '04 Giant OCR2|'87 Schwinn World Sport F/G conversion (6,129)|'92 Trek 820 MTB|'85 Schwinn Super LeTour
    "People who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles." - Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman

  2. #2
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcoppola

    But I have been coveteously visiting the IRO Website lately...

    My younger brother lives near their place in Middleburg, PA. He says they're actually a pretty good bunch of people too. I always like buying stuff from good folks.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  3. #3
    "Purgatory Central" Wino Ryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcoppola
    Give it a try! I think a fixed gear conversion would be an ideal winter project for you tinkerers and dump divers like Pastor Bob.



    I have to admit "bcoppola" I was on the verge of starting a flame war on the complete lameness of fixed geared bikes. I just could not understand how someone could have fun on something like that, when you couldn't free wheel, or coast. You had to keep pedaling, no matter what, and it would especially be hard when trying to un-clip out of it. I could not see the virtues, until I read your post. Fixed gear does have an almost cult following, and I admit liking the simplicity and unclutterness of the frames, for which the geometry really stands out.

    maybe their's a fixie in my future.

  4. #4
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    The fixie posts in this and other forums were puzzling to me too. I had a fixie for a while as a teenager, riding it into the ground (until the frame broke). But I always saw them as a bike you are stuck with when you can't afford something better (i.e. more gears).

    Then I wondered, well, if you wanted to pedal in a single gear, just put your multi-speed into one gear and leave it there.

    But I've learned it is more than that. This article that I found on the internet gave me additional insight:

    http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/arti...ottlarkin1.htm

    I am certainly impressed by the enthusiasm shown by fixed-gear advocates.

  5. #5
    King of the molehills bcoppola's Avatar
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    I should also note that the net cost of the bike was about $75 - Schwinn from thrift shop, stem and seatpost from eBay (could have done OK with the original steel post but it was so tacky ), cog, lockring and chainring spacers from Harris, minus the derailleurs and freewheel I took off and sold on eBay. Cheap thrills indeed.

    Another thought on hills: What you don't have on a fixed gear, even when standing and mashing, is that "dead spot" at the bottom of each stroke. The momentum smooths out your pedaling stroke and seems to make it less fatiguing. But then again, I have yet to try it on a "real" hill.

    Tomorrow is supposed to be a decent day so I'll try it on a course with some long but not too steep grades and a couple of short steepish ones that are usually pretty tiring on my roadie.
    Last edited by bcoppola; 10-20-06 at 11:16 AM.
    '04 Giant OCR2|'87 Schwinn World Sport F/G conversion (6,129)|'92 Trek 820 MTB|'85 Schwinn Super LeTour
    "People who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles." - Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    This thread reminded me of this experience:
    I was racing with these Michigan Wolverine bikers. I am wondering why I could keep up with them. Normally there is no chance, they are animals. Looking closer I see that they are riding FIXIES.
    This is at the Detroit Area Stoney Creek Metropark, this week.

  7. #7
    King of the molehills bcoppola's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne
    ...This is at the Detroit Area Stoney Creek Metropark, this week.
    Stoney Creek is my "hilly" (note quotes) ride! I'll probably be there tomorrow afternoon. It's also known for its perpetual headwind, no matter which way you're going.

    Bet those Wolverine guys were riding huge gears - nothing like my 40/15. They have a track racing team and there's a velodrome not far from there.
    '04 Giant OCR2|'87 Schwinn World Sport F/G conversion (6,129)|'92 Trek 820 MTB|'85 Schwinn Super LeTour
    "People who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles." - Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman

  8. #8
    hide not your essence TRACKMAN's Avatar
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    What I find really WONDERFUL is doing the area morning rides with roadies....
    The course is somewaht hilly and I end up grinning like a Cheshire cat listening to
    them all banging through the gears heading up hill. The energy in place with a fixed
    gear makes uphills so much easier. However, if you can not handle higher rpms ( closing on 200)
    on the downhills you best have a hand brake or forget it. It is magical tho if you can. Watching the roadies jaws drop to the pavement as your legs look like eggbeaters spinning so fast. I do not ,
    would never consider a brake on any of my track bikes. Besides none of the forks are drilled
    out for one. My typical gear setup ( 45x15 ) or if I want more torque I increase chain length
    but keep same ratio ( 50x17). * I also run non-standard 167.5 crank length.
    When I REALLY want to blow their minds I run Dura-ace 10mm ( 46x16 ) which 'looks' like a 25x9.
    May you find the joy and peace you long for.
    Life is a journey ... NOT a guided tour.
    .......__O
    .......\<,
    ....( )/ ( )...

  9. #9
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    Welcome, bcoppola. Glad to have you here.

    Yes, there will be some hills that are so steep, they'll stop you cold. It happens to the best. I run a 42 x 15, (about a 75 inch gear) and I find that this gets me up the hills I normally ecounter, including the infamous "Heartbreak hills" of Commonwealth Ave, near Boston College.

    I had the same thoughts as yourself, and when I started riding fixed, I had the same reaction.
    "The People will believe what the Media tells them they believe". George Orwell.

  10. #10
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    More inspiration for me. Keep it coming - 200 RPM!! Wow!!

    I'm still wondering what kind of frame to target (other than one with horizontal dropouts...)

  11. #11
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcoppola
    The thrift shop 80s vintage Schwinn World Tour 4130 CroMo main tube frame might not be the lightest or have any "cachet" .
    It has copious cachet now that it's a fixed gear.

  12. #12
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I really want to give the fixed gear thing a try. If all goes according to my very loosely designed plan for this winter, "Uncle Duke", the Fuji 12 speed all-purpose road bike, will become "Raoul" the fixie.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  13. #13
    lunatic fringe Dogbait's Avatar
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    "Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur?
    We are getting soft.... As for me, give me a fixed gear!"

    -- Henri Desgrange, in L'Auto-Velo, 1902

  14. #14
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogbait
    "Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur?
    We are getting soft.... As for me, give me a fixed gear!"

    -- Henri Desgrange, in L'Auto-Velo, 1902
    Kind'a reminds me of the original Rocky movie. Stallone's father told him he needed to develope his body because he didn't have much of a brain.

  15. #15
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    I wonder if we should point out that 200 RPM at the crank, mechanically connected to the wheel without a brake and without freewheel, is quite a large amount of flywheel energy stored. This energy can be used to power you up a hill as is described above, -------------OR---------------it can cause a bloody mess if dissipated while running into a deer, car, biker or anything else.

  16. #16
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    When I first started racing back in 1973, I trained on the track, and in the winter I rode a fixed gear. For four years, I went to a university that was located on top of a 1200' hill and involved a 4-km climb (the long way). Doing this climb every day for four years in a 42x16 didn't make me any better of a climber, but having to spin down the hill at the end of the day sure helped my leg speed and smoothness...

    What I like about the fixed gear is that it puts us into a direct line with the guys who rode bikes back at the turn of the 20th century. The nice thing about tradition is that it connects us with the past, and a fixed gear I think is a nice tradition.

    Some of the advantages of riding a fixed gear:
    - no derailleurs to get mucked up riding in the rain or snow
    - no freewheel to get packed with snow and completely useless
    - better control on ice
    - under braking on icy conditions, you can feel when the rear wheel is locked up
    - in conditions or on roads where the brakes are not working, you can usually lock up the rear wheel in an emergency by backpedaling
    - less weight to carry up hills

    But, as I was trained to do by an ex-pro 6-day rider, you never, ever backpedal a fixed gear to slow down. It's bad for the legs, and in a pace line, it really, really disrupts the rhythm.

    - L.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
    The fixie posts in this and other forums were puzzling to me too. I had a fixie for a while as a teenager, riding it into the ground (until the frame broke). But I always saw them as a bike you are stuck with when you can't afford something better (i.e. more gears).

    Then I wondered, well, if you wanted to pedal in a single gear, just put your multi-speed into one gear and leave it there.

    But I've learned it is more than that. This article that I found on the internet gave me additional insight:

    http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/arti...ottlarkin1.htm

    I am certainly impressed by the enthusiasm shown by fixed-gear advocates.
    Great article by Larkin. I particularly like this paragraph

    "Without a doubt, though, the most desirable thing about the fixed gear bike is the intimate feeling of being at one with the bike, as if it is an extension of your own body. ........ With fixed, you can feel every nuance of speed, balance, acceleration and deceleration, giving you that mystical connection that so many fixed gear riders speak of."

    That's my experience, too. But I still love riding my "normal" bikes!

  18. #18
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    I'm new to the forum and haven't had time to go digging all the way through it to find if fixed wheels are discussed elsewhere. I'm a cuddly fifty year old, back on the bike after many years off it, a horrid marriage, divorce, ongoing war in the family fraud er court, depression, too much chateau cardboard red wine and all the other good stuff. Funny how riding the old bike makes life a tad better (even when I'm puffing like an old steam train with legs more akin to something you'd spread on your morning toast than muscles).

    Anyways, I'm about to buy a Trek520 (if the trek distrubutor here in Oz ever decides he wants to sell the bike - I'm not feeling comfortable about their lifetime guarantee on the frame if they aren't even interested in delivering a new bike ... which they've got in stock. Anyway, that's a grump for another thread).

    Back to the point of this post. I'm about to buy a Trek520 and soon after, will convert my current ride into a fixie ... to experience all the benefits you nutters have discovered. Sorry, but surely you have to be nuts to do this to a perfectly good road bike ... which is probably one reason I'm about to do it.

    My current ride is a Europa. Australian brand. She dates from the early to mid eighties - five speed cassette, friction gears, a real steel frame, 27" wheels (by 1 1/4" of course). She's currently got ofmega gear on her. Lovely old bike but the cost in modernising her approached that of the new Trek very quickly, so I decided to go new (besides, the frame is a whisker big for me, not much but ... any excuse for a new bike). That's her in the avatar ... not that you can see much.

    Once the new bike is home and settled, I intend to take the spanners to my Europa. I'm hoping that all I need to buy is a sprocket and some miscellaneous bits ... but fear it'll get complicated very quickly. But I'll look into that when I have to.

    So I'll soon be joining you gentlemen in your fixed wheel madness. It probably is mad for me because I live in the foothills - I can tell when I'm in my driveway, it's the only flat bit on the ride.

    Richard
    I had a good bike ... so I FIXED it

  19. #19
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Im about 2 years away from 50 so I hope you guys wont mind me
    interloping on this thread and then Ill be moving along..........
    I started riding a fixie about 10 months ago just out of curiosity.
    An E-Bay Mercier seemed like a good cheep choice to see if I would
    stick with it. I got some stuff from spicer.com to modify for more of a
    'me' fit(personal set-up, VERY important)before the UPS truck dropped
    it off, dented of course
    To skip to Pt. III of this epic bore 'd force, the fixie is my favorite ride ! I commute from outside Rutland Vermont into Clarendon and back for a 25 mile round trip. There are a few hills in Vermont too You ride mentally as opposed to utilzing mechanical stuff. It is an effort to go up hills but you do them faster and when you get your bike set up for you, it is really no big deal after a while. What is hard to explain to people who
    havent done it is the incredible feeling of connectivity and efficiency the fixie provides. Afterwards, a geared bike feels like you are riding something with a Nerf frame and a rubber band instead of a chain. I arrive at work feeling MORE relaxed because on flat ground the fixie sort of makes a little of its own motivation just by rolling. Its easier to maintain a higher cadence because the forward motion of the bike helps you. I didnt get the fixie epiphany some people talk about but after almost a year I can say it is my favorite way to ride. Realistcly I need a geared bike and am glad I have a nice one, but the fixie feels like home

  20. #20
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=&#163;em in Pa=-
    Afterwards, a geared bike feels like you are riding something with a Nerf frame and a rubber band instead of a chain. I arrive at work feeling MORE relaxed because on flat ground the fixie sort of makes a little of its own motivation just by rolling. Its easier to maintain a higher cadence because the forward motion of the bike helps you. I didnt get the fixie epiphany some people talk about but after almost a year I can say it is my favorite way to ride. Realistcly I need a geared bike and am glad I have a nice one, but the fixie feels like home...
    Hey Lem, welcome to 50+. They're good guys and gals here. They let me in last year. Very tolerant--- but watch out for the Diegos. They lurk around and pounce when you least expect it. You never know what they'll say. The Diegos can be funny in a very fictional way. Never take them seriously.
    Quote Originally Posted by bcoppola
    Give it a try! I think a fixed gear conversion would be an ideal winter project for you tinkerers and dump divers like Pastor Bob.
    See, I even inspire when I'm not preaching! What about that rocket Peugeot?
    Last edited by pastorbobnlnh; 10-26-06 at 04:00 AM.
    Bob
    Dreaming of Summertime in NH!

    Visit my websites:
    FreeWheelSpa.com orpastorbobnlnh.com

  21. #21
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    I love the racy little Pug, Pastor Bob !
    I dont want to beat it up on my commute. My commuter Peugeot has a
    number of problems regarding the rear wheel so I was riding the HotRod PH Puglet
    to and from work. I did end up with a flat but more disconcerting was the
    beating the rims and 20c tires were taking on the beatup, cattle clobbered
    farm roads on my commute. The fixer is much more appropriate for this torture
    With our upcoming move I will be donating all of my stuff to people who want it
    with the PH and the Fix being the only ones I take !!
    The Peugeot is great for keeping up with traffic going through Rutland. It is exhilarating
    to dice with cars on Bus. Rt. 7 !! I havent had a bike that squirted like a little water
    flea since my Dads old Viscount !
    Be safe and Keep those pictures coming !!!

  22. #22
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    Hi Richard - good luck with your fixie conversion. It's no big deal to make the mechanical changeover, but getting used to riding take a bit of concentration and don't try it after a few tinnies!

    If you don't change your back wheel or hub to one designed for a fixed you will need some method of locking the fixed sprocket on otherwise the first time to try to back pedal it will unscrew. Sheldon Brown's website has info on this.

    If you are riding lots of hills, start with about a 69" gear (e.g. 46X18).

  23. #23
    King of the molehills bcoppola's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artmo
    ...If you don't change your back wheel or hub to one designed for a fixed you will need some method of locking the fixed sprocket on otherwise the first time to try to back pedal it will unscrew...
    I used red Loctite (not the blue stuff) on the cog and a bottom bracket lockring on my rear hub conversion. So far so good. JB Weld epoxy is also popular. Both are available at hardware stores. But either way forget about undoing your hub conversion unless you break the adhesive bond with a torch. The resulting assembly is sometimes called a "suicide hub" but don't let that scare you. Unless you plan to become one of world's only 50+ bike messengers it should work fine.

    Artmo speaks truth: Sheldon Brown's site is a must read for fixie conversions, and the bits for making a conversion are available there (Harris Cyclery) if they'll ship to Oz. You'll want a cog, bottom bracket lockring, and chainring spacers OR "stackbolts". I used the spacers. From your LBS get axle spacers of various thicknessess up to 3mm or so. You'll use the spacers to move the hub/cog assembly along the axle to get a straight chainline (the imaginary line from chainring to cog). It's a fiddly business but basically easy.

    You'll need to change (or eliminate) the dish on your rear wheel.

    I might build a new rear wheel with a flip flop fixed/fixed hub this winter (this will make sense after you read Sheldon's site). An excuse to try my hand at wheelbuilding!
    Last edited by bcoppola; 10-26-06 at 11:25 AM.
    '04 Giant OCR2|'87 Schwinn World Sport F/G conversion (6,129)|'92 Trek 820 MTB|'85 Schwinn Super LeTour
    "People who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles." - Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman

  24. #24
    lunatic fringe Dogbait's Avatar
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    1980 Schwinn World Sport, 1982 Schwinn Super Le Tour, 1984 (?) Univega Single Speed/Fixed conversion, Kogswell G58 fixed gear, 1987 Schwinn Super Sport
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcoppola
    ........................snipitty,snip....................................

    I might build a new rear wheel with a flip flop fixed/fixed hub this winter (this will make sense after you read Sheldon's site). An excuse to try my hand at wheelbuilding!

    An excellent way to spend a winter's day when it's just too unpleasant outside. The Formula/IRO hubs make a nice, inexpensive fixed gear wheel.



    This is the rear wheel on #3502 in my signature.

  25. #25
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
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    Adelaide, AUSTRALIA
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    Thanks boys. Much as I want to do this on the cheap, stuffing up the existing hub with JB Weld doesn't sound like a good idea either. Still, I'll have a yarn with my bike shop - maybe sourcing another rim and building a wheel is the way to go. Hmm, never built a wheel before, that might keep me quiet for an hour or two ... before I start swearing

    Richard
    I had a good bike ... so I FIXED it

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