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Old 09-10-07, 09:46 AM   #1
Larry Guzin
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Newbie: Fixed gear/freewheel?

I am a very fit 61 year old. My bicycling will be limited to level-ground rides to and from work (eight city blocks each way) and to and from the local shopping street (twelve city blocks each way. I have not ridden for 40 years. I was interested in a Bianchi Milano, but they look clunky. How about a Bianchi Pista for freewheeling first and fixed gear once I am more comfortable with bicycling again? Thoughts? Opinions?
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Old 09-10-07, 02:13 PM   #2
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There are many fixed-gear enthusiasts who will be glad to extol the virtues of such machines.

I am not one.
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Old 09-10-07, 02:16 PM   #3
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Sounds like a great way to make a ride fun. Who needs gears for those conditions?
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Old 09-10-07, 03:22 PM   #4
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How they look would be the least of my considerations. If you've not ridden in 40 years, I'd get to a shop and test ride as many different bikes as they'd let me. Technology has changed so much in 40 years that anything you used to ride simply can't be used to make an informed decision today.
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Old 09-10-07, 05:38 PM   #5
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If you're talking fixed gear nothing much has changed in the last 100 years.

Most street fixies do not use exotic materials. Almost any steel frame conversion can be equally as good or even better than some off the shelf complete fixed/singlespeed bikes.
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Old 09-10-07, 05:57 PM   #6
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There are many fixed-gear enthusiasts who will be glad to extol the virtues of such machines.

I am not one.
I am one. For a ride such as you describe, I say go for it. First with the freewheel and then when you're ready (you will know), just flip that wheel. You should probably start out with 60 to 70 gear inches, depending on your fitness level. Try to keep the cadence above about 75 or so to avoid over stressing the knees.

The stock gearing on a Bianchi Pista is 48x16, which gives you 80 gear inches. This is a little too high unless you have very strong legs or are a testosterone poisoned teenager with an image to protect. I would suggest 40x16 (66.9 GI) or 42x16 (70.2 GI) to start with.

"Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a dérailleur?
We are getting soft.... As for me, give me a fixed gear!"

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

Last edited by Dogbait; 09-10-07 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 09-10-07, 06:23 PM   #7
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Fixed gear? Are you crazy? If you really want to make life difficult, consider visiting a dominatrix. Gotta be more fun than a fixed gear.
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Old 09-10-07, 07:10 PM   #8
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Go for the fixed gear bike - you'll love it. Gear it down to start with, right down, not only will it be easier on the legs but easier to learn the techniques for backpressure.

One thing to consider is that you may not be physically able or overly comfortable in a racing crouch. Being able to maintain one requires a lot of core strength and flexibility. You say you are very fit, but it's not 'cycling fitness', we use a different set of muscles to runners for instance. To be honest, I'd start with something more moderate and cheap just to get some miles in your legs and back, then look at where you want to go with your 'good' bike. The old eighties roadie is a good start. Cheap. Easy to find. Not bad to ride and make a great base upon which to build your own fixed gear bike.

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Last edited by europa; 09-10-07 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 09-10-07, 07:13 PM   #9
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There are many fixed-gear enthusiasts who will be glad to extol the virtues of such machines.

I am not one.
I am solidly in your camp.
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Old 09-10-07, 07:39 PM   #10
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Go for the fix. You can't do all those cool tricks that earn you street cred on an SS. This is my rig for riding to work:


http://velospace.org/node/4449
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Old 09-10-07, 07:40 PM   #11
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Here's my commute:

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Old 09-10-07, 09:26 PM   #12
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Thank you for all the good advice, which I shall consider carefully. One thing I did not mention is that in '96 I herniated a lumbar disc (after 4x180 mile treks to Mt. Everest base camp). Therefore I do not think I should be hunched over drop bars. What configuration would you suggest, whether I go fixed, s/s or geared?
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Old 09-10-07, 09:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Guzin View Post
Thank you for all the good advice, which I shall consider carefully. One thing I did not mention is that in '96 I herniated a lumbar disc (after 4x180 mile treks to Mt. Everest base camp). Therefore I do not think I should be hunched over drop bars. What configuration would you suggest, whether I go fixed, s/s or geared?

You don't have to set it up like a track bike. Here is my Kogswell with the seat just slightly higher than the tops of the bars. With my long arms, this gives me a very upright position.


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Old 09-11-07, 04:19 AM   #14
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If you've got medical problems, go for geared. You can always build a fixed gear bike later. Maybe consider a recumbent - your back is supported there.

Richard
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Old 09-11-07, 04:41 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Guzin View Post
Thank you for all the good advice, which I shall consider carefully. One thing I did not mention is that in '96 I herniated a lumbar disc (after 4x180 mile treks to Mt. Everest base camp). Therefore I do not think I should be hunched over drop bars. What configuration would you suggest, whether I go fixed, s/s or geared?
Only you and your doctors know what your particular situation will allow. My herniated lumbar disc thrives on my riding a drop bar bike. YMMV. The more I ride the better my back feels. But I'm not hunched over. My bars are about an inch below seat level.
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Old 09-11-07, 05:49 AM   #16
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You may want to look at the Bianchi San Jose instead of the Pista. A little better geometry for day to day riding along with having good brakes front and rear. Both bikes have a flip flop hub so you can try both Fixed and freewheel and see what suits you the best.

I hope this helps

Chris
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Old 09-11-07, 06:36 AM   #17
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You may want to look at the Bianchi San Jose instead of the Pista. A little better geometry for day to day riding along with having good brakes front and rear. Both bikes have a flip flop hub so you can try both Fixed and freewheel and see what suits you the best.

I hope this helps

Chris
+1 on the San Jose. There are similar bikes from other vendors as well.
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Old 09-11-07, 11:26 PM   #18
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The stock gearing on a Bianchi Pista is 48x16, which gives you 80 gear inches. This is a little too high unless you have very strong legs or are a testosterone poisoned teenager with an image to protect. I would suggest 40x16 (66.9 GI) or 42x16 (70.2 GI) to start with.
That 48x16 is actually a warmup gear for the track. On an outdoor track on a warm day, I'd likely warm up on the 48x16 (81"), then switch to the disk wheel with the 14-cog for racing on (48x14, 92.5"). The effect of the 81" warmup gear is to have you spinning at around 90 rpm's at about 37 kmh. This is clearly too fast for the road, so the gearing advice given above is quite appropriate. You want somewhere between 66 and 74 gear inches. I use 39x15 or 42x16 on my fixie, and Vancouver has varied terrain. If there are no hills, you could go with 44x16 (74"). If it's really hilly, go with 66" (42x17). Not as low as you'd go if you had the full complement of gears, but you have to compromise on a fixie. You'll be spinning like a fool on the descents anyway. But it is an elegant way to set up the bike (no unnecessary parts), and it will very definitely improve you cycling by smoothing out your pedal stroke and encouraging you to relax at high rpm's.

And if you decide to go back to a multi-gear road bike with a freewheel, you'll be amazed at how much faster you can get it to move.

- L.
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