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Old 08-16-10, 10:34 AM   #1
Hermes 
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Fixed Gear Riding Rocks

Over the last few weeks, I have been riding my track bike (at the track) more than my road bikes and it is more fun than a man should be allowed to have. Plus, it is keeping my riding fresh as we grind through a long season.

So......let's hear more kudos from other fixed gear riders why they ride fixed gear. BTW, you are not too old to ride fixed gear
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Old 08-16-10, 10:55 AM   #2
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I'm not a fixed gear rider but have much enjoyed a few hours on loaned bikes.

It started with me admiring a young guy's bike and accepting his gracious invitation to give it a try. I rode down the street, returned, and picked up his breakfast tab in exchange for a longer ride while he ate. <G>

I'm a pretty normal 60+ rider, so my experience might be guide. If you get a chance to ride fixed, try it. It's well worth the price of a breakfast.
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Old 08-16-10, 05:39 PM   #3
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Over the last few weeks, I have been riding my track bike (at the track)
Are you riding the fixed bike only on the track or on roads as well. The reason I ask is because I would think on a track it would be more controlled and safer, if that makes any sense.

I have been looking and thinking about s/s for a long time and maybe just maybe get the fixed gear flipflop hub and give it a try. I just worry about not being able to stop when I need to or spinning out going down a hill or something like that.
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Old 08-16-10, 08:02 PM   #4
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rode first fixie in 1952, put it on my list to never do it again...have not...Bud
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Old 08-16-10, 11:39 PM   #5
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Are you riding the fixed bike only on the track or on roads as well. The reason I ask is because I would think on a track it would be more controlled and safer, if that makes any sense.

I have been looking and thinking about s/s for a long time and maybe just maybe get the fixed gear flipflop hub and give it a try. I just worry about not being able to stop when I need to or spinning out going down a hill or something like that.
I ride it at the track and not on the road. We have a number of riders who ride the track and ride on the road with brakes and some without.
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Old 08-17-10, 08:59 AM   #6
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Been there, done that, got it out of my system 20 years ago.

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Old 08-17-10, 10:09 AM   #7
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I've never ridden a fixie. I must admit the idea scares me a little bit. My wife has an old fixie hanging on our bike rack. All it really needs are some new tires and some lube, and it is probably rideable. She keeps urging me to try it but I haven't worked up the nerve (and don't know that I will).

Fixie's are all the rage these days with the young urban riders in the city. They ride in street clothes with backpacks on, don't wear helmets, and love to show off how they can balance the bike at a complete standstill while they wait for the traffic to clear and then run the red light. It reminds me of all the crazy things I did between the age of 16 and 20, and the fact that I'm still here today by sheer dumb luck.
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Old 08-17-10, 04:27 PM   #8
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I first started riding fixies back in 1973 or so for winter training. My second or third good bike (after the PX-10 or the Paramount) was a red Gitane Interclub track bike. It was drilled for a front brake, so I put a Weinmann sidepull on it. After moving from Oakland, CA to Vancouver, BC, I was riding it to work very early one winter morning, with snow and ice on some steep, hilly streets. I hit the front brake when I shouldn't have and did an endo into a snowbank. I don't know how I managed to avoid landing on my head, since nobody wore helmets in those days. Usually it was just a wool cycling cap (with "Campagnolo" embroidered on it) in the winter, and a cotton cycling cap in the summer. Since then, I've always installed front and rear brakes on my road fixies, even if they are track bikes, and even though I only use the front brakes on dry roads, since I ride fixies year-round. But my actual track bike is not drilled for brakes at all, since it's used exclusively on the track.

The interesting thing about that old Gitane was it provided a good demonstration of how bad those cheap French components of those days were. I remember breaking the spindles of the original Lyotard pedals it came with, and of the replacement Lyotard Marcel Berthet platform pedals. It came with cheap tubulars and cheap wheels built on cheap Normandy hubs.

When I went to Simon Fraser University between 74 and 78, I used a road frame modified for a fixed gear during the winter months to get to the campus, which was located on top of a 1200' hill with a 3-km road going up it. This is where I destroyed a set of Phil Wood hubs and bottom bracket in one month of winter riding. I also remember one night coming down the icy road in a snowstorm with the back wheel locked up, the ultimate drag brake. It really gets exciting when the bike, with back wheel fully locked, starts accelerating on the descent, and you have to start stabbing gently with the front brake and hope the front wheel doesn't wash out...

I don't understand the hipster attraction to fixed gears, but although we both ride fixed, we're miles apart on philosophy. I eschew lockrings (they're dangerous) and have two brakes mounted. Hipsters use lockrings and often have no brakes installed, relying on skidding the back wheel to stop. I was taught that it's bad for the legs to backpedal, and you never, ever want to backpedal to slow down in a paceline on the track, even just a little bit!

I think the next step is to install a 3-speed IGH, like the Sturmey-Archer S3X, since it comes with 120 rear spacing and accommodates fixed-gear riding, or you can install a separate BMX freewheel. It's amazing how little friction there is in a one-speed or fixed-gear setup. It's actually an advantage running a fixed gear on certain gentle grades due to the very low drivetrain friction compared to the friction in a derailleur setup where you've got the pulleys, the dirty chain, the chain wrap, and the angle of the chain to contend with. I'm still thinking about where to put the shift control, since I don't want to run the wire all the way to the handlebars, since the bike is designed to come apart for travel, and I don't want to use cable splitters. But I'm sure a 3-speed would put the Alps within reach!

Luis
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Old 08-17-10, 07:15 PM   #9
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I've flipped the hub on my Langster to try it out. I decided that under controlled conditions it could be interesting but not really for me on the open road. Plus I tried stopping the bike with leg power alone and strained something in my knee. Don't like straining anything except a budget.

I have been riding my Langster a fair amount recently. It's really flat, hot and humid down here and what breeze we've had is not too strong so a single speed is great. Nice easy spinning. I find I just relax and ride and don't get too intense with it. Maybe I've read Denver's signature enough times it's starting to get to me. Or maybe it's just too hot.
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Old 08-17-10, 07:22 PM   #10
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I think the next step is to install a 3-speed IGH, like the Sturmey-Archer S3X, since it comes with 120 rear spacing and accommodates fixed-gear riding, or you can install a separate BMX freewheel. It's amazing how little friction there is in a one-speed or fixed-gear setup. It's actually an advantage running a fixed gear on certain gentle grades due to the very low drivetrain friction compared to the friction in a derailleur setup where you've got the pulleys, the dirty chain, the chain wrap, and the angle of the chain to contend with. I'm still thinking about where to put the shift control, since I don't want to run the wire all the way to the handlebars, since the bike is designed to come apart for travel, and I don't want to use cable splitters. But I'm sure a 3-speed would put the Alps within reach!

Luis
I think rigging a bar end shifter under the saddle facing forward would be doable with a bit of machine work.
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Old 08-17-10, 07:51 PM   #11
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when I saw the title of this post, I thought it was riding fixed off road (which I have seen...) I got into riding fixed about 6 years ago. I have over 20,000 miles on my fixed gear-- it has two brakes and I ride exclusively on the road. I have done centuries, double metric centuries and Ride the Rockies in COlorado (including Independence Pass) on the fixie. The worst part was going down hill... that's what the brakes are for-- to slow down so you don't spin out. I know what it is like to go 38 miles an hour on a 48x18 setup. That is spinning close to 140rpm... not healthy and not very safe. I have to laugh at people who complain they need an 11 tooth cog because they're spinning out on their 53x13--at 40 miles per hour.

The fixed gear bike is my main commuter. It is a KHS flight 100-- steel, frame with really crappy headset and bottom bracket (switched out within the first 6 months). I have changed the fork to a carbon fork and added the brakes fore and aft. It is a lot of fun to ride. I do hope to get on a track someday--and when I grow up, would like to learn how to do a track stand--and do a backwards circle. Maybe that's just dreaming, but someday...

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Old 08-17-10, 08:17 PM   #12
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Been riding my Gunnar Street Dog (fixed) for ten years now. The only thing Sheldon Brown didn't warn me about, was how addicting this actually is. Continuous riding leads to continuous riding.

The answer to the question someone always asks when this comes up in the forums is yes, I have brakes on both wheels. I'll leave the brakeless (and illegal, and just plain stupid) nonsense to the 20-something hotshots. Oh, sorry, I guess they call themselves "hipsters" now.

So, why be afraid of it? What exactly is there to fear? Oh sure, there is a learning curve. It varies from person to person. I started with rides around my apartment complex, then I ventured out into traffic. Been hooked ever since.

Like most working adults, I just don't get as much time to ride as I would like. Riding a fixed gear is a solution to this problem. You get your workout. Don't forget, during the "real" bike boom of the 1890's, pretty much every bike was a fixie. And they managed just fine, it would seem.
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Old 08-17-10, 08:30 PM   #13
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Although I'm not 50+, after reading this thread I felt I had to post! I have just started riding fixed (am 23!), but have front and rear brakes. From a number of posters in here it seems as though some think that you can't have brakes on a fixed gear.

You can, and should.

I find them great fun, and am just building up another! Also slowing down / skidding with your legs is pretty bad for your knees - hence the need for brakes!

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Old 08-17-10, 08:44 PM   #14
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I started riding a fixed gear almost 2 years ago. I have never ridden on the track - only the street (brakes front and rear).

For me, it was like a 'reset button'.
Felt like I had to lean how to ride all over again. Hills both up and down were a new challenge and long rides like centuries and beyond had this little bit of uncertainty to them about whether I would be able to make it... just like it was when riding geared bikes long ago!
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Old 08-17-10, 09:04 PM   #15
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Although I'm not 50+, after reading this thread I felt I had to post! I have just started riding fixed (am 23!), but have front and rear brakes. From a number of posters in here it seems as though some think that you can't have brakes on a fixed gear.

You can, and should.

I find them great fun, and am just building up another! Also slowing down / skidding with your legs is pretty bad for your knees - hence the need for brakes!

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Hi Daven, Welcome...you may post in my threads anytime.
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Old 08-17-10, 09:11 PM   #16
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There must be a learning curve, because when I flipped the hub on my 929 to the fixed gear, it was not what I considered fun. But then, I only tried for a couple of hours. I was just constantly thinking of the bike, and not concentrating on traffic, road, etc. I was more nervous then my first time out on clipless pedals, and that's saying a lot. I commute 14 miles RT and just don't see a fixie as a safe ride, at least in my area.
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Old 08-17-10, 09:15 PM   #17
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I love the absolute simplicity of a fixed gear. It's like a zen meditation for me when I ride it. It also really improved my pedal stroke on the road bike, as well as my stamina....at least up til my heart attack. I'm more or less starting over, and my cardiologist tells me the Fixed Gear is best for my rehab, too, sine I get a better workout, close to home.

BY the way, rrg, there is a learning curve, like not forgetting to pedal. Actually, on slippery roads, or icy (Not likely in the Red Stick, I know), you have a much better feel for your traction with the direct drive of a FG. I like the positive control I experience when I ride it, myself, regardless of the conditions.
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Old 08-18-10, 04:28 AM   #18
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This is my main ride - yup, she's fixed.



The top tube actually slopes upwards towards the back so she's not as big as she looks.

Currently I'm discussing my new fixed gear bike based on this frame from Paul Hillbrick



She'll be essentially that frame but in bottle green - note the lugs, the chrome, the proper threaded headset, the double butted Columbus tubing

I rode that Europa since new in the 80's. Eventually bought a new, geared bike and put the Europa in the shed. Couldn't bear seeing her unused so, hearing about fixed gear, tried a suicide hub, loved the ride so began a long, slow conversion to what she is now.
So why fixed gear? I love the ride, and ya don't need no more reason than that.

Richard
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Old 08-18-10, 01:24 PM   #19
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A year ago March, I purchased a Langster while visiting my daughter in Manhattan, and shipped it back to my home in Los Angeles. My reason for purchasing the bike: I wanted a way to feel 25 again! There seemed no better place to do that than the Big Apple, where so many young people ride fg bikes.

In truth, with no place to practice riding fg, I rode the bike as a single speed in Manhattan. Back in Los Angeles, I flipped the hub. On my wide residential street, I immediately discovered how easy it was for me to ride fixed; I also quickly learned not to coast over bumps.

And I discovered that I love the feel of the bike. It's difficult to describe, but I suppose it has something to do with the mild flywheel effect pushing the pedals. There is something true about being one with the bike.

Although I've occasionally muscled my Langster up some steep streets, I prefer my geared bike for the hills and mountains in and around the city. Since I like hills, my fixie isn't my go-to bike. When I'm on it, though, I love it.
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Old 08-18-10, 02:32 PM   #20
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...I eschew lockrings (they're dangerous) and have two brakes mounted....
Luis
I don't understand why you think lockrings are dangerous. If you use a lockring as your only means of stopping, yes, I can see that. I have a wonderful road-adapted Masi fixie with front and rear brakes AND a lockring. I love riding it on relatively flat terrain. It is a great tool to get a better workout when time is short (like after work). I have ridden it on a century once - one hill on the whole route - on the last mile. It was a killer!
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