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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 04-20-05, 11:16 AM   #1
skanking biker
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Don't kill me!

Ok--So I walked into a kinda underground LBS looking for a cheap road bike and the guy starts talking about single speed and fixed gears. I understand the difference between the 2 and some of the advantages of both but I have a sleu of questions about these bikes, most of which you guys probably hear all the time. I tried searching this forum but All i found were posts with goofy answers. So if you're sick of these, could somebody please point me in the right direction.

1. For primarily street riding, is a fixed gear of singlespeed better?
2. Why don't you need a rear brake?
3. Are all single speed/ fixed gear bikes home built? If so, how hard/expensive is it to do so?
4. don't you "spin out" frequently when going downhill on one of these?
5. Whats up with the wacky handlebars i've seen on some of your pics--are these speciailly designed for a specific type of riding?-- i'm talking about the one that go straight out and then curve up?

I'm genuinly interested in pursuing the posibility of going with a singlespeed or fixed gear, so i would appreciate serious answers or at least someone kind enought to point me to a website (i've already checked mr. brown's site). I am really looking for an inexpensive, durable bike that is easy to maintain that I can ride for extended periods for the purpoe of mainly exercise and fun. I am very attracted to the simplicity of a singlespeed and I am a bit turned off by all of the snoobery in the road bike culture. Can someone pelase help a newbie out---or at least dont banish me?
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Old 04-20-05, 11:19 AM   #2
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[insert serious face]

if you actualy read sheldon's stuff you know much more than enough to get started either buying a new prebuilt bike or building your own.
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Old 04-20-05, 11:24 AM   #3
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1. people will argue endlessly about this one, i think fixed gear is more fun, but that's just me

2. if you're riding fixed you slow down the rear wheel by pushing back on the pedals, if you're riding ss you DO need a rear brake
3. no, lots (like the popular pista) are not home built, but many are. mr. brown's site will tell you how to build one if you're so inclined
4. sometimes, but spinning is good
5. they're called bullhorns, and there's a discussion here that may answer some of your questions Track drops- Form or Function?
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Old 04-20-05, 11:27 AM   #4
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1. Depends. I think coasting is better myself and prefer coaster brake to fixed.
2. With fixed u can resist with your legs, with SS you do need one, with cb it has one.
3. Most are, some are commercial-- example of one would be giant simple single, cheapest do it urself is with a horizontal drop bike-- redish wheel and put on freewheel.
4. yes, and on a fixed u have to go down hill by spinning like a madman.
5. If you don't need all the brakes/shifters then you can have whatever minimal handlebar u want and some like these types.
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Old 04-20-05, 11:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dolface
1. people will argue endlessly about this one, i think fixed gear is more fun, but that's just me

2. if you're riding fixed you slow down the rear wheel by pushing back on the pedals, if you're riding ss you DO need a rear brake
3. no, lots (like the popular pista) are not home built, but many are. mr. brown's site will tell you how to build one if you're so inclined
4. sometimes, but spinning is good
5. they're called bullhorns, and there's a discussion here that may answer some of your questions Track drops- Form or Function?

Thank you--much appreciated
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Old 04-20-05, 11:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker

1. For primarily street riding, is a fixed gear of singlespeed better?
It depends on your preference but fixed gear is really different. If you haven't done it give it a shot, odds are you will fall in love with the rest of us.
2. Why don't you need a rear brake?
Because you can stop the bike with your legs. Therfore a rear(and front, depending who you ask) brake is unnessecary.
3. Are all single speed/ fixed gear bikes home built? If so, how hard/expensive is it to do so?
Not all bike are home built , but a lot of people will say that is part of the fun of riding fixed
4. don't you "spin out" frequently when going downhill on one of these?
Yes indeed. I don't really see a problem with that though.
5. Whats up with the wacky handlebars i've seen on some of your pics--are these speciailly designed for a specific type of riding?-- i'm talking about the one that go straight out and then curve up?
Bullhorns are just a nice alternative to drops. They allow you to get a nice position akin to riding on the hoods of your brakes on a road bike.


By looking at your post you gave three reasons why you should be riding fixed:

I am really looking for an inexpensive, durable bike that is easy to maintain that I can ride for extended periods

I am very attracted to the simplicity of a singlespeed

I am a bit turned off by all of the snoobery in the road bike culture.
Your mind is in the right place so go out and get the bike. You will be hooked in no time.
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Old 04-20-05, 11:34 AM   #7
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the road bike snobbery has nothing on the fixie snobbery, to be honest.

1) i think it's pretty much up to personal preference. if you like the simplicity but want the ability to coast, then you want a singlespeed. from my experience, and everyone else i know who rides fixie, after about a day on a fixie you dont even think about coasting. i personally love the control the fixed wheel offers and now find riding a free wheel horribly out of control .

2) you really don't need either brake since resisting the pedals or skidding will stop you just fine. i'm not entirely sure of why people who use a brake only use a front brake, but i'm guessing it's because the rear wheel's velocity (and thus stopping power) is all handled by your feet where has the front wheel is free.

3) fixed gear bikes are not solely homebuilt. IRO, bianchi, fuji, KHS, among others, all make fixed gear bikes. home building them, however, is 1/2 the fun for me and makes the bike much more personal. i ride a bianchi pista as well as a motobecane road bike I converted, so I have both kinds and I like them both equally. It's all a matter of whether or not you have the time/money/ability to build one or if you just want one right away.

4) steep hills can be a challenge but it's all about just dictating the speed you go by resisting the pedals, that way you wont "spin out"

5) i'm not sure really what you mean by "wacky handlebars" i think you are referring to bullhorns, which are not track specific. there are many types of handlebars to choose from, from straight bars, track drops, bull horns, mustache bars, cruiser bars, etc... it's all about personal preference. i ride bullhorns and straight bars and find the straight bars not as appropriate for sprinting or hard riding, where as the bullhorns are perfect for that.

hope this helps. i figured i'd jump in and give you the straight answers youre looking for because there are a lot of riders out there who will just give you sarcastic answers and attitude, as i mentioned in the beginning. good luck riding.
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Old 04-20-05, 11:37 AM   #8
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wow, when i started that reply no one had posted yet. you guys are quick.
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Old 04-20-05, 11:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emayex
[insert serious face]

if you actualy read sheldon's stuff you know much more than enough to get started either buying a new prebuilt bike or building your own.

I have read his site--but like Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder---I don;tknow what half that stuff means!
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Old 04-20-05, 11:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker
3. Are all single speed/ fixed gear bikes home built? If so, how hard/expensive is it to do so?
if you've got a bike with a freewheel, and you are going to use a break all the time, you can just take the freewheel off, add some loctite, and thread a freewheel cog on. you'll then have chainline issues (and, as a result, wheel-dish issues) to take care of, but this is by far the cheapest way. if you do this without brakes, you risk un-threading the cog (hence the loctite), which would be an issue since you would lose ability to stop.

as explained here:

http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conver...l#freewheelhub
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Old 04-20-05, 12:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperRevue
the road bike snobbery has nothing on the fixie snobbery, to be honest.
unfortunately, so true.
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Old 04-20-05, 12:13 PM   #12
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4. don't you "spin out" frequently when going downhill on one of these?

Could be, but I think it feels like a roller coaster or something. One of my favorite parts of riding fixed. Sheldon's site is great, but why don't you go back to that LBS, they'd prob. help.
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Old 04-20-05, 12:14 PM   #13
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At least lately I'll agree. A lot of people are acting like they were the one's who invented fixed gear lately and it's really starting to get on my nerves. It really annoys me when I see a 20 year old BU student saying, I was doing this long before it was cool, when it has been "hip" for longer than I have lived in this city(almost 10 years, man I'm old). I saw some brat in Cambridge Bike this last weekend saying the exact thing and I wanted to grab him by the plugs and pull his ears off.
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Old 04-20-05, 12:24 PM   #14
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my interest in fixed gears/single speeds has nothing to do with hipness--it's all a matter of time and simplicitly. I bike for me--not to look good or fit in with a group. I dont do group rides and could care less what others think of my bike. I just want something that works for me.
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Old 04-20-05, 12:41 PM   #15
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Right on man, I wasn't taking a shot at you I was just replying to etchr's post.
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Old 04-20-05, 01:15 PM   #16
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Unfortunately, I can't afford to buy a brand spanking new fixed gear and dont seem to have the technical know how to covert an pre-exisiting bike into one (i would have absolutely no clue how to re-dish a weel; take off a freewhell and set up a chainline). Perhaps I am better off going with a single speed. It seems easier to convert an existing bike into one of those. [although i did go and ride a fixed gear over my lunch break---quite a different experience!]
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Old 04-20-05, 01:28 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker
I have read his site--but like Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder---I don;tknow what half that stuff means!
JUST AIM FOR THE SMOKE. Good advice above.
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Old 04-20-05, 01:34 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker
Unfortunately, I can't afford to buy a brand spanking new fixed gear and dont seem to have the technical know how to covert an pre-exisiting bike into one
You could split the difference and buy a pre-built fixed rear wheel. You'd have a true track hub with a lockring but you'd save yourself the expense of getting a whole new bike. Or, if you have a road bike with horizontal drops and rims worth keeping that you want to convert, you could purchase a rear hub and get your rear wheel rebuilt around said hub at your LBS. You can get a suzue basic for around $30 or a steel SIW for under $20. Getting a wheel rebuilt should cost you anywhere between $30-60 if you can reuse your spokes - add another $10-15 is you can't. Get your rear wheel sorted and you're good to go.


m.
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Old 04-20-05, 01:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker
Unfortunately, I can't afford to buy a brand spanking new fixed gear and dont seem to have the technical know how to covert an pre-exisiting bike into one (i would have absolutely no clue how to re-dish a weel; take off a freewhell and set up a chainline). Perhaps I am better off going with a single speed. It seems easier to convert an existing bike into one of those. [although i did go and ride a fixed gear over my lunch break---quite a different experience!]
A bumbike fixie set-up is just as easy to do as a SS.
Albeit a bit less safe.

Enjoy
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Old 04-20-05, 01:39 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by powers2b
A bumbike fixie set-up is just as easy to do as a SS.
Albeit a bit less safe.

Enjoy
For a SS, you may still need to worry about chainline. It is a little less critical than on a fixed.
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Old 04-20-05, 01:44 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker

2. Why don't you need a rear brake?

I'm not sure of this, as I haven't really actually tried riding fixed WITH a rear brake, but in my limited experience, having a rear brake with a fixed gear bike could actually prove dangerous--if you were to suddenly squeeze that brake lever really hard, I think you'd probably end up throwing your feet off the pedals and/or ass off the seat. And if you were using toe-clips, which many here are, you might just have a very awkward tumble while connected to the bike.


5. Whats up with the wacky handlebars i've seen on some of your pics--are these speciailly designed for a specific type of riding?-- i'm talking about the one that go straight out and then curve up?

I've been riding with drops on my first fixed gear--an old road bike conversion. I don't like the drops here in the city; there aren't many opportunities between crossstreets to get yourself into a tuck position, and usually, because of traffic, I like to be in a more upright position to see and be seen. Being in the tuck just makes it impossible to see anything when you're moving among a lot of automobiles.


I'm genuinly interested in pursuing the posibility of going with a singlespeed or fixed gear, so i would appreciate serious answers or at least someone kind enought to point me to a website (i've already checked mr. brown's site). I am really looking for an inexpensive, durable bike that is easy to maintain that I can ride for extended periods for the purpoe of mainly exercise and fun. I am very attracted to the simplicity of a singlespeed and I am a bit turned off by all of the snoobery in the road bike culture. Can someone pelase help a newbie out---or at least dont banish me?

One thing that's really nice about having a fixed gear OR singlespeed is the evenly balanced rear wheel, and the even balance of the bike in general. My fixed gear bike is a steel frame, and my geared bike is an old Cannondale, which is not terribly heavy; but what's nice about the fixed bike is that it's more balanced from front to back. I've found that carrying it up and down stairs is just a lot easier.

Good luck with either, and report back once you've gotten into things a bit more.
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Old 04-20-05, 01:51 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by jinx_removing
If you haven't done it give it a shot, odds are you will fall in love with the rest of us.

uh,

er,

mmm,

...

[awkward silence]

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Old 04-20-05, 01:57 PM   #23
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uh,

er,

mmm,

...

[awkward silence]


hahahaha!
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Old 04-20-05, 02:35 PM   #24
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So, IOW, all i need to do is find an apropriate size used frame with horizontal drops, strip off the unecssary components, get a new chain, buy a fixed wheel frommy lbs and i'm all set?
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Old 04-20-05, 02:38 PM   #25
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pretty much. you should prolly read this too, if you haven't already http://sheldonbrown.com/deakins/how-...onversion.html
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