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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 05-18-05, 08:44 AM   #1
jnoble123
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There's something strangely compelling about riding fixed

I've been riding bicycles for years. I ride on and offroad using road, touring, and mountain bikes. I ride all seasons of the year including in the winter months on snow and ice. I even have a unicycle (that I really am not good at riding) and a dirt surfer.

All of these bikes and types of riding are interesting and fun.

After reading about fixed-gears/single-speed riding for years I decided to have one built for me to try. I really didn't know what to expect and to be honest I was a bit worried thinking that I might be nuts to even consider it!

I've had my Surly Cross check setup as a fixed-gear for around three weeks now. I can't explain exactly why but I absolutely love riding this bike. It's more then just the single gear or the fact that I have to pedal all the time but I can't seem to find words to explain or share the feeling I have riding this bike!

I started out with a low gearing of 36 X 18 (54 gear inches) and then after a few days moved to 36 X 14 (69 gear inches). I was worried about possible knee injury so I started out relatively low in the beginning. I am now about to move up again to 42 X 15 (75 gear inches). I climb and descend hills as well as ride on flat land.

My legs are definately stronger after riding the bike for such a short period of time. Racing friends has me very competitive even when going uphill. Riding downhill is still fun as I am learning the art of doing fast circles while seated.

I've ridden multi-geared bikes a few times since I started riding fixed. I find that I definately pedal more then I used to and I seem to be pedaling in higher gears then I used to as well. I also miss the feedback from the chain that you get when riding fixed.

I guess the important thing is that I am having incredible fun riding this bike. Although I enjoy my other bikes too, this one has captured me in a way that's totally different from any bike I've owned since being a kid. In fact I often feel a strong pull towards this bike whenever it's time to go out and bike somewhere. In a surprisingly short period of time it's become my flagship! (grin).

Explaining this feeling is very hard to do since I haven't been able to capture all the reasons why this bike is so damn enjoyable for me. Hopefully someone else here will also be able to understand (and perhaps even articulate) what makes a fixed-gear bike so damn compelling that it can take over your heart, body and mind in such a short period of time! (VBG).

~Jamie N
www.bicycletouring101.com
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Old 05-18-05, 08:50 AM   #2
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nope. nobody here has any idea what you are talking about.
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Old 05-18-05, 09:37 AM   #3
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It's an addiction man. You will want to build another fixie....and another. There is no escape.
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Old 05-18-05, 10:00 AM   #4
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Welcome to the club. If I am ever bored all I have to do is take the fixed gear out for a ride.

Last edited by jfmckenna; 05-18-05 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 05-18-05, 10:31 AM   #5
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Hey, welcome to the club! Just make sure your new fixie is the bike of choice for your next tour....
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Old 05-18-05, 10:35 AM   #6
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I have more track bikes than I do time to ride them all. I will be cutting down the herd by one this month. I need a place to sleep...
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Old 05-18-05, 10:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [165]
I have more track bikes than I do time to ride them all. I will be cutting down the herd by one this month. I need a place to sleep...
care to donate one to the cause? the val cause?
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Old 05-18-05, 11:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [165]
I have more track bikes than I do time to ride them all. I will be cutting down the herd by one this month. I need a place to sleep...
Doesn't sleeping cut into your riding time, too? Maybe you'll find yourself having to cut the herd down more once you have a place to sleep...
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Old 05-18-05, 11:31 AM   #9
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I rode my old SS speed yesterday ouf necessity. It was real sluggish, odd, and BORING. I have a hard time explaining to friends why fixed is so fun. I think I can convert a couple, and then they'll know, then we'll get matching jackets and stuff.
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Old 05-18-05, 11:38 AM   #10
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I've been riding fixed (48x17) for about three weeks now (350 miles).

I haven't found it as compelling or different as I expected. Yes, one needs to adjust to constant pedaling in the first few times, but not that big a deal as I pretty much pedaled constantly anyway before, except around corners.

But honestly I am a bit frustrated with the gearing, I ride only flats, but lately often with good winds. Somedays I with a tailwind find myself wanting a higher gear pedaling at 130rpm, going 30mph (where I used to go 35mph on my geared bike) - but more frequent is the 28mph range where I am at 125rpm, but wanting to go faster. But I find my starts from green lights in traffic a bit sluggish, not as quick across the intersections as I like, so a higher gear is not an option yet.

Of course this is why a fixed bike is so great, it forces you to both strengthen legs and develop higher cadence. Even after these few weeks I am stronger. But I do often want two gears, one for strong headwinds and fast starts, one for top speed.

I rode the many geared bike today on a whim, and didn't notice any transition issues, ride basically felt the same.

But all this said, I am compelled to ride the fixed, I want to, I regret not riding it today, wish I could for the ride home.

Al
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Old 05-18-05, 12:17 PM   #11
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Noisebeam wrote:

"But I do often want two gears..."

Ah, the search for the elusive perfect gear.

I have two chainrings and three sprockets, which gives me five possible combinations, from wickedly fast to fascinatingly precise.

After much experimenting, I find I like control more than speed, and it looks like I will settle into a 72" gear, (47X17), a bit lower than I would have initially predicted.
However, as I said, in mixed urban and suburban riding, with gentle hills, I prefer the enhanced control the slightly lower gearing offers.

That said, I find myself not only compelled, but obsessed.
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Old 05-18-05, 12:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Cox
Ah, the search for the elusive perfect gear.
...I find I like control more than speed, and it looks like I will settle into a 72" gear, (47X17), a bit lower than I would have initially predicted.

That said, I find myself not only compelled, but obsessed.
My next experiment will be to try 47x16, keeping the 17 on the other side of the hub for an easy flip/flop change.
Note the 47 (I ordered from Harris I think per your heads up) instead of the 48 I have now, obsessed is the reason.

Al
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Old 05-18-05, 12:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I rode the many geared bike today on a whim, and didn't notice any transition issues, ride basically felt the same.

Al
i've noticed when i hop on a non-fixed bike it feels like the cranks are bent (at least at first)...anyone else feel this??
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Old 05-18-05, 02:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkmother
It's an addiction man. You will want to build another fixie....and another. There is no escape.
How true this will likely turn out to be. I am intensely curious so I am already considering converting my Icebike to fixed-gear and then trying it out in the woods with summer tires.......

~Jamie
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Old 05-18-05, 02:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fixer
Hey, welcome to the club! Just make sure your new fixie is the bike of choice for your next tour....
I already have some plans to take it on at least one shorter tour this year. If I really like it then I will likely consider a longer tour too!

~Jamie
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Old 05-18-05, 02:15 PM   #16
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(snip)

But honestly I am a bit frustrated with the gearing, I ride only flats, but lately often with good winds. Somedays I with a tailwind find myself wanting a higher gear pedaling at 130rpm, going 30mph (where I used to go 35mph on my geared bike) - but more frequent is the 28mph range where I am at 125rpm, but wanting to go faster. But I find my starts from green lights in traffic a bit sluggish, not as quick across the intersections as I like, so a higher gear is not an option yet.

(end snip)

Have you tried any lower gearing yet? A low gear seems to make those downhills incredibly exciting (or so I found it on my first, second and third downhills with a 53 gear inch setup).

(snip)

Of course this is why a fixed bike is so great, it forces you to both strengthen legs and develop higher cadence. Even after these few weeks I am stronger. But I do often want two gears, one for strong headwinds and fast starts, one for top speed.

(end snip)

I've been noticing a real improvement in leg strength and endurance. It will be interesting to ride a geared touring bike soon for a comparison especially as I increase my gearing while riding!


(snip)

I rode the many geared bike today on a whim, and didn't notice any transition issues, ride basically felt the same.

But all this said, I am compelled to ride the fixed, I want to, I regret not riding it today, wish I could for the ride home.

(end snip)

I've been meaning to ride my touring bike during a commute this week to do some comparisions but I really don't want to (and I have a positive history with that bike too!)

Same with my offroad bike. I like the route but I miss the feel of the ride!

~Jamie
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Old 05-18-05, 02:15 PM   #17
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Yeah it is addicting. I have seen my cycling abilities go up across the board, handling, speed, endurance, etc. I have been doing hill repeats with my fixed gear and it has been a tremendous help. Can't wait till my summer jobs start so I can start commuting on it.
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Old 05-19-05, 12:08 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnoble123
I've been riding bicycles for years. I ride on and offroad using road, touring, and mountain bikes. I ride all seasons of the year including in the winter months on snow and ice. I even have a unicycle (that I really am not good at riding) and a dirt surfer.

All of these bikes and types of riding are interesting and fun.

After reading about fixed-gears/single-speed riding for years I decided to have one built for me to try. I really didn't know what to expect and to be honest I was a bit worried thinking that I might be nuts to even consider it!

I've had my Surly Cross check setup as a fixed-gear for around three weeks now. I can't explain exactly why but I absolutely love riding this bike. It's more then just the single gear or the fact that I have to pedal all the time but I can't seem to find words to explain or share the feeling I have riding this bike!

I started out with a low gearing of 36 X 18 (54 gear inches) and then after a few days moved to 36 X 14 (69 gear inches). I was worried about possible knee injury so I started out relatively low in the beginning. I am now about to move up again to 42 X 15 (75 gear inches). I climb and descend hills as well as ride on flat land.

My legs are definately stronger after riding the bike for such a short period of time. Racing friends has me very competitive even when going uphill. Riding downhill is still fun as I am learning the art of doing fast circles while seated.

I've ridden multi-geared bikes a few times since I started riding fixed. I find that I definately pedal more then I used to and I seem to be pedaling in higher gears then I used to as well. I also miss the feedback from the chain that you get when riding fixed.

I guess the important thing is that I am having incredible fun riding this bike. Although I enjoy my other bikes too, this one has captured me in a way that's totally different from any bike I've owned since being a kid. In fact I often feel a strong pull towards this bike whenever it's time to go out and bike somewhere. In a surprisingly short period of time it's become my flagship! (grin).

Explaining this feeling is very hard to do since I haven't been able to capture all the reasons why this bike is so damn enjoyable for me. Hopefully someone else here will also be able to understand (and perhaps even articulate) what makes a fixed-gear bike so damn compelling that it can take over your heart, body and mind in such a short period of time! (VBG).

~Jamie N
www.bicycletouring101.com

word.
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