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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 06-18-05, 07:45 PM   #1
steaktaco
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2nd day fixed - question + observations

On a 48x16 - how do I stop without looking like john wayne walking into a saloon? I'm trying to not use my brake, but it's like trying to stop a locomotive while knocked up on kryptonite. tips?

feel free to skip the observations below I'm just sharing for people interested in getting fixed.

yesterday I rode 10 miles and felt up my new machine, up and down. today I rode my standard 35 mile route. here's what I've discovered:

1) surprisingly, riding fixed is a lot like riding a bike.
2) they say the bike will throw you off when you try to coast maybe true for people who coast standing with their knees locked. not if you have good riding habits and only coast over big cracks if at all.
3) they say it's more of a workout - again, not if you have good riding habits. I found I got less of a workout because my cadence was down to 60-75 when I was used to 90-100. I'm sure being over-cautious had a bit to do with that, but give me a break I was terrified. anyway, even while I still did my miles in the same amount of time.
4) low speed control is amazing. given enough time, dodging traffic will be fun. but for now, "thanks but I'll wait for the walk sign" or "oh no, after you mr. hummer".
5) mounting is ok, but dismounting is awkward. I find myself asking "should I get off now? how about now?" "ok, now!".
6) yesterday, it took all of 10 miles for me to get my free foot in the stupid clips. I was so pissed I started calling it names. stupid f***in' clips. then my foot went in, and then I got claustrophobic and pulled it right out. today I used my egg beaters and it was a good thing. might get candies.
7) I'm used to hydraulic disc brakes (on an alloy frame, grippy 26x1.0's, road gears) so to me the stopping power of my legs combined with front calipers is nil and I treat it like so. I find that I'm looking for obstacles as far as my eye can see - today I found the red-gummy-bear-of-death on the path (yes, lakeshore path, I'm one of THOSE guys) an eigth of a mile away and was successful at evading him. whew.
8) steel IS real. I couldn't believe it, I kept checking back to see if I got a flat, the ride was so smooth. there is a really terrible section of pavement accross from Cabrini Green (dorms north of chicago's loop) that was so rough, it gave me carpal tunnel mixed with tickly hair. usually the worst part of my ride though today I felt ridiculous for cringing. try a steel bike if you haven't yet. but then again it could be the larger wheels.

hope this was a helpful read for at least one person.

oh, and yesterday, my coworkers complemented me on my brand new, yellow 10-speed.
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Old 06-18-05, 07:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steaktaco
On a 48x16 - how do I stop without looking like john wayne walking into a saloon? I'm trying to not use my brake, but it's like trying to stop a locomotive while knocked up on kryptonite. tips?
gear down.
seriously, spend the $30 on an eai 18t cog and put it on. you might not feel as tough, but you'll get your spin back, you'll be able to stop, and when your legs adjust that 16 will be waiting for you.
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Old 06-18-05, 07:54 PM   #3
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I ride 48x16, as well. You will get stronger at stopping the more you ride. I was sore on the inside of my quads for a few days when I first started riding fixed. It will just take some time, but you will build those stopping muscles plenty soon.

Additionally, 48x16 is not an ideal gear for braking. I may drop to a lower gear, personally.
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Old 06-18-05, 08:41 PM   #4
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Unless you've got steel rims, a rim brake should give you all the stopping power you need. If it doesn't, then your brake isn't set up properly or you need new brake pads.
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Old 06-19-05, 04:28 PM   #5
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Welcome to the world of fixed gear riding. Once I got my first one set up my geared bikes has seen almost no road or trail usage. I do cross train on mountain bike trails geared with full suspension though. Riding fixed sure has improved my spin.

I never had much of a problem from day one, but we all get reminded by the pedals occasionally. I use platform pedals so it's not hard to get going. My knees are old and
my gearing is as high as 52/16 so I use my brake(s) to stop with.

Some fixie riders hop off their bikes in motion and grab it by the saddle as it goes underneath them. I just come to a stop, put my left leg down, then swing my right leg over to dismount.

I go as fast, if not faster riding fixed. It's actually easier to go fast once you find a good cadence.
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Old 06-19-05, 05:39 PM   #6
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I had similar feelings when I first when fixed...ah those were the days.

Good stuff really. That section by Cabrini is hell, I'm always taking a lane instead just so I can avoid potential carpel tunnel. Though Milwakuee is pretty bad for much longer and Chicago west of Western is hell.
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Old 06-19-05, 06:13 PM   #7
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If your cadence is that low, as others have pointed out, you might want to change your gearing.

I find my fixed gear feels much more secure in braking than a road bike with a set of dual-pivot brakes- the fixed lets you actually control how fast your rear spins, and you don't need to worry about fade.
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Old 06-19-05, 06:20 PM   #8
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Gear down. You're currently on a 78.8 inch gear, go at least a 17 (74.2in), if not an 18 (70.1in).
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Old 06-20-05, 10:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dolface
gear down.
seriously, spend the $30 on an eai 18t cog and put it on. you might not feel as tough, but you'll get your spin back, you'll be able to stop, and when your legs adjust that 16 will be waiting for you.
hey d,
I think you may be right, but I'll give it a week and see if I really need to do that. it would be a shame to gear down since I can reach 90-100 rpm on some parts of my route (on level ground - illinois is flat). and my bike is actually more of a fixed road bike than a street-savvy fixie (carbon this and that, ergo bars, tight clearance with skinny tires, light) so, you know, I'd like it to have a decent gearing. thanks though, I guess I can't have both that and responsive braking (without front brake).
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Old 06-20-05, 10:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PedalStrike
I ride 48x16, as well. You will get stronger at stopping the more you ride. I was sore on the inside of my quads for a few days when I first started riding fixed. It will just take some time, but you will build those stopping muscles plenty soon.

Additionally, 48x16 is not an ideal gear for braking. I may drop to a lower gear, personally.
thanks p I haven't gotten sore yet, but I'm afraid for my knees. that's quite a bit of weight I'm putting it under. consequently, any older fixed riders here that have no knee problems? that would be reassuring.
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Old 06-20-05, 10:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bostontrevor
Unless you've got steel rims, a rim brake should give you all the stopping power you need. If it doesn't, then your brake isn't set up properly or you need new brake pads.
brake's fine. it's just that I'm so used to hydraulic discs on a fast street bike, that the caliper needs some getting used to.
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Old 06-20-05, 10:19 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Shadow
Welcome to the world of fixed gear riding. Once I got my first one set up my geared bikes has seen almost no road or trail usage. I do cross train on mountain bike trails geared with full suspension though. Riding fixed sure has improved my spin.

I never had much of a problem from day one, but we all get reminded by the pedals occasionally. I use platform pedals so it's not hard to get going. My knees are old and
my gearing is as high as 52/16 so I use my brake(s) to stop with.

Some fixie riders hop off their bikes in motion and grab it by the saddle as it goes underneath them. I just come to a stop, put my left leg down, then swing my right leg over to dismount.

I go as fast, if not faster riding fixed. It's actually easier to go fast once you find a good cadence.
no fancy dismounts for me, unless you call almost doing a face-plant fancy. it's reassuring to hear I'm not the only one who can't stop the wheels a-turning I guess I won't feel so conscious about using the front brakes as much, though I'll still see if I can find the best rhythm so slow this beast down.
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Old 06-20-05, 10:23 PM   #13
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the dangerous part about beginning fixed where the bike tries to throw you off happens when your subconscious bike brain forgets you are on a fixey... i find your brain takes about a week to get rewired and not screw up.. but everytime you ride a freewheel for a day or two, be careful when you get back on that fixey. one time i had a long stint of being off the fixey, and i began riding fixed again with no prob, but then one day i was doing like 26mph on a busy 2 lane artery of santa cruz when there was a truck blocking traffic in one lane, i looked back to switch lanes and my freewheeling brain took over for a split second and i almost flipped over my bars while looking backwards... i gritted my teeth and thanked the fixed lord for not taking me. lol

the feeling of almost being thrown is impossible to recreate intentionally, you have to actually revert to the freewheeling mentality. it's like punching yourself in the face and somehow not expecting it, not possible.
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Old 06-21-05, 11:30 AM   #14
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I love those first nerve racking days of riding fixed (I had mine about three and a half weeks ago) and once you start getting certain techniques, you can't help but laugh while thinking about all of the freewheelers who don't have to do any of this while riding. It's almost as if you're on some sort of zen level with your bike; you know it so well that you can anticipate nearly everything. Anyway, I wouldn't call myself or anyone a fixie zen master until they have a few years under their belt, but I LOVE riding fixed and I can't imagine going back to lazy coasting.
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Old 06-21-05, 11:35 AM   #15
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nobody's mentioned this yet, and i don't know if you know yet, but once you start skipping/skidding you're gonna want to spin that tire every once in awhile. 48/16 gives you one skid spot and you don't want to wear through it.
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Old 06-21-05, 11:40 AM   #16
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I built up my first track bike a little over year ago and and never rode freewheel again. One day i found a Pinarello roadbike for cheap and thought it would be good to buy. I took the bike out for a test run and wondered why the pedals weren't coming back up like i'm used to. It felt really awkward and i felt like i had less control. I bought the Pinarello but it hasn't seen pavement since, just been sitting on my trainer, gears need a fixin too but i don't know jack about that. What a shame huh? No worries, i got some clipless shoes and pedals and will be taking it out soon. Riding fixed does feel a lot better than freewheel, it's like going to the park on a nice sunday afternoon and having margaritas after. good times.

PS. i agree with the folks that say lower your gearing, it makes skidding much easier, it'll be easier on your knees and you'll thank yourself when your climbing hills. I used to ride 77 gear inches, which is near where you're at now and i didn't mind it at all, it wasn't so bad but i came down to 72 and things are so much nicer now.
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Old 06-21-05, 11:45 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadly downtube
it's like punching yourself in the face and somehow not expecting it, not possible.
Nah, that's possible. You just can't intentionally punch yourself in the face without expecting it...
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Old 06-21-05, 11:46 AM   #18
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Pop a 17t cog on there. It's a less drastic change than an 18, and you'll get more skid patches.
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Old 06-21-05, 11:55 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terror_in_pink
I built up my first track bike a little over year ago and and never rode freewheel again. One day i found a Pinarello roadbike for cheap and thought it would be good to buy. I took the bike out for a test run and wondered why the pedals weren't coming back up like i'm used to. It felt really awkward and i felt like i had less control. I bought the Pinarello but it hasn't seen pavement since, just been sitting on my trainer, gears need a fixin too but i don't know jack about that. What a shame huh? No worries, i got some clipless shoes and pedals and will be taking it out soon. Riding fixed does feel a lot better than freewheel, it's like going to the park on a nice sunday afternoon and having margaritas after. good times.

PS. i agree with the folks that say lower your gearing, it makes skidding much easier, it'll be easier on your knees and you'll thank yourself when your climbing hills. I used to ride 77 gear inches, which is near where you're at now and i didn't mind it at all, it wasn't so bad but i came down to 72 and things are so much nicer now.

dude, the gears don't need fixin', you need a 9-speed cassette to go with the 9 speed shifters. everything will work fine once you get the right number of cogs in the back.
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Old 06-21-05, 01:13 PM   #20
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What's the red-gummy-bear-of-death?
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Old 06-21-05, 02:41 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sasander
What's the red-gummy-bear-of-death?
it's like a banana peel but made of squishy, cherry goodness. it's most dangerous around corners, so watch out for 'em.
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Old 06-21-05, 03:33 PM   #22
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Knees: I've had issues with mine, and the only thing that worked was an easier gear (i.e., 17 or 18t cog). Mashing at 60rpm is tough on your knees.
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