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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 07-26-05, 08:15 AM   #1
Aeroplane
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Training on Fixed Hurts Spin?

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Originally Posted by Barley Boar Forsman
Like most other fixie riders, I was first drawn to the simplicity of one, single, fixed gear. You have to grind to get up the hills and spin like a mad man to get down - no gears to get in the way. Trainers say that it is good for developing a good, smooth spin - which it does, but it can also give you a pretty good dead spot in your pedal stroke (no one ever talks about that!) When you get back on the "coastie" after a month off, it is very likely you'll feel, and hear a knock, or clunk in your pedal stroke - where you've gotten used to the wheel pulling the pedal around for you. You'll have to re-learn how to spin, and how to descend!
I saw this in the interviews linked in the 508 thread (here ). Has anybody else noticed this phenomenon, the "dead spot" in your spin?

I haven't been riding fixed for too long, so that might explain why I haven't noticed it. Then again, I only ride freewheel offroad, where you don't have much occasion for a steady spin. Roadies or anybody else who switches back and forth, any observations?
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Old 07-26-05, 08:33 AM   #2
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I used to notice it for thde first mile or so after a switch but not so much any more. I think the fixie helps with increasing comfort at a high cadence at the cost of uniform power transfer. One footed drills may have been the solution.
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Old 07-26-05, 10:04 AM   #3
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Dunno, but it sounds like BS to me... There is a bit of 'play' in the drivetrain, unless you tighten your chain before every ride isn't there? So it's just unimaginable to me that people should wait for the drivetrain to push their foot through the dead spot...

Anyway, to me, riding a fixie during acceleration/ at steady pace feels exactly the same as a freewheel bike.

But then I'm an ass and I just started riding fixed.
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Old 07-26-05, 10:08 AM   #4
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One time when i got a flat close to a friend's house but not close to a bike shop, I borrowed my friend's girlfriend's bike which was a SS rather than fixed. Since i had not ridden a non-fixed bike in 2 years or so it was very disconcerting not to feel the pedal force its way up. However, I didn't experience the feeling when i was spinning, it was only when i was, say, coming to an intersection and normally am applying minimal back pressure except that with the SS the freewheel was spinning and my feet stayed basically still. But when i descended or spun or whatever, i noticed no problems... maybe this was a misdiagnosis of the sensation
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Old 07-26-05, 10:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeroplane
Has anybody else noticed this phenomenon, the "dead spot" in your spin?
Sure....most certainly..... but only on those times where I've gotten back on my coastie after riding nothing but fixed for several months prior.
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Old 07-26-05, 10:12 AM   #6
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Definitely the motion of the bike can carry your foot through the dead spot but it sounds to me like this fella has some bad form. Rather than spinning circles, it sounds like he's pushing down and waiting for the bike to pull his foot back to the top of the stroke.

This can be bad on a fixed gear bike just like a freewheel because it tends to jar the knee at the bottom of the stroke and uses the smaller muscle groups on the front of the leg.
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Old 07-26-05, 10:19 AM   #7
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It usually only happens once or twice then you remember "oh yea I can coast now". But over all riding fixed creates spin memory in your leg muscles. It really freeks me out when riding a freewheel after a long fixed stint approaching a red light or stop sign. It feels like you have no control and you cant stop.
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Old 07-26-05, 10:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfmckenna
It really freeks me out when riding a freewheel after a long fixed stint approaching a red light or stop sign. It feels like you have no control and you cant stop.
Yeah, that initial lack of pedal feedback scares the heck outa me. Now I take my geared bike out for a spin like once a week or so...
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Old 07-26-05, 10:48 AM   #9
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A similar thing happened to me this past weekend. The girl and I had brunch and the place was cash only (I had to go get some at an ATM) -- so instead of unlocking my bike which was locked to the actual rack (hers was locked to mine), I got on her bike which is a 48cm (I ride a 53) SS (which I built) and headed off. Boy, did that throw me off!

I started to ride and since her seat is way lower than mine, I had to do a bit of that BMX style riding. Thus, it surprised me when I wanted to bring the pedal back up, expecting the rotation to help me a bit but then it didn't. When I brought it to speed, the bike worked fine.

I'm not sure if that was a dead spot (could be and it was a lazy sunday so I wanted to just cruise) or if because the saddle was so low that I couldn't quite get the proper rotation through the cycle.
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Old 07-26-05, 11:30 AM   #10
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i notice a dead spot (a good description) when I get on my geared cargo bike after riding fixed. i think it's a combination of the freewheel and longer cranks (10mm in my case). I had to ride SS on my fixie for a week when my hub was stripped, and I didn't notice it as much. Except of course when I tried to slow down with reverse pressure.

But...hurting spin? I agree with Trevor, sounds like a form problem rather than a mechanical one; or as I say when I'm wearing my IT hat, an "end user error."
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Old 07-26-05, 11:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeroplane
You'll have to re-learn how to spin, and how to descend!
What exactly does re-learning on a geared bike entail: standing on the pedals and coasting?

Gee, I'd never be able to acquire those skills.

As I chase the roadies around Prospect Park, while they're shifting and coasting, and I never get a break at any point, I think about the UNFAIR ADVANTAGE I have over them, what with my pedal spinning around on its own and essentially doing all the work for me.

And after 35 or so miles, this advantage really pays off.

Next year, maybe I'll take my act to the TOUR De France; it'll be like doping without the sanctions.
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