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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 07-30-05, 02:05 PM   #1
SSSasky
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Gearing for hilly town ...

Hi all,

I'm going to be messengering in Montreal, Quebec startinng in September, and I'm slightly worried about the terrain be unfriendly for fixed. The couriers, obviously, operate mostly downtown, where there are a couple pretty brutal hills to deal with now and then, and I'm not sure what to do about gearing.

I currently run 46x17, which is generally pretty comfortable, but on steeper hills (i.e. what I will be facing in Montreal), I think I'll spin out too much on the downhills and struggle on the uphills. What do you goesdo for steeper terrain? What do fix gear riders run in SF and other hilly towns?

I do have front and rear brakes on my bike, so I can make liberal use of those if need be. At this point, I'm thinking of just going to a freewheel, which would solve most of the problems. Most of the mess'ers in Montreal run freewheeling, usually geared bikes.

I'd like to stay fixed, but I'm not sure if it's going to work. Thoughts?

Check it.
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Old 07-30-05, 02:11 PM   #2
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I ride the Seattle hills quite a bit. 42x16 and 42x17 have both worked well for me here and I switch back and forth depending what I'm going for. I'm digging 42x17 right now because it's much easier to sprint uphill. My heart gets more of a workout than my thighs because I'm sitting back and spinning more often standing up and pushing. It kinda bums me out not being able to go quite so fast on the flats, but oh well. And I definitely spin out on downhills, but with the lower gear it's also a lot easier to control speed. Hope that helps. Good luck.
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Old 07-30-05, 03:13 PM   #3
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I ran 42-17 when I lived in SF, and that got me up just about every hill I needed to climb.
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Old 07-30-05, 04:14 PM   #4
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Get a bike with freewheel, cogset, shifters. Messengers on fixies are dilettantes.
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Old 07-30-05, 04:49 PM   #5
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why must every troll frequent this forum?
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Old 07-31-05, 11:00 AM   #6
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Gee. Thanks for the great advice, qmsdc15. I'll get right on that.

</intarweb sarcasm>

The fact of the matter is, I ride fixie now, as I have for two years, and I don't want to give it up just because I'm moving somewhere with more hills. To everyone else, thanks for the great advice--much appreciated.

qmsdc15, you are teh troll.

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Old 07-31-05, 03:17 PM   #7
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honestly, having a geared bike for when you go into the hills isn't a bad idea.
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Old 07-31-05, 03:50 PM   #8
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I know that a geared bike is a good idea, and (once I have some capital) I'll probably get one. However, I don't want to give up my fixed gear entirely (if at all). If people can ride fixed in SF, I can ride it in Montreal.
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Old 07-31-05, 04:04 PM   #9
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I've used 42x16 before. Sure it gives some trouble on the flats, but it's not too slow. It's also a little bit low for really bombing down any hills, you'll be spinning your butt off. But when I was running 42x16 I can only really think of one hill that I needed to walk. There were a few I'd like to have walked, but only one that routinely forced me off my bike.
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Old 07-31-05, 04:20 PM   #10
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Not sure if the SF to Montreal equation is 100% on. Only spent about 10 days in Monteal and none with a bike, but I got the impression that the hills are less avoidable there then in SF. I road fixed in SF but I pretty much road around the hills. Most of the town is in the valleys there, the hill parts are mostly residential (with exceptions of course) and if you know your way around you can avoid all the really steep parts, unless you are going to visit someone who lives on top of those hills... I live on a street for two months that I was able to pedal up all of three times. Mad fun and great training trying to kill that one insane block though, measured my advances in house numbers...

In Montreal it seemed like the city is more built straight up the mountain, and its a much wider mountain then sf's hills, harder to navigate around. But that don't mean you need gears... Maybe a brake is in order, otherwise just chat with your fellow messengers and rock whatever it takes.
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Old 07-31-05, 04:43 PM   #11
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Thanks for the extra input Abe. Most of the courier runs in Montreal are at the bottom of the mountain, just running back and forth (where the majority of the businesses are), with the occassional climb or descent up or down one block. The bugger is the occasional hospital run, most of which are way up the mountain. Spinning back down would probably be worse than grinnding up. All that being said, there are a few fixxed couriers in Montreal. I've sent a few emails to people who would know about the scene, but thus far no response. At the very worst, I'll sort it out once I get there.
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Old 08-01-05, 09:25 AM   #12
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In Pittsburgh, I'm doing fine with 45/16, but I'm a sucker for punishment and love cranking hard and pulling to get up the steep hills here.
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