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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 09-11-05, 03:53 PM   #1
chicagoamdream
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Fixed tour of Europe for hipster - Recs? Anyone done it?

I might post this in "touring," but on the chance that one of you guys have done this, I thought I'd start here.

I've got this idea that I want to pack up my fixie sometime in the late spring of next year, fly *somewhere* in Europe (I'm uncreatively rolling around France and Italy in my head right now), and spent about a week to 10 days rolling through relatively populated locales of interest.

I'm thinking of doing it more in the style of my age group revolving as much around hostels and drinking as the biking, so I don't care about racking up miles, and I'd prefer to just rock an extra-large bag rather than the whole pannier mess.

I'd be really interested to hear what anyone has to say on the topic, from practical suggestions to locations (I've seen enough of Slovenia and Budapest, but anything else would be fair game).
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Old 09-11-05, 04:37 PM   #2
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Riding brakeless in the alps is a really cool idea! The route into italy over the mont cenis is good. Seriously just take some big sprockets for the hills, and get used to changing them!
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Old 09-11-05, 05:46 PM   #3
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I haven't toured fixed, but many have. Some fixed gear tourers even bring what might be considered a large load (either racks&panniers, or pulling a trailer, or both).

For "hilly" areas a "multispeed" fixed gear setup may be usefull for ones knees. Something along the lines of a Rivendell Quickbeam, yet fixed rather than freewheel, if that's your inclination. I don't think double fixed hubs exist (for 2 sprockets on each side), so I'd assume one would have to mangle Rivendells double freewheel hub with some type of suicide setup.
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Old 09-11-05, 06:41 PM   #4
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Germany and Austria are extremely bike friendly and relatively flat. Lots of cheap clean hostels.
And of course the Netherlands. I've been thinking about trying to do some touring around those parts during the world cup next year.
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Old 09-11-05, 07:54 PM   #5
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i'm supposed to be over there in may/june next year. my friend is studying in granada, and i was going to visit him when he was done w/ the school year. i was thinking of getting s&s couplings put on my bike so i don't get charged when i'm flying. netherlands, france, italy, sounds good to me. how do you plan on getting around between cities. bus, or train?
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Old 09-11-05, 08:52 PM   #6
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Netherlands...that's a good call. I will investigate that further.

In the very brief reading I've done, it seems like bikes are more or less welcome on some trains. I'm starting to think that "touring" isn't necessarily even the right word for this...maybe I'm just going somewhere with my bike and using it in lieu of other transportation.

Anyone have any experience boxing and checking their bikes on planes? Part of the appeal of bringing the fixie would be the ease of assembling it in the baggage claim area and zipping off.
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Old 09-11-05, 09:10 PM   #7
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trains usually charge a little extra (maybe $15) to bring a bike. so do some airlines. i usually use air france, which doesn't charge for bikes. i wanted to get the S&S coupling so i could pack it up small enough where no one could charge me. plus i woudn't have to worry about finding or carrying a huge bike box. now i just need a bike with round tubes. IRO Angus?
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Old 09-11-05, 09:14 PM   #8
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denmark is super bike friendly too. copenhagen is a great town.
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Old 09-12-05, 02:49 AM   #9
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I go across to the continent quite regularly with my fixie and have never had to pay any supplement on the trains or the ferries.
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Old 09-12-05, 05:17 AM   #10
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You don't seriously call yourself a hipster, do you? Just, I dunno, wondering.
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Old 09-12-05, 08:18 AM   #11
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Um, am I missing something? Double fixed hubs definitely exist.
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Old 09-12-05, 08:54 AM   #12
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Ha-no, I don't usually identify myself as a hipster, but it's a decent catch-all term to convey, more or less, what I'm going for. Let's just say that if the two ends of the fixie-riding spectrum are hipsters and Sheldon Brown, I'm closer to the hipster side.

I really need to get to the library and investigate, but I'm starting to feel a The Netherlands and Belgium trip.

Now, the shopping list:

-celebratory ReLoad bag (I'm due for one anyway)
-new camera, maybe?
-Phil / Mavic Open Pro wheel to be lovingly built over the winter, dreaming about this trip?
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Old 09-12-05, 09:28 AM   #13
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"and I'd prefer to just rock an extra-large bag rather than the whole pannier mess"

dont go overboard on the bag size. nothing worse than carting around a big bag everywhere you go all day every day, regardless of your mode of travel. Bike, train, or thumb, all you need is a change of clothes or two if you wash every night (lots of silk which dries in hours).
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Old 09-12-05, 10:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manboy
Um, am I missing something? Double fixed hubs definitely exist.
--I could certainly be mistaken, being new to fixed and all--

I had thought that to keep the chainline perfect, the hubs would have to be double on each side (because the bike I linked to has 2 front rings).

Quote:
Originally Posted by waltergodefroot
The guy who rode this bike is not a hipster(huh?), but it is a fixed gear and he rode it quite a ways on a tour through sooutheast asia and ultimatly into Europe.
That looks like Gordon Taylor's setup.
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Old 09-12-05, 10:47 AM   #15
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I think there is some confusion on the hubs, there are plenty of fixed-fixed flip flop hubs, but Camel seems to be talking about a hub with two cogs on each side, sort of a double flip flop. Not actually sure that's how the quickbeam even works though, I was under the impression it just didn't have great chainlines.

Actually come the think of it the level hubs allow you to flip over the cog and change the chainline. Think they are flip flop too, but you could actually just carry a bunch of cogs and swap them pretty easily with their design.

Using a messenger bag in place of some sort of rack or panniers sounds like an idea you'll really regret, really quickly. Messenger bags are not designed for long trips but to be taken on and off over and over again with the quickness. Letting your bike carry the load is going to be infinitely more comfortable. And while a hipster clearly needs to suffer a bit for style, who the hell is going to give you props for the Reload on a highway surrounded by sheep farms in Belgium?
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Old 09-12-05, 11:18 AM   #16
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Alright, I give. I will start looking into racks. However, I reserve the right to grumble at abe1x if all of the hostel ladies aren't swooning at my panniers.
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Old 09-12-05, 11:45 AM   #17
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"Letting your bike carry the load is going to be infinitely more comfortable"

although I generally agree with this; i'm not sure its most suitable for chicago's MO.

For camping, absolutely. For Hotels, perhaps (would personally rather use a carradice). For hosteling, no way; Unless he plans on sleeping on and carrying panniers around, he'll be too worried about his unattending belongings to enjoy himself.

Cowboy style is best.... small pack containing little more than a fresh shirt and socks. Noone EVER says 'gee, i wish i packed more on this trip).
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Old 09-12-05, 11:50 AM   #18
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speaking of -- check out these screengrabs from the brooks site of a 'vintage' race through tuscany:

http://www.brookssaddles.com/brooksengland.html
(Menu: News >> L'Eroica)
http://www.wallbike.com/brooks/brooksjersey.html
(thanks, mcatano)








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Old 09-12-05, 11:58 AM   #19
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That's just fantastic.

You can also take a frame building bike tour of Italy. That would be pretty fun.
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Old 09-12-05, 12:34 PM   #20
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I'm thinking maybe I'll go: rear rack, onto which I could bungee a bag for the longer rides.
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Old 09-12-05, 12:41 PM   #21
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yeah that's probably the ideal, I'm pretty sure I said "some sort of rack or panniers", not "go get the fuggliest panniers around"...
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Old 09-12-05, 01:46 PM   #22
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In the netherlands, it will cost you just six euros to take your bike along on any train and that ticket will be valid for one day, regardless of how many miles you travel. You would still need to pay for your own train ticket of course.
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Old 09-12-05, 01:56 PM   #23
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Excellent...I've been doing some reading here, and it sounds like the Netherlands (Amsterdam in particular) are particularly bike-friendly.

Batavus, are you talking about intra-city, public transit trains, or international ones (like, if I were to go from Amsterdam to Belgium)? Or both?
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Old 09-12-05, 02:21 PM   #24
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It's valid on international trains going through Holland, with some exceptions, make sure to check those out. Also, the bike ticket is not valid during rush hour. I tried to find a link on the Dutch Railways site (www.ns.nl) to the bike ticket in English, but couldn't find it, eventhough the site is available in English. The ticket is called 'dagkaart fiets' which roughly translates to 'bicycle 1 day ticket'.

I rode fixed in Amsterdam a few weeks ago and it was utter chaos! I really had to be careful not to be run over, but then I'm not used to really busy traffic. But I guess u were referring to the general bike friendliness of Holland, because of the millions of miles of cycling lanes. Oh yeah, if you ride in Amsterdam, or Rotterdam or any other citu that runs trams, do not get your wheel jammed in one of the rails, that would so suck!

Cheers
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Old 09-12-05, 06:47 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abe1x
I think there is some confusion on the hubs, there are plenty of fixed-fixed flip flop hubs, but Camel seems to be talking about a hub with two cogs on each side, sort of a double flip flop. Not actually sure that's how the quickbeam even works though, I was under the impression it just didn't have great chainlines.

Actually come the think of it the level hubs allow you to flip over the cog and change the chainline. Think they are flip flop too, but you could actually just carry a bunch of cogs and swap them pretty easily with their design.
-Yeah, seems I'm a bit confused- Sorry.

That Rivendel hub is just double sided free-free (rather than the normal fixed-free, or fixed-fixed). Probably not that great of an idea to run bad chain lines fixed, but perhaps less worrisome if singlespeed free. I was thinking that the 2 front rings, paired with the rite cogs and one could get a larger gear range for climbing (larger than just swapping cogs alone). Changing would only entail loosening the nuts, or flipping if need be. An under a minute change for a good climbing gear, then repeat at the top to descend.

--Allritey then. Now for some stuff that the OP might find usefull from me--

If your going to use a rack, and also might be doing a goodly bit of walking/hiking/bus/train travel, and decide upon a rack. Check out Arkels Bug pannier, it's a pannier that converts to a backpack. It has good reviews from folks who have one, I've one on my definite "to get" list. Avoid the Nashbarf one (vy poor quality, and heavy).

If you think you might do long riding days. A medium sized handlebar bag may be helpfull. Theyr'e super handy to keep the stuff you'd use throughout the day in (days cash, maps, guides, journal, camera, snacks etc). I use one w/a quick release and shouldeer strap from Jandd Mountaineering -and take it with me whenever I'm off bike on a tour.

I don't keep extra $, passport, credit cards in the h-bar bag, they are all in a passport pocket under my clothes.

I also use a lockable waist bag when walking about touristy bits, and I've left all my other stuff semi-secure wherever I stayed. Worn correctly its impossible to pickpocket, and can't be slashed off. Also handy to lock up around a bunk in a hostel. Prevents opportunistic theft-keeping honest folks honest.

The only folks I've personally meet that have been robbed, were robbed at bus and train stations (wallets, camera) and from hostels (cameras, wallets, cd players, clolthes). Petty theft. There's never much one can do against violent theft, but just use usual street smarts & don't flash cash.
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