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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 05-14-06, 09:31 PM   #1
macaroni steve
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What's up with fixed gear commuting?

Pardon my ignorance. I live in NYC and have noticed fixed gear bikes becoming increasingly trendy. I must say, I don't get it.

I mean, the bikes look great in all their minimalism, but why would you want a fixed gear for commuting? Is it faster? Easier somehow?
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Old 05-14-06, 09:31 PM   #2
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Far less maintenance = better for everyday, street riding.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:35 PM   #3
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it's absolutely painful = better training.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:36 PM   #4
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Painful?
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Old 05-14-06, 09:36 PM   #5
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wow, you guys really are minimal.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:37 PM   #6
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Whole lot of fun too.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:37 PM   #7
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More precision and control in traffic.
I have a 30 mile round trip commute and consider my time on my fixed gear bike the best part of the day.
In the winter I switch to a geared commuter (ice, snow and high winds require gears) and find it sloppy and vague compared to my fixie.
I don't understand why anyone would commute on a geared bike if he had a choice.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:39 PM   #8
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more fun.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:39 PM   #9
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they probably dont really have jobs
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Old 05-14-06, 09:42 PM   #10
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i dont understand what doesn't make sense about fixed gear commuting, especially in NYC. NYC is the perfect city for fixed gear. it's incredibly flat and what inclines there are are easily doable in one gear. there are stop lights every block, which prevents you (generally, unless you're having fun) from being able to hit top speeds that might call for a higher gear. track geometry is extremely well suited for tight handling in traffic and the short rides involved in most NYC commuting. the simplicity and minimalism of a fixed bike makes maintaining it for daily commuting very easy.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:47 PM   #11
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more seriously though, riding fixed feels completely different. Some people hate it, many people love it. You pretty much can figure out which way you fall if you just ride a fixie for 5 or 10 minutes. In that regard it has nothing to do with commuting at all, if you love fixed you'll want to ride it every day.

There are some benefits too, less stuff to steal, less stuff to fail. In NYC there are very few hills worthy of gears anyway and those are pretty far from the center of things. The shorter wheelbase of track bikes (which is just a subset of fixed) makes for very maneuverable machines, which is great for weaving through traffic. That part is proven, what is still partially unproven but which a very good case can be made for is that fixed gear gives you much better feedback about what is going on as you ride. Weaving through manhattan traffic, you need as good feedback as you can get as to what is happening around you...
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Old 05-14-06, 09:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evanyc
i dont understand what doesn't make sense about fixed gear commuting, especially in NYC. NYC is the perfect city for fixed gear. it's incredibly flat and what inclines there are are easily doable in one gear. there are stop lights every block, which prevents you (generally, unless you're having fun) from being able to hit top speeds that might call for a higher gear. track geometry is extremely well suited for tight handling in traffic and the short rides involved in most NYC commuting. the simplicity and minimalism of a fixed bike makes maintaining it for daily commuting very easy.
Exactly.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:51 PM   #13
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Cool. Maybe I'll try one out this summer. Still can't figure out how you guys brake on those - but I guess it's not too hard.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:52 PM   #14
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Fred flintstone style. Barefoot too.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:54 PM   #15
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I didn't get it at first. I could see singlespeed -- low maintenance, fewer parts to get stolen off of bike etc. -- but fixed gear just seemed wrong and dangerous anyplace but on a track.

However, I learned after building a conversion myself, that fixed gear gives you a sense of control especially at low speeds, that you don't have with a bike that can coast. And if you HAVE AT LEAST ONE BRAKE on your bike, it's every bit as safe as any other bike. Safer, in fact, because you have another option besides brakes for stopping.

I got flamed (slow cooked actually) for posting this on the Advocacy and Safety board, but with a fixed gear bike, you can ride very comfortably at low speeds. Very low, slow enough that you can "pace" a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk. Therefore, if you need to leave the street for any reason you can ride the sidewalk without endangering pedestrians. Of course, being able to ride very slow also makes it easier to take the lane in slow moving traffic as well.
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Old 05-14-06, 09:55 PM   #16
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in the winter your legs stay warmer if they are always moving
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Old 05-14-06, 10:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin_
in the winter your legs stay warmer if they are always moving
Just because a bike can coast doesn't mean you need to...

If I'm cold and on my geared bike I can just shift and start spinning more. If I have a headwind and I'm on my fixed gear, I can't increase my cadence that much.
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Old 05-14-06, 10:15 PM   #18
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Man, I got tired of carrying my heavy MTB up and down 4 flights of stairs every day. I throw my fixie over my shoulder and I am out the door. Maintenance is a snap and my commutes are a lot more enjoyable on a bike that is more fun to ride.
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Old 05-14-06, 10:23 PM   #19
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I used to commute on a... *blink, blink* gearie (?) just under 10 miles per day. I *wish* I would have had a fixie then. I'm one of the people that within the first five minutes of riding fixed loved fixed and now I want to ride fixed all the time. Now I live too far away from my office to commute for a 7-4 shift, but I keep a fixie at the office for lunchtime or after-work rides.

Please note I live on the other side of the country from NYC; Southern California.
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Old 05-14-06, 10:24 PM   #20
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i commute fixed every day, and it's less about it being good for commuting (even though i think it is) and more about having forgotten completely how to ride anything else. not being able to control my bike solely with my feet feels very scary now. seriously though i couldn't see riding any other way, it just feels too right.
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Old 05-14-06, 10:26 PM   #21
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someone mentioned this, it is much easier to ride slowly on a fixed gear. i know it's illegal, but i don't feel bad about riding on the sidewalk on my fixie because i can ride as slowly and with as much control as a pedestrian.
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Old 05-14-06, 10:32 PM   #22
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speaking of fixed gear commuting, does any company make a clip-on FRONT fender? Kinda like the cheap plastic rear ones? (which I love) My rear clip on is great, but some ******bag stole my old rusty front one.
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Old 05-14-06, 10:38 PM   #23
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the pro-fixed argument i don't hear enough but was definitely one of the reasons i went fixed is i'm to lazy to use a hand brake. i got so sick of having to change hand positions while riding to brake. it's so much nicer to just be able to skip/skid/resist and leave your hands where they are.
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Old 05-14-06, 10:38 PM   #24
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OK, So then, how do you stop short with a fixed? I have to stop short at least 6 times/week on my commutes to avoid hitting doors opening, strollers, elderly people, rats and a number of other things.
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Old 05-14-06, 10:38 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boots
someone mentioned this, it is much easier to ride slowly on a fixed gear. i know it's illegal, but i don't feel bad about riding on the sidewalk on my fixie because i can ride as slowly and with as much control as a pedestrian.
I hate it when people ride on sidewalks.
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