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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 01-26-07, 12:02 PM   #1
dahc
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Newbie questions

Okay, I've never had a fixed gear bike before and I just took up cycling seriously about 18 months ago. I'm mainly cycling for exercise but have been kicking around the idea of commuting (at least 2-3 days a week). I would like to enter some sort of race this spring. I'd consider a road race or a criterium, I'm not sure mainly I just want to give it a try to see what I like. Also I like to take rides with my kids (ages 4 and 6) around the neighborhood.

It seems to me that a fixed gear bike would be the best fit for most of these activities and I really like the way they look :-)

Now for the questions. I realize that some of these are "typical" questions and often talked about so I apologize for that. I've been reading the forum and other sites on the web for a week and can's seem to find definite answers. So please bear with me.

Questions:
1. I read somewhere that a track bike fits different than a road bike. Is that true? None of the shops around here carry any fixed bikes in stock so if I can't really test it myself. If it is the same as a road bike then I'm already set.

2. Question #1 is probably irrelevant because I also would like to do this on the cheap so I'll probably be doing a conversion. I used to have a steal road bike that weighed about 40lbs. I now have a Trek 1000 that probably weighs in the low to mid 20lbs range. On a fixie I'd like to keep as high a gear as possible because I like to go fast and don't want to spin out going down hills (also there are relatively few hills around here). It seems to me that having as light of a bike as possible would allow me to climb better and thus run a larger gear, so about how much weight is typically dropped by converting an older road bike into a fixie? Say I get a 35-40lbs steal road bike and convert it to a fixie with a front brake and a brooks saddle. I don't know if it would then be a 30lb bike or a 20lb bike.

3. Gear choice: If I treat my road bike like a fixie and stay in one gear while I ride around for the next few rides, is that a good way to figure out the gearing that I'd want on a fixie? If not should the fixie end up being a bigger or smaller gear?

4. I've noticed that 90% of roadies ride with their hands on the hoods 90% of the time. I ride a decent mix of drops and hoods. Do most fixie riders use the drops or do you put your hands on the top of the bar? (obviously this is for fixies that don't have hoods). I've seen brake levers mounted next to the stem which makes me think that a significant number of people have their hands up there.
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Old 01-26-07, 12:06 PM   #2
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1. the geometry is different cause it is meant for different uses.

2. Even if you aren't stealing it yourself it's not very ethical to get stolen bike.

3. yes

4.fixies can have hoods. Your conversion should definitely have a front brake at least. The same hand positions work in the same circumstances. The differences are fashion based.
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Old 01-26-07, 12:14 PM   #3
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1. true track bikes do have different geometry than road bikes. generally this is in the head and seat tubes being closer to vertical than on road bikes. however, a lot of "track" bikes that are meant for the street have angles more like a road bike. iro, fuji, bianchi, etc.

2. you can build a pretty damn light conversion if you find one with decent tubing. reynolds 531 is always a good choice. mine is quad butted tange and is ridiculously light. then of course outfit it with light components.

3. you will get a good idea of what you like to push, you will never be able to really feel the spin like you would on a fixed bike. from what you say i think the 72-75 gear inch range would be what you are looking for.

4. as for bar position, that is best decided by you. if you ride an even mix of drops and hoods on your road bike, maybe you should start out like that on your fixed bike. then if you notice your riding style is a bit different on the fixed, swap for something that suits you better.

good luck with your build.
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Old 01-26-07, 03:15 PM   #4
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1. I've only ridden a conversion. It fits like a road bike. <shrug>

2. My conversion weighs in the low 20's, I think. No lightweight parts. Just not many parts.

3. My gearing is 44-16 and I love it, because spinning is the cat's pj's.

4. I ride on road drops with hoods. I like the hoods.
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Old 01-26-07, 03:28 PM   #5
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1. it's pretty hard/worthless to generalize about fit. road geometry varies so much. track geometry varies so much. if you can try on a couple of bikes before buying, that's gonna do more than the internet is going to tell you.

2. you don't need a 40lb road bike. there are so many decent affordable street fixed gears, like IRO, Redline 9-2-5, Cayne UNO... do a search for the budget bikes thread and read through it. that will give you a 19lb decent ride.

3. try something in the high 70s. like 46/15 or something. alter gearing as you see fit.

4. there's no one thing that most riders ride. i see lots of people in the drops, or with flat bars, or with bullhorns. they've all got their purposes: pick yours.

hvae fun!
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Old 01-26-07, 03:57 PM   #6
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1. I've never ridden a track bike, but they are different. also I think a lot of off the shelf fixed/singlespeeds dont have "track" geometry.

2. my fixed conversion weighs about 25 - 30 lbs. its a large frame and my wheels are heavy

3. thats what I did and it worked out pretty well.

4. riding fixed is probably not going to affect where you like to keep your hands much at all. stick with what you like
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Old 01-26-07, 04:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dahc
3. Gear choice: If I treat my road bike like a fixie and stay in one gear while I ride around for the next few rides, is that a good way to figure out the gearing that I'd want on a fixie? If not should the fixie end up being a bigger or smaller gear?
I had a Trek 1000. I found that my "I'm having a good day, here comes a tailwind" gear (42-15) worked really well on my fixed gear. Just a little higher than 52-19, which was my usual cruising gear. I got rid of the Trek and got a Surly Crosscheck that was a 9 speed with more gearing options. When I got the Surly, I stayed off of my fixed gear for a while until I replaced the frame (and the wheelset, bars, cranks, brakes. Wait, that's a whole different bike.) On my "new" fixie, 40-15 feels a lot better. Probably because I spin faster on my Surly. Anyone who gets a fixed gear (conversion or otherwise) should set aside some money for experimentation with chainrings and cogs. Eventually you'll just settle into what feels best.

Quote:
4. I've noticed that 90% of roadies ride with their hands on the hoods 90% of the time. I ride a decent mix of drops and hoods. Do most fixie riders use the drops or do you put your hands on the top of the bar? (obviously this is for fixies that don't have hoods). I've seen brake levers mounted next to the stem which makes me think that a significant number of people have their hands up there.
If you ride a decent mix of drops and hoods, that means your Trek fits you well in that you are comfortable in both position. My best advice is to set up your fixed gear so that the geometry is as identical to the Trek as possible. I actually line up the bottom brackets of both my bikes and use a laser level to make sure that the saddle, bottom bracket and bars are have the same spatial relationship on both bikes. The only difference is that one bike (the fixie) -has moustache bars and the other has drops, but that may change soon. If you get a Brooks saddle on your fixie, you may eventually want one for the Trek as well.

Your fixed gear will have hoods if it has brakes, which it should. Brakeless is dumb, in my opinion. I ride fixed with a front and rear brake and I use both. After a long ride, stopping with reverse torque is difficult due to fatigue. And you sound like you will use your fixie for long rides.

The brake levers on a lot of fixies are usually next to the stem because with only one brake, one cross lever doesn't look as dumb as one aero lever. But if you have two brakes, that problem goes away.
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Old 01-26-07, 05:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutret
2. Even if you aren't stealing it yourself it's not very ethical to get stolen bike.
Haha.
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