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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 06-28-07, 07:18 AM   #1
bcoppola
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Hills easier on fixed?

I'm in my 50s and just started riding fixed late last year when I built up my ghetto Schwinn conversion. Love it. I take it on all but the fastest club rides. It's mostly flat around here -- however:

On two club rides over the same hilly stretch of road I used my fixed one day & my geared roadie the other. I swear going up the hills was easier on my fixie! On my road bike I was gasping like a beached fish, while on the fixed I was tired but not overly distressed. (OTOH, spinning at 30+mph on the downhills on the FG was...bracing, shall we say.)

So, was it just me or is there something about the way a fixed gear's momentum pushes you thru the stroke that makes mashing up a hill easier? That's my hypothesis.

One variable: the club ride I rode geared was at a faster pace. But the hilly stretch was on the early outbound section of the "faster" ride where I was presumably fresher, while it was near the end of the "slower" fixed ride where I would presumably be tired.

Also worth noting that I am not by any means a strong climber.
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Old 06-28-07, 07:33 AM   #2
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It depends on the hill. If the hill has a linear slope that is within the torque range of your gearing, then yes it will be easier with a fixed gear. If the hill is steeper than your good torque or if the slope changes a lot it'll be harder and slower. Also, if you are mashing on the geared bike you are reducing a lot of it's advantage. Based on my experience, of course.

There's also the "can't slow down" factor. I find myself finishing some hilly routes faster on my fixed gear bike because the need to keep my momentum up pushes me harder. It's more work, though.

Last edited by zacked; 06-28-07 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 06-28-07, 07:35 AM   #3
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I only have a SS (anxiously awaiting my BF IRO to go fixed), but I can climb the small hills around here much better than on my geared bike. Mechanical efficiencies or just that you're forced to do it? I haven't decided yet.
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Old 06-28-07, 07:36 AM   #4
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I find climbing hills to be faster, not always easier. It's that crank momentum that makes the pedals seem like they help themselves spin. Granted, my other bike is a touring bike so I'm not in any hurry on it anyway.
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Old 06-28-07, 07:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcoppola
.)So, was it just me or is there something about the way a fixed gear's momentum pushes you thru the stroke that makes mashing up a hill easier? That's my hypothesis.

It's a pretty ****ty hypothesis if you think about it.


Some more reasonable ones:
1. fast group ride vs by yourself.
2. You have weak heart and lungs and therefore are better off mashing.
3. Not being able to shift forces you to push through making the whole experience over faster.
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Old 06-28-07, 07:40 AM   #6
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It's a pretty ****ty hypothesis if you think about it.
I disagree, completely.
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Old 06-28-07, 07:48 AM   #7
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It's only anecdotal, but here's my experience. I've commuted on my old touring bike, my geared road bike, and my fixie. My commute isn't terribly long at 16 miles, but it is very hilly. I was concerned about commuting on the fixie because of the hills, but it proved to be no problem at all. In fact, today I set a personal fastest time getting to work on the fixie. We're not talking 30 seconds faster, we're talking almost 8 minutes. And my average heart rate really isn't any higher... maybe a couple beats faster, but nothing high enough to decide that it's a lot more work.

I think it's just easier to be lazy when you have the gears to fall back on.

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Old 06-28-07, 07:53 AM   #8
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I disagree, completely.
Think about it carefully then.

When do you have trouble keeping your foot moving through the dead spot?
When pedalling so slow you don't have enough forward momentum to keep the bike moving and have to actually push the bike forward during the dead spot.

What is the result of letting the bike pull you through the dead spot?
You lose forward momentum.

Is there any difference between fixed and free when you are pushing forwards?
no.

Therefore if you are is a situation where you are having trouble through the dead spot you are also in a situation where there isn't enough forward momentum to pull your foot through. You are therefor pushing throughout the pedal stroke in order to keep the bike moving and there is no difference between fixed and freewheeled.
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Old 06-28-07, 07:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by bcoppola
So, was it just me or is there something about the way a fixed gear's momentum pushes you thru the stroke that makes mashing up a hill easier? That's my hypothesis.
while the power advantage of this is small, i find the psychological effect to be quite significant. the fact that i'm exerting myself to get up the hill magnifies the sensation that the bike is pushing me through my pedal stroke when it's at it's weakest point.

the fact that it's pushing my feet actually makes the whole system less mechanically efficient, but if i can stay ahead of the pedals i can choose the points in my pedal stroke where i want to apply power and still maintain a smooth cadence. this is both a good and a bad thing though.

when i really notice this is after riding fixed only for an extended period of time. i really feel like i struggle on the hills on my road bike. i'll be going at a decent pace, but my pedaling has gotten lazy down there and therefore i'm hurting much more than i should be.
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Old 06-28-07, 08:01 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by dutret
Think about it carefully then.
I'm not quite saying it's true, but I wouldn't dismiss is as as a terribly stupid hypothesis. I think any benefit would come as the result of a good pedal stroke. I think it could have a positive affect if you maintain a pretty solid stroke, there would be much less constant momentum lost rather than using the momentum to keep your feet moving.

I'm not saying it's gospel. Where are those physicists? I'll support the anecdotal evidence though and say I like climbing on my fixed more and very rarely leave the saddle.
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Old 06-28-07, 08:04 AM   #11
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I think any benefit would come as the result of a good pedal stroke. I think it could have a positive affect if you maintain a pretty solid stroke, there would be much less constant momentum lost rather than using the momentum to keep your feet moving.
If that was the case you would be just as well off with a freewheel.

This doesn't require physicists just people with the capacity to reasonably think about the issue. In fact people trying to apply complex physics are probably just over complicating and obscuring the basic logical flaws in their argument(see that ****ty essay).
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Old 06-28-07, 08:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutret
If that was the case you would be just as well off with a freewheel.

This doesn't require physicists just people with the capacity to reasonably think about the issue.
I'm saying there's a possibility to maintain momentum.

I'm sorry I left my MENSA card at home, I'm going to go watch me some grass growin'.
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Old 06-28-07, 08:40 AM   #13
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I can't explain it myself, but yes. There are hills i hit a "head" wall on riding even my carbon fiber TT that i can push through without blinking on my lugged nishiki fixed road conversion beater-- with full fenders. I think it has something to do with your momentum not being "lost" as is the case with a freewheel, but i'm not completely sure. I attack hills faster on fixed, though the advantage seems to go out the window on steeper ones...
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Old 06-28-07, 08:44 AM   #14
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WTF is wrong with you people!!!!


if you are maintaining momentum(ie pushing through the entire pedal stroke) then there is absolutely no difference between fixed and freewheeled.

If you are letting the pedals pull you around momentum IS lost.

As far as tt bike vs conversion the difference is likely in how well you can breathe.
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Old 06-28-07, 08:46 AM   #15
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I'm not in my aero bars on my tt bike during a climb, but rather the bullhorns-- so breathing has 0 to do with it.

Not to start an argument with you, as we all know how unpleasant you can make that experience, but do you see something a little odd with the number of cyclists in this thread who seem to experience the SAME THING vs. the one individual who isn't agreeing?
Just sayin', maybe YOU should stop and think about it (or maybe find a hill to climb).
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Old 06-28-07, 08:57 AM   #16
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If nothing else, the fact that I can't shift makes it much easier to just deal with the fact that I have a hill coming up, and I have to get the hell up there somehow, so you just pound it out on a fixed gear. I also think it's a lot more fun to climb on a fixed gear rather than a road bike, up to a certain point (that point is embodied by 18th St. here in PGH; anything steeper or longer than that and I am no longer enjoying my fixed gear riding experience). So basically what I'm getting at is maybe everybody in this thread is right. dutret is right because there is little to no real mechanical advantage to fixed gear riding up hills, but rather a series of psychological advantages that make it seem easier, coupled with the fact that I know when I'm starting a hill on my fixed gears, I bomb it at the bottom so the momentum can carry me part way up the hill. Another thing with fixed gear that could maybe make it feel easier is that if you're staying enough in front of the pedals and not relying on them to throw you over the dead spot at the top, or pull you through the dead spot at the bottom, it makes it easier to turn nice little circles without jerking or wasted effort.

So, whatever, I like bikes.
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Old 06-28-07, 09:04 AM   #17
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I'm not in my aero bars on my tt bike during a climb, but rather the bullhorns-- so breathing has 0 to do with it.

Not to start an argument with you, as we all know how unpleasant you can make that experience, but do you see something a little odd with the number of cyclists in this thread who seem to experience the SAME THING vs. the one individual who isn't agreeing?
Just sayin', maybe YOU should stop and think about it (or maybe find a hill to climb).
so the bullhorns on your tt bike are in the same relative position to the saddle as the bars on your conversion? I never thought you would be climbing on aerobars but most TT bikes still don't have geometry ideal for climbing.

Everyone in this thread is comparing climbing on a geared bike to climbing with a fixed gear. It is my opinion that there is a much bigger difference in the lack of gears then the freewheel. Even if that wasn't the case and there is some advantage to fixed it is easy to see that all this keeping momentum smooth pedal stroke thinking is bull****. It simply doesn't make sense since if you are using the pedals to pull you around you are sapping forward momentum and if you are pushing through the entire pedal stroke then there is no difference between fixed and free.
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Old 06-28-07, 09:06 AM   #18
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Another thing with fixed gear that could maybe make it feel easier is that if you're staying enough in front of the pedals and not relying on them to throw you over the dead spot at the top, or pull you through the dead spot at the bottom, it makes it easier to turn nice little circles without jerking or wasted effort.
No it doesn't. Is everyone being deliberately obtuse and trolling? If you are keeping up with the pedals it is just like having a freewheel. Why is this hard to understand.
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Old 06-28-07, 09:19 AM   #19
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I was trying to be diplomatic at least.

Everyone hates you. Just leave.
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Old 06-28-07, 09:21 AM   #20
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F*** the facts, whatever they may be. I like riding fixed up hills more than my geared.
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Old 06-28-07, 09:32 AM   #21
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So I just bought a Pista yesterday. It has 78.8 Gear Inches. 48x16T.

Am I screwed on the hills? Should I get a larger cog or a smaller ring?
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Old 06-28-07, 09:36 AM   #22
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Am I screwed on the hills? Should I get a larger cog or a smaller ring?
not necessarily, give it a shot before buying stuff.

i'd probably gear down, but i like to spin.
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Old 06-28-07, 09:36 AM   #23
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So I just bought a Pista yesterday. It has 78.8 Gear Inches. 48x16T.

Am I screwed on the hills? Should I get a larger cog or a smaller ring?
larger cog is cheaper. Not screwed but something closer to 70 is probably better.
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Old 06-28-07, 09:39 AM   #24
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Larger cog.
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Old 06-28-07, 09:40 AM   #25
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Dura Ace? Can I add a bigger cog with the same chain - say 18T?
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