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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 09-09-07, 06:24 PM   #1
furiousbob
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High(er) speeds on an SS - precautions?

There's a three mile stretch around my house with a 700 ft climb. it's about 10% near the top and 3% at the very bottom. I've taken it before with my commuter bike riding the brakes. I've just got my SS cog installed on my fixie and was thinking about taking the hill. Going uphill would be a pain but coming downhill is exhililarting. The thing is, my commuter bike (built like a tank) feels like it's going to fall apart at around 40 mph.

What are some precautions that I should take? Is it safe to take a $600 bike downhill at 45+ mph? I've got a Jamie Roy btw.
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Old 09-09-07, 06:27 PM   #2
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apparently you aren't familiar with the zoo bombers: http://www.zoobomb.net/
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Old 09-09-07, 06:27 PM   #3
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Any properly assembled bike should have no issues at that speed. What do you mean you feel like it's going to fall apart? Is it a matter of handling?
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Old 09-09-07, 06:28 PM   #4
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There's a three mile stretch around my house with a 700 ft climb. it's about 10% near the top and 3% at the very bottom. I've taken it before with my commuter bike riding the brakes. I've just got my SS cog installed on my fixie and was thinking about taking the hill. Going uphill would be a pain but coming downhill is exhililarting. The thing is, my commuter bike (built like a tank) feels like it's going to fall apart at around 40 mph.

What are some precautions that I should take? Is it safe to take a $600 bike downhill at 45+ mph? I've got a Jamie Roy btw.
It's not particularly safe to ride any bike at 45+ mph. If it's maintained well and has two brakes the jamie roy shouldn't be worse then anything else.
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Old 09-09-07, 06:32 PM   #5
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Bicycling Magazine just had an article about how to properly bomb a hill that might be interesting for you to read. It says that you should keep your feet level with one another and hover above your saddle so you can shift your weight back when trying to slow. On my roadie I've tried it and the most difference it makes it that when I run over the rumble strips at the bottom of one hill near me, I don't feel like I'm going to get bucked off...
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Old 09-09-07, 06:33 PM   #6
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nah...I wouldn't hit +45 unless I spent at least $1000 on a bike....$600? you're taking real chances
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Old 09-09-07, 06:36 PM   #7
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Some bikes, even well-built ones, start to wobble, usually around 40mph. It's caused by a variety of factors that affect some strange resonance of the bike itself. Putting your knees to the top tube helps stabilize it.

I've bombed down hills at 50mph no problems. Just be careful.

edit: and yes, butt off the saddle a little makes the bumps manageable at that speed
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Old 09-09-07, 06:43 PM   #8
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Ken Kifer has a write up about descending.

http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/skills/downhill.htm
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Old 09-09-07, 06:58 PM   #9
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If you can somehow add a $20 rear brake to your $600 SS then it'll be safe to bomb down that hill at 45+ mph......no worries.
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Old 09-09-07, 07:03 PM   #10
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If you're going to go, go FAST!<p>

http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZNwmpLPhoHw
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Old 09-09-07, 07:14 PM   #11
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It's not particularly safe to ride any bike at 45+ mph.
WRONG. Have you ever done any amount of descending in the mountains?

Its all about proper technique and having the bike in good shape.

on the bike:
-machined rims and front and rear brakes are mandatory. They should be adjusted all the way up until the pads are just shy of rubbing the rim, this gives you maximum braking power. You are going to need it.
-Tires should be in good shape (no cuts, sidewall rubs) and at high pressure. A blow out is your biggest danger.
-headset has to have NO slop.
-those are the major ones that could really f'you, but generally everything should be in top order.

technique:
-wear a helmet (goes without saying)
-stay in the drops. it gives you the most leverage on the brake levers and your hands are least likely to be bounced off from this position.
-keep your weight further back. If and when you have to grab a fistful of brake, this will keep you from flipping. By putting the weight on your legs and butt instead of your hands, you can absorb shock from potholes and such better. Keep the arms loose. like brickblocks mentioned, try to float over the sadlde.
-look ahead for sand and pebbles. don't steer or brake, just coast through it if it cant be avoided. You may need to brake sooner than usual for a turn so you don't wash out.
-Its a good idea to ride up the way you plan on coming down and make mental notes of the conditions along the way. You don't want any surprises at 40+MPH.

Its a blast, and really not that dangerous if you know what you are doing.
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Old 09-09-07, 07:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by roadgator View Post
WRONG. Have you ever done any amount of descending in the mountains?

Its all about proper technique and having the bike in good shape.

on the bike:
-machined rims and front and rear brakes are mandatory. They should be adjusted all the way up until the pads are just shy of rubbing the rim, this gives you maximum braking power. You are going to need it.
-Tires should be in good shape (no cuts, sidewall rubs) and at high pressure. A blow out is your biggest danger.
-headset has to have NO slop.
-those are the major ones that could really f'you, but generally everything should be in top order.

technique:
-wear a helmet (goes without saying)
-stay in the drops. it gives you the most leverage on the brake levers and your hands are least likely to be bounced off from this position.
-keep your weight further back. If and when you have to grab a fistful of brake, this will keep you from flipping. By putting the weight on your legs and butt instead of your hands, you can absorb shock from potholes and such better. Keep the arms loose. like brickblocks mentioned, try to float over the sadlde.
-look ahead for sand and pebbles. don't steer or brake, just coast through it if it cant be avoided. You may need to brake sooner than usual for a turn so you don't wash out.
-Its a good idea to ride up the way you plan on coming down and make mental notes of the conditions along the way. You don't want any surprises at 40+MPH.

Its a blast, and really not that dangerous if you know what you are doing.
That is great advice. Fast descents are one of the best parts of road cycling.
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Old 09-09-07, 07:46 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by roadgator View Post
WRONG. Have you ever done any amount of descending in the mountains?

Its all about proper technique and having the bike in good shape.

They should be adjusted all the way up until the pads are just shy of rubbing the rim, this gives you maximum braking power. You are going to need it.
Sorry dude going 45+ on a bike is dangerous.
-If you flat you're ****ed.
-If something jumps out in front of you you're ****ed.
-If there is an unexpected bit of sand you're ****ed
Basically all the things that can go wrong at 15 miles per hour can still go wrong but instead of being unpleasant are life threatening. With skinny tires, a machine that's not meant to do it and none of the protective gear going 45 on a bike is many times more dangerous then doing so on a motorcycle and worlds away from doing so in a car. It's fun and I do it but I'm not stupid enough to think that it's safe.

More importantly it sounds like you never have. Maximum braking power? Grabbing a fistful of brake? If you don't go over your bars your're going to completely lose control of the bike. At 45 you don't need power you need fine control. Cranking you're brakes down so they're rubbing as you mash your way up is just silly.
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Old 09-09-07, 07:49 PM   #14
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crashing at 45 mph would seriously suck, don't go beyond what feels safe and wear a crash hat.
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Old 09-09-07, 07:50 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by roadgator View Post
WRONG. Have you ever done any amount of descending in the mountains?

[redacted]

Its a blast, and really not that dangerous if you know what you are doing.

....hmmm. all that didn't sound 'particularly safe'
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Old 09-09-07, 07:55 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by roadgator View Post
WRONG. Have you ever done any amount of descending in the mountains?

Its all about proper technique and having the bike in good shape.

on the bike:
-machined rims and front and rear brakes are mandatory. They should be adjusted all the way up until the pads are just shy of rubbing the rim, this gives you maximum braking power. You are going to need it.
-Tires should be in good shape (no cuts, sidewall rubs) and at high pressure. A blow out is your biggest danger.
-headset has to have NO slop.
-those are the major ones that could really f'you, but generally everything should be in top order.

technique:
-wear a helmet (goes without saying)
-stay in the drops. it gives you the most leverage on the brake levers and your hands are least likely to be bounced off from this position.
-keep your weight further back. If and when you have to grab a fistful of brake, this will keep you from flipping. By putting the weight on your legs and butt instead of your hands, you can absorb shock from potholes and such better. Keep the arms loose. like brickblocks mentioned, try to float over the sadlde.
-look ahead for sand and pebbles. don't steer or brake, just coast through it if it cant be avoided. You may need to brake sooner than usual for a turn so you don't wash out.
-Its a good idea to ride up the way you plan on coming down and make mental notes of the conditions along the way. You don't want any surprises at 40+MPH.

Its a blast, and really not that dangerous if you know what you are doing.
Great advice but to say you're safe at 45+ by doing these things isnt exactly true. You are safer, but at 45 if anything goes wrong the only thing you can do is hope you skip across that pavement and not scrape across it.
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Old 09-09-07, 08:12 PM   #17
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crossing any urban street on foot is dangerous. riding a bike in traffic is dangerous. driving a car is dangerous. flying is dangerous. looking at those jersey guidos is dangerous. etc, etc.

sure, accidents happen...but not trying any of it out of worry is just plain sad. prepare well and have fun!

you've already gotten excellent advice about what and how to descend safely. helmet, brakes, well-tuned bike, technique. feather the brakes if you need to in order to find out what's comfortable for you. i routinely break 50mph on a 15-year-old italian steel bike...absolutely worry free.
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Old 09-09-07, 08:19 PM   #18
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I've got two brakes (cross levers albeit) and I only bomb that hill at 2am in the morning. No cars, pedestrians, etc. Well lit straight stretch of street. I think I'll be fine. Thanks for all the advice.
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Old 09-09-07, 08:19 PM   #19
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crossing any urban street on foot is dangerous. riding a bike in traffic is dangerous. driving a car is dangerous. flying is dangerous. looking at those jersey guidos is dangerous. etc, etc.

sure, accidents happen...but not trying any of it out of worry is just plain sad. prepare well and have fun!
yes and some things are substantially more dangerous then others. The argument that you shouldn't let danger keep you from having fun is ridiculous.
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Old 09-09-07, 08:42 PM   #20
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It's not ridiculous. You ride a bike, do you not? That is really dangerous. Maybe not to you but that's because you've come to terms with it and accept it for what it is. But to someone too scared to get on a bike it is extremely dangerous. Just like to you a person skydiving is being extremely dangerous but to them, it's another part of what they do to have fun. Cost/benefit type of analysis.
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Old 09-09-07, 09:07 PM   #21
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Just to add to the video stuffs
http://youtube.com/watch?v=OiZKTU3s7mc
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Old 09-09-07, 09:15 PM   #22
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nah...I wouldn't hit +45 unless I spent at least $1000 on a bike....$600? you're taking real chances
Because it's obviously impossible to get any kind of decent bike for under $600 and anything that costs over $1000 is magically delicious.
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Old 09-09-07, 10:09 PM   #23
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More importantly it sounds like you never have. Maximum braking power? Grabbing a fistful of brake? If you don't go over your bars your're going to completely lose control of the bike. At 45 you don't need power you need fine control. Cranking you're brakes down so they're rubbing as you mash your way up is just silly.
So you think I pulled all that out of my ass?

A properly adjusted brake (and a true wheel, I should add) will give you both the most stopping power and the best modulation control. There are various means of tightening the brake at the top of a climb without even getting off the bike, so your quip is asinine and shows how little climbing and descending you have done. Unless one is riding on flexy-noodle wheels, those tricks aren't even necessary. You should also know that the brakes can be applied MUCH harder without fear of locking up than at lower speeds.

Sure, descending isn't as safe as making uninformed cracks about it over the internet, but the proper technique will give one the best chance possible of avoiding or evading the scenarios you mentioned.

Some additional advice for the OP is to look as far ahead as possible to give yourself time to deal with whatever arises (this holds for going fast in anything on the road). Gradually work up to higher and higher speeds. It may take you a while to learn the limits of the machine and your nerve, so work up slowly instead of catapulting over the edge (hopefully not literally).
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Old 09-09-07, 10:20 PM   #24
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yes and some things are substantially more dangerous then others. The argument that you shouldn't let danger keep you from having fun is ridiculous.
+3
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Old 09-09-07, 11:01 PM   #25
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