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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 08-06-08, 02:47 PM   #1
TJHOO
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Fixed gear vs Power cranks for pedal stroke efficiency

Looking to improve pedal stroke efficiency.

For road training a friend had recommended Power Cranks which let each leg pedal independently:
https://shop.sunrisecyclery.com/item/12959

LBS had recommended instead trying a fixed gear bike (without freewheel).

Would probably be using indoors on trainer year round, and possibly on flat bike trail in off season.

Anybody here tried both and able to compare?
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Old 08-06-08, 02:54 PM   #2
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Just ride a fixie, and include training sessions where you focus on all up-pulling motions.
Dont forget you can always take one foot off of a pedal and use the other foot to do all
of the pedaling. That is better on a fixie since it forces you to do a smooth rotation.
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Old 08-06-08, 03:00 PM   #3
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$850 to learn how to pedal better? Er..
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Old 08-06-08, 03:01 PM   #4
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this has been debated back and forth but i and others feel that riding fixed actually hurts your form because the cranks carry your leg through the dead spot at 12 and 6 o'clock. over time this can cause you to get lazy. the original training-related justification for riding fixed in the offseason was to improve spin (the ability to pedal at high cadences), not to improve your pedal stroke. and to do even that, you have to gear low.

powercranks eliminate the phenomenon where the down leg can actually push the up leg through its stroke, but don't actually require the up leg to do any work, besides keeping up with the cranks.

if you want an efficient pedal stroke around all 360 degrees, do one legged drills with a freewheel. that forces you to actually concentrate on even force around the entire pedal stroke.
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Old 08-06-08, 03:10 PM   #5
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$850 to learn how to pedal better? Er..

I'll tell you how to do it for the price of a cheap wheel and dumpster bike.


1. Buy electro-forged Schwinn. ($10 bucks at garage sale, or free on side of road).
2. Toss a track wheel on it.
3. Carry panniers full of books, clothes, raingear, beer, etc...
4. Ride to/from work/school/whatever for 2 years, rain, snow or shine.
5. Hop on your fancy road bike and ride really, really fast.

It worked for me.
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Old 08-06-08, 03:54 PM   #6
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this has been debated back and forth but i and others feel that riding fixed actually hurts your form because the cranks carry your leg through the dead spot at 12 and 6 o'clock. over time this can cause you to get lazy. the original training-related justification for riding fixed in the offseason was to improve spin (the ability to pedal at high cadences), not to improve your pedal stroke. and to do even that, you have to gear low.

powercranks eliminate the phenomenon where the down leg can actually push the up leg through its stroke, but don't actually require the up leg to do any work, besides keeping up with the cranks.

if you want an efficient pedal stroke around all 360 degrees, do one legged drills with a freewheel. that forces you to actually concentrate on even force around the entire pedal stroke.
Have done the 1 legged drills intermittently and felt this indeed is helpful.

My knees aren't the best, and I'm wondering what impact a fixie could have there.
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Old 08-06-08, 04:28 PM   #7
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I too am of the opinion that a fixed-gear can actually hurt your pedal stroke. It's only an issue if you let it be, but it's easy to get lazy. When I first started riding fixed I didn't even realize how lazy I had gotten until I got back on a road bike and could barely ride it! I've since become more aware of my pedal stroke and the problem has gone away.

If you have $850 burning a hole in your pocket, power cranks may very well be a good investment. I've definitely been curious but I cannot personally justify the cost.
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Old 08-06-08, 04:37 PM   #8
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along with one-legged drills set the chain tension rather (but not dangerously) loose and ride. you will feel where there are gaps in your spin.
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Old 08-06-08, 06:38 PM   #9
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Power cranks are a serious training tool not for noobs. Other posts have already mentioned this and yeah fixed gear allows you to develop a LAZY pedal stroke. Momentum of the bike carries you through dead spots.

The only place where fixed gear would be beneficial to your pedal stroke is forcing you to spin faster on downhills where otherwise you would coast.
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Old 08-06-08, 06:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJHOO View Post
Looking to improve pedal stroke efficiency.

For road training a friend had recommended Power Cranks which let each leg pedal independently:
https://shop.sunrisecyclery.com/item/12959

LBS had recommended instead trying a fixed gear bike (without freewheel).

Would probably be using indoors on trainer year round, and possibly on flat bike trail in off season.

Anybody here tried both and able to compare?
Yes but while I can try and describe it until the cows come home you'll never really iknow until you actually try Powercranks.

Fixed gear = 95% of the way there. For most people, it'll teach you to completely relax on the return stroke and allow your front foot to push your rear foot up and over. Some people never get it and end up bouncing in the saddle no matter how hard they try. Fixed gear doesn't teach co-ordination and doesn't completely cure imbalance though.

Powercranks = no way to rest on the return stroke. All your energy goes into driving the bike forward and none is lost on the return stroke. Teaches perfect co-ordination, i.e., even the most bouncy fixed gear riders will smooth their pedalling, and cures imbalance in everyone from the lazy leg to the people with permamnent nerve damage. At first, you're limited by the weak leg and as that gets stronger and your co-ordination improves then within 2weeks to 3months (depending on how fast you adapt) you'll be riding Powercranks as if they were completely normal.

Finally, get outside. Riding Powercranks outdoors is significantly easier than on the trainer and, because of the clutch, you'll even be able to coast on your fixie.

http://www.powercranks.com/
http://www.powercranks.com/v4pages/videos-list.htm - see the Belgian track cyclists' videos

Edit: Buy them used on E-basy or craigslist if you can. You'll save a bunch of money as there are a few people who, after buying and using Powercranks for the first couple of rides, realise that they uncoordinated, can't pedal in circles and they're a lot weaker than they assumed they were.

Be warned though Powercranks take some serious grit and determination to use (You'll need a backbone/moral fibre/spine/courage) so don't just assume that you'll find it easy.
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Last edited by markhr; 08-06-08 at 06:59 PM. Reason: caveat emptor
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Old 08-06-08, 06:57 PM   #11
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This debate is pretty much moot anyways, if the OP is training to race there are much more important things to take care of that are much higher priority than cranks.
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Old 08-06-08, 08:12 PM   #12
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My knees aren't the best, and I'm wondering what impact a fixie could have there.
there are some folks who blame fixed gear entirely for destroying their knees and there are some who credit it with singlehandedly solving their knee problems. this is another contentious issue, but here are my thoughts.

knee problems most often stem from bad fit and overgearing. good fit and low gears are the solution.

the other issue is stopping. the motion of resisting the pedal stroke is one that can lend itself to some nasty knee strains, especially when you get caught off guard and need to stop fast. if you run brakes and use them judiciously you can steer clear of that problem as well. no need to be a cowboy, when in doubt just use the brake.
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Old 08-06-08, 08:15 PM   #13
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The bullsh*t in the data for the Power Cranks would make me think very hard about dropping the coin. ThePower Crank people were basically forced to admit their data was wrong, if not purposefully misrepresented.
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Old 08-06-08, 08:16 PM   #14
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i think that if you're getting advice on powercranks from SSFG, you probably shouldn't have them.
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Old 08-07-08, 07:24 AM   #15
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Fixed gear training for road racing works!

At this time of the year though, you would only ride your fixed once a week. Usually for a recovery ride or for doing flat sprints.

Most people start the early spring with fixed gears and really low gears. This helps develop your aerobic system and gives you leg speed. Probably the greatest benefit I recieved from fixed training is leg speed. I can really wind out rpm's.

If you really want to use fixed as a training tool, keep your ratio < 70" and work your ass off!!

I have no experince with Power Cranks but have always been intrigued.
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Old 08-07-08, 07:53 AM   #16
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Power UP

I would have to say Power Cranks are better. I ride my Fixie to the gym 3x/week and that can be 5 to 15 miles - do 4 spin classes -and ride most sat/sun club rides,(25 -40 miles), on my Windsor Hour and did my first orgnized Fixed 100 mile century this year. At the Deathride this year I jumped on a powercrank equiped trainer and found my technique SUCKED. I was very impressed with the way it points out your dead spots. I think that just riding fixed does not greatly improve your technique - in fact I would have to aggree that it might let you get a little lazy as it does drag your leg through the dead spot(s). Other than the fixed gear addiction we all suffer from, I think the real advantage is that you NEVER get to rest -the old stumps are forced to flail away every inch you ride. For the cost of the power cranks I could buy another bike...........
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Old 08-07-08, 07:54 AM   #17
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Power cranks are a serious training tool not for noobs. Other posts have already mentioned this and yeah fixed gear allows you to develop a LAZY pedal stroke. Momentum of the bike carries you through dead spots.

The only place where fixed gear would be beneficial to your pedal stroke is forcing you to spin faster on downhills where otherwise you would coast.
No way. You get the same benefit from riding a busted old Schwinn! Some guy's post here just told me so.
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Old 08-07-08, 08:11 AM   #18
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...At the Deathride this year I jumped on a powercrank equiped trainer and found my technique SUCKED. I was very impressed with the way it points out your dead spots...
Yeah, that first Powercranks ride is always amazing and humbling. Especially when you've convinced yourself that you're "teh awesum" pedaller, like I had.

Did you see the guy that completed the deathride on Powercranks? I've tried to find the 2008 results but they don't seem to be on the website (or I'm blind).

http://www.deathride.com/
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Old 08-07-08, 08:43 AM   #19
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Death ride power cranks

I did not see see the guy with PW cranks on the DR- I understand you can get some that you can "Lock" and ride normal and "unlock" for training.... Not sure. I don't think they list the 5 pass riders anymore - to get your 5 pass jersey you have to photo copy your bib with all 5 stickers on it.
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Old 08-07-08, 11:23 AM   #20
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I did not see see the guy with PW cranks on the DR- I understand you can get some that you can "Lock" and ride normal and "unlock" for training.... Not sure. I don't think they list the 5 pass riders anymore - to get your 5 pass jersey you have to photo copy your bib with all 5 stickers on it.
The guy riding Powercranks was using them without the lock out, all the way apparently. I was hoping to check his results.

Judging by what you said and without knowing his number for the photos, I guess that's not possible.
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Old 08-11-09, 02:18 AM   #21
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't traditional style toe clips solve this "dead spot" issue on a fixed gear.

I would estimate that 75% of the people who ride fixed don't employ toe clips. Although most people tend to associate riding clipless pedals and goofy looking shoes as being the same, they're not. While you can indeed keep a lazy stroke with both, toe clips require a stronger upward pull in my opinion.

I used to ride fixed without toe clips, and I rode considerably slower. Now with the clips I'm able to maintain a steady upward pull from "7 to 12" and the same stroke back down to 6. My legs are constantly "firing" throughout the 360 revolution, and when I get tired, sure I can be lazy, however my legs are forced to stay in motion or I'll slow down to where my pace forces me to put more energy into my stroke. I ride 44 x 14 and my cadence has to stay efficient. If I keep my "non stroking" leg inactive my pedaling cadence begins to quickly slow, in fact that's my first step to slowing down for traffic lights..

That aspect of fixed gear riding is another small detail that I keep finding fixed gear critics over looking. On a freewheel configuration, your "dead spot" has little effect on your cranking force because a freewheel defers the resistance that a hanging leg places back onto the rear cog of a fixed hub. If anything when you ride fixed without toe clips, you learn to unweight your leg during that dead zone so that you don't place resistance on the drive train and to get it ready for the next stroke where you have an explosive burst.

No matter how you train, busting your own ass is really the only way you'll ever obtain your desired results, but I feel riding fixed helps me get the job done better.
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