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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 12-03-09, 10:14 PM   #1
Bob_Ross
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riding fixed gears in the winter

how the hell do you do this?

tonight was the first real snowfall in west michigian. we got a bunch of inches in a very short amount of time. not remembering how the hell to bike in the slick snow, it took me about an hour to bike 7 miles. how do you do this? how do you bike in slick snow safety on a fixed gear without brakes?
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Old 12-03-09, 10:17 PM   #2
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I don't know, it doesnt snow here, but you shouldn't use your front brake[edit](too hard) on slick surfaces. A fixed gear probably gives your more control than a freewheel on slick surfaces because you feel the rear wheel's traction through your legs.

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Old 12-03-09, 10:19 PM   #3
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srsly?

lower gear ratio, get a front brake at least and install knobby tires.
get studded tires if you know you're going to get ice.

be gentle with the front brake, but you should get a good feel for slip in the rear.
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Old 12-03-09, 10:30 PM   #4
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Old 12-03-09, 10:58 PM   #5
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...safety on a fixed gear without brakes?
Oxymoron.
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Old 12-03-09, 11:10 PM   #6
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Fixed gears perform better in snow than freewheel equipped bikes. Of course, this is assuming you have appropriate tires and a front brake. The reason? you have better control of interaction between the tire and surface your riding on and if your rims get wet or caked with snow, your rim brakes become compromised. Braking by resistance from your legs cannot be compromised with snow.

When I lived in Massachusetts and there was snow on the ground, I always took the fixed gear.
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Old 12-04-09, 09:57 AM   #7
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Studded Tires + Front Brake + Low Gear.

I don't know why people are afraid to use a brake in the winter, even without studs, it isn't rocket science.
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Old 12-04-09, 12:09 PM   #8
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I would pose the opposite question, how do people manage to ride a freewheel safely in winter? The brakes get all wet, or even worse icy, and don't stop at all, you have no control.
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Old 12-04-09, 12:26 PM   #9
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Fixed gears perform better in snow than freewheel equipped bikes. Of course, this is assuming you have appropriate tires and a front brake. The reason? you have better control of interaction between the tire and surface your riding on and if your rims get wet or caked with snow, your rim brakes become compromised. Braking by resistance from your legs cannot be compromised with snow.

When I lived in Massachusetts and there was snow on the ground, I always took the fixed gear.
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I would pose the opposite question, how do people manage to ride a freewheel safely in winter? The brakes get all wet, or even worse icy, and don't stop at all, you have no control.
LOL...you sound like hipsters talking about cyclocross. Riding in the snow is challenging regardless of drive train and your ability to slow down is compromised regardless of brake choice (legs or brake pads). The friction loss is between the road and the tire. It doesn't matter if the bike is fixed or not. There are far more people out there riding in snow with freewheels than FGs and are doing fine. The best snow bike would have studs and disc brakes, but you really don't need a snow-adapted bike. Just take it easy, stay alert, and be prepared to fall occasionally.
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Old 12-04-09, 12:37 PM   #10
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Skinny CX knobbies, a 39/18 gear, and take it slow. That's how I do it.
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Old 12-04-09, 02:52 PM   #11
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LOL...you sound like hipsters talking about cyclocross. Riding in the snow is challenging regardless of drive train and your ability to slow down is compromised regardless of brake choice (legs or brake pads). The friction loss is between the road and the tire. It doesn't matter if the bike is fixed or not. There are far more people out there riding in snow with freewheels than FGs and are doing fine. The best snow bike would have studs and disc brakes, but you really don't need a snow-adapted bike. Just take it easy, stay alert, and be prepared to fall occasionally.
What I say is true. I ride all types of bicycles and choose fixed gear when in snow. Disc brakes work better than rim brakes in snow, and when you know how to do it correctly, resistance from your legs works better then disc brakes.

You do not need to take my word for it. Get used to a fixed gear bike, and then see which one you choose when the conditions are snowy.
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Old 12-04-09, 03:25 PM   #12
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I'm not taking your word for it. I've ridden extensively in snow with just about every type of drive train there is since I was 10 years old. I can and always have been able to ride in snow with all of my bikes. The type of bike, geometry, tire size and tread, and gearing are all very relevant to adapting a bike for snow, but the presence or absence of a freewheel makes no more difference to me in snow anymore than it does when the roads are clear. What is it exactly that makes you feel a FG DT is superior for riding in snow? I'd like to know, because so far, I'm not buying into it.

Last edited by mihlbach; 12-04-09 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 12-04-09, 04:15 PM   #13
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I'm not taking your word for it. I've ridden extensively in snow with just about every type of drive train there is since I was 10 years old. I can and always have been able to ride in snow with all of my bikes. The type of bike, geometry, tire size and tread, and gearing are all very relevant to adapting a bike for snow, but the presence or absence of a freewheel makes no more difference to me in snow anymore than it does when the roads are clear. What is it exactly that makes you feel a FG DT is superior for riding in snow? I'd like to know, because so far, I'm not buying into it.
I think FG helps on ice/snow b/c you can resist the pedals WITHOUT going into a skid, which is a good way to slow down. If you go into a skid, it doesn't matter whether youre on a brakeless fixie or a disk brake equipped MTB. but, FG gives u the ability to resist wheel movement while being careful not to skid. The disadvantage to rim brakes is that you don't know how hard they are going to grip. The rim could be wet/covered in ice or it could not be and that will make a huge difference in how well you brake.
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Old 12-04-09, 05:11 PM   #14
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I'm not taking your word for it. I've ridden extensively in snow with just about every type of drive train there is since I was 10 years old. I can and always have been able to ride in snow with all of my bikes. The type of bike, geometry, tire size and tread, and gearing are all very relevant to adapting a bike for snow, but the presence or absence of a freewheel makes no more difference to me in snow anymore than it does when the roads are clear. What is it exactly that makes you feel a FG DT is superior for riding in snow? I'd like to know, because so far, I'm not buying into it.
It's like the difference between driving a manual transmission 5 speed car and driving a car with just 1 speed and neutral. Sure it can be done with proper braking and acceleration, but it's not going to be as easy or fun as having the ability to downshift too, applying resistance through the gears, not just brakes.
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Old 12-04-09, 05:15 PM   #15
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Resistance from your legs doesn't work any better than any type of brake when the roads are super-slick. The only drivetrain-based advantage is in feedback, you will know exactly how slick the road is on a fixed gear.
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Old 12-04-09, 06:08 PM   #16
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I'm not taking your word for it. I've ridden extensively in snow with just about every type of drive train there is since I was 10 years old. I can and always have been able to ride in snow with all of my bikes. The type of bike, geometry, tire size and tread, and gearing are all very relevant to adapting a bike for snow, but the presence or absence of a freewheel makes no more difference to me in snow anymore than it does when the roads are clear. What is it exactly that makes you feel a FG DT is superior for riding in snow? I'd like to know, because so far, I'm not buying into it.
That is exactly what I thought until I got good at controlling a fixed gear rear wheel.

Nobody wants you to buy into it. Keep up what your doing. You are clearly good at it.

One's choice of a fixed gear wheel over freewheel/cassette for poor weather conditions is because you have a more direct connection with the surface your riding on yielding what I believe is more control.

If you choose not to believe this, so be it.
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Old 12-05-09, 12:51 AM   #17
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I've ridden fixed on snow and ice for about five years, now.

I've tried everything, and I find that with geared bikes and brakes everything freezes solid.

I prefer fixed because nothing freezes.

Fixed allows riding without a brake.

Get rid of the front brake.

You do NOT want a front brake on ice.
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Old 12-05-09, 01:35 AM   #18
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I've ridden fixed on snow and ice for about five years, now.

I've tried everything, and I find that with geared bikes and brakes everything freezes solid.

I prefer fixed because nothing freezes.

Fixed allows riding without a brake.

Get rid of the front brake.

You do NOT want a front brake on ice.

Keep the brake, get proper tires.
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Old 12-05-09, 04:46 AM   #19
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That is exactly what I thought until I got good at controlling a fixed gear rear wheel.

Nobody wants you to buy into it. Keep up what your doing. You are clearly good at it.

One's choice of a fixed gear wheel over freewheel/cassette for poor weather conditions is because you have a more direct connection with the surface your riding on yielding what I believe is more control.

If you choose not to believe this, so be it.
Did you read that on sheldonbrown.com? Your connection to the surface you are riding is in exactly the same. There is no difference.
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Old 12-05-09, 04:49 AM   #20
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Resistance from your legs doesn't work any better than any type of brake when the roads are super-slick. The only drivetrain-based advantage is in feedback, you will know exactly how slick the road is on a fixed gear.
The feedback you are referring to is the tire breaking friction. I'm not sure why you think brakes don't provide similar feedback.
I'm not opposed to riding fixed in the snow, I just think these arguments, which have been repeated ad nauseum, are hogwash.
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Old 12-05-09, 04:52 AM   #21
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I've ridden fixed on snow and ice for about five years, now.

I've tried everything, and I find that with geared bikes and brakes everything freezes solid.

I prefer fixed because nothing freezes.
This is the only argument that has any logic to it.
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Old 12-05-09, 08:15 AM   #22
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The feedback you are referring to is the tire breaking friction. I'm not sure why you think brakes don't provide similar feedback.
I'm not opposed to riding fixed in the snow, I just think these arguments, which have been repeated ad nauseum, are hogwash.
C'mon mihlbach. If you're coasting on a geared bike and braking and the tire breaks friction, it's going to provide feedback differently than if you're pedaling a fixed gear. If you can't figure out the difference there, either there's something wrong with you are you're simply being disagreeable for the fun of it; which is odd given that I am on the same side of the argument as you. You'll notice I said that is the only advantage.
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Old 12-05-09, 08:25 AM   #23
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pedal first half, skid second half
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Old 12-05-09, 08:43 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by lanjk
Keep the brake, get proper tires.
I have three fixed gear bikes, two of which I ride during winter.

One has 25mm Conti 4 Seasons front and back, and the other has Nokian 296's front and back.

I ride the Conti's on days (and nights) that do not have visible ice and snow on the roads, and the Nokians for visible ice and snow.

For those not familiar with Nokian 296's, the "296" refers to the number of carbide studs in each tire.

I recommend, for those who prefer a brake on their bike, that for ice and snow you remove the front brake and ride only with a rear brake.

Your rear tire can skid all over the place and you can easily remain upright as long as your front tire keeps rolling.

If you do not want to remove your front brake, make a commitment to ride in a manner that does not require that you use your front brake.

Gear down and slow down.

Don't use your front brake.
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Old 12-05-09, 02:07 PM   #25
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If you do not want to remove your front brake, make a commitment to ride in a manner that does not require that you use your front brake.

Gear down and slow down.

Don't use your front brake.

Still think this argument is b.s. IMO learn how to use your brake(s)... removing your main stopping force because you can't judge road conditions is a poor excuse. There are times (if I am not running my studded tires) where I will hesitate to use my brake, but 99% of the time I am able to get stopping power out of it without going down, or losing any control.

Maybe it is just me, but it isn't that difficult.
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