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  1. #1
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    Is there any advantage of fg over ss?

    Is there any advantage in the fixed gear as opposed to the single speed? does the fixed wheel give some sort of added snowball effect? or is it just random fun?

    I may be doing a century fixed, but I will definitely used the ss side when I hit the downhill of the mountains.
    Life is short, focus on the things that do matter in life and don't forget the rest.

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    Disgruntled Grad Student seejohnbike's Avatar
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    if you need to ask, you don't deserve to know. it's like... talking about fight club.

    they're fun, they're good for training, they're good city/commuter bikes as there's the least amount of stuff to steal/break, they're good messenger bikes as you can balance stuff on the bars and still slow down without direct access to brake levers, they're good for winter bikes because they keep you pedaling no matter what help keep you warm/your HR up, so on, so forth.

    unless you want to keep flip/flopping every downhill you reach, just pick one and stick with it. or, go fixed, and when it's absolutely necessary switched to ss, and continue that for the rest of the ride.

    otherwise, HTFU and just do it. post results when you're done!
    If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.

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    Senior Member Sebster's Avatar
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    You just have to ride them both to feel the difference. I guess fixed you feel more "connected" to the bike, man and machine become one. Also, there's that extra momentum of the wheel to push you up and down hills. And you can track stand without a rear brake of course

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sebster View Post
    You just have to ride them both to feel the difference. I guess fixed you feel more "connected" to the bike, man and machine become one. Also, there's that extra momentum of the wheel to push you up and down hills. And you can track stand without a rear brake of course
    I'm not flipflopping my wheel every time I hit a downhill. I am biking to the oregon coast which has hills that a person on a bike could easily hit 50-70 mph definitely not suited for a fixie unless you have a death wish.
    Life is short, focus on the things that do matter in life and don't forget the rest.

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    Also good for winter/poor weather bikes because you get direct feedback from the rear wheel as far as traction.
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    Disgruntled Grad Student seejohnbike's Avatar
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    do it single speed.

    unless there are major stretches of flats too, on the up-hill, you'll be pedaling constantly. on the downhill, you won't want to be pedaling. hell, even on extended flats, as long as you're determined, you can keep your cadence up.

    i don't know how much distance fixed riding you've done, but imo, doing a century on terrain that you know to be intensely hilly sounds like a recipe for having a bad time. don't french fry, when you should pizza, or you're gonna have a bad time.
    If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.

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    Senior Member ron521's Avatar
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    To put it in perspective, at one time, EVERY bicycle was fixed gear. When freewheels first appeared, they were considered a HUGE (and extra-cost) improvement over the then-standard fixed gear bikes.
    It was easy to tell who had freewheels and very soon thereafter, coaster BRAKES on their bikes, as they were the ones who passed you going downhill while their feet were motionless.
    Riders of the day reported greatly reduced fatigue, and greater distances possible in a day because of the ability to coast.
    Even on level ground, the practice of alternately pedaling then coasting is a restful rhythm which I have found to work well for me on centuries.
    While I would consider a single-speed bike, I view a fixed gear as a sort of anachronism, with a very small niche in which it has some useful benefits (mentioned in previous posts).
    From a practical perspective, I would vastly prefer a single-speed with either hand brakes or (rarely mentioned anymore), a coaster brake.
    The coaster brake seems to me to be a mechanically elegant solution, combining the clean lines of a fixed-gear with the ability to both stop better AND to coast when conditions allow.

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    the only time where a FG is truly advantageous, and not just about preference, is when it's cold enough that the pawls in the freewheel will stick or become frozen.

    And that's only during a very cold winter, like -40 degrees, or a very wet and cold winter.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
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    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Nope, no particular advantage to Fixed for long distance cruising. I have done 20mph centuries both ways (FG, SS), and (obviously) it is a lot easier if you can coast.

    If you are doing a time trial, there is an argument that fixed has an advantage, as your average speed may be higher; coastable bikes tend to have both higher top speed, and lower minimum speed - the lower minimum speed is what kills your average.

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    Senior Member seau grateau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seejohnbike View Post
    don't french fry, when you should pizza, or you're gonna have a bad time.
    Wisdom.
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    thanckx.
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    "I made love to your mother dozens of times last week, and she doesnt know what a worn chain ring looks like"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sebster View Post
    . And you can track stand without a rear brake of course
    you need a rear brake to trackstand a freewheel?
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
    I'd rather ride a greasy bowling ball than one of those things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    the only time where a FG is truly advantageous, and not just about preference, is when it's cold enough that the pawls in the freewheel will stick or become frozen.

    And that's only during a very cold winter, like -40 degrees, or a very wet and cold winter.
    This.

    Having a freewheel go kaput out in the woods on a cold night is a pain in the butt. Walking sucks.
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    because physics has more street cred than tarckstars.

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    I ride singlespeed freewheel. The advantages that I get out of having a freewheel are as follows:

    1) You can corner fast and hard, without any concern at all about pedal strike. This is very handy in cases where you have to take sudden unexpected evasive maneuvers.
    2) Go as fast as you want downhill. I've seen a lot of guys disengage from the pedals and rest their feet on the downtube on downhills, but the problem with that is if you have to brake hard suddenly, you're in a bad position: really hard to get your weight far enough back to brake hard (assuming a front brake), maintain balance and not go ass-over-teakettle.
    3) Jumping curbs, giant potholes and other hazards is a lot easier at speed. It's not that you can't do this fixed, it's just way easier with a freewheel.
    4) Generally, you can get away with a bit more gain in your drive train if that's your thing.
    5) Generally, the ability to coast allows you to maintain a very quiet body in situations that require finesse (hard cornering, precise evasive maneuvering, hopping/landing obstacles, emergency braking where you must shift your weight behind the saddle.)

    The disadvantages:

    1) track standing at stop lights requires a bit more skill with a freewheel - particularly if you are stopped on a downhill, but you can do it.
    2) I hear a lot of fixed riders talk about being more "one with the bike" this bears some water to my mind, but I also think that if you are doing a lot of coasting with a freewheel, you're probably geared way too low.
    3) Some of your fixed gear friends will give you crap, although I haven't gotten much guff.

    I think some fixed riding will probably result in becoming a better cyclist to some extent, but you can also become a better cyclist just by riding your bike. I have noticed that I tend to ride much faster than most fixed gear riders I see, though not all. I think the advantages of a freewheel open up that door.

    As far as a freewheel going kaput goes: I've never had it happen, but I also ride with a White Industries freewheel, which is much higher quality than the average freewheel. I also don't ride dirt, which is harder on freewheels than street riding.
    Last edited by cab chaser; 08-31-10 at 11:44 AM. Reason: engrish!

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    Fixed is more fun and exciting.

    I ride strictly for pleasure though, not to actually do things so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

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    A fixed drivetrain does give you some help on climbs (compared to the same ratio with a freewheel), since the momentum of the wheel keeps your pedals going around. I'd say the same is true on flats, once you start getting tired. For riding long distances, I like the constant rhythm of a fixed gear, but it may just be that I'm used to it. I admittedly haven't done much riding with a SS freewheel, but IMHO it's some of the worst aspects of a geared drivetrain and a fixed drivetrain, without the benefits of either (momentum or variable gearing). Offroad is another story, but I'm assuming you're talking road here.
    Incidentally, long, steep descents on a fixed gear don't require a death wish, they just require a front brake (or two brakes even). Same goes for cornering, although if you have a high bottom bracket, short cranks, low q-factor, and low-profile pedals, you can corner harder than most of your geared friends and still avoid a pedal strike.
    Personally, I definitely wouldn't want to bother with flipping a wheel during a century. Just ride the ride. If you're talking about switching to a freewheel and switching to a different gear and so on, well, I heard of this cool modern device that can switch between a whole bunch of different sized cogs and even chainrings, too, using a lever so you don't even have to stop riding....
    Yeah, you're probably going to get dropped if there are long straight descents. But you might be surprised; not everyone is comfortable going top speed downhill, so you might still have some company. And if it's a curvy or bumpy descent, that means that everyone else's top speed is reduced, so you might not lose so much ground after all. But you're still just as dropped if you had stopped to flip your wheel and they didn't want to wait up.

  16. #16
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    I just like to have fun, be it singlespeed or fixed gear.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmac27 View Post
    Is there any advantage in the fixed gear as opposed to the single speed?

    I may be doing a century fixed, but I will definitely used the ss side when I hit the downhill of the mountains.
    That's why they invented geared (multi-speed derailleur) bikes. Neither SS or FG is optimal for general distance riding under varied conditions (wind and hills). Use the proper tools for the job at hand.
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    I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.

  18. #18
    Senior Member hansel's Avatar
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    fixed is so much more fun the ss. Like sebster said you just feel connected to the bike. I also run clipless so i feel like im literally connected to the bike. Its a great way to switch up training for the road and i feel like it makes you a better rider. If your doing a hilly century i would go ss, although i love going up hills cranking such a big gear. Going down is a different story i had to get off the bike today because my legs themselves couldn't slow me enough. I only got off once and walked it for about 40 feet. but after that you get used to slowing and anticipating the downhills. you can always just get a flipflop or two separate rear wheels one fixed one coaster.

    i also agree that a fixed drivetrain will help on the flats, you can take little brakes and just let the bike spin, and you retain most of your speed as long as your tires aren't crap.
    "Its a circus, and i dont want to be one of the clowns" - Chris Boardman

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    In general, the difference is pretty clear. No, you wont get some magical added inertia that helps you complete the ride.

    In the ways of advice, dont do it fixed. There is more reason not to, than for, if any reasons at all to do it fixed. You are going for long distance and coasting will be like heaven. The pro's for fixed riding are almost non-existant in terms of going for long rides, especially with down hills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coluber42 View Post
    A fixed drivetrain does give you some help on climbs (compared to the same ratio with a freewheel), since the momentum of the wheel keeps your pedals going around. I'd say the same is true on flats, once you start getting tired.
    It sounds like you are suggesting that a fixed-gear drive train works like a perpetual motion machine, a concept that has been overwhelmingly determined as bunk by the scientific community. The purpose of a bicycle, fixed or otherwise is not to turn the cranks, but rather, to move the bicycle forward. If you are relying on the flywheel momentum stored in your wheelset/and forward momentum to move your pedals forward you are using that inertia to turn the cranks ... this will not speed you up or assist in climbs. it will slow you down. The purpose of a bicycle drive train is to deliver power from the cranks to the wheelset—not the other way around, the only exception to this is when you are applying backpedal pressure to slow down on a fixed-gear drivetrain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coluber42 View Post
    Same goes for cornering, although if you have a high bottom bracket, short cranks, low q-factor, and low-profile pedals, you can corner harder than most of your geared friends and still avoid a pedal strike.
    Dude, a fixed gear drivetrain increases your risk of pedal strike, period. Pedal strike is a relatively rare occurrence on any drivetrain, but I can assure you that it is an experience you don't ever want to have, particularly at speed. You can ride shorter cranks (increasing gain) and a higher BB to slightly allay that risk and put some more distance between your pedals and the pavement, but that does nothing to solve the fact that you cannot prevent the cranks from turning while you corner. Sure, you can time your turn if it is short enough such that your inside crank is at its highest point during the apex of your turn ... provided you have enough time to control the timing of your maneuver (rarely the case in an emergency). You can also lean into the turn and keep your bike more upright (a-la Moto GP Racing) to prevent pedal strike on a fixie ... but that's much easier if you can control your crank positions (or at least have an undersized frame that you can thow around between your legs more easily).
    Last edited by cab chaser; 09-01-10 at 01:00 PM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member krapes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cab chaser View Post
    It sounds like you are suggesting that a fixed-gear drive train works like a perpetual motion machine, a concept that has been overwhelmingly determined as bunk by the scientific community. The purpose of a bicycle, fixed or otherwise is not to turn the cranks, but rather, to move the bicycle forward. If you are relying on the flywheel momentum stored in your wheelset/and forward momentum to move your pedals forward you are using that inertia to turn the cranks ... this will not speed you up or assist in climbs. it will slow you down. The purpose of a bicycle drive train is to deliver power from the cranks to the wheelset—not the other way around, the only exception to this is when you are applying backpedal pressure to slow down on a fixed-gear drivetrain.
    Riding fixed uphill is easier because the momentum carries you through a very small portion of the cycle that is hard to pedal through (i.e. the "dead zone" or something). Obviously people aren't suggesting that fixed gear somehow makes you go uphill without any increased pedaling effort because of the momentum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cab chaser View Post
    It sounds like you are suggesting that a fixed-gear drive train works like a perpetual motion machine, a concept that has been overwhelmingly determined as bunk by the scientific community. The purpose of a bicycle, fixed or otherwise is not to turn the cranks, but rather, to move the bicycle forward. If you are relying on the flywheel momentum stored in your wheelset/and forward momentum to move your pedals forward you are using that inertia to turn the cranks ... this will not speed you up or assist in climbs. it will slow you down. The purpose of a bicycle drive train is to deliver power from the cranks to the wheelset—not the other way around, the only exception to this is when you are applying backpedal pressure to slow down on a fixed-gear drivetrain.
    Yes, that is true... but on a bicycle, you do not have the same power output throughout the entire circle. The top/bottom of the pedal stroke is almost a "dead" spot, relative to the force you can apply from the 10:00/2:00 position. And at very low RPMs, you have very little leverage to get you over the top. Good climbing technique at higher RPMs means keeping up with the pedals so that back pressure never happens, at which point it's completely irrelevant whether your drivetrain is fixed or not. But at lower RPMs that becomes less feasible, and the fixed drivetrain helps keep the pedals going through the weaker parts of your pedal stroke so that you can apply power as you're able. And even at higher RPMs, it means that you can get sloppier in your technique (read: tired) and still keep the RPMs higher, because you get a split second of recovery time mid-stroke, which keeps your legs feeling fresher. It's a small difference, but it is there and noticeable. Basically, you're not getting perpetual motion machine benefits, but you are still benefitting due to the biomechanics of pedalling.


    [QUOTE**
    Dude, a fixed gear drivetrain increases your risk of pedal strike, period. Pedal strike is a relatively rare occurrence on any drivetrain, but I can assure you that it is an experience you don't ever want to have, particularly at speed. You can ride shorter cranks (increasing gain) and a higher BB to slightly allay that risk and put some more distance between your pedals and the pavement, but that does nothing to solve the fact that you cannot prevent the cranks from turning while you corner. Sure, you can time your turn if it is short enough such that your inside crank is at its highest point during the apex of your turn ... provided you have enough time to control the timing of your maneuver (rarely the case in an emergency). You can also lean into the turn and keep your bike more upright (a-la Moto GP Racing) to prevent pedal strike on a fixie ... but that's much easier if you can control your crank positions (or at least have an undersized frame that you can thow around between your legs more easily).[/QUOTE]

    Yes, all else being equal, you can always avoid a pedal strike if you can coast, and if you can't coast, you might not be able to. However, if you put the pedal at the bottom and lean the bike over until the pedal touches the ground, you'll see how far you can lean and therefore how hard you can corner. If it's at the point where cornering that hard would mean you'd lose traction and wipe out, then a pedal strike is really the least of your worries at that point, isn't it?
    The likelihood of pedal strikes has plenty to do with how far down your pedals stick out, even on a bike that can coast. If you're used to being able to pedal through most corners with impunity and you suddenly get on a bike with long cranks and a wide q-factor, you're in just as much trouble if you forget. I've struck my pedals a number of times both on geared bikes and on fixed bikes, but for me at least it happens more when I've been riding a bike with more clearance and switch to one with less. It's never happened just because I couldn't coast. In my experience, emergency maneuvers tend to be swerves or accelerating or slamming on the brakes; most places where unexpected things happen that you need to avoid don't offer enough room to actually make the kind of 90-degree turn that would mean striking your pedal anyway.

  23. #23
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by f50fan View Post
    In general, the difference is pretty clear. No, you wont get some magical added inertia that helps you complete the ride.

    In the ways of advice, dont do it fixed. There is more reason not to, than for, if any reasons at all to do it fixed. You are going for long distance and coasting will be like heaven. The pro's for fixed riding are almost non-existant in terms of going for long rides, especially with down hills.
    +1

    That is a pretty good summary. I've done it both ways (SS & FG), and it is a lot easier if you can coast. Kinda depends what mood I am in, and the terrain. If you are riding in a pack with any elevation change Fixed is going to have a different rythm and it will be much harder to stay with the pack.

    I’ve flipped the wheel at rest brakes – done half fixed, and the next half free (which is obviously a lot easier). Flippin the wheel is no big deal.
    Fixie is about feel, not efficiency. People do it because they like it. If you don’t like it, don’t do it (although it does take a while to re-learn biking and begin to appreciate it).

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by seejohnbike View Post
    don't french fry, when you should pizza
    +1 this made me laugh
    Quote Originally Posted by Vixtor View Post
    Physics makes us all its b***ches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ron521 View Post
    To put it in perspective, at one time, EVERY bicycle was fixed gear. When freewheels first appeared, they were considered a HUGE (and extra-cost) improvement over the then-standard fixed gear bikes.
    It was easy to tell who had freewheels and very soon thereafter, coaster BRAKES on their bikes, as they were the ones who passed you going downhill while their feet were motionless.
    Riders of the day reported greatly reduced fatigue, and greater distances possible in a day because of the ability to coast.
    Even on level ground, the practice of alternately pedaling then coasting is a restful rhythm which I have found to work well for me on centuries.
    While I would consider a single-speed bike, I view a fixed gear as a sort of anachronism, with a very small niche in which it has some useful benefits (mentioned in previous posts).
    From a practical perspective, I would vastly prefer a single-speed with either hand brakes or (rarely mentioned anymore), a coaster brake.
    The coaster brake seems to me to be a mechanically elegant solution, combining the clean lines of a fixed-gear with the ability to both stop better AND to coast when conditions allow.
    Great post. I've been wondering why "fixed gear" seems to have become synonymous with "single-speed". When, how and why did this happen? And, why is it that you never see coaster brakes except on cruisers (this coming from a cruiser rider and partisan) and nothing really lightweight? That seems to be an obvious combination. Granted, a front brake would be needed for safety (I had the chain jump the ring on a rental cruiser I was riding at a pretty good clip, and that was scary. Fortunately, I was on a flat stretch and not a hill, since no chain on a coaster brake means no brakes), but that's also the case for fixed gear bikes.

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