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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 09-16-10, 08:46 PM   #1
oulton9
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Fixed gear vs cruiser for exercise?

So I currently have 2 bikes:

1. a generic mountain bike with heavy-duty off-road tires. It's only used for trails and in the winter.
2. a Giant Seek 2 - road-oriented hybrid. I put a lot of miles on it riding around my college campus, but it's almost too easy to ride. I can basically cruise 75% of the time.

EDIT: I live in a relatively urban area with a number of suburbs around. So it's a lot of stopping and starting; no long treks down a trail.

Seeing as I love biking and need the exercise, I'm looking into a 3rd bike exclusively for working out. The more difficult it is to pedal, the better - I'm aiming for pure cardio here, so I need to get my heart rate up.

I've decided between two types of bikes: a fixed gear or a cruiser. Keep in mind that this bike is temporary; I'm going abroad next August and will be selling all 3 bikes at that time.

Pros and cons of each:


Fixed gear
+ Bike only moves when you pedal
+ More effective on roads
- More expensive
- Slightly more difficult to find
- Not as good off-road or in bad weather

Cruiser
+ Still pretty difficult to pedal
+ Looks damn cool
+ I can easily buy a decent quality one at Target for ~$130
+ Can ride off-road and in bad weather (at least better than a fixie)
- cruising is still possible (pun intended), so maybe less of a workout?
- could be harder to pedal fast, which may or may not be necessary to increase heart rate (for cardio)


Any thoughts? I'd really like to go for the cruiser, but I am open to be convinced otherwise. Thanks.

Last edited by oulton9; 09-16-10 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 09-16-10, 08:52 PM   #2
seau grateau
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I say fixed. Riding a cruiser for exercise is kinda counter-intuitive. Also, fixed gears are great in bad weather. I know plenty of people who prefer them for rain and snow.
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Old 09-16-10, 08:57 PM   #3
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stop being lazy if you want a good workout. you don't need a "difficult" bike to get good exercise.

just bike with your rear brake engaged if you want it to be difficult.
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Old 09-16-10, 09:01 PM   #4
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If youre working on pure cardio you dont want something hard to pedal. It will spend a lot of energy working your legs musceles, which would take away from your cardio development. What you want is something to spin for long sustained seessions.
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Old 09-16-10, 09:09 PM   #5
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Build a fixed gear with a 52/13 gear combo and you'll get your heart rate up plenty...
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Old 09-16-10, 10:06 PM   #6
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Build a fixed gear with a 52/13 gear combo and you'll get your heart rate up plenty...
You'll also mess up your knees in a heart beat.
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Old 09-16-10, 10:33 PM   #7
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Build a fixed gear with a 52/13 gear combo and you'll get your heart rate up plenty...
Make sure to go brakeless and you dont need toe clips.
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Old 09-16-10, 10:40 PM   #8
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I bought my Motobecane Track purely for exercise. I run a 46/15 and it makes some of the hills where I live pretty challenging. Riding this bike has really helped with my climbing and endurance when riding my all mountain and DH bike
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Old 09-16-10, 10:52 PM   #9
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just bike with your rear brake engaged if you want it to be difficult.
+1. Or ride in the highest gear all the time. Or add weights (to yourself and/or the bike).
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Old 09-16-10, 11:00 PM   #10
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Make sure to go brakeless and you dont need toe clips.
Sit on the handlebars and ride backwards...but use a mirror!! Great for balance and strength. And yeah, no brakes for sure.
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Old 09-16-10, 11:14 PM   #11
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Sit on the handlebars and ride backwards...but use a mirror!! Great for balance and strength. And yeah, no brakes for sure.
I'm sorry, but I think sitting on the top tube and putting both feet on the drive side pedal is a much better work out.
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Old 09-16-10, 11:27 PM   #12
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No bike is harder to pedal than any other bike. Some just allow you to ride faster than others. If your Giant Seek 2 is too easy to ride, shift into a higher gear and go faster
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Old 09-17-10, 12:29 AM   #13
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but it's almost too easy to ride. I can basically cruise 75% of the time.
The bike is not to blame, you just aren't working hard enough. Unless you're spinning out in the highest gear (which is very doubtful) you just need to pump those pedals more and work if you want to get in shape.
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Old 09-17-10, 12:51 AM   #14
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The more difficult it is to pedal, the better - I'm aiming for pure cardio here, so I need to get my heart rate up.
If I understand this whole gearing thing correctly, this is wrong. I think you are actually wanting a lower gear. Lower gearing (easier to pedal) will cause you to spin faster, therefore getting more cardio benefit. Higher gearing (harder to pedal) is more in line with resistance training. Like Kayce said, but differently.
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Old 09-17-10, 01:15 AM   #15
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The only reason why a beach cruiser is harder to pedals it's because of the ridiculously low saddle height, riding at a low saddle height will damage your knees. Also, you exert the most power when your leg is fully extended and you can't extend your leg through a complete crank rotation on a cruiser. You will not be comfortable if you are on a cruiser for a long time.

Fixed gears are better for riding in slippery condition, because you can feel and control how your wheel is reacting to the slippery road. You could just get some studded tires for the snow/ice or cross tires for some trial riding.
Also, the harder to pedal, the worst, it will damage your knees in the long run. If you want to work on your cardio; spin, spin a low gearing for a long duration.

Cruisers aren't practical, sure they may look good, but that's all not much versatility.
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Old 09-17-10, 01:26 AM   #16
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You came to a FG/SS forum asking if you should get a fixie or a cruiser...you're probably going to get somewhat biased answers. Either way, I say fixed gear.
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Old 09-17-10, 04:37 AM   #17
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+1. Or ride in the highest gear all the time. Or add weights (to yourself and/or the bike).
What this guy said. Biking with 25 lbs extra in my schoolbag(textbooks and miscellaneous items) is much more difficult than biking with not extra weight. Though I doubt its very good for my back.
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Old 09-17-10, 08:42 AM   #18
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I say cruiser, if you can add foot retention.

It has never made sense to me for people to ride the lightest, most efficient bikes for 'exercise'. Seems to me you should ride the heaviest, least efficient bike to make the most out of your workout time. I mean, people who lift weights don't do it with tiny little carbon fiber bar-bells, right?

The foot retention caveat is because you work more of your leg muscles when you can pull up as well as push down.
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Old 09-17-10, 12:03 PM   #19
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^no, it makes no difference how heavy your bike is. "It never gets easier, you just get faster."

The analogy to weight lifting does not work at all. When lifting weights, add more weight is how you increase resistance. On a bike, shifting gears is how you increase resistance. You can pedal a 100 lb bike at 5mph or you can pedal a 17lb bike at 20mph, you'll be doing the exact same amount of work. (disclaimer: numbers picked at random, I didn't do any actual math)

There's actually this 10+ page argument between sickvermin and umd on this exact topic in Fitness & Training. It ended badly
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Old 09-17-10, 01:21 PM   #20
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Get a fixed gear set up with a low ratio (44x17 or 44x19) and spin the hell out of it.

It may or may not be better exercise than riding a cruiser, but it's certainly cooler and way, way more fun.
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Old 09-17-10, 01:25 PM   #21
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way more fun.
Not to be discounted.

Most people I know who are fit and ride FG don't ride for exercise, it's just a fringe benefit.

Riding a big, heavy, slow cruiser is boring, so you won't want to do it as often.
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Old 09-17-10, 01:45 PM   #22
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yes, don't ride a bike that will turn you off of riding.

And again, cardio won't come from a bike that's harder to pedal, it will come from riding a lot and spinning at a high cadence.
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Old 09-17-10, 02:04 PM   #23
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Cruiser vs SS/FG, depends upon how far you ride and how often ? Just around the neighborhood, the cruiser is comfortable and may be the weapon of choice for riding the bike more often. If you do 20+ miles, the SS/FG more often gets you there & back faster, so it'll definitely be a bike you prefer to ride more often. As for getting in shape, I think the mountain bike you already have will do what anyone you have or are considering to get will do. The myb is heavy and has the same rolling resistance and gearing a cruiser will have, so in that regard, pedaling 38 lbs of bike will build leg strength. The gearing will also get the cadence/rpm work you need that both a SS/FG & cruiser will do. I have 3 bikes, a vintage 12 spd road, a SS/FG and atb/mtb. The atb is more comfortable obviously, but it does everything the other 2 do in terms of training and fitness, only slower and longer. And by that, I've ridden the same 30+ mile loop with all 3 bikes, the atb keeps me out riding the same distance longer. My cadence can be identical in certain gears, so cardio workout is actually better on the atb, as I will ride the bike for about 10 minutes longer. As for leg strength, the 38 lbs of bike in a hard gear with fat knobbies with more rolling resistance, no doubt pushing all 3 bikes just as hard, the atb will get me into better shape.
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Old 09-17-10, 03:44 PM   #24
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And by that, I've ridden the same 30+ mile loop with all 3 bikes, the atb keeps me out riding the same distance longer ... no doubt pushing all 3 bikes just as hard, the atb will get me into better shape.
This discrepancy is solved by not limiting yourself to riding the same distances.

If you push yourself just at equal efforts on a MTB vs a road FG, the FG will go faster. You're doing the same amount of work, just covering more ground.
If you do either for an hour, you're getting the same workout, you'll just have gone farther on the FG than the MTB.

Pick the one you'll have the most fun riding, because otherwise it's entirely a wash (unless you're interested in singletrack or real MTB type riding, which I'd posit is a better full-body workout than regular road riding).
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Old 09-17-10, 08:30 PM   #25
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dsh, since an mtb has higher gi than most SS/FG's, weighs 15+ lbs more and has more rolling resistance, an hour on each regardless of what the final distance is will still be more workload on the mtb. And that translates into getting on a SS/FG or road bike for a ride after training with a mtb. Try it for yourself for a 30 mile loop or even an hour on either. I know after riding the mtb hard for a week or two hard, the next ride I do on either the SS/FG or vintage road bike, feels incredibly easier, almost like a vacation.
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