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  1. #1
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    How practical are fixed gear bikes for hilly commutes??

    So, I've been looking at fixed geared bikes alot lately, and the more I look at them, the funner they seem. I think it would be something I would enjoy, and I would get one in a heartbeat, if I lived in a city. However I live in a very rural area and I'm wondering if a fixed gear bike would be really practical for anything.

    Right now, I commute about 11 miles each way over rolling hills on my road bike. Some hills are still tough WITH gears, even though I've gone over them a billion times. So, in short, do any of you commute through long stretches of hilly terrain on your fixed gear bikes?? If so, how do you like it? Is it faster/slower than a geared bike?

    Should I get one, and just not use it for commuting, but for fun rides? (although I do much more commuting than riding purely for fun)

    What do you all think??

  2. #2
    Ride for Life wearyourtruth's Avatar
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    get one, but don't sell your road bike.

    they aren't practical for hills. there is a reason they are only used (professionally) on the track. the practicality of fixed gears comes from the simplicity. less parts = less **** to break, however that can be outweighed by steep enough hills. remember it's not just the up, but it's the down as well, you gotta pedal your way down no matter how steep.

    if you do get one, get brakes.
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  3. #3
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    My daily commute is only about 6 miles, 12 if I take the long way; both routes have a lot of hills, nothing too steep but they will slow you down if your legs aren't ready. I think it's totally manageable if you have an appropriate gear ratio for the hills. I have 68 gear inches and live in Vancouver, BC if it matters. I have to point out how much my cadence have improved since I lowered to my current ratio, I can spin 110 for a long time on the flat, and much faster going down hill; however, if you don't like to spin, I don't think a fixed gear will be suitable for your commute. It's all up to you.

    I think I'll be slower going up hills with a geared bike since I'm probably going to shift a lot and not concentrate on my cadence.

  4. #4
    Comanche Racing PedallingATX's Avatar
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    my friend just did a 110 mile ride with 14,600ft of climbing on a track bike yesterday (he did have front and rear brakes). I had a hard time with it on my geared bike.

    So, to answer your question, a track bike is as good on the hills as you are tough. Get one. They're sick.

    P.S. Funner is not a word

    EDIT/PPS: "hard time with it" is an understatement. That ride was relentless.
    Last edited by PedallingATX; 11-14-10 at 07:35 PM.
    skinnytire

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    You can ride up a hill with a fixed gear bike but flip the wheel and coast home on the descent. Its tiring to watch your cadence as you ride downhill...

  6. #6
    sɹɐʇsɟoןןnɟsʇıbɟɯo jdgesus's Avatar
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    i do about 30m a day in seattle (hills hills hills) (and with ~68 gear inches as well)
    does not bother me. actually the hill parts are easier for me then (or is it than) on my road bike.

    on flats, im am slower, since im am more geared for climbing.

    edit:
    plus i have a front brake
    Quote Originally Posted by yummygooey View Post
    crabon/campy/rapha/roadie-bro.

    next step is recumbent.




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  7. #7
    Senior Member jstewse's Avatar
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    I would agree with most of the above posts, and say go for it. A decent fixed gear can be had for cheap, and a conversion even cheaper. They are a hell of a lot of fun, there's a reason there's so many fanatics. That said, I would definitely hang on to your geared bike though. I also live in a very hilly area and having the option is nice.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by donglecorn View Post
    i do about 30m a day in seattle (hills hills hills) (and with ~68 gear inches as well)
    does not bother me. actually the hill parts are easier for me then (or is it than) on my road bike.

    on flats, im am slower, since im am more geared for climbing.

    edit:
    plus i have a front brake
    Cat avatar win!

    Seattle and Vancouver's geographies are very similar and 68 GI is the perfect ratio for our hills.

  9. #9
    sɹɐʇsɟoןןnɟsʇıbɟɯo jdgesus's Avatar
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    i couldn't imagine riding somewhere flat! it would confuse me.

    thats one of my cats, she's crazy!

    edit:
    video proof!
    Last edited by jdgesus; 11-14-10 at 08:40 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by yummygooey View Post
    crabon/campy/rapha/roadie-bro.

    next step is recumbent.




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  10. #10
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    So adorably crazy.

    Oh yea, I totally stalked you on your flickr the other day when you posted your IRO. Some awesome stuff you have...like your cats and the MicroMoog.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ThisJauntyGent's Avatar
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    If your only concern is practicality, don't buy a fixie.

    However, there are plenty of other reasons: Fixed drivetrains are fun and skidz make all the hipstettes moist.

  12. #12
    sɹɐʇsɟoןןnɟsʇıbɟɯo jdgesus's Avatar
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    you dont want to know how much gear i have.....
    thank god i make my living with it.. its all a tax write off D:
    Quote Originally Posted by yummygooey View Post
    crabon/campy/rapha/roadie-bro.

    next step is recumbent.




    my bikes | bike blog | beer blog | work 1 | work 2

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by wearyourtruth View Post
    get one, but don't sell your road bike.

    they aren't practical for hills. there is a reason they are only used (professionally) on the track. the practicality of fixed gears comes from the simplicity. less parts = less **** to break, however that can be outweighed by steep enough hills. remember it's not just the up, but it's the down as well, you gotta pedal your way down no matter how steep.

    if you do get one, get brakes.
    +1 to all of this. I'd add to join www.mapmyride.com first and route your commute to figure out the grade percentage of your hills. The website will also give you the general altitude difference(s) of your route as well. For example I've got an 18% grade hill on my way home from work that I do on fg, but I 'switchback' the whole 1/2 mile. And I've got a 500 ft difference in altitude between work and home. My gearing is 48x16...fine for the flats and rollers, but for the big tuna not so much.

    Btw, I've got a geared bike that's used for loaded commuting. Panniers, rack, lights...the whole deal. I use my fg when I don't have to haul as it can be tough on the knees.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by donglecorn View Post
    you dont want to know how much gear i have.....
    Maybe I do, but then again, my jaw already dropped when I saw your studio. It just might drop and shatter when I see how much gear you own.

  15. #15
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    get one but dont put brakes.

  16. #16
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    A fixed gear is probably the least practical bike for hilly commutes, unless someone can give me a list of all the bikes which are even less suitable (here come the joke responses).

  17. #17
    2k miles from the midwest Dylansbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scruggle View Post
    A fixed gear is probably the least practical bike for hilly commutes, unless someone can give me a list of all the bikes which are even less suitable (here come the joke responses).
    Dutch city bike. 50lbs of full-fendered grace.

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    Forcing yourself to conquer hills fixed is super good for you. Maybe switch it up. Do your commute fixed one week, roadie the next. Guarantee you'll become a stronger cyclist.

  19. #19
    dsh
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    Climbing is easier on fixed gears, but you'll lose time on the descents.

    Either way, you're only going 11 miles. It won't kill you.

  20. #20
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    Put your rode bike into a gear the same as the fixed gear you will be riding, and do your commute without changing gears. And check that way.

  21. #21
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    Thanks for all the responses. I think I'll be getting/building a fixed gear very soon. Does anyone have any suggestions as far as frame sets go?? I'm looking at the Eighth Inch Scrambler V3 right now, seems like a great price and looks nice enough. Does anyone have any experience with these?? Would I be better off with something else? If so, what? Thanks again!

  22. #22
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    god what happened to you guys, all about brakes and flipping to the freewheel for descents and recommending a road bike still

    3 rules of fixed gear
    1) DEATH BEFORE DERRAILLEURS
    2) BRAKES ARE FOR FAKES
    3) COASTING KILLZ

    THE ONLY TIME I STOP ON MY TRACK BIKE FOR THE STREET IS WHEN I REACH MY DESTINATION. MOTHE****IN' ZEN UP IN THIS *****

  23. #23
    Lug Princess Veloria's Avatar
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    I am fairly new to fixed gear and was surprised by how much easier it is to cycle uphill than I expected. I go on 30+ mile rides with gentle-ish rolling hills and it's fine. And downhill is more difficult than uphill. But I think everyone is different. Maybe borrow a friend's bike and see how you do on your commute, or set up fairly easy gearing until you get stronger.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veloria View Post
    I am fairly new to fixed gear and was surprised by how much easier it is to cycle uphill than I expected. I go on 30+ mile rides with gentle-ish rolling hills and it's fine. And downhill is more difficult than uphill. But I think everyone is different. Maybe borrow a friend's bike and see how you do on your commute, or set up fairly easy gearing until you get stronger.
    None of my friends ride bicycles at all... much less fixed gears. But I did try my commute the other day without shifting to get a feel for what gearing I'd go with, and I was amazed at how much higher my average speed was at the end. I normally average around 16-16.5mph and when I didn't shift it went up to 19mph!! I couldn't believe it. I guess I was forced to actually push up the hills instead of losing all of my momentum by shifting down. Needless to say, I'll be getting a fixed gear very soon, and I do think that the down hills will be my biggest issue, as I've already found out how easy up hills are. I guess I'll get better at spinning. haha

  25. #25
    Senior Member dbwoi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LupinIII View Post
    god what happened to you guys, all about brakes and flipping to the freewheel for descents and recommending a road bike still

    3 rules of fixed gear
    1) DEATH BEFORE DERRAILLEURS
    2) BRAKES ARE FOR FAKES
    3) COASTING KILLZ

    THE ONLY TIME I STOP ON MY TRACK BIKE FOR THE STREET IS WHEN I REACH MY DESTINATION. MOTHE****IN' ZEN UP IN THIS *****
    +1

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