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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 11-26-11, 07:44 PM   #1
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Fixie noob question.

Long story short, my SS project is almost done except for the brakes. So I decided to give the fixie cog a try and take it for a spin (my first time riding fixed gear). I guess I expected the clouds to part and a ray of light to illuminate the advantages of riding fixie. It didn't happen. On the bike path it was unpleasant but on the street it was downright unsafe I've been reading a bit about the subject and the advantages are always stated as "claimed" or "supposed". Maybe someone can help me out here because I really want to understand.
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Old 11-26-11, 08:49 PM   #2
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You really won't have an "A-HA" moment until you've ridden for at least a week. On a properly dialed-in bike, with the right gear ratio, and the right amount of experience, riding fixed is an absolute joy. It's a zen thing.
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Old 11-26-11, 08:52 PM   #3
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You really won't have an "A-HA" moment until you've ridden for at least a week. On a properly dialed-in bike, with the right gear ratio, and the right amount of experience, riding fixed is an absolute joy. It's a zen thing.
Pretty much this. You'll most likely get used to it.
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Old 11-26-11, 09:08 PM   #4
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Riding in city traffic/streets with 0 brakeless fixed experience is dumb and dangerous. I am a huge proponent of running at least a front brake (so you at least have a redundant (and 70% more efficient) way to stop in an emergency) and am all for laws requiring a working brake.
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Old 11-26-11, 09:12 PM   #5
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I couldn't agree more; however, I have no hate towards (sensible) brakeless riders.
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Old 11-26-11, 10:00 PM   #6
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Do you have clips or straps or clipless? If not this is going to be a very painful learning experience for you. A lot of people don't realize how important foot retention is if they are coming from SS or geared bikes, which are easy to ride without. Seems like you just wanted to try it out, but plan on a SS. If you do want to ride fixed even occasionally, you should get some clips or something for your build.

I also agree about learning to ride fixed with a brake(s). In fact, I never took mine off. If you ride fixed for a while you will actually feel weird the next time you are on a coasting bike. To me it's a bit like coming out of the ocean after a few hours playing in the waves...........standing still gives you that weird feeling.
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Old 11-26-11, 10:09 PM   #7
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After riding fixed, having to ride my girlfriends mountain bike to her apartment one day felt incredibly weird. Wasn't used to being able to coast, and every single time, it felt like the cranks had gotten stuck.
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Old 11-26-11, 10:58 PM   #8
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Plenty of good advice. If I decide to ride fixed gear again will do so with brakes and straps. However, what I was looking for are definitive advantages to riding fixed gear. Everything I've heard so far has been vague at best.
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Old 11-26-11, 11:30 PM   #9
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. It's a zen thing.
How unique! What a novel concept.
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Old 11-26-11, 11:36 PM   #10
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How unique! What a novel concept.
I get enough zen in my cornflakes.
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Old 11-27-11, 12:26 AM   #11
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How unique! What a novel concept.
It doesn't matter to me in the slightest whether you understand the meaning. You can fight the bike, stress out about traffic and generally have a ****ty time. Or you can learn that when you ride fixed, you relate to your bike in a much different way. You can adjust your riding style, learn how to work with your bike and your surroundings, and enjoy a oneness that you're not likely to find on any other type of bike.

To the OP: Practically, riding fixed essentially requires that you learn good pedaling technique, as it's nearly impossible to ride for any considerable length of time without understanding how to keep a fluid pedal stroke. Depending on gear choice, you'll be forced to either strengthen your legs(to get up hills) or learn to spin effectively(to get down them), which will make you a more effective cyclist in general.

Also, riding fixed without foot retention is incredibly dangerous, no matter what your skill level. I think it would be wrong if you weren't totally stressed out riding like that.

Last edited by striknein; 11-27-11 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 11-27-11, 01:10 AM   #12
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relax im just joshin' ya.
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Old 11-27-11, 02:42 AM   #13
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I think this topic is interesting because I always wonder what the benefits of riding SS are over fixed.

I started riding because I thought fixies were cool. At first it was all about the novelty of "learning how to ride a bike again." If you don't of think that experience as a fun adventure, you may not understand why a lot of us liked it so much initially. After riding for a while I started to notice some of the less vague benefits; most of which were mentioned before.
- Very low regular maintenance. Just lube the chain and put air in the tires.
- Excellent low speed control. Helpful if you are biking around a busy campus.
- Track stands get easier. Really nice skill to have in stop and go traffic if you're clipless or slow to clip in.
- Lighter weight, all else being equal, than a road bike. Makes acceleration and climbing easier. (Shed ~450g fixed over SS due to extra brake equipment)
- Controlling speed by resisting begins to feel much more fluid and natural than using brakes
- I feel like I pace myself better on FG because I'm constantly pedaling. You really get into a rhythm better. I'm sure there's some exercise benefits to not coasting too.

As others have said, it takes a week or two to feel "zen" with the bike. If you give it a shot and you still don't see why we like it, it may not be for you.
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Old 11-27-11, 03:08 AM   #14
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Thank you striknein and EpicSchwinn. Finally some valid reasons for going fixed gear. I was beginning to wonder if there were any. I've been seeing more and more fixies around NYC and I've been asking around and it seemed like people were just doing it because they wanted to be like the cool kids and that's not my style. If I do something there has to be a reason, not just cause it's what other people are doing. I've got both cogs on my wheel and I ride in traffic to commute and on bike paths for fun so I think I'll use the fixed cog on the bike path for a while and see if I like it.
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Old 11-27-11, 08:17 AM   #15
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+1
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Riding in city traffic/streets with 0 brakeless fixed experience is dumb and dangerous. I am a huge proponent of running at least a front brake (so you at least have a redundant (and 70% more efficient) way to stop in an emergency) and am all for laws requiring a working brake.
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Old 11-27-11, 09:27 AM   #16
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Also, riding fixed without foot retention is incredibly dangerous, no matter what your skill level.
Thats an unrealistically broad and exagerated statement. I do some fixed riding without foot retention and its perfectly fine. Naturally, you should not bomb hills @ 180 rpms brakeless without retention, but basic cruising around with platform pedals is completely reasonable.
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Old 11-27-11, 10:30 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by EpicSchwinn View Post
I think this topic is interesting because I always wonder what the benefits of riding SS are over fixed.

I started riding because I thought fixies were cool. At first it was all about the novelty of "learning how to ride a bike again." If you don't of think that experience as a fun adventure, you may not understand why a lot of us liked it so much initially. After riding for a while I started to notice some of the less vague benefits; most of which were mentioned before.
- Very low regular maintenance. Just lube the chain and put air in the tires.
- Excellent low speed control. Helpful if you are biking around a busy campus.
- Track stands get easier. Really nice skill to have in stop and go traffic if you're clipless or slow to clip in.
- Lighter weight, all else being equal, than a road bike. Makes acceleration and climbing easier. (Shed ~450g fixed over SS due to extra brake equipment)
- Controlling speed by resisting begins to feel much more fluid and natural than using brakes
- I feel like I pace myself better on FG because I'm constantly pedaling. You really get into a rhythm better. I'm sure there's some exercise benefits to not coasting too.

As others have said, it takes a week or two to feel "zen" with the bike. If you give it a shot and you still don't see why we like it, it may not be for you.
excellent post.
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Old 11-27-11, 11:04 AM   #18
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Ride it for a week, with foot retention. If you don't like it, no problem, you're 99% of the way to your ss. Just cuz some people think it's fun doesn't mean you're OBLIGATED to like it. Whatever gets you out and riding is gravy
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Old 11-27-11, 11:12 AM   #19
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[Puts on flame suit] Everyone needs to relax about foot retention. I've been riding fairly regularly without foot retention since August and have slipped off of my pedals twice, only when wearing my boat shoes(I don't typically). I haven't had any other issues. Obviously, foot retention is a good thing for fixed riding, but it's not ridiculous or dangerous to not use it.

/guywhoisgoingtobuystrapssoon
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Old 11-27-11, 11:14 AM   #20
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Riding fixed gear is fun for me. All the other benefits are just bonuses.
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Old 11-27-11, 11:31 AM   #21
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Kind of amusing to see folks defending riding without brakes while claiming that riding without foot retention is extraordinarily dangerous.

To the OP: there are almost no practical advantages to fixed over free. There's a reason fixed was abandoned by road racers more than fifty years ago: freewheels and multiple gears are better - in practical terms - in almost every situation. The reasons that some people still choose fixed are these:

1) Riding a very small (<65 inches) fixed gear can improve your pedal stroke. (Larger gears can actually make it worse, as they allow you to let the bike propel your legs through the dead parts of the stroke.)

2) A fixed gear bike can be among the simplest bikes available. Some people appreciate that and are willing to compromise in other areas to get it.

3) A fixed gear is historically correct. If you want to know what it was like in the Tour de France before 1936, for instance, get a comfortable FG bike WITH BRAKES and go ride it on your local dirt roads.

4) Some people simply like the way a fixed gear bike feels. That doesn't have to be rationalized and probably shouldn't be.

And of course, the single most popular reason these days:

5) A fixed gear is necessary if you want to be one of the identical individualists currently perpetuating the fixed gear fad.

HTH!
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Old 11-27-11, 11:49 AM   #22
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[Puts on flame suit] Everyone needs to relax about foot retention. I've been riding fairly regularly without foot retention since August and have slipped off of my pedals twice, only when wearing my boat shoes(I don't typically). I haven't had any other issues. Obviously, foot retention is a good thing for fixed riding, but it's not ridiculous or dangerous to not use it.

/guywhoisgoingtobuystrapssoon
everyone seems to assume everyone else is doing hard fast paced riding. Going around at 15mhp or less, not so much. My friend converted a cruiser to fixed with just platform pedals, and man, that thing is fun

Last edited by hairnet; 11-27-11 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 11-27-11, 11:53 AM   #23
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[Puts on flame suit] Everyone needs to relax about foot retention. I've been riding fairly regularly without foot retention since August and have slipped off of my pedals twice, only when wearing my boat shoes(I don't typically). I haven't had any other issues. Obviously, foot retention is a good thing for fixed riding, but it's not ridiculous or dangerous to not use it.

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Old 11-27-11, 11:59 AM   #24
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everyone seems to assume everyone else is doing hard fast paced riding. Going around at 15 mph or less, not so much
Even at "only" 15mph, riding brakeless and foot retentionless can be risky for an inexperienced FG rider, especially on busy streets. I've done all that at some time or other, but then I've been riding / racing FG bikes for 35 years. All things considered, I'd recommend at least starting out with both a front brake and some sort of foot retention when riding on the street. By choice, I do both anyway.
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Old 11-27-11, 12:23 PM   #25
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Kind of amusing to see folks defending riding without brakes while claiming that riding without foot retention is extraordinarily dangerous.
I may be missing something but who is "defending" anything in this thread?
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