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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 11-20-12, 10:47 PM   #1
Sprayman
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Flip-flop hub

Help a brother out here:

I converted an old bike to fixed gear a few months ago. I enjoy it, but think I'd like single speed better and feel safer (I simply cannot get the hang of stopping on the damn thing). Fortunately, I have a flip-flop hub so switching shouldn't be much of a problem.

So my question is, what kind of cog should I look for in the back, or is "cog" even the correct part/term? Freewheel? Cassette? None of the above?

Thanks
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Old 11-20-12, 10:49 PM   #2
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Freewheel is the word
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Old 11-20-12, 10:55 PM   #3
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Shimano
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Old 11-20-12, 11:39 PM   #4
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Brakes
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Old 11-21-12, 07:11 AM   #5
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Best bang for your buck would be the white industry freewheel but they're not cheap. I have first hand experience with dicta, shimano and acs freewheel. Out of those three the acs is the better of the three before going to the white industry. I thought about getting the white industry but I think I'm going to go fixed and forget about freewheels.
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Old 11-21-12, 07:30 AM   #6
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I would lean towards the shimanos as the best value for a freewheel, although I have heard the higher end ACS freewheels are decent. The best quality is easily the White Industries, which is a bit of an investment, but has sealed cartridge bearings - so is sealed from the elements and is replaceable when worn out.
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Old 11-21-12, 07:35 AM   #7
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Brakes
+1
Do you have brakes on your bike now? It isn't like stopping a fixed gear with brakes is any different than stopping a single speed.
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Old 11-21-12, 08:05 AM   #8
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If you don't like riding fixed that's fine, but if you were doing it without a front brake, you didn't give it a fair shake.

The ACS Crossfire freewheels are pretty good. I've used a Shimano before, but that was a good while ago and I don't recall how long I used it. If freewheel noise is a concern for you, I believe the Shimanos are generally much louder than the ACS freewheels.
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Old 11-21-12, 08:45 AM   #9
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If you don't like riding fixed that's fine, but if you were doing it without a front brake, you didn't give it a fair shake.

The ACS Crossfire freewheels are pretty good. I've used a Shimano before, but that was a good while ago and I don't recall how long I used it. If freewheel noise is a concern for you, I believe the Shimanos are generally much louder than the ACS freewheels.
I don't know about the ACS, but my shimano sf-1200 is pretty much silent. I can hear more noise from my chain and the tires on the road than I can from the freewheel. I know the White Industries trials is the loudest.
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Old 11-21-12, 09:09 AM   #10
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Good to know.
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Old 11-21-12, 09:17 AM   #11
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+1
Do you have brakes on your bike now? It isn't like stopping a fixed gear with brakes is any different than stopping a single speed.
I have a front brake but no rear brake. I've been told that rear brakes don't function well on fixies, and why I still have no idea. I'm not into the whole skid stop (tried and failed).

Disclaimer--I have no interest in starting a "brakes vs. no brakes" debate on this thread. I have a front brake, wouldn't mind a rear brake if I thought it would work well. Am interested in single speed because it feels like it would be safer.

Thanks
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Old 11-21-12, 09:30 AM   #12
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Out of curiosity, are you using foot retention?
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Old 11-21-12, 11:38 AM   #13
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Have your LBS toss on a rear brake when your freewheel is installed. Extra stopping power is a good thing. You wouldn't ride a regular road bike with just one brake, right? Just my two cents.

People say rear brakes are bad for riding fixed because any back-pressure from the pedals in combination with hand-braking will cause the wheel to lock into a skid very quickly and easily, in my experience. Lots of people ride with two brakes and like it, though.
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Old 11-21-12, 02:37 PM   #14
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Out of curiosity, are you using foot retention?
Sure do. Pedaling without any kind of foot retention is simply too inefficient for me.
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Old 11-21-12, 02:40 PM   #15
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Have your LBS toss on a rear brake when your freewheel is installed. Extra stopping power is a good thing. You wouldn't ride a regular road bike with just one brake, right? Just my two cents.

People say rear brakes are bad for riding fixed because any back-pressure from the pedals in combination with hand-braking will cause the wheel to lock into a skid very quickly and easily, in my experience. Lots of people ride with two brakes and like it, though.
Interesting. Maybe I'll dig through my parts bin and try the bike out with a rear brake before I add a a freewheel. It seems like that would be a good idea either way. I love the simplicity, speed and efficiency of the fixed gear, but it just feels a little less safe to me. Maybe with the addition of a rear brake I'd enjoy it a bit more.
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Old 11-21-12, 02:45 PM   #16
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That rules out one possible reason you are feeling unsafe while fixed. Get a freewheel and a rear brake and hopefully you'll be happier. People seem to be recommending White Industries Eno freewheels.

Fixed gears are more dangerous when it comes to servicing them because you can get finger caught in the gears etc. They are also catastrophic if you get your pants leg stuck in the gear or something while riding. People can have trouble getting into and out of foot retention because the pedals are moving which can make them dangerous and some people find that spinning at high speeds going down hill is at least disconcerting, so you are not the only person to decide that single-speed is safer.

edit: Also cornering fixed is somewhat hairier as you can get pedal strike.

Last edited by prooftheory; 11-21-12 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 11-21-12, 02:54 PM   #17
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I find it easier to clip into FG than a road bike. ****'s weird.
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Old 11-21-12, 05:45 PM   #18
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I find it easier to clip into FG than a road bike. ****'s weird.
Same.
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Old 11-22-12, 08:56 PM   #19
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That rules out one possible reason you are feeling unsafe while fixed. Get a freewheel and a rear brake and hopefully you'll be happier. People seem to be recommending White Industries Eno freewheels.

Fixed gears are more dangerous when it comes to servicing them because you can get finger caught in the gears etc. They are also catastrophic if you get your pants leg stuck in the gear or something while riding. People can have trouble getting into and out of foot retention because the pedals are moving which can make them dangerous and some people find that spinning at high speeds going down hill is at least disconcerting, so you are not the only person to decide that single-speed is safer.

edit: Also cornering fixed is somewhat hairier as you can get pedal strike.
All good points. Since the bike I built up as a fixie does not have an actual fixed-gear frame, and thus has a lower bottom bracket, I'm pretty cautious going around corners. I have no desire to experience the pedal strike. Besides, I'm to old to really tear around on a fixed gear, anyway.

I took the fixie out today for a pre-Thanksgiving feast ride, and had a blast. All the hipness and coolness aside, a fixed gear is a completely different and fun riding experience. I might miss it if I converted to a single speed.

Hmmmmm.......maybe I've found a reason to start another project. "Yes, honey, there are a lot of good reasons why I need a single speed AND a fixed gear."
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