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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 09-20-13, 02:38 AM   #1
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Fixed gear techniques - old grumps need not apply :)

First off, I know all this stuff has been discussed before in numerous threads and so many of the long termers will roll their eyes and make silly comments.
Well, bear with me for a moment.
Remember the last time we discussed hill climbing? Sure, it was a well traveled topic, but we also had a lot of new input, input from people new to the place since the previous incarnation of the topic and some new observations and techniques.
So that's what I'm proposing here.

Let's discuss some of the basic fixed gear techniques - how to, how not to and why bother in the first place.
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Old 09-20-13, 02:39 AM   #2
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I'd like to start with skidding.
Why? After all, I'm the bloke who uses the brakes all the time.
Well, I've just built a bike primarily to learn how to do just that as well as track stands (my medical issues make that one a bit more long term)

Skids.
How?
I've seen a lot of videos that give you fluff all information and generally show you hanging the family jewels over the headstem. Alright for some, not this little black duck. If you watch videos of people who ride really well, you'll notice the bum come off the saddle and the rear wheel stop. Similar to what is described in this video from our friends at Pure Fix (with the really pretty lady narrating ... not that I noticed).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQu1rNs0an0

This is one of the better videos I've found in my travels, but I get bored with too much dudespeak and repetition of stuff I know I'm not going to buy into, so if someone can suggest something else, please do so.

I've also observed (and read) that you start by straightening the rear leg to lift you off the saddle. I've tried that and while easy enough, seems to limit you to gravity on the back pedal and leg pressure pulling up on the front. That video shows the rider with both legs bent and I'd imagine that this would give you more force with the rear leg because you're using those muscles rather than just standing on the pedal. Am I right or am I overthinking stuff again?

Now for the practice bit. For many of you youngsters, just seeing a technique then going out and doing it is easy. For us of more settled years, learning takes more time. Does anyone have a practical breakdown of how to ease into skidding? Or is that overthinking it again?

The discussion is over to you.

For the novices, if you stay seated on the saddle and are quite strong, you CAN stuff up your rear hub, guess how I know this.
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Old 09-20-13, 03:03 AM   #3
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This one's not bad either. Don't be put off with the ridiculous handlebar position or the fact he looks about twelve, he's thought carefully about his skills and is genuinely trying to pass them on rather than just be a face on youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0bN55nfoFw
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Old 09-20-13, 04:25 AM   #4
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It's as much in the front leg as the rear. If you think about it, your rear leg is pushing you up off the bike when you resist the pedals. Your front leg is pulling you down onto it. Focusing on the front leg helps you leverage your upper body into the motion and maintain control of the bike while you resist the pedals and lock up the rear wheel.
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Old 09-20-13, 10:11 AM   #5
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start on a wet smooth surface, like a empty parkade. Unload the rear wheel (by resting your saggy old man nuts on your stem), lock your legs and skid.
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Old 09-20-13, 12:42 PM   #6
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I guess I should add some insight:



Seated skids.
A seated skid may be challenging but it is possible depending on your lower body strength. The methodology of performing such a skid involves coordinating both legs, with one leg pushing downward and the other pulling upward, effectively locking the drive train an putting the bike into a skid. It is preferable you have your dominant leg push down (the leg you tend to use first while going up a flight of stairs) and the other pulling upward.

Ambidextrous skidding.
You may have heard this term while calculating the number of skid patches for your gear ratio. That magic button that automatically doubled the amount of skid patches you had no matter the ratio to your eyes amusement. What it is, is the ability to skid with either dominant or non-dominant foot in front while in a skid. The method to getting this down is by practicing your leg's coordination; effectively changing your skidding habits. To put things in perspective while you practice, try rotate between having your dominant and non - dominant feet in front or back while in a skid.

Moderating speed with bunny hop skids.
Often times you find yourself going too fast and without a brake because in hindsight it was worth it to be "cool" and what's "in". You've judged doing a complete skid to a usual stop too risky or outright impossible because your legs aren't strong enough to handle the torque of our bike's drivetrain. You might tip over or get speed wobbles and eat asphalt with a side of road rash. What do you do? You can moderate your speed by doing bunny hop skids. If you've ever seen a FGFS "edit" video, you might notice that riders pop up their rear wheels a couple of times right before performing a trick. That is a bunny hop skid, it helps moderate speed at minimal effort in the case you're going too fast. In essence its name describes what it is. A bunny hop skid can be described as a mini skid where you would stand up while leaning forward and hop up while in your toe cages. What this does is, you will pop up your rear wheel off the ground and into the air, slowing it down, and in principle the drag of it will slow you down as a whole when it makes contact with the ground again. This may seem to do little in slowing you down but it is meant to be done multiple times continually until you're at the speed desired, able to perform a longer skid, or apply enough backpedaling to stop.
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Old 09-20-13, 01:00 PM   #7
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Practice your technique running a (very) low gear ratio and work your way up.
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Old 09-20-13, 02:00 PM   #8
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If you've ever seen a FGFS "edit" video, you might notice that riders pop up their rear wheels a couple of times right before performing a trick.
I don't think that has so much to do with modulating speed as making sure the rider's feet are exactly the right place in their pedal stroke for optimal bunny-hoppage/pop.

Finding some wet pavement is probably the easiest method to practice ones technique. Low gearing never hurt anyone. The lower the gearing, the easier it is to A) skid and B) stay out of trouble.
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Old 09-20-13, 02:02 PM   #9
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I don't think that has so much to do with modulating speed as making sure the rider's feet are exactly the right place in their pedal stroke for optimal bunny-hoppage/pop.
It serves two purposes still.
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Old 09-20-13, 02:30 PM   #10
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Old 09-20-13, 02:47 PM   #11
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techniques 101:

if you want to go faster, you must first increase your cadence.

wait... or is it the other way around? hmm.
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Old 09-20-13, 02:52 PM   #12
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I lean into the skid too, if im skidding with my right foot forward, I twist my hips to the left a little. Helps give you more leverage as you are able to lean into the skid and apply more force.

Just don't do balls on stem skids, ever.
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Old 09-21-13, 02:20 PM   #13
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Track stands:

Come to stop, stand, turn bar slightly to side of choice, no brakes (if you even have any), look slightly ahead, get crank arms near horizontal, shift slightly fore/aft as needed.

Now, if only I could do that for more than 15 seconds or so.....
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Old 09-21-13, 05:11 PM   #14
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Track stands:

Come to stop, stand, turn bar slightly to side of choice, no brakes (if you even have any), look slightly ahead, get crank arms near horizontal, shift slightly fore/aft as needed.

Now, if only I could do that for more than 15 seconds or so.....
Watched a video yesterday where a bloke demonstrated the track stand, gave a little advice as they usually do, but in this case, the camera angle allowed you to see something different. He rode into the stand, stopped, THEN twisted the front wheel to one side. It's typically described as twisting the front wheel as you stop and that's what's been screwing with my head, particularly as I'm one who tends to turn the wheel in the opposite direction to what is usually advised.
Anyway, I tried it. No big delay, nothing dramatic, just the stop then the bars twisted as two movements. The result seemed a lot more stable and predictable.
I suspect with time, you stop realising how you're doing things because you no longer have to think about them. Anyway, this seems to have triggered one of my mental traps. Worth a try.
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Old 09-21-13, 06:02 PM   #15
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Helllooooooo there, everyone!

I just cleaned up some posts that began to derail this thread. I'd appreciate it if that does not happen again. I really don't want to have to babysit this thread. If you want to continue your e-fights, please take it to TH where we will let you rip each other apart in the dungeon amongst a ton of spectators.

Thanks!

Carry on!
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Old 09-21-13, 07:29 PM   #16
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I've been learning to skid over the past couple of months. Running 46/17 ratio. I have never needed to go balls to stem. I honestly don't need to get out of the saddle. Maybe because I have a fair amount or saddle to bar drop so I already have leverage. But if I am going fast I will get out of the saddle and that allows me to skip stop since the back wheel can come up.

I've just started to scratch the surface on track stands. I really want to learn this because I ride traffic with lots of red lights and need to stop and start. I can only last 2-3 seconds. Mostly because I'm in clipless pedals and I get freaked out quickly about going down and not being able to unclip fast enough.
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Old 09-21-13, 08:31 PM   #17
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Watched a video yesterday where a bloke demonstrated the track stand, gave a little advice as they usually do, but in this case, the camera angle allowed you to see something different. He rode into the stand, stopped, THEN twisted the front wheel to one side.
Well FWIW that's exactly how I do it, or should I say, attempt to do it. Back when I was a wrench at a LBS, the other mechanic there could track stand all day, I mean he was so natural about it, he could eat lunch while doing it. I guess some guys just have certain innate balance skills that others (ME!) are lacking.
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Old 09-22-13, 06:01 PM   #18
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don't know if this helps but when i first learned how to skid, I did it while the bike was moving very slowly/not at all. basically get into the position you would go into if you were skidding then push the bike with your foot while your other leg pushes back against the pedal. If you legs are strong the wheel shouldn't move. Basically get comfortable with this and go faster and faster. It's kinda like if your bike was a skateboard and your pushing it along while your back foot is locked into the pedal.

Practice on smooth pavement, This is very important when you are first learning. Or go practice on grass which is slick and wont hurt as much if you fall, but if you really want to learn skids you need to get used to doing them on pavement.

There are many different kinds of skids, some which don't involve cages, if your learning i really suggest not using the cages as it is easier to escape and ditch your bike if you fall. Once you get comfortable with your skids then go for the cages, it's a little different of a technique, but once you have skidded without cages you will find skidding with cages much, much, much easier and more comfortable.

You can also cab skid, which should be done without cages and allows you to skid or come to a very fast stop without getting out of the saddle. But unless you are really comfortable with your bike and quick with your feet it is not recommended.

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Old 09-22-13, 07:17 PM   #19
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techniques 101:

if you want to go faster, you must first increase your cadence.

wait... or is it the other way around? hmm.
To go along with this while you're riding fixed your up stroke is just as important ( that's what she said ) as pushing the pedal. I find it super helpful to pull my foot backwards almost as if i'm trying to slide backwards along the floor this sets me up for a good pull before the push.
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Old 09-22-13, 07:28 PM   #20
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To go along with this while you're riding fixed your up stroke is just as important ( that's what she said ) as pushing the pedal. I find it super helpful to pull my foot backwards almost as if i'm trying to slide backwards along the floor this sets me up for a good pull before the push.
Are we talking about pedaling or skidding? Technically with pedaling, we should be trying to pedal nice fluid circles all the way around.
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Old 09-22-13, 09:23 PM   #21
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To go along with this while you're riding fixed your up stroke is just as important ( that's what she said ) as pushing the pedal. I find it super helpful to pull my foot backwards almost as if i'm trying to slide backwards along the floor this sets me up for a good pull before the push.
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Are we talking about pedaling or skidding? Technically with pedaling, we should be trying to pedal nice fluid circles all the way around.
Too right. The secret to a high cadence is a smooth, circular action. This is why so many roadies can't get above 110 (or imagine that 110 is a high cadence), they've fallen for the 'pull the pedal' routine.

thewilson is right in suggesting that the pull across the bottom helps. It does and it does wonders for smoothing out a square pedalling style and is always the first thing I turn to if I suspect my action. It's only the first step though. From there you need to develop that fluid circle and fortunately, once you're trained your muscles to do it, it comes back very easily because on a fixed gear, you can't help but practice.

I guess I probably have an advantage in that I live in a hilly area. This rules out a high gear in that I have to get UP the hills but leaves me getting lots of practice at high cadences coming down the things.

To spin a high cadence:
- make sure your weight is on the saddle. You should feel yourself sitting heavily on the saddle and once you do this properly, you'll suddenly realise how much you've been supporting your body with your legs.
- lean forward in an aggressive riding posture, arms well bent. I'm not sure if this is psychological or physical but leaning forward always smooths out my action and lets me spin faster. I should probably note that I have the bars at saddle height and so aren't too aggressive to start with.
- you need to visualise your feet racing the pedals ... and winning. Not chasing them, as soon as you get behind, you start to bounce, your feet need to be a millisecond in front of the pedals. In the early days, I used to chant the mantra, 'race the pedals, race the pedals' but I'm a lot more comfortable with cadence now and don't bother. The aggressive pedaling still applies though.

Get it right and it feels like you're part of a turbine. It feels wonderful and is worth doing just for that - just another cycling drug. There's a certain satisfaction to getting to the bottom of a hill and having your Heart Rate Monitor in hysterics (yes, I'm a nerd and wear one). The looks from other road users are worth it to.

I do believe that most people have their bikes geared too high. While it's nice to just plug along, particularly if you're not trying too hard, I prefer 66gi. I used to use 70gi but found, as my body aged and tired, I often felt like I was in slightly too high a gear - this is one where a younger, lighter rider will use a higher gear than me. But I like 66gi (48x19 for what it's worth). This gives me a cadence of 90 at about 29km/hr (18 mph) which is a speed I often find myself in when travelling through back streets or along shared paths and allows plenty of cadence to drop the speed a bit where needed. At at a cadence of 110, I'm doing 35 km/hr (22mph) which is a speed I can sit on all day on the flats, the 'high' cadence not really being an issue for me. From there I'll run all the way up a whisker inside 60km/hr (37mph) which is a cadence of OMFGWAID? Never actually broken the magic 60 but I have recorded 59.something on a few occasions and I should point out I need a 10% downhill to do so, I'm not that much of an animal.

Although this sounds super diagnosed and worked out, that nerdish stuff has all come after the fact. I started with 70gi because that's a commonly recommended starting point. I rode that for a few years, then strangely found that I felt overgeared (on a geared bike, you'd click down a gear) so added a tooth to the rear cog and have been happy ever since. The analysis is just because I like fiddling with numbers and trying to work out what I'm doing, it provides an understanding that satisfies me. I still believe that seat of the pants is the best way because your body will understanding what it is suffering long before the brain will.


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Old 09-23-13, 07:04 PM   #22
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Fixed gear techniques - old grumps need not apply :)

Alright I am the old grump here.
Track stands are easy with a fixed gear. Practice with the front wheel always on a slight incline. Then just rock forward and back to keep your balance. After some practice you'll get the hang of balancing and you won't need the front wheel inclined, but its always easier if it is. Next step after that is no hands track stand. Or a track stand with one foot on the pedals and one foot in the hooks of your bars. And once you can do that then 6-daying, riding with one leg, and steering with your other foot.

You guys dismount off the back of the bike? Sort of shoot the bike forward and jump off the back, and grab the saddle.

Another cool thing is steering with your hips. I call it butt spin. Instead of steering/leaning, try rocking your hips one way or the other to steer.

Another cool dismount is swinging your leg forward over the bars. With No brakes or cables in the way its an easy swing of the leg.

And all kinds of hand slings, and throws make for fun fast riding with others.
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