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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 03-10-14, 10:59 AM   #1
cessanfrancisco
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I'm Not Gettin' It

I converted one of my single-speed bikes to a fixed gear. I was curious to find out what all of the hype is/was about surrounding fixies.

I did my homework, read up on the philosophy, the mechanics, do's and don'ts, yada, yada, yada... Then I rode my bike around the neighborhood for a few days.

I'll admit it's very different than riding single-speed and requires a different mindset. But for me I can't see any practical application outside of bragging rights for riding a fixie. I mean, where I live there are lots of hills, and my commute to work is 7 miles (from the beach to SOMA) across SF. The topography alone would kill my knees in a day. And riding in a densely populated place is just asking to be hit, or to hit something/someone. I know experienced riders can navigate a city better than Ahab on the open waters, but since I can see no practical application, for me, I have no reason to gain the experience.

So my question is, and maybe I'm missing something all together here, but what is the allure, and practical application, of the fixie, aside from minimalism, sleek looks, low maintenance, and street cred?

I apologize if I sound snarky, which is not the case, I am genuinely curious and besides...I sooo want the street cred
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Old 03-10-14, 11:02 AM   #2
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I mean the minimalism, sleek looks, and low maintenance are 3 good points right there.

Some people just enjoy riding fixed. It doesn't always have to be "practical". There's nothing practical about people who drive sports cars as daily drivers, or have million dollar homes.

If you have a hilly commute, a geared bike might suit you better.
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Old 03-10-14, 11:03 AM   #3
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interweb cred > street cred
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Old 03-10-14, 11:07 AM   #4
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[MENTION=355464]bmontgomery87[/MENTION] - I suppose you're right. That's why I have a Honda Accord not a Porsche or Lamborghini.
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Old 03-10-14, 11:09 AM   #5
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I just bought a Steamroller set up as a fixie but I have no intention of riding it that way (other than maybe just to try it out once). I'm getting a freewheel and a rear brake to match the front. Ride what works for you. I'm an ex-BMXer with a severe aversion to derailleurs so it's single-speed freewheel for this guy.

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Old 03-10-14, 11:11 AM   #6
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^No doubt. I typically prefer practical, but my fixed gear qualifies as such for me. I don't have a lot of hills, and I'm awful at working on things, so having a bike I can put together and maintain on my own was a big factor in what I purchased.

And I do feel like I get a much better workout than people who ride with me on geared bikes.


Then there's the cred, because well, track standing at stoplights has gotten me flashed a grant total of 0 times.
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Old 03-10-14, 11:20 AM   #7
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interweb cred > street cred

This
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Old 03-10-14, 11:29 AM   #8
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I just enjoy the feel.

Also if you are riding with a front brake, then saying that the downhills kill your knees becomes moot.

I ride fixed on the road because I like the feel. My rides are pretty hilly - not SF hilly, but there are some ~5+ min climbs on most routes I ride.
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Old 03-10-14, 11:35 AM   #9
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But for me I can't see any practical application outside of bragging rights for riding a fixie. I mean, where I live there are lots of hills, and my commute to work is 7 miles (from the beach to SOMA) across SF. The topography alone would kill my knees in a day.
You have the wrong gear ratio.

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And riding in a densely populated place is just asking to be hit, or to hit something/someone. I know experienced riders can navigate a city better than Ahab on the open waters, but since I can see no practical application, for me, I have no reason to gain the experience.
Dense traffic is slow traffic. Slow traffic is less dangerous than fast traffic. And this has nothing to do with riding fixed gear.
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Old 03-10-14, 11:36 AM   #10
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I personally do really enjoy riding fixed gear, the simplicity of riding through the city with out having to think about reaching for brakes or shifting gears is great. However I have more geared bikes than fixed and can't wait for winter to leave so I can take my other bikes out of hibernation and for some long road rides. That said, my fixed gear is built around practicality; front and rear brakes, full fenders and cyclocross tires. Also the simple drivetrain is alot easier to deal with when riding every day in the winter.
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Old 03-10-14, 11:50 AM   #11
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I find the difference between riding free wheel and riding fixed is the difference between having sex with and without a condom.
I ride fixed and am so much more connected.
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Old 03-10-14, 12:13 PM   #12
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Thanks for the input, everyone!
[MENTION=363967]Cute Boy Horse[/MENTION] - You may be right about the gear ratio thing. I am using a 46T chain-ring and a 16T fixed gear cog. What would you suggest?

Thanks.
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Old 03-10-14, 12:27 PM   #13
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No one can realistically suggest which gear ratio you will find most effective. What's good for one person can totally suck for another.
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Old 03-10-14, 02:33 PM   #14
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my casual cruiser is 47/18 w a 175 crank arm length. my geared up ready to sweat ride is 45/16. mashing ratios vs spinning ratios tend to jack up the knees ive noticed. plus i already have fat legs. need to lose some weight.
but as of course Scrod says its person to person. my case bike and occasion differences
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Old 03-10-14, 03:14 PM   #15
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practical application
?
:d
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Old 03-10-14, 03:15 PM   #16
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I just started riding fixed this year. I really like the feeling of being directly connected with the rear wheel, though I do run a front brake.

I built mine with a 44/18, 170mm cranks & 650a wheels for a measily 64 gear inches. I spin out at 20mph, but I can climb all the little hills around here.

I ride alone and rarely talk to the occasional cyclists I see, so street or web cred is not what I'm shooting for here. I've read so many experienced, respected cyclists say that the FG bike offers a feel like no other. I agree, even though I haven't acquired the skills to use it to the utmost. Just figured out skids (with the help of this forum) and am pretty close to getting the trackstand thing working. Gives me something to work on that I can't on a geared freewheel model. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, I'm a 61 year old FG newb.

I'll keep my geared bike for bad weather/load carrying abilities, but I'd rather be riding my FG!
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Old 03-10-14, 03:35 PM   #17
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I guess it is that "feeling" or "connectedness" that I read/hear so much about that I was/am looking for. So far it has been elusive. Instead all I feel is panic because I have to keep reminding myself to not coast unless I want my knees torn out and shins shredded.

Then again, maybe I'm looking too hard (perhaps it is indeed a "zen" thing). It could just be that fixed gear is not my thing. Oh well. Moving right along...
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Old 03-10-14, 03:42 PM   #18
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blergh
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Old 03-10-14, 03:58 PM   #19
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I guess it is that "feeling" or "connectedness" that I read/hear so much about that I was/am looking for. So far it has been elusive. Instead all I feel is panic because I have to keep reminding myself to not coast unless I want my knees torn out and shins shredded.

Then again, maybe I'm looking too hard (perhaps it is indeed a "zen" thing). It could just be that fixed gear is not my thing. Oh well. Moving right along...
It takes time and practice for fixed to feel second nature. You can't just jump in and expect to it all make sense. I havent had a FG for a while now but whenever I ride my friend's one I feel happy. Still, it isn't for everyone.
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Old 03-10-14, 04:24 PM   #20
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Old dude with bad knees that commutes fixed in semi hilly terrain: I like dto ride fixed because of the utter silence and the different mindset...requires constant awareness (and yes I ride with 2 brakes). Sometimes it sucks and I would like to coast. othertimes, I like the transferred momentum to get me up the hill. Fixed is also nice for winter in the midwest.


If you dont like it, then dont ride it. Some crazy dudes by me ride fixed gear mountainbikes. I cannot fathom why someone would want to, but they seem to enjoy it.
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Old 03-10-14, 04:25 PM   #21
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I guess it is that "feeling" or "connectedness" that I read/hear so much about that I was/am looking for. So far it has been elusive. Instead all I feel is panic because I have to keep reminding myself to not coast unless I want my knees torn out and shins shredded.

Then again, maybe I'm looking too hard (perhaps it is indeed a "zen" thing). It could just be that fixed gear is not my thing. Oh well. Moving right along...
It takes a while. I almost sent myself over the bars a couple of times because I tried to coast while clipped into my pedals. I've only been riding fixed for about a year but it is second nature now. And I have noticed my pedal stroke is much smoother when I ride my geared road bike and I never coast anymore on the road bike. Fixed or freewheel I'm always pedaling out of habit which is a good benefit from riding fixed
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Old 03-10-14, 04:27 PM   #22
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Some crazy dudes by me ride fixed gear mountainbikes. I cannot fathom why someone would want to, but they seem to enjoy it.
I know people do it but I also don't understand it. As someone who did a fair amount of mountain biking in my younger days, I can't see how you can get by some more technical terrain without having your cranks horizontal (i.e. coasting)
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Old 03-10-14, 05:29 PM   #23
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yeah i dont get fixed mtb

sounds like a good way to slam your pedal on a rock/log and go over teh bars
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Old 03-10-14, 05:35 PM   #24
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I imagine it would be fun for fire roads. I now have a spare wheel and should do it
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Old 03-10-14, 06:06 PM   #25
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I imagine it would be fun for fire roads. I now have a spare wheel and should do it
Riding fixed on rough roads seems pretty unfun to me. I'll pass.
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I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.

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