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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 10-29-09, 01:08 AM   #1
minneapolis.sam
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Touring on a single speed/fixie?

I've recently gained an interest in riding bike. I have two interests: touring, and urban single-speed riding. I currently have an 80s frame I plan on converting to single speed once the funds come in.

I had an idea: 'is it possible to tour with a single speed, or a fixed gear for that matter?'

I DO NOT want to hear arguments about why this is a bad idea, blah, blah, blah... I know.

I want to hear stories, suggestions from people who have either done this, want to do it, or have ideas about it.

Are there actual benefits? Or is it simply for the fun of it. Let's hear it!
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Old 10-29-09, 01:13 AM   #2
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Which frame is it? photos?
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Old 10-29-09, 01:22 AM   #3
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First and foremost: (Its been said here a few times, but this is your thread, time to gain some knowledge of your own) You'll want both sides of the flip flop hub with a cog and freewheel.

Reasons: Coasting is awesome, what if scenarios.

A good investment would be wide handlebars. Older ones are narrow.
get a gearing that works for you, for me id' go with about 60 gear inchs.

Make it up the hills, then coast down them.
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Old 10-29-09, 01:38 AM   #4
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Yes, of course it is possible to tour on a fixed gear or single speed.

Rowan and I toured Europe (mainly France) for a month in 2007, and Rowan was on a fixie. Here's the story, complete with photos and everything:
http://www.machka.net/pbp2007/2007_PBP.htm
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Old 10-29-09, 03:37 AM   #5
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Sage & Cooper are riding single speed around the world ... http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2009/...ive-in-london/
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Old 10-29-09, 04:01 AM   #6
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I met a couple people this summer touring on ss/fg and they also said that a flip flop hub is essential. Fixed side for flats and climbing, freewheel for descents. There were some killer descents, and very long, on the route so I would imagine it would be much more fun when you can coast down them.
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Old 10-29-09, 05:59 AM   #7
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I definitely would plan on having a flip/flop hub. I have also thought about going the route that Sheldon Brown took: http://sheldonbrown.org/hercules.html having the multiple gearing options seams like a smart choice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Yes, of course it is possible to tour on a fixed gear or single speed.

Rowan and I toured Europe (mainly France) for a month in 2007, and Rowan was on a fixie. Here's the story, complete with photos and everything:
http://www.machka.net/pbp2007/2007_PBP.htm
Wow... that is awesome! I went to the site, and to his personal site, but didn't really find any explanation of touring fixed/single, or talking about it... perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place?



Keep it up guys! I'd really like to hear more evidence of such endeavors!
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Old 10-29-09, 06:17 AM   #8
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Of course it's possible, and a quick search of the forums will bring up many similar stories. You could also tour on a unicycle, or roller blades, or riding your bicycle backwards. There are no formal rules.

The tricky thing is picking a gear that you can mash up hills on all day but won't throw you out of the saddle on the downhill.
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Old 10-29-09, 07:30 AM   #9
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On the TransAm this summer I came across a 20 year old girl riding the Great Divide route on a fixie. She earns major points for badassery.

edit: Found a link to the ACA site about her: http://www.adventurecycling.org/ride...cfm?r=1BA2FC4D
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Old 10-29-09, 09:56 AM   #10
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Try to remember that one gear on a bike was the norm for many decades from the 1880's forward.

Dervla Murphy toured from Ireland to India on a one speed bike in 1965. Her book is titled Full Tilt. She travelled with minimal equipment to keep it light. A good idea even today.
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Old 10-29-09, 10:04 AM   #11
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Old 10-29-09, 10:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minneapolis.sam View Post
I DO NOT want to hear arguments about why this is a bad idea, blah, blah, blah... I know. I want to hear stories, suggestions from people who have either done this, want to do it, or have ideas about it.
Oh, so all you want is to strengthen your confirmation bias? How nice for you.

And yes, you can do it. The sole benefit is that you have one or two fewer components to worry about (i.e. no derailleurs). Though I wouldn't do a long fixed / SS tour with serious amounts of climbing, unless you plan to walk or actually want to blow out your knees.
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Old 10-29-09, 10:55 AM   #13
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Agreed. I'd avoid going up steep mountain passes with a singlespeed/fixed gear bike. Other than that, there's no reason you'd can tour on one gear!
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Old 10-29-09, 01:30 PM   #14
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What's the longest ride you've done on a fixie?

I don't mind a fixed hub for cruising around town but much past 40 miles and I'm ready to freewheel it. A singlespeed with minimal gear would be a fun way to go, in my opinion.
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Old 10-29-09, 01:58 PM   #15
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http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...dy&context=all
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Old 10-29-09, 02:05 PM   #16
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Fixed gear can be rather tiring on a long trip. There are times when you just want to coast. Go singlespeed on a tour.
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Old 10-29-09, 03:41 PM   #17
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>You could also tour on a unicycle, or roller blades, or riding your bicycle backwards.

Dunno about the rollerblades, but I've certainly read stories about people crossing the USA via the other two methods.
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Old 10-29-09, 04:08 PM   #18
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Yes it's possible. Do it with a flip flop hub gears, in the 60s are a good way to go for touring.

Here is my experience, although I did it with freewheels, 67" and a 39" bail out.

http://wheelsofchance.org/england-2009/
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Old 10-29-09, 04:32 PM   #19
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The first bicycle to cross the U.S. was a penny farthing - which of course has no freewheel.

They didn't have roads back then either (mostly).
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Old 10-29-09, 05:07 PM   #20
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SS would be fine, ...

I wouldn't ride fixed on a loaded touring bike...probably more problems than it worth.
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Old 10-29-09, 05:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minneapolis.sam View Post
Wow... that is awesome! I went to the site, and to his personal site, but didn't really find any explanation of touring fixed/single, or talking about it... perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place?
What do you want to know? I'll let him talk about what gearing he used and how it felt going up some of the steep hills we covered and all that ... is that the stuff you're after?

From my perspective, watching him ... he did everything I could do on a geared bicycle, only a bit faster than me. I had really worked on my climbing that season, but even so he would invariably reach the top of the steep hills faster than me. And as you can see from the photos, he rode fully loaded with panniers.

We had also started the PBP and made it about 400 km into the event before the rain damped our spirits and we decided to pull out.



In addition to Rowan's accomplishments, I have another friend who rode the RM1200 on a fixie, switched to single speed to ride across North America to Boston, and switched back to fixie to ride the BMB. His story is here:
http://www.rusa.org/newsletter/05-04-04.html


Rowan and I have also had the pleasure of meeting Emily O'Brien who holds the womens' fixed-gear course record for the Furnace Creek 508. We had conversed with her many times on another forum, and then met her right before the BMB 2006, which she rode on her fixed gear as well ... of course. She is something else!! She has a fantastic personality and spirit!!
http://www.ultracycling.com/about/obrien_profile.html
http://www.ultracycling.com/results/bmb2006.html

Last edited by Machka; 10-30-09 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 10-29-09, 06:26 PM   #22
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"She has a fantastic personality and spirit!!"

That rules out most of the rest of us!

I always point out Thomas Stevens who first cycled around the world, then on a penny farthing, His book is free online.
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Old 10-29-09, 07:50 PM   #23
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I can think of a couple of obstacles.

First, here in the Dallas area, it's basically flat, with a few minor hills here and there. But, nothing I can't crank over on my single-speed Worksman with 2:1 gearing. But, the problem is, you sort of assume the whole world is like it is where you live. Get out in Colorado and you can go for miles up 7% grades, and that just doesn't happen here. Get up in the Ozarks, and you can go for miles and miles of one steep little hill after another, and you don't have that around here. Get up in Nebraska, and you can have a 40 mph headwind for days on end. So, it would be really easy to fool yourself into thinking you could handle anything, and then discover there's hills you're just not going to go up.

Secondly, I got started on some randonneuring rides on the Worksman, and actually managed to complete a 211k brevet back in June. But, I tried two other 200k routes and had to bail, basically due to heat+hills+wind+personal fitness or lack thereof. The thing is, I was marginally able to complete the ride, so if it wasn't too hot, and the wind didn't blow the wrong way, I was in good shape, and otherwise not. The lesson to be learned is that you may be better off to allow a wide margin of error rather than a narrow margin, especially where you're far far from home.
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Old 10-29-09, 07:52 PM   #24
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Sure it is possible. The hills will be a ***** with a loaded rig but why not.
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Old 10-29-09, 11:07 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nun View Post
Yes it's possible. Do it with a flip flop hub gears, in the 60s are a good way to go for touring.
Wow! That's awesome. I have never heard of that Rivendell bicycle before, but I already like it!

Yea... I am 100% sure of getting a flip-flop hub. I'm thinking of having a fixed gear on one side, and a 2-speed freewheel on the other side (White Industries has a 2-speed freewheel: White Industrie's Website

I also like the idea of having 2 chainrings... I believe Sheldon Brown did that with one of his bicycles: http://sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html

I am so intrigued by the thought of doing this. Realistically, I probably wouldn't actually do this sort of a tour until the hear 2011 (getting married next Summer, and not graduating until May 2011)... but, I want to start thinking/dreaming about it!

I'm still not convinced I'd want to go SS or FG for that matter, however I love the idea.

Keep the posts rolling!

I LOVE hearing about people's stories.

Feel free to post a bit of your story here. Maybe include helpful tips, best/worst moments, your bicycle...etc. LOVE IT!
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