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Thread: Racer or fixie?

  1. #1
    code poet
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    Racer or fixie?

    Hey guys,
    I'm getting ready for the cold chicago winter and i was wondering what the best type of bike to ride would be. My only option now is a 21 speed Schwinn fastback. but i have always wanted a fixed gear/ss bike. would it be worth it to get a trashy fixie for the winter? and would i need tire studs or anything? I do about 3 miles each way.
    Thanks
    Matt

  2. #2
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nschessnerd View Post
    Hey guys,
    I'm getting ready for the cold chicago winter and i was wondering what the best type of bike to ride would be. My only option now is a 21 speed Schwinn fastback. but i have always wanted a fixed gear/ss bike. would it be worth it to get a trashy fixie for the winter? and would i need tire studs or anything? I do about 3 miles each way.
    Thanks
    Matt
    Three years of a pretty short commute in Minneapolis have taken a toll on the components on my bike. I wouldn't use a nice bike for winter commuting unless I had ample opportunity and the commitment to clean it regularly.

    If you've always wanted a fixie/ss bike, a short winter commute sounds like a good reason to get one.

    With either bike I'd get studded tires.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  3. #3
    code poet
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    Thanks, Im in ;-)

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    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    My track bike's the cleanest bike I've owned. It takes about 2 minutes to fully wipe the thing down after a dirty ride.

    The only thing I would do if I were you is try to get a disc compatible road fork and use a disc brake on the front wheel to make it even cleaner.

  5. #5
    code poet
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    ive had bad expirences with front brakes, so i'm planning on throwing a black brake on it along with the front one. but i would only end up using the back one, and the front one for emergencies

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    Senior Member LetterRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    With either bike I'd get studded tires.
    Although this goes against popular opinion here in the winter forum, I don't think studs are necessary for a 3-mile commute in the city. I've been riding ssfg in the winter, no studs, on city streets and haven't had a problem. On the rare days when the plows can't plow fast enough is the only time it might be nice, but for those few days the tires would be a waste of money to me.
    Just thought I'd throw the other side of that out there.

  7. #7
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    Whether to stud or not depends on how clear your path is. For my 3 mile commute, I like studs for going up and down the hills because the streets just don't get plowed for days [or ever, in some cases]. If the commute is flatter, with mostly dry pavement, then no, there's not much point in getting studs.
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    I like my fixed gear for my commute (10 miles one-way, mostly flat). With more foresight I would have have gotten a SS/FG cross frame for 2 reasons.

    1. Clearance for full fenders.
    2. Better tire selection for winter.

    That being said, the racer might not be the best choice for an all season commuter (unless it's a derailleured cyclocross frame).

    I do agree with slvoid regarding cleaning. I needed to kill some time last week so I decided to clean my fixed gear commuter. Only problem was that I didn't kill enough time. I took the entire drivetrain off, OCD-cleaned and reinstalled it in less than an hour...

  9. #9
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LetterRider View Post
    Although this goes against popular opinion here in the winter forum, I don't think studs are necessary for a 3-mile commute in the city. I've been riding ssfg in the winter, no studs, on city streets and haven't had a problem. On the rare days when the plows can't plow fast enough is the only time it might be nice, but for those few days the tires would be a waste of money to me.
    Just thought I'd throw the other side of that out there.
    My commute is about 1/3 residential streets, 1/3 bike trail, and 1/3 downtown streets. It's all within the city limits. For the downtown streets I agree that studs may be overkill. However on the trails and residential streets there can be a lot of icy patches.

    There are plenty of people in Minneapolis who ride without studs. I may this year try the new Continental Winter tires to see how they work.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  10. #10
    Not an internet law-maker Godwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LetterRider View Post
    Although this goes against popular opinion here in the winter forum, I don't think studs are necessary for a 3-mile commute in the city. I've been riding ssfg in the winter, no studs, on city streets and haven't had a problem. On the rare days when the plows can't plow fast enough is the only time it might be nice, but for those few days the tires would be a waste of money to me.
    Just thought I'd throw the other side of that out there.
    +1

    Studs would help with icy roads but I'm sure a city like Chicago gets its plowing and salting/sanding done. I ride a geared bike because I live in a very hilly city where the lower gears help climb and the higher gears help getting good speeds going down. I'd probably ride fixed if it were flat (I'm not sure of the terrain in Chicago, I assume it's not very hilly but I have no basis for that).

  11. #11
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Godwin View Post
    +1

    Studs would help with icy roads but I'm sure a city like Chicago gets its plowing and salting/sanding done. I ride a geared bike because I live in a very hilly city where the lower gears help climb and the higher gears help getting good speeds going down. I'd probably ride fixed if it were flat (I'm not sure of the terrain in Chicago, I assume it's not very hilly but I have no basis for that).
    In Minneapolis, the sanding and salting gets done, but problem areas are not uncommon and sometimes it's too cold for salt to be very effective. Here's what often happens at a couple of spots near my home:

    There's a street that's relatively well traveled but not a main artery. One spot is a stop sign where many drivers don't expect there to be one. They end up the hitting brakes hard once they see the sign. After a fresh snow and plow, it only takes a few of these drivers stopping on the remaining packed snow to turn it into a skating rink. Worse than a skating rink if it's still snowing, - a skating rink covered with a thin layer of snow.

    Another spot is on the same street heading the opposite direction. There's a stop sign at the bottom of a small hill. The ice starts about half way down in the conditions I described above. I can almost guarantee that unless you know and remember to take it REAL easy going down that hill or avoid it altogether, that you will dump your bike trying to turn or stop without studs. Even with studs it can be a challenge.

    Again, if you're talking strictly about heavily traveled downtown streets, not a problem. I imagine Chicago has residential areas too, so I guess it depends on where exactly we're talking about.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  12. #12
    ride for a change modernjess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    In Minneapolis, the sanding and salting gets done, but problem areas are not uncommon and sometimes it's too cold for salt to be very effective.

    Again, if you're talking strictly about heavily traveled downtown streets, not a problem. I imagine Chicago has residential areas too, so I guess it depends on where exactly we're talking about.
    +1

    It's totally possible to do the winter without studs especially on downtown streets. I see people do it every year around here. And I wish I could, but for me and my commute it's just too sketchy. 7.5 m each way on side streets, paths, and downtown. Small hills covered with ice, melt and thaw cycles, I end up on my a** and I hate falling. So I run studs which for me make it much safer.

    My setup is a single speed, cross check, 2 sets of wheels, slicks on one set, nokian 106 studded on the other. I can run either set depending on conditions.

  13. #13
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nschessnerd View Post
    ive had bad expirences with front brakes, so i'm planning on throwing a black brake on it along with the front one. but i would only end up using the back one, and the front one for emergencies
    Why would you need a rear brake with a fixie??

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid View Post
    Why would you need a rear brake with a fixie??
    I've been thinking about this... For someone who doesn't like to back-pedal/skip-stop relying solely on the front brake when traction is limited might be kinda sketchy...

    I rely heavily on my front brake (rarely back-pedal/skip-stop). I'm pretty certain that if I don't change my style or put on a rear brake I am going to deal with a few more front wheel slide outs than necessary this winter...

    I haven't ridden a fixed gear in the snow yet. I'm just remembering my winter single track experiences which required relatively more rear brake usage when traction is limited (drag-the-anchor/rudder-effect...)

  15. #15
    code poet
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    i did a face plant a while ago because of the front brake. im paranoid now. hah
    and i dont really need studs for chicago. the plow trucks hit the streets with massive amounts of salt. they say its 5 grains of salt for every snowflake. lol!
    if anything i need something i can clean and abuse. im thinking of a conversion

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