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fixed gear

Old 08-30-06, 02:32 AM
  #1  
djembob02
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fixed gear

I would like to get into racing but I frankly lack the equipment. My two bikes are a 3-person tandem, and a fixed gear. I wondered if there is anyone out there who has ever raced (not velodrome) on a fixie with geared riders. I am fairly quick on my fixed gear (ave 20mph on hilly route). I can keep in the lead group on my group rides but I worry that I would be dropped in a race, especially if there were some real steep climbs.

If I can ride a flat course, I imagine I can probably use a larger chain ring. I currently run a 40X14 (76.8 gear inches) and I ride on some pretty steep hills. I think it would be difficult to keep 25 mph (close to 120 rpm) for 30-60 minutes straight, not to mention trying to sprint at 40mph. My fastest time ever down a hill was 38mph (that's probably 170 rpm or so). If flat, I would think I could switch to 52X16 or 15. What would you recommended?

A little about the bike: it is a mid 80's Raleigh ten-speed converted to a fixed, 27x1" tires, 170mm cranks, with front brake.

Bobby

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Old 08-30-06, 02:59 AM
  #2  
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If its legal wherever you are reacing go for it!!!. it would be really demoralizing to get beat by a guy riding fixie.
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Old 08-30-06, 06:11 AM
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I've TTed on one (a Pursuit Bike). You could ride most flat Crits start to finish in a 52x16 if you have decent spin. Not sure if there are any rules against this in Mass Start races.
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Old 08-30-06, 07:11 AM
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You could set it up single speed but fixed is not allowed.
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Old 08-30-06, 07:47 AM
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I don't think they would let you ride fixed grear, and I do not think that you could without it being extremely dangerous. Every race that I have been in has had a turn that was tight enough so that you need to keep the inside pedal up to avoid strike. On a fixed gear you would have to slow down so much to take the turns that, in a pack, you would almost certainly cause a crash.

If you set it up as single speed that would probabaly be OK, you might be able to hang in the pack in a flat crit, but finding a gear that you could accelerate out of the corners on, and keep up in the sprints would be tough. If you could pull it off it would be pretty impressive.
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Old 08-30-06, 10:43 AM
  #6  
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I think the USCF requires a brake but has nothing in the rules against not having a freewheel, check the rule book. As far as tight corners, if you can manage to get the room to do it, skid turns fix the pedal strike issue.
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Old 08-30-06, 10:47 AM
  #7  
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As a seasoned fixed gear rider and bike racer I can “almost” say it would be illegal to ride a fixed gear bike in a race, other than track that is. I haven’t read the USCF rules, but I bet it’s in there somewhere.

But let’s say for the sake of argument it isn’t illegal.

Without the ability to coast, your engine would soon overheat and you’d get dropped. You’d have to pedal through the corners, which is generally a good thing, but you would have no choice in this instance: you’d have an all but impossible task of holding a line and not scraping a pedal each time you entered a corner.

With just that front brake, you’d be severely hampered in your ability to maintain a smooth, consistent speed. Dodgey events spring up suddenly and if you’re forced to reduce your speed with only your front brake, over the top Laddy.

Which pretty much brings us to the number one reason you can’t/shouldn’t do it. The other guys in the peleton will hate you. You’re inexperienced, you can’t hold a line, you can’t brake properly, you’re going to catch a pedal. There’s not a racer out there that will allow himself to be behind or next to you during a race. In their heads they will say, I don’t know if I’ll win but I sure as hell am going to stay ahead of that guy. You’re going to crash for sure and no one will want to be near you when it happens.

You’d drive 45 minutes to a race, spend the $30 entry fee, get dropped or crash within 3 laps and head home feeling shunned.

Save yourself the heartache. Convert the bike back or buy a used bike from Cragslist or ebay.
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Old 08-30-06, 11:53 AM
  #8  
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Everything Mayonnaise says is spot on. Holding your line is key, smoothness is just as important.

From the USCF 2006 Rulebook:

Section 1J3(b): For road races, only a bicycle with a freewheel and one working brake on each wheel shall be used, except as allowed elsewhere in these rules.

...the exception being:

Section 3E2 (under the heading "Individual Time Trial"): Road bicycles shall be used. Bicycles with a front hand brake and fixed wheel may also be used.
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Old 08-30-06, 12:55 PM
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Even if it weren't a USCF event, its still a bad idea for the above reasons. However, if just put a singlespeed freewheel on (and brakes if you don't have them) you can race. I've seen people do pretty well in Cat5 crits with singlespeeds.

Last one I recall seeing was a guy on an 80's vintage Eddy Merckx, built up as a single speed. Guy was very competitive, although he couldn't hang in the sprint, but finished top 15.
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Old 08-30-06, 02:33 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by djembob02
I would like to get into racing but I frankly lack the equipment.
It could be argued that all you need to race is a sizeable pair of cajones...
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Old 08-30-06, 02:49 PM
  #11  
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I would not want to have a fixed gear rider in any of the races I do... no way. I hear some fixed gear riders say how they can keep up on thir group rides, may be so but there is no way you will ever keep up in a race fixed or single speed. One of our local pro's comes out on a fixed gear once in a while on our race rides and he gets dropped when the hammer goes down by the cat 4/5's. If you want to go out just to check out racing that is cool but at least flip flop it to a single speed.

Now actually is the time of year to try cyclocross. You ocasionally see some fixed cross racers. There are a lot of SS cross racers too and they actually do quite good.
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Old 08-30-06, 03:13 PM
  #12  
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Forget the fixed gear. Figure out a way to race a triple tandem!
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Old 08-30-06, 10:32 PM
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Thanks for the advice and news on the rules.

Maybe I will be able to borrow an old bike from one of the group riders. Or it sounds like I could ride a time trial on it.

About racing a triplet tandem. There actually are a few (very few) tandem races (road and TT, no crits), however, I have never heard of a three-seater racing, besides, we aren't fast enough with all of us. Having said that, when its just my daughter (4 years old) and I, people are frequently impressed that we can keep up with the front pack.

Before I got the before mentioned fixed gear, I even used to ride the triplet by myself. Something about hauling a 60 pound bike built the muscles quickly. On one day of the Bike Across Kansas, my wife and daughter SAG'd in and I completed the day's ride by myself. There were a few who were upset because they got dropped by a three person bike with only one rider.
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Old 08-31-06, 09:20 AM
  #14  
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Triple tandem crit, I'd travell miles to watch one of those
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Old 08-31-06, 10:10 AM
  #15  
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We have a few crits around here that have fixed gear categories. The trackies usually come out for those and kick the snot out of everyone with their crazy RPMs.

Here's one guy's recount of the race on Swan Island from this year: http://www.twinsix.com/team/news_2006_05_21.htm
And some photos: http://www.billseyephotography.expos.../g/_fixed_gear

Regarding training to race a fixed gear in road categories, I found last season that my stamina really suffered when I trained only on a fixed gear. I could keep up with attacks and primes, but towards the end of the race, I would end up off the back. Being able to keep my cadence consistent (with gears) over a variety of terrain during my training for this season seemed to help me out in that respect.
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Old 02-10-07, 06:15 AM
  #16  
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Sorry to dredge up such an ancient thread, but I was wondering what you guys think would be necessary for a single-speeder to race in crits with respectable results? No wins or top 10's here, but to just finish the race with people behind you. I wonder if focusing on aero equipment would help enough? Since you can't shift, you can spend most of the time in the drops, giving you a lower frontal profile and thus more aero.

...Early morning contemplation.
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Old 02-10-07, 10:26 AM
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You would need a gear that could comfortably cruise at 25 mph and still have room to go faster.

Finishing with guys behind you is easy. Aero doesn't really matter in crits.
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Old 02-10-07, 12:36 PM
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Necessary? Brakes, bar plugs, a regular helmet. Depending on the organization running your crit, you probably won't be able to get away with any aero equipment, aside from really deep rims and an aero frame.

But like Cypress said, you'll probably need gearing that will let you cruise at an average speed of 25mph and still be able to respond to attacks. Finishing top 10 might be difficult, since I've seen finishing sprints up in the mid 30's where everyone is cranking their 53-11.

Most single-speed/fixed-gear crits will have a gear limit. That doesn't stop the trackies from taking the whole pack up to 120rpm and splitting it up in a hurry.
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Old 02-12-07, 04:13 PM
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Maybe there is a race around you with a separate fixed gear class? The Mt. Tabor series in Portland, OR runs a fixed gear race every week. It is pretty tough given the race course is a 1 mile or so loop with a good sized hill.
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Old 02-12-07, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Briareos
Sorry to dredge up such an ancient thread, but I was wondering what you guys think would be necessary for a single-speeder to race in crits with respectable results? No wins or top 10's here, but to just finish the race with people behind you. I wonder if focusing on aero equipment would help enough? Since you can't shift, you can spend most of the time in the drops, giving you a lower frontal profile and thus more aero.

...Early morning contemplation.
A really good spin. Flat crit, you really don't need to shift that much anyway. 50x16 gives you 30 mph at 120 rpm. So you could spin that in the 100-110 range in most crits the majority of the race, and as long as you can sprint with it in the 140 range, you'd be fine.
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Old 02-12-07, 06:06 PM
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I started this thread before I knew better. If there are others with this question, here are the options I've found.

Riding the fix gear:
1. one can use it for most Time trials (with front brake). I haven't done this yet, but might.
2. Put on a freewheel and brakes and ride whatever you want on a Single speed.
3. There are a few road/crit races that do have a fixed gear category. There are not many of these, but depending on where you live and the races in the area it is possible.
4. Find your nearest velodrome and race on the track.
5. Enter an alleycat. These are races that involve things that bike messengers would be doing. Picking up a package and delivery somewhere as fast as you can, dodging traffic and the like.
6. Ride for fun, trackstand in the driveway, race the people on your regular weekly rides for fun and watch them be amazed that you can keep up or beat them.
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Old 02-12-07, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by djembob02
I started this thread before I knew better. If there are others with this question, here are the options I've found.

Riding the fix gear:
1. one can use it for most Time trials (with front brake). I haven't done this yet, but might.
2. Put on a freewheel and brakes and ride whatever you want on a Single speed.
3. There are a few road/crit races that do have a fixed gear category. There are not many of these, but depending on where you live and the races in the area it is possible.
4. Find your nearest velodrome and race on the track.
5. Enter an alleycat. These are races that involve things that bike messengers would be doing. Picking up a package and delivery somewhere as fast as you can, dodging traffic and the like.
6. Ride for fun, trackstand in the driveway, race the people on your regular weekly rides for fun and watch them be amazed that you can keep up or beat them.
I don't think I'd ever do a crit in fixed-gear; I have a velodrome near my house I can get my fix on the track (no pun intended). I just love the simplicity of singlespeed, and the clean lines. It's a great ride too, I don't have to fumble around with gears, and I'm the type of person to develop a complex over which gear is the right one to use in any given moment. I can concentrate on other things, like what lies ahead in the road and my pedaling.

But, in all honesty, I desperately desire those flippin' cool ENO freewheels.
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Old 04-30-07, 07:17 PM
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Single speed crit

Sorry to bring this up again. I finally tried racing a couple times this year. Three weeks ago I did a 20 mile RR. This last weekend I rode a Stage race (2.5K prologue, 12 mile crit, 29 mile RR).

To some up the point of the following stories: At least for Cat 5 races (but probably also for Cat 4), a person can be competitive on a single speed for many routes, espcially crits.

First RR: I have been using a friends 18 speed Fuji. The first RR, I didn't do too well in. Finished OK, but the pack got ahead of me on a steep hill and I couldn't catch up. Lots of strong wind and I wasn't prepared.

The prologue: For the prologue I noticed that most of the riders did not change gears much if at all on the time trial. Settle in a comfortable gear and push hard. To speed up, get those legs spinning all around circles with full power in every bit of stroke.

The Crit: In the 11 laps, I only changed gears twice, up and back down. Now, its certainly possible that this is not the best strategy, however, I did it unintentionally. When the pack would slow down, I would slow the pedaling, and then bring the cadence back up. In surges, I pedaled fast, changing gears wasn't needed.

The RR: A different rider crashed into me in the first .5 mile of the race and I went down. This caused a lot of road rash and some bike damage including the need to swap my rear wheel and my rear derailer cable frayed. I got back on and starting chasing down the pack. Only my 4 smallest cogs worked. After a while, I was stuck on the smallest cog. I eventually caught the pack and road the rest of the race on my 2 speed. Unfortunately at about mile 23, up a long steep hill, my legs couldn't take it any longer. I'm pretty sure they were all used up after getting ripped apart and sprinting to catch the group. I ended up stopping, stretching my legs and then joining a couple who had fallen off the back.

In short, I think that anyone who is interested in racing but doesn't have a geared bike, could try it out on their singlespeed. At least TT, and probably crits wouldn't be too much of a problem. They would need to be in good shape and have a gear ratio that allows them to go 20mph for a long time and then also be able to maintain an even faster cadence if necessary. Cornering wasn't a problem, and I think my fixed gear experience actually gave me the ability to pedal while turning without going too far down.

Last edited by djembob02; 04-30-07 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 04-30-07, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by djembob02
Sorry to bring this up again. I finally tried racing a couple times this year.
Actually resurrecting an old thread with a new development is pretty cool. Interesting to see how itplays out.
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