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Is fixed gear more efficient for pedaling?

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Is fixed gear more efficient for pedaling?

Old 11-30-21, 09:56 AM
  #76  
Phil_gretz
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
... to go the same distance with less effort...
^ this defines efficiency.

Also the OP has it exactly wrong. Fixed riding is anything but efficient. It's super fun, though, and beneficial.
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Old 11-30-21, 10:31 AM
  #77  
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Oaky .... you can wok just as hard on a fixie as on a geared bike ... in theory,.. maybe some individuals find themselves working harder on a fixie or maybe they just think they are .... but either way, how hard you work is not a function of how many gear ratios you have.

Race cars which use direct drive (spring cars come to mind) do so because they operate in a very narrow rev range but not for a long time .... ("sprint" being the operative word.) They are more mechanically efficient by a tiny degree because of less drag spinning meshing gears .... but the real reason is simplicity. What is not needed is not used because it weighs nothing and cannot break if it is not there. Alost every kind of racing car otherwise, uses a transmission. The efficiency losses due to mechanical drag are far outweighed by the ability to operate the motor in its optimal ranges.

Even track racers, on the longer events use a wide range of cadences ... just watch track racing, don't take my word for it. Pretty much only in pursuit and sprint do they go all-out the whole time.

In terms of mechanical efficiency at a very specific steady-state pace which could only be achieved in a laboratory ... yes, I imagine fixed gear is fractionally more efficient .... tenths of percentage points or something.

In terms of real-world riding ... no question, in engineering terms or physics terms (energy in versus energy out.)

Faster/further over the same time is the same as less effort over the same distance, in terms of efficiency .... if you are more efficient with one system, you can either use that efficiency to go faster or use less effort compared to the less efficient system. The idea of efficiency is you get more out of what you put it ... how you use it is up to you.

You know who Really gets it? This guy ...

Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
..... the OP has it exactly wrong. Fixed riding is anything but efficient. It's super fun, though, and beneficial.
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Old 11-30-21, 11:36 AM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
^ this defines efficiency.

Also the OP has it exactly wrong. Fixed riding is anything but efficient. It's super fun, though, and beneficial.

Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Oaky .... you can wok just as hard on a fixie as on a geared bike ... in theory,.. maybe some individuals find themselves working harder on a fixie or maybe they just think they are .... but either way, how hard you work is not a function of how many gear ratios you have.

Race cars which use direct drive (spring cars come to mind) do so because they operate in a very narrow rev range but not for a long time .... ("sprint" being the operative word.) They are more mechanically efficient by a tiny degree because of less drag spinning meshing gears .... but the real reason is simplicity. What is not needed is not used because it weighs nothing and cannot break if it is not there. Alost every kind of racing car otherwise, uses a transmission. The efficiency losses due to mechanical drag are far outweighed by the ability to operate the motor in its optimal ranges.

Even track racers, on the longer events use a wide range of cadences ... just watch track racing, don't take my word for it. Pretty much only in pursuit and sprint do they go all-out the whole time.

In terms of mechanical efficiency at a very specific steady-state pace which could only be achieved in a laboratory ... yes, I imagine fixed gear is fractionally more efficient .... tenths of percentage points or something.

In terms of real-world riding ... no question, in engineering terms or physics terms (energy in versus energy out.)

Faster/further over the same time is the same as less effort over the same distance, in terms of efficiency .... if you are more efficient with one system, you can either use that efficiency to go faster or use less effort compared to the less efficient system. The idea of efficiency is you get more out of what you put it ... how you use it is up to you.

You know who Really gets it? This guy ...

Yup, As I said earlier, riding fix gear is 25-33% "harder". That "harder" is not something you can measure. It's not watts or calories. It is the toll you feel on your body and it is quite real. The times I rode Cycle Oregon fixed, I often did not last long enough after dinner to stay for the announcements. I'd be in my sleeping bag long before the music ended while the geared riders were at the beer tent carousing a few more hours or still in town. The toll of riding fixed isn't just about the non-optimum gear ratios - I bought all the cogs between 12 and 23 teeth to CO and used most. But to change gears, I had to stop and that had it's own cost. CO was basically a challenge of managing resources - leg muscles, carbs, my butt, food and drink (eating and drinking on tough hills may not even be possible), sleep, physical comfort and on and on. Just warming up sometimes required thought as I might be starting the day in the cold on a hard climb and have to choose between too big a gear or a cold cog change.

Anybody who doubts what I just wrote is welcome to ride Cycle Oregon fixed and report back.

So why? Couldn't tell you. But it Cycle Oregon announces that the week is on next year, the pandemic and my shots allow and CO announces a fix gear friendly week (long uphills and downhill for few gear changes, not serious rollers like the Oregon coast 101!), I'm on!

Last edited by 79pmooney; 11-30-21 at 11:38 AM. Reason: Edited for read clarity
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Old 11-30-21, 02:52 PM
  #79  
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I think we are basically saying the same things in different ways.

FG is "harder" because of two reasons, one of which is shared with SS and one that is not.

The shared difficulty is one gear. On a mixed course this are going to be times when that is going to be sub optimal. Multi gearing allows for greater efficiency.

The way they differ is the fixed cog. With a FG one cannot rest. On a mixed course there are times when pedalling provides little benefit, especially with a single gear that is sub optimal, like going down a hill. With a FG one cannot rest and actually has to spin at a high cadence. That is not efficient.

As noted, people who ride FG know it requires more effort than a multi geared bike. That's part of the attraction.
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Old 11-30-21, 05:13 PM
  #80  
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Well, that's true, I suppose.

On a normal, geared bike, riding to whatever effort level is a choice. You can absolutely smash yourself if you so choose, but you have to deliberately do it and it's mentally hard to ride at >90% of your ability for a prolonged time, even if you are accustomed to it. Even if you do, the fact that it's a choice does make it if nothing much easier mentally.

I'll just stick to training on a normal bike, but I can see why someone would like it.
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Old 12-01-21, 07:59 AM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
^ this defines efficiency.

Also the OP has it exactly wrong. Fixed riding is anything but efficient. It's super fun, though, and beneficial.

I agree this is the RELEVANT definition of efficiency as we are the engine that powers the bike. I do suspect that one could find that the fixed gear is MECHANICALLY more efficient by a very slight degree as being more effective at transmitting the force exerted on the pedals without loss to the hub of the wheel. This possible mechanical efficiency appears to be more than offset by the physiological inefficiency. I realize that's an entirely trivial point, but there's a few posters on BF who quibble about this sort of thing when it comes down to the differences between 11t vs 12t cogs on multi-gear bikes.

I've never ridden fixed gear, so this is an honest question--how much energy do you actually expend "spinning" downhill? Isn't it more a matter of gravity (which is driving the wheel) propelling your relaxed legs on the pedal? I have no knowledge here, so I'm just curious and won't be arguing with anyone's answer. I hope that's enough disclaimers for me to avoid being accused of trolling a fight.
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Old 12-01-21, 08:15 AM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
--how much energy do you actually expend "spinning" downhill.
I like to remind myself " heavy saddle, light feet" while descending. Light feet don't resist the motion. 'Heavy' saddle means weighting intentionally and continuously. The result is a condition that permits rapid and free pedal rotation.

In terms of watts, maybe 60 to 80? I'm guessing.
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Old 12-01-21, 08:24 AM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
I like to remind myself " heavy saddle, light feet" while descending. Light feet don't resist the motion. 'Heavy' saddle means weighting intentionally and continuously. The result is a condition that permits rapid and free pedal rotation.

In terms of watts, maybe 60 to 80? I'm guessing.

So, with proper technique, a small but significant difference over 0 watts. That makes sense.

I know that when I'm riding hard at level over a long distance, I will sometimes just coast for a few seconds (maybe 5) and I get a sensation that my leg muscles "reset" for further effort. I have no idea if this is illusory, but if so, it's a heck of a good illusion. If there is such an effect, obviously you can't get it on a fg without actually stopping.
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Old 12-01-21, 08:36 AM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I've never ridden fixed gear, so this is an honest question--how much energy do you actually expend "spinning" downhill? Isn't it more a matter of gravity (which is driving the wheel) propelling your relaxed legs on the pedal? I have no knowledge here, so I'm just curious and won't be arguing with anyone's answer. I hope that's enough disclaimers for me to avoid being accused of trolling a fight.
Spinning downhill on a fixed-gear bike is never as effortless as coasting on an single-speed or geared bike. Even with clipless pedals, you're expending at least some minimal amount of energy to maintain your pedaling form. The steeper and/or longer the descent, the more energy you expend. I've sometimes seen a heart rate above 170 on long, steep descents when I'm approaching my maximum fixed-gear cadence, which seems to be around 220 rpm. (Or was: I don't try to hit that kind of cadence any more.)
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Old 12-01-21, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Spinning downhill on a fixed-gear bike is never as effortless as coasting on an single-speed or geared bike. Even with clipless pedals, you're expending at least some minimal amount of energy to maintain your pedaling form. The steeper and/or longer the descent, the more energy you expend. I've sometimes seen a heart rate above 170 on long, steep descents when I'm approaching my maximum fixed-gear cadence, which seems to be around 220 rpm. (Or was: I don't try to hit that kind of cadence any more.)

As a never ridden FG guy, I find the cross discussion between FG riders about this really interesting. If you pedal slower than that, aren't you actually exerting effort braking the bike? Seems like you might actually be resisting the push of the pedals, which could actually be a lot of effort using a somewhat different set of muscles. Maybe that accounts for some of the extra-tired feeling one of the posters was discussing above.
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Old 12-01-21, 09:07 AM
  #86  
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I would also say there is a difference between freewheeling and FG downhill. If the hill is moderate you can let the cranks spin for you, as Phil describes, and ride out the acceleration. But, as speed picks up beyond a comfortable cadence, or if you actually want to slow down, there is a certain degree of moderating leg movement that comes into play. Even micro adjusting adds up over time. This is especially true if you use your legs more than a brake as a rule.

I have a front brake but when riding FG try not to use it if I can help it (intentionally seeking a leg workout) so on hills my leg muscles are moderating speed.

Earlier Branko said he could get a good work out on his geared bike and would stick to it. There is really no need to get a FG and one can create as difficult a workout on a geared bike if desired. All the FG really does is arbitrarily reduce your options to rest or rely on gearing, takes away the option, so to speak. And, I think, aids in cadence development.. but one could also focus on that with a geared bike.

Mostly FG is a drive train choice that adds something different (not better) to the riding experience. The first time I tried FG I rejected it as being awkward. The second time I decided to try to master the skill set and wound up really liking the experience, so much so that I consider a FG as a "must have" in my stable of bikes.

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Old 12-01-21, 09:25 AM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
...The second time I decided to try to master the skill set and wound up really liking the experience, so much so that I consider a FG as a "must have" in my stable of bikes.
Agreed. I'd even double down on this. All avid bicyclists should try fixed riding a few times. If you don't give it a chance to 'click' for yourself, then you really, truly are missing out on one of the simplest, most pleasurable types of riding. This is a 'must do" for cyclists. I am not kidding, teasing or trolling here. Must do.
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Old 12-01-21, 09:30 AM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Agreed. I'd even double down on this. All avid bicyclists should try fixed riding a few times. If you don't give it a chance to 'click' for yourself, then you really, truly are missing out on one of the simplest, most pleasurable types of riding. This is a 'must do" for cyclists. I am not kidding, teasing or trolling here. Must do.
And I would say, anticipate not being very good to start. Things like the lack of ability to coast, pedal position when starting off etc... is something one needs to get used to, especially if one has been riding for a long time. The former muscle memory is ingrained. I took mine to the flats at first, got used to it, and then progressed to bigger hills.
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Old 12-01-21, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Agreed. I'd even double down on this. All avid bicyclists should try fixed riding a few times. If you don't give it a chance to 'click' for yourself, then you really, truly are missing out on one of the simplest, most pleasurable types of riding. This is a 'must do" for cyclists. I am not kidding, teasing or trolling here. Must do.
Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
And I would say, anticipate not being very good to start. Things like the lack of ability to coast, pedal position when starting off etc... is something one needs to get used to, especially if one has been riding for a long time. The former muscle memory is ingrained. I took mine to the flats at first, got used to it, and then progressed to bigger hills.

Interesting. As a 60 year old, I'd be reluctant because I'd be nervous that I might hurt myself trying to make the adjustment, especially on hills. Maybe a rail trail might be a good place to start.
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Old 12-01-21, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Interesting. As a 60 year old, I'd be reluctant because I'd be nervous that I might hurt myself trying to make the adjustment, especially on hills. Maybe a rail trail might be a good place to start.
Don't be nervous. Be bold as a lion. You can both master and enjoy this.
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Old 12-01-21, 12:13 PM
  #91  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Don't be nervous. Be bold as a lion. You can both master and enjoy this.

Maybe next bike season. Might make my after work 25 mile ride a bit more interesting.
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Old 12-01-21, 12:21 PM
  #92  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I agree this is the RELEVANT definition of efficiency as we are the engine that powers the bike. I do suspect that one could find that the fixed gear is MECHANICALLY more efficient by a very slight degree as being more effective at transmitting the force exerted on the pedals without loss to the hub of the wheel. This possible mechanical efficiency appears to be more than offset by the physiological inefficiency. I realize that's an entirely trivial point, but there's a few posters on BF who quibble about this sort of thing when it comes down to the differences between 11t vs 12t cogs on multi-gear bikes.

I've never ridden fixed gear, so this is an honest question--how much energy do you actually expend "spinning" downhill? Isn't it more a matter of gravity (which is driving the wheel) propelling your relaxed legs on the pedal? I have no knowledge here, so I'm just curious and won't be arguing with anyone's answer. I hope that's enough disclaimers for me to avoid being accused of trolling a fight.
Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
I like to remind myself " heavy saddle, light feet" while descending. Light feet don't resist the motion. 'Heavy' saddle means weighting intentionally and continuously. The result is a condition that permits rapid and free pedal rotation.

In terms of watts, maybe 60 to 80? I'm guessing.
Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Spinning downhill on a fixed-gear bike is never as effortless as coasting on an single-speed or geared bike. Even with clipless pedals, you're expending at least some minimal amount of energy to maintain your pedaling form. The steeper and/or longer the descent, the more energy you expend. I've sometimes seen a heart rate above 170 on long, steep descents when I'm approaching my maximum fixed-gear cadence, which seems to be around 220 rpm. (Or was: I don't try to hit that kind of cadence any more.)
I haven't heard the "light feet, heavy saddle" before. I like it! Sadly, as I age, me feet are getting heavier and I need to brake more t keep RPMs in line (and lower).

Regarding spinning downhill - yes, BP and breathing go up, On serious descents, a lot. It isn't like climbing. I feel oxygenated blood coursing through my whole body and it feels wonderful! But no way could I carry on a conversation! A real part of the "work" of descending is the unintentional resistance of muscles that aren't relaxed completely. As one does more fix gear riding and more (and bigger/faster) descents, those muscles learn to relax more. Descents get easier, faster and a lot more fun. (But do have good brakes and the humility to use them. There will always be hills that are too fast. And going too fast is simply colossally dumb.) Another aspect of high speed FG descents - wow! do they loosen up your leg muscles! I used to climb the 1000' of Juaquim Miller to Oakland's Skyline Blvd on a 42-17, turn around at the top and spin down. Ride the 6 miles of flat to my home on completely relaxed legs that were hammered to the core but wouldn't get tight, then or later.

That "education" the muscles get on relaxing when not needed is the huge gift we get from fix gear riding and doing those descents. It happens when your legs are spinning far too fast for conscious effort and becomes ingrained in your pedal stroke. Really pays off when you are deep into that century or double century. Also allows for and speeds up recovery while pedaling, something I found a real asset racing.

(Another gift from the super high RPM of those descents - cars give you a LOT more room! In my Alameda days, I never got passed going down Juaquim Miller into Oakland. JM was a 4 lane parkway with no side streets, driveways or posted speed limit. California. I regularly got passed on my geared bikes.) (11 and 12 tooth cogs! Well, I have a 12 tooth fix fear cog and use it when I go into the big hills. With the 42, 43 or 44 I have up front. 11s might exist; it looks like they could be made - just barely - with the best machining and metallurgy. 42-12 down the 15 miles of Dead Indian Memorial Highway into Ashland, OR was a blast! Now going back up two days later on a 42-23; not so much.)
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Old 12-01-21, 12:34 PM
  #93  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Regarding spinning downhill - yes, BP and breathing go up, On serious descents, a lot. It isn't like climbing. I feel oxygenated blood coursing through my whole body and it feels wonderful! But no way could I carry on a conversation! A real part of the "work" of descending is the unintentional resistance of muscles that aren't relaxed completely. As one does more fix gear riding and more (and bigger/faster) descents, those muscles learn to relax more. Descents get easier, faster and a lot more fun.
So .... for those in the flatlands, what are the fixed gains?

Just kidding. It is just a different type of bike, no better or worse independent of the rider ..... I think the only ones who don't get that aren't worth bothering with anyway.

Having done many miles on a 2-speed after my RD cable snapped, I can pretty much say I prefer more gears .... but I wave to all cyclists, regardless ....

Oh, wait ... am I supposed to wave or not?
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Old 12-01-21, 01:03 PM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by GhenghisKahn View Post
A great cycling buddy and I got into riding fixed at the same time. As it was so foreign to us we talked about the above quite a bit. Our takeaway was that riding fixed trains one to coast less when riding geared. Also, fg seemed to force one into using better pedal stroke form. There were times on mild, rolling terrain when the bike seemed to power its self. Riding clipless was effortless. Fg works leg muscles differently when descending from resistance or 'back' pedaling as well. For about 15 years a fixed is always in my herd. Usually gets the most work, too.
I remember a friend of mine (the guy who got me into "serious" cycling) pointing out that fixed gear was what European pros did in early spring to get their legs back in shape after a winter layoff.

Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
There was a legitimate study on pedaling efficiency a few years back which looked at cyclists of different disciplines to determine who had the most efficient pedalling stroke and it was widely assumed that the trackies would be a lock for the win, -- as old school track sprinting would routinely involve rpm's in the 160 range , but interestingly enough, it was the mountain bikers who were found to have the most efficient pedalling stroke
And it has nothing to do with flat pedals ... I know that I improved my pedaling technique in many years of riding knobbies to trailheads. In order to be efficient and get up the hill to the start of the ride, it was necessary to find a cadence and pedaling technique that didn't kill me. And that translated to riding on dirt, I believe.

Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I think the flat pedals have to do with it. Straps or clipless can teach you the bad habit of pulling too hard on the upstroke where according to many studies on the matter makes you less efficient.

You can still pull with flat pedals using your hip flexor but you can't over-do it.

https://www.bythlon.com/blog/the-myth-of-the-upstroke

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUEaN9FKGLE
Hm. I always have to remind myself to keep my heels down while pedaling (clipless). Reading this, that may counteract the tendency of pulling too hard on the upstroke. Keeping the heels down seems to help my efficiency, at least.
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Old 12-01-21, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
FG is "harder" because of two reasons, one of which is shared with SS and one that is not.

The way they differ is the fixed cog. With a FG one cannot rest. On a mixed course there are times when pedalling provides little benefit, especially with a single gear that is sub optimal, like going down a hill. With a FG one cannot rest and actually has to spin at a high cadence. That is not efficient.
I'm really confused as to why anyone thinks this is a debate as to whether FG is more efficient than MG (multigear) or SS over hilly terrain. Or even variable pace, for that matter. Obviously, we have an optimal cadence range, and being forced to ride out of that range is going to suck. Not being able to coast when coasting is easier will suck.

I think the *only* debate here is whether, for a fixed cadence and fixed amount of power, there is a benefit to the flywheel effect provided by FG. For example, the hour record on the velodrome. Obviously, you're never going to coast during such an effort, so the coasting benefit of an SS is moot. MG would allow for a much easier startup but would be less efficient due to chain tension, pulley drag and aero losses.

My assertion is that FG would be more "efficient", ie someone of the same fitness level would end up going faster than if they rode with SS.
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Old 12-02-21, 01:06 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
I'm really confused as to why anyone thinks this is a debate as to whether FG is more efficient than MG (multigear) or SS over hilly terrain. Or even variable pace, for that matter. Obviously, we have an optimal cadence range, and being forced to ride out of that range is going to suck. Not being able to coast when coasting is easier will suck.

I think the *only* debate here is whether, for a fixed cadence and fixed amount of power, there is a benefit to the flywheel effect provided by FG. For example, the hour record on the velodrome. Obviously, you're never going to coast during such an effort, so the coasting benefit of an SS is moot. MG would allow for a much easier startup but would be less efficient due to chain tension, pulley drag and aero losses.

My assertion is that FG would be more "efficient", ie someone of the same fitness level would end up going faster than if they rode with SS.
Those other examples of efficiency relate to real world conditions. Trying to create a narrow set of parameters as you suggest, fixed cadence, energy, terrain etc... becomes somewhat abstract.

But to consider the perceived flywheel effect:

I think someone else mentioned that the force felt "helping" the feet turn easier is probably robbing energy from the wheel. What one perceives as assistance from the "flywheel" effect may actually be one noticing the resistance the legs are putting on the system.

Having a drive train fixed to the legs means the legs limit the maximum speed of the bike. You can't go faster than your legs can spin. A freewheel is not bound to the limitations of the riders cadence in the same way.

One might assume there are no limits to consider if pedalling fast but, other than sprints at maximal effort, the legs probably exert some sort of drag on the system over time due to fatigue and cadence inefficiency. A freewheel will allow the bike to continue its forward momentum unchecked by those inefficiencies that other wise might act as brakes on the system.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 12-02-21 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 12-02-21, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Chinghis View Post
Hm. I always have to remind myself to keep my heels down while pedaling (clipless). Reading this, that may counteract the tendency of pulling too hard on the upstroke. Keeping the heels down seems to help my efficiency, at least.
The only way to pull up when heels down is with the hip flexor muscle. It's a tiny muscle compared to your quads. Our adaptation for running doesn't make it produce force far beyond we need to lift just the weight of one leg.

It is probably the best muscle for pulling, not the hamstrings (hamstrings are still better used for downstroke)
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Old 12-02-21, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
I haven't heard the "light feet, heavy saddle" before. I like it! Sadly, as I age, me feet are getting heavier and I need to brake more t keep RPMs in line (and lower).

Regarding spinning downhill - yes, BP and breathing go up, On serious descents, a lot. It isn't like climbing. I feel oxygenated blood coursing through my whole body and it feels wonderful! But no way could I carry on a conversation! A real part of the "work" of descending is the unintentional resistance of muscles that aren't relaxed completely. As one does more fix gear riding and more (and bigger/faster) descents, those muscles learn to relax more. Descents get easier, faster and a lot more fun. (But do have good brakes and the humility to use them. There will always be hills that are too fast. And going too fast is simply colossally dumb.) Another aspect of high speed FG descents - wow! do they loosen up your leg muscles! I used to climb the 1000' of Juaquim Miller to Oakland's Skyline Blvd on a 42-17, turn around at the top and spin down. Ride the 6 miles of flat to my home on completely relaxed legs that were hammered to the core but wouldn't get tight, then or later.

That "education" the muscles get on relaxing when not needed is the huge gift we get from fix gear riding and doing those descents. It happens when your legs are spinning far too fast for conscious effort and becomes ingrained in your pedal stroke. Really pays off when you are deep into that century or double century. Also allows for and speeds up recovery while pedaling, something I found a real asset racing.

(Another gift from the super high RPM of those descents - cars give you a LOT more room! In my Alameda days, I never got passed going down Juaquim Miller into Oakland. JM was a 4 lane parkway with no side streets, driveways or posted speed limit. California. I regularly got passed on my geared bikes.) (11 and 12 tooth cogs! Well, I have a 12 tooth fix fear cog and use it when I go into the big hills. With the 42, 43 or 44 I have up front. 11s might exist; it looks like they could be made - just barely - with the best machining and metallurgy. 42-12 down the 15 miles of Dead Indian Memorial Highway into Ashland, OR was a blast! Now going back up two days later on a 42-23; not so much.)
Relaxing the muscles in FG downhill is great skill to learn. The skill can be translated pedaling in the flats and even in climbs too.

It seems to be a counter-technique to "pedaling in circles" which doesn't teach you to relax the muscles at all.
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Old 12-02-21, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Relaxing the muscles in FG downhill is great skill to learn. The skill can be translated pedaling in the flats and even in climbs too.

It seems to be a counter-technique to "pedaling in circles" which doesn't teach you to relax the muscles at all.
When I raced 45 years ago, I was taught to pedal in circle and told to ride my second bike fix gear. Result? I learned to power through the full circle while simultaneously relaxing the muscles that weren't at their power portion. This meant that I could 1) minimize the work of the big quads during easy portions of a race. Yes, less efficient. But - races are won by the crazy application of power after hours of racing. I had to save those quads as much as I could.

And 2) to this day I can "delete" muscle groups with injuries or simply need rest while pedaling with the rest of the muscles.

There has been talk in this thread of the fix gear "powering" one's legs over the dead spots. I don't. I set my chain loose so there is a real (and disconcerting) gap between power forward and power back (or the pedal "pushing"). I ride to never be surprised by the slack. Yes, sometimes I back pedal to slow or the hill is simply too fast and I sometimes "freewheel" in the slack on reasonable downhills. But pedal assist because I'm lazy? Yes I've done it - not a saint - but I will never call it "good".

Last edited by 79pmooney; 12-02-21 at 11:40 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 12-02-21, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post

There has been talk in this thread of the fix gear "powering" one's legs over the dead spots. I don't. I set my chain loose so there is a real (and disconcerting) gap between power forward and power back (or the pedal "pushing"). I ride to never be surprised by the slack. Yes, sometimes I back pedal to slow or the hill is simply too fast and I sometimes "freewheel" in the slack on reasonable downhills. But pedal assist because I'm lazy? Yes I've done it - not a saint - but I will never call it "good".
Interesting. I was going to comment that I don't find FG creates better cadence/technique in itself. There's nothing magical about it.

What it does is immediately inform the rider of poor technique. You get constant feedback that forces one to improve or have a crappy ride. The feedback is the benefit.
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