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Dumb Question About Single Speed Bikes

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Dumb Question About Single Speed Bikes

Old 02-27-08, 05:39 PM
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Dumb Question About Single Speed Bikes

I keep seeing guys around Portland riding single speed bikes like this: https://www.bianchiusa.com/08_pista.html and some have breaks on the handle bars, others do not. Do the one that don't have grip breaks on the bars stop like my kidís bikes, by pedaling backwards?
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Old 02-27-08, 05:44 PM
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I think by "kid's bike" you mean a coaster brake, so the answer would be no.

The bianchi pista is one of the most popular fixed gear bicycles, and Portland is a city that has a lot of fixed gear riders. With a fixed gear bike, you can not coast, but you can use your legs to modulate your speed. You can also skid or skip to stop.

Personally, I do not like riding my fixed gear bike without brakes, but for some reason there are a lot of people who are into it.

Check the subforum directly below this one for more info (and a lot of stupid posts) about fixed gear bikes.
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Old 02-27-08, 05:46 PM
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Fixie riders use their long hippy hair for drag to glide to a stop. Why else would everyone on a fixie look like that?
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Old 02-27-08, 05:48 PM
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Nah, they loop their white belts around wheel to stop.
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Old 02-27-08, 05:50 PM
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No. Those bikes can not coast. They are "locked" into one gear and to slow down they must slow how fast the cranks spin.
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Old 02-27-08, 05:50 PM
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There are single speed bikes which are like you're bike, except they only have one gear, but they can still coast. Some stop like a kids bike, with a coaster brake that gradually slows down the bike when the pedals are pushed back, you can still coast though. There are also fixed gear bike, they usually have a front brake too, but it isn't needed. When you pedal forward on your bike you move forward, yeah?. But you can pedal backwards and not go anywhere. The difference is the drivetrain is "fixed," pedaling forward moves the bike forward, pedaling backwards moves the bike backward. To stop without using a front brake, the rider puts more weight over the front wheel and locks up the back wheel by ceasing to pedal and holds the pedals in one area. This causes the backwheel to skid and is easier said than done, especially for beginners.

I have a fixed gear and I love it. I converted it from a frame my dad bought at HED's original shop. My front tire iced up today in the snow so the front brake was useless. That's why I like it, I could still stop fine by locking up the back tire. Of course, skidding just looks cool too . Here's a video of people in a skidding contest to maybe help.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGqWf6ljBQA&NR=1#
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Old 02-27-08, 05:52 PM
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here we go...
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Old 02-27-08, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by min7b5
I keep seeing guys around Portland riding single speed bikes like this: https://www.bianchiusa.com/08_pista.html and some have breaks on the handle bars, others do not. Do the one that don't have grip breaks on the bars stop like my kidís bikes, by pedaling backwards?
For bikes that have only one gear, there's generally two options: single speed and fixed gear. Even though, technically, they're both 'single speed' - that designation usually refers to a bike that has a free wheel hub. Fixed gears, as asherlighn pointed out, do not have a free wheel and cannot coast. If you see a bike without a brake (usually a front wheel only) then it would almost have to be a fixed gear. I suppose it could possibly have a coaster brake, but I've never heard of anyone doing that.
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Old 02-27-08, 05:55 PM
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I see. So you can't coast either, that seems rough.

Is there such a thing as an otherwise road looking bike with just one gear that does coast and have breaks? Seems like it would be a good workout?
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Old 02-27-08, 05:56 PM
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how the hell would that work downhill? you'd just flip over.

there are some big hills around here, and all the fixie riders look pretty silly trying to control themselves going down them. of course, watching them going up is pretty inspiring.

i'm ignorant, but my impression of fixies is that i wouldn't want to own one. they seem a bit more dangerous on hills, hard on your knees everywhere, and too many of the fixie riders around here ride like complete ******s since they can't stop easily. they run stop signs / red lights and i've almost hit them with my station wagon on several occasions. always i sigh and say "damn fixie riders!"
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Old 02-27-08, 05:56 PM
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The crappy thing about riding fixed brakeless is that if you throw your chain you are pretty much f'ed

Originally Posted by min7b5
I see. So you can't coast either, that seems rough.

Is there such a thing as an otherwise road looking bike with just one gear that does coast and have breaks? Seems like it would be a good workout?
Yeah, those are regular single speeds.
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Old 02-27-08, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Youngin
There are single speed bikes which are like you're bike, except they only have one gear, but they can still coast. Some stop like a kids bike, with a coaster brake that gradually slows down the bike when the pedals are pushed back, you can still coast though. There are also fixed gear bike, they usually have a front brake too, but it isn't needed. When you pedal forward on your bike you move forward, yeah?. But you can pedal backwards and not go anywhere. The difference is the drivetrain is "fixed," pedaling forward moves the bike forward, pedaling backwards moves the bike backward. To stop without using a front brake, the rider puts more weight over the front wheel and locks up the back wheel by ceasing to pedal and holds the pedals in one area. This causes the backwheel to skid and is easier said than done, especially for beginners.

I have a fixed gear and I love it. I converted it from a frame my dad bought at HED's original shop. My front tire iced up today in the snow so the front brake was useless. That's why I like it, I could still stop fine by locking up the back tire. Of course, skidding just looks cool too . Here's a video of people in a skidding contest to maybe help.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGqWf6ljBQA&NR=1#
Not exactly.
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Old 02-27-08, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Zinn-X
how the hell would that work downhill? you'd just flip over.

there are some big hills around here, and all the fixie riders look pretty silly trying to control themselves going down them. of course, watching them going up is pretty inspiring.

i'm ignorant, but my impression of fixies is that i wouldn't want to own one. they seem a bit more dangerous on hills, hard on your knees everywhere, and too many of the fixie riders around here ride like complete ******s since they can't stop easily. they run stop signs / red lights and i've almost hit them with my station wagon on several occasions. always i sigh and say "damn fixie riders!"
Its all about weight distribution. Typically people do not skid down hills, but they put back pressure on the pedals to modulate their speed while they spin. Skidding down a hill is kinda dangerous, and not easy to control, but is pretty fun.

A lot of people actually say that riding fixed strengthens their knees. It has had no affect on mine.

If you don't rely on skidding to stop, fixed geared bikes are the most controllable ride. They are great in winter conditions when losing traction with the road is a pretty regular experience.
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Old 02-27-08, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Zinn-X
how the hell would that work downhill? you'd just flip over.

there are some big hills around here, and all the fixie riders look pretty silly trying to control themselves going down them. of course, watching them going up is pretty inspiring.

i'm ignorant, but my impression of fixies is that i wouldn't want to own one. they seem a bit more dangerous on hills, hard on your knees everywhere, and too many of the fixie riders around here ride like complete ******s since they can't stop easily. they run stop signs / red lights and i've almost hit them with my station wagon on several occasions. always i sigh and say "damn fixie riders!"
I don't flip over, its pretty easy to lock up your tire on a steep hill, or you could put your foot on the back tire to slow it down and use a front brake.

Hard on your knees? Maybe, once I got better at skidding I was fine though. It's actually fairly relaxing to just go out slowly.


Originally Posted by asherlighn
The crappy thing about riding fixed brakeless is that if you throw your chain you are pretty much f'ed
Maybe, but just slapping your foot on the back tire works too, I do it when I'm feeling a little lazy. It's happened to me, but that worked fine and I avoided all injuries :-).

Originally Posted by mihlbach
Not exactly.
Of course not exactly, but the guy wanted an answer, not a lesson.
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Old 02-27-08, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Youngin
I don't flip over, its pretty easy to lock up your tire on a steep hill, or you could put your foot on the back tire to slow it down and use a front brake.

Hard on your knees? Maybe, once I got better at skidding I was fine though. It's actually fairly relaxing to just go out slowly.
thanks for clearing that up for me. i'm still thinking about building a fixie since i have some spare wheels and random parts lying around. and they're relatively cheap which is a plus.

i still think i'd have a front brake just to be safe!
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Old 02-27-08, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Zinn-X
i still think i'd have a front brake just to be safe!
Yeah, for sure. Reminds me, I locked my fixie up a lot at this one co-op, I went back this week and found nearly an exact duplicate of my bike, same frame color, brake place and type of brake. It was funny, someone must've liked my bike! I use mine a lot now for the snow, ice, and grit and it runs like it was just built. I'd encourage you to build one, even a conversion of an old steel frame. But more of that in fixed/ss forum
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Old 02-27-08, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by scotch
here we go...
he means don't let user's like me see these threads.
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Old 02-27-08, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Zinn-X
thanks for clearing that up for me. i'm still thinking about building a fixie since i have some spare wheels and random parts lying around. and they're relatively cheap which is a plus.

i still think i'd have a front brake just to be safe!
You generally need to buy a new rear wheel. You can do the loctite thing, but I never thought that was such a great idea. (https://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html if you dont know what Im talking about)
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Old 02-27-08, 06:28 PM
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Yes, they suck. You do not want one.
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Old 02-27-08, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by asherlighn
You generally need to buy a new rear wheel. You can do the loctite thing, but I never thought that was such a great idea. (https://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed-conversion.html if you dont know what Im talking about)
LOL I probably need a new rear wheel anyway seeing as how it has this in the rim (not worth rebuilding):


But I'll keep that in mind.
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Old 02-27-08, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Zinn-X
how the hell would that work downhill? you'd just flip over.

there are some big hills around here, and all the fixie riders look pretty silly trying to control themselves going down them. of course, watching them going up is pretty inspiring.

i'm ignorant, but my impression of fixies is that i wouldn't want to own one. they seem a bit more dangerous on hills, hard on your knees everywhere, and too many of the fixie riders around here ride like complete ******s since they can't stop easily. they run stop signs / red lights and i've almost hit them with my station wagon on several occasions. always i sigh and say "damn fixie riders!"
Seeing the video...remind me to put a new seat on any used bike I ever buy.
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Old 02-27-08, 07:10 PM
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The TdF was a big hipsterfest until we came along.
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Old 02-27-08, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Godwin
The TdF was a big hipsterfest until we came along.
nice bike.

where'd you get that stand? i'm looking for something exactly like that.
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Old 02-27-08, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Godwin
Careful with that chain ring, ones like that have been know to fold and collapse under the stress of riding fixed. And platform pedals? Otherwise pretty sweet bike you got there.
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Old 02-27-08, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Youngin
There are also fixed gear bike, they usually have a front brake too, but it isn't needed.
Incorrect.
The majority of braking force on a vehicle comes from its front wheel brake. Thus, no matter how good you are at locking your rear wheel, any bike, fixed gear or not, will stop in a shorter distance witha front brake than without it.

So when the difference may be stopping in time to avoid a collision with a car, a front brake is needed.
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