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Why would anyone ride a fixed gear?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Why would anyone ride a fixed gear?

Old 09-11-08, 09:01 PM
  #76  
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Originally Posted by Vireo View Post
1. I agree to some extent on this. When I'm tired I notice this lazy stroke you are talking about. But on shorter rides say centuries and double centuries I don't experience this too much.
Um, yeah ok mate.

shorter rides, 100 miles = 160km, so 200 miles = 320km.
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Old 09-11-08, 09:10 PM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by woodduck View Post
Um, yeah ok mate.

shorter rides, 100 miles = 160km, so 200 miles = 320km.
I guess you haven't been around long enough maybe you should check my blog.
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Old 09-11-08, 09:59 PM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
But for anything else on the road, a fixed gear is worthless. Its a bike that is in the wrong gear 90% of the time and a bike that you can't go fast around corners on because of pedal strikes.
Hmm, I think that's what that full spandex-clad roadie said as I dropped his ass the other evening on the way home from work... on my fixed gear. With messenger bag. And rolled up jeans. Going uphill. The horror!

I went for a ~30 mile ride with a couple of roadies last weekend and kept up fine. Granted they are not racers, but they're not poseurs either.

That said, a true road bike is a much better tool for many things. But for commuting, pleasure riding, tricks, etc., a fixed gear is certainly not "worthless." And pedal strikes (and the avoidance thereof) are exciting, if you're not too scared to man up to the challenge...

Steve
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Old 09-12-08, 01:34 AM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by prendrefeu View Post

1. ....most fixed gear riders develop a 'lazy pedal stroke' because the pedal automatically forces the continuous motion into the pedal stroke. Most riders don't bother giving a continual push/pull in their pedal stroke. This is also an argument for Powercranks (which I'm not a fan of, but hey, that's me)

2. ...Wouldn't it be better to be a singlespeed and forced into doing hills/mountains/rollers/whatever because you are forced to work on your pedal stroke and strength limited to that one gearing?
Originally Posted by Vireo View Post
2. I don't think I understood your point. I do everything on my fixie climbing the hills/mountains and rollers and on the downhills I try and maintain over 130-140 Rpm cadence. Anything more than that and I am not steady at all. Reword it for me.

First of all, I have to say that one day I do hope to meet both you and your wife. You two rock, seriously. It's only a matter of time, but I rarely head south past the Orange Curtain into... that county.

Anyway, what I wrote in my #2 stemmed from my #1, which is about the lazy pedal stroke.
Couldn't riding a singlespeed up hills be better in learning a consistent and smooth pedal stroke than riding a fixed? Simply because of the factor of the motion of the bicycle itself giving some of the 'pedal stroke' movement, which makes the stroke easier. On the other hand, with a singlespeed, the upward momentum of the bicycle does not aide in the stroke itself: it is up to the rider to continue the complete stroke. Basically, assuming that a fixed rider uses the 'lazy stroke' of the fixed to their advantage when going uphill, a singlespeed rider would be doing more work, not having the slight 'assistance' of the crank turning on its own.

On a related sidenote, which is why I bring up the whole singlespeed vs. fixed issue, I've been using a fixed conversion for a few years as a good method of training and having my body learn that consistent, smooth, and high cadence. Using it from everything between a 28 mile commute to running errands/groceries to light social rides. I've been running 42x13 with a 165 crank set, which lead to around 86 gear inches. (Did I mention Los Angeles has some nasty hills? and I live in a hilly area?). I was restricted to the 165 a bit because I do like to lean into turns, and I ride fast, having anything longer on the crank would lead to a dangerous pedal scrape. Because I was pro-fitted to a 172.5mm, the 165 crankset on the fixed actually started hurting my knees. I'm now completing the build of a singlespeed with 172.5 crank arms, and I'm considering parting out the fixed conversion simply because my body has learned the high-cadence but I'd like to make sure I don't have that 'lazy stroke' syndrome. The new gear inches will be around 80, being 46x15. A little easier but still enough to work the muscles while going up the steeps.

Last edited by prendrefeu; 09-12-08 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 09-12-08, 01:37 AM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by erliuic View Post
True story... I was riding through campus the other day to get to my apartment after a ride and went past a couple guys on fixed gear bikes. They tried to surround and heckle me and one guy who was riding backwards asked if I wanted to race (this is right after he pulls one of the handlebar spinning tricks). After I told him I'd do it for $100 going downhill he slowly pedaled back to the fountain (going in the forward direction this time).
Rofl they actually challenged you to a race...
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Old 09-12-08, 08:43 AM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Ah, but its weakness is its strength, is it not, young Padawan?

Because you're in too big of a gear for climbing a hill you must attack it, gaining strength. Because you're in too small of a gear for descending you must spin, gaining supplesse. Because you brake by resisting and you might strike a pedal on a too tight turn you must look far down the road, gaining awareness.

Embrace the fixed gear's limitations and free yourself from limits.
You are wise beyond your years, Mr. Caluso.
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Old 09-12-08, 08:53 AM
  #82  
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because i like the low-medium speed control
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Old 09-12-08, 12:25 PM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by lukewall View Post
Try a mtb with slicks and a rigid fork. My favorite bike to use when riding through congested midtown traffic.
I'm fairly confident that I stated "among my other bikes" ...
and having tried mtb w/ slicks & rigid fork, I'll still pick my fixed, thanks.


Originally Posted by redfooj View Post
because i like the low-medium speed control
+1 completely.
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Old 09-12-08, 01:05 PM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by prendrefeu View Post
First of all, I have to say that one day I do hope to meet both you and your wife. You two rock, seriously. It's only a matter of time, but I rarely head south past the Orange Curtain into... that county.

Anyway, what I wrote in my #2 stemmed from my #1, which is about the lazy pedal stroke.
Couldn't riding a singlespeed up hills be better in learning a consistent and smooth pedal stroke than riding a fixed? Simply because of the factor of the motion of the bicycle itself giving some of the 'pedal stroke' movement, which makes the stroke easier. On the other hand, with a singlespeed, the upward momentum of the bicycle does not aide in the stroke itself: it is up to the rider to continue the complete stroke. Basically, assuming that a fixed rider uses the 'lazy stroke' of the fixed to their advantage when going uphill, a singlespeed rider would be doing more work, not having the slight 'assistance' of the crank turning on its own.

On a related sidenote, which is why I bring up the whole singlespeed vs. fixed issue, I've been using a fixed conversion for a few years as a good method of training and having my body learn that consistent, smooth, and high cadence. Using it from everything between a 28 mile commute to running errands/groceries to light social rides. I've been running 42x13 with a 165 crank set, which lead to around 86 gear inches. (Did I mention Los Angeles has some nasty hills? and I live in a hilly area?). I was restricted to the 165 a bit because I do like to lean into turns, and I ride fast, having anything longer on the crank would lead to a dangerous pedal scrape. Because I was pro-fitted to a 172.5mm, the 165 crankset on the fixed actually started hurting my knees. I'm now completing the build of a singlespeed with 172.5 crank arms, and I'm considering parting out the fixed conversion simply because my body has learned the high-cadence but I'd like to make sure I don't have that 'lazy stroke' syndrome. The new gear inches will be around 80, being 46x15. A little easier but still enough to work the muscles while going up the steeps.

If you have hills or mountains we travel. We love discovering new climbs.

Now I understand and agree with you. Thank you.
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Old 09-12-08, 01:12 PM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by erliuic View Post
True story... I was riding through campus the other day to get to my apartment after a ride and went past a couple guys on fixed gear bikes. They tried to surround and heckle me and one guy who was riding backwards asked if I wanted to race (this is right after he pulls one of the handlebar spinning tricks). After I told him I'd do it for $100 going downhill he slowly pedaled back to the fountain (going in the forward direction this time).
I lolled.
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Old 09-21-08, 07:14 PM
  #86  
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anyone know where i can get a set of those rims? ones that are affordable preferably
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Old 09-21-08, 07:47 PM
  #87  
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I like mine because I don't have a whole lot of time to ride. Get a good workout in the same number of miles, and don't have to ponder if I'm in the right gear. Going down big hills sucks, but tagging 40 on a 48/17 spinning your brains out beats jumping rope...

That and, I've built one of the twitchiest bikes ever. 2005 Bianchi Pista, with a 42mm rake carbon fork. You think about moving, and you are already there. Sort of like driving a Ferrari on the street...
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Old 09-22-08, 12:17 AM
  #88  
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My last fixie was a Triumph bike when I was a kid. Once I got a road bike with gears I was in heaven.

Why have a fixie? The question is illogical and can't be answered.
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Old 09-22-08, 12:32 AM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by pista View Post
My last fixie was a Triumph bike when I was a kid. Once I got a road bike with gears I was in heaven.

Why have a fixie? The question is illogical and can't be answered.
Once I got a car, my 1981 Miyata went into the garage for a long time. Funny thing is it is now out on the road and I love it.

I also have a fixie and it is totally different. I would never go on a group ride with it to prove my manhood, but I truly enjoy riding to work (around 12 mi R/T). It is simpler, it feels different. There are no parts on it that are hybrids like "brifters". Sometimes, that is enough to give it a seat at the table.

I also surf, and I have three styles of board. Love each one. But when I hear someone make cracks at my longboard, I just smile and ride the biggest wave I can find.
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Old 09-22-08, 12:44 AM
  #90  
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Show me a man on a fixie, I'll show you a pair of jeans tighter than my spandex.
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Old 09-22-08, 12:57 AM
  #91  
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Originally Posted by Mt.Hoodlum View Post
I dont understand it. The only thing I can think of if it were free. Why? Besides being hip and telling people about your "fixie", what good are they?
Appearently Mr. Armstrong thinks they're kinda fun. http://mashsf.com/videos.php
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Old 09-22-08, 12:59 AM
  #92  
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Because it is fun. I ride my friend's every chance I get and that was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the title. Now I just need my own fixie and a bike that can take some urban riding and abuse and my life will be complete.

EDIT: actually I wouldn't mind a nicer XC bike and a nicer road bike. A nice Pegorreti road bike and a Litespeed hardtail would suffice.

Last edited by z415; 09-22-08 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 09-22-08, 01:07 AM
  #93  
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I have five fixed gear bicycles, several singlespeed bikes, and a good number of geared bikes.

Variety is the spice of life.
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Old 09-22-08, 01:14 AM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
I have five fixed gear bicycles, several singlespeed bikes, and a good number of geared bikes.

Variety is the spice of life.
I envy you. My apartment and its carpet does not.
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Old 09-22-08, 01:36 AM
  #95  
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I want a fixie for training. Plus they kind of look fun, less frills.
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Old 09-22-08, 02:18 AM
  #96  
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they are plain old fun, thats it
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Old 09-24-08, 03:08 PM
  #97  
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Originally Posted by Mt.Hoodlum View Post
...Besides being hip and telling people about your "fixie", what good are they?
Even assuming there is zero "good" reason to ride a fg bike, there is still social merit to the current fg phenomena. Trend jumpers are seeking some kind of meaningful existence, just as the rest of the world is. At this point in history fg bikes are filling a void for many people. There is nothing wrong with that.
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Old 09-24-08, 03:13 PM
  #98  
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Originally Posted by sedition View Post
Even assuming there is zero "good" reason to ride a fg bike, there is still social merit to the current fg phenomena. Trend jumpers are seeking some kind of meaningful existence, just as the rest of the world is. At this point in history fg bikes are filling a void for many people. There is nothing wrong with that.
Word.

Nothing wrong with more bikes on the street. Besides, most of the FG kids around here have started doing road, mtb, track, and cross. A lot of them would never have considered these activities if it wasn't for their fixies.
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Old 10-03-08, 04:21 PM
  #99  
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Perfect, logical and fun as h*ll!

Originally Posted by Mt.Hoodlum ...Besides being hip and telling people about your "fixie", what good are they?


this is from another thread, but has been of great use for the mis-understood fixed gear riders such as myself constantly defending such a fun way to commute and love the simplicity of a fixed bike.


FIXED GEARS AND KNEE HEALTH

By Charles Renner

HOW I BECAME TO RIDE A FIXED GEAR

Knee problems (chondro-malacia patella) caused me to pretty much stop riding. This was hard. I do not like to drive and did not own a car until I was 25; this was a big hit. I bought a house 3 miles from work ? I figured that even dead I should be able to pedal that distance. My doctor mentioned surgery but said something to the effect of "lots of people will want to operate, but if you can get along with it as it is, let it be. The surgery can only be done really well once, and the later you do it, generally, the better off you are". Two years later the house up the street was sold. I met my new neighbor, who did a several things for me that got me back on the bike. I have been able to avoid the surgery and my knees seem to be holding up well.
The first thing he did was ride with me. Turns out he used to race and coach. He felt like I still had some go in me. We did a 25-mile ride (I was in pain by the end) and told him so.
He smiled and said "Kid, come by the house next week".
1. He reset my bike to the proper size. - Handle bar location, etc. For people with knee damage, it is frequently better to have the seat a little higher than normal. This causes the maximum knee flex angle to be less, which sometimes helps.
2. Insisted that I go to clipless pedals and have what was called a "Fit-Kit " done to align the pedal cleats to the shoes. This was just when clipless pedals came out (late 80s). They did not have float and were very expensive. Of course, the alternative was the surgeon's knife; the pedals looked pretty cheap in that context. The idea behind cleat to shoe alignment is to have your foot / leg / hip in their natural position when on the bike. My right foot is pronated, so that is normal for me? The Fit-Kit was one method to measure this alignment. This was critically important when SPD pedals first came out because they had no float. Today, it is probably not as critical, as most clipless pedals have a lot of float, with the speedplay having the most.
After properly fitting me to my bike / pedals, my neighbor looked at me and smiled. "Kid, come by the house next week".
The next week he had two identical mountain bikes. He said let's race. I looked at him like he was crazy. My knees hurt, but I was 10 years younger and in better shape.
He insisted, I agreed, and then he laid down the rules: Put the bike in the lowest gear and leave it there. You are not to shift gears. Good luck.
It was only a short climb, but he knew I did not have chance. He was waiting for me at the top of the hill. Blew past me doing all of 5 mph. I have never seen anyone spin the pedals as fast as this guy.
He waited for me to catch my breath. He certainly was not breathing hard. "Look kid - if you want to win, you got to spin. Come by the house next week".
The next week he put on his fixed gear to teach me how to spin. To learn how to spin, a fixed gear bike is usually used. Almost all serious bicycle racers spend some time on a fixed gear. A fixed gear is like a track bike, no gears, no freewheel (no coasting - ever!!), no brakes, and paid up life insurance policy. The biggest difference between a fixed gear bike and a track bike is the gear ratios. Most track bikes are in the 52/13 range. They are built for pure speed. Fixed gears for street use are generally much lower. I am running 38/18 on mine (moving to 42/17). This is a low enough gear to keep from putting too much pressure on the bearing surfaces of the knees when starting off from a stoplight and for maintaining control going downhill. The other difference is most people put a front brake on them for emergency use. I have one on mine.

(That's a VERY low gear for fixed-gear use! --Sheldon Brown)

My neighbor had researched bike knee injuries, and found that they were never noted until the safety bike emerged. The safety bike was the first bike that coasted and that had both the front and rear wheels the same size. The ordinary bikes of the time, "Penny-Farthngs" (large front tire, small back tire) had a direct drive, like a tricycle. You used your legs to stop the pedals from turning. It can be done. It is HARD at first. His theory was that this built up the opposite muscles around the knee, and that it was muscles that help hold the knee (patella) in proper alignment. My physical the****** friends have mentioned that the idea is plausible. Some runners will run backwards to try and accomplish the same thing. You can read about spinning , but I'll give a quick mechanical example:
Light turns green. Rider A is in his highest gear. He VERY slows mash down on the pedals trying to get the bike to move. Every pound of force pushed down on the pedal is going through the bearing surfaces of his knee. That is a lot of unnecessary stress on the knee. This is what caused my knee problems in the first place.
Contrast: Light turns green. Rider B is in his lowest gear. He VERY easily spins the pedals - the pedals are moving fast, but the FORCE on the pedal is LOW. The force through his knee is LOW. He shifts the gears as he picks up speed. Rider A is way behind him.
I see this everyday - people standing up and mashing down on the pedals. You'll do this a little with a fixed gear too (can't shift) but you'll learn to start easy. You do not start your car off in 5th gear. You start in 1st and then shift. They put a transmission in cars for reason. If you shift too early, you'll actually hurt your engine. Given a choice between two gears to go up a hill, you'll get better gas mileage and longer engine life in the lower gear. The same is true for your knees on a bike. People get macho and say they are not going to shift going up a hill. Not a great idea in terms of how long it will take to get to the top of the hill or the stress that will be put on the knee. If you got'em (gears), use them. If you don't, then you are on a fixed gear and hopefully you have the gearing set to your ability.
To read more about fixed gear bicycles:

http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/fixed.html

Particularly:

http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed.html

A few warnings:

* Make sure your feet are firmly attached to the pedals!!! If your foot falls off, the pedal will come around and hit the back of your ankle. Not good. - No shoe laces and no loose clothing. If ANYTHING gets caught in the chain, you will most likely pedal your head into the pavement. Frequently fatal. It is almost guaranteed that you will go down. I have never had it happen. Helmets anyone?
* Pedal strike on the corners. I have found this not to be a big deal, but courtesy of rollers I have scary good balance. For someone not used to it, hitting the pedal can be pretty disconcerting. Shorter crank arms are probably a good idea ? they give more pedal to road clearance and they are a better for spinning.

Most people find that running is more physically demanding than bike riding. I agree, until you get on a fixed gear bike. On a fixed gear bike, you pedal up the hill, and work hard. You have no choice. On the downhill, you don't get to relax at all. You are still working. It is pretty brutal. Start out on flat land and do some slow upper and downers (speed up slowly, slow down slowly, without using the brake). Go slowly or you are very likely to be sore the next day. Spinning is good fun, and it is what has allowed me to return to cycling to the point where I can pedal thousands of miles with ~50 pounds of gear on the bike. My knees take the load up and down the mountains without complaint thanks to my neighbor and the things that he did for me.
-- Charles Renner Folsom, Ca.

from:http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed-knees.html
check out sheldonbrown.com for a further understanding of the love of a fixed gear.

Last edited by batdog; 10-03-08 at 04:27 PM. Reason: spelling
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