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New to FG/SS - lots of questions

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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

New to FG/SS - lots of questions

Old 09-21-18, 11:28 AM
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Phamilton
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New to FG/SS - lots of questions

Does anybody commute over 10 miles on their FG/SS? What's that commute look like?

Is it hard to remove the rear wheel from track dropouts with a fender installed?

Flat pedals or retention - how much does it matter? I use flats on my multispeed bikes. I think power straps look pretty cool. I've used clips/straps before and didn't care for them, too much fuss in stop and go traffic.

I usually ride 50t up front, 18t or 21t rear and cruise between 16-18mph. I was thinking if I wanted to try a flip flop hub, I might go with a 46t crank and 18t fixed, 20t freewheel. Does that sound reasonable? Is there any reason I'd want to gear it higher than I'd usually run on a multispeed bike? I'm in my late 30s and not looking for a physical challenge, I just commute - if my proposed gearing seems a little conservative, well - it is. My commute is 12 miles w/ 160' of climbing (Indiana). (Edit - after composing this post I checked on a post about gear inches. I seem to be on the extreme lower end of the gearing spectrum. I sort of intuitively suspect that I'm a pretty weak cyclist but those numbers seem to suggest that I'm extraordinarily weak - some people running close to 80 and climbing 7-8% grades? Whatever.)

And also - do you generally spin slower on a FG/SS than on a geared bike? I usually end up spinning 90+. I feel like I'd wear myself out in a hurry trying to maintain 90+ with over 70GI.

Total noob.

I'm considering trying it out. I commuted on my old Fuji Special Road Racer for a week (150 miles) without shifting out of 50/21 just to try and get a vague idea of whether or not I could do single speed. It actually wasn't bad unless the wind was over about 15mph, but it's usually less than that around here. I do sometimes grow weary of all the maintenance/adjustments necessary with derailers. I think I thought a 20t freewheel on the "flop" side might make sense for lazy/windy/tired days. I've never even tried fixed gear, but it looks really fun. I honestly was less worn out riding w/o shifting that week than I often feel when I have been using the gears. I also very much like the clean lines of a bike w/o derailers.

I appreciate any insights.
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Old 09-21-18, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
Does anybody commute over 10 miles on their FG/SS? What's that commute look like? Retired now but had commutes of 12, (two jobs), 15 and 17 miles, all each way in the past (and fix gear).

Is it hard to remove the rear wheel from track dropouts with a fender installed? Far better use 1980s sport bikes with horizontal dropouts. I will never own track ends.

Flat pedals or retention - how much does it matter? I use flats on my multispeed bikes. I think power straps look pretty cool. I've used clips/straps before and didn't care for them, too much fuss in stop and go traffic. Fix gear - go retention! If you go fast downhil and a foot comes off, that pedal will be spinning fast and driven with all your and your bike's weight (and geared down to have more impact upon striking, And what that pedal will hit is bone or tendon on the back of your foot or ankle. You might be paying for a long time. (Compared to that, falling over a dozen times because you forgot to unclip at a standstill is no biggie at all.)

I usually ride 50t up front, 18t or 21t rear and cruise between 16-18mph. I was thinking if I wanted to try a flip flop hub, I might go with a 46t crank and 18t fixed, 20t freewheel. Does that sound reasonable? Is there any reason I'd want to gear it higher than I'd usually run on a multispeed bike? I'm in my late 30s and not looking for a physical challenge, I just commute - if my proposed gearing seems a little conservative, well - it is. My commute is 12 miles w/ 160' of climbing (Indiana). (Edit - after composing this post I checked on a post about gear inches. I seem to be on the extreme lower end of the gearing spectrum. I sort of intuitively suspect that I'm a pretty weak cyclist but those numbers seem to suggest that I'm extraordinarily weak - some people running close to 80 and climbing 7-8% grades? Whatever.) I'd personally pick a gear midway between your choices. Your gear choice is a compromise and will change as you get more fit and used to it. I run 42-17 much of the time, 16 as I get more fit. Often have one tooth smaller on the other side of the wheel (fixed-fixed, not fixed-SS.) I consider 70" a good all purpose gear.

And also - do you generally spin slower on a FG/SS than on a geared bike? I usually end up spinning 90+. I feel like I'd wear myself out in a hurry trying to maintain 90+ with over 70GI. Fix gear riding will improve your ability to spin a lot if you stay with the lower gears and ride down hills A real part of their benefit is that you "learn" to relax all the muscles that aren't actually powering you. "Learn " in quotes because this is entirely unconscious. (As you pedal, each muscle is only actually powering you for less than half the stroke. But they tend not to relax completely unless it is drilled into their fiber by force. Spinning downhill at the edge of control will be that hammer! They will learn! And you will benefit with legs that can easily sustain a higher RPM.

Total noob.

I'm considering trying it out. I commuted on my old Fuji Special Road Racer for a week (150 miles) without shifting out of 50/21 just to try and get a vague idea of whether or not I could do single speed. It actually wasn't bad unless the wind was over about 15mph, but it's usually less than that around here. I do sometimes grow weary of all the maintenance/adjustments necessary with derailers. I think I thought a 20t freewheel on the "flop" side might make sense for lazy/windy/tired days. I've never even tried fixed gear, but it looks really fun. I honestly was less worn out riding w/o shifting that week than I often feel when I have been using the gears. I also very much like the clean lines of a bike w/o derailers. I cannot speak for single speeds. I absolutely love fix gears. I date my riding back to 1967 when I bought my Peugeot UO-8. 1976 I started club racing and the vets in the club said I should set the UO-8 up fixed. I did and have loved fix gear riding ever since, so much so that more than half my miles dating back to 1967 are now fix gear miles (over 100,000).

I appreciate any insights.
Caution - if you go to fix gears, you might get addicted. Plus side -it's a cheap addiction with real health benefits. But it might lead to you having 3 fix gears, one custom, another and old custom with a new life and a set of cogs from 12 to 24 teeth with lots of duplicates in the common gears.

Ben
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Old 09-21-18, 12:14 PM
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Lots of folks commute on fixed gears. They're simple and reliable.

Re fenders, yes it can be a pain if you have track ends. Either convert an older bike with horizontal dropouts as 79pmooney suggests, or get a second set of quick releases for the back fender.

Definitely get foot retention.

Gear ratio is pretty personal, but starting around 70-ish gear inches is a good place to begin.

I just built up this bike for winter training/commuting. It's an aluminum Nashbar frame, a NOS Bianchi fork I found on eBay, and a bunch of parts from the bin. As rainy season approaches, I'll fit some fenders.

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Old 09-21-18, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
Does anybody commute over 10 miles on their FG/SS? What's that commute look like?

Is it hard to remove the rear wheel from track dropouts with a fender installed?

Flat pedals or retention - how much does it matter? I use flats on my multispeed bikes. I think power straps look pretty cool. I've used clips/straps before and didn't care for them, too much fuss in stop and go traffic.

I usually ride 50t up front, 18t or 21t rear and cruise between 16-18mph. I was thinking if I wanted to try a flip flop hub, I might go with a 46t crank and 18t fixed, 20t freewheel. Does that sound reasonable? Is there any reason I'd want to gear it higher than I'd usually run on a multispeed bike? I'm in my late 30s and not looking for a physical challenge, I just commute - if my proposed gearing seems a little conservative, well - it is. My commute is 12 miles w/ 160' of climbing (Indiana). (Edit - after composing this post I checked on a post about gear inches. I seem to be on the extreme lower end of the gearing spectrum. I sort of intuitively suspect that I'm a pretty weak cyclist but those numbers seem to suggest that I'm extraordinarily weak - some people running close to 80 and climbing 7-8% grades? Whatever.)

And also - do you generally spin slower on a FG/SS than on a geared bike? I usually end up spinning 90+. I feel like I'd wear myself out in a hurry trying to maintain 90+ with over 70GI.

Total noob.

I'm considering trying it out. I commuted on my old Fuji Special Road Racer for a week (150 miles) without shifting out of 50/21 just to try and get a vague idea of whether or not I could do single speed. It actually wasn't bad unless the wind was over about 15mph, but it's usually less than that around here. I do sometimes grow weary of all the maintenance/adjustments necessary with derailers. I think I thought a 20t freewheel on the "flop" side might make sense for lazy/windy/tired days. I've never even tried fixed gear, but it looks really fun. I honestly was less worn out riding w/o shifting that week than I often feel when I have been using the gears. I also very much like the clean lines of a bike w/o derailers.

I appreciate any insights.
Commuting for me on SS/FG is comfortable - more comfort on the SS as I get to coast if the day was especially exhausting. As for the right gearing, just stick to a ratio that will allow you to cruise comfortably. If you're willing to sacrifice top speed, all the better.

No experience with fenders, sorry. I prefer running waterproof gear.

Retention is good because from experience, bumpy surfaces have caused my feet to bounce off my pedals on a SS once that caused me to momentarily lose drive control in an intersection going past some raised tracks. Scary 3 seconds. If you plan to run a FG, you'd want to at least get one feet retained so that you don't lose your pedals while at speed, especially on the descent which happened to me (lol), and I highly recommend you to fit a brake or two for times like these or when running in traffic.

I also don't think my cadence is higher on a SS/FG than on a road bike. It correlates to your gearing?

Lastly, go for it! the SS/FG is essentially a hop-on-hop-off bike that gets you from point A to point B with minimal thinking, worry or fidgeting. Sure it will not be as fast as a multi-gear bike but for me, it gives me less headache and less spent cash upgrading and swapping things out (mostly due to friends recommending stuff - I know...bad influence). I hope you get your bike soon!
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Old 09-21-18, 12:36 PM
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Thanks for replies so far. For clarification, I'm considering converting one of my existing frames, (a) my '73 Fuji or (b) mid 80's Raleigh Marathon. I use brakes now and I can't find a compelling reason to stop using them.
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Old 09-21-18, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
Does anybody commute over 10 miles on their FG/SS? What's that commute look like?

Is it hard to remove the rear wheel from track dropouts with a fender installed?

Flat pedals or retention - how much does it matter? I use flats on my multispeed bikes. I think power straps look pretty cool. I've used clips/straps before and didn't care for them, too much fuss in stop and go traffic.

I usually ride 50t up front, 18t or 21t rear and cruise between 16-18mph. I was thinking if I wanted to try a flip flop hub, I might go with a 46t crank and 18t fixed, 20t freewheel. Does that sound reasonable? Is there any reason I'd want to gear it higher than I'd usually run on a multispeed bike? I'm in my late 30s and not looking for a physical challenge, I just commute - if my proposed gearing seems a little conservative, well - it is. My commute is 12 miles w/ 160' of climbing (Indiana). (Edit - after composing this post I checked on a post about gear inches. I seem to be on the extreme lower end of the gearing spectrum. I sort of intuitively suspect that I'm a pretty weak cyclist but those numbers seem to suggest that I'm extraordinarily weak - some people running close to 80 and climbing 7-8% grades? Whatever.)

And also - do you generally spin slower on a FG/SS than on a geared bike? I usually end up spinning 90+. I feel like I'd wear myself out in a hurry trying to maintain 90+ with over 70GI.

Total noob.

I'm considering trying it out. I commuted on my old Fuji Special Road Racer for a week (150 miles) without shifting out of 50/21 just to try and get a vague idea of whether or not I could do single speed. It actually wasn't bad unless the wind was over about 15mph, but it's usually less than that around here. I do sometimes grow weary of all the maintenance/adjustments necessary with derailers. I think I thought a 20t freewheel on the "flop" side might make sense for lazy/windy/tired days. I've never even tried fixed gear, but it looks really fun. I honestly was less worn out riding w/o shifting that week than I often feel when I have been using the gears. I also very much like the clean lines of a bike w/o derailers.

I appreciate any insights.
I'll address the fender question. I ride a Mercier Kilo WT (stands for Wide Tire) frame (track/singlespeed horizontal rear-facing droupouts) with 38mm tires and full sks longboard fenders. Here's the trick for wheel removal without detaching fender stays. Cut the lower stay on each side of the wheel with a Dremel around the middle of the stay. Then buy a foot or so of clear aquarium air pump hose. Cut two two inch pieces of hose. Bend the cut stay out enough so you can slip the hose over so the cut on the stay is in the middle of that little piece of hose, and the hose will hold the cut pieces together. It will hold perfectly, but also allow you to easily pull the back of the fender out enough to remove the wheel for service or flat repair.

​​​When done, align the stay cut and slide the hose back up to hold the stay together again. Simple, cheap, elegant solution.
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Old 09-21-18, 12:55 PM
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Pedals

Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
Does anybody commute over 10 miles on their FG/SS? What's that commute look like?

Is it hard to remove the rear wheel from track dropouts with a fender installed?

Flat pedals or retention - how much does it matter? I use flats on my multispeed bikes. I think power straps look pretty cool. I've used clips/straps before and didn't care for them, too much fuss in stop and go traffic.

I usually ride 50t up front, 18t or 21t rear and cruise between 16-18mph. I was thinking if I wanted to try a flip flop hub, I might go with a 46t crank and 18t fixed, 20t freewheel. Does that sound reasonable? Is there any reason I'd want to gear it higher than I'd usually run on a multispeed bike? I'm in my late 30s and not looking for a physical challenge, I just commute - if my proposed gearing seems a little conservative, well - it is. My commute is 12 miles w/ 160' of climbing (Indiana). (Edit - after composing this post I checked on a post about gear inches. I seem to be on the extreme lower end of the gearing spectrum. I sort of intuitively suspect that I'm a pretty weak cyclist but those numbers seem to suggest that I'm extraordinarily weak - some people running close to 80 and climbing 7-8% grades? Whatever.)

And also - do you generally spin slower on a FG/SS than on a geared bike? I usually end up spinning 90+. I feel like I'd wear myself out in a hurry trying to maintain 90+ with over 70GI.

Total noob.

I'm considering trying it out. I commuted on my old Fuji Special Road Racer for a week (150 miles) without shifting out of 50/21 just to try and get a vague idea of whether or not I could do single speed. It actually wasn't bad unless the wind was over about 15mph, but it's usually less than that around here. I do sometimes grow weary of all the maintenance/adjustments necessary with derailers. I think I thought a 20t freewheel on the "flop" side might make sense for lazy/windy/tired days. I've never even tried fixed gear, but it looks really fun. I honestly was less worn out riding w/o shifting that week than I often feel when I have been using the gears. I also very much like the clean lines of a bike w/o derailers.

I appreciate any insights.
i can't speak to fixed gear since I run singlespeed and use brakes, but I commute with fancy work dress shoes and ride weekends in sneakers and love these flat pedals and get great grip from the pins regardless of shoe choice. The spindle is titanium and the body magnesium. Super light.
AEST Extreme LightBike MTB Pedals Magnesium Body Titanium Axle Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071DK8H2R/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_82tPBbKC98GQC
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Old 09-21-18, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by motorapido View Post
I'll address the fender question. I ride a Mercier Kilo WT (stands for Wide Tire) frame (track/singlespeed horizontal rear-facing droupouts) with 38mm tires and full sks longboard fenders. Here's the trick for wheel removal without detaching fender stays. Cut the lower stay on each side of the wheel with a Dremel around the middle of the stay. Then buy a foot or so of clear aquarium air pump hose. Cut two two inch pieces of hose. Bend the cut stay out enough so you can slip the hose over so the cut on the stay is in the middle of that little piece of hose, and the hose will hold the cut pieces together. It will hold perfectly, but also allow you to easily pull the back of the fender out enough to remove the wheel for service or flat repair.

​​​When done, align the stay cut and slide the hose back up to hold the stay together again. Simple, cheap, elegant solution.
Maybe you'll think this is interesting - I was reading reviews of SKS Longboards and came across a photo of a Kilo with fenders and really wide tires. I didn't know what it was, I thought I must have been looking at a track bike 650b conversion at first. I went to BD and then saw the WT and then understood what I was seeing. Very cool bike. That photo was actually what prompted my question about the fender, I was looking at the forkends and wondered how the heck to get the rear wheel out of that thing with the fender on it. That's a very cool solution, too.
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Old 09-21-18, 01:38 PM
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Lower gears don't make you "weak" per se. In fact, you could definitely argue that it takes more fitness to maintain a given speed on a lower gear because you're spinning faster. It does mean you'll be going slower at a given cadence, but that's usually not much of an issue on commutes. I don't commute anymore, but when I did I liked a mid-70's gear. It's just a matter of personal preference really.
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Old 09-21-18, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by seau grateau View Post
Lower gears don't make you "weak" per se. In fact, you could definitely argue that it takes more fitness to maintain a given speed on a lower gear because you're spinning faster. It does mean you'll be going slower at a given cadence, but that's usually not much of an issue on commutes. I don't commute anymore, but when I did I liked a mid-70's gear. It's just a matter of personal preference really.
Maybe I'll try gearing up a little then for a while. I've been commuting for about a year, didn't do much riding prior to that. I had some issues with my knees at first but haven't had any persistent discomfort since I got saddle height/setback dialed in. I've just been spinning away since then out of habit. I have my doubts that people online consistently quote their speeds/cadences accurately. Strava data can be pretty revealing. (When I was 19 I described myself online as 6'1", blonde, 200 lbs, "muscular" - I was 6' even, dyed my hair, I was 220 lbs and yeah, muscular, but I had a good layer of padded insulation protecting those muscles).
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Old 09-21-18, 02:07 PM
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I would say, get on the bike you're going to convert, and do your commute on it, trying out different gear combos, and settle on a compromise, whatever that ends up being. Keep whichever chainring you were on in the front, and buy a cog in the size you settled on. at gear is gonna feel 100% identical whether it's 1 of 1, 1 of 24 gears or 1 of 32 gears, there's no real worries here in choosing gearing, it's not rocket surgery.
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Old 09-21-18, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
Does anybody commute over 10 miles on their FG/SS? What's that commute look like?

1) Is it hard to remove the rear wheel from track dropouts with a fender installed?

2) Flat pedals or retention - how much does it matter?

3) I usually ride 50t up front, 18t or 21t rear and cruise between 16-18mph. I was thinking if I wanted to try a flip flop hub, I might go with a 46t crank and 18t fixed, 20t freewheel. Does that sound reasonable?

4) My commute is 12 miles w/ 160' of climbing (Indiana).

5) some people running close to 80 and climbing 7-8% grades? Whatever.)

6) ...do you generally spin slower on a FG/SS than on a geared bike?
1) If you have a wrap round fender (we in the UK say "mudguard") it will get in the way of removing the wheel, and possibly in the way of swapping the wheel round if you have a flip flop hub with a big difference in the number of teeth. Some models of fender can be released fairly quickly, others can't. Another choice is one of those sticky out horizontal type fenders. They're not as good at keeping you dry, but might get in the way a bit less.

2) I ride flat pedals with no retention. This is more by habit than principle. I do refuse to buy expensive clipless. I would consider getting some straps but I've never got around to it. I ride on and off road and apart of my regular circuit has a short descent that takes my legs to max revs but I've never had my feet fly off the pedals. However a) I don't do skids, I use brakes and b) I have 30 years' experience as a unicyclist riding long distance on roads and cross country on direct drive fixed wheels from 24 inch to 36 inch. That's such a small "gear" that you get used to spinning. For obvious reasons, most unicyclists don't use foot retention, although a few do.

3) I'm 55, about 75-80 kilos, an experienced cyclist, but past my prime. I ride 49 x 18 or 49 x 20 on 700c x 23mm. On rides of an hour or two of mixed roads and bridleways, I tend to average around 16 mph, with Map my Ride showing flat road miles averaging over 20 mph, and a brief peak max speed around 30 mph or so.

4) Sounds like you have a perfect distance for a commute and an easily achievable amount of up and down. Far enough to be worth the ride, not so far that you arrive too tired to work. Nice distance to unwind on the way home.

5) It's not a competition, or, if it is, it's only against yourself. Find a gear you're comfortable with and never mind everyone else. Save your spare chain links and you may find yourself getting steadily smaller sprockets as your confidence and skills develop, or you may find yourself spinning faster for longer.

6) Cadence on a fixed gear is more variable. Choose a ratio that just gets you up the worst hill on your usual ride without stalling. If it's too easy to get up the hill, your knees might catch fire on the way back down. If you have a flip flop hub, the other sprocket should be a slightly lower gear for windy days or hillier or rougher routes. On a typical hour or two's ride, there are sections where I am slowly grinding up hill, downhill sections where I'm spinning like a dervish and feathering my brakes, and flatter sections where I'm trundling along at a comfortably brisk cadence. Funny thing about fixed is that your cadence gradually increases as you ride. It sort of draws you into going faster.

On my geared bike (2 x 10) I may often ride for miles without changing gear, but when I'm in a different mood, I'm constantly changing to keep the cadence fairly steady. You can't do that with single or fixed.

There is a big difference between single and fixed. Both require sacrifices compared to a full geared bike. Both offer simplicity, challenge, and elegance. Fixed carries some of the "You must be a hipster/fashion victim" stigma even if you are conspicuously neither hipster nor fashionable. Of the two, single speed is easier because of the coasting, but fixed is somehow more fun, once you get confident.
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Old 09-21-18, 02:13 PM
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I commuted one winter on a fixed gear, 8 miles each way. I think I geared it to 67 inches, which is low. I say start out at between 65 and 75 inches. The spinning skill becomes valuable and stays with you for life. Going down a big hill, the challenge is to pedal without bouncing your butt on the saddle.

I know some people don't agree, but I think removing your front brake is nutso. It's appealing to our machismo to do all of our stopping and slowing with our legs, but it's not safe or practical. Your legs are about equivalent to a rear brake, so I have no problem with riding a fixed gear with only a front brake. Even on a geared bike, I hardly ever use the rear brake, because the front is enough.
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Old 09-21-18, 02:41 PM
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Re: fixed gear riding and foot retention - I will not use clipless systems on fixed gears because I like going fast downhill too much. Once you are spinning ~200 RPM it is very difficult to tell what angle you foot is at. As I posted above - unclipping at speed is one of my nightmares. Haven't done it yet and hope to go the grave before it happens. All my fix gears have toeclips and straps. I use old-fashioned slotted cleats, a little nicer but the exact same concept as 120 years ago. Yes, it is possible to uncleat at speed, especially if either you didn't pull your straps tight or they were old and tired or the cleats worn. But the huge blessing - after uncleating your foot is still on the pedal. You swallow your heart, touch the brakes, slide your foot back in and enjoy the rest of the descent (with a touch more caution!) Not a big deal. Do the same with clipless and you may well carry a life-long reminder.

And yes, I fall over periodically, When I realize I just made a fool of myself (upright with zero speed and tight straps), I just relax and make a point to greet the road with everything - knee, elbow, shoulder and hip. If I hit enough different places (and don't tense up, nothing happens save a little dirt and some very minor bruises. (Well a bigger one on my ego.).

Good pedals with big, usable pickup tabs are the way to go, The old Lyotard Platforms (except pulling hard enough to get up tough hills will loosen the press fits), Shimano 600 semi-platforms (with home -made tabs and weights to get them to hang properly for easy pickup; my favorites) or the current MKS Lyotard imitations (and probably far better pedals though I haven't seen one in person yet) are the way to go. Easy pickup is the secret. When you start at a light in traffic, you have two chances to pick up the pedal and slid into the toeclip. After that you are going too fast and will have to slow down (to almost a walking pace) to get in. Go online and look for the MKS pedals. They were mentioned in a thread on BF in the last month but I have no memory of where,

Ben
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Old 09-21-18, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I commuted one winter on a fixed gear, 8 miles each way. I think I geared it to 67 inches, which is low. I say start out at between 65 and 75 inches. The spinning skill becomes valuable and stays with you for life. Going down a big hill, the challenge is to pedal without bouncing your butt on the saddle.

I know some people don't agree, but I think removing your front brake is nutso. It's appealing to our machismo to do all of our stopping and slowing with our legs, but it's not safe or practical. Your legs are about equivalent to a rear brake, so I have no problem with riding a fixed gear with only a front brake. Even on a geared bike, I hardly ever use the rear brake, because the front is enough.
Observation: I have yet to meet the fix gear ride who started when I did and did that riding without brakes. I am sure there are some still alive; I haven't combed the wards but but I have never either met or heard of a healthy, intact rider with 40 years of brakeless fix gear riding. Ever. (Outside the velodrome where they belong.)

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Old 09-21-18, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Observation: I have yet to meet the fix gear ride who started when I did and did that riding without brakes. I am sure there are some still alive; I haven't combed the wards but but I have never either met or heard of a healthy, intact rider with 40 years of brakeless fix gear riding. Ever. (Outside the velodrome where they belong.)

Ben
I know one, and I still think he's nutso.
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Old 09-21-18, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Good pedals with big, usable pickup tabs are the way to go, The old Lyotard Platforms (except pulling hard enough to get up tough hills will loosen the press fits), Shimano 600 semi-platforms (with home -made tabs and weights to get them to hang properly for easy pickup; my favorites) or the current MKS Lyotard imitations (and probably far better pedals though I haven't seen one in person yet) are the way to go. Easy pickup is the secret.
The Lyotard mod. 23 "Marcel Berthet" pedals date back to the 1930s and were named after French track national champion Marcel Berthet. The MKS "Urban Platform" pedal is an updated copy of the Lyotard mod. 23, with a cast aluminum body instead of riveted steel, sealed cartridge bearings, etc. But unlike the venerable mod. 23 pedal, they won't work with slotted cleats.
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Old 09-21-18, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I commuted one winter on a fixed gear, 8 miles each way. I think I geared it to 67 inches, which is low. I say start out at between 65 and 75 inches. The spinning skill becomes valuable and stays with you for life. Going down a big hill, the challenge is to pedal without bouncing your butt on the saddle.

I know some people don't agree, but I think removing your front brake is nutso. It's appealing to our machismo to do all of our stopping and slowing with our legs, but it's not safe or practical. Your legs are about equivalent to a rear brake, so I have no problem with riding a fixed gear with only a front brake. Even on a geared bike, I hardly ever use the rear brake, because the front is enough.
In the UK where I live, a front brake is a legal requirement on a fixed gear bike. A cyclist with no brakes in London accidentally killed a pedestrian. As I read the news story, the cyclist was doing less than the legal speed limit and had right of way (the pedestrian was crossing the road and stepped into his path) but the cyclist was convicted and went to jail.

I have front and rear brakes on mine. The rear is of limited use if you flip the hub because a different sprocket means the wheel is further forward or back and the brakes may rub on the tyre if the difference is too great. However, I ride on the hoods a lot, and riding on 1 hood would feel strange.

One theoretical advantage of two brakes is the ability to alternate on long descents so that the friction on the rims doesn't overheat the tyre and and cause a blowout. I suspect at my speed and where I live, this is not really a risk!
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Old 09-21-18, 03:26 PM
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Brakes are required here, but people don't respect laws as much here as they do there.

Good point about heat dissipation, though I haven't experienced brake fade (from heat) many times in my life. For it to be a serious risk, you'd be riding on mountains, and people don't often ride mountains on fixies.
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Old 09-21-18, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Mikefule View Post
In the UK where I live, a front brake is a legal requirement on a fixed gear bike. A cyclist with no brakes in London accidentally killed a pedestrian. As I read the news story, the cyclist was doing less than the legal speed limit and had right of way (the pedestrian was crossing the road and stepped into his path) but the cyclist was convicted and went to jail.

I have front and rear brakes on mine. The rear is of limited use if you flip the hub because a different sprocket means the wheel is further forward or back and the brakes may rub on the tyre if the difference is too great. However, I ride on the hoods a lot, and riding on 1 hood would feel strange.

One theoretical advantage of two brakes is the ability to alternate on long descents so that the friction on the rims doesn't overheat the tyre and and cause a blowout. I suspect at my speed and where I live, this is not really a risk!
Next time you build a rear wheel, consider the Velocity Aero rim. They have a deep usable braking surface. When I had my custom road fix gear made, I spec'd 11 degree road dropouts, not track drops; a compromise that minimizes the vertical rim difference at the pads while not changing the rear end height as much as regular horizontal dropouts. The rim and dropout allow me cogs from 12 to 24 without messing with either chain or pads. They are heavy rims but they are very true and very strong. Lace up beautifully. They do not have eyelets but are done right and don't need them.

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Old 09-21-18, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
... and people don't often ride mountains on fixies.
Some of us do.

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Old 09-21-18, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Some of us do.

Ben
Don't you have a four-speed fixie?
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Old 09-21-18, 04:00 PM
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Just for giggles I left my bike in 50/21 for my ride home today, with a 25G40 headwind. I made a point to not coast whenever possible and soft-pedaled while feathering the brakes to stop. It was hard, but I didn’t puke and nothing hurts. One particularly nasty gust just about stopped me, but I just kept going. I doubt my average speed would have been much higher had I geared down. I had to run to the bank first as well, which added another 3 miles. So yeah, I think 70GI would be pretty good. 50/21 is like 65GI I think. Couple of times going downhill my feet were going pretty fast so I could see the appeal in a little taller gear. I’m actually surprised at how good I feel, my legs feel fresh. I don’t care that it wasn’t as fast. I’m usually whipped after 12 miles of headwind like that, especially on a pFriday afternoon.
With legs spinning constantly, I was tempted to lower the saddle just barely, like 2-3mm. I think it may have smoothed my pedal stroke just slightly, but I also noticed it was a little difficult to transition from out of saddle to on the saddle while pedaling. I usually coast while I transition.
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Old 09-21-18, 04:29 PM
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Gearing down wouldn't have made you faster. It would have made you slower but would have allowed you to reduce your effort.

I don't know how windy it is there. It sounds very windy. I consider my route along the Hudson River to be very windy, but yours could be worse. Those many years ago when I commuted on a fixie, it was on almost exactly the same route. I managed somehow. You can manage if you want to do this. But it might be a good idea to keep the ratio to 65" or maybe even lower, especially since winter is coming. Winter fixie riding has its own pluses. The constant motion makes you warmer, and it improves traction.
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Old 09-21-18, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Colnago Mixte View Post
I would say, get on the bike you're going to convert, and do your commute on it, trying out different gear combos, and settle on a compromise, whatever that ends up being. Keep whichever chainring you were on in the front, and buy a cog in the size you settled on. at gear is gonna feel 100% identical whether it's 1 of 1, 1 of 24 gears or 1 of 32 gears, there's no real worries here in choosing gearing, it's not rocket surgery.
I agree it’s not rocket surgery. One bike has a 52t and ..18-20-22 .. and the other is 50t and .. 18-21 .. the 52/20 is my favorite at 68GI but 18-21 gap w/50t on the other bike is annoying and neither of the ratios would be very desirable (63-73). I don’t have any of the parts anyway, so I’m figuring on having to get a crankset. Maybe I can convert what I have by swapping for a single ring but I don’t know if that’s possible. I certainly don’t want to over-complicate simplifying my bike. 😂
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