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Question on Riding Fixed

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Question on Riding Fixed

Old 09-14-20, 09:04 PM
  #1  
coopman
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Question on Riding Fixed

I've never ridden fixed, but I am very interested in trying it. I plan to get a flip-flop rear hub with a fixed cog on one side and a SS cog on the other. It seems to me that when riding fixed, the bike will sort of have its own momentum due to the rear wheel being connected to the crank, making each pedal stroke easier than its single speed version would be. Is my logic correct?[
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Old 09-15-20, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by coopman View Post
I've never ridden fixed, but I am very interested in trying it. I plan to get a flip-flop rear hub with a fixed cog on one side and a SS cog on the other. It seems to me that when riding fixed, the bike will sort of have its own momentum due to the rear wheel being connected to the crank, making each pedal stroke easier than its single speed version would be. Is my logic correct?[
No.
The cranks move because the bicycle is moving. Ignoring descents, the energy that keeps the bicycle moving has come from you, pushing down on the pedals. The moment you let the pedals move your feet instead of the other way around, youíre tapping into the energy that is keeping the bike moving, slowing it down. And thatís the energy that you put into the bike by pedalling.
For a flip flop hub, there is no difference in efficiency between fixed/free while the rider is pedalling.
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Old 09-15-20, 04:53 AM
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Originally Posted by coopman View Post
I've never ridden fixed, but I am very interested in trying it. I plan to get a flip-flop rear hub with a fixed cog on one side and a SS cog on the other. It seems to me that when riding fixed, the bike will sort of have its own momentum due to the rear wheel being connected to the crank, making each pedal stroke easier than its single speed version would be. Is my logic correct?[
The bike does have it's own momentum, and you will feel it through the cranks. It's called the flywheel effect. As you ease up on your pedaling it will make the pedal stroke feel easier. But yes, this momentum you feel is coming from power you already put into the bike. Try it out for a bit, many of us find riding fixed quite addicting!
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Old 09-15-20, 08:35 AM
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Just don't try it without a brake your first time out.
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Old 09-15-20, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by crankholio View Post
Just don't try it without a brake your first time out.
Attaching your feet to the pedals with either toeclips or clipless if you normally use them is a good idea. The first time I got on a fixed gear it had BMX platforms on it. Me being mostly a mountain bike rider, tried to stand and coast down the first hill and was immediately thrown up off the bike. I was hooked.
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Old 09-15-20, 09:48 AM
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The main thing is to give it a chance. Riding fixed isn't for everyone, but I'll bet that many who say they didn't like it never really gave it a chance. Or perhaps they had no foot retention, improper gearing, etc. They were set up to fail.

The way I got into it was through purchasing a pre-owned bike. It was a "training bike" that was owned by a road racer. He died and his widow sold off all of his bikes and the only remaining one was this fixed-gear. It was a perfect size for me and was in excellent shape. It was not a track bike, but a conversion. For whatever reason, the bike just spoke to me and the price was too good to pass up. So I bought it and the rest is history. That bike sits in my garage and is the first one I think about riding most of the time. It is literally likely to be the last one I sell, unless perhaps health conditions relegate me to something like a step-through frame someday.

My first ride didn't go too badly because I had done my research. For inspiration I read Sheldon Brown's articles on riding fixed-gear. The enthusiasm he displayed for it was infectious. He gave a lot of good info for the beginner. Some day I'll have the courage to practice the special dismount he described which can only be done on a fixed gear. It sounds incredible and once-mastered very practical.

So do it right, give it a proper chance and I an almost guarantee you'll love it. The talk about brakes is important. Make sure your bike has at least a front brake. Not only is it illegal to have no brakes in many parts of the world it is just smart to have at least a front. You can stop as well with just a front brake as a front-and-rear if you understand how to use backpedaling to slow the rear wheel.

Don't try to go down too steep of a hill until you are comfortable on the bike. And try not to forget you cannot coast. This happens! And when it does, it really sucks!

Enjoy the ride!
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Old 09-15-20, 10:15 AM
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i have been fixing for a long long time > i prefer platforms to retentions because it keeps me from 0ver Doing down hills & curves > ODing is very dangerous ... once you fix it gets addictive
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Old 09-15-20, 11:45 AM
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If you plan on riding fixed, then I strongly advise having some sort of foot retention, such as toe clips and straps or clipless pedals. Unlike a freewheel, if your feet come off the pedals on a fixed gear bike, it is almost impossible to get them back on again, and you can get seriously hurt.
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Old 09-15-20, 11:57 AM
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22 years of fixed-gear riding now, and Sheldon Brown launched me into it. A little more than half my total mileage since 1998 has been fixed. For the beginner, foot retention and a front brake at a minimum are in order. If you decide you want to do distance rides on the road, there are strong arguments for TWO brakes, especially in hilly terrain.

t's not so much that it's easier to ride a fixed-gear as it is that you get to siphon back a little of the energy you already put into it when the flywheel effect carries your pedals and feet through the dead spots.
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Old 09-15-20, 12:25 PM
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Fixed riding is crazy addictive
I have two, the only geared or coating bikes in my sold are my kids.
I have a converted MTB with an extended stem and risers, a front drum brake, and platform pedals. Thatís my messing around and rainy weather bike.
I also have a restomoded old steel 10 speed converted to fixed. I use toe clips on that, and am getting ready to put brakes back on it for commuting and a tour this winter. I ride that one every day.
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Old 09-15-20, 04:12 PM
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you won't feel dead spots the same way as with a single speed, everything stays spun up, feels great.
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Old 09-15-20, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by coopman View Post
when riding fixed, the bike will sort of have its own momentum due to the rear wheel being connected to the crank, making each pedal stroke easier than its single speed version would be. Is my logic correct?

I have no idea if the turning rear wheel helps to push your pedals, but it often feels like it does. But whether the effect is real or imagined, there's little about fixed gear riding that's "easier" than a singlespeed. On your first rides on a familiar route, you will be amazed at how much you used to coast!
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Old 09-15-20, 05:21 PM
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It sure does when you're going downhill.
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Old 09-16-20, 10:42 AM
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I don't have any hills to worry about in my area.
One thing about riding fixed is that it will be difficult to adjust my seating position while riding in order to help relieve my aching butt. I ordered a flip-flop hub with a fixed cog on one side & a single speed cog on the other side. I do need to order a caliper brake though.
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Old 09-16-20, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by coopman View Post
I don't have any hills to worry about in my area.
One thing about riding fixed is that it will be difficult to adjust my seating position while riding in order to help relieve my aching butt. I ordered a flip-flop hub with a fixed cog on one side & a single speed cog on the other side. I do need to order a caliper brake though.
You can stand and pedal just as you would otherwise. Also, since you are constantly moving your legs there is arguably a bit less weight on your butt as compared to say coasting. I ride mainly Brooks saddles except for one that I bought that features a cutout. My next acquisitiion is likely to be a Brooks Cambium-Carved saddle. Heard good things about them, especially since they addressed some issues they had early in production.
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Old 09-16-20, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by coopman View Post
I don't have any hills to worry about in my area.
One thing about riding fixed is that it will be difficult to adjust my seating position while riding in order to help relieve my aching butt. I ordered a flip-flop hub with a fixed cog on one side & a single speed cog on the other side. I do need to order a caliper brake though.
which wheelsets did you end up buying?
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Old 09-17-20, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by coopman View Post
...One thing about riding fixed is that it will be difficult to adjust my seating position while riding in order to help relieve my aching butt...
I don't get this...I ride fixed and I move around a lot on my saddle no problem...
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Old 09-17-20, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by IAmSam View Post
I don't get this...I ride fixed and I move around a lot on my saddle no problem...
The OP indicated he had never ridden fixed, so I think that was an assumption. As I pointed out in a post above, there is no issue.
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Old 09-17-20, 10:11 AM
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For road fixed-gear cycling, as a means of augmenting the use of standing on the bike, road dropped-bars and the multiple hand positions they offer have helped me to shift my saddle contact somewhat while seated. Maes bend handlebars with hooded levers helps me find different angles and places on the saddle to sit. It helps.

Getting back to the original point of this thread, would we agree that removing the mechanical complexity and choices of variable gearing and coasting highlights the need to focus on skills, technique, position, fit and judgment on the bike, as opposed to using technology to solve problems? It's a more human knowledge-based approach rather than a push-button approach. For me, my bad analogy is a fixed-gear bike is like playing a steel string acoustic guitar with bare fingers, while many modern bikes are like playing electric guitar with a big effects pedalboard. The skills of riding fixed generally DO translate to multiple geared bikes in terms of how it teaches you to work and move your body.
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Old 09-17-20, 10:49 AM
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Whether rustystrings analogy is a good one or not, there is no doubt that there is a different sensation when riding fixed. There just is. I'll share something I find funny that happened on a recent vacation that I just thought of after reading the previous post. My wife and I went to South Dakota and brought bikes. We rode some gravel trails and some paved trails. I took a geared bike. I was riding and suddenly realized I was way ahead of the Mrs. I looked back and wondered what was up and noticed her coasting. So I began coasting as well and waited for her to catch up. After thinking about it just now, what happened is I never stopped pedaling, even though I could have. I was so used to riding fixed, where coasting is impossible (unless you take your feet from the pedals!) and I guess I've been conditioned to not coast. So when she coasted, I kept plowing on and soon got way ahead.

So riding fixed does indeed effect the way you ride generally. At least it did in my experience.
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Old 09-17-20, 11:00 AM
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Several points from a guy who's been riding fix gears for 44 years and 4 laps around the planet. (No,not literally, but if you added up the miles ...)

1) I've always ridden with two good brakes. I'm here and still riding fixed. I know no one who started when I did, rode without brakes and can say that.
1b) Two brakes means you have two hoods for good climbing. Hand position is radically more important on fix gears uphill than on geared bikes because you have to pull so much harder. (Yes, I saw you live on the flat but fix gears are addicting, You might extend your horizon..)

2) Foot retention. I insist on toeclips and quality leather straps. Retention for reasons already spelled out in the posts above. Toestraps because it is always possible to uncleat, especially going down fast hills. (I cannot feel whether my foot is straight or crooked going 40 mph on a 42-17 (= 200 rpm). My biggest concern on fix gears (and a recurring nightmare) is uncleating and having that foot, Achilles or calf struck by that 200 RPM pedal driven with a gear reduction and all my and the bike's weight. That's an injury for life. The ensuing crash is just a crash. With toeclips, I do pull out my slotted cleats from time to time at 35+. I have to struggle not to bite my heart every time it happens, but I touch the brakes, slow just a touch, re-cleat and all is good.

3) To prevent the first "oops, I forgot to coast!" crash - place a piece of tape on the seatpost exactly 1/2" above the top of the seattube. Now lower the seat to the tape. Yes, I know your position is all wrong! But ... when the day comes and you try to coast with your leg down and have a big bend in your knee, much less bad stuff is going to happen. My first fix gear ride - in those days I rode a highish seat. First season of racing and I was pretty strong. Cruising at an easy 20, Wanted to take a left turn but three cars were coming so I coasted to let them pass. Left foot down. Next thing I knew, I was airborne, front wheel about a foot of the road, rear higher and still going up. Collapsed ignominiously in the road. Little road rash because I burned off most of my speed going up, but! my left leg felt like freshly ground hamburger on a steer they hadn't butchered yet.

Notice I said "when the day comes and you try to coast ...", not "if ...".

After you do the attempted coast, you can raise the seat 1/4". When you know your reflexes are now retrained, go the full 1/2" (Coasting is a core reflex. Retraining takes time!)

4) Seat comfort issues - don't sweat it, If your seat is right, fix gear is no different, just a crueler mistress if you seat position is not right. (I've always thought of my fix gear bikes as female. "Mistress" as in the feminine of "master", NOT concubine! When riding fixed, the fix gear runs the show, not me.)

Ben
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Old 09-17-20, 08:31 PM
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Thanks for the great advice.
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Old 09-18-20, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
The main thing is to give it a chance. Riding fixed isn't for everyone, but I'll bet that many who say they didn't like it never really gave it a chance. Or perhaps they had no foot retention, improper gearing, etc. They were set up to fail.

The way I got into it was through purchasing a pre-owned bike. It was a "training bike" that was owned by a road racer. He died and his widow sold off all of his bikes and the only remaining one was this fixed-gear. It was a perfect size for me and was in excellent shape. It was not a track bike, but a conversion. For whatever reason, the bike just spoke to me and the price was too good to pass up. So I bought it and the rest is history. That bike sits in my garage and is the first one I think about riding most of the time. It is literally likely to be the last one I sell, unless perhaps health conditions relegate me to something like a step-through frame someday.
Would love to see a pic of said bike..
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Old 09-18-20, 05:53 AM
  #24  
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I love riding fixed except for the fact I have bad toe overlap. I've almost gone down a couple of times because of it, since you can't rotate your foot out of the way of the tire.
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Old 09-18-20, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by viperocco View Post
Would love to see a pic of said bike..
I'll post one today or tomorrow. Thanks for asking about it.
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