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If you Could Only Pick one Gear...

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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)

If you Could Only Pick one Gear...

Old 11-23-20, 05:44 PM
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Moisture
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If you Could Only Pick one Gear...

This might make for some interesting conversation.

What are your opinions on singlespeed bikes in general? Something more of a novelty or would you ride it everywhere, all the time?

Does it feel more efficient or more effective than your typical geared bikes?

What about 44/16? Is that a good fixie ratio?
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Old 11-23-20, 07:42 PM
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I don't think the General would like a single speed inside of them. Or if you auto corrected from Genoa, I am sure they are lovely in Genoa. A rideable novelty all the time everywhere.

Certainly more effective at being a single speed than my typical geared bikes.

The problem with your fraction is it is not within 16 unless you wrote it backwards. I would personally always want to try to fixie everything I can, I am not a big fan of broken stuff so if I only fixied 16 out of 44 bikes, I wouldn't be happy. I want to do 44 out of 44 or 16 out of 16 if possible, certainly if I couldn't fixie them I would strip them of useable parts and go forward from there maybe add a wall hanger or use it for some other project or swap new parts onto it if the frame is still good.
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Old 11-23-20, 09:53 PM
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I like riding my SS bike, but I also like my geared bikes. In general, variable gearing is a great idea, and while SS has benefits of simplicity and reliability, gearing in general has gotten pretty darn reliable. I haven't had a gearing failure in a long time that wasn't due to an assembly error on my part, or normal consumables wearing out.

With that said, I like the sheer audacity of transporting myself and having fun on such a simple, primitive machine. I like the challenge of knowing that whatever setup I've chosen, I'm stuck with it for the duration of the ride, even if conditions or my route change. I enjoy seeing if I can make it up the next hill. Sometimes I can't. As they say, it has three speeds: Sitting, standing, and pushing.

My SS bike is geared to be a challenge for me to ride, but low enough that I'm not pushing it up every other hill. For me, that's not very high: 46x19 with 27" wheels works out to roughly 65 gear inches. It's also what happened to be in my bin, on the day when I came home with a frame from an auction, and discovered that I had enough parts to build another bike. The 19T cog is the only one available for the ancient coaster hub. If I ever get strong enough to zip up every hill and defeat every headwind, I'll reward myself with a bigger ring.

On rides longer than 30 or maybe 40 miles in my area, the endless rolling hills start to get old on a SS, and I start to get tired. If I'm planning a day long ride, then I usually choose the geared bike that also happens to have wider tires and a few other amenities.
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Old 11-24-20, 12:03 AM
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42.
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Old 11-24-20, 09:55 AM
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I think I actually HAVE picked one gear, or maybe I just got used to it. I built my first fixed-gear road bike in '98. Looking over the mileage records I started keeping in '99, I realize that about 60 percent of my riding has been on single-speeds or fixed-gears. Since 2006, though, I've ridden five times as many miles fixed as variable geared. The overwhelming majority of that has been running 70.something, i.e., between 70 and 71 gear inches, achieved with varying tire widths using 42x16 or 45x17 with nominal 28 mm tires, or 44x17 with 35s.

The 70-ish inch gear has worked nicely for me throughout this part of South Carolina, which is mostly rolling hills and Piedmont, with lots of creeks and lakes. While I have been known to flip the wheel around to use a 60 to 63-in gear on gravel, the overwhelming majority of my mileage, pavement or dirt, has been running 70. I recognize that is a taller gear than the C.O.N.I. manual recommends and is a bit on the high side even for classical British single-geared riding (the old manuals recommend somewhere around 65 gear inches for men, 60 for women), though it isn't too far from the listed gearing in late 40s/early 50s spec sheets for British bike builders' advertisements.
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Old 11-24-20, 10:32 AM
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single speed is for beach cruisers.
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Old 11-24-20, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
What are your opinions on singlespeed bikes in general?
Love them.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Something more of a novelty or would you ride it everywhere, all the time?
Everywhere all the time.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Does it feel more efficient or more effective than your typical geared bikes?
I don't care, it's just more fun.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
What about 44/16? Is that a good fixie ratio?
Depends on your terrain and your legs.

Singlespeed, I run 39 X 17 (62.3 gear inches)
Fixed, I run 42 X 16 (70.9 gear inches)
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Old 11-24-20, 04:27 PM
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1) Like 'em, they're all I ride at the moment.

2) Don't know, don't care, just hate adjusting and maintaining derailleurs.

3) 44/16 is perfectly fine, I prefer 48/16.
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Old 11-24-20, 05:06 PM
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I've been running a 44-17 on my winter/rain/city commuter fix gear for 30 years. On my best fix gear I run either a 42 or 43 in front and 16, 17 or 18 in back. 42-17 for very long rides. Running a flip-flop, I often leave on either an 18 or 17, then flip to one tooth higher 5-8 miles out.

I started riding fixed in 1976. Picked a gear and basically never changed it except go up a tooth as the racing season neared. 2005 I picked up a used frame to be a light, fun summer fix gear. Loved the bike but the dropout was short and even with the chain fine-tuned with a half-link, I could just barely use 3 cogs on the dropout.. Ran a 48-19 almost all the time. 2011 I ordered a custom with a long dropout that could handle any cog and the fun started. Now I often change cogs before rides.

That bike, running a 17 and 23 and a 12 carried on the toolbag. Chainwhip on the top tube:



Jessica J

Ben
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Old 11-24-20, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by REDMASTA View Post
single speed is for beach cruisers.
Agreed. Both of my “beach cruisers” are 42/16 SS and I’ve put about 2000 miles on the two of them in the last three months. 😊👍

Otto

Last edited by ofajen; 11-25-20 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 11-24-20, 05:45 PM
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Whats the difference between a fixie and single speed?
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Old 11-24-20, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Whats the difference between a fixie and single speed?
Fixie means fixed gear. There's no ratchet (freewheel) in the rear hub. You can't coast. If you're moving, the pedals are turning.

Single speed is anything with one speed, including fixie, but also freewheel and coaster brake hubs. Mine's a coaster brake, with a brake inside the hub that's activated by pedaling backwards, like on a kids bike.

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Old 11-24-20, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Whats the difference between a fixie and single speed?
A fixie is the opposite of a brokie and a single speed is a bike with one gear and a fixed gear has that one immovable gear threaded to the hub vs a freewheel or a single cog on a freehub.
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Old 11-25-20, 02:51 AM
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Oh okay. I've ridden a fixie before. It feltnweird at first but I liked it alot.

Any benefits with a fixie?
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Old 11-25-20, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
This might make for some interesting conversation...
Well you did succeed at suckering some serious replies, but your follow-up question...

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Whats the difference between a fixie and single speed?
and your subsequent admisson that you did know, kinda proves my contention that you are trolling.


Since I'm already here...
Originally Posted by REDMASTA View Post
single speed is for beach cruisers.
My beach cruiser is a phiksie

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Old 11-27-20, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
What about 44/16? Is that a good fixie ratio?
Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Whats the difference between a fixie and single speed?
Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Any benefits with a fixie?
LMGTFY
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Old 11-27-20, 01:05 PM
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Back to the original question. Most of my recreational hours in the saddle thee days are on a direct drive 36 inch fixed wheel unicycle. The riding position is less efficient than a bicycle.

Most of my bicycling is on my fixed. The gear works out at roughly 68 inches which coincidentally is approximately my height. Coincidence? I dare say a taller person with a bit ore muscle mass and longer legs might choose a slightly higher gear.

The few times I ride my geared bike these days, I always take a few miles to adjust to the moment of mild concern when I try to slow down with my legs and then have to reach for the brakes.

If I only had one bicycle and could make no changes to it for the rest of my life, I would probably choose fixed, and a slightly lower gear than I have at present, because my inclination takes me off road whenever the opportunity arises.
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Old 11-30-20, 07:10 PM
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Can single speed or fixie bikes benefit from slightly less drivetrain drag due to a lack of friction from a derailer and perhaps better chain tension?
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Old 12-01-20, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Can single speed or fixie bikes benefit from slightly less drivetrain drag due to a lack of friction from a derailer and perhaps better chain tension?
Yes, a single speed transmission, whether fixed or not, can have some efficiency advantages over a derailleur system. These will mainly apply in the "sweet spot" where the rider is pedalling at optimal cadence (rpm) and torque. Over a long and varied ride with steep hills, headwinds and so on, the advantages of the derailleur will outweigh these advantages — which is why Tour de France riders use derailleurs!

Compared to a derailleur geared bike, a single speed:
  • Has less chain length, which is a weight saving.
  • Has a simpler chain run (no zig zag through the derailleur) so less bending and straightening = less friction.
  • Has no jockey wheels = less friction.
  • Has no front or rear derailleur mechanism = less weight and marginally better aerodynamics.
  • Has no shifters and gear cables = marginally less weight.
  • Has a straight chain line all the time. In most gears on a derailleur system, the chain is pulling at an angle, meaning part of the force is wasted. (Think sines and cosines.)
  • Has a straight chain line which means no sideways flexing of the chain = less friction.
However, compared to a single speed, a derailleur system:
  • Allows the rider to maintain the most efficient cadence and level of torque across a range of riding conditions and speeds.
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Old 12-01-20, 09:30 PM
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My $0.02:

What are your opinions on singlespeed bikes in general? Something more of a novelty or would you ride it everywhere, all the time?
Superb, unrivaled riding experience for riding everywhere ...unless you live where it's super hilly.

SF is known for being hilly and people manage to ride fixed there. I rode FG in the Bay for 10 years and mostly avoided hills but I did that anyway - never "got there" w/ the loving inclines even when I rode multi-geared MTB (stolen, god rest her Stumpy soul).
Does it feel more efficient or more effective than your typical geared bikes?

Won't speak to "efficiency" but riding fixed definitely gives you a direct access to power sensation that you don't get on a bike any other way - like driving manual vs automatic transmission. First time I rode friend's FG bike felt like I'd tried to mount a not-entirely-hostile Siberian tiger who didn't care for my antics and immediately threw me on the ground. Almost felt like a betrayal - bike, how could you?! - but, like all good things, risk is proportional to reward and I took as a challenge I couldn't pass up.

Rode old Peugeot converted to freehub SS with brakes for a few years and was hooked on the cleaner, less squishy feel to jamming on the pedals. Finally committed to FG then did another year of urban riding with brakes before losing the brakes altogether and never looked back.
What about 44/16? Is that a good fixie ratio?

Not educated enough to speak to ratios like some others here but FWIW 46/17 has been my sweet spot and also happens to be stock ratio on the All City Big Block complete build.
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Old 12-02-20, 12:48 PM
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There was a nishiki road bike for sale in my size whixhcwas converted to a fixie for fun. Would be a great choice for a zippy secondary bike.
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Old 12-03-20, 12:19 PM
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I ride my fixed everywhere, it's a great bike comfy, simple to look after. Not sure whether it feels more efficient just get a gear that feels right for what you want to do and do it. 44/16 is cool, I ride 43/20 and 43/18 flip flop as I load up the front rack for camping/shopping/beers. I also ride these ratios cos I'm weak and got old knees.
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Old 12-03-20, 08:33 PM
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What sort of bike you guys think would be an ideal candidate for a fixed gear conversion?
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Old 12-03-20, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
What sort of bike you guys think would be an ideal candidate for a fixed gear conversion?
A blue one purchased by a dude named Mark at a Tallahassee bike shop in September of 1972.
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Old 12-03-20, 11:40 PM
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Frame with horizontal dropouts or track ends, although if a bike has track ends, chances are good that it already has a fixed or flip-flop hub.

While not fixed gear, six of the bikes in my family's fleet are conversions -- single speed, coaster, and IGH builds. Both of my kids built up single speed bikes. My preference is for steel frames so I can adjust the dropout spacing as needed. Longer dropout slots are preferable. Clearance for wider tires is preferable.

Next, choose a bike that has good components on it, your preference of upright or drop bar, and detachable chain rings of a mainstream BCD so it's not a nightmare to swap rings. The more "keepers" on the bike, the less you have to spend on parts.

Beyond that, I doubt the criteria are much different than for any other kind of bike. It needs to fit your body and suit your preferences for things like tire width, fenders and other accessories per your preference etc.

Look in the picture thread. You'll see that it really covers the gamut. There is certainly a widespread fixie style, but it's not your only option.

Good brakes are a must-have in my fleet.
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