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Touring Fixed 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)

Touring Fixed Gear

Old 11-21-23, 10:28 AM
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Touring Fixed Gear

Is it possable to turn my F.G. into a light Touring bike? (If so, how?)
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Old 11-21-23, 11:08 AM
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Put racks on it is a good first step.
if you need to a smaller ring or bigger cog makes the extra weight easier to deal with.
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Old 11-21-23, 12:33 PM
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In one word - yes. This country has been crossed a number of times fixed. (The early ones not documented as "fixed" because in those days, there was nothing else.)

Consider a double sided hub. I rode Cycle Oregon 5 times on my avatar photo bike. Yes, riding light like the photo which was taken at Cycle Oregon. But that photo was taken when I was 62 yo. Too old to be doing the hard climbs on a 42-17. I would leave camp on the 17, then flip to the 23 on the other side for big climbs, then use the chainwhip you can see strapped to the top tube to unscrew a cog and screw on a 12 for the descent.

Terrain is a biggie! With that bike and riding a 42 tooth chainring, 42-24 (47 gear inches) was the lowest possible using standard velodrome rings and cogs. (1/8" 144 BCD track rings are a little hard to find but they exist.) The 42-12 makes a good top end. (95 gear inches).

There is another approach that widens the options. Run what I call "multiple chainlines". Several chainrings that line up with their own cogs in back. I took my Peter Mooney with its standard horizontal Campy dropouts and set it up as a triple, 46-42-36 and had a local framebuilder make me a "double cog" from two regular fix gear cogs, a 21 and a 17. On the other side of the hub I ran usually a 13. This gave me "chainlines" of 46-13 (96"), 42-17 (67") and 36-21 (46"). I have at times carried that chainwhip and screwed on a 24. 36-24 (41") is very low for a fix gear though probably not for touring if there are real hills.

And back to the terrain - with gearing like I used, big climbs and descents are both manageable and fun. Gone is the downhill battering we all know so well. But - it costs a stop and start every gear change. Rollers can be the ultimate killers. Much of the Oregon coastal highway is NOT fun! Too many stops and a lot of the endless hills are simply too hard going up and too battering going down to be fun unless you stop and change. When Cycle Oregon announced the week-long ride in January I would study the days' elevation profiles. One or two mountain passes and long descents each day- great fix gear! Too many hills? No, I'll go gears. (Exception, Crater Lake. Huge climb up and down. The rim is three 1000' hills over the 23 miles but only a mile of "flat". So for the vast majority of the day, all you are doing is going up or down. No flat ground gear needed. I rode the "flat" in the wrong gear. No biggie!)

All of my experience is with no weight on the bike. I have commuted and done farmer's market trips on my workhorse fix gear many, many times. LowRider rack and small panniers which I have loaded to 20 pounds each. I love LowRiders (and the better racks by Jandd and others) because of where they place the weight. The bike behaves perfectly fully loaded when climbing out of the saddle whereas weight in back is doing its best to leverage the entire bike. With LowRiders you can stand and do whatever rocking works best for you. Weight in back and you will find that it is better to hold the bike steady and not fight it with your wrists. But holding the bike steady is tossing out the great climbing assist, the "rock" or as I prefer, "The Dance".

Also, weight forward will simplify changing gears; giving you good hub access. Physically easier to lift the back of the bike to pull the wheel and replace it. (LowRiders and weight in them will put a far greater impact load on the front rim when you hit that pothole. Go with a strong front wheel and big enough tire.)

I'd be happy to assist you further, either on the thread or by PM if you want to know more of how I set my bikes up. (The Mooney was quite the juggling act. What I described above sounds simple. It wasn't. But the end result came out really well. Rides like a pure, quality fix gear in all three chainlines; three radically different gears.) I love riding fix gears. Been doing it for 45 years and well over 100,000 miles. Anything I can do to pass on this love or the wisdom I've acquired; well, just ask.
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Old 11-21-23, 12:36 PM
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Do whatever you feel is needed for your light touring set up. I have used my Cinelli Mash Work (set up single speed at the time) for bike packing and it worked nicely. I do have a front rack mounted to me canti studs for a rando bag and had a frame bag and a seat bag and it was great. I probably wouldn't want to tour a long distance on it but was fun.

You may need to change gearing and certainly a flip flop hub or dingle speed set up might help out.
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Old 11-22-23, 09:07 AM
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Our cousins in the U.K., separated from us by the Atlantic and a common language, have been doing fixed-gear touring for a VERY long time. While the most frequently encountered variant described involves staying in inns and B&B sort of establishments, there ARE accounts of light camping and roughing it. The classical British method involved a capacious transverse saddlebag such as a Carradice Nelson or Camper Longflap, which worked well for that method. I suspect that with modern ultralight gear and clothing you could carry suitable camping gear that way, with an eye towards going minimalist.
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Old 11-23-23, 10:55 PM
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If you live in South Florida, or Holland, a single speed bike is fine for touring. If you live here in Japan, with its mountainous countryside, it's not the greatest option. The Blue Lug cycle shops here in Japan organize tours for their staff, and these are posted on YouTube, one of these guys rides a single speed, and seems to be able to keep up even with the terrain gets less horizontal.
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Old 11-27-23, 04:38 AM
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Maybe you can do a century or Lt. Touring after all. That Wabi guy says you can't. Well, let's prove him wrong!
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Old 11-27-23, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Colorado Kid
Maybe you can do a century or Lt. Touring after all. That Wabi guy says you can't. Well, let's prove him wrong!
I would suspect the choice of frame would have a role to play as well. I would avoid really steep upright angles and short wheelbases and narrow tires. It's surprising how much of a difference 28 mm tires and a slightly longer wheelbase with slightly slacker angles provide. My long-distance fixed-gear is a custom-built Mercian with 72x72 angles and a 41-in wheelbase - which when I started riding would have been considered suitable for stage races. The zippiest fixed-gear I have is a c.1971 Gitane Tour de France, 73 degree head, 72 degree seat angles, with a wheelbase right at 40-in, but it's also low trail front geometry should I decide to run a handlebar bag.
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