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How Hilly is Too Hilly For Fixed? How About for SS?

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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)

How Hilly is Too Hilly For Fixed? How About for SS?

Old 04-17-24, 09:58 AM
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How Hilly is Too Hilly For Fixed? How About for SS?

I know it comes down to the rider, but for YOU personally how Hilly would it have to get before you ditched the SS and or Fixed. This is the last 6.5 miles of my rides. No, it's not the whole ride. I'm just showing the pertinent last bit I have to bike to get home. Obviously I'm also coming down that hill into pretty busy traffic with a light at the bottom of the hill.



I'm asking because I'm seriously thinking of getting a Wabi or Kilo TT. I live the mechanical simplicity of the fixie!
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Old 04-17-24, 10:22 AM
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I need some information to know what I am looking at. Vertical scale? You have two final climbs of 2.0 what? I need help on both grade and elevation gain of the two. What gear are you riding? Brakes?

I've been riding fix gears forever. Love climbing on them but am getting older and don't do what I used to. I prefer to live in places where I can do a cool down of the last couple of miles but that is easier to arrange when you know before you buy or move that you will be riding fix gear. Did ride up ~150' to my first house every ride but it wasn't steep and I was in my 30s and 40s then.

You could ride a flip-flop wheel with say a 17 tooth fix gear cog and 21 FW. Stop and flip at mile 5.2. (Gotta have a brake though.)

I have two fix gears set up so I can ride fix-fix wheels so I can ride serious hills/mountains with gears as low as 42-24 and 36-24 and as high as 42-12 and 46-13. Stop and flip to use two cogs. One bike is set up with three fixed cogs. The other, I have to carry a chainwhip. Not really the answer for your situation.

You can run more than one chainring and have the two or more rings line up with their respective cogs. Now you can have really big gear ratio differences and have all work with a track end or dropout that isn't all that long. (As long as the number of teeth total between front and back doesn't change, the hub moves very little.)
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Old 04-17-24, 06:46 PM
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I mean with the right gearing nothing really. However if I know I am going to be on a ride that is super hilly I probably will take a geared bike because I have multiple bikes. I mean it is easy enough to get a flip-flop hub and flip the wheel to the other side with a larger cog or freewheel.

79pmooney had some excellent points.
Also we have a Mooney in the shop now it is lovely blue and white beauty that someone has modernized slightly with some 10 speed DA. Such a pretty bike. Thankfully they aren't coming till Friday so I can look at it a bunch before that.
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Old 04-24-24, 12:24 AM
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I ride fixed in downtown Seattle, we are known for our hills similar (we're a distant 2nd place) to SF.
It's a cliche but the term "spin to win" really makes sense.
I'm in my 40s now and run a super spinny gear (47x18 or 47x19) but I can still climb hills.
For downhill you just adapt and build up your cadence. If you think you're going too fast, just scrub some speed off.

What is your front ring teeth? Rear cogs are cheap, you could just run a larger rear cog at first (spinny/high rpm) and experiment to see how you like it.
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Old 04-28-24, 03:06 AM
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For years I rode fixed 48x15 w/a 550 foot drop into work w/a 550 ft climb homeward. Most of the vert was on one hill. To climb it I just did shallow switchbacks. Then as I got stronger I deepened them until I was only doing 4 turns. This was very rural and at night as I worked 2nd shift. So no traffic worries.

My r/t daily commute was 42 miles. For 6 years my mileage averaged 12,000+. It seems crazy now, but it seemed normal at the time. So, there really are no rules. Find a gearing that works best for you on your commuting terrain. In retrospect I should have used ss to save on my knees, but I just loved riding fixed. lol
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Old 05-22-24, 03:03 PM
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I'll pile on - it's all about the gearing. I live in Atlanta. It's damn hilly... unless you compare it to Seattle or SF. Let's call it very rolling ;-) I ride a single speed fairly often with my club - regular roadies on regular road rides. Both of my single speed are around 95-99 gear inches or 52/14. Yeah, I grind up the hills, but I need the big end for the fast flats.
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Old 05-24-24, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Kiwisaver
For years I rode fixed 48x15 w/a 550 foot drop into work w/a 550 ft climb homeward. Most of the vert was on one hill. To climb it I just did shallow switchbacks. Then as I got stronger I deepened them until I was only doing 4 turns. This was very rural and at night as I worked 2nd shift. So no traffic worries.

My r/t daily commute was 42 miles. For 6 years my mileage averaged 12,000+. It seems crazy now, but it seemed normal at the time. So, there really are no rules. Find a gearing that works best for you on your commuting terrain. In retrospect I should have used ss to save on my knees, but I just loved riding fixed. lol
My uphill is a busy two lane road with a 35 mph speed limit that cars typically do 50-55mph. Zig zagging even a little bit to get up a steep hill is not good for your health
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Old 05-26-24, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Zaskar
I'll pile on - it's all about the gearing. I live in Atlanta. It's damn hilly... unless you compare it to Seattle or SF. Let's call it very rolling ;-) I ride a single speed fairly often with my club - regular roadies on regular road rides. Both of my single speed are around 95-99 gear inches or 52/14. Yeah, I grind up the hills, but I need the big end for the fast flats.
Same. Just about nothing that a single speed canít handle with the right gearing. Also do regular club rides with the roadies, and choose the appropriate gearing depending on the route and grades. Having a flip flop hub also helps, and if necessary can change gearing during a re-group on the ride. Only issue is if I gear for the hills, can get dropped during extended 25+ mph pace line runs by the pack :/
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