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)

Chain/Gearing Questions

Old 04-02-06, 12:25 PM
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voshchev
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Chain/Gearing Questions

I recently decided that since my commute in Chicago requires me to change gears rarely if ever I would be much better off with a fixed gear bike. Not being much of a technical wizard, I found and bought an 05 Lemond Fillmore. I'm thrilled with the bike, but I do have some lingering, newbie-style questions:

First, I have a flip flop hub with a 16t cog on one side and a single-speed, 18t on the other; the front crank is 44t. When I switch between the single speed and the 16t cog, will I need to tighten/adjust my chain?

Second, seeing as the largest hill that I'll encounter will be a bridge over the river, will a 44-16 be fast enough? If not, should I look for a new chain ring or new cog? Where would one buy these parts? What bike shops could I go to for help without being made to feel like an absolute idiot?

Third, my pedals don't have straps; am I going to kill myself?

Finally, What's the opinion on taking off the rear brake?

Thanks ahead of time for any answers. They really should offer some sort of class for newbie fixed gear riders.
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Old 04-02-06, 12:52 PM
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1. When you witch from one size cog to another you need to adjust your chain tension by pulling the wheel back in the trackends. Yu want it tight enough to not fall off the cog but loose enough to haveplay. You'll get the hang of it.

2. Thats all personal but a 44-16 is 72ish gear inches so I'd think you'll be okay.

3. Yes. If you are riding fixed you need clips and straps.

4 If you are riding on the freewheel side then it is unnecesary but not a big deal. If you are riding the fixed side only then take the rear brake off. You already have a rear brake with your legs.
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Old 04-02-06, 01:02 PM
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Well since you have brakes, you dont really need clips and straps, but youll find out theres a lot more control given to you if you do put them on. Deffinately dont take off the rear brake if you dont have clips and straps. While you may not need it, its doesnt hurt to have it there.
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Old 04-02-06, 01:05 PM
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First, I have a flip flop hub with a 16t cog on one side and a single-speed, 18t on the other; the front crank is 44t. When I switch between the single speed and the 16t cog, will I need to tighten/adjust my chain?
Your rear axle will need to be moved by about 1/8" fir every tooth of difference in your drivetrain. If you switch from the cog to the freewheel (two teeth difference), your chain will be taut 1/4" closer to the bottom bracket than before. Assuming you plan ahead properly, you should be able to use a tooth difference of as many as 4 to 6 teeth without a problem. You should already be good to go from the factory, but if you need to adjust your chain, set it to be almost to the back of the horizontal dropouts when using the smaller of the two sprockets. When you switch to the bigger one, the axle will be held closer to the bottom bracket but should still be safely within the dropouts. If you have track ends, do the opposite. The goal is to set the chain length to be just barely workable and fully adjustable against one extreme so that the other extreme isn't a problem.

Second, seeing as the largest hill that I'll encounter will be a bridge over the river, will a 44-16 be fast enough? If not, should I look for a new chain ring or new cog? Where would one buy these parts? What bike shops could I go to for help without being made to feel like an absolute idiot?
Do you mean for the climb, or the descent? Unless it's a really steep hill, you should be fine. Assuming you have 700x25 tires, my math shows you should be able to hit 30mph at 140rpm of cadence. 140rpm is pretty fast, but not too hard to get used to if you have foot-retention and are just "coasting" down a smooth hill. You'll probably find that once you get a little bit stronger, you'll be able to climb just about any halfway serious hill even with your 44/16. That's about 72 gear inches with 700x25 tires. Here's something I made a while back to toy with gearing decisions and comparisons:
http://www.basementfreaks.com/members/karl/gearing/

I can't advise you on Chicago-area bike shops since I'm closer to Minneapolis, but there has got to be at least a good one or two that caters to fixed and singlespeed riders more than the typical carbon and spandex roadie shop or rusty coaster brake campus shop. Someone else will probably jump in here with a recommendation. You can also order stuff from the internet. Ben's Cycles (based in Milwaukee I think) usually has good deals on Dura Ace cogs. A lot of people speak highly of Business Cycles as well. I don't know where they are based.

Third, my pedals don't have straps; am I going to kill myself?
Maybe. It is usually considered quite foolish to ride fixed without some kind of foot-retention system, whether you go with clips and straps or clipless pedals and shoes. This is even more important if you are running without any brakes (a bad thing for a beginner to try and not the wisest thing for anyone to try unless they are really certain of what they are doing) because you need to be able to pull up on the back pedal to effectively lock the rear wheel for "braking".

Finally, What's the opinion on taking off the rear brake?
You should only do this if you are going to run fixed. Singlespeed should have two brakes for safety. With fixed, your resistive pedaling and skidding provides the redundancy for the front brake, but with a singlespeed, you really should keep both brakes.

Good luck!
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Old 04-02-06, 01:46 PM
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Am I correct in thinking the rear brake is set for the singlespeed cog and probably can't be used if the fixed cog moves the rear wheel so the brake pads aren't hitting the rim?
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Old 04-02-06, 02:24 PM
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I recognize all those words, just not in the order you used them...
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Old 04-02-06, 02:28 PM
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switching between the sides of the hub should not affect the position of the rim between the stays. so your brake bads should not be hitting the rim on the fixed side if it doesnt on the ss side
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Old 04-02-06, 03:19 PM
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The pads will actually most likely not align since the cogs are different sizes. 44x16 is a perfect gear for a flat commute in my opinion. I crank up the super-steep hills around here in a 42x16 fairly well, and spin comfortably on the flats at around 17-19mph without spinning out it seems. If it weren't for the sharp steep hills I would consider a 44.

What kind of pedals are you using? It comes with clipless as I recall--you aren't using the plastic platforms that comes attached to them, are you?
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Old 04-02-06, 04:57 PM
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Take a look at the fork ends on the Quickbeam - they aren't horizontal, but angled up toward the back so that when changing the ratio (+/- 8t in the front), the wheel's relationship to the pads remains constand.

On the Filmore, I bet some minor adjustment to the pads would be necessary.

http://www.rivendellbicycles.com/htm...quickbeam.html
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Old 04-02-06, 09:37 PM
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Thanks all! Tire has been successfully flipped, clips added, and all is well. The rear brake does not seem to be affected by my using the fixed gear, so I guess I'll leave it on for the now.
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