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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)

fixed in winter?

Old 02-06-07, 12:32 PM
  #1  
jimmibudd
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fixed in winter?

hi folks....
i've been a winter cyclist for years and a fixed gear rider for a year and a half....

i have a question: i see pics and people on the street riding there fixed (or possibly singlespeed) on the frozen streets.... i'm used to riding my MTB with studded tires in the winter, but would like to try riding the thin tires...

anyways, my fixed is geared at 52x19... is that too high for winter cycling?

any recommendations or comments? comparing MTB to road tires?
i need data/info!!

thanks

J
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Old 02-06-07, 12:39 PM
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dirtyphotons
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the gear you use is as personal as your saddle, i can't help you there.

i usually gear down for several reasons. among them are:
-lower gear ratios give you more control on slippery surfaces
-my knees get worse when the temperature goes down, no sense in killing them in the winter
-my overall strength is lower
-i need to spin to try and get as much of an aerobic workout as i can during my commute, since i have precious few daylight hours for other rides
-i need to work on getting more power at high cadences, and the above factors make this an ideal time for it
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Old 02-06-07, 12:44 PM
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jimmibudd
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thanks for the reply......
so, you bike fixed with thin tires then? do you slightly studded tires or just the slicks?

thanks
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Old 02-06-07, 12:51 PM
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I used to run cyclocross tires on my fixed, but I recently switched to specialized all condition tires. Today was the first time I've had any trouble since we got 3 inches of snow and they didn't plow so my tires kept sinking through the packed snow. Either tires would have been bad today. I like having normal tires since most of the time the streets are clean anyways.
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Old 02-06-07, 12:52 PM
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dirtyphotons
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Originally Posted by jimmibudd
thanks for the reply......
so, you bike fixed with thin tires then? do you slightly studded tires or just the slicks?

thanks
right now i've got some cross tires on, but that's more of an elective choice than a necessity. last winter it was slicks and i was just fine. i just stayed clear of ice, but i do that no matter what.
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Old 02-06-07, 04:07 PM
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I'd keep the studded tire MTB for the worst days- the wide studded tires definately work better in icy conditions, or when there's enough snow that thin tires don't penetrate down to the pavement.

A fully-fendered fixed makes a great commuter for the rest of the time- when it's simply cold, rainy, or slushy snow.
Some people advocate running a studded tire on the front (if you have clearance), or a a tire with really sticky rubber (conti 4-season). I don't find cross tires to be an advantage- they're heavier, significantly worse on dry pavement than slicks, tend to gum up with snow due to the compact tread, and don't offer the flotation advantages of a wider tire in the deep snow.

Gearing down is good, if only because you're working against more air resistance when it's cold rather than warm, due to the denser air. - ~12% more work to go 15mph at -10C vs 25C. Also allows more precise control of the back wheel, which works well for drivetrain braking on sketchy surfaces.
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Old 02-06-07, 05:05 PM
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yeah, the cross tires are more for the trails than for winter weather.

and i just noticed your location jimibudd. wanted to warn that my experience is from washington dc, where our winter is probably comparable to your fall. so take that at face value.
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Old 02-06-07, 05:26 PM
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I haven't found that there are many days in a prairie winter that would lend well to riding a fixed. It can be done on days where the streets are hard packed, but when its cold like -20 and you get fresh snow, it doesn't pack down for a couple of days (like we're gettin right now in Saskatoon), making the mountain bike with studded tires the better choice for a lot of days. It's nice when you can ride fixed in the winter, but in Canada, there just aren't that many days where the conditions really make riding fixed an enjoyable experience (unless you have a fixed mountain bike with studded tires or live in Victoria).
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Old 02-06-07, 05:41 PM
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I saw a guy here in Champaign who was trying to ride his road bike on the snow covered streets, and I could immediately tell he was on a fixed with WAY too tall of a gear on WAY too skinny tires. It was kind of sad.
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Old 02-06-07, 05:46 PM
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I have a SS mtn bike with studded tires, and I find it's almost a necessity for a good portion of the winter. The city has stopped plowing roads except for major arteries, so when it snows it has a tendency to stick around for a while. The hills on my way home are often snow-covered and steep enough that I need knobbies for traction. If I lived along the river valley, I could likely get away with slicks on all but the worst days.

In terms of gearing, I have 42x16 on both my SS/FG and studded mtn bike. I'll admit that the 42x16 is tough to push in the snow, but it keeps the torque down and therefore keeps me from breaking traction too often.
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Old 02-06-07, 06:21 PM
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Great forum topic. I'm in Ames IA. We get a fair amount of snow here, and a lot of nasty drifts. I've ridden SS mountain a lot through the snow. We salt our streets here, so it gets sloppy quick. I definitely prefer fixed, no brakes to muck up and grind my rims down (never tried disc). I also like the comment about torque, I like my 42-16 gearing a lot. I'm used to skid-stopping now, so when it's slick it makes it interesting with my riding style. I run fenders and cyclocross tires. I really like my "mud" tires from Hutchinson Pro. They're really light actually, with plently of spacing between treads so the snow doesn't stay packed. They run thin, about 28 width so they dig down through all sorts of snow. This forum has got to talk about tire pressure though, I like higher end cross tires, cause they don't pinch flat and I can run 30-45 psi. I really like this setup, just my two cents
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Old 02-06-07, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bontrageral
They're really light actually, with plently of spacing between treads so the snow doesn't stay packed. They run thin, about 28 width so they dig down through all sorts of snow. This forum has got to talk about tire pressure though, I like higher end cross tires, cause they don't pinch flat and I can run 30-45 psi.
Yeah-lowering your tire pressure can really improve winter traction.
I've taken my nokian studded tires (26X1.95") down to ~15 psi for some really nasty stuff. Gotta be careful that the tire isn't rotating on the rim, though, since it can rip the tube at the stem.
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Old 02-06-07, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Telix
I saw a guy here in Champaign who was trying to ride his road bike on the snow covered streets, and I could immediately tell he was on a fixed with WAY too tall of a gear on WAY too skinny tires. It was kind of sad.

where at? might have been me although I run fairly low gearing
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Old 02-06-07, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by lbthomps
where at? might have been me although I run fairly low gearing
On campus at 5th and Daniel, by Espresso, around 4pm.
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Old 02-06-07, 09:01 PM
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what's a favorite winter tire of east coasters? we don't get it too bad here, but it's nice to have some traction when you need it. I'm looking to run 28s, what's good?
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Old 02-06-07, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by dirtyphotons
the gear you use is as personal as your saddle, i can't help you there.

i usually gear down for several reasons. among them are:
-lower gear ratios give you more control on slippery surfaces
-my knees get worse when the temperature goes down, no sense in killing them in the winter
-my overall strength is lower
-i need to spin to try and get as much of an aerobic workout as i can during my commute, since i have precious few daylight hours for other rides
-i need to work on getting more power at high cadences, and the above factors make this an ideal time for it
you got it dirty

one more thing if you have a worn road tire you can make a studded tire with som 1/4" sheetrock screws and some duck tape

put the screws through the tire at about 45 degrees of the center of the tire line tire with ducktape and roll also you only really need this on the front

enjoy also with a lower gear in winter you can skid easier and skip as wel in emergencies
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Old 02-06-07, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Telix
On campus at 5th and Daniel, by Espresso, around 4pm.
nope not me
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Old 02-07-07, 07:27 AM
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wow!
thanks for all the replies...

most of my route is rutted slippery snow and on the side streets it is hardpacked snow with no pavement... so, i think i'll stick with the MTB with studs... it is geared, but i'd like to either pick up another MTB or convert my present one to a SS/FG for next winter...

i still want to fix another 10speed at a lower gearing for goofing around....

anyways, thanks again...

J
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