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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)

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Old 01-28-10, 06:18 PM   #1
sprocket47
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SS/fixie good choice for my kid's first road bike?

I'm in the process of shopping for a used road bike for my 11 year old. He loves riding and has been on a mtb since 6 and he's pretty athletic. I was thinking of building up a cyclecross but I just came across a great fixie for a good price that would fit him. I haven't personally ridden one YET, but I'm working on building my own too. Would it be an ok choice for a young kid who hasn't built up his riding muscles just yet? Would it be frustrating for him or liberating when I drag him out for a long ride?
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Old 01-28-10, 06:24 PM   #2
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If I had an 11 year old I wouldn't let him ride fixed...but thats just me...
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Old 01-28-10, 06:28 PM   #3
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"If I had an 11 year old I wouldn't let him ride fixed...but thats just me... "
Why? A safety issue with the leg brakes? What about using the flip flop hub making it a single speed with hand brakes, no different than a bmx. But I'm more concerned about the endurance and strength to use one gear on various terrain.
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Old 01-28-10, 06:35 PM   #4
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i started road riding at that age on a vintage bianchi updated to full rx100 components and 105 pedals/toe clips. i loved the thing down tube shifters and all. eventually it saw bar end shifters and then 105 brifters and look pedals.

i wouldnt start fixed, single speed would be alright, but i think a solid older road bike would give hi a nice rounded experience.
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Old 01-28-10, 06:44 PM   #5
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Pedals that don't stop spinning can do some damage...and def not good for the knees if he tries to emulate "fixie" riders with skid stops and reverse pedaling-braking. Single speed with brakes...do it.
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Old 01-28-10, 07:10 PM   #6
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Single speed with brakes...do it.
+1.
I would be of the opinion that getting used to road frame geometry and riding position would be the first hurdle to over come. Once he feels good with that then give him the option of riding fixed.
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Old 01-28-10, 07:20 PM   #7
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I say start fixed with a really low gear so he cant pick up any speed and its easy to stop. Hell, even put some brakes on it for him to start. thats what I would do.
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Old 01-28-10, 07:41 PM   #8
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I'm going to go out on a limb and disagree with just about everyone here. I think it's important for children to first learn how to use a geared bike to maintain a fairly constant cadence over varied terrain and conditions. Also, it is bad for muscle development to lug too big a gear uphill or into a headwind. This is why the racing associations impose gear limits on racers under the age of 18. I would also recommend that you get him clipless pedals and proper shoes so he can learn to pedal smoothly and use all his leg muscles to both push down and pull up on the pedals. Your son is old enough to learn how to use gears and hand brakes. Now, if you live near a bicycle track (velodrome), you could enroll him in a youth program, where he could learn how to ride a track bike properly.
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Old 01-28-10, 08:07 PM   #9
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I don't see what the big deal is. It's not like riding a fixed gear is some super dangerous stunt or something. I mean, I certainly wouldn't let him ride brakeless or anything like that. But hell, it's not like riding a fixie will automatically make your kid wear girl pants and drink PBR. Chances are the bike your kid wants will get ridden more than one he doesn't want. If he wants a fixie, get it and put front and rear brakes on it and teach him how to ride it properly.

I also agree with TT above, so you know, whatever.
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Old 01-28-10, 09:02 PM   #10
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I'm going to go out on a limb and disagree with just about everyone here. I think it's important for children to first learn how to use a geared bike to maintain a fairly constant cadence over varied terrain and conditions. Also, it is bad for muscle development to lug too big a gear uphill or into a headwind. This is why the racing associations impose gear limits on racers under the age of 18. I would also recommend that you get him clipless pedals and proper shoes so he can learn to pedal smoothly and use all his leg muscles to both push down and pull up on the pedals. Your son is old enough to learn how to use gears and hand brakes. Now, if you live near a bicycle track (velodrome), you could enroll him in a youth program, where he could learn how to ride a track bike properly.
im glad im not the only one that feels this way. not only would a vintage road bike be a cheap investment, but if he rides a lot and you upgrade him to a more modern frame, you could convert the old bike and teach him to ride fixed as well.
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Old 01-28-10, 09:21 PM   #11
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I say start fixed with a really low gear so he cant pick up any speed and its easy to stop. Hell, even put some brakes on it for him to start. thats what I would do.
+1
Exactly what I had in mind.
Just let him spin a lot until it gets really comfortable.
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Old 01-29-10, 02:48 AM   #12
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either a low geared fixed gear to get hims into cadence and spin, or a geared bike that will be more useful all around. though it took me a while to break the just mash the pedals habit (still kind of there but i'm slowly getting a more even spin when i'm on clipless. clips are still worthless but better than nothing)
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Old 01-29-10, 05:35 AM   #13
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I think it's important for children to first learn how to use a geared bike to maintain a fairly constant cadence over varied terrain and conditions.
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I don't see what the big deal is. It's not like riding a fixed gear is some super dangerous stunt or something. I mean, I certainly wouldn't let him ride brakeless or anything like that. But hell, it's not like riding a fixie will automatically make your kid wear girl pants and drink PBR. Chances are the bike your kid wants will get ridden more than one he doesn't want. If he wants a fixie, get it and put front and rear brakes on it and teach him how to ride it properly.
Both of these are excellent points. I agree that learning to ride gears is important but I don't think you are going to hurt your kid by giving them a SS or FG (with brakes). Get the kid whatever they want.
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Old 01-29-10, 06:00 AM   #14
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Did the kid have a tricycle or a Big Wheel? If so, he's already ridden fixed. But these were much slower than a bicycle can travel so if you got him a fixed gear bike I'd definitely have brakes on it. I actually recommend a single speed with brakes because of hills. Even with brakes, going down hill on a fixie is not so much fun. You bust your butt to get up that dang hill and now you can't even enjoy coasting down the other side? Bummer.

Geared bikes won't teach a kid to ride with a high cadence. If there's one thing to be learned on the SS/FG forum, it's that riding SS/FG will increase your cadence over riding a geared bike.

If a hill is too steep; do what millions of other kids have always done; get off and walk.

My youngest granddaughters have singlespeeds; the oldest rides a Trek FX because she could spin out her old singlespeed. I got her the geared bike when she turned 12. It was the bike she picked out.
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Old 01-29-10, 06:20 AM   #15
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Did the kid have a tricycle or a Big Wheel? If so, he's already ridden fixed.
Technically those are direct drive which is different than fixed gear since the ratio is always 1:1.
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Old 01-29-10, 09:16 AM   #16
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Would it be frustrating for him or liberating when I drag him out for a long ride?
That depends..are you going to ride a fixie too? If you plan on taking out your road bike with him on a fixed gear, its probably not going to be very fun. If you're both riding fixies, then I'd say it is fine as long as its geared appropriately and has brakes. I don't buy into all the nonsense about the importance of children learning with gears and developing the proper cadence and all that BS. Most kids that age are riding around single speed BMX bikes and doing just fine. I don't think gears will really matter to an 11 year old and a bike without deraileurs is going to hold up much better to kiddie abuse. However, the coolness factor of a fixed gear will probably not register in an 11 year old's mind. Most importantly, just get him what he wants....that will keep him interested.

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