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Why is my 46/17 fixed gearing easier than my 46/18 SS gearing on the same bike?

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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)

Why is my 46/17 fixed gearing easier than my 46/18 SS gearing on the same bike?

Old 03-06-13, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Jandro
With a freewheel there is a 'dead spot' at the top of your pedal stroke where you are essentially putting no power into turning the cranks. Good form helps this, but it's always there.

With a direct drive (fixed gear) that same dead spot is there, but the momentum you put into turning the pedals prior to the dead spot helps push past that dead spot with reduced loss of forward momentum on the crank (as compared to a freewheel).

Depending on your pedal stroke/form this differential can be more or less pronounced.
If this makes sense to you, then the difference is definitely all in your head.

"the momentum you put into turning the pedals" - you do not put momentum into turning the pedals. Maybe you mean energy? You are talking about Newton's first law of motion (object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force) and it is not the motion of the pedals/cranks that is at issue but the motion of the rider and the bike. That hunk of mass is moving forward and it is going to keep moving forward. Because it is a fixed gear the wheel makes the crank go round and round and YOUR LEG is one unbalanced force acting to slow the whole thing down - unless you keep your legs from getting in the way by moving them along the route of crank/pedal. (Which is what your brain figures out)

"forward momentum on the crank" - again, it is not momentum on the crank, it is force. And it is not just forward, it is forward and backward (at the bottom of the stroke) and up and down and every other possible angle around 360 degrees.
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Old 03-06-13, 03:42 PM
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Energy is the more correct word, you're right. Circular force, I guess, would be the best way to describe the relationship between your leg and the crank but I was going for generalizations rather than detailed explanations.

I should have known someone would come along and point that out. It's the internet, after all.
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