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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 02-28-13, 03:13 AM
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Why is my 46/17 fixed gearing easier than my 46/18 SS gearing on the same bike?

Is it because fixed gear is truly more efficient? I feel like I'm working harder when it's on freewheel, even with lower gearing.
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Old 02-28-13, 03:17 AM
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Fixed/ direct drivetrain momentum.
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Old 02-28-13, 03:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Leukybear
Fixed/ direct drivetrain momentum.
Thanks for the quick reply, Leuky. Makes sense. So this is normal, I'm assuming? I would also like to add that this bike (Motobecane Track) also seems to lose momentum faster and is harder to pedal than my Jamis Sputnik fixed and Bianchi Eros SS conversion at comparable gearing. it doesnt have that 'aww yeah, that's buttah' feel to it. I'm starting to wonder if it's the bottom bracket or janky Kenda wheels that's slowing it down.

Last edited by Training.Wheels; 02-28-13 at 03:46 AM.
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Old 02-28-13, 07:21 AM
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Its the momentum

my good fixed bike (although also almost half the weight) is 46/17 or 71gi
my ss is 52/22 or something like 64gi (27" wheel)

the fixed gear tears ass all over the place and i always feel like im working so hard on the ss
when i get lazy on the fixed i just lay off the pushing, if i do that on the ss is has to be on a descent otherwise i end up worse than before i rested
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Old 02-28-13, 07:24 AM
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Zen, duh.
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Old 02-28-13, 09:17 AM
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It's zen. I agree.

It's all in your head. Maybe your legs too, but your brain controls your legs. "Momentum" has nothing to do with it, unless you mean that the momentum of your legs trains your brain to control your legs properly.
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Old 02-28-13, 02:36 PM
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Thanks fellas. The SSFG elite to my rescue. Anyways, I built the bike for my girlfriend and she's happy with the way it runs, so I'm good enough with that.
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Old 02-28-13, 05:12 PM
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Maybe being fixed tells you to start putting in effort sooner than the SS does... you're acutely aware of elevation changes because they affect effort and cadence if you're tied to the wheel.
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Old 02-28-13, 09:38 PM
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Zen huh? So Coach was a Zen Master...." run you lazy ****s.....my old lady's faster than you ****s!"


I think sinikl's got it.

It's like my son's response when I offered him my fixed gear for the day, " Dad, I don't want a bike that keeps telling me to pedal."
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Old 03-01-13, 12:21 AM
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There is no spoon.
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Old 03-01-13, 02:08 AM
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Modern fixed gear was developed in conjunction with Cancellara. Unfortunately, those little motors don't work with freewheels so that's why you do better on the fixed gear. Incidentally, that's also why he didn't use the motor in the TDF.
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Old 03-01-13, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Leukybear
Fixed/ direct drivetrain momentum.
Exactly where does this additional momentum come from...fairy dust?
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Old 03-01-13, 11:04 AM
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the flywheel is an energy storage device
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Old 03-01-13, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by mihlbach
Exactly where does this additional momentum come from...fairy dust?
or unicorn poop; your choice. fairy dust is probably less messy and definitely smells better.

the placebo effect; it is all in your head but head games can make a real difference.
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Old 03-02-13, 02:55 AM
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I feel totally opposite to the OP. I just switched back to singlespeed 2 days ago after 2-3 years on fixed, and the last two days I've felt way faster, although I was out for 3 weeks before that from my knee hurting. I checked on strava and I saw that I was riding 20-23mph+ for several blocks on both days, which is faster then I was riding fixed.
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Old 03-05-13, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by seau grateau
There is no spoon.
I lol'd. It's been awhile since I've heard that reference.
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Old 03-06-13, 12:41 AM
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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.
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Old 03-06-13, 08:55 AM
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in other words, it pedals itself
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Old 03-06-13, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by hairnet
in other words, it pedals itself
No one ever accused me of being short-winded.
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Old 03-06-13, 11:44 AM
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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.
I recently got a new bike and have yet to put a fixed cog on and this is the biggest difference (besides being able to coast) that I noticed. It just feels squishy and inefficient.
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Old 03-06-13, 03:02 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.

I rode my wife's commuter after riding fixed exclusively for a month or so and found a BIG dead spot in my pedal stroke at top/bottom dead center. I was relying on the wheel to push me over the hump. I started running more chain slack and can now feel it when i slack off pedaling, which i figure is helping me get a better stroke.
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Old 03-06-13, 03:17 PM
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Yeah I realized it was that dead spot that was bothering me all along too. I'm definitely much happier with a fixed gear.
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Old 03-06-13, 03:18 PM
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I would think that the mere weight of the legs essentially functioning like a pendulum has to keep some sort of momentum going. Think of one of those perpetual motion devices.
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Old 03-06-13, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Canaboo
I would think that the mere weight of the legs essentially functioning like a pendulum has to keep some sort of momentum going. Think of one of those perpetual motion devices.
You would be wrong.
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Old 03-06-13, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Canaboo
Think of one of those perpetual motion devices.
You mean those things that don't exist?
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