Riding fixed

edited May 2007 in Road general
Well.. I have just completed my first commute on a fixed wheel. I have to say that it was interesting.. there are lots of times when I actually free wheel when I didn't realise.

However a bit of advice if possible:

1) Having an issue with going up the inside of traffic.. my inside pedal caught on the curb a number of times.. realistically I suppose I should just avoid going up the inside.. any tricks to avoid this or is it the blatantly obvious?

2) When slowing down quickly I get lifted off the saddle, is there a technique to slowing or is it again the blatantly obvious (again) of taking more time to slow?

With both of these things it seems like the obvious would sort it out.. but if there are any helpful hints for commuting around London then they would be much appreciated!



  • graham_g
    graham_g Posts: 652
    1) just the obvious - you should be overtaking not undertaking!
    2) This is just getting used to keeping your legs moving, it'll literally be just a few days or a week until this becomes second nature.
  • Graham, the going up the inside is coming up to traffic lights.. Before I could just freewheel and walk up the inside, it is not for actual overtaking.

    Perhaps it is something that i should stop doing! if riding fixed gets me out of bad habits and improves my cycling then it is doubly good!
  • graham_g
    graham_g Posts: 652
    I don't like to preach about anything like that - we all do things we know we shouldn't but it's better to filter on the outside where you are far more visible to drivers and slot yourself in. Start a thread in commuting and you will get a hell of alot of comment!
  • "my inside pedal caught on the curb a number of times.. realistically I suppose I should just avoid going up the inside.. any tricks to avoid this or is it the blatantly obvious?"

    IMO/E this is the only instance where fixed is more "dangerous" than free (altho' I have seen arguments that it is inherently dodgier). Not just filtering (which may or may not be a good thing anyway). At least once I have been forced so close to the kerb by a passing HGV that had I been on my then more usual fixed I would crtainly have hit the kerb and very possibly have been dead.
    Not a lot you can do about it other than standard defensive riding. In particular, try to dominate YOUR bit of the road.

    Good luck and enjoy!

    "Like a true nature's child,
    We were born,
    Born to drink mild"
  • ironman, what length cranks are you spinning. mine are 165mm and i imagine every little helps. the times i feel it is right to go up the inside i keep a close eye on that curb and can usually avoid it.

    and you will soon start experimenting with skid and skip stopping - all of which can help sometimes when you have to throw the anchors down.


    FGG #2545 & #2983

    FGG 2545, 2983
  • Jonny you are going to have to explain skip stopping. I assume that with time i will be able to do the skid one.. will have a go tonight on the way home..
  • Greenbank
    Greenbank Posts: 731

    If I can overtake safely, I will.
    If there's enough space to go up the inside coming up to lights then I will.
    Otherwise I'm quite happy to just sit in the queue of traffic in the middle of the lane.

    I found that the first few times riding a geared bike I was more aggressive. Weaving in and out just to go that extra 5m up the road.

    2) The leg strength required for leg braking will come eventually. In the mean time it's certainly enough to lift you off your seat. The more you ride, and the more you try it, the stronger you'll get and the less you'll use your brakes (although it's always worth covering them just in case!).

    If I had a baby elephant signature, I'd use that.
    If I had a baby elephant signature, I\'d use that.
  • hazeii
    hazeii Posts: 233
    If you're slowing down, use the brake(s) rather than your legs (you did fit them, didn't you?). You could always go slowly as an alternative, though.

    As for pedals hitting the kerb, if you're experienced enough to know when you need to freewheel because of the risk of pedal grounding then you have the skills to quickly learn what not to do when fixed :)
  • peejay78
    peejay78 Posts: 3,378
    both skip and skid stopping take a bit of courage but are surpisingly easy.

    skip: as you come up to the lights or to stop, use the front brake and unweight the back wheel, thus transferring all the braking energy to the front wheel in a series of short skips (or longer ones if you really want). whilst skipping the back wheel you can also then rotate the cranks, locking it up and putting the pedals in the right place so that when you stop you can go straight into a seated trackstand.

    skid: same again, but tneeds to be done at quite high speed, so is a bit unnerving. again, use the front brake to slightly unweight the rear (at first anyway) then lock up the rear with lots of pressure backwards on the pedals = it should skid.

    be warned that if you skid stop regularly on a 48:16 you're going to wear out the tyre in about four places, there is a formula, but it's easy really - you use the same pedal action to skid and skip each time, which means that according to the rotation, the rear wheel i sonly ever going to be positioned in one of four places.

    but also be aware that it looks totally cool, especially the skip to trackstand.

    winter: http://tinyurl.com/2xkbbs
    summer: http://tinyurl.com/2hsagv
  • andrewgturnbull
    andrewgturnbull Posts: 3,861
    Hi there.

    One more thing about skids and skips: They're far, far easier if you're using clipless pedals or olde-worlde toe clips. If you're riding flat pedals then it is nigh-on impossible to jam the back wheel to a halt at any speed.

    With clipless it's a doddle.

    Cheers, Andy

  • Portnoy
    Portnoy Posts: 175
    I finally got my tempo and cycled it home. My first ever time on a fixed. It felt very very strange. Like riding a bike for the first time...maybe that's a bit of an exagerration but there is certainly a feeling of learning something new.

    i found slowing down a bit weird. Wasnt' sure if i should be resisting or not?
    not getting the hang of the skid stops.

    The weirdest feeling was when stopped in traffic. Getting the foot position right and starting up again...obviously i wouldn't have this problem if i could track stand well.

    Any tips would be gratefully recieved.
  • fluff.
    fluff. Posts: 771
    Foot position isn't critical, just spin the cranks with your still clipped in foot while lifting the back wheel via the saddle, while stopped of course:)

    The summer bike | The fixie | The sensible one (TBA)
  • the grinder
    the grinder Posts: 72
    the other way is to lean forward with the front brake on which lifts the wheel nicely and (to me anyway) makes toppling over less likely.

    I've been riding fixed ona nd off for a few weeks now, still not perfectly tuned in and feels odd to do leg braking. Getting easier though but geared still remains first choice for commuting.

    getting there......
    getting there......
  • peejay78
    peejay78 Posts: 3,378
    after a very short period of time it all becomes effortless.


    winter: http://tinyurl.com/2xkbbs
    summer: http://tinyurl.com/2hsagv
  • Portnoy
    Portnoy Posts: 175
    trackstanding is difficult. I've just practised in my hall way my girlfriend looks confused.
  • hazeii
    hazeii Posts: 233
    <blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Portnoy</i>

    trackstanding is difficult. I've just practised in my hall way my girlfriend looks confused.
    <hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

    It's much easier to learn with low gearing, the lower the better. An old MTB is a great learning tool for this, once you've got the basics you can then do stupid tricks like 3-point turns by reversing into a trackstand and riding off forwards.
  • Some useful hits here thanks. How about controlling the speed going downhill. I did have a problem today but it may be my fault. I am new to the fixed wheel generally using the single speed option (I have a fixed/single speed flip flop) for my commute but I went for a 30 mile spin today using the fixed option. I was getting on well and really enjoying it but coming downhill trying not to use the brakes just my pedals the chain jumped off the sprocket and wrapped around it locking the wheel scraping the frame and damaging the chain so that I needed to lose a link to get home. As I said it might be my inexperience but any advice on how to tackle downhills would be great.
  • Tom753
    Tom753 Posts: 737
    The simple thing to do if you're going downhill and can't spin fast enough or want to slow down is to use your brake(s)!

    <font color="black"><div align="right"><i><font size="1"><font face="Comic Sans MS"> My fixed bike </font id="Comic Sans MS"></font id="size1"></i></div id="right"></font id="black">
  • peejay78
    peejay78 Posts: 3,378
    trackstanding is a knack, and nowhere near as difficult as it looks.

    practise on grass, and gradually increase the length of time you hold it for.

    winter: http://tinyurl.com/2xkbbs
    summer: http://tinyurl.com/2hsagv
  • Portnoy
    Portnoy Posts: 175
    I was very slow down a hill I usually fly down (on my geared). I was pedalling my legs as fast as I could but I didn't seem to be moving very fast.