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Fixed How Do I ride It?

bilsea159bilsea159 Posts: 256
edited November 2008 in Road general
I recently bought the Giant Bowery being tempted by the price, and I have for the first month been using the singlespeed option whilst getting used to the bike. My commute to work is 18 miles including a few hills and I seem to be able to cope with the 46/17 ratio.
Now I am running fixed my problem is possibly one of tecnique in that although on a slight downhill I am spinning away to kept momentum, I find that a realy steep hill I have to either feather the brakes to slow the bike down to match my cadence level or face having my legs pulled at speed or unclip.
My question is do I go back to singlespeed or is their something I am doing wrong?
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Posts

  • meagainmeagain Posts: 2,774
    "I find that a realy steep hill I have to either feather the brakes to slow the bike down to match my cadence level ....."

    That's what I do - with a low gearing (60" or 63") I can't pedal fast enough! I expect you'll get *faster* with practice! You will also I expect become better at applying some back-pressure.

    Don't think you are doing anything "wrong"!

    Give it a fair trial before you decide - good luck!
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • mackdaddymackdaddy Posts: 310
    Nothing wrong. Just developing technique. We are all the same, you honk up the hills and spin as fast as you can down, while feathering the brake to make sure you don't go faster than your legs can. :shock:

    And have fun doing it! :D
  • blorgblorg Posts: 1,169
    Feathering the brake is quite normal and what I do myself. You will probably find that you become more comfortable with absurdly high cadences, I have topped out at 189 RPM thus far (coming down a hill obviously.) This transfers to the geared bike too, I can sustain well over 100 RPM on that comfortably now whereas before I would have been around 80.
  • daz51daz51 Posts: 159
    If you speak to the guys who remember fixed riding from back in the day, i.e. 60's etc (remember fixed wheel riding is not a new thing)

    you will find out that fixed wheel riding is all about control. Going down hill you have to control the bike to a speed you are comfortable with. Using the brakes or pulling back on the pedals, either way control it !!!!
  • if there isn't too much traffic I find that the harder you push the btter stability you have and no bouncing.
    http://twitter.com/mgalex
    www.ogmorevalleywheelers.co.uk

    10TT 24:36 25TT: 57:59 50TT: 2:08:11, 100TT: 4:30:05 12hr 204.... unfinished business
  • meagainmeagain Posts: 2,774
    daz51 wrote:
    If you speak to the guys who remember fixed riding from back in the day, i.e. 60's etc (remember fixed wheel riding is not a new thing)

    you will find out that fixed wheel riding is all about control. Going down hill you have to control the bike to a speed you are comfortable with. Using the brakes or pulling back on the pedals, either way control it !!!!

    Just so. And yes I did ride a fixed in the '60s (and now I ride one in MY 60s, oh dear) - though only because it was the only bike I had and up-market it wasn't!
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • SidiSidi Posts: 21
    Taken from an article about Irish Cyclist Harry Reynolds on the irishcycling.com website.
    This is the skilful way to ride a fixie 8)

    "Harry Reynolds is a legend in Balbriggan. It is common knowledge that he used to race the steam train from Balbriggan to Skerries for training. Renowned for his brutish strength, he also rode up Barnageera Hill (between Skerries and Balbriggan, under the railway tunnel on the way to Ardgillen Castle) on a fixed wheel, backwards – for a bet – which he duly won! (Don’t try that at home!)"
    Trek 1.7 08

    Unshaved newbie roadie
  • don_dondon_don Posts: 1,007
    I agree with daz51 :)

    I don't know if its bad technique, but I find that if I ride with my heels up slightly, I can sustain a slightly higher cadence downhill. However, I'm not the fastest spinner in the world, and I may be cheating :)
  • bilsea159bilsea159 Posts: 256
    ok so I have got the braking control right, I can control cadence on a flat or slight decline, but what is pulling back on the pedals all about?
  • shedheadshedhead Posts: 367
    It's another method of slowing the bike down, you need to be clipped in or be using toe-straps for this work though. Basically you pull the pedal back with your leg when it gets past about 2 o'clock to slow the rotation of the chainring down, thus slowing your bike down.

    "a little bit of pain never hurt anybody"
    'Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts'.
  • Downhill and riding in town is why I can't cope with fixed. I find that freewheel is easier (I have a steep downhill with some scary bends on my commute) and doesn't hurt my knees so much...
    jedster wrote:
    Just off to contemplate my own mortality and inevitable descent into decrepedness.
    FCN 3 or 4 on road depending on clothing
    FCN 8 off road because I'm too old to go racing around.
  • I gave up on fixed when I moved up into the Pennines. If I use gearing low enough for the climbs it way too low for the descents. I like to go fast downhill, otherwise I don't see the point in the effort of climbing.

    From when I lived on more gently rolling terrain I found that the trick on descents was to resist the forward montion of the pedals before you reached a speed where you needed the brakes for control.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • ToshmundToshmund Posts: 390
    Yes, likewise. Climbing is a bit of a joy, descents - a tad scary at times. Have changed mine to 46/16. Which getting from Erewash Valley/Amber Valley/Derwent Valley to get to Matlock last Sunday, was a baptism of hell! :lol: I think the bottom bracket does feel higher on the fixed. On descents I can get a bit wayward...but the cadence is, as mentioned before increasing. It is a great bike.
  • Ijust cant see the point in fixed riding. Tried it and found it detracted from normal riding enjoyment. I like speed on the downhill and legs can only go so fast, cant go higher gearing because then the hills are just nigh on impossible. Pain in the a$$ to get in and out of the pedals. Pain in the a$$ in traffic. I dont see what advantages there are over SS riding. In the real world.
    Be excellent to everyone.
    (Bill S Preston Esq, Ted Theodore Logan. 1989)

    650B - bouncy
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Learning to ride a fixed gear smoothly is all conditions is a skill that can only be developed with time - it can be frustrating at first and hard on the legs, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a zen-like experience. BTW, freewheels are what kids use on BMX!
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • LALA Posts: 26
    I agree with Monty, it becomes easier the more you practice. Also, you'll become more relaxed on the bike which will help.

    I used to be really tense when I first started going downhill which either resulted in me bouncing all over the saddle or having to pull hard on the brakes to regain control. Now I can either use my legs as brakes or pedal smoother with a higher cadence.

    Neither I've specifically practised, it just came with the mileage.
    Life is not a rehearsal
  • GreenbankGreenbank Posts: 731
    I do it for the challenge.

    Gear choice is trade off. Too low a gear and you'll have a problem going down the hills. Too high a gear and you'll struggle to go up them. Stick at it and you'll get used to it once you develop a bit of leg strength and souplesse then you'll be fine.

    It should be noted that the wizened old fixers tend to run shorter (i.e. lower) gears than people new to it. There's a tendency to start off with something like 70" and, once you're used to it, go up to 74" or so to solve the problem of spinning out on downhills. I did exactly the same thing and went from a 46T chainring to 48T. I've now realised that the way to solve this problem is to change to a smaller gear to force yourself to learn to spin. My spinning has definitely improved since dropping to 67" and I don't shy away from long descents either.

    Never had a problem with pedals. I use single release SPDs. I can see how trying to tighten toe-straps could be annoying when riding fixed but then I'd never use toe-straps. SPDs are stamp and go.

    Don't have a problem with traffic, if anything it's made me a smoother rider as I'll anticipate more and I'm less likely to try and unwisely nip through gaps.

    As for advantages, there's no real advantage over SS riding except that SS riding isn't as much of a challenge. If I'm going to allow myself to freewheel I may as well take the geared bike out.
    --
    If I had a baby elephant signature, I\'d use that.
  • Monty Dog wrote:
    Learning to ride a fixed gear smoothly is all conditions is a skill that can only be developed with time - it can be frustrating at first and hard on the legs, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a zen-like experience. BTW, freewheels are what kids use on BMX!

    Eh? So you're saying the pro peleton ride fixed are you? Funny, but last time I looked they all had freewheels.

    Most kids start riding fixed and move onto freewheel. I did. My three year old son's bike is fixed, but I'm sure his next bike will be freewheel. Actually that's the reason I worry about people who think riding fixed is difficult. If you can ride fixed at the age of three why should it be difficult at the age of thirty? More to the point why do so many people think riding fixed is somehow big and clever when toddlers do it?
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • Quite a few of the pro peleton do ride fixed during the winter including a certain L. Armstrong.

    I ride fixed. Its not big or clever but it is a good training aid, good fun and is bike riding in its purest form.

    It may be worth noting that I started riding fixed at 13yr old long before it became fashionable again and am still riding (65.8" 39*16) and race time trials on fixed (100" 56*15).
  • PMKirky wrote:
    Quite a few of the pro peloton do ride fixed during the winter including a certain L. Armstrong.

    I ride fixed. Its not big or clever but it is a good training aid, good fun and is bike riding in its purest form.

    It may be worth noting that I started riding fixed at 13yr old long before it became fashionable again and am still riding (65.8" 39*16) and race time trials on fixed (100" 56*15).

    Read the post again. I wasn't arguing that the pro-peloton don't ride fixed off season, I was merely pointing out the inanity of the implication that a freewheel is a kids thing because BMX bikes have them. A little socratic irony if you will.

    As I said my three year old kid rides fixed (as do most kids that age), so by Monty Dog's reasoning that would mean fixed is even more infantile than freewheel. Which is clearly nonesense, as was Monty Dog's post.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • Right O, Whatever. Glad the main part of my post has not been missed for the one sentence reply! :shock:

    Not that it matters as I went out on my fixed last night and totally enjoyed it and I'll be out tonight on it riding to and from circuit training and will, i am sure, totally enjoy it again.

    (BTW Adults use multiple freewheels, bmx's have single freewheels! :roll: )
  • PMKirky wrote:
    (BTW Adults use multiple freewheels, bmx's have single freewheels! :roll: )

    Since when? I've owned several adult bikes with single freewheels. Kona Unit, Dawes Edge One, Specialized Langster, to name but three off the shelf adult bikes I've owned with single freewheels. Unless of course you have some special definition of the word adult you'd care to share with us.

    I think it's best to avoid sweeping generalizations, they never stand up to even the most cursory of examination.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • DickieDickie Posts: 1,489
    I think you need to learn to play nice.
  • blorgblorg Posts: 1,169
    Jesus Christ lads just listen to yourselves for a moment. I have my bike fixed but I had it SS for a couple of days before I got the cog on and I can see the point in that too, especially if you are older or less flexible (see what I did there :D) Seriously though I can also entirely see the point if you aren't specifically using it for training/looking to work on your pedalling technique and frankly I imagine it is probably better around a city as you won't have issues like pedal strike on kerbs.

    You can get better at descending fast-ish on fixed (I've managed up to around 64km/h on 47-16 gearing) but you won't go as fast as on a freewheel and it is certainly very different and in many ways not as much fun. It is certainly a big effort and most of the time I will be feathering the rear brake.

    I also ride geared bikes and am marginally faster on them to boot :shock:

    All is good, just get out and ride your bikes. BMX is an Olympic sport you know!
  • blorg wrote:
    Jesus Christ lads just listen to yourselves for a moment. I have my bike fixed but I had it SS for a couple of days before I got the cog on and I can see the point in that too, especially if you are older or less flexible (see what I did there :D) Seriously though I can also entirely see the point if you aren't specifically using it for training/looking to work on your pedalling technique and frankly I imagine it is probably better around a city as you won't have issues like pedal strike on kerbs.

    You can get better at descending fast-ish on fixed (I've managed up to around 64km/h on 47-16 gearing) but you won't go as fast as on a freewheel and it is certainly very different and in many ways not as much fun. It is certainly a big effort and most of the time I will be feathering the rear brake.

    I also ride geared bikes and am marginally faster on them to boot :shock:

    All is good, just get out and ride your bikes. BMX is an Olympic sport you know!

    Point taken.

    However, as somebody who rides on and off road, single speed, fixed and geared I have a real problem with fixed wheel evangelism. Guys if it's the purest form of cycling you're after then you'd better purify even more. Steel rims? Solid tyres? An ordinary? How pure do you want it?

    Yes, I enjoy riding fixed some days, some days single speed and some days when I want to get there really fast or ride really easy then the geared bike comes out of the shed. There is no way, however, that I would tell anybody else that what they ride is wrong or worse still, for kids. I'm sure there's a lot of kids out there riding BMX who are fitter and more skilled than me. After all I'm damn sure there are kids out there doing things on 20" trials bikes who can do things I would never have a hope of achieving, and those bikes are a very specialized evolution of a BMX bike when all is said and done. And I'm certainly not going to dismiss a top flight BMX bike as a kids toy.

    I read somewhere that BMX has a wider worldwide audience than road cycling. A sobering thought for dedicated single issue roadies.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • Since when?

    Since time begain basically. Aint ever seen a bmx with a multiple freewheel?

    Single speed freewheels have been released by manufacturers to produce a new niche in the market for psuedo fixed wheel riders who have not got the boll*cks to ride fixed, which is just typical in this modern wrap em up in cotton wool, please don't sue me, its not my fault culture.

    Oh, yes btw, please don't talk about getting round faster on gears etc because that is total rubbish too as any one that knows me will agree.

    Gears have a place (just!) but fixed rules!!!
  • PMKirky wrote:
    Since when?

    Since time begain basically. Aint ever seen a bmx with a multiple freewheel?

    Single speed freewheels have been released by manufacturers to produce a new niche in the market for psuedo fixed wheel riders who have not got the boll*cks to ride fixed, which is just typical in this modern wrap em up in cotton wool, please don't sue me, its not my fault culture.

    Oh, yes btw, please don't talk about getting round faster on gears etc because that is total rubbish too as any one that knows me will agree.

    Gears have a place (just!) but fixed rules!!!

    Single speed freewheel adult bikes have been around for about a century if not more. Write your own revisionist history if you want, but don't foist it on everybody else.

    Yeah of course fixed is faster, that's why every major race is won by somebody riding fixed every year.

    What? It isn't?

    OK ride from Holmfirth to Glossop faster fixed than you could with gears, no cheating. That's the real world, not some gently rolling time trial course with no proper hills, bends, junctions or corners other than a single roundabout. Won many road races riding fixed?

    For the sake of whatever god you choose wake up and smell the coffee. Even the late Henri Desgrange had to give in to the derailleur revolution eventually.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • Ok Mr Blue, it would seem this you do not read my post propley.

    Guess I will see you on the V718 Dec 21st eh?

    BTW, I am sorry but I do not know you personally but I am fairly certain I know Guys who can ride up Holme Moss on fixed so fast that they will have plenty time in hand over you to enable them to A) ride down t'other side comfortably or b) change gear and ride down ready for the ride over to Glossop.

    I personally have been over Holme Moss on 72" both ways en rout to Glossop back to Leeds.
  • So why is it then that all the pro peloton race with freewheels and gears? I suppose it's some sort of conspiracy by Shimano and Campagnolo is it?
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • meagainmeagain Posts: 2,774
    Oh dear.....fixed/free single/multiple free....they're just bicycles you know.

    But to claim that single free is just for "psuedo fixed wheel riders who have not got the boll*cks to ride fixed" is verging on the libelous. I ride fixed a lot (probably half of my total pedalling in each of the last 4 or 5 years) and I first rode one in about 1963. Tomorrow just for a change I MIGHT take the single free wheeler out - if I feel like it!
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
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