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What is all the fuss about?

woodford2barbicanwoodford2barbican Posts: 1,505
edited January 2009 in Commuting chat
I have just been out for a 20 mile ride on my langster with the flip flop hub flipped to be 48/17 fixed.

After all the fuss people have made about riding fixed it was a total anticlimax. There is no difference to riding single speed freewheel in terms of feel & feedback.

To me the significant differences are all negatives. To a degree it seems that the use of a fixed wheel reduces the utility & flexibility of the cycle.

There are manoeuvres which are possible with a freewheel which are quite simply not available with a fixed wheel.

This is a hard one to explain, but essentially I wanted to scoot across one lane of traffic, with a freewheel this is simple, push & glide then dismount on the pavement. With the fixed it became an altogether more complicated exercise.

I have always wondered why you see so many more people pushing fixed wheel bikes, is it because they are less manoeuvrable?

The ride also confirmed my feeling that a freewheel is a safety device when riding in traffic.

It is easier to coast and observe with a freewheel, it is easier to stand up and do a meerkat style look around, and also to pop your head over cars so oncoming drivers can see you.

I think It is easier and safer to stop quickly riding freewheel. Maybe that is something which comes with practice, but there is no reason to me to put the practice in, as the rest of the experience was so underwhelming.

As for the theory that you work more on a fixed, perhaps you do because you never stop pedalling, but I was no more tired after 20 miles fixed than I would be 20 miles free. The fixed gear is also 1 tooth smaller than my free cog.

The only bit which I enjoyed differently to when on freewheel was cycling downhill, standing up so as to go as slowly as possible - a strange feeling but not enough on its own to make me convert for good as I enjoy cycling fast downhill more that I enjoy doing so slowly!

All in all, the flip flop was a flop and I don't think I will be trying it again.

Has anyone else tried fixed and been as disappointed as me?
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  • I was very interested by your post as I have been pondering doing the same simply because of the SCR thread that I have been following for the past few months. The enthusiasm for fixed wheel in that thread is evident and on the premise of don't knock it till you've tried I have tried to keep an open mind. I have always had my doubts and your post has a distinct resonance with me.

    I cannot therefore offer any fixed wheel experience as you request in your post but I am not at all surprised by your findings. I will not therefore be trying the fixed experience any time soon and will simply concentrate on getting fitter and faster using my geared road bikes.

    Not the response you were after I am sure, however I thought I let you know that others think that your findings are not unusual.
    [1]Ribble winter special
    [2] Trek 5200 old style carbon
    [3] Frankensteins hybrid FCN 8
  • Jen JJen J Posts: 1,054
    Horses for courses I think.

    My personal experience of riding fixed has been very positive, and I genuinely enjoy the feeling of doing so.

    Maybe it's partly because you had read so many postive reviews, that you felt disappointed, perhaps you had too high expectations?

    I bought my Bowery before I found this site, and didn't know much about bikes at all, so I had no idea what to expect when I felt experienced enough to try fixed. For me what's so great about it is just a feeling that I lack the eloquence to post.

    But just as some people prefer MTBing to road biking, or track to cross, some will prefer freewheel to fixed and vice versa.
    Commuting: Giant Bowery 08
    Winter Hack: Triandrun Vento 3
    Madone

    It's all about me...
  • BUICKBUICK Posts: 362
    Interesting indeed. I think in traffic etc I've learned to be more observant and take less risks by riding fixed and generally maturing a bit! On the downhills I braked to begin with feeling like I couldn't keep up with how fast the pedals wanted to go. Now I'm happy to ride hell for leather and never run out of spin (although there's a point where I'm pulling up as quickly as I can rather than pushing down and doing proper circles). As mystical as it can all get when talking about riding fixed, I think that there is something meditative about having part of your brain focussed on constantly pedalling that seems to turn the noise down on other thoughts whilst making my other senses feel sharper and I do enjoy that.
    '07 Langster (dropped one tooth from standard gearing)
    '07 Tricross Sport with rack and guards
    STUNNING custom 953 Bob Jackson *sigh*
  • Jen JJen J Posts: 1,054
    Sorry - forgot to say, it has benefitted my cycling enormously. Having started cycling in September, and started commuting fixed in November, the improvements on my long weekend rides (roadbike) since going fixed have been very noticeable.

    My awareness is better, my pedalling technique is better, and I think ahead more. Of course, some of this may just have been gained from cycling experience anyway, but the imrpovements were more rapid after going fixed.
    Commuting: Giant Bowery 08
    Winter Hack: Triandrun Vento 3
    Madone

    It's all about me...
  • cjcpcjcp Posts: 13,345
    This confirms beyond all doubt that gears rule. :lol:

    Where are you, Jash? And G66? :lol:
    FCN 2-4.

    "What happens when the hammer goes down, kids?"
    "It stays down, Daddy."
    "Exactly."
  • cjcp wrote:
    This confirms beyond all doubt that gears rule. :lol:

    Where are you, Jash? And G66? :lol:

    No it does not - singlespeed is the way forwards, just not fixed wheel for me.

    Gears are for whimps. MTFU. :wink:
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 20,049
    I tried fixed a couple of months ago and found it unnatural for me and too much hard work with all the hills around here, I want to go a fast a possible downhill after the effort to get up.

    I have a renewed respect for people who ride fixed in London or any city, you need extra extra spidey sense in traffic.

    Anyway if I lived somewhere flatter or had a shorter commute then I might ride fixed but for now it's gears in the summer and single in the winter. I'm hoping all my hard single speed work over the winter is going to pay out come summer.

    @w2b nice round up of your experience.

    PS. even though I'm not riding fixed I still have one in the garage, of course! :wink:
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • cjcpcjcp Posts: 13,345
    cjcp wrote:
    This confirms beyond all doubt that gears rule. :lol:

    Where are you, Jash? And G66? :lol:

    No it does not - singlespeed is the way forwards, just not fixed wheel for me.

    Gears are for whimps. MTFU. :wink:

    :lol: Damn! Was hoping my twisting of your story would be missed.

    A SS is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Might as well buy a MTB. You just need to ask the SSers I hunted down during the last two weeks. They'll be the ones sitting in the corner of the dark room, double whiskey in hand, asking themselves where it's all gone wrong. :wink:
    FCN 2-4.

    "What happens when the hammer goes down, kids?"
    "It stays down, Daddy."
    "Exactly."
  • cjcp wrote:
    cjcp wrote:
    This confirms beyond all doubt that gears rule. :lol:

    Where are you, Jash? And G66? :lol:

    No it does not - singlespeed is the way forwards, just not fixed wheel for me.

    Gears are for whimps. MTFU. :wink:

    :lol: Damn! Was hoping my twisting of your story would be missed.

    A SS is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Might as well buy a MTB. You just need to ask the SSers I hunted down during the last two weeks. They'll be the ones sitting in the corner of the dark room, double whiskey in hand, asking themselves where it's all gone wrong. :wink:

    That will be me later tonight, whiskey & corner of dark room. But I will be thinking where did most of it go right ....... I don't have too much to complain about. :P
  • Honestly, I don't quite get it...

    If I want to 'meerkat' to see the traffic/be seen, I do so... I don't need to have my feet stationary to stand up.

    If I want to scoot, I do, I like the fixed gear for that as I can propel the bike with the still-clipped-in foot while I'm scooting.

    Also, I think if anything that low speed manoeuverability is better on a fixed - more control over speed.

    I don't really see why you think it's safer to stop quickly on a freewheel either.

    I do also disagree with the person above who mentioned having part of your brain focussed on constantly pedalling. It's second nature to me, to the extent that when I get on my crappy roadie I forget that I don't need to keep pedalling. It's automatic now, and has been since about 3 weeks after I started riding fixed last year.

    However I do completely agree about going downhill - less fun on a fixed.

    Furthermore, pushing a fixed is a pain. The pedals bite you if you don't pay attention.

    Other than that I like it! I don't know exactly what it is, it's a feeling of being more connected to your bike. It sounds stupid. I don't know.

    Oh and CJ, shut it!

    :P
  • cjcp wrote:
    cjcp wrote:
    This confirms beyond all doubt that gears rule. :lol:

    A SS is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. :

    sounds as tasty as an chocolate egg or santa?
  • cjcp wrote:
    This confirms beyond all doubt that gears rule. :lol:

    Where are you, Jash? And G66? :lol:

    No it does not - singlespeed is the way forwards, just not fixed wheel for me.

    Gears are for whimps. MTFU. :wink:

    MTFU? Ahem.

    Geared bikes have three functions.

    1 providing 53x16 as an everyday gear.
    2 providing a gear higher than that for going faster and special occasions.
    3 providing a gear lower than that for hills over 5% and half a mile.
    Swim. Bike. Run. Yeah. That's what I used to do.

    Bike 1
    Bike 2-A
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 20,049
    4am jeez Greg is that back still playing you up?
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Greg66 wrote:
    cjcp wrote:
    This confirms beyond all doubt that gears rule. :lol:

    Where are you, Jash? And G66? :lol:

    No it does not - singlespeed is the way forwards, just not fixed wheel for me.

    Gears are for whimps. MTFU. :wink:

    MTFU? Ahem.

    Geared bikes have three functions.

    1 providing 53x16 as an everyday gear.
    2 providing a gear higher than that for going faster and special occasions.
    3 providing a gear lower than that for hills over 5% and half a mile.

    You're either a Masher, or you spend most of your time riding at 26mph? :?
    I like bikes...

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  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 20,049
    erm! he does, we've seen him :shock:
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • cjcpcjcp Posts: 13,345
    Greg66 wrote:
    cjcp wrote:
    This confirms beyond all doubt that gears rule. :lol:

    Where are you, Jash? And G66? :lol:

    No it does not - singlespeed is the way forwards, just not fixed wheel for me.

    Gears are for whimps. MTFU. :wink:

    MTFU? Ahem.

    Geared bikes have three functions.

    1 providing 53x16 as an everyday gear.
    2 providing a gear higher than that for going faster and special occasions.
    3 providing a gear lower than that for hills over 5% and half a mile.

    You're either a Masher, or you spend most of your time riding at 26mph? :?

    In fairness, he does (the latter). You also need to bear in mind that this is on the commute in London, so it's flatter for us (with the exception of Richmond Park) and Col du Putney Bridge, which is a cliff face by our standards. :)
    FCN 2-4.

    "What happens when the hammer goes down, kids?"
    "It stays down, Daddy."
    "Exactly."
  • BUICKBUICK Posts: 362
    lost_in _thought: I wasn't saying that you have a part of your MIND occupied with remembering to pedal, but if part of your BRAIN wasn't occupied with pedalling it wouldn't happen! My point was that it seems to me, that when riding fixed, I feel different mentally - more relaxed. It was just a guess that maybe having some brainspace occupied with pedalling constantly means that there is less room for annoying thoughts or concerns. Speaking of which, I'm off out now :D
    '07 Langster (dropped one tooth from standard gearing)
    '07 Tricross Sport with rack and guards
    STUNNING custom 953 Bob Jackson *sigh*
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 20,049
    I guess that's just further proof that women can do more than two things at once :wink:
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • KonanKonan Posts: 43
    If I'm honest, I can't even find the apeal of single speed when I try it. It's all well and good, till you want to change gear ;)

    Reliability my censored . If commuting around a city is causeing shifting problems with a half decent shimano rear mech, it's defective or badly installed.
  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Konan wrote:
    Reliability my ars*. If commuting around a city is causeing shifting problems with a half decent shimano rear mech, it's defective or badly installed.

    Perhaps it just that Shimano is censored ? :wink:
    I like bikes...

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  • KonanKonan Posts: 43
    I think my point was, it's not. Not at all. My poor old 2005 XT setup has never asked me for anything other than a bit more tension in the cable after it's first two rides and a yearly jet of lube.
  • atticaattica Posts: 2,362
    Konan wrote:
    If I'm honest, I can't even find the apeal of single speed when I try it. It's all well and good, till you want to change gear ;)

    Reliability my ars*. If commuting around a city is causeing shifting problems with a half decent shimano rear mech, it's defective or badly installed.

    It's not reliability that's a positive factor but low maintenance.

    I have to agree with the OP though, I ride SS and don't want to learn to ride fixed in rush hour traffic, I pedal constantly just like LiTs but freewheel when descending and when traffic does something unexpected in front of me, this I do instinctively and on a fixed I'd find myself about a foot in the air at this point (I've tried it, it's not fun).

    For me SS has all the benefits of Fixed (like Jen I've noticed similar improvements) without the downsides.

    Horses for courses indeed
    "Impressive break"

    "Thanks...

    ...I can taste blood"
  • No one has yet to come up with a reason for riding fixed wheel....... :wink:
  • drumondrumon Posts: 175
    No one has yet to come up with a reason for riding fixed wheel....... :wink:

    You dont need a reason, its not up to anyone but the rider.
    Some riders like it. Fair enough.

    It seems to be more about the riding experience than any particular positives or negatives ie. along the lines of why drive a manual gearbox when you can get an automatic gearbox in the car. This is not a argument for or against fixed, just a comparison, in the sense that some people like the feel of riding fixed, others enjoy riding several gears (me included).
  • itboffin wrote:
    4am jeez Greg is that back still playing you up?

    4am? It's 8pm here :wink:

    Back is holding up quite well to skiing. It's a bit stiff in the morning, and there's very little shock absorbancy in the lower discs, which is, um, interesting. Despite having promised the physio and the wife I'd take it easy and avoid bumps, I was ripping down some bumps fields yesterday. Well, you have to, don't you?

    Worst moment so far was hitting a compression on an easy run. The light was flat as and I didn't see it until way too late. I was bent at the waist - so not good - and had a stab of white hot pain dead centre of the lumbar. Lots of immediate extension stretches, hot tub and ice packs later and I may just have dodged a majorly big bullet.

    Think I'll pay attention today :oops:
    Swim. Bike. Run. Yeah. That's what I used to do.

    Bike 1
    Bike 2-A
  • wgwarburtonwgwarburton Posts: 1,863
    wf2b writes:

    > No one has yet to come up with a reason for riding fixed wheel....... Wink

    Why would you? The arguments are well-rehearsed for and against. Bikes have clearly evolved over the years (some might say too far) and yet a fixed gear still retains an appeal for some.

    You should try it sometime, and now you have. If it doesn't appeal, then that's fine.

    I disagree with some of your conclusions, but then presumably you'd disagree with some of mine... Life would be pretty dull if we all wanted the same things.

    Cheers,
    W.
  • drumon wrote:
    No one has yet to come up with a reason for riding fixed wheel....... :wink:

    You dont need a reason, its not up to anyone but the rider.
    Some riders like it. Fair enough.

    It seems to be more about the riding experience than any particular positives or negatives ie. along the lines of why drive a manual gearbox when you can get an automatic gearbox in the car. This is not a argument for or against fixed, just a comparison, in the sense that some people like the feel of riding fixed, others enjoy riding several gears (me included).

    Good point - I drive an automatic and would never buy any diffferent, although I occasionally drive and enjoy driving a manual.
  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 14,675
    What's the realistic top speed of 47x17? Doesn't strike me as particularily high...
    Uncompromising extremist
  • drumon wrote:
    No one has yet to come up with a reason for riding fixed wheel....... :wink:

    You dont need a reason, its not up to anyone but the rider.
    Some riders like it. Fair enough.

    It seems to be more about the riding experience than any particular positives or negatives ie. along the lines of why drive a manual gearbox when you can get an automatic gearbox in the car. This is not a argument for or against fixed, just a comparison, in the sense that some people like the feel of riding fixed, others enjoy riding several gears (me included).

    Good point - I drive an automatic and would never buy any diffferent, although I occasionally drive and enjoy driving a manual.

    Now that IS a good point! I drive manual cars pretty much exclusively, have an automatic in Australia, and it's always the last one I take out, I'll take the hyundai [email protected] with the cracked dashboard before it! I don't like the auto. No no no. I find it boring for one, and I also feel that I am less in control of the car. Note 'feel'.

    I wonder if there is any correlation between riding a fixed and preferring manual cars? Not that all manual car drivers prefer a FG, that would be silly even for me, but do all/most FG riders prefer a manual car?
  • jedsterjedster Posts: 1,717
    I'm a convert to modern auto gear boxes. If you often drive in stop start traffic they make life a lot more tolerable. The good modern 6 speed auto boxes are incredibly polished too.

    From time to time, I do miss a manual - mainly when driving quickly on an empty bendy road where I would change down early and use engine braking into the bend. So I push the gear lever over and use it in semi-auto (clutchless manual) mode and do just that.

    Once you've had a car with this kind of box, you just don't want to go back...

    J
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