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Fixed gear - taking the plunge

dav1dav1 Posts: 1,298
edited December 2013 in Commuting general
So I am seriously considering getting a fixie to take over my commute duties.

I quite like the idea of riding fixed (reason I tell myself), probably going to want to stick some areo bars on it for the odd club10 next year as well if I buy one. Also am sick of spending a fortune on gearing and breaking after my rims, chain, casette... are dead after a winters riding (reason I tell the wife).

Anyone here recommend a machine for the purpose? My budget is around £400.

So far I have looked at:

state bicycle co http://www.statebicycle.co.uk/

Charge Plug 1 http://www.cyclestore.co.uk/productDeta ... tAod1AQA0A

Both of these can be bought from local shops, and I can have both with bullhorns and bar-end brakes (which is how I would like it).

Are there any others I should be considering in this budget? I know all of nothing about fixies and most of the brands I know of are too much or don't seem to be available any longer.
Giant TCR advanced 2 (Summer/race)
Merlin single malt fixie (Commuter/winter/training)
Trek superfly 7 (Summer XC)
Giant Yukon singlespeed conversion (winter MTB/Ice/snow)

Carrera virtuoso - RIP

Posts

  • Fixed is great. I treated myself to a Condor Paris one a few years back and don't regret it.

    I have an ambition to use it from time to time on my commute, but at 50 km each way maybe a challenge too far. Would only be in the summer when it's dry - it's too nice to use as a winter hack.

    Perhaps the obvious bike not on your list in that kind of price range is the Langster. I recently got one for my 13 year old in the rather cool matt black colour. At the moment he's just using it single speed, but I've said we'll flip the hub over and give it a try soon (note: they only come as fixed so you have to add the flip hub thingy).
  • must admit I've been considering a single speed (maybe I'd change it to fixie later) for my winter commute.

    was hoping to see more replies here so I could get more advice/info ;)

    I rode my road bike home last night using the gear I worked out would be equivilent to the bikes I'm looking at...just needed to get out of the saddle from the lights and the odd small hill but was otherwise fine.

    Was more tiring though (not a bad thing for training) and my knees hurt very slightly...but were fine this morning. Think I'll repeat that a few times to see how I get on before I make a decision...and sorry Dav1 for hijacking this thread ;)
  • Regular SS commuter here (though NOT Fixed) - 17 miles each way when I do the short route, with a few ascents and descents but nothing serious. Personally I love commuting single-speed. Its so simple - just 'pure' cycling. I do admire those who go genuinely fixed but my 50 year+ old knees wouldn't stand it! Over the years I've had Charge Plugs and Specilaized Langsters, both of which were ideal. I currently use a Pinarello Catena single-speed bike which is perfect too. Good luck with your plans.
    Raymondo

    "Let's just all be really careful out there folks!"
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Really like bull horns and TT bar end brakes.

    I'd say build yourself but unless you have self restrain it soon adds up. Also keep a lookout on LFGSS and eBay for some bargains..
  • goonzgoonz Posts: 3,106
    I have a SS Langster which I now use for my commute which has been heavily personalised with help from ipete...

    I have a fixed wheel which is ready to be fitted as soon as I get the courage and change the 16t to something a little more manageable.
    Scott Speedster S20 Roadie for Speed
    Specialized Hardrock MTB for Lumps
    Specialized Langster SS for Ease
    Cinelli Mash Bolt Fixed for Pain
    n+1 is well and truly on track
    Strava http://app.strava.com/athletes/1608875
  • rubertoerubertoe Posts: 3,994
    I'm looking at a merlin single malt.....
    "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

    PX Kaffenback 2 = Work Horse
    B-Twin Alur 700 = Sundays and Hills
  • BigLightsBigLights Posts: 464
    I've been mulling over exactly the same thing since my awesome Herne Hill Velodrome experience. Who would have thought I'd have fallen so utterly in love with the fixie experience....

    But folk seem to think this is not wise in a city....even with brakes fitted.
  • crakercraker Posts: 1,739
    BigLights wrote:
    But folk seem to think this is not wise in a city....even with brakes fitted.

    Why on Earth not? It's still just a bike.

    I'm looking a moving on from my first ss build (Raleigh pulled from the dump now my pride and joy on the commute) and I fancy getting a frame off a UK builder and building it up with lots of chrome bits and leather bits. Still can't think what I'd do with it beyond commuting though, maybe the odd Audax if Ithought the gradients weren't too severe.

    Never tried fixed btw, quite fancy trying it (but I'm not going to buy a new back wheel just to try it out).
  • Big, big difference between SS and fixed. Especially when you try to free-wheel at speed.

    They're perfectly alright in town. People advised me to try out on a quiet road, etc. Ignoring this, my first time on a fixed was in central London in the rush hour in the dark and rain.
  • I decided to add a Fixie/SS to my bike collection a couple of weeks ago, only ridden it a few times and currently set as fixed but I don't think it's the most practical so considering switching the wheel around to single speed.

    Great fun just the simplicity of not having gears but the fixed wheel has for me a few too many negatives, or maybe things i'm not used to:

    1. Having to pedal around tight roundabouts when turning right, very unsure how close the pedal gets to the tarmac and it would be an instant off I feel if it touched.

    2. Moving up the inside of traffic, pedal hits the kerb, this bounces you over the other way towards the cars, I just managed to keep balance without having to touch the car!

    3. Speed bumps, I prefer to stand and freewheel absorbing the bump with my legs, not possible fixed. This is the first thing that nearly caught me on on my first ride!

    4. Moderate downhill speed and I found my legs were spinning at a very uncomfortable rate, I actually used the brake to slow down as my legs were completely out of control! :)

    5. Have to ensure you always reset the pedal position at junctions/lights and take the first pedal movement slowly to ensure you get your other foot in place (ok if using flat pedals).

    That's my experience anyway, the negatives compared to a freewheel which i'm used to. Still great fun either way

    I will add 1 pro for me; pedalling all the time. I'ma very lazy cyclist, happy to give it a few pedal strokes then sit and roll, so I think this is a pro in terms of overall improving fitness and cycling style for the summer longer rides out.
  • mrushtonmrushton Posts: 5,182
    i use a Pompino, my gf a Condor Tempo and we use a 48x19 or 18. It's just like riding a bike. You get used to constant pedalling v.quickly and if you brake you can use your legs and your brake(s). Speed bumps? Keep pedalling and lift your backside. Fixed means you anticipate lights/traffic etc so you can keep moving. It makes a difference to your pedalling - you can tell riders who ride track/fixed, they are smoother - they have 'souplesse'
    M.Rushton
  • sswisssswiss Posts: 354
    Put together my own fixie some time ago now, and occasionally commute on it in the summer months (fixed on fridays), but I really love it around town....
  • ror3hror3h Posts: 68
    Finally got a fixed cog for my Genesis Flyer last week, loving it so far. Running 46x17 which is a great gearing for me so far. I've been on a few 50 mile rides already, even managed to haul it over the Cat & Fiddle on sunday. Takes a bit of getting used to (I stopped trying to freewheel after a couple of short commutes on it), and I would say the main downsides are being weary of pedal strike in corners, and crazy leg speed at anything over 30mph. It's great fun though!
  • dav1dav1 Posts: 1,298
    OK I have done it, merlin single malt with bullhorns in the garage :D

    I swapped out the silly brakes for some TT leavers and now trying to get used to it.

    Having a lot of fun with it so far, but the feeling of fixed is very very odd after only ever riding free-wheel geared bikes in the past. Trying to master skip stops and get a feel for how much I can resist the pedals before losing grip now.
    Giant TCR advanced 2 (Summer/race)
    Merlin single malt fixie (Commuter/winter/training)
    Trek superfly 7 (Summer XC)
    Giant Yukon singlespeed conversion (winter MTB/Ice/snow)

    Carrera virtuoso - RIP
  • pastryboypastryboy Posts: 1,385
    I am seriouly considering the Merlin Single Malt. What do you think of it in general, quality of frame, how cheap are the wheels, etc? Any idea what the max tyre width possible is? How much does it weigh roughly? Did you pay £280 for it recently (I think it was £260 at some point)?

    I think skid/skip stops are pointless for the most part and they will destroy your tyres in no time at all - I only do them to amuse myself if it's wet or I'm on a gravel path. You should be able to judge stopping 99% of the time by resisting the pedals and for the other 1% use your front brake. I run 48/16 and even with that the brake sees almost no use. If you want to master something then learn to track stand - far more useful.
  • dav1dav1 Posts: 1,298
    pastryboy wrote:
    I am seriouly considering the Merlin Single Malt. What do you think of it in general, quality of frame, how cheap are the wheels, etc? Any idea what the max tyre width possible is? How much does it weigh roughly? Did you pay £280 for it recently (I think it was £260 at some point)?

    I think I was one of the last to get mine at £260. They do add £30 for postage though so be aware of that. I added a roll of bar tape for my spares box (in case I couldn't re-wrap the original) then spent another £20 on the TT leavers from planet X.

    For now i'm using some PD M424s from my spares bin (until I get around to fitting the M520s I bought Monday. I have alse fitted an alloy bottle cage and a cateye strada wireless computer (I know, computer on a fixie...). According to my bathroom scales with me holding the bike it weighs 10.6 kg in this set-up. I did ask merlin cycles for their weight, they said 9.8 kg. I think this is probably right for an out of the box bike without pedals.

    The frame seems to be very nice. Welds are neat and it feels quite firm yet plush to ride. It really feels a lot smoother over bumpy roads then my alloy carrera virtuoso and my carbon giant. The brake callipers are the usual budget-but-decent unbranded options, but work well for me. Finishing kit is also quite nice and neat looking. Need a while to get my verdict on the saddle though as I can be a bit fussy with them. Only down side is the seat post is quite short so if you need a long post (like me) you may need to find a new one. I'm just about OK with it at maximum for now though.

    I'm not sure how to rate the wheels as I have never had a set of fixie wheels before so I will go with my usual knowledge on wheels. They do seem to have a bit of weight to them, but don't feel over heavy (I could pull them off and weigh them but wont have time until the weekend). They spin up just fine for me though. They are straight and true out of the box so needed no spoke fettling for the first ride. The welds on the rims are a bit rough to the touch and make a bit of noise when breaking. The tyres are 700 x 23 no-name Chinese made options, again they feel just fine offering enough grip in the dry for day-to-day riding. There is plenty of Clarence in the frame for bigger tyres, I expect 25s will fit easy, perhaps even slightly larger tyres as well. If anyone wants i can attack the bike with a tape measure to give a better idea.

    I was pleased to see a sugino branded crankest on the bike, at this price I fully expected a no-name option. I also had my frame arrive with no decals on it at all (which I liked).

    Overall I'm very happy with it, for under £300 (stock) It feels like a fantastic buy to me and I can't wait to start putting some serious miles in on it. The quality from my first impressions feels similar to the State bike co. and Charge plug I had looked at before. As I only had £400 to spend including accessories I feel I have got a lot more getting this and the pedals, mudguards and brake leaves then I otherwise would have done for my money.
    I think skid/skip stops are pointless for the most part and they will destroy your tyres in no time at all - I only do them to amuse myself if it's wet or I'm on a gravel path. You should be able to judge stopping 99% of the time by resisting the pedals and for the other 1% use your front brake. I run 48/16 and even with that the brake sees almost no use. If you want to master something then learn to track stand - far more useful.

    I think skip stopping is pointless for the most part. I really want to learn how to do it to get a better feel for handling a fixed bike and the odd bit of amusement. The stock ratio is 44/167 on the bike, which feels about right so far (done about 70 miles). Nice for 20-22 mph flat cruise. I think I should be able to descend at 30 mph when I get used to my legs spinning so fast. I can get it up most hills I have tried so far, the steepest was St Michaels hill in Bristol, which was a bit of a challenge but just made it.
    Giant TCR advanced 2 (Summer/race)
    Merlin single malt fixie (Commuter/winter/training)
    Trek superfly 7 (Summer XC)
    Giant Yukon singlespeed conversion (winter MTB/Ice/snow)

    Carrera virtuoso - RIP
  • pastryboypastryboy Posts: 1,385
    Thanks, very comprehensive.

    The website says:

    "Will take mudguards - 35mm 700c"

    I think it means it will go to a 28c but not sure so would appreciate you measuring it if you didn't mind. 28c is what I normally use.

    One thing I don't get - what did you do with the cables from your TT levers - I thought they ran through the hollow part of the bars?

    Thanks
  • dav1dav1 Posts: 1,298
    I ran them under the tape.
    I have these leavers (cheap on planet X atm) http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/ ... ers-28802/

    The cable exits the leaver below the bar clamp. I had one wrap of tape under the cable then went over the top with the next turn to tuck it under.
    Giant TCR advanced 2 (Summer/race)
    Merlin single malt fixie (Commuter/winter/training)
    Trek superfly 7 (Summer XC)
    Giant Yukon singlespeed conversion (winter MTB/Ice/snow)

    Carrera virtuoso - RIP
  • I have Condor Pista fixed gear that I bought second-hand from someone I worked with. I've been using it on my daily commute of 25 miles for the last 5 years and have now replaced most parts bar the frame. The low level of maintenance is perfect and I fitted SKS raceblades on mine. My gearing of choice is 49x16 which means I'm competitive on the flat but can still get up Sydenham Hill! Skid-stopping isn't compulsory and I find resisting without skidding means that my tyres last longer. Or maybe I'm just tight?
    Condor Pista
    50x16
  • More to the point, is it better/cheaper (in London) to buy a fixie or buy a second-hand bike and get it converted? If i could do it myself I'd obviously do the second, but would need a shop to do it. Not really sure of the cost, nor where to go - any advice?
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    buy a second hand fixie? if you know what to look for you can certainly build a cheap single speed..
  • Yeah sorry, buy a secondhand bike and then convert it to a fixie/singlespeed. Any idea of the cost of conversion?
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Sorry I meant what about buying a second hand FGSS?

    I can't help on that one, have a fixie frame myself but google throws up plenty of advise..
    http://www.wikihow.com/Turn-an-Old-Road ... inglespeed

    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/article/w ... eed-18464/

    http://sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html
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