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Riding fixed

MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
edited December 2016 in Road general
Right - quick one for those of you that ride both fixed and free: how long did it take for you to feel comfortable riding fixed? Am contemplating getting one for communting/cutting around and am just conscious that I would prefer not to die.

Any hints or tips for getting fixed up or is it a case of get out there and ride?

Many thanks, M
Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

De Sisti wrote:
This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
smithy21 wrote:

He's right you know.
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Posts

  • Only one thing to remember - don't stop turning the pedals. I love fixed and have been riding it on and off for about 30 years. I find that if I've not ridden it for a while it feels really hard work and you maybe have one or two instances of forgetting and trying to freewheel. For me it takes a few rides to get used to the additional physical effort required and to stop trying to change gear.

    I reckon a gear of about 68 inches is about right, kinda like the middle of the cassette. I find that my average speed is generally about 10% faster than on freewheel but that's because you have to push uphill faster to keep on top of the gear. Anything over about 8% gradient is stiff. Downhill can be interesting but I find that if I feather the brakes and let my legs go a bit floppy rather than trying to keep up with the gear its not too bad.

    Don't be tempted to ride without brakes on the road as only a fckwit would do that.

    I find that if I spend the winter on fixed and then go back to gears, they feel odd as you expect the pedals to want to continue turning rather than stopping dead.

    Other than that its great fun and simple to clean and maintain.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    A solid month of commuting 5 days a week (40 miles a day). Depending on where you commute you have to change your mindset on how you approach lights, traffic, filtering, etc. If the bike has toe overlap, you need to think how you maneuver at low speed. Fell over twice before that one bedded into my mind! A bit like a 'clip-less moment'.

    If you do commute somewhere busy, go out for a quiet ride first time out.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    Right - quick one for those of you that ride both fixed and free: how long did it take for you to feel comfortable riding fixed? Am contemplating getting one for communting/cutting around and am just conscious that I would prefer not to die.

    Any hints or tips for getting fixed up or is it a case of get out there and ride?

    Many thanks, M

    Do you mean fixed wheel or single speed? Single speed is just like riding a freewheel bike in the same gear all the time. Fixed wheel on the road - I really don't see the point.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Done much fixed riding?
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,086
    Imposter wrote:
    Right - quick one for those of you that ride both fixed and free: how long did it take for you to feel comfortable riding fixed? Am contemplating getting one for communting/cutting around and am just conscious that I would prefer not to die.

    Any hints or tips for getting fixed up or is it a case of get out there and ride?

    Many thanks, M

    Do you mean fixed wheel or single speed? Single speed is just like riding a freewheel bike in the same gear all the time. Fixed wheel on the road - I really don't see the point.

    jeez your xxxxing negative arent you.
  • I've been tempted myself a few times, but I ended up gong for single speed, as I am not sure about the ability to cope with emergency braking on a fixed. I feel my rear wheel would skid and I would end up on the pavement... In a traffic free environment, I would probably give it a go though, as it sounds like good fun.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    iPete wrote:
    Done much fixed riding?

    not on the road - as I said, I dont see the value.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    mamba80 wrote:
    Imposter wrote:
    Right - quick one for those of you that ride both fixed and free: how long did it take for you to feel comfortable riding fixed? Am contemplating getting one for communting/cutting around and am just conscious that I would prefer not to die.

    Any hints or tips for getting fixed up or is it a case of get out there and ride?

    Many thanks, M

    Do you mean fixed wheel or single speed? Single speed is just like riding a freewheel bike in the same gear all the time. Fixed wheel on the road - I really don't see the point.

    jeez your xxxxing negative arent you.

    In the sense that I am offering a negative view of riding a fixed wheel bike on the road, then yes, you are absolutely correct.
  • In Italy it is technically illegal to ride a fixed wheel bicycle on public roads... not that anyone cares, but...
  • Give it a few rides and you'll soon get the hang of it. I think if I were starting again, I might start off on a more relaxed road frame with a lower gear. Hard stopping is fine, even with one brake - but if you do want to ride in all weathers on low gears, having two brakes is no bad idea.
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    Many thanks for the answers: much appreciated.

    Would be fixed wheel communting and training - just to do something different really. Two brakes as I'm not sure there is a cure for dead disease. Roads - both busy and country lane, either on a Charge Plug with normal road bars or a Felt specific Felt single speeder with drop bars if I can get it at the right price.

    So - 2/3 days of cutting around to get used to it then, obviously, confidence grows with experience.

    I'm also not really getting the inches thing and was thinking of running. 50/17 - waddya say? Rolling roads with an opportunity to smash some nice hills.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    I've been tempted myself a few times, but I ended up gong for single speed, as I am not sure about the ability to cope with emergency braking on a fixed. I feel my rear wheel would skid and I would end up on the pavement... In a traffic free environment, I would probably give it a go though, as it sounds like good fun.

    You've got the bike, just get a cheap cog/locking ring and give it a whirl.

    The only time I've felt genuinely concerned riding fixed is spinning like a loon downhill. Otherwise, Strava has me down for 19,000 fixed miles. According to Guinness, that qualifies as around the world.

    Would be fixed wheel communting and training - just to do something different really. Two brakes as I'm not sure there is a cure for dead disease. Roads - both busy and country lane, either on a Charge Plug with normal road bars or a Felt specific Felt single speeder with drop bars if I can get it at the right price.

    The best thing about fixed is how easily you can change bars and I switch between risers, drops and bulls. My favorite are the bull horns with a TT brake lever.

    I'm also not really getting the inches thing and was thinking of running. 50/17 - waddya say? Rolling roads with an opportunity to smash some nice hills.

    Bore yourself senseless on http://www.bikecalc.com/
    Think about cadence, what cruising speed you like, what the terrain is like and even wind direction.

    Like most people I started off too big and went 51x17 and would suggest 50/17 is a bit much too, unless you like to always be pushing along and have no hills to contend. Either way, it's very personal.

    This Winter I'm riding 44x16 on 28c tyres (73 GI) and for summer ride 46x16 on 25c tyres (76 GI).
  • Many thanks for the answers: much appreciated.

    Would be fixed wheel communting and training - just to do something different really. Two brakes as I'm not sure there is a cure for dead disease. Roads - both busy and country lane, either on a Charge Plug with normal road bars or a Felt specific Felt single speeder with drop bars if I can get it at the right price.

    So - 2/3 days of cutting around to get used to it then, obviously, confidence grows with experience.

    I'm also not really getting the inches thing and was thinking of running. 50/17 - waddya say? Rolling roads with an opportunity to smash some nice hills.

    Similar gear to what I have on my commuting bike. As iPete says, it's a very individual thing - given that much of the time you will be riding in the 'wrong gear', it's up to you what cadences you're happy with.

    For typical riding, I tend to think of it in terms of gearing for the ups or the downs - would you rather be a bit overgeared when climbing, or have to spin on descents? I'm typically the former; others (particularly grizzled old racer types who could get under the hour on a medium gear 25) are happy to twiddle down twisty descents at 200rpm. I haven't the nerve.
  • iPete wrote:

    You've got the bike, just get a cheap cog/locking ring and give it a whirl.

    The only time I've felt genuinely concerned riding fixed is spinning like a loon downhill. Otherwise, Strava has me down for 19,000 fixed miles. According to Guinness, that qualifies as around the world.

    Not really, my rear hub is a freehub conversion, so I'd need a new rear wheel...

    There are parts of my commute where I would not want to be on a fixed gear... plus the inevitable squirrel/rabbit/pheasant that crosses the road just in front of my wheel...
    I don't see the point of fixed other than being cool, which I can probably live without given my age and the fact that I am already very cool in other ways
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    Right - this has now convinced me.

    Plan is to get the Plug down from the loft, throw some drop bars on and head to the local crib track: do an a couple of hours on there on and off so I don't die of boredom, then head road wise.

    New question: will a TT bike with drops and fixed handle like a big of poo? Have just found a frame and forks in the workshop that am tempted to powder coat bright orange or green, chuck Plug fixed wheels on and use that.

    Waddya say?
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    Just to echo some others - just do it.

    Just make sure you come back in a couple of weeks and either:

    a) rave about the feeling of zen-like oneness

    b) complain about it being like riding an out of control bucking bronco and that you feel like you are going to die at any second.

    There's really not much to it, some people love it, some people don't. Two brakes is good, but try to learn not to use the rear one in normal riding - however, the rear brake is useful for long descents and taking the cadence down a bit. Never let the bike be in control - even going down hills, always be applying pressure to the pedals. Remember you can not lean a fixed quite as much as a gear bike (or you will pedal strike), so corners need to be taken a little wider (can be a little sketchy on club-runs if you're on the inside). Climbing on fixed is one of life's greatest feelings, until it isn't - even the strongest of riders has to make use of the 24-inch gear if things get too steep for too long (I'm a small rider at 57Kg, but I can wrestle a fixed gear (67 in winter, 71 in summer, 76 on rare occasions) up short 18-20% ramps, but anything significant in length over about 16-17% and I will walk it.

    I've largely been back on gears this year though went and did 100km fixed yesterday; you forget the physicality of climbing on fixed, I have sore arms and shoulders today! I try and ride fixed over winter as it tends to work you harder so you can make the most of shorter rides; it also means you're generally a lot warmer than when you're on gears.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Fixed is great. Obviously with brakes though. It will teach you to spin properly if you choose wisely on your gears.

    Perfect for winter. I don't actually see much point in riding single speed. You may as well just ride your usual bike and not change gears

    Fixed is very different to other bikes.
  • rnathrnath Posts: 176
    cougie wrote:
    I don't actually see much point in riding single speed. You may as well just ride your usual bike and not change gears

    One man's meat 'n all that... I really wanted to like riding fixed and gave it a decent go of commuting for a couple of months but just found it tedious - I mostly missed being able to coast down hills (without feeling like something out of Looney Tunes) and drop smooth and low on sharp corners. Rather than the zen-like connectedness a lot of fixed riders report I just found it annoying - quite the opposite of zen in my case unfortunately :oops:

    On the other hand I've found riding single speed combines the simplicity I did enjoy from riding fixed without sacrificing the things I like about riding gears. I would say it's still different - with one I'm more conscious of maintaining cadence - with the other of maintaining consistent power. Whatever floats your boat I guess, it's all good..?
  • rnath wrote:
    cougie wrote:
    I don't actually see much point in riding single speed. You may as well just ride your usual bike and not change gears

    One man's meat 'n all that... I really wanted to like riding fixed and gave it a decent go of commuting for a couple of months but just found it tedious - I mostly missed being able to coast down hills (without feeling like something out of Looney Tunes) and drop smooth and low on sharp corners. Rather than the zen-like connectedness a lot of fixed riders report I just found it annoying - quite the opposite of zen in my case unfortunately :oops:

    On the other hand I've found riding single speed combines the simplicity I did enjoy from riding fixed without sacrificing the things I like about riding gears. I would say it's still different - with one I'm more conscious of maintaining cadence - with the other of maintaining consistent power. Whatever floats your boat I guess, it's all good..?

    This, fixed isn't particularly hard, but it does make some things more awkward. As a MTB with learned responses i.e. Cornering and handling which fixed does constrain. I loved the SS roadies I had and struggled to see the point of fixed over that to be honest. Though SS cogs did seem to be made of cheese and froze up in winter which neither fixed or geared seemed to have problems with.
  • crakercraker Posts: 2,060
    I haven't found the cornering thing to be an issue. I have got a quick descent followed by a 90 deg. corner on my commute (ended up in in the hedge of that one last January. But that's another story...) I'm spinning like a loon and don't feel I'm close to striking. It's a purpose built fixie (Langster) with 170mm cranks - I think the BB is a bit higher? Could be wrong and I might wipe out on the way home. We'll see.

    I started my fixie life on single sided SPD-SLs. Great pedals once you're going but a bit of a nightmare if you've unclipped in traffic and are clipping in at speed.

    Love riding my fixie more than any of my other bikes. Blasting it up short hills is great, it's a short twitchy frame which works really well for those going-for-it moments (that happen more often than not :-) )
  • I pretty much only ride fixed these days. Commuting, club riding, sportives etc.

    I vary the gear depending on the ride. 91" for heavy training, although it's a pain climbing in it, 81" for general riding and 74-76" for Sportives and long days in the saddle with lots of climbing.
  • debelidebeli Posts: 582
    To the OP:

    Many have tried fixed; some love it, some loathe it and some are unmoved.

    I love it, but that doesn't make me right or clever or a better cyclist.

    There is (in the eyes of some) the whole Zen thing. I think I know what they mean, but that is no sort of a sales pitch. Either you'll see it or you won't, but cycling whatever your drive-train can have Zennish moments.

    Advice:

    1. Give it a go.
    2. Be aware for the first few rides that you may be taken by surprise and lifted from the saddle when you stop pedalling. For me this happened mostly when I looked over my shoulder or when I crested a climb... I didn't even know I did it, but I always stopped pedalling for a second or two at the summit of a stiff ascent. For some people, the 'stop pedalling' moment is when they break wind - seriously. You will have these moments. You will get used to not stopping. Even when you are hoist from the saddle by your lower foot as you stop pedalling, it is not the harbinger of a massive crash... you just sit back down again, keep pedalling and feel slightly silly.
    3. Don't get too cranked up about the gear ratio. Most people ride fixed between 65 and 70 gear inches. There is no perfect ratio unless you live in the Netherlands. It is a 'swings and roundabouts' decision, but you are unlikely to get it disastrously wrong. I live in the Welsh Marches and ride a lot around the Malvern Hills. 69" does me very well.
    4. Keep both brakes (if converting your own machine). I went initially for only a front brake, but on a steep descent and at high cadences (120+) your legs do not offer an effective braking system for the rear wheel. Coming down the longer, steeper parts of the Malverns and over towards the Beacons I find that 165rpm+ is easily attained and at those revs I want a rear brake. You will also be glad of one in the wet or on fallen leaves or riding on tractor mud by field gates.
    5. Go clipless. I pootle around town in trainers, but for faster stuff I clip in. I feel 300% safer. Use rat cages if you want, but I go clipless and so far it has served me well.
    6. Despite some negativity on this thread, do also consider singlespeed (with freewheel hub). It is different but in a samey way. It is also rather lovely and the legs get a rest when descending, which can be nice on a marathon ride.

    Advantages:
    I spin up and ride comfortably for long distances at 120rpm+ in a way that I never did before building a fixie.

    There is less to go wrong, although chain tension is fairly critical.

    The constant pedalling seems to have helped my rhythm and pedalling technique and fitness. That may be in my mind, but even so that makes a difference on a long, hard ride.

    Anticipation improves, as you do need to look ahead and set yourself up for a climb or a descent.

    I have never had an issue with pedal strike or toe-overlap. I know those who have, but it seems rare.

    So.... Do it and enjoy it. Most of my miles (by far) are on a geared bike but I love to ride fixed, as do most people who have ever tried it. If you don't, you will never know.
  • I would echo debeli and marcus. great for winter, great training to keep pedalling over the top of a hill and good training as you have to keep spinning.
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    Cool - cheers gents: very much appreciated.

    Off to look at a 2010 Fely Despatch - it's my old OC's so have seen it propped against a wall unloved but v clean and with a possible long trip away coming up for either him or me I'm going to offer him silly money for it and see what happens.

    If it all goes wrong I'll either too broken to care or just sell it on.

    I'll keep you updated.

    Thank you again.

    M
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • Personally, fixed at Herne Hill and single-speed for commuting. I just like coasting! :oops:

    I disagree that riding single-speed is like riding your road bike without changing gear.
  • tlw1tlw1 Posts: 18,356
    go for it, I love my fixie.

    Only used it for commuting once, as I tend to use the singlespeed. Mine gets used during the annual beer and bikes :)
  • The thing is, if you have flip flop hub, like most are... you can try fixed and if you don't like it, just turn the wheel and fit a freewheel and you are single speed... simple
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    Flip flop it has :) although I must admit that if I don't get on with fixed I may we'll sell it on and just create a single speeder from bits I have in the workshop and look to reinvest the sale proceeds in something I don't need but really want .......
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,214
    I use 5/10 shoes with NC-17 Sudpin II Pro CNC Flat Pedals on my Fixie. I use a Shimano MTB disc rear hub for my fixed wheel http://www.velosolo.co.uk/shophub.html
  • crakercraker Posts: 2,060
    I moved on from a homemade SS to an off the peg Fixie. My plan was to buy a freewheel as I struggled with fixed for a few months - mostly Why? What does it offer that SS doesn't? 2 years in I'm much happier riding fixed. And it is better than SS in some barely definable, zen like way.
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