Fixed gear.

Discussion in 'Technical Chat' started by Ian Smith, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith Guest

    Today rode a fixed-gear for the first time. Just converted the old
    Ridgeback hybrid, which displayed evidence of requiring a complete
    transmission overhaul and a worn out rear rim.

    With apologies to purists, the project was a series of kludges, e.g.
    araldite to "weld" shimano freehub solid internally, offset chainring
    with bolts, filed vertical dropouts to tension chain etc.

    Toyed with the "floating chainring" idea for chain tension, but binned
    when it kept falling out. Removed all derailleur parts plus rear brake,
    leaving only front v-brake as boost for when pedal resistance isn't
    enough. All in, quite an interesting wee job for the holiday weekend.

    For the road test, used a 48/16 ratio, but if the 16-tooth starts to feel
    a bit much, would certainly change down to 17, or even 18.

    Here's a useful gear calculator for fixed or single-speed enthusiasts:

    Anyway, today's 14-mile ride was ok, except when I accidentally tried to
    coast a few times. :) This resulted in rather unnerving moments of bike
    flounder. Will take a wee bit of practice methinks. However, one point of
    the exercise was to render my old commuter bike more winter proof;
    eliminate brake/rim wear and gunked-up gear mechs.

    Just in case you haven't seen this, another excellent website for multi-
    speed gear calculations:
    Ian Smith, Apr 29, 2011
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  2. Ian Smith

    Mike Causer Guest

    Yes, but did you enjoy it?

    My fixie is a mixture of bits pinched from my other bikes and friends'
    spares, and the first ride was a combination of "gear's too high", "keep
    pedalling - keep pedalling -- argugh! -- KEEP PEDALLING".

    But it /was/ fun.

    After a year country roads are fine, but dealing with junctions and
    coming to a suitably graceful halt outside the village shop take a lot
    of planning.

    Mike Causer, Apr 29, 2011
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  3. Ian Smith twisted the electrons to say:
    48x16? Are you running 559 (26") wheels or do you just have, or intend
    to have, legs of steel? (48x16 on 622s gives about 80 gear inches, but a
    more reasonable low-mid 70s on 559s according to Sheldon.) Obviously
    this does depend upon how flat it is where you live, but I found 69" on a
    Langster around York just about perfect.
    Alistair Gunn, Apr 29, 2011
  4. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith Guest

    Yes, I certainly enjoyed it after this initial gut-wrenching feeling that
    the machine was actually pedalling me. :) That said, yes stoppages do
    take a bit of planning at the moment. I'd like to get to the stage where
    the front brake is only needed for emergencies. How long; 2 years? ;-)

    Hills - the Erskine Bridge on my daily commute will be a formidable
    challenge in my chosen gear. I should obtain a few weeks experience on
    this fixie before taking it to work. By then should know whether it's 16,
    17 or 18 teeth at the back.
    Ian Smith, Apr 29, 2011
  5. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith Guest

    700x28c tyres, so yes we're talking about 80 gear inches. I don't know
    about legs of steel, lol. Perhaps a 17 or 18 at the back (75 or 71 gear
    inches) would be better, but I did try out different ratios when the bike
    still had derailleurs, and found despite my hilly location, that 17 was a
    bit "spinny" (100rpm?) at my usual (level) cruising speed of 20-22mph,
    whereas 15 was just too hard. Maybe I should make an effort at higher
    cadences for the sake of my legs/knees in the long term though.
    Ian Smith, Apr 30, 2011
  6. Ian Smith

    Tosspot Guest

    On 29/04/11 23:47, Ian Smith wrote:

    Simple! When I was a spotty yoof I had a fixie, bloody good winter hacks, they
    *never* go wrong.

    Tosspot, Apr 30, 2011
  7. Ian Smith

    Peter Ford Guest

    Ah, for me (after 2 years) it's dealing with junctions or coming to
    graceful halts when I ride someone else's bike that causes problems;
    it's very disconcerting trying to slow into a junction and just
    finding yourself freewheeling.
    My first ride (as well of plenty of "attempt to freewheel -> perform
    kangaroo impression" moments) consisted of cycling at 1-2 mph for
    several minutes, consistently trying and failing to get my second foot
    into the toeclip.

    To the OP; it might just be me, but I don't do a huge amount of actual
    braking with the pedals, and still get through a lot of front brake
    pads (avoiding tourists walking backwards into the road looking
    through a camera viewfinder takes a lot of changes of speed!). In part
    that's because my journeys are so short I rarely get round to
    tightening the straps on my toeclips, but mostly it's because I find
    resisting the pedals hard quite uncomfortable.
    To the more experienced fixie riders out there, is this something I'd
    get used to if I practised doing it efficiently, or have the people
    who do it just got better motor control/stronger knees than me?

    Peter Ford, Apr 30, 2011
  8. Ian Smith

    D.M. Procida Guest

    Why would you want to? Using your legs to brake hard puts a lot of
    strain on your joints. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

    D.M. Procida, Apr 30, 2011
  9. Ian Smith twisted the electrons to say:
    Personally *I* would, but I've seen quite a few anecdotes online about
    people using gears of that ilk on Audaxes (and we're not talking "short"
    100km ones either!) so if your knees are up to it then feel free!
    Alistair Gunn, Apr 30, 2011
  10. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith Guest

    Well I was hoping with a bit of finesse and experience to achieve
    controlled stops/slowdowns without undue strain, or at least no worse
    than forward acceleration. If quick stop needed, or legs tired, then the
    front brake is always there for occasional use.
    Ian Smith, Apr 30, 2011
  11. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith Guest

    Interesting dismount. Could be embarrassing if I forgot to unclip the
    SPD's. :)
    Ian Smith, Apr 30, 2011
  12. Ian Smith

    bugbear Guest

    In the very early stages, you'll tend to be very conscious
    of being on a fixed, and probably won't go too far wrong.

    The dangerous period is when you've ridden long enough
    that you're not thinking "Good God, I'm on a fixed"
    all the time, but don't don't yet have enough experience
    that riding fixed (in particular pedalling *all* the time)
    isn't fully automatic.

    bugbear, May 3, 2011
  13. Ian Smith

    Clive George Guest

    I found double sided spds much better than clips/straps on the fixie.
    (This comment not really aimed at you, but inspired by yours)

    (Obvious downside being that it needs cycling shoes, but then I'm happy
    wearing spds pretty much all the time.)
    Clive George, May 3, 2011
  14. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith Guest

    I hear what you're saying. Best if I ride around on it for a few weeks
    before using it on the morning commute. On the same machine, just had
    lots of fun for the last 2 days removing what was left of a seized quill
    stem. Looks like I should've regreased it some time ago. Oh the
    joys... :)
    Ian Smith, May 3, 2011
  15. Ian Smith

    Ian Smith Guest

    Here using SPD's with "touring shoes" which still allow reasonable
    walking around. Big improvement on the old toeclips for me.
    Ian Smith, May 3, 2011
  16. In
    48x16 seems to be in the normal range among fixed folk (i.e. not freaks like
    Steve Abraham). I use 44x18 but I'm a high-cadence oddball.
    Dave Larrington, May 4, 2011
  17. In
    I got to the stage a few years ago wherein my legs assumed that if I was
    riding a recumbent I was on gears (natch) nad if I was upright I was on
    fixed. This made the occasional forays out on the towpath bike feel very
    odd indeed :)
    Dave Larrington, May 4, 2011
  18. Ian Smith

    nmm1 Guest

    If I recall, 46x16 on 28" wheels was the norm for general-purpose
    bicycles before 3-speeds became near-universal. It was fine for
    fairly slow progression on the flat or up slight hills, but
    required a lot of pushing up significant hills. When Raleigh
    decided to eliminate such bicycles, they produced a rather nasty
    advertising campaign using the words "Who ever heard of a one-gear

    But that's all quite a long time ago now :)

    Nick Maclaren.
    nmm1, May 4, 2011
  19. Ian Smith

    bugbear Guest

    Advertising campaign in "loaded language" shock ;-)

    bugbear, May 4, 2011
  20. Ian Smith

    nmm1 Guest

    Er, no. Remember the Brylcreem "Greasy kid stuff" campaign?
    If I recall, that was too nasty to be permitted in the UK, but
    you saw it in some imported magazines. This wasn't nearly as
    bad, but left the same taste in the mouth.

    Nick Maclaren.
    nmm1, May 4, 2011
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