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Fixed gear riding technique question(11 posts)

Fixed gear riding technique questionContinental
Dec 10, 2002 8:55 AM
I'm eager to try fixed gear. I put my multispeed road bike in 40/16 and took a 10 mile ride, constantly pedaling with pressure on the pedals. I was surprised and pleased that I got up hills that I usually climb in 40/24. But on the descent I spun out and had to sit up straight and then apply brakes to maintain pressure on the pedals. Normally I would descend in 52/13 at about 30 mph. Is it common to apply brakes during descents? Or will I be able to control speed by eccentric contraction of my leg muscles with the fixed gear?
descendingDougSloan
Dec 10, 2002 9:18 AM
It takes practice, but don't be afraid to use the brake if you are bouncing all over the place.

I found the best way to maintain really high cadence, like over 150 rpms, is to slightly lift your butt off the saddle, maybe 1/2 inch. This gives the legs some room to maneuver at really high cadence. It's tiring, but it works.

Another thing is not to let the speed get out of hand; it's easier to maintain 25 mph than to slow down (without brakes) after hitting 30.

While it's intuitive to apply pressure downward on the upstroke to slow, I also found that resisting on the downstroke works fairly well, too, and it doesn't make you bounce, as the pedals are pulling you down against the saddle rather than bouncing you up.

Try some ankle action, too, to help with high rpms.

Someone a while back stated his opinion that fixed gear did nothing for your spin. I couldn't disagree more. My spin has been tremendously helped, particularly after a lot of descending. The goal is to have your feet keep up with the pedals if you can, rather than resisting or passively allowing them to be forced around. Go out and ride at 150-170 rpms several times a week and tell me your spin does not improve. While you could do this on a freewheel bike, too, it's not the same as really being forced to on the fixed gear.

Doug
descendingfixedgearhead
Dec 10, 2002 10:56 AM
Exellent response. Especially the part about elevating yourself off the seat slightly. The other thing I do is move forward on the seat a bit farther than I would normally sit. It seems to help me decend without brakes in a safer manner. Everybody finds their own way eventually.

fixedgearhead
All excellent advice. Also, there's nothing wrong with braking lightly to control the excessive speed. -nmTig
Dec 10, 2002 11:20 AM
ride on the rivetsbigrider
Dec 10, 2002 12:34 PM
When I start spinning madly I also tend to ride on the foward part of the saddle. When I can take no more I lightly feather the front brake and get relief.
ride on the rivetsfixedgearhead
Dec 10, 2002 4:41 PM
Spoken like a Brooks saddle rider. The only way to fly. Which would be a good subject for the next thread.
What saddle does everybody ride?

fixedgearhead
force your legs to relaxmicha
Dec 10, 2002 7:19 PM
Although this sounds like a contradiction in terms, it's not.

The moment you find yourself spinning too fast for comfort during a fixed gear descent, consciously reverse the man-machine relationship. Let the bike be your absolute master. Allow your legs to go completely limp. Do not apply back pressure to slow yourself down. Do not think about spinning technique. Become inert from the waist down. Imagine your legs as rubbery appendages being taken for a smooth spin by the bike.

On the next climb you'll definitely be able to put your legs in charge again.
force your legs to relaxfixedgearhead
Dec 11, 2002 4:32 AM
I do this also. There is a natural limiting factor to the amount of spin that your legs will allow. I don't think I have "overspun" when I didn't want to.

fixedgearhead
you can improve, thoughDougSloan
Dec 11, 2002 6:59 AM
At first I had trouble with 130 rpms. After a few months, I descended 3 miles continuously over 150-170 rpms. Now, that took a huge effort and concentration, but I never could have done it without working up to it. By calculations, I've actually hit around 200 rpms for brief periods, too.

Doug
I am ashamed to admit I have never tried a Brooks. nmbigrider
Dec 11, 2002 4:57 AM
don't beDougSloan
Dec 11, 2002 6:57 AM
I have one that I could not tolerate nearly long enough to "break it in." Feels like a concrete torture device. YMMV.

Doug