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Questions about getting fixed?(17 posts)

Questions about getting fixed?Len J
Jun 17, 2003 3:16 PM
Well after listening to MB1 and JS for a year or so, I'm about to "Get Fixed" and I have a few questions:

1.) How do you determine gearing both fixed & free on a SS?
I am a spinner (95 to 105 avg RPM) who averages 16.5 to 17 MPH on the flats doing Zone two endurance/Base riding. How would I determine the appropriate gearing for a fixie. Do I want to be under geared or over geared for this speed (Since much of my time on the fixie will be this type of riding)?

2.) Once I determine Gearing, since you can acheive the same gearing with many different combinations of chainring/cog, is it better to have a larger or smaller chainring? I currently spend most of my time in either a 39 chainring or in a 50 (if I'm pushing it, remember, I'm a spinner so I'm going to get more speed out of the same gearing as compared to a masher). Should I be looking at a 39 in front or bigger?

3.)How do I determine the best SS/freweel cog once I've determined the appropriate Fixed Cog? Should it be bigger or smaller, By how much?

4.)What's the best way to get used to "Being fixed? What should I be careful of? What differences should I expect?

That's all I can think of now, I'm sure I won't get all of my questions answered, but one can hope.

Thanks in advance.

re: Questions about getting fixed?desmo
Jun 17, 2003 7:43 PM
1. What combo are you using on your geared bike to achieve that? Go with similar, maybe a hair over.

2. I would use whatever you have to achieve the combo, but a 42 is usually a good versatile ring to start with. Keep in mind that SS freewheels may be limited to a few sizes. track cogs are available in more variety.

3. Forgot the freewheel. Ride fixed for awhile, if you love it you will never install a freewheel.

4. Ride lots. Pay attention. Forgetting to pedal. You can't coast.
I'll offer my $.02carpe_podium
Jun 17, 2003 8:04 PM
1. Pick a gear combo on your current "geared" bike, like a 39X16, and ride 20 or so miles without shifting, you'll get a pretty good baseline from this. I would pick a tooth smaller cog than calculated because you'll get stronger, etc., fairly quickly. Going downhill is the hardest part of riding fixed (IMHO).

2. I would pick a chainring that let's me use a 16 tooth cog. Reasoning is cogs typically go from 13 to 19 (I've seen higher tooth count but they are not common) and I'm right in the middle of the range should I want to adjust my ratio. But at first, use what chainring ya got.

3. I always used a higher tooth count SS freewheel (I have since taken it off). Sort of a bail-out-I'm-tired-it's-windy-get-me-home gear, easy up the hills so I can coast down. It's pretty much personal preference.

4. Just do it. You get "kicked" by the bike when you try to coast (at least I did). It's also tricky, at first, to clip into your pedals. Be mindful of corners, most people coast through corners to avoid dragging a pedal, can't do that on a fixie.

Someone on the forum said riding fixed is a Zen-like experience, that pretty much sums it up. Hopefully someone else throws their $.02 in as well. I haven't been riding fixed very long and I'm by no means a fixie guru.
I like the previous post about using a 16 out back.dzrider
Jun 18, 2003 4:23 AM
The concept of being in the center of the available cogs sounds like good common sense to me. My experience was that I got used to what came on the bike I bought used. I was amazed at the hills I could climb with a 42x15 and now it's just normal. Perhaps because I don't spin real fast (85-90 rpm) I'd be inclined to go one cog smaller than what I ride on my multi-speed bike. The little extra helps me on the descents.

I got used to it by riding it. The trickiest part for me was stepping off. It was a lot of things happening at once - stopping the pedals gradually, unclipping from a moving pedal, not being able to avoid toe overlap by coasting with your toes out of the way when turning the wheel.

I'd recommend using your most familiar pedals at first and then switching to the ones you really want to use if they aren't the same. Expect to be bounced off the saddle a good few times and find humor in it.
numbers...all these numbers areJS Haiku Shop
Jun 18, 2003 10:54 AM
all these numbers are f@#$ing with my head.

gear inches, cadence,...gear inches. cadence.

of course i don't know much about my own cadence, 'cuz every time i try to count it out, i start thinking about other stuff: bikes, chicks (thanks spirito), bikes--you know the story. i have no 'puter with cadence. yet.

i'm riding 42x14 fixed and 42x16 free. the 14t track cog was a kick-in-the-tail gift from MB1. he just happened to send it to me at the right time of year/season/development where i was done spinning out droll "base" miles and ready to start working on power and speed. i first rode fixed on march 8, 2003. let me tell you, cranking 42x14 up some of these lumps around here worked my butt over, and how.

originally i started with 42x18 free, and was hard pressed to spin more than 22 mph on flats (15-17 mph average speed over 30-70 mile rides, and spinning like one of those propellar hats in a stiff wind). i moved to 42x16 and was able to keep up with the speed at which group rides were doing during the part of year when i'm most interested in ss/fixed riding: winter. another 1-2 mph average over the same length rides, and able to get up to a steady 25+ mph on the gear, but not sustained. of course some of that's getting used to a high cadence and staying on the saddle.

all these words and i'm echoing another post in the end: figure out the gear ratios using a calculator (there's a good link to one from sheldon brown's site, and do(u)g also has a nice web-accessible excel file), replicate them on your geared bike, ride around some, and don't shift. if you're comfy, that's what you want for a freewheel. subtract a tooth or two from the cog and that's what you want for the track cog (fixed side).

something i read, i can't remember where, indicated strong favor toward having a larger chainring and smaller cog. i think you might find this either on the fixed gear listserv, or from a link on the surly site, or perhaps one of the ss/fixed gear websites (of which there are many). it's something about chains, chainrings, and fw/track cogs wearing more slowly if a larger chainring is used.

for mine, it came with a 42, and i don't care to throw any money at it.

best way to get used to being fixed is to stay married. just kidding. best way is to get out and ride. there's no way to describe the feeling. let's just say that after a couple months of riding mostly fixed, i hardly ever coast anymore on the geared bikes. it was a proper bit of preparation for battling long days in illinois wind.

you'll learn pretty quickly--one way or another--not to stop pedaling. make adjustments on the fly. it's amazing how often we coast, and for what reasons.

-J ("coasting is bad for you")

btw don't forget the fixie porn once it's done.
Ahhh...another convert...biknben
Jun 18, 2003 11:58 AM
I found these gear charts to be helpful:

You can figure out the gear inches for each combo. There's also a cadence chart for guys like "J" who can't count above 50. JK :-) If you know the gear inches and speed, you can find the cadence. I check my computer for max speed then look at the chart for the cadence.

To find the right gear for you style and terrain just ride your geared bike in only one gear like someone else said. I use a 42x16 on slightly rolling terrain. I had used a 15 but wanted it to be a little less strenuous.

The freewheel is usually the same as the fixed or lower (lower in gear inches, not teeth). The idea is to make it easier to climb but not have to spin out on the descents. How much lower the freewheel is is up to you. With horizontal dropouts you should be able to go two gear gears lower. I'm currently running a 16 fixed/18 free.

The biggest, most obvious thing to get used to is not pedaling. You will be surprised how much this will mess with your head for a few weeks. No more coasting over rough pavement, or coasting to stretch your legs. When I approach a stop light I try to stop with one of my pedals at the 2 o'clock position. It's not easy to start from a stop unless your pedals are in the optimum position. If I forget, I then have to lift my back wheel and turn the pedal until it is in the right spot. It's hard to explain.

A stiff kick in the pants is what you get when you try to coast. I had one instance where I thought I was going over the bars. I tried to bunny hop a construction trench that was patched poorly. I stopped pedaling at the same time I was thrusting upwards and forward to clear the trench. I haven't tried a bunny hop since. :-)

The good stuff:
-Silence. A fixed gear is nearly silent. No chain rub, no pulleys, just silence.
-The flywheel effect. Once you get that wheel up to speed is seems easier to maintain the speed.
-Maintenance. There's a lot less stuff to worry about.
-Riding with others w/ gears. While everyone is trying to justify the Shimano 10 speed upgrade you pull up with a fixed gear. It's cool to be different.
re: stopping and startingJS Haiku Shop
Jun 18, 2003 12:14 PM
oh yeah, i forgot: stopping and starting were entertaining for a few days.

it's ideal to get the "chocolate foot" pedal in a good starting position when stopping, but not necessary. i've become quite adept at spinning the rear wheel off the ground with front brake applied at a stop. in fact, it's how ol' sheldon suggests things get done.

also, Len: you'll find you climb "sprinter's hills" faster than most geared riders. i'm talking about those hills where you either stay on top of the gear, or get bogged down and grind 35 rpm. huh? what? you'll find out.

oh, and i don't get a kick out of catching or passing other riders, as you see frequent posts on the general board. except when i'm riding fixed. :) how immature!

more good stuff:

it's fun to change a rear puncture with a peanut butter wrench (track nuts).
Don't forget, Len ain't got no stinkin hills.MB1
Jun 18, 2003 4:07 PM
Just lots of wind there on the Eastern Shore.
39 x 16LC
Jun 18, 2003 12:49 PM
This is what I would recommend for a spinner and what I use so that I can still go up hills and into a head wind. If you can get 39 x 16 to work on your bike then I would start there and adjust it up or down after you got some experience of your own to draw on.

if you are doing a flip-flop hub then 15 fixed and 16 free works well.
I'll take a crack at that ...Humma Hah
Jun 18, 2003 1:06 PM
1. A good starting point for any 700c or 27" road singlespeed or fixie is a gear ratio (front teeth to back teeth) of somewhere in the vicinity of 2.5:1. I run a little higher, but I'm a masher, so you may be perfectly happy there.

2. Be aware that fixed rear cogs are more readily available with smaller numbers of teeth. If you get too large a chainring, you may limit your ability to go to low gearing because you won't be able to find cogs. Singlespeed cogs up to 22T are available, but fixed cogs over about 17T may be harder to find.

3. So if you wanted to go 17T rear at 2.5:1, you'd get 17 x 2.5 = 42.5, so get a 42 or 43-tooth chainring, gear up from there.

4. Sucker won't coast! Take it easy, practice with no cars around. If you try to coast, its gonna feel like you got kicked in the soles of your feet. You'll learn quickly, but may forget after several miles of constant pedaling. Its more of a problem for me when I sit down after standing for some reason.

Also watch your turns ... slow down more than you would on a coastable bike ... you can't coast around a turn with your inside pedal high, so you can't bank as far.
easy ....Spirito
Jun 18, 2003 2:38 PM
just borrow one and take it for a ride.

if MB1 isnt your size im sure someone he knows would have a fixie or SS that they wouldnt mind lending you one try. a coupla days on familiar roads with a saddle and pedals of your own and youll have a good idea whats good for you.

if you can hang in NYC my ride is yours for whenever you need. fixed and free 44 (or 42 if you wish) x 16 fix/free (or 15fix/16free). its a 54 X 55 C-C and has both brakes. sheeeet ... ill even true the wheels and clean it up for you. if you need it lemme know.

one gear bikes are cool for many reasons ... its not the be all and end all but its nice to have a simple and minimal bike to ride.

or ....... just buy or borrow a rear wheel and swap out a existing bike if it allows with regard to chainline.

#1 Quit thinking so much.MB1
Jun 18, 2003 4:11 PM
Just ride the darn thing. Miss M likes riding SS/Fixed because she says, "It takes the thinking out of riding."

See I told you she is smart.

#2 Now that you are not thinking for a while, want to borrow my Street Dog for a week or two? Can't let you have it for any longer than that but we are doing some stupid big miles right now and I am not riding the Dog much.

After you ride fixed or SS for a bit you will have a lot fewer concerns about gearing. It ain't all that complicated-push down, go forward!
Exactly!KG 361
Jun 21, 2003 11:34 AM
You are making it too difficult. I started with a 42x17 and am using a 42x16 right now. As for the not-coasting part-it isn't hard BECAUSE YOU CAN'T DO IT! No matter how hard you try =) Biggest reccomendation-take turns wide and slow. That is the most difficult to do. The rest is (fairly) easy.
re: Questions about getting fixed?Lone Gunman
Jun 18, 2003 6:01 PM
1. Your description of riding is very similar to mine as far as ave., although I don't pay alot of attention to ave. On my SS/fixie I am running a 43Tring and a 17free/16fixed for a ratio of 68/73. I live in W.PA. where I have lots of roller hills and several where I exceed 45mph freewheel mode, I run both brakes.

2. Yes, I would suggest getting a 42 ring (common and easy to find) I got a 43 cause I just wanted 1 more tooth. A 42x17free/16fixed is 67/71. One tooth in the rear diff because when you flip the hub, your chain will still be the correct length for a 16/17. Back to the Q of rings size, a 44 might work if you really live in the flat areas. And lastly, one tooth diff also (in theory) if you get tired on a ride in fixed mode, flip and limp it home ss style where you can coast some and need a little less power to turn the cranks.

3. See answer#2.

4. The "bucking bronco" effect. I suggest going to a school where they have a paved ring road away from traffic, to try out your fixed ride. The first time you try to coast, the crank will just about launch you over the bars at a forward speed of about 10mph. No lie. After you get used to not coasting, then you begin to feel the benefits of SSpeeding. As for differences, you will be surprised at how close you are to the speed of your geared bike, at least I was. You almost begin to get surly at the prospect of riding without multiple gears. Begin to feel like riding an organized ride and annoucing "single speed, comin' thru on your left!! ding ding" It is a great change of pace from geared riding, a whole new perspective on riding.
Thanks All!Len J
Jun 19, 2003 3:10 AM
I have a line on a (lightly used) Gunnar roadie that is my size. I need to move relativly quickly so I think I'll just do it & guess at the gearing using a gear chart & your suggestions.

Spirito & MB1:

Thanks for the offer of the loaner bikes. Spirito, I don't think I'll be in your area until next fall when my daughter starts school up there. But Thanks. MB1, if this falls thru I may take you upo on it.

Looking forward to getting fixed.


PS. MB1, as far as the thinking part, as Popeye would say, "I Yam what i Yam"
be careful...JS Haiku Shop
Jun 19, 2003 6:06 AM
if spirito's still in NYC next fall, i'm not sure i'd send MY daughter to school there.

it may be safe if he's moved down under before then.

I'm late, but at least I made itTig
Jun 19, 2003 6:44 AM
Working at an LBS makes it hard to do cool stuff like read RBR posts and ride bikes. Sorry for being so late!

Here's my take. Plan on using a 15 fixed cog and a 16 freewheel on the flip-flop hub. This allows you to get a great workout on the 15 and have the 16 as a bailout gear. The 15 can be spun up high with a tail wind, group ride, or minor down hill. You can get plenty of good spinning on a 15 as long as you don't use 172.5 or longer cranks. A 16 freewheel is the most common gear you can buy.

Now for the fine tuning. Go with something easy to find for a chain ring. 39 and 42's are plentiful and easy to find. I went with a 39 since I already had an extra, and I'm a spinner as well. I can always get a 42 if I need a little higher gear. I doubt I will since a strong headwind would be more deadly if I was in a 42 x 15 vs. my 39 x 15. You can do something similar and be quite happy. Being a spinner at the averages you mentioned might push you to a 16 fixed cog. You can always buy other cogs later of needed. Fixed doesn't mean you're stuck with one gear forever, just for the duration of the ride.

Prepare to have fun! The Zen like quality of riding fixed is really true. You'll love the pure simplicity of it. I agree with MB1 about keeping something this simple, um, simple!

Just remember that since your legs will never get a break, a favorite regular ride will be a bit tougher. At first, my legs felt like my 40 mile ride was really a 60 miler. That gets better with time.