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Which is faster, SS or fixed?(24 posts)

Which is faster, SS or fixed?Humma Hah
Jun 25, 2003 6:26 AM
A couple of months back, I put the Paramount into service as a 48:18 singlespeed. On my first commute on it, it registered about 2 mph faster than the best time on my cruiser, which was geared 46:18 with about the same wheel diameter.

Then I flipped the 'Mount over to the fixed gear side, a slightly higher 48:17 gearing, and my average speeds dropped. Overall, they're barely better than the cruiser's. I attribute that largely to the different riding style: I tend to be somewhat conservative on the fixie and I tend to approach intersections slowly to avoid having to get out of the pedals. I also accelerate slower from a stop, as the cleats find the pedals.

Last night, leaving work on the 'Mount, I saw my favorite group of rabbits riding past the company. I gave chase, about 21 mph on a flat road, to close on their 20 mph. Frankly, I don't know if I could have hung with them for long. I have, in fact, caught and hung with this bunch on the cruiser, while clocking them at 24 mph. They dress faster than they ride.

I'd geared the cruiser down to 46:20 for the C&O, and when I pulled that freewheel off, I decided to try out a new 16 I'd gotten for it. So this morning, 46:16 and with fresh grease in the BB and a clean chain, I set off for work, expecting the gearing to feel too tall. In fact, it felt pretty good, and the bike averaged faster than the Paramount usually runs this route. I was especially impressed by the performance on hills ... the cruiser was cookin'!

So, I know all the really high speed records are on fixies. Why am I having so much trouble getting speed out of the Paramount in fixed gear?
I'd say single speedDave Hickey
Jun 25, 2003 7:02 AM
As you said, approaching intersections is faster on a SS. Also, I'm definately faster on downhills because I can coast on a SS.
I say SSSteve_0
Jun 25, 2003 7:27 AM
A ~disciplined~ SSer will keep the cranks turning just as often as a FGer. BUTTT wont top out on descents.

We must discount the 'slowing for intersections' and such if we're talking mechanical advantage...consider a closed course scenario.
no way..desmo
Jun 25, 2003 7:51 AM
If you are talkin' about the same gear ratio on a basically flat (no downhills bigger than the gear) course, and no starting and stopping than a fix is going to be quicker. Maybe not much, but the efficiency of the drivetrain is going to come into play.
how exactlySteve_0
Jun 25, 2003 8:07 AM
is a FG drivetrain more efficient than a SS drivetrain, given the same gear ratio?
No rear der. to bog things downGinz
Jun 25, 2003 8:37 AM
Also, no friction inside of a freewheel or freehub.
um, no rear derailuer on a ssSteve_0
Jun 25, 2003 8:50 AM
also, all friction is static when pedaling forward (as stated above, a true comparison necessitates a disciplined rider), therefore friction on SS == friction on FG
SS ain't got a der ...Humma Hah
Jun 25, 2003 9:01 AM
Except for a few bastardized machines which use a rear der as a tensioner, or which use a tensioner, a SS chainline should be as straight and efficient as a fixie. When pedaling, the palls are locked and it should also be as efficient as a fixie. Only in coasting will it lose any energy to the freewheel, and that's tiny.

I'm thinking I may still be a little spooked by the fixie. I had a few harrowing seconds on one in the track class a couple of years back, and have only been riding this one a couple of months. The cruiser and I are old buddies, and I know how to wring it out and the degree to which I can trust it.

But it may also be I've got to work out some fit issues. My riding geometry on the two bikes is fairly different.
um, SS's dont have feet.Steve_0
Jun 25, 2003 10:31 AM
even if they did, they certainly dont have cuffs.
flywheel effect.desmo
Jun 25, 2003 11:05 AM
has nothing to do with friction, lack of ders etc. but the energy in the turning rear wheel is also driving the crankshaft. no wasted (or very little) wasted energy in the pedal stroke (especially if you have a good spin). don't you notice how it's much easier to fly up gradual climbs on a fixed gear, even in a ratio larger than you would normally use on a multi geared bike? you are using less energy to turn more revs and transmit more power, equaling faster. it's the best part of being fixed, I can't understand how many of you are not getting this. uh, if single speed freewheels were faster they would be using them with brakes at the velodrome.
flywheel effect.Steve_0
Jun 25, 2003 11:37 AM
sorry, thought we were talking about road riding where downhills can top out FGs.

brakes on velodromes can yield deadly consequences. Also, match sprints and trackstands would all be cease to exist with FWs.

Im not convinced of perpetual motion.
Apples and orangesLone Gunman
Jun 25, 2003 6:50 PM
Why would you want to coast on a track that is basically flat? I can not go 47mph on a fixed gear bike but I can and have on my SS. Can't compare the 2 conditions, real world riding conditions with one gear vs. controlled environment of a track.
you could go 47 mph on a fixie if you'd unclip :) nmJS Haiku Shop
Jun 26, 2003 5:53 AM
perhaps 45 or 46Steve_0
Jun 26, 2003 8:30 AM
decreased human aerodynamics; flywheel effect of FG will provide more more friction than pawls on SS.
ok, you guys win.desmo
Jun 26, 2003 9:19 AM
SS's do coast much faster than fixies!
SS much faster for meLC
Jun 25, 2003 9:40 AM
I ride in alot hills and sharp curves and with a SS I can let it go as fast as the tires will grip.
Have no science to substantiate but my best guessdzrider
Jun 25, 2003 10:52 AM
is that on all but pretty flat land with very few stops, I'd be faster on an one speed than a fixed. For me the biggest factor is probably being overweight which makes me need more help going up hills and roll faster down hills, exacerbating the weeknesses of fixed gear riding. Next biggest factor is slowing down early to avoid stopping.
Sounds like an apples/oranges debate...PdxMark
Jun 25, 2003 11:43 AM
For everyday, stop & go riding, up and (especially) down hills, it sounds like folks feel much faster on a SS than a fixe. That makes sense, better (dual) braking allows you to keep your speed up as you approach a stop. Coasting down hills lets you get above your pedaling limit on a fixie. That's what some folks here seem to be saying.

The interesting area is steady pedaling that is not limited by cadence (not descending). It seems plausible that coupling the "flywheel" of the rear wheel to the drivetrain could help maintain motion/speed, rather than the break in motion (coasting) that comes with a SS bike. It could be argued that the flywheel could just as well act as a brake, but it doesn't feel that way when I'm riding. So in the steady pedaling case, I'd think a fixie would be faster.

Another issue over time could be fatigue. A SS gives you breaks, lets you rest. You're always moving on a fixe. So over time you might end up lower on a fixe due to fatigue.
Yeah ... steady pedaling on flat road ....Humma Hah
Jun 25, 2003 1:14 PM
... that's what threw me. Fatigue should not have mattered ... I was fresh and trying to catch a passing group who'd been riding for a while. Road was flat ... the Paramount ought to be distinctly faster than the cruiser due to superior aerodynamics, half the weight, and thinner higher-pressure tires. And singlespeed, it IS faster, by about 2.5 mph, right where I predicted from some calculations on Analytic Cycling's website. On this flat road, with constant pedaling, I'd have thought that singlespeed and fixed would be essentially equivalent, with no advantage either way.

I can also allow that around town, my riding style loses much of that advangage. I do note that the Paramount climbs most longer hills faster than the cruiser by about 2 mph, due to the lighter weight.

There are a lot of variables in how fast you can go on a flat road, and maybe I'm not accounting for them. These "rabbits" were distinctly slower than I've clocked them before, so probably we had a headwind instead of a tailwind. And maybe my condition was a little off for some reason. But it was really surprising to find I was struggling to catch and keep up with guys I've easily caught and kept up with on an inferior bike.

Maybe the cruiser caught 'em on a recovery spin with a tailwind and the Paramount caught 'em in serious training into a headwind.
We have ridden the NSA/OCE both fixed and SS.MB1
Jun 25, 2003 4:22 PM
No question we are faster fixed than SS. For us the difference is at least 15 minutes over the 105 miles. I think that we go enough faster fixed up the rollers to more than make up the SS's advantage going down the same rollers.

I should note that we are fairly experienced riders and have lots of miles both fixed and free.
So, got a NSA-OCE planned?Humma Hah
Jun 26, 2003 1:35 PM
... Or is it my turn to put one on?

I tried to put on a little neighborhood event a few weeks ago, but my wife kept fiddling with our weekend schedule and I only had one week's notice of an available weekend. I couldn't notify anyone and only had a turnout of one rider. She's probably not going to stop this mess until August, at this rate.
fixed up, SS down?DASS
Jun 25, 2003 9:06 PM
I'd say fixed is a faster climber due to fixed wheel momentum, and down is faster of course due to coasting.
re: Which is faster, SS or fixed?rwbadley
Jun 25, 2003 9:42 PM

I'm impressed you were able to hang at 21-24 mph on the cruiser. I think you should be able to do the same on the Paramount. The fixie will indeed take a few months of solid riding to really get used to, then you'll find coasting feels wierd.

I'm not surprised your speed dropped. I kinda think the 48:17 may be rather tall. (I don't know your terrain,) If you were used to spinning the cruiser at 46:20, it may be the 48:17 is just out of your ideal torque/spin range. Try on the 18 fixed cog and see what happens. I bet you'll feel more natural in the lower gear...

I am pretty sure if I went from my current 42:17 to 48:17 for town use I would lug on hills and headwinds, (which we have alot of) blowing out my knees in the process.

Position may play a role as well. Maybe a slightly different set of muscles used in the Paramount position?

Being able to rest on the descent with SS might mean something, 'tho resting may be overated ;-) Tucking and resting after spinning out sounds a bit too luxurious.

Having not rode SS much, just fixte and gears; take my opinion with a grain of salt.

I LIKE riding the fixie alot. I mostly use it for town errands and easy spin days with a slower Thursday night group. Early in the season I'll concentrate at trying to smooth out my square strokes on it. Sometimes I'll run our twenty five mile loop on it. A few years back I was a really heavy user of the fixie, and rode it 75% of the time. With other recent bikes in the stable, it has dropped to about 10-15%. I'm back to pedaling squares again ;-)

I actually have no idea if I am faster on it than any of the other bikes. I know running the 42:17 I have been able to hang with all but the serious fast rides. (on those I get dropped, on any of the bikes!)

Gear down a bit, and let us know how it turns out!

I only had the 46:20 on for a week ...Humma Hah
Jun 26, 2003 6:25 AM
... that was a gear-down for 50-miles of flat off-roading. It normally runs 46:18. This week I'm running 46:16 (higher than the Paramount) with no difficulty except on one little 15-20% grade.

Last night I did a speed-test on the cruiser at 46:16 on a short flat stretch I routinely use for that purpose (level within 10 ft over a mile). I hit, but did not hold, 29.0 mph. Probably had a little left to give, but I'd already gone 25 miles at that point, and the air quality was Code Red.