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First Ride on a Fixie - Report(6 posts)

First Ride on a Fixie - ReportRoundabout
Sep 20, 2003 5:13 PM
I just had my first ride on a fixie.

Thanks to this forum and Sheldon Brown's website, I got the "bug" and converted my old Motobecane Gran Touring bike into a fixie. The bike has seen better days. It spent most of the past 12 years in a damp basement and appeared ready for the trash heap. Still, I have fond memories of it and thought that converting it would be an appropriate way to resurrect it and also find another dimension to riding.

I rode it today for about an hour on rolling roads without any catastrophic events. Every turn, climb and decent was a new experience for me. It was very exciting. I nearly launched myself over the handlebar several times; the first not 30 feet from my house. Still, it felt good to be on this bike. I want to ride it again.

The bike really makes you aware of how often you coast or shift on a regular road bike. I never realized. If I get used to this, will I be able to go back?

The only problem I had was getting back up to my driveway. I live on a hill and there is a really steep pitch (maybe 12% for 70 feet or so) just before my driveway. There is a sharp turn and a false flat before it so it is hard to build up any significant momentum. I tried it twice, but "lost it" each time about halfway up and bailed. My gearing is 40-16. Before today, I thought I could wrestle a bike up anything and have done this little hill countless times in too big a gear on my regular bike. Something about the fixed gear made me lose my confidence. The cranks on this bike are shorter than my regular bike (170 vs. 175). Maybe that has something to do with it. I will figure this out.

Thanks for giving me the bug.
Are you riding clipless?winstonc
Sep 21, 2003 11:16 PM
I found that when I switched from toeclips to clipless pedals, I was able to climb steep hills much more effectively. With toeclips or platforms, the maximum amount of force you can put on the pedal is your body weight plus the amount of force you pull up on the handlebars with. With clipless pedals, you can add the power of pulling on the upstroke, which makes a big difference.

I think most cyclists don't realize how useful it can be to really pull hard on the upstroke, because they can usually shift into a lower gear when they hit hills -- and using a lower gear is probably more energy efficient and less fatiguing. But when you only have one gear, you need to know how to crank up the power for those hills. (sorry about the pun)

As an aside: I'd stay away from SPDs, at least the cheap ones. I had some SPDs, but I would occasionally pull out of them on steep climbs or hard sprints... I switched to eggbeaters and haven't had problems since.
Yes - CliplessRoundabout
Sep 22, 2003 7:49 AM
I have clipless pedals on the bike, Speedplay Frogs.

Since that first ride, I rode up the same stretch on my multi-geared bike with a 39-16 and made it without any problem. The gearing was a little lower (39 vs 40 chainring), the cranks were a little longer (175 vs 170), the wheels were a little smaller and lighter (700x23 vs 27x1.25) and the bike was lighter (ti vs steel). All of those differences are small though. I guess they add up.
I doubt that.....bungalowbill
Sep 22, 2003 9:04 AM
the climb is too short for those things to make much of a diff. I think you figured it out the first time- your confidence level. Riding fixed is all about commitment. It's all or nothing when you hit a turn or a climb, that's what I love about it. I'll bet you get that climb your next time out.
As for going back to geared after riding fixed for awhile, you'll ride faster and coasting will feel like a guilty pleasure.
Sitting vs. standingKEN2
Sep 22, 2003 9:06 AM
Are you standing on the pedals? I find that's the only way to power up the really steep hills on a FG. Also easier on the knees.
Make the hill once you'll make it forever. nmdzrider
Sep 22, 2003 9:11 AM