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My First Fixed Gear Ride(14 posts)

My First Fixed Gear RideSharkman
Oct 13, 2003 9:27 PM
OK, so I took the plunge and bought a Fuji track bike about a week ago. Picked up the bike on Saturday. LBS installed a set of old Dia Comp brakes I had laying around, and I had the front chainring swapped out from the stock 48 to a 44 (16 in rear). Otherwise stock bike. SPD pedals.

Went out for about a 33 mile ride Saturday afternoon in essentially a downpour. I was worried about forgetting about being on a fixed gear bike and trying to coast, and then getting rudely reminded where I was, but with one exception, I had no problems. The one exception was when I cramped up in my left calf. Reflexively I tried to coast, but was immediately jolted out of that. Had no problems at the few stoplights, etc. I encountered.

Hit a top speed going downhill of approximately 31 mph. Gear ss says rpms had to be 142. Lots of time at 23 to 25 mph with rpms over 100. Hills were not too bad, but I deliberately avoided anything over about 5% grade, with the exception of the last 200 yards to my house, which is about 9% to 10%. I made it, but boy was it hard.

I was very sore and tired Sunday, much more so that would have been the case on my regular road steed. I am optimistic that this will help my racing next year. Looking to build strength to push bigger gears, and when I hit either hills or headwind, this set up forces me to do it. Will pick up ability to spin better too.

SM
Cool - congrats on the new ride...jtferraro
Oct 14, 2003 6:47 AM
Did you get an '03 or '04 model? Sounds like you installed both front and rear brakes? Are the brake levers traditional road levers or mtb/cross levers? I still have to put a set of SPD pedals on my Fuji Track. Are your pedals mtb SPD's? If so, which make/model? Also, what kind of 44T chainring did you install?

Sounds like a great ride - 33 miles, 31 mph max speed @142 RPM, and lots of time at 23-25 mph w/RPM's over 100!

My bike should be ready this week (ordered a 42T Salsa chainring and Tiagra front brake w/other side's "hood" only).

-Jeff
Hey - I got one too! (long)Steve Young
Oct 14, 2003 8:03 AM
I picked up a 2003 Fuji about 6 weeks ago. I've been lurking on this board for ages now and finally decided to take the plunge. With winter approaching it seemed like a good excuse to get a fixie for training. I followed the JTferraro's threads about his decision making process which was really helpful. In the end I figured there wasn't much difference between 2003 and 2004 models and I preferred the colour scheme on the 2003.

I got mine from Harris cyclery. I live in the San Francisco Bay area but called them up and had it mailed over. The guy I spoke to there was very helpful and knowledgeable - really impressed with their service.

Observations.

I got the fixed/free version (essentially two brakes). This was a good idea for the first couple of weeks while I was getting used to the whole back-pedal braking/can't coast thing. But I don't think I have used the back brake for 2-3 weeks now. I'm going to keep it in though (especially after reading SS-NYC's posts). The Shimano brake levers that came with the bike rattle a little on rougher surfaces so the older Dia Coupe may be a better bet.

I got mine with stock gearing (48 chainring, 16 back fixed and 18 free). The original thought was to use the fixed for commuting (haven't done that yet as still working out a relatively traffic free commute) and use the fixed in the morning and the freewheel on the way home when my energy levels were a bit lower. Having ridden it for a few weeks I can't ever see using the freewheel.

Although I have ridden mostly on pancake flat terrain (Along the shore of the Bay) I found the stock gearing was a bit too tall on the fixed cog and just (yesterday) ordered an 18 tooth fixed cog from American cyclery. I'll post when I know how that works out but I think that should make the bike about perfect.

I haven't done anything with the tyres - I'm just running the stock Kenda's as they are fine for me. However, looking at the frame there should be a reasonable amount of clearance to put in something bigger (at least with the chainwheel/cog combination that I am running) I haven't got a feel for how much back and forward change you see in the backwheel when changing gearings yet. However the track dropouts seem quite spacious so I can't imagine not being able to accomodate any reasonable gear ratio and being able to fit bigger tyres with the appropriate chain length. (I'm still pretty new to this though so I may be talking C**P at this point).

Other impressions. I like the seat - this is the most comfortable seat I have ever got with a bike. Your results may vary but my last two purchases (MTB and gearie) were significantly more expensive and I still ended up changing out the seats.

The frame is killer value. I have found it really comfortable. Also I selected it for road-like geometry and it is near identical to my Bianchi (steel) road bike except that the top tube is about 2cm shorter - for some reason it is much more comforatable and I'm happier in the drops which was quite a surprise. I've got about 1500 miles on the Bianchi and haven't been completely comfortable on longer (60 mile plus) rides but thought until now that was because I needed to get a bit more flexible in the back. Since getting the Fuji Track I have been questioning this.

I've probably done about 200 miles on the Fuji (only fitted the computer at the weekend so not precisely sure). Longest ride was 40 miles and I felt pretty beat up the day after that - mostly sore legs. Having said that, I'm now up to 3-4 rides of ca. 20 miles a week no problem and really happy with the purchase.

Only downside was that my dad (in his mid-60's) came to visit for 3 weeks the day I got the bike delivered. After a few words to the effect of "nice bike - I haven't ridden one of those since before I met your mother" He was off and I didn't get much chance to ride it for the first three weeks of ownership. Not much of a hardship though as I
Fun story about your dad ...Humma Hah
Oct 14, 2003 1:57 PM
... mine taught me to ride, but I don't think I ever actually saw him ride a bike! I can't picture him borrowing one of mine.

Hang on to the SS cog ... maybe you'll be riding a brevet series or a double century on it one day and need it to get you home. I've ridden a century on my fixed cog, but MB1 reports he's good for a century, but somewhere around 110 miles it seems to get kinda tedious.
Cool - congrats on the new ride...Sharkman
Oct 14, 2003 7:23 PM
I got an 04 model, I liked the color better. I did install both front and rear brakes. I live and ride in very hilly territory and I wanted to be sure that I could slow myself down enough going downhill to not explode from high rpms.

The brakes are just real old Dia Comp road brake levers. I had them sitting around on a vintage 1980s Cannondale 3.0 Series road frame, so I just used them rather than buy new ones. My pedals are Ultegra SPDs - one sided road SPD pedal, probably 8 to 10 years old or so. Again, I just had them laying around, so that is what I used.

Don't know the model or make on the 44T chainring. I simply did the math on Doug Sloan's excel ss and figured out what I thought I wanted, and the LBS did the rest. It did cost about $40 though, FWIW.

Like some of the other posters on this thread, I probably got a Fuji in part because of your posts. You really ought to get some kind of commission flow from Fuji.

Talked to a fellow racer in our office who rides fixed gear a lot in the winter. He made the statement that one mile on a fixed gear equals two miles on a regular bike. He's a very experienced hand and would know. I believe him based on how I felt Sunday after the ride.

SM
Just for fun ...Humma Hah
Oct 14, 2003 7:39 AM
... before they start to swell up and get all funny-looking, take a cloth tape measure and measure the girth of your thighs. Write 'em down some where, then ride the bike a bunch and see how they change in 6 months and a year.

Singlespeeding built up my quads (specifically the vastus lateralis) noticably, but fixed is putting more meat on the inner muscle in the group, the vastus medialis. Full-fledged trackies have bizarre-looking thighs ... almost look like a pair of shoe boxes, and they're most dramatic about 2-3" above the knees.
Congrats...PdxMark
Oct 14, 2003 10:20 AM
I've hardly ridden my road biue since I got my fixie in the Spring. Good choice on the initial gearing change. Even still, listen to your knees. My initial gearing of 48/19 felt almost ok - I could climb and go fast enough, but I had twinges of achiness in my knees. I eased the gearing slightly to 44/18 and now everything is peaches n cream.
Me, too...another new Fuji here...NPA
Oct 14, 2003 10:33 AM
I took the plunge last week and bought an '03 Fuji Track, also partly inspired by jtferraro ( maybe fuji should send you a check for all the business, jt!) got the 03 for $100 off. i've only been able to ride it very little, just around the block, but WOW can i feel it in the legs.
I'm thinking the gearing is a little steep, but we'll see after i actually get some miles in. i have to agree about the seat and the drops. i don't know how but when i picked it up we did a quick fitting and basically adjusted nothing, and its great. seat is comfortable even in non-cycling shorts. Mine is set up with the Shimano brake-only levers and dia-compe brake. i'll post more questions as they come up, i plan to spend some time on it this week.
Me too...but mine is an old Fujiscary slow
Oct 15, 2003 4:05 AM
I finally finished building it up about a week ago. Like someone posted earlier, I have felt a little sore for the past week from riding the fixed gear bike. Funny thing is I can't remember being sore from a bike ride in 10 years. I have mine geared out at 42x16 but will probably jump up to a 44x16. The one thing I thought would be easier about a fixed gear bike was doing a track stand at red lights....wrong! Congrats to everyone else on their new fixies. I hope you are having as much fun as I am!
Wow - glad to assist in all your decision making processes!jtferraro
Oct 15, 2003 10:10 AM
Hmm...maybe I *should* call Fuji and ask for some form of kickback, eh? Yup, for me it was a relatively easy decision but I, too, was inspired by ss-nyc words about the bike. He reminded me that the Fuji has road geometry wheras the Bianchi Pista and KHS Flite 100 do not. I really wanted the Surly Steamroller or even the Cross-Check but knew they would cost a lot more. There are places that sell complete Steamrollers (Excel Sports or Webcyclery) but they cost $800+. My LBS said they'd be able to order one complete from Quality (QBS) but there was noway the complete bike would cost less than $700. Considering I bought my '04 Fuji Track for $499.95 (could have purchased the '03 for $450 cash) I still think I got the best bang for the buck. I wanted a complete "out-of-the-box" fixed gear, steel frame & fork, and road geometry all at an affordable price and the Fuji was the best choice. Yes, I agree about the "out-of-the-box" models not having as much charachter as, say, an old Italian steel frameset but I didn't want to have to deal w/looking for an old bike at a tag/yard sale and then having to figure out how to convert it to a fixed gear, etc. If I had an old steel bike from when I was a kid that would have been one thing, but considering I didn't (wish I still had my 15-speed Firenze), I figured this was the way to go.

I'm jealous now, though...all your have already mounted up brakes and are riding! That's it...I'm calling my LBS now!!

Happy Fuji riding,

-Jeff
and one more thing re: chaning gearing...jtferraro
Oct 15, 2003 10:47 AM
I know it would be more expensive, but doesn't it make more sense, if you find the stock gearint to tall, to swap out the chainring for a smaller one, rather than swapping out the cog for a larger one? My thought process is that the rear wheel would then move away from the BB, giving you more clearance for wider tires and/or fenders?

BTW, I just called my LBS. My ordered parts have arrived, so it's time to bring the bike in!! =)

-Jeff
I meant "CHAINRING" gearing, above^ (nm)jtferraro
Oct 15, 2003 12:29 PM
Doesn't that assume the same number of links in the chain? nmdzrider
Oct 16, 2003 8:03 AM
Yes...jtferraro
Oct 16, 2003 9:47 AM
but I would think you'd only want to remove enough links to allow the axle bolts to fit at the end of the track ends (towards the rear of the bike), right?

-Jeff