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Any Fixed Gear Freaks Out There?(9 posts)

Any Fixed Gear Freaks Out There?Gadfly
Mar 15, 2001 8:04 AM
Thinking about converting my old Trek 1200 to a fixed gear. Got some good info from Sheldon Brown, just wondered if anybody is inclined to relate experience, advice.
I've become a fixed gear freaktommyb
Mar 15, 2001 9:25 AM
I converted an old bike into a fixed gear, mostly using the tips from Sheldon Brown. I love it.

The bike has vertical dropouts, so the only reasonable gear I can use is a 46x18, which actually is just about perfect for flat land cruising. Any other combination makes the chain too loose or impossibly tight. Hopefully, you'll be equally lucky in getting a good combination to work. To find out, experiment with a straight block freewheel to determine which gear gets the chain tight.

I took an old freewheel based wheel, moved the spacer from right side to left side, redished the wheel and screwed on the cog with a bottom bracket lockring.

I moved the outer chainring to the inner position, and installed it using BMX chainring bolts.

Remove the derailleurs, shorten the chain to just the right length, and voila. Leave the brakes on. Trackies will say that's not necessary, but few tracks have a stoplight at the bottom of a hill.

The fun part is learning to reach down for a water bottle without coasting, going through a corner fast without coasting, sitting up from a sprint without coasting, etc.

Do it, you won't regret it.
Yup -- Love itGreg Taylor
Mar 15, 2001 9:47 AM
I love "Trixie the Fixie" -- it is a old touring frame (spaced 120mm out back) with moon-shaped horizontal drop-outs. I picked up a Suzue Track hubset ($48.00 front and rear) from Third Hand.

I love the bike, but it can be unforgiving if you screw up. I took a trip to the emergency room last night after getting thrown from the darn thing. I was standing up and honking up a big hill and pulled out of a pedal. Got thrown over the bars as the crank came around on the still-clipped-in side. No freewheel, remember? Facial abrasions and a mild concussion. I don't remember riding home. Yes, I was wearing a helmet. Bike is fine.
I got to try it last summer ...Humma Hah
Mar 15, 2001 10:57 AM
... I've always been a singlespeed freak, and thought I ought to give fixed a crack. There's a velodrome here in San Diego that teaches track classes and provides loaner bikes for the class. I signed up.

My impressions:

I don't think I'd give up freewheels entirely. Coasting is one of the great joys in life, even if ol Sheldon DOES claim it's bad for you.

It takes a little getting used to. The first time you sprint up to speed and then sit down, you'll forget it don't coast, and it will try to pitch your foolish arse off.

But after a couple of sessions, it does kinda start to grow on you.

Consider a flip-flop hub, then you can set up fixed on one side, freewheel on the other, and get the best of both worlds.
Mar 15, 2001 7:10 PM
Fixed gear bikes are cool, way cool. Converted my extra bike, Concorde Prelude, into a fixed gear around Christmas time and have really enjoyed the experience. Only lost one finger tip too....what a loser. Anyway, rode the fixed gear in sun, rain, and snow for about 6 weeks and found myself riding stronger and smoother this early in the season than ever before. Hills were a problem, going down. Only the steepest hills, which I usually climb in my 39X21 (campy equipped Mondonico), were a problem in the fixed 39X14. BUT, with the much lower cadence I wasn't going anerobic (well, maybe a little) and I was climbing faster than my training partners who were stuck in the piddly little granny gears. Generally I found my spin to improve, my bike handling improve and as Sheldon Brown describes, I was much more "in tune" with the road and my surroundings. Almost surreal.

I will use the "freak bike" as my friends call it, as a commuter during the rest of the year and the new Mondonico as the trainer and racer.

Give the fixed gear a good go, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
re: Any Fixed Gear Freaks Out There?Skip
Mar 15, 2001 7:30 PM
To retro for me. I still remember upgrading from my first fixed gear to my coaster bike, when I was knee high (more years ago than I care to remember), and thought that was better than sliced bread. Why would I want to regress. Just the thought of getting flipped, catching my unmentionables in something, fractures & healing times at my age - all send shivers up my spine. Sorry, not going there.

re: Any Fixed Gear Freaks Out There?thom
Mar 15, 2001 8:30 PM
I have been riding a fixed gear for about 4 or 5 years now. I have an old Raleigh with fenders and 25 tires that i use every winter and early spring. Some of the best riders in the world ride a fixed gear for 6 or 8 weeks in the winter. Riding this way in the winter enables me to have alot more power when i switch over to the gears. I definitely have a smoother spin now and can do more with the full range of gears. Before the fixed gear i tended to ride in too big of a gear all of the time. Even though it is not popular now, you will benefit from it big time. It sure didn't hurt Merckx.
A few more thoughts on stuff that worked for me...Greg Taylor
Mar 16, 2001 4:56 AM
I had a lot of fun building up my fixed gear, and learned a few tricks in the process:

-- Nashbar has a good selection of cheap chainrings. Their "generic" chainrings come in a lot of sizes and bolt patterns.

-- I'm running about 75 gear-inches, which seems like a good compromise for spinning/hillclimbing ability. Too short a gear, and you will beat yourself senseless on downhills (and possibly get thrown). Too tall, and you can't climb hills.

-- The Suzue from Third Hand is a good piece for the money. Granted, it is not Phil Wood, Shimano, or Campy quality, but it is decently made and a cheap way to get a flavor for fixed-gear riding. A "flip-flop" hub is a nice thing to have. That way, you can have the option to "freewheel" it if circumstances (sketchy route or weather) dictate.

-- Do not be tempted to run without brakes. I use a full set, not just a caliper on the front. I'm 185 lbs., and the energy that it takes to dissipate speed is really impressive. Riding a fixed gear can be a great lesson in physics.

-- Another option is to build up a single-speed around an old freehub, using old cassette cogs and spacers. I did this for a while and really enjoyed it. The one thing that I found here is that Shimano cogs with the shift ramps, etc., can drop the chain if you really stand on it. You can get it to work, but the best thing is to scrounge for some cheap old cassettes without all of the fancy machining.
re: Any Fixed Gear Freaks Out There?JD
Mar 17, 2001 6:38 AM
I recently refinished my old SLX frame and made it a fixed. I'll admit to being a spinner and it is flat where I live, but I can keep up with just about anyone on my fixed and I run a 39 x 16. I was motorpacing with a friend of mine last week at 30 mph and lasted almost 4.5 minutes and had a blast. I can do sustained intervals up to the very high 20's with no real problems and highly recommend it. I am not trying to be cocky, just let you know that you can really get up your spin to drop some geared riders.