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fixed gear advice(9 posts)

fixed gear advicebikerchick
Aug 13, 2002 2:07 PM
I just got a fixed gear bike. I'm planning to train on it in the off-season. I've never ridden one so I'm looking for any sort of advice that might help a newbie to avoid serious injury/embarrassment! I plan to ride with non-clip pedals at first. Any thoughts about how to get up to speed, dos, donts, etc. would be great...
re: fixed gear adviceDougSloan
Aug 13, 2002 3:13 PM
First, gearing. I try to use a gear that give me about 100 rpms at my cruising speed, but allows me to climb all hills; it depends on what you want from riding it -- strength, spin, aerobics, etc. Don't worry so much about the downhills spinning your legs off at first; at least have a front brake and use it if you need to.

Never, ever, try to coast! You may well be embarrassed if you do.

I would use clipless pedals. If not, it might be hard to hold your feet on at 150 rpms down hill, and then even more difficult to get them back on if they come off. Might be dangerous, too.

Don't try to speed away from stops quite like you can with multi gears. It might put too much strain on your knees.

I use fatter tires, as you can't stand and float over bumps quite the same. You can stand while pedaling, but it's different.

Make sure you take a tool for the track nuts in case you flat. I've forgotten, but been lucky.

While cruising along, it's not much different than on a multi gear bike. For the most part, it becomes natural and requires no additional thought.

I really enjoy the challenge, simplicity, and purity of the fixed gear.

Amen, brother!! nmrollo tommassi
Aug 13, 2002 4:35 PM
re: fixed gear adviceThaddeus
Aug 14, 2002 9:33 AM
Start out slow!

get used to not being able to coast - this is important! (and probably the hardest part...)

always maintain chain tension. get redline chain tensioners. If you throw your chain on a fixed, you're doomed. really.

I would suggest using toe-clips not clipless, unless you are running a brake. If you have clipless (and no brake) and become unclipped, at speed, the pedal doesn't provide any platform for stopping, thus you are forced to use one leg for stopping. with toe clips, the pedal provides a platform for slowing rpms...

Think about it this way, you HAVE to stay connected to the drive train at all times, in order to maintain control.

In traffic, you also have to think constantly about what is happening ahead and around you, in order to anticipate driver's actions. I (former fixed-messenger, current fixed commuter) try to think about a block ahead of where I am, in order to plan for traffic.

Try new things:

track stand (then try it with no hands...I can't, yet)
rear dismount
bunny hopping (my current quest)
brake required by lawDougSloan
Aug 14, 2002 10:06 AM
I think most states require at least one brake capable of skidding a tire. Riding a fixie without one is not only crazy, but illegal.

brake required by lawThaddeus
Aug 14, 2002 11:18 AM

I have never heard that. I am surprised that bike shops will even build up track frames for people without them, then. It seems to me that they would be liable in the event of an accident - much like the bartender who sells the last drink to the driver who hits someone.

I don't think its crazy, though. I think I'm particularly safe.

"Breakin' tha law, Breakin' tha law..."
Aug 14, 2002 2:45 PM
Has anyone ever gotten hurt when they thought they weren't being safe?
track bikesDougSloan
Aug 14, 2002 2:48 PM
I think if they are sold as "track bikes," then no brake is needed. The expectation is that they will be used on a track, where brakes are actually not allowed.

I've ridden a track bike (with a brake) enough to realize that if someone pulled in front of me while I'm going 25 mph, I'll have a heck of a time getting slowed down with only the pedals compared to having a brake. If I wrecked and had no brakes, I'd have a hard time making a case that I was not the negligent one; actually, since I violated a statute, I'd be presumed to be negligent (negligence per se). In other words, my own damn fault.

track bikesThaddeus
Aug 16, 2002 9:05 AM
Yes, but technically, because I can lock up the rear wheel, I qualify under your definition. FWIW, two of the smarter types at my LBS had no idea if such a code existed in DC.