Monday, March 19, 2012

Fixed Gear

My family and others have ask "Why ride the fixed gear."  Seeing how my winter riding has come to close...I hope...I thought I would explain my reason for riding the fixed gear.   I will just touch a little bit of how they work and then let the Godfather of bicycles (rest his soul) tell you more below.  The fixed gear has a simple sprocket that is threaded on to the hub of the rear wheel.  It does not have the ability to coast.  I reason it to a tricycle. The tricycle we had as kids, the front wheel was turned by the pedals directly connected to the wheel.  In the fixed gear case, if the rear wheel is turning the pedals are also turning because of the sprocket in the rear does not have the ability to free wheel.  Coast that is.  So no coasting.   My number one personal reason is, I enjoy the simpleness of it.  It's not to be cool or hipster.  It's also a convenience.  In the winter there are not derailleurs to get rusted up and such.  My friend Eric, which by way now has a blog linked here, introduced me to the fixed gear and I haven't looked back.  I like riding it winter and summer. 
The threaded sprocket

The following from Sheldon Brown's site.

I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five.
Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer?
We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!

--Henri Desgrange, L'Équipe article of 1902

What is a Fixed-Gear Bicycle, and Why Would You Want One?

T fixed gear bicycle he oldest and simplest type of bicycle is the "fixed-gear" bicycle. This is a single-speed bike without a freewheel: that is, whenever the bike is in motion, the pedals will go around. You cannot coast on a fixed-gear machine.

M track bicycle any enthusiastic cyclists ride such bicycles by choice, at least part of the time. Why would anybody do that? It is not easy to put into words. There is an almost mystical connection between a fixed-gear cyclist and bicycle: it feels like an extension of your body to a greater extent than does a freewheel equipped machine. If you are an enthusiastic, vigorous cyclist, you really should give it a try.
There are many reasons, including: Fun, Fitness, Form, Feel & 'Ficciency!

Fixed for Fun

I fixed wheel bicycle t takes a bit of practice to become comfortable on a fixed gear. Most cyclists, trying it for the first time, will automatically try to coast once the bike gets up to a certain speed. The bike will not allow this, and it is disconcerting. It takes a couple of weeks of regular riding to unlearn the impulse to coast, and become at ease on a fixed gear.
It is worth going through this learning experience, however, because once you do so, you will discover a new joy in cycling. When you ride a fixed gear, you feel a closer communion with your bike and with the road. There is a purity and simplicity to the fixed-gear bicycle that can be quite seductive. Somehow, once you get past the unfamiliarity, it is just more fun than riding a bike with gears and a freewheel! 

Fixed for Fitness and Form

R fixed gear bike iding a fixed gear on the road is excellent exercise. When you need to climb, you don't need to think about when to change gears, because you don't have that option. Instead, you know that you must just stand up and pedal, even though the gear is too high for maximum climbing efficiency. This makes you stronger.
If you have the option of gearing down and taking a hill at a slow pace, it is easy to yield to the temptation. When you ride a fixed gear, the need to push hard to get up the hills forces you to ride at a higher intensity than you otherwise might. Really steep hills may make you get off and walk, but the hills you are able to climb, you will climb substantially faster than you would on a geared bicycle.
When you descend, you can't coast, but the gear is too low. This forces you to pedal at a faster cadence than you would choose on a multi-speed bicycle. High-cadence pedaling improves the suppleness of your legs. High rpm's force you to learn to pedal in a smooth manner -- if you don't, you will bounce up and down in the saddle.
Most cyclists coast far too much. Riding a fixed-gear bike will break this pernicious habit. Coasting breaks up your rhythm and allows your legs to stiffen up. Keeping your legs in motion keeps the muscles supple, and promotes good circulation.

Fixed for Feel

A track bike fixed gear gives you a very direct feel for traction conditions on slippery surfaces. This makes a fixed gear particularly suitable for riding in rainy or icy conditions.
This same feel for traction will help you learn exactly how hard you can apply your front brake without quite lifting the rear off the ground. Most fixed-gear riders only use a front brake--a rear brake is quite unnecessary on a fixed-gear machine.
Because you are more solidly connected to the bike, you have better control of it in bumpy conditions or in difficult corners.
On any road bike, the rider must learn to un-weight the saddle to ride over bumps. Most cyclists coast to do this. A fixed-gear rider will learn to "post" over bumps without breaking stride.

Fixed for (e)Fficiency

A fixed wheel fixed-gear bike is considerably lighter than a multi-speed bike of comparable quality, due to the absence of the rear brake, derailers, shift levers, and extra sprockets. A fixed-gear bike also has a substantially shorter chain.
A properly set-up fixed gear has a perfectly straight chainline. This, plus the absence of derailer pulleys, makes a real improvement in the drive-train efficiency, an improvement you can feel.

Back to rlove2bike.  I am sure there are people who agree or disagree (like anything else) with these simple be it.

Lets get outdoors and have some fun!!

PS...Sure was nice talking to these folks last night.  I look forward to getting out for a ride with them.


  1. Well stated. The fixie should be a tool in every avid cyclists tool box.

  2. I took the crank (a double) off my converted fixie last year to use on another bike. I'm going to have to find another crank to stick on there. Great article! I do miss the joys of riding fixed.

  3. Very interesting stuff! I've only ridden a fixed gear for a short ride, and was kind of freaked out by the difference in my normal rides. I guess I coast more than I knew. I might have to give it another go.

  4. Thank you for this very informative post! I admire simplicity. Pretty much all my recreational pursuits reflect that. I've been riding a ss 29er for about a year and a half. I ride everywhere. Trail, gravel, road.Is a fixie this versatile or just for road and urban situations? I have no doubt ss has improved my fitness and riding ability.
    On a side note. I do appreciate the culture that seems to go along with fixed gear. Free spirited, colorful, alternative athletes.

  5. Thanks for the comments!!

    Sorry for being late to respond, but I am now a Grandpa. It was a rather long ordeal, but momma, daddy and KayCee are doing great.

    Herringbone...I used mine for gravel and blacktop, but not on single track trails. Sometimes on the mtb trails a person needs to time where the pedals are located to avoid rocks, logs, stumps or whatever and without the ability to coast, that becomes difficult.

  6. Congratulations on the new addition to your family. I continue to try to simplify. So I'm thinking for my style of all around riding the singlespeed 29er will be my choice. Thanks again for all the info. Your post was very helpful.

  7. Looks nice. I had made a single speed flip flop hub bike, I could never get into the fixie side.