Thursday Jun 25, 2009

Why a fixie

Why a fixie1?

A few people have asked me this so here are the reasons for a fixie:

  • They are alleged to improve you pedaling.

  • They are supposed to make your legs stronger.

  • People say you are more in touch with the bike on a fixie

  • People say they are fun to ride. Quite why is hard to understand why would this be significantly different from just picking a gear and sticking to it. For a single speed bike with a free wheel I would agree except a single speed there is no way to give in up hills without getting off.

My additional reasons were:

  • I had noticed I generally ride in 3 gears during the winter so wondered if I could make it on a single speed.

  • Bike to work made it very affordable.

  • I wanted one.

Now having one I agree they are fun more fun than I ever expected and even though I don't think I have mastered it yet I do understand about it being in touch with the bike. Going up hill there is nowhere to hide I don't know if it is making me stronger but it feels like it.

It certainly has improved my ability to "spin".

1Obvioulsy the answer that you can never have too many bikes I assume will not wash. Indeed I have that problem at home since the house rule is that I can only have three bikes. The brompton, luckily, does not count leaving some others. However since under UK law a bike that has no pedals is not a bike I only have three sets of pedals so I'm o.k.

Tuesday Jun 23, 2009

500 fixie miles

I've now commuted 500 miles on my fixie. Riding with a single gear and no freewheel has proved to be more fun than I expected. I've managed to stay on the the thing despite it having a pretty good attempt to throw me on three occasions:

  • Trying to “freewheel” as I went over a speed bump.

  • Trying to “freewheel” going round a roundabout. Very exciting as I got lifted up at the same time as the rearwheel stepped out.

  • Going down hill and letting the speed build up and my legs not being able to keep up, in the wet all went very wobbly.

All these happened on the first two commutes since then I have mastered not freewheeling and can control the speed going down hill and spin at a rate that I previously thought impossible although it is much easier to use the brakes.

  • Track standing is harder on the fixie than on a freewheel bike. I think this is just lack of practice as it is getting better.

  • Gettting too close to the kerb is frightening as that pedal is going to go down relentlessly so narrow gaps are narrower.

  • Judging whether there is room for another turn of the pedals before you have to stop is more important than I relised. If you get it wrong then your foot is stuck at the bottom of a pedal stroke so starting is really hard.

  • Getting your foot clipped in once you are moving is impossible, better to get clipped in before putting the power down. Another reason to perfect that track stand.

  • I've not scraped my pedals going round corners, Yet.

Friday May 22, 2009

Fixie!!!

Today was my first ride to work on my Sun's new bike. This year my bike to work bike I have chosen a single speed fixed wheel bike. Fixed wheel bikes are supposed to improve your pedaling action and that is my excuse.

I've not ridden a fixed wheel bike since I was a teenager when a boy at school had one and I rode it a bit. However that was all before clipless pedals. I don't even recall if it had toe clips but I suspect not as I was considered a bit odd for having them.

I was expecting hills to be a problem having no gears going up, but in reality the problem is when going down where I've not managed to just relax my legs and let them spin or effectively use them to slow the bike without it all being a bit scary. Once I had got my self scared as my legs were whirling round it was not instinctive to use the brakes to slow the thing down. All very odd.

Traffic was less of a problem than I expected and I managed to get into the habit of slowing before junctions so I could just roll upto them. Since there is no freewheel you can't just lift the pedal to the top of the stroke to start again so you end up planning where you want to stop. It came as quite a suprise how far you move forward on a single pedal stroke.

The real surprised was how long the journey home took. I have no computer on the bike so I was only able to time myself approximately using my watch but it was 1 hour 10 minutes which was quite pleasing. I'm pondering whether a slightly larger gear might be a good idea.

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This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to http://chrisgerhard.wordpress.com

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