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Jason Billows 02-06-2006 12:23 PM

After reading the most recent journal I became quite psyched about getting a single speed bike. My wife, who tends to have the money smarts in our family ;-) asked why I would spend money on a new bike when I could simply leave my multi-speed bike in one gear and not change it.

Why not? Other than maintenance issues, would I not get the same workout benefits from doing this? I could just select a gear that provided the appripriate ratio between my front and back wheel chain.


Robert Thompson 02-06-2006 04:00 PM

A couple of things to consider with a fixed gear vs multi:

A fixed gear will force you to pedal whether you want to or not. When the road goes downhill, you'll pedal your butt off trying to keep up with the cranks, since the pedals move when the wheels move. This can really smooth out your pedal stroke and point out a lack of leg muscle coordination. With a multi-gear bike, you'll freewheel when the pedal stroke kicks up.

When facing any kind of head wind or hill, you'll continue to develop a smooth stroke/cadence as you attempt to maximize output and efficiency. When the extra gears are there, the temptation to use them is often too great.

There is a different "feel" when pedalling a fixed gear bike. You feel more "connected" to the pedals, cranks, chain and tires.

Pedal forward, go forward; pedal backward, go backward. Kind of Yin and Yang, or "wax on, wax off."

Which brings me to the best thing about a fixed-gear - try riding one without brakes (like a "track" bike)'ll soon learn how fast a bike can go from 30mph to zero with "back-pressure" applied to the cranks.

Plus, you can do cool "trackstands" (balancing upright by applying forward and backward pressure - like track riders do in the sprint competition) at the traffic lights!

Can you get a great workout by riding in a single gear no matter what the condition? Sure, but there is a different feeling you get riding a fixed gear. I don't know if you compete, or ride with other riders who do, but if you can find someone who has a track bike, ask to take it for a ride and feel the difference.

Jibreel Freeland 02-06-2006 05:38 PM


There would be alot less friction if you discarder your deraileurs(spell check).

I though single speed was different from fixed wheel.

Robert Thompson 02-06-2006 07:14 PM

Single speed could be a fixed gear or one that freewheels (allow you to coast without pedalling). It just depends on the equipment used. The freewheel allows a multi-gear/derailleur to work.

Motion Macivor 02-06-2006 10:31 PM

I love cycling I've done it since I was five years old I've raced at the elite level, I've been a bike courier, I've even dabled in bike journalism. Now I'm going to tell you something that lots of people may not agree with here. You do not need a single speed bike. You can just set the limit screws on your deraileur so that you cant shift. Or even better yet have a workout where you purposely choose the wrong gears. If you really want a single speed to make you a better cyclist I would recomend a fixed gear like rob mentioned. The main reason is that it will force you to pedal way faster than you could on a free wheel bike when you go down hill. this is sometimes called overspeed training and it will make your stroke wickedly smooth and eficient. Riding up a hill in the highest gear you can can be done on a multigeared bike just as well as a single speed so why bother?

Garrett Smith 02-07-2006 07:45 AM

After having my fixed-gear, I will never love another bike again...

I'm serious.

Dr. G:happy:

Robert Thompson 02-07-2006 09:12 AM

After having my fixed-gear, I will never love another bike again...

I kinda felt that way the first time I rode a track bike on a gear...with the only purpose being the painful pursuit of traffic...banked brakes...a super lightweight, yet strong and stiff bike that was built for one thing...SPEED!

I highly recommend finding a velodrome and riding a track bike for a completely different cycling experience; there is nothing else in cycling like it.

Garrett Smith 02-07-2006 10:46 AM

I contacted the Tucson and Arizona Velodrome Associations the other day, haven't heard a response. I hope they still exist...

Their goal is to establish a velodrome in Tucson, they also organize(d) fixed-gear rides. They would drive out to San Diego for the velodrome there. I don't know if the drive is worth it to me on a regular basis when I have such great terrain around my house, it would definitely be worth at least one visit when I'm in San Diego the next time!

Dr. G

Robert Thompson 02-07-2006 06:42 PM

I would look into the local cycling clubs and local USCF (United States Cycling Federation) racers who could offer insight into training on a velodrome and the difference between training for road races vs. track races.

Track races are usually shorter than many road races, with the shortest being the match sprints (3 laps, with the first 2-2 1/2 being as slow as the two riders want) and the kilometer (aka "killermeter) time trial, which lasts a little over a VERY painful minute for the fastest riders. If you've got the fast twitch fibers, go for it.

The only reason I'm explaining this is that training time for short events is less than that of the road events. Too many cyclists put in miles and miles of long distance riding, only to loose the race in a sprinting effort they haven't trained for, like myself at one time. If I had to do it all over again, I would spend more time working on the power, speed, and explosiveness that track cycling is good for, rather than junk miles out on the road.

Enough rambling, I do think you'll enjoy riding on a velodrome, especially if you like riding a fixed gear bike. A lot of guys I raced with used to ride a fixed gear in the off season to smooth out their spin and for a change of pace. Having a velodrome to play on just makes it more fun.

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