Username or Email Address
Do you already have an account?
Forgot your password?
  • Log in or Sign up

    VWVortex


    Results 1 to 21 of 21

    Thread: Free Wheel vs Fixed Gear...

    1. Member
      Join Date
      Mar 28th, 2002
      Location
      Queens NY / Nutley NJ
      Posts
      6,242
      Vehicles
      2014 WRX
      07-05-2012 02:43 PM #1
      A couple of months ago, I decided to get back into cycling. My main reason was for fitness (I've settled down, started a family...and gained a few pounds!).

      I figured that a fixed gear bike would be the best & quickest way to get back in shape, so I went out and bought one.

      I rode it for about a good 25-30 miles, WITH brakes, before I decided that riding fixed-gear bikes simply wasn't for me. I've since replaced the rear 13t fixed gear cog, with a 17t freewheel and it was the best decision I ever made. I have enough discipline to keep pedaling and not coast, but I also have the option to bomb hills every chance I get, at speeds that would simply not be possible if I was riding a fixed gear bike.

      I understand that fixed-gear bikes with no brakes are a MUST when racing on a velodrome. I'm guessing it's becuase unlike cars with brake lights, you don't know when a bike in front of you is going to slow down...and you can't have a dozen people riding inches apart from eachother, only to have one of them brake and cause a nasty pile-up.

      But what I don't get, is why so many people prefer to use them on the streets? I've heard people say that they're more reliable and not much on them can break...but I've never found derailers, brakes or gears to be very unreliable? If anything- wouldn't using the pedals to brake on a fixed gear bike cause the chain to wear out prematurely, or possibly snap on you? Also, skidding around on the back wheel definitely wears out the rear tires prematurely.

      Even more importantly- what is the point of riding with no brakes on the streets?!?! I just don't get it? If you're flying around the streets in a city like New York, where you're constantly on the look-out for that cabby who seems like he's purposely trying to kill you, the last thing you should be worrying about is if you're going to be able to skid to a stop in time. Isn't it much easier and safer to just HIT THE BRAKES?

      It just seems like fixed gear bikes are for- doing tricks in the park, racing on the velodrome, or riding on a high-wire in the circus.

      Just curious to see what people's responses are going to be. Hopefully I can get some answers that don't include the word "zen".

      Thanks.

    2. Member TheDarkEnergist's Avatar
      Join Date
      Aug 21st, 2009
      Location
      Crooklyn
      Posts
      8,591
      Vehicles
      E46 330ci and Bikes.
      07-05-2012 03:31 PM #2
      Quote Originally Posted by 1.8TIM View Post
      Just curious to see what people's responses are going to be. Hopefully I can get some answers that don't include the word "zen".
      I live in the thick of NYC's fixed gear trend. These people are just trying to look cool. No brakes, no helmets, fixed gear riders are asking for a head injury.
      No Signature. Only Krav Khalash.

    3. Member
      Join Date
      Mar 28th, 2002
      Location
      Queens NY / Nutley NJ
      Posts
      6,242
      Vehicles
      2014 WRX
      07-05-2012 03:52 PM #3
      Quote Originally Posted by TheDarkEnergist View Post
      I live in the thick of NYC's fixed gear trend. These people are just trying to look cool. No brakes, no helmets, fixed gear riders are asking for a head injury.
      Let me guess... Williamsburg? Red Hook?

      I hear you man. Any hipster douche-bag who bought a "fixie" as an accessory to an accessory (it goes well with their messenger-bag), need not respond to this thread.

    4. Member TheDarkEnergist's Avatar
      Join Date
      Aug 21st, 2009
      Location
      Crooklyn
      Posts
      8,591
      Vehicles
      E46 330ci and Bikes.
      07-05-2012 04:34 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by 1.8TIM View Post
      Let me guess... Williamsburg? Red Hook?

      I hear you man. Any hipster douche-bag who bought a "fixie" as an accessory to an accessory (it goes well with their messenger-bag), need not respond to this thread.
      Greenpoint, right next to Williamsburg. I ride a BMX bike and love the maneuverability compared to a road bike...and you need it here. But I have brakes, a helmet, and keep my headphones off and eyes peeled. Some people do claim the simplicity is nice but...how complex are a set of brakes on a bike really.
      No Signature. Only Krav Khalash.

    5. Member
      Join Date
      Nov 17th, 2009
      Location
      Baltimore
      Posts
      972
      07-05-2012 05:45 PM #5
      there is an pleasure for a lot of people in riding fixed... the cadence, control, etc. it's something that's hard to describe but those that get it, get it. however, those who ride brakeless fixed gears are 100% just doing it for the fashion. they may give you a million other reasons why, but there is really no reason to NOT have at least a front brake on your bike other than "i like the clean lines of a bike with no brakes" or "brakes are for pussies"

      FWIW i LOVE riding single speed (freewheel). it is my favorite means of getting around town. the purity and simplicity of just having one gear to worry about but the joy of not having your legs flailing down a steep hill

    6. Member
      Join Date
      Mar 28th, 2002
      Location
      Queens NY / Nutley NJ
      Posts
      6,242
      Vehicles
      2014 WRX
      07-05-2012 06:18 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by TheDarkEnergist View Post
      Some people do claim the simplicity is nice but...how complex are a set of brakes on a bike really.
      Seriously...if a simple front brake with a 5-6 inch cable bugs you that much, just get a coaster brake! Back pedal that thing and you can still make your rear tire skid all over the place, if that's what you're into.

    7. Member MrMook's Avatar
      Join Date
      Dec 2nd, 2006
      Location
      Brooklyn, NY
      Posts
      4,124
      Vehicles
      o_O
      07-05-2012 09:19 PM #7
      DarkEnergist, I didn't realize you were in Greenpoint as well.

      I had a fixed gear that I built while living in Vermont (free roadside 70s roadbike, figured I'd "try it"). Was fun to ride, and I actually liked it for commuting here in NYC in the winter, since I could "engine brake" on the slippery bridges, but I ultimately threw a freewheel on so I wouldn't loose all my speed. I hated blasting up a climb, only to be passed by everyone who could coast down the other side. I enjoy moving quickly on my commute, so I haven't used my cog since switching back.

      Even when I rode fixed, it was with two brakes (and fenders too!).

      Old frame, before I broke it:

    8. Member
      Join Date
      Mar 28th, 2002
      Location
      Queens NY / Nutley NJ
      Posts
      6,242
      Vehicles
      2014 WRX
      07-06-2012 10:21 AM #8

    9. Member rlsib16's Avatar
      Join Date
      May 30th, 2002
      Location
      NY state of mind
      Posts
      17,659
      Vehicles
      saloon/specialized
      07-06-2012 11:12 AM #9
      fixed gear in Queens too. i sound like the opposite from you. i loved flipping my rear wheel to the fixed cog and get much better rides and workouts in compared to the free wheel. always run a front brake though, i wouldn't dare ride in NYC without one. i mean on slower rides to the bodega it wouldn't be a big deal without a brake but i couldn't imagine coming down one of the bridges without one. and just crank those legs on downhills


    10. Member
      Join Date
      Mar 28th, 2002
      Location
      Queens NY / Nutley NJ
      Posts
      6,242
      Vehicles
      2014 WRX
      07-06-2012 12:16 PM #10
      ^^ I can tell by what you wrote and where that pic was taken (kissena velodrome..i think?), that you are an actual cyclist, know how to ride, and not just trying to follow a current fad... and for that, you get

    11. Member Lurkin bunny's Avatar
      Join Date
      Sep 25th, 2005
      Location
      seattle
      Posts
      1,458
      Vehicles
      04 .:R. 87 325IC/M50
      07-06-2012 01:29 PM #11
      This is a topic I was just wondering about myself. I'm moving to Boston for a few months as of TODAY (in the airport now) and I bought a bike and am leaving my cars here in Seattle. Bought a new motobecane with a flip fop hub and I have decided I'm going to give a week on each just to see what I like. Coming from BMX I have a strong feeling i'm going to like the free wheel a lot more. BMX I ran with no brakes but it's 10x more agile so I'm DEFINITELY running front and rear brakes all the time.

    12. Member MrMook's Avatar
      Join Date
      Dec 2nd, 2006
      Location
      Brooklyn, NY
      Posts
      4,124
      Vehicles
      o_O
      07-06-2012 04:08 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by rlsib16 View Post
      i loved flipping my rear wheel to the fixed cog and get much better rides and workouts in compared to the free wheel.
      That reminds me of another reason I switched. I ride my bike to work, and I don't like changing at the office if I don't have to (also, I freelance, so there's no guarantee that the office I'm in that week has a good spot to strip down, or store clean clothes). So with a freewheel, I can coast over puddles to keep my feet out of the spray, and I can actually relax and cool down if I need to on the downhills. With the fixed gear, my legs are constantly moving, and I just show up a sweaty mess. With the freewheel, I get more options. Also, I find it easier to hop obstacles with a freewheel, though it's not impossible with a fixed gear. Oh, one more disadvantage (not trying to lobby against it, just sharing my experience) if you have long cranks, or a low BB, you can't really dive into corners without striking a pedal, which can be scary at speed.

      I might switch back for a while, since I do like the "momentum" you feel while riding fixed. Not to be confused with "zen flow of being one with the bike"

    13. Member 86vdub's Avatar
      Join Date
      Oct 10th, 2003
      Location
      Earth
      Posts
      1,862
      Vehicles
      '04 Passat Wagon
      07-07-2012 06:16 PM #13
      When I lived in a pretty small town(50,000) I rode fixed with no brake and I felt completely comfortable because there was only a decent amount of traffic between 5:00-5:30pm and the whole town was flat, other than that I just took back roads and 95% of the time had the streets to myself. Riding bikes or do anything outside was not something many people did there. It was the best and most fun I've ever had on a bike. Then last year I moved to downtown Kansas City and after about 1 hour of riding I realized how insane it was to not have any type of brake in a city, and all the people I see riding around now without brakes are idiots. Now I just ride a free wheel to work because theres quite a few hills and I can't go into work a sweaty mess and its still pretty enjoyable, but I really miss riding a fixed gear in an easy, flat, slow traffic town.

    14. Member
      Join Date
      Mar 28th, 2002
      Location
      Queens NY / Nutley NJ
      Posts
      6,242
      Vehicles
      2014 WRX
      07-08-2012 01:29 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by rlsib16 View Post
      i loved flipping my rear wheel to the fixed cog and get much better rides and workouts in compared to the free wheel.
      Do you get a better workout riding fixed gear, simply because you can't coast? If so, then wouldn't riding freewheel and simply not coasting (not cheating your workout), give you the same, or possibly even better workout?

      The reason I say better, is because I've noticed that it's a lot easier to go up hills with a fixed gear than with single speeds because you have the momentum of the spinning wheel carrying your every pedal stroke, whereas with freewheels this is not the case. With a freewheel, you have to keep pedaling to keep your momentum going.

      Even if what I just wrote was not true and you do get a better workout riding a fixed gear, it seems that the difference would be minimal, and the advantages to riding freewheel, far out-weigh any small workout gains.

      Regardless, it seems like it's all just personal preference. At least we all seem to agree that riding in the streets without brakes, is f'ing retarded.
      Last edited by 1.8TIM; 07-08-2012 at 01:34 PM.

    15. Member SpeedyD's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jun 9th, 1999
      Location
      Lexington, KY
      Posts
      4,730
      Vehicles
      2010 VW CC Sport
      07-08-2012 01:52 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by 1.8TIM View Post
      Do you get a better workout riding fixed gear, simply because you can't coast? If so, then wouldn't riding freewheel and simply not coasting (not cheating your workout), give you the same, or possibly even better workout?
      Fixed = better workout = retarded. Try spinning out a 53 x 11, or climbing in a big gear. Real roadies don't really "coast" anyway, they only soft-pedal momentarily for recovery to keep from blowing up.
      Sent from my basement using two tin cans and a string.

    16. Member rlsib16's Avatar
      Join Date
      May 30th, 2002
      Location
      NY state of mind
      Posts
      17,659
      Vehicles
      saloon/specialized
      07-09-2012 09:38 AM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by 1.8TIM View Post
      Do you get a better workout riding fixed gear, simply because you can't coast? If so, then wouldn't riding freewheel and simply not coasting (not cheating your workout), give you the same, or possibly even better workout?
      basically what you're saying is what im thinking. its not a better workout but i enjoy it more and feel like i push myself more. plus i can't really spin a 53 x 11 or climb in a big gear in the middle of Queens. of course its all personal preference, "retarded" or not.

    17. Member
      Join Date
      Aug 12th, 2010
      Location
      New York
      Posts
      1,200
      Vehicles
      Standard Vortex MKIV
      07-09-2012 06:50 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by 1.8TIM View Post
      ^^ I can tell by what you wrote and where that pic was taken (kissena velodrome..i think?), that you are an actual cyclist, know how to ride, and not just trying to follow a current fad... and for that, you get
      that indeed is kissena.

      I've rode a fixed gear for almost 4 years now only in queens though. When I was still in high school, i bought a bmx style straight fork thinking i would get into FGFS. It wasn't drilled for a brake and it was kind of scary riding without one. Needless to say, I never got into FGFS cause i don't have the guts to do tricks. Invested my money into a nice fast bike and my number 2 concern was that the fork had to be drilled for a front brake. Looked at the FTP, pista concept, all kinds of "hipster" frames, but none of them had a front brake on the oem fork so i avoided.

      that's my brake story. I feel like the "less maintenance because of less parts" is kind of BS. I will say i feel very "in the zone" (billy hoyle anyone?) when i do morning laps on the velodrome or along the cross island. I haven't hit the streets ever since i started driving but back then i didn't feel much of a difference between my bike and my dad's steel road bike in terms of riding alongside cars and being sandwiched and cut off, etc.
      Last edited by jonpwn; 07-09-2012 at 06:54 PM.

    18. Member
      Join Date
      Mar 28th, 2002
      Location
      Queens NY / Nutley NJ
      Posts
      6,242
      Vehicles
      2014 WRX
      07-20-2012 09:47 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by SpeedyD View Post
      Fixed = better workout = retarded. Try spinning out a 53 x 11, or climbing in a big gear. Real roadies don't really "coast" anyway, they only soft-pedal momentarily for recovery to keep from blowing up.
      If that's the case, then I think my current set-up gives me the best of both worlds. Not only does it give me a great work-out, but it also has the same aesthetically pleasing look of a simple, uncluttered fixed/ss bike.

      I have a Sturmey Archer S3X 3spd internal fixed-gear hub (I put a freewheel on mine). Unlike multi-speed bikes, it doesnt' have any front or rear derailers, or a cassette. It's just a hub with 1 cog and a cable sticking out of it, so it's pretty simple & clean looking.

      If the goal of "fitness" on a bike is to reach a high cadence, maintain it and not have to mash the pedals, than the S3X is perfect. With 3 different gear ratios to choose from, I can keep the same rythm going whether I'm on flat ground, going up a hill, or flying down the other side.

      Old School Vintage Ad-


      ...and what mine looks like-
      Last edited by 1.8TIM; 07-20-2012 at 09:50 AM.

    19. Member B3passatBMX's Avatar
      Join Date
      Feb 26th, 2004
      Location
      Columbus, OH
      Posts
      10,322
      Vehicles
      93 525iT, 91 318iS
      07-20-2012 10:29 AM #19
      I ride a freewheel on my single speed. Part of it comes from having bad knees from years of BMX, part of it is I like to coast down hills and from riding BMX, it's just familiar. I think fix gear bikes are cool and get the point of them...the PBR drinking, mustache having, hipster fixie dorks give it a really stupid image.

      Also, people who do tricks on a fix gear bike are ridiculous. Get a BMX.
      Quote Originally Posted by Rutledge View Post
      Well, then, I'm here to "ruin" the vortex for you. I'm sorry you hate fun.
      91 318is M50 Swapped
      93 525iT

    20. Member
      Join Date
      Mar 28th, 2002
      Location
      Queens NY / Nutley NJ
      Posts
      6,242
      Vehicles
      2014 WRX
      08-14-2012 02:41 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by B3passatBMX View Post
      ...the PBR drinking, mustache having, hipster fixie dorks give it a really stupid image. Also, people who do tricks on a fix gear bike are ridiculous. Get a BMX.
      I think things are about to get A LOT worse. There's a movie coming out called Premium Rush, that's all about some bike messenger riding a brakeless, fixed gear bike.


    21. Junior Member DJKhakiPants's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jul 4th, 2012
      Posts
      69
      Vehicles
      2006 GLI
      08-14-2012 05:08 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by 1.8TIM View Post
      I think things are about to get A LOT worse. There's a movie coming out called Premium Rush, that's all about some bike messenger riding a brakeless, fixed gear bike.

      Ha - I saw the previews. Looks about as cool as a bag of dicks.

    Posting Permissions

    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts
    •