Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thoughts On A Fixed Gear Commuter

I rode Pat's fixed gear to work yesterday. The hills weren't that bad. In fact I climbed them faster than normal. Going down them was a greater challenge. I couldn't fly like I normally do. And there's reaching that cadence of 150-180 that feels like 600. Slowing myself using my legs was rough on my knees. There's probably a technique to it that I'm not aware of. Regardless, I was very thankful I had a handbrake. The main thing I noticed was that the bike forced me to focus more on my body, letting my legs do the work and keeping my upper body relaxed. It's kind of like hockey where you skate from the hips down and puck handle from the waist up. When my mind wandered I found myself bouncing on the saddle and my shoulders would be tensed up. So that was emphasized more so than my road bike which allows me to coast. Also, I found I needed to be prepared to stop. You don't--at least I don't--have that short response time that a regular bike allows you to stop or accelerate. Track standing is still out, but I can go really really really slow. The bike increased my commute time by about five minutes, but since I treat my commute as a twice daily workout I had no problem with that. The only thing I would change on the bike is either adding an adjustable stem so I could move the handlebars up and back or replacing the bar with one that allows me to sit up more. Overall, it's a fun bike.


Jacque Hendrix said...

I fixi intimidates me a lot. I like to coast and want to set my pace. Kudos to you for giving it a shot.

Schrauf said...

Sounds like you would prefer a non-fixed single speed.

I have yet to try either. Maybe in a flatter city. Although it's not so much the climbs that worry me, but that I want to be able to go fast when I want to.

Pat S said...

Yeah, the knees. Oy.

The downhill technique you're looking for is to take your feet off the pedals and hang them out to the side and let the sucker run!!!

Just kidding, of course. I don't want to get sued.

I'm really enjoying your fixed gear observations.

Hank Greer said...

Schrauf: I don't know that I'd prefer a single speed but I'm willing to try one.

Pat: I did try the "let the sucker run" technique on a hill near my home. I don't recommend it on a rough road even with padded shorts.