Dangerously organic!

I still feel that varable 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

I don't know what it is, but I am obsessing over fixies. I rode one for the first time the other day, a Villin, and I liked it. I like the idea of being so in tune with the road. Now, I've been overly in tune with the road three times in vivid memory. This has resulted in one knee surgery, 4 root canals and three porcelain crowns, 6 stitches in my chin and a very cool ride in an ambulance. Oh, and flying through the air just before the stitches were necessary was pretty cool, too. I know only too well that it's not so much speed that kills, but just falling. So, why should I even look twice at a bike with no gears or freewheel and only a front brake?

Well, there's form and function. Fixed gear bikes are great exercise. One of the most beautiful bikes I've ever seen is the fixed Atala in the photo above. Click on it to see some other shots I took that day.

And, so it goes...

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Replies to This Discussion

Riding a fixed gear is an important part of developing good technique, but like anything it's only part of a healthy diet.

The traditional training program begins with a couple of weeks or months in a fixed gear part or all of the time. Part of the reason for this is the simplicity -- much easier to maintain in mucky winter weather. The other reason is that it a great way to key in your optimal position. You see, a common mistake allowed by a freewheeled bike is to let you freewheel when you are uncomfortable. With a fixed gear you must pedal through discomfort and a low seat will result in sore butt muscles whereas a high seat will make your hamstrings ache. Even in a good position fixed gear training will encourage you to learn a quiet position that is relaxed and efficient.

One great thing to do with a fixed gear bike is progress through gearing. Check out this chart from Australia that gives a great calculation. It's really interesting to see how fast you can go in a small gear spinning at 120 RPM's. It's not uncommon to see fast trackies racing with a gear as low as 80-82" although 88-90" seem to be the most common gear size, particularly on larger tracks. On short steeply banked tracks, smaller gears are more advantageous to take advantage of the rapid acceleration required.

I found a video from "Charlie the Bike Monger" on how to convert a bike to a fixie. Have you ever done a conversion, Bill?



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