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  1. #1
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    So, I'm finally fixed...

    Fixed gear that is...

    i bought a tomicog for my monocog a few weeks ago and took it out for the first group ride tonight. im running fully rigid with one hydraulic disc upfront, 700 x 32c cyclocross tires and a 36 x 19 ratio. we rode at a local park affectionately called 'the beave' - the terrain is rolling with lots of roots and some rocks here and there.

    the group was about 4 other guys, all long time riders on full suspension, geared bikes. suffice it to say, there were some interesting reactions seeing as i was not only the only rider on a bike such as this, but also the youngest and least experienced.

    Now that the ride is done, i have a new found respect for anyone that rides a fixed gear mountain bike for more than the novelty aspect. I've not worked that hard on a mountain bike in years.

    I found it interesting just which sections is was faster/slower through. the few climbs, no matter how technical, i was much faster through. I know there's no free ride, but i could feel the rear wheel driving me through the dead spot much more than i do on my fixed road bike. the downhills are definitely where i had to pay the most attention. climbing was more physically challenging, while descending was much more mentally challenging.

    the most enjoyable part of the ride was the feeling of 'flow' that i felt. it sounds cheesy and cliche, but i definitely felt at one with my bike and the trail. i also liked the cyclocross tires - they were rough riding, but also very quick to accelerate and change lines. i found it very easy to accelerate out of corners and simultaneously pick up the front wheel and put it precisely where i wanted it.

    all in all, a very very fun ride for me. not to mention a great way to hone my technical skills. thanks for reading, and feel free to share other fixed gear stories - both failed and successful attempts.
    I ONLY make weird noises when i ride SS


    sorry, i work at a bike shop too

  2. #2
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    I rode a fixed road bike for the first time last sunday and shall I say it takes more thinking to ride it. The one I rode had no brakes on it so I had to slow down by putting backpressure on the pedals and when I came up to traffic it was a little nerve racking. Other than that it was pretty fun to ride I got lifted off of the seat a couple of times because I forgot I was riding a fixie and stopped pedaling but the bike kept me going. I will probabably get a bike with a flip flop hub in the future. I enjoyed myself on that bike.

    Ken

  3. #3
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    finished mine today

    new paint, chain, rear wheel, lock ring, tires
    good to go
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gearsequalqueers
    new paint, chain, rear wheel, lock ring, tires
    good to go
    nice. now throw some cross tires on that baby and mash through the forest!
    I ONLY make weird noises when i ride SS


    sorry, i work at a bike shop too

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gearsequalqueers
    new paint, chain, rear wheel, lock ring, tires
    good to go
    You forgot the bar tape, a front brake, and a frame sized for you.

  6. #6
    Drinking the Slick_Juice
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    mmmmm ....toe straps
    "If women don't find handsome , they should at least find you handy."-Red Green

  7. #7
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    So, I'm finally fixed...

    Quote Originally Posted by myself369
    I've not worked that hard on a mountain bike in years.

    I know there's no free ride, but i could feel the rear wheel driving me through the dead spot much more than i do on my fixed road bike. the downhills are definitely where i had to pay the most attention. climbing was more physically challenging, while descending was much more mentally challenging.

    the most enjoyable part of the ride was the feeling of 'flow' that i felt. it sounds cheesy and cliche, but i definitely felt at one with my bike and the trail.
    Were you broken before, and now you are fixed?

    Nice write up, you understand something subtle now. The fixed gear demand for concentration that will eventually melt to a zen like state of detachment, while you just flow along. You, bike, dirt, rock, wood - all one mind.
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  8. #8
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    This is great. I hear of more and more people exploring riding fixed off-road, and I can count myself among them as of late. Each ride has been a learning experience, a challenge, and filled with moments where the bike just seems to disappear, and the trail flows by on its own.

    It reminds me that history is a pendulum. The first bikes were fixed, and those who rode them offroad in the latter years of the 19th century were called 'scorchers'. We are picking up a time honored tradition that dates to a time before derailleurs and space-age materials began to re-define the bicycle.

    Now, a rider has the best of both worlds. Titanium fixed gear with disc brakes and carbon fork? Sure, why not? Can you let go of your attachments to the exotic machine beneath you? 1903 vintage tour bike? Awesome if you can find one in decent shape. And then can you lay down your pride at the accomplishment of restoring a 'piece of history' and just go ride?

    If you can, then anything simple works. Anything simple, anything to let you go find that magical experience of riding a machine so purposeful that you forget it is even there.

    That is what got me started riding fixed.

  9. #9
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    Fixter

    Been riding fixed exclusively for mtb the past 4 yrs and i love how small your ride zone gets as you really pay attention to the terrain.
    However, i have gone back to a ss freewheeler and god forbid im about to go to a
    1x9 using a road shimano 105 short cage and an 11-25 cassette.
    I still love the fixie though but wanna coast for a while again.
    I run a 35x 700c on the back of my fixie and a 29er (or the 700c x 45 Panaracer) on the front. The acceleration is really awesome with that configuration
    Enjoy the flow Mountain Fixies rock.....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunset1123
    Each ride has been a learning experience, a challenge, and filled with moments where the bike just seems to disappear, and the trail flows by on its own.

    If you can, then anything simple works. Anything simple, anything to let you go find that magical experience of riding a machine so purposeful that you forget it is even there.
    i agree with this completely. i think too many people focus on having the latest, greatest technology - not that there's anything terribly wrong with that - and lose sight of why we ride. Riding my fixed gear offroad made me remember why i fell in love with mountain biking in the first place: the sheer thrill of clearing a line i didnt think i could, and the sense of peace i get by not thinking about anything but my bike and the woods around me.
    I ONLY make weird noises when i ride SS


    sorry, i work at a bike shop too

  11. #11
    Huh?
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    I love this thread - I'm all about the simplicity. When I tell people I ride a mtn fixie, they look at me like I have two heads. My roadie is also fixed, makes riding much more enjoyable. And I just enjoy the look on peoples faces when I keep up with them on a ride and they realize I'm riding a fixed gear bike.

    Simplicity and the ticket.
    Homebrew is the only way to go.

  12. #12
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    I did a good fixed ride last night too. I finally tried a harder gear (36x20) and it was actually easier overall. In return for being harder uphill it gave me more leverage and control over the rear wheel coming back downhill. That and I wasn't spinning at such a ridiculous speed on fast downhills.

    I am also using my 100mm susp fork instead of my 80mm-corrected rigid to get the BB higher because of how rocky my trails are. A cheater's way to avoid peddle strikes! The tip from this forum to ride over rocks instead of around or between helped a lot too.

    Unfortunately I only have one bike and fixed is too much (fun) for me to handle full-time. My rides go half the distance in the same amount of time and there are sections further into the trails that i really enjoy but I never make it too. Also, while I enjoy the different pace of a fixed ride, I often want to let loose and just fly. Now if I had a second bike...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunset1123
    The first bikes were fixed, and those who rode them offroad in the latter years of the 19th century were called 'scorchers'.
    I love my scorcher, even if it is a modern one. This one does not do the serious off road, but I did want some cycling retro history when I got the opportunity to get it. Fixed of course, but all modern parts, steel, fun.

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  14. #14
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    Fixie porn?!


  15. #15
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    more fixie porn - the day after its maiden voyage
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    I ONLY make weird noises when i ride SS


    sorry, i work at a bike shop too

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by slocaus
    I love my scorcher, even if it is a modern one. This one does not do the serious off road, but I did want some cycling retro history when I got the opportunity to get it. Fixed of course, but all modern parts, steel, fun.

    Gorgeous. Just a nice, nice bike. Willits is still producing these, yes? Last time I checked frame, fork, and custom stem for $1500. Love it.

  17. #17
    You know my steez...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker
    You forgot the bar tape, a front brake, and a frame sized for you.
    Exactly what I was thinking....
    I'm unique, just like everyone else....

  18. #18
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    Oh man, so many questions. I bought a Tomicog for my KM last summer and did a couple rides with a 32-16 set up. I was constantly pedal striking on the easy trails and the downhills sorta owned me, though I probably just need to get used to the difference in riding in those circumstances.

    Anyway- I noticed everyone mentioned cyclocross tires- any reason for the lack of mountain bike tires (2.1+)? What crank arm length is the ideal balance? How do you clear tech sections without putting your pedal right into rock/log/root? Any special techniques? My only road bike is fixed, so I like the idea of riding offroad fixed....

    I absolutely love the willits, though I'm surprised at the platforms- those can't help much in terms of pedal strike, nor help keeping control between drive train and feet..?

  19. #19
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    Umarth.. I just got back from a fixed lunch-break ride. Did a semi-techy trail that runs between work and home (Forces of Nature/Pipeline between 4th and Fanning for the Flag locals). This trail is pretty fun SS, but really quite technical fixed.

    Pedal strikes are going to happen, though not all the time once you get the rhythm of your pedals. I walked the bike through a couple sections just letting the pedals turn to see where striking was going to be an issue, then rode them just fine. I'm definitely thinking about getting some 165mm cranks... the few pedal strikes I get seem to be light... another 10mm shorter would probably eliminate them for the most part.

    The only big issue I am still having is with logs/big rocks. If you are geared too low (like me, apparently) then you almost always wind up with a pedal coming down just as you would have cleared the obstacle. A higher gear would help prevent this, but would have other trade-offs. There is a technique of shoving the front over and down while lifting the rear up and over (like a roll-over combined with a bunny-hop) that I have in no way mastered, but looks promising.

    Another observation: it is definitely an advantage to gear in such a way that not only can you pedal up an incline, but also easily stop the bike and hold it there coming down the same slope. The bike tends to 'run away' less on the downhills. A higher gear with a lower cadence is easier to calculate lines/pedal strikes, but harder to reel in if it starts to get away from you.

    At the moment, I'm staying away from anything too steep or technical, and opting for a slightly taller gearing.

    For tires, I don't think fixed/free makes any difference. I like my big volume mtb tires. Very important to help soak up trail chatter, as you spend so much more time in the saddle riding fixed. The 'flowing over obstacles' technique works so much better with big rubber.

    And yeah, clipless pedals are the way to go. If not, then clips and staps. Not being attached to a fixed gear when riding off-road just sounds horribly dangerous.

    edit: wow, that was long. sorry for the essay.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunset1123
    Umarth.. I just got back from a fixed lunch-break ride. Did a semi-techy trail that runs between work and home (Forces of Nature/Pipeline between 4th and Fanning for the Flag locals). This trail is pretty fun SS, but really quite technical fixed.

    Pedal strikes are going to happen, though not all the time once you get the rhythm of your pedals. I walked the bike through a couple sections just letting the pedals turn to see where striking was going to be an issue, then rode them just fine. I'm definitely thinking about getting some 165mm cranks... the few pedal strikes I get seem to be light... another 10mm shorter would probably eliminate them for the most part.

    The only big issue I am still having is with logs/big rocks. If you are geared too low (like me, apparently) then you almost always wind up with a pedal coming down just as you would have cleared the obstacle. A higher gear would help prevent this, but would have other trade-offs. There is a technique of shoving the front over and down while lifting the rear up and over (like a roll-over combined with a bunny-hop) that I have in no way mastered, but looks promising.

    Another observation: it is definitely an advantage to gear in such a way that not only can you pedal up an incline, but also easily stop the bike and hold it there coming down the same slope. The bike tends to 'run away' less on the downhills. A higher gear with a lower cadence is easier to calculate lines/pedal strikes, but harder to reel in if it starts to get away from you.

    At the moment, I'm staying away from anything too steep or technical, and opting for a slightly taller gearing.

    For tires, I don't think fixed/free makes any difference. I like my big volume mtb tires. Very important to help soak up trail chatter, as you spend so much more time in the saddle riding fixed. The 'flowing over obstacles' technique works so much better with big rubber.

    And yeah, clipless pedals are the way to go. If not, then clips and staps. Not being attached to a fixed gear when riding off-road just sounds horribly dangerous.

    edit: wow, that was long. sorry for the essay.
    Great thoughtful reply, not long, just detailed and that is good.

    Umarth, that Willits only does pavement and dirt roads, easy single track. This beast does the real playing and pedal whacking.


    Notice it is fixed and rigid. All the techniques that sunset1123 mentions are good. Be aware of how you position pedals in tech sections on a freewheel bike, the idea is only a little different on a fixed gear.

    On bumpy areas, you can lift your weight off the saddle slightly, and let the terrain bump the back wheel off the ground momentarily. Pedal quick to move the cranks around during those times. It is subtle, but pay attention and practice, it will become instinctive. If you hop onto a log or rock, push forward on the bars to lift the rear wheel, ala bunnyhop technique, and rotate the cranks.

    You will whang the pedals as you learn.

    I love the workout on short ride when time is short, and also that feeling when you are so into getting that fixed beast through a tech section, when it eases up, you "come back" and find that you were so focused that you just kind of loose track of time and yourself, zen.

    You are just IN the moment. I come out of those times feeling relaxed, refreshed, clean. Good stuff.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunset1123
    For tires, I don't think fixed/free makes any difference. I like my big volume mtb tires. Very important to help soak up trail chatter, as you spend so much more time in the saddle riding fixed. The 'flowing over obstacles' technique works so much better with big rubber.

    And yeah, clipless pedals are the way to go. If not, then clips and staps. Not being attached to a fixed gear when riding off-road just sounds horribly dangerous.
    i figure ill add my two cents here. big, cushy tires are nice because they absorb alot of chatter. i chose cross tires as i initially intended my bike to be my campus cruiser. when i finally took it offroad, i found that yes it was very rough, when i hit things. because my tires are so narrow, and the wheel/tire combo relatively light, its easy to dart around/between obstacles, and hop over those that cannot be avoided. i feel it is faster for me, but does take alot more focus and mental endurance.

    your comment about sitting alot surprises me. i found that i only sat on very smooth, flat sections. maybe my bike is just geared so high that i'll destroy my knees if i sit down too often.

    while i do agree with you about being attached to the bike, i cannot in good conscience suggest toe cages. for them to actually give you any kind of control they need to be tightened down and, if they're tightened down, it's extremely difficult to release when you need to. clipless are the way to go.
    I ONLY make weird noises when i ride SS


    sorry, i work at a bike shop too

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by myself369
    your comment about sitting alot surprises me. i found that i only sat on very smooth, flat sections. maybe my bike is just geared so high that i'll destroy my knees if i sit down too often.
    I found myself sitting more too. On fast downhills I would normally float above and behind the saddle if I could coast, but that position felt very awkward when I had to keep peddling as well. It just didn't work trying to pedal standing up when my center of mass was behind the pedals. So instead I sat on the back of the saddle to keep my weight low and rearward. It felt better to have something to take some of my weight while I attempted to pedal with my legs in front of my body

  23. #23
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    Someone should post a fixed gear singletrack- I'd love to see some of this in motion. That being said, I'm going to run my bike fixed for a couple weeks. Given the area I'm in, steep is something I'll have to deal with, but I'm going to err on the lower end of the scale for control.

    I enjoy all the posts. Hopefully I can use the advice here to avoid eating too much sh!t. If I manage everything ok, fixed might be my answer to the lame in-town trails when I don't have time to get drive out somewhere.

  24. #24
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    i honestly think we should try and figure out a mtn fixie FAQ. i know before i bought my tomicog i had all kinds of questions about gearing and such and didnt know where to look. i've pretty much just learned by doing since then
    I ONLY make weird noises when i ride SS


    sorry, i work at a bike shop too

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by myself369
    i honestly think we should try and figure out a mtn fixie FAQ. i know before i bought my tomicog i had all kinds of questions about gearing and such and didnt know where to look. i've pretty much just learned by doing since then
    that would be a great sticky.
    i agree.


    as far as tires, the bigger the better, 2.35 up front and 2.2 rear for my fixed fully rigid steel 26er.

    i guess if all you ride is rolling hill and fast single track then skinnies would be fine, but then you took away everything i like about fixed mtn.
    no chain no gain.

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