"The bicycle enables us to escape many other machines: We use it for transportation, sport, recreation, and make it a way of life." - Jobst Brandt
Fixed Gear Focus
|First Year Storefront Full of Fixies|
You don't coast. You can't. That's why it's called fixed. The rear cog is screwed onto the rear hub and locked with a lock ring that left hand threads against it. The pedals keep going around when the wheel moves. Try to coast, and you get a quick reminder of what you are riding. People that are "fixie fanatics" will tell you about a "feeling of oneness" or a "mystical connection" with the rider and bicycle. We think this comes from the experience of constantly pedaling while you are moving. Riding a fixie teaches you to pedal through the corners and pedal downhill. You are more involved with riding because you never really disconnect from the bicycle by coasting.
|Early Tour de France Gear Change|
Derailleurs were introduced to racing after a period of rodshifters, and the geared bikes quickly became the norm for racing. But fixed gear bicycles have still been used until today for winter training, shorter distance time trial racing, track, and short hill climbs. Track bicycles don't have brakes, and are built for going around in a circle, so the geometry is not really well suited for the road. "Toe overlap", which results in your foot hitting the tire on sharp turns, and different head tube and seat tube angles than road frames, make for a bicycle that can be a little ricky to hadle at first on the road.
|Horizontal Drop with Internal Set Screw|
Manufacturers solved this problem by producing fixed gear frames better suited to road riding. There are holes drilled for brakes, relaxed head and seat tube angles, and less steep front ends that don't have toe overlap. Sometimes called "messenger geometry", they still have the horizontal drops of a track bicycle that you really want to maintain proper chain tension. Many of the manufacturers will add allen bolts inside the drops for this purpose, or cyclists will use "chain tugs" to increase or decrease tension. Chains and chainrings are typically wider at 1/8", adding strength and stiffness. Maintaining proper chain tension is essential for power transfer in fixed gear bikes, and a sloppy chain is prone to faster wear and easy breakage.
|Custom SURLY Steamroller Build|
Yes, you can convert older road bicycles to fixies. We have done this for dozens of customers. This works as long as you have a semi-horizontal dropout that allows he wheel to be re-positioned as the chain "stretches". Modern vertical "drops" make for a tough conversion, requiring a special hub that's a bit pricey.
Others we have done are singlespeed bicycle conversions, using a one gear freewheel that is basically a BMX cog mounted on a hub, either a flip-flop or freewheel. A singlespeed allows you to coast, but you do lose the benefits of pedaling fixed, especially the chain stiffness and subsequent power transfer. And another benefit with fixies is you can always stop if your brake cables snap by resisting pedalling and skidding. Our head mechanic had just this experience once on a steep hillside when his one brake mount failed. He lived to tell about it by doing a 50 yard skid. And gaining even a greater admiration for his bicycle.
|20,000 Commuting miles on this|
Low cost of maintenance, really not much to go wrong, and here in Florida the terrain is basically flat. A fixed gear or singlespeed might be the perfect choice for this area.
The late Sheldon Brown has alot of fixed gear information on his website, including a testimonials page, which can be found here.
|Many color options available|
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