Fixed Gear Bicycles

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by tacoben, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. tacoben

    tacoben Semi-Pro

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    As I ride the commuter train daily on my way to work, I have noticed a "new fad" among the young hipster crowd riding these fixed geared bicycles....even more so, since I live in a "college town". Some of the bikes looks really impressive, after having been resurrected from the scrap yard. Anyone own one? Are they hard to ride? Please post pictures. Thanks.
     
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  2. TheJRK

    TheJRK Rookie

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  3. trinidadray

    trinidadray New User

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    was cold wet london now trinidad caribbean :)
    I used a Fixed gear when I commuted for years in East London and rode a singlespeed mountainbike. Biggest problem I now have is finding pants and shorts to fit my tree truck thighs...
     
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  4. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    They are a nostalgia thing based on the "Roadster" bikes of the 1950s, only make sense if you life in a very flat region (and not all that much sense there either.)
     
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  5. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

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    People are butchering classic bikes to make these. Tragic IMO.
     
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  6. surfsb

    surfsb Rookie

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    I can see the advantage in flat areas like the messengers who use them in NYC but the fad is absurd. Nothing but kids in pants too small for them on bikes that are too big. It's hilly where I live yet theres tons of kids on fixed gear bikes struggling to make it, then bursting down these hills skidding out of control.
     
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  7. jerriy

    jerriy Hall of Fame

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    Fixed gear bicycles are still popular in Europe (they never really went completely out of fashion, it's just that the bike makers hate them since they don't make too much money off of them (cuz of the bikes' robustness and durability and not having any wires and other delicate parts that fall-off or wear and tear)
     
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  8. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

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    You keep telling yourself that. I've got bikes older than you that nothing has ever fallen off of.
     
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  9. Dave M

    Dave M Hall of Fame

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    To be fair Smurf, upselling and parts is a big pat of what the companies rely on for extra profit.I am not sure it's why they stopped selling them, I always thought it was the fact you couldn't freewheel and I kept falling off mine was enough to make me not buy on again, but they were pretty indestructable!(even if I was not!):shock:
     
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  10. 120mphBodyServe

    120mphBodyServe Banned

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    They're for bike messengers/couriers only.
    Guys who are a lot fitter than you or I and can pedal all day up hilly streets all day with the same gear.
    And a lot of these guys have a background in track cycling.
     
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  11. trinidadray

    trinidadray New User

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    was cold wet london now trinidad caribbean :)
    I found after a winter using my Fixed gear when I did get back on a geared road bike my fitness and spinning was far better and efficient. In the UK plenty of roadies use them for winter training..

    Living in a hilly area isnt a massive problem as you learn to use a more effective candence. I had a friend in London that is a courier he will ride like 40-50miles a day on a Fixed, 15 miles is just getting to and from work :)..

    I agree there is a Mystic as such around them but ride one for a week and you wont even think about it..
     
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  12. christo

    christo Hall of Fame

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    I rode a 3 speed Sturmey Archer to high school in Australia about 7-8 miles each way and much preferred that to the 15 speed bike I have now. Would love to have that setup again. I credit those bike rides to the fitness I still have at the ripe old age of 54
     
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  13. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

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    I have two fixed geared bicycles (one track, one commuter/utility) in hilly SF & I don't find them to be that much harder to ride than my road or MTB. I think that they're a good way to get into cycling--low maintenance & they teach you a lot of good habits like spinning rather than mashing or coasting, pedaling through turns & rough terrain & good handling skills. You don't need to butcher a classic--there are plenty of bicycles that are made to be fixed on the market. I think that the best entry level deal is this one: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/kilott.htm I've owned one of these at one point & it's still going strong years later with it's current owner. For those of you who don't know about bikes direct they sell rebadged versions of better known brand names for about half the price with free shipping & no tax. Ideally you'd know a bit about bike mechanics before buying a bike from here though.
     
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  14. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

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    Great link. That shop has the best prices I've seen. How much work is required once you've received the bike and what do you mean by rebadged?
     
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  15. TheJRK

    TheJRK Rookie

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    Before you go buying from BD, do a little searching and get multiple opinions from people who have dealt with that site before. Try http://www.bikeforums.net/ or another such site to see what people say.

    I'm not trying to knock-it since I've never ordered from BD, but it does have a reputation among the cycling community. If a deal is too good to be true...
     
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  16. BobFL

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    BD is perfectly OK. It is just a pure hate from "big names" in the industry because they have really hard time to explain and justify super high markups they incorporate in their prices.

    BD bought the rights to use some of the reputable names like Motobecane. This Motobecanse has nothing to do with the old Motobecane but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, Sram XX is still Sram XX. Trek will charge 2 times for for the same satup.
     
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  17. AV1

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  18. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

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    I've bought 2 bikes from BD & I've had plenty of friends buy from them as well. Very little assembly is required, but I think that it's good to know a bit about bikes or at least have a friend who knows about bikes if you're going to buy one, since you won't be getting the service that you would be getting from a shop.

    The "reputation" that it has from the "cycling community" is mixed & most of the negative reputation is perpetuated by bike shops who don't like the tough competition & are bitter, understandably, about having to service bikes & sometimes assemble bikes that were bought elsewhere for a price with which they can't compete. I think that you will find that very few people who have owned one of their bikes will have anything bad to say about BD. However, I will stress again, that if you are looking to buy your first bike, I would buy from a shop so that you will have the bike professionally assembled & you have someplace to go to ask questions or get service if you need it.

    What I meant when I said that they're rebadged, is that the Kilo TT, for example, is the same frame as the KHS Track bike. Most bike frames are outsourced to Asia like everything else now, which means that Bianchi, for example, is just a marketing company rather than a manufacturer. What BD does is they buy old brand names of companies that have gone under (Motobecane, Mercier, Dawes, etc) & they brand frames that are made in the same factories with the same specs as better known brands with these brand names.
     
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  19. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

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    Thanks for the follow up and the advice. I've been in the market for a good road bike for a while now, but the prices are prohibitive. BD seems to have nipped that for me. Much appreciated.
     
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  20. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

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    Glad that I could help! Let me know what you're looking to spend & maybe I could help you find the best option for your money. Also, remember to consider that you are going to have to buy pedals & lights if you plan to ride at night.
     
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  21. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

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  22. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

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    I would try to stick with 105 as a minimum, but if you're looking to spend $500 then that doesn't look possible. Consider Craig's List as well if you don't mind going used. My roadbike is a Colnago with full campy record/chorus. I bought it for $2000 in almost new condition & it would have gone for over twice as much if I were to have bought it from a shop.

    Here's a Tommasso in Dallas for $800:

    http://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bik/1831994537.html

    Before my Colnago I had a late 90's Serotta with full record that I bought for $700 on ****. I think that going used might get you more for what you're trying to spend than buying through BD.
     
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  23. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

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  24. Kevin T

    Kevin T Professional

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    Hey Templar,

    Any recs (at bikesdirect or otherwise) for a 6'3", 225# guy looking to buy a bike for commuting to work, ~35 mile round trip on a flat, paved bike trail. No interest in racing, just commuting to work and weekend rides. Thanks so much!
     
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  25. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

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    Yeah, I think that this would be fun & be good for what you're doing, assuming that you don't have anything against the idea of riding fixed:

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/kilott_s3x.htm


    3 speed internally geared fixed hub means you have gearing options with the only drivetrain maintenance being keeping the chain oiled. The frame also has provisions for fenders & racks if you decide that you want that. Honestly I don't know a whole lot about those hubs though, so it might be worth looking into. Sizewise, I'd go for a 60cm in that model if you have average proportions. Otherwise there's a geometry chart at the bottom.
     
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  26. TheJRK

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    With your size and weight (and since you are talking about using it to commute) I'd look into a getting a hybrid. More comfortable to ride and you can put all kinds of crap on it.
     
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  27. Kevin T

    Kevin T Professional

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    Thanks! I'm in decent shape overall but not in great bike shape. Will I be okay with the infrequent hills I'll encounter? Sorry but I haven't been on a single speed/fixed gear bike since grammar school, so the idea is a little intimidating. :)
     
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  28. Kevin T

    Kevin T Professional

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    Thanks for the response, JRK. I really won't need to put anything on it. I work in khakis and polo shirts/button-ups and buy lunch downtown. I would probably just pop my work clothes into a small backpack. I have thought about hybrids. I actually test-rode a Raleigh Clubman and actually prefered it to the aluminum Cannodales and Specialized bikes I was looking at. The steel frames are so much more forgiving/comfy.
     
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  29. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

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    Well, I think that initially riding 30 miles on any bike will take some getting used to. People make a bigger deal about riding fixed than it is, even though there are plenty of people who ride them who aren't particularly fit. I've ridden centuries fixed several times (SF->Healdsburg) & I don't find it to be much harder than it is on my road bike. Hybrids are good for people who don't ride regularly & want to be in a position that doesn't take much getting used to, but I wouldn't want to be riding one 30 miles/day--it will slow you down & the lack of available hand positions will get uncomfortable.

    Also, I don't have any evidence to back this up other than personal experience, but I think that the kind of resistance pedaling that you use to control your speed with a fixed drive train strengthens ones' explosiveness off of the split step on the court.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
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  30. Kevin T

    Kevin T Professional

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    Thanks again! I'm intrigued by the simplicity of fixed gear bikes and really appreciate your comments. Healdsburg!!....Racer 5 IPA at the Bear Republic Brewery....yumm!!!
     
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  31. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

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    Yep, that's where I was born & bread & it's a nice place to go to get away from city life! It's a paradise for a drinker & a cyclist; unfortunately there aren't as many good tennis players there as I would like.
     
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  32. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Fixies are not a new trend, but they are getting more and more popular. I personally like 1 gear because I have bent my derailluers enough on my MTB to be over it. That being said, you need those gears when you ride hills and mountains.

    When I am on the street I use my custom BMX for about everything. It is small, fits in my car and gives you a better workout to ride. For a lot of commuting, a fixie makes a lot of sense, but the super trendy looking ones with highlighter colors are pretty lame and played out at this point.

    As for Bikes Direct, they sell cheap bikes but I personally think the frame is super important. The Frames you get are decent, but not top of the line (won't take the abuse I like to give frames). Also the components they adverstise do not always come with the order. So just be careful, it seems like 50% love and the other hate BD. I personally would rather buy a high quality frame like a Santa Cruz and custom build my next MTB because that is the way to do it right. Also, a lot of people see dual suspension and automatically think it is better then a hardtail, but it really is overkill unless you are downhilling a lot or live in mountains.
     
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  33. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Semi-Pro

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    Fixed Gear Bikes

    I never understood the reason why roadies would ride fixed in the winter? Why would you want to ride a bike with one gear and no brakes sounds like a crash waiting to happen. I haven't read any science to back up this sort of training. You pedal circles and it comes down to watts to weight ratio, LT and vo2max. Unless you race track and race on a fixed gear I see no reason to train on one.
     
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  34. AmericanTemplar

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    I agree with you on brightly colored clown bikes. Stay away from those if you want to be taken seriously.

    As far as the quality of BD's frames--they're not any better or worse than what most of the big names are selling--but like those big names they've got cheaper entry level bikes & more expensive performance models. The only difference is you're not paying for marketing or funding any racing teams. Custom is a whole 'nother story. Of course BD's frames can't compete with what is being made by custom builders or smaller boutique framebuilding companies in quality.

    Also, to clarify what you said about the components being advertised vs. what you get--there are instances where they will state that you will get one of two different components, but I've never heard of anyone getting something that wasn't listed on their site & I also have dealt with their customer service & it is just fine if you don't mind the fact that you can only correspond with them through e-mail.

    I also agree with you on full suspension vs. hardtail. Personally, I prefer HT, but that's a whole different discussion.
     
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  35. AmericanTemplar

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    Classic anti-FG ignorance. For one, most roadies who ride fixed to train generally use brakes. Second, one of my bikes is a real track bike without brakes that I ride on the road & I have had more close calls on my road bike. If you're strong enough, skilled enough & have a low enough gear ratio, you can ride a brakeless track bike on the street as safely as any other bike. I do have a problem with all of the scrawny hipsters who instantly go brakeless because they want to look cool, in the same way as I think it's foolish to ski down black diamonds before one is has mastered blue squares. Third, I bet that if you went down a hill on my FG you would be bouncing all over the saddle due to a lack of a smooth cadence. The idea behind training fixed is that it helps riders get used to riding at a higher cadence & it smooths out ones pedal strokes. There is plenty of evidence to support the fact that spinning is both more energy efficient & better on ones body than mashing.
     
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  36. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Semi-Pro

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    Rpm

    Smooth cadence sounds like you read that in a cycling book, pedal strokes will always have dead spots. Last time I checked everyone pedals in circles not squares. Like Lance high rpm bs it comes down to who can produce the most watts per kilo body weight. Just like the rotor q chainrings and biopace back in the day all marketing crap. Some people like Jan rode at 80 rpm some 90 and Lance 100-110 sewing machine crap he said he learned from big mig yeah right more like EPO. Most guys I raced with now do the cyclocross bs in the spring and got rid of the fixed gear bike. The girl who cuts my hair rides a fix and doesn't even have a rode bike I guess it goes well with her ink. Some d-bags bring their tt or cyclocross bike on our team 53 mile Saturday training ride look at me!!
     
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  37. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

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    No use in arguing with someone whose opinion is based on irrational hatred rather than real world experience. As if there are any fewer d-bags into road riding than fixed, haha. The cliche who cuts your hair (why is a man going to a hair dresser anyway?) riding fixed adds tons of weight to your argument--I should probably quit road riding since my boring dentist rides a cervelo on charity rides.
     
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  38. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    If everybody just rode BMX, it would be a lot cooler;)
     
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  39. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    You can just convert a cheap bike from the 80s or 90s to fixed gear just to get the experience.
     
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  40. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    Interesting post. While you may not, I think it's important to note that 99% of the population will have more close-calls, and more crashes, on a FG, it's just a more complex and demanding machine. Nonetheless, thanks for posting - posts like this & yours in this thread make me wish TW had a rating system.

    ^^ Posts like this also make me wish TW had a rating system, for entirely different reasons.

    ---

    My reply to the thread? My knees would never cope with 1 gear. The best single-speed I ever rode (and I haven't ridden many) was a 29 inch MTB, single-speed with no suspension, was a blast to ride and my knees coped better than I thought they would.

    That said, I just couldn't do the single-speed thing, I've had two knee ops and I'm addicted to high-cadence - have been ever since recovering, and it's helped me ride longer distances with relative ease. Makes a fair bit of physiological sense...

    I am jealous of the single-speed riders from a maintenance perspective :D
     
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  41. AmericanTemplar

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    Thanks for the kind words!

    While I entirely agree with you where riding brakeless is concerned, I think that a fixed bike equipped with a front brake can be ridden safely by most of the population, but there will be a learning curve. I used to always try to coast when I would hop on one of my fixed bikes after having ridden my road bike, which fortunately never caused me to crash, but I came close. Now I never have that problem. Anyway, it will take some time to get comfortable, but I think that just about everyone is capable of riding fixed if they have a brake & the right gear ratio. I suggest a gear ratio in the high 60's, which is generally lower than what off the peg bikes come with stock.

    Fixed bikes probably aren't good for people with knee problems, particularly if your gear ratio is too high. Most people's tendency is to ride in too high of a gear, which can cause problems just as easily on a multi-geared bike. For those who don't have knee problems now, a FG geared correctly will help you avoid them in the future (if cycling is in your future, that is).

    SS 29ers are always geared really low--that's why I'm sure that it was OK on your knees. I've never tried them, but a lot of my friends swear by them. I've got a geared 29er & I love it!
     
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  42. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Semi-Pro

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    Spin

    Fixed gear bikes are not just for bike messengers, track riders and I think I am a PRO but race cat 3 d-bag. Everyone can buy one like the girl who cuts my hair beach bike and fixed gear but no rode bike. Yes I get my haircut at a salon. She is smoking hot half Mexican 1/4 German, 1/4 Italian 5'2 102lbs D cup implants (low cut top) and 4-5 inch heels and spandex pants(cameltoe and wedgie) need I say more. Your the one living in SF wearing lycra. PS: I can put out 378 watts for 30 mins at 183hr and 300 watts for 60 mins. I ride 253 watts everyday for 60-99 mins.
     
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  43. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    Sentence sense not make much doesn't.

    That's twice you've written 'rode' bike. Once can be a slip, twice...

    No, you've just said more than enough about yourself.

    As much as I love my Polar, I wasn't aware that cycling was actually more fun if it's paint-by-numbers. Maybe I'll stop riding places I like and target wattages, I mean, I quite like the number 7, probably more fun than the descent down the local mountains. Some days I like the number 3, quite likely more enjoyable than a ride with a mate.

    As for: I ride '253 watts' everyday for 60-99 minutes? That's officially the weirdest description of being a cyclist I've heard in over a decade of being involved in the sport. Why not 254 watts? Why 99 minutes? To think in this thread you accused another poster of saying something "sounds like you read that in a cycling book". The irony.
     
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  44. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    Agreed, agreed. Especially on having brakes. For road use, I think it's just one of those 'substance is more important than style' issues, not to mention legalities. Also, we cyclists have enough of an unjustified bad reputation (in Australia at least, geez I miss Ireland*) that I really wish people would do whatever it takes to make sure we're not at fault in crashes / incidents with cars.

    Hmm, I wonder. I know you're thinking good technique will fix some problems, I wonder if it still won't accelerate some people towards such problems? Still agree with the sentiment though. I remember all those years ago when I first bought a road bike (and rode it to the local store), and they saw me ride up and pointed out the very fact you mention of riding in too high a gear - it's a habit we pick up as kids on BMXs etc.

    Spin classes are another way to work on technique, speaking as a somewhat biased spin instructor that is :). It's occasionally nice to be 'going nowhere' and have little else to think about but technique, and have infinitely variable resistance to work with to make it feel just ride.

    Fair call! If I ever start regularly trail-riding again, I think a geared 29er would be the bike for me. That said, I wish they were more common, as there's some really nice 26" 'all-mountain' bikes out there thesedays that would seem to be a great all purpose fun machine. Of course, if I do either of those, then I can build the current hardtail into a commuter....

    :D It's been too long since I had time to focus on bikes and riding, though I guess I do have time now. Tempting....
     
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  45. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    I ride a 26" Dirt Jump bike that is great on trails. You just have to raise the seat a little bit, and then slam it when it's time to take drops and get air. I like it because I know when I land, the bike will be intact and ready for the next big drop.

    I also can commute with it pretty easily.
     
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  46. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

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    Well, I think that there are some cyclists who ride poorly & are inconsiderate of others (even other cyclists), just as there are some motorists who think that getting wherever they need to go as quickly as possible is more important than being respectful of everyone else on the road. Cars have their place in the world, but they are overused & I can say with confidence that most people's lives would be much better if they were to reserve cars for occasions where they're absolutely necessary. I'm not stuck in a car or on a bus, pissed off during my commute--being a cyclists means that that's my favorite part of the day!



    Yes, I agree the spin classes are another good option for improving ones cadence although I've never done one.

    Well, you're in luck, as geared 29ers are becoming more & more common. Mine actually came from BD. It's this one, but I've upgraded the wheels to Shimano XT:

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/fantom29pro_SL.htm
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2010
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  47. FastFreddy

    FastFreddy Semi-Pro

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    Your the same person pointing out mistakes on email at work right. I found over the years of training 253 watts is the most I can do for up to 99 mins everyday and recover for the next day. I do only 60 mins at lunch time. The bike will only let you program up to 99 mins. I just didn't get that number out of thin air. Wow a decade I owned 7 road bikes over my 25 years of riding and racing. Plus some bmx racing, dirt jumping, freestyle ie quarter pipe, half pipe and also owned 3 dirt bikes YZ 125, RM 250 and a CR500. Anyone who is into hard training and racing and has the money(not cheap 3k) will use a SRM to train and race to improve power. PS: I got my Spin cert back in 1995.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2010
    #47
  48. AmericanTemplar

    AmericanTemplar Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Messages:
    938
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    So do you ride for pleasure as well, or just for wattage?
     
    #48
  49. Kevin T

    Kevin T Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,424
    Location:
    Too far from the Blue Ridge
    He has a side business powering a city block. :)

    By the way Templar, what do you think about this one:

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/kilott_special_chrome.htm

    I kind of like the "no label"/plain look and it looks fairly similar to the model you linked. Also, if I decided to go geared, probably Tiagra level, what frame would you suggest? Thanks so much! It's nice to have someone in the know when considering $$ purchases.
     
    #49
  50. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Messages:
    961
    Location:
    In a cloud of yellow fuzz
    electrifying posts
     
    #50

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