I am powerless to resist
Recently I flipped the hub on my single speed to try fixed.
It’s been fun and the tiny little bit of extra smoothness on climbs and transitioning seating to standing and visa versa is quite nice.
Conventional wisdom is that a rear brake on a fixie is superfluous.
I didn’t remove mine, but I didn’t reconnect either… I figured I’d try to get a hang of “resisting”.
Well, apparently my front brake isn’t as strong (or well adjusted) as I thought… just coming down my (very steep) driveway, I could already feel the bike trying to get away from me just a little.
Fortunately, I spill out into a bike lane. I kept riding, kept trying to get a feel for this “resisting” thing. It didn’t come on that ride and hasn’t come yet in a few more (very short) ones.
I mainly tried to resist the downward motion of the pedal in front (clipped in of course) because resisting in back was not smooth or safe feeling… I didn’t skid but still felt mini “shocks” and not in control of my center of gravity. Not about to go over the bars scary, but definitely not controlled. So resisting in front, good theory right, except the opposed muscles are kind of feeble and I continuously have to scrub off speed with the brake on even quite mild gradients. I thought one of the major ideas was to use brakes less not more.
Anyways, is resisting in front right and I just need to build those muscles, and/or is there a better way to resist the upward pedal motion in back? Right now I’m just riding really slowly to feel it out.
And I’m not wedded to the idea that I necessarily have to run only a front brake, at least for now. I almost certainly will reattach tomorrow morning. But I really do want to get a feel for how to do this.
What kind of pedal retention do you have? Clipless is easier to resist than straps. Straps are easier to resist than toe clips.
What gear ratio you’re running also affects how easy it is to resist.
It just takes practice. Give it a couple weeks. The muscles you need to resist relies on muscles you don’t really build-up from normal cycling.
When you finally get it and it feels natural, it becomes quite addictive. I know it’s cliche, but it really does feel like the bike is an extension of your legs.
Resisting works to slow yourself. However, it can be wholley ineffective on steeper grades when you’re pedaling fast and doesn’t work for sudden stops.
To really brake with a fixed gear, you need to be able to lock your legs and skid. You bear your weight off the rear wheel by leaning forward so that looses some traction and drags and effectively brakes by rubbing the tire over the concrete. You need to do this for quick stops and to slow down on hills.
This method will wear your tires quickly. Get thick and puncture resistant tires if you do this frequently.
Make sure you’re using some form of foot retention, otherwise your pedals can get away from you when you start going fast.
To answer the pedals question, clip-less. Basic eggbeaters.
I don’t really much like the idea of skidding the back wheel, which may make it odd that I would’ve considered fixed in the first place.
But most of the fixed blarging I’d read said that most of the time resisting is all you need and if not, the front brake. That skids were quite doable but almost never necessary. Maybe N/A when you get to Pittsburgh hills though plenty of people ride fixed in San Fran too, so who knows.
Trying fixed, it’s a skill I know I should learn, doubly so because I had cables freeze on me in winter and part of the reason for learning fixed is so I have some decent braking no matter what. But if I had to do it much I’d probably say f-it and keep the rear brake instead.
I kept my rear brake on for a few months. I had nothing against keeping it on. However, eventually, after my legs got stronger, I realized I never used it, and took it off. It’s one less thing that requires maintenance on the bike, which is part of the appeal of riding fixed for me.
Skidding is fun, and I did it a lot when I first started, but honestly, I only really do it when I’m passing girls I’m trying to impress these days or just goofing around. It is totally feasible to ride with just resisting and gentle use of the front brake. The trick is to anticipate earlier than you would on a geared bike when you have to slow down.
“But most of the fixed blarging I’d read said that most of the time resisting is all you need and if not, the front brake.”
Kind of a self-selecting pool there for opinions on braking. I rode the past six months or so with only my front brake out of a combination of laziness/need since my rear rim was messed up. I don’t know why anybody would opt to cause more wear and tear on their bicycle tires in a commuting situation.
I don’t believe it’s an effective practice to stop on a everyday basis, but it is fun to be able to do, just to know you can do it.
To do it right shouldn’t take an extreme amount of leg strength, it’s more a matter of timing, weight distribution, and “feel”. Try it on grass first, to get the feel, then on some smooth asphalt or smooth concrete. The surface makes a huge difference.
I really liked riding fixed but now I am in the single speed camp. After knee surgery, I have to be nicer to my knees, with no fixed gear riding and not as much mashing. Though my skin this summer is better because I can stand up and coast instead of constantly grinding into my saddle.
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