Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

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Raph
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Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Raph » 8 May 2020, 1:22am

What gear ratios do single speed / fixed riders typically use?

After over 20 years not riding fixed, I've just dusted off my old track bike... as it's not particularly hilly around here (nothing worse than 1:10, so some might say not hilly at all!), I chickened out of riding fixed gear again, so I put a freewheel on it.

The thing I was missing was having to attack hills or die - I couldn't replicate it with gears cos I'd always wimp out!

Going by the average gear I use on the road bike, I started with 48/19 - it was clear within about a minute I wasn't going to get up the very first hill out of my village, so I turned back and swapped the chainwheel for the only other one I had to hand which was 40T which gives a rather toddler-ish 57" gear. I assumed this would be too easy, but actually it's turned out perfect as I can get up all the hills and I'm mostly fine on the flat, twiddling but bearable. I pretty much run out of gear at around 18-20mph

A friend's daughter is getting a brand new single speed bike, it comes with a 44/16 ratio - a 74" gear. Even for town riding I'd expect you'd want a bit of acceleration so a lower gear? And do people really get up hills with that ratio? I've got spare 19T and 21T freewheels coming in the post - I'll have them at the ready in case she finds that 74" gear a bit hard going. TBH if she manages to get up any kind of hill on that gear I'll be amazed not to mention humbled!

Carlton green
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Carlton green » 8 May 2020, 3:37am

IIRC the famous Wayfarer used a 63” fixed gear and a club riding pal from decades ago used a 65” fixed gear, those guys were life long and hardened cyclists so the rest of us need to consider that in our own judgements. The top gear on my three speed hub bike is 63” and I whilst can sustainably cycle up gentle gradients with it I’m also glad of the lower gears - it’s not mostly hilly around here. Finding what the right gearing is for me (an older and overweight man who could be fitter) in this location with a three speed hub has been an iterative process with compromises, expect a similar iterative process towards the right fit for you. (I started by only using a limited range of gears on my derailleur bike, that got me into the right general area, and then fine tuned by swopping cogs on the three speed hub.) The three speed hub gives a limited range of gears but the compromise still has merit, a single speed gives an even more compromised gearing ratio and so you have to embrace its limitations or do something else.

I’ve never cycled on a fixed gear but my suspicion is that that arrangement is somehow more ‘efficient’ in use than a freewheel. With my use of my derailleur geared bike (trial 48/24 x 27”) and that anticipated relative freewheel inefficiency in mind then something in the mid 50’s seems about right as a start point from which to gear a single speed arrangement up or down as need be. I find that I enjoy my cycling a lot more when I’m prepared to (and actively do) get off and push (walk) my bike up part of a ‘hill’, that willingness to change my style of riding has been a very helpful shift in mentality.

martinn
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby martinn » 8 May 2020, 5:43am

Hi

I've been riding fixed for a 4 years, so no time at all. I use 48*18. That gets me most places.
It can be hilly where I live, so for me, I don't spin very well, it's the downhill that's the problem. Once I hit 30mph, I need to use the brakes to slow down, I just feel unstable.

The longest ride was 160km, " Jack and grace" audax.
On club night when I asked 48*18 was not uncommon.
( I'm the other side of 50)

Martin

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 8 May 2020, 7:18am

I do wish people would quote the gear in inches, '46*22' is meaningless without the wheel size

I just calculated and checked again, my gear is 49.00"
103 rpm = 15 mph, that is plenty
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Cyril Haearn
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 8 May 2020, 7:22am

The Gazette recently had an article about fixed-wheel cycles
One had a gear of over 80" :?
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SimonCelsa
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby SimonCelsa » 8 May 2020, 7:25am

I use a 44/17 on my Raleigh Record Ace fixed at about 68 inches. Sometimes have to get off on some of the steeper bits around here (Inverness-shire). I'm not a fixed aficionado but use it now for commuting during inclement weather.

My 'dual-single' OLMO running 53/38 chainrings with an 18 tooth sprocket (77/55 inches +/-) gets up most inclines and is a very practical set up for longer rides. Front derailleur fitted, with a rear derailleur gagged to take up chain tension only. Probably a bit small for me at 56cm frame but very comfy ride.

OLMO (2).jpg

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 8 May 2020, 7:31am

@Simon
What happens if you hold back to brake, can one do that with a chain tensioner?
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Carlton green
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Carlton green » 8 May 2020, 8:36am

martinn wrote:Hi

I've been riding fixed for a 4 years, so no time at all. I use 48*18. That gets me most places.
It can be hilly where I live, so for me, I don't spin very well, it's the downhill that's the problem. Once I hit 30mph, I need to use the brakes to slow down, I just feel unstable.

The longest ride was 160km, " Jack and grace" audax.
On club night when I asked 48*18 was not uncommon.
( I'm the other side of 50)

Martin


For the information of others and assuming a 27” wheel a 48 tooth chainwheel driving an 18 tooth sprocket gives a gear of 72”.

There was a time when I thought that 72” was a moderate gear in which I could notionally cruise along in for the whole of the day, but now I think of it as on the high side - suppose that’s the price I pay for being a bit overweight and getting older.

Des49
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Des49 » 8 May 2020, 8:52am

47x19 for me, about 67".

We don't have long steep hills here but I can just about get up what I need to for now. The bike is not the lightest, with full mudguards, lights and dynamo. Sometimes exposed windy sections can be a real effort in a gale.

Edited to add - if i use this bike for a group ride I can keep up fine on hills, but on the flat with a tailwind when the speed gets above 20mph or so I cannot keep up and get dropped.

Brucey
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Brucey » 8 May 2020, 8:57am

the right gear is a very personal thing. I've used various gears depending on my state of fitness and the terrain. I would say that a 74" gear ought to be just fine if you are using a fixed gear in an urban context (typical riders are young, fit and only going short distances). Of course there is also the matter of such machines coming with a flip-flop hub and 16T freewheels being the commonest and cheapest type you can buy....

cheers
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Jdsk
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Jdsk » 8 May 2020, 9:20am

Carlton green wrote:I’ve never cycled on a fixed gear but my suspicion is that that arrangement is somehow more ‘efficient’ in use than a freewheel. With my use of my derailleur geared bike (trial 48/24 x 27”) and that anticipated relative freewheel inefficiency in mind then something in the mid 50’s seems about right as a start point from which to gear a single speed arrangement up or down as need be. I find that I enjoy my cycling a lot more when I’m prepared to (and actively do) get off and push (walk) my bike up part of a ‘hill’, that willingness to change my style of riding has been a very helpful shift in mentality.

In the strict sense of power loss within the device the freewheel will be extremely efficient. And any effect will be totally overwhelmed by how fast you want your legs to move and how much force you want to exert on the pedals, just as you say.

Jonathan

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 8 May 2020, 9:24am

Using the fixed as a brake is good, uses other muscles, or the same muscles in a different way, +1?
I have a caliper brake, it is never used
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robc02
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby robc02 » 8 May 2020, 9:37am

My three speed work bike has direct drive at about 67" (47x19 on 700x32 tyres).

I rode fixed for many years on gears in the mid to high 60s and occasionally the low 70s. This was on a light bike with tubs so a bit easier to ride quickly than my current bike - also slightly smaller wheel diameter if we are being fussy.

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SimonCelsa
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby SimonCelsa » 8 May 2020, 10:18am

@Simon
What happens if you hold back to brake, can one do that with a chain tensioner?


That bike is single speed freewheel so no real problem. I must admit I haven't mastered the art of 'skidding' on fixed yet, I think you really need some good strong velcro pedal straps.

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Single speed / fixed gear ratio?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 8 May 2020, 10:31am

SimonCelsa wrote:
@Simon
What happens if you hold back to brake, can one do that with a chain tensioner?


That bike is single speed freewheel so no real problem. I must admit I haven't mastered the art of 'skidding' on fixed yet, I think you really need some good strong velcro pedal straps.

Fixie and single free are very different I think
Used to ride single free, but with a back-pedal brake, I would not want to use one with rim brakes only
I am an old boring rural fixie rider, never tried to lock my back wheel, what madness :wink:
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Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott
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