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First Fixed Ride...

Discussion in 'Fixed Gear and Single Speed' started by Kurt, 23 Jun 2008.

  1. Kurt

    Kurt New Member

    ...in fact my first ride on a bike of any sort for quite a while. I'm a real noobie here and I'll come back and say 'hi' properly later but I'm at work at the mo. Very quickly though, what's the deal with long fast downhills on a fixed wheel. I've got 2 brakes but they are gonna wear out very quickly and if I let them off the crank speed overtakes my legs and I start bouncing in the saddle ( yeah I know the purists don't have any brakes but I wanna live past the end of the week!),:smile:. I'm running 48x18 and SPDs (which I'm used to from my MTB days so no probs there).

    Thanks for any advice


  2. zimzum42

    zimzum42 Legendary Member

    That's a pretty small gear, so your legs will really be spinning!

    So unless you want to change your gearing all I can suggest is that you concentrate on relaxing your stomach muscles and just let it flow!
  3. ASC1951

    ASC1951 Guru

    The fastest I've ever managed on my 46 x 17 (which is a tad lower geared than you, but I need it round here) is 30 mph, and that had my legs going like an egg whisk. Like you I'm too much of a wuss to ride without good brakes and plenty of them. My downhill technique is let my legs run free, as zimzum says, up to a cadence which doesn't bounce me on the saddle, then use light pressure on both brakes to keep me to that speed. For me that is about 23-24mph.

    Brake blocks don't wear out any quicker on my fixie than my normal bike because I don't need to use them on the flat.
  4. piedwagtail91

    piedwagtail91 Über Member

    i'm using 47x20 round here so know how you feel!i've two brakes and wouldn't risk one.
    as above try and relax, after a few rides you'll find you use the brakes less and wonder what all the fuss was about.
    i found that i'd start letting teh brakes off further up teh hill as my leg speed gto better.now i find that on hills i went all the way down with brakes on i hardly use them at all.
  5. JoeT

    JoeT New Member

    I use 48x19, and cycle in the South Downs which is quite hilly. Down hill was definitely the hardest thing to get used to when I started on fixed gear.

    The bouncing you're experiencing is due to you not moving fast enough on the up stroke. I've found a few things that help with this:

    - try lifting your legs slightly towards your chest - for some reason this works
    - moving the saddle forward a bit made a big difference
    - pedal harder so that you're actually driving the bike, rather having it dragging your legs round.

    On long hills I tend to use the brake slightly to keep my speed manageable. These days I can manage 25 mph comfortably, and 30+ mph (about 150rpm) for short periods.
  6. yello

    yello Guru

    I'd agree with this. Not so much 'harder' but certainly stay with the cadence rather than chase it. I know that probably doesn't read like it makes much sense but it's about getting a feeling of control. Conversely, practice slowing the cadence too. You don't have to push back but you do feel the pedal stroke and ease it up on the up stroke. This uses a different set of muscles and you will feel it in the morning!

    I ride 48 x 20 in undulating/hilly terrain so I've gotten used to spinning out on downhills... and grinding out climbs!
  7. Kurt

    Kurt New Member

    Thanks guys.

    I'm peaking at 33mph according to my computer, but I can't keep that speed up for long. 22-25 mph seems to be sustainable down Shooters Hill so I feel quite encouraged by this. My gearing works out to 70 GI which I thought was quite acceptable, spesh for a noobie. Give it a couple of months and I'll think about raising it a bit.

    Thanks for the comments.


  8. yello

    yello Guru

    I was thinking about JoeT's advice this morning on my ride and darn me if he's not right!

    My saddle is a position so that my knees are in front of the pedal axle (at top of stroke), this makes it easier to control the pedal stroke - staying on top of it rather than following it. Also, I do also lift my legs (something I didn't realise). I'd also say it's important to be in control before the speed gets away with you. This might mean taking it easy on the first bit of a downhill (controlling the cadence) and only upping it when you've got the run off and you're happy to spin out.
  9. Andy Pandy

    Andy Pandy New Member

    I found that concentrating on trying to keep your foot in front of the pedal on the top third of the pedal stroke keeps it from pushing your leg and arse up in the air and reduces the bouncing. Allowing the pedal to drag my feet around doesn't work for me at very high cadences.

    I've just dropped to a 48x17 gearing which eases things a little.
  10. JoeT

    JoeT New Member

    I'm not sure I believe people who say they can just let the pedals drag their feet round. I think it's more likely that they've just practiced enough that their legs spin without any conscious effort.
  11. yello

    yello Guru

    To be fair to zimzum, I don't think that's what he meant. I thing "let it flow" referred to being smooth rather than just letting go.

    With regard to bouncing, it seems to settle down (for me anyway) once I get above a cadence of about 130. I don't know why that is, it just is!
  12. Kurt

    Kurt New Member

    So how do you know what your cadence rate is? I can't count that quickly!!;)

    AND another thing-I managed to get all the way up the Woolwich side of Shooters Hill on my way home tonight but I think I looked like this:blush: at the top. And I got up Vicarage Road in Bexley-I'm so stoked I just had to tell someone
  13. zimzum42

    zimzum42 Legendary Member

    Indeed, I meant just let it all run smoothly, certainly don't let the pedals drag you round!
  14. ASC1951

    ASC1951 Guru

    On reflection, I think that must be what I do too. I don't have a cadence meter, but there is a speed where my legs twiddle along without muscle tension from me driving the bike harder or different muscle tension from the bike driving me.

    It's like that particular speed with my Astra where everything briefly stops vibrating.
  15. yello

    yello Guru

    Ah, good point! I have a cadence monitor but you could equally work it out. There's several online conversion tools; key in your gearing, wheel size and a cadence and it'll tell you the speed.