General Question

JonnyCeltics's avatar

Would the transition from a multiple-gear (10/14/21 gears) bike to a single-speed/fixed-speed one be difficult?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2721points) May 10th, 2011

….looking to purchase a bike for the summer…some pretty rad one’s I’ve seen online are fixed-speed/single-speed (the same?). How difficult would the transition be? Are their even brakes? Why does the difference matter, i.e. is it beneficial in certain situations/contexts?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

22 Answers

cockswain's avatar

It would not be too hard if you’re handy. But my unsolicited opinion is fixed gear bikes are lame for most purposes, and are currently trendy things white people like.

jaytkay's avatar

It depends on the terrain.

When I lived on the side of a small mountain, I enjoyed having gears. My current commute is really flat and I really enjoy the fixed gear – it makes derailleurs seem kind of silly.

You can’t go wrong either either way, biking is fun and good for you. The only right answer is get out there and bike!

And do not go brakeless. Track bikes are brakeless for good reason. Off the track it’s a stupid affectation.

JonnyCeltics's avatar

@cockswain you should suggest that to this website

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JonnyCeltics They have it, as does every other hipsters website. It’s as much a trademark of being a hipster as those shades sunglasses, PBR, and wearing a thrift-store shirt with $340 pants.

blueiiznh's avatar

I am sure it would take some adjusting, but once your legs woke to the challenge, you should be fine.

jerv's avatar

The transition may be a a bit of a hassle depending on your riding style. Then again, I know many people with multi-speed bikes who found the gear they like and haven’t shifted in years, effectively making them single-speed bikes.

Some of them have brakes while others lack brakes, and “fixies” don’t free-wheel either; your legs are always moving unless the bike is at a dead stop. The last time I tried to stop suddenly on a fixie was embarrassing, and going down a hill was outright dangerous. I am with @jaytkay; leave brakeless bikes on the track.

Terrain enters into the equation, and since there is no single speed that can handle cruising on pavement, climbing a steep hill, or tackling inches-deep mud, I pretty much need shifters and three widely-spaced chain rings. Back when I was stationed in Orlando, there was nothing but level pavement so gears were less important for me then.

The only benefits I see are those inherent in a lower parts count; less maintenance, a little less weight (about a pound) and there is nothing to bend/break if you lay them down on their side. The downsides… I see too many to ever want one for myself, but that has to do with where/how I ride.

XOIIO's avatar

there, not their

jerv's avatar

@XOIIO There there, there there. It’ll be okay.

XOIIO's avatar

@jerv I can’t help but be a grammar nazi

cockswain's avatar

I flagged @jerv ‘s response.

XOIIO's avatar

but why? WHYYY???

cockswain's avatar

just wanted too

XOIIO's avatar

but then the context if the discussion will be gone!

cockswain's avatar

standurds, my boy. Standurds.

JonnyCeltics's avatar

@jerv @cockswain @jaytkay for NYC (Manhattan mostly, some BK) would you suggest a mountain bike or a road bike? I’ve traditionally used a mountain bike, but I am leaning towards a road bike…

jerv's avatar

Road bikes have less “give” in the tires, which leads to a rougher ride, and their narrower rims often aren’t as tough. Combine the two and the odds of getting a damaged rim when you hit a pothole are greater than with a mountain bike. Also, road bikes tend to not fare as well in the wet stuff. (That may not be important for you, but as a person who used to bike year-round in VT/NH and now lives in Seattle, it’s important to me.)

Now, if you are the type of person who swerves around potholes, does not hop curbs or ride down stairs, and has the good sense to get in out of the rain and not ride during the winter, a road bike will serve you just fine. But if you’re like me, a mountain bike is necessary.

Stinley's avatar

Put slick tyres on a mountain bike for use in the city. Or get a hybrid which will be tougher than a road bike but lighter weight than a mountain bike. Or buy three bikes if you’ve got money and storage space.

Don’t get a fixed wheel – someone mentioned it already but they don’t freewheel (see? clue’s in the name :-P). That’s the difference between fixed and single speed. Imagine wanting a rest as you go down the hill but you’ve got to keep spinning those pedals with a fixed wheel. Not that cool.

jaytkay's avatar

In my opinion, mountain bikes are too heavy and suspension is ridiculous in the city.

I have ridden around Chicago for years on road bikes. Skinny ones are harsh, get wider tires (700×28 or 700×32) which are actually faster (yes, that is backed up by research).

A cross bike is a good off-the-shelf city bike. Or an old road bike with 27” wheels converted to 700C gives you extra room for bigger tires AND fenders (which are totally worth it for a utility/commuting bike).

If you do go for a mountain bike, slick tires are best as @Stinley writes. Treads on any bicycle tire have absolutely no advantage on pavement (yes, that is also backed by research), and big ol’ mtn bike treads slow you down a lot.

jerv's avatar

@jaytkay All of my mountain bikes have been hardtails and most had rigid forks. I also go with tires that have at least a solid set of blocks (if not a rib) down the middle. Full-on knobbies on pavement is stupid; rough, slow, and harder to pedal. However, I avoid slicks because I sometimes hit wet roads or ride in the rain. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes it rains in Seattle!

crisw's avatar

You could always check out a hybrid bike, which combines some of the best features of road and mountain bikes. I have one (a Novara Forza) and love it. It’s not the fastest ride in the world, but it’s as good for a 6-mile run to the store and back as a 40 mile weekend ride, and handles touring loaded in the rain as well as a light spin around the beach.

cockswain's avatar

Jamis makes a good cyclo-cross hybrid. You can look for one of those if they still make them. Otherwise I’d get a road bike for the city.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther