Bnej wrote:Maybe you can do the experiment for us, since you have one of each. Can you really climb faster with the fixie? And if you can, does it help you with your regular bike too?
I can and do pull a larger gear up the hills around here on the fixie than I can on the geared bike. However, I can't climb all the hills around here on the fixie (there are some where I need the super low granny).
I am typically a spinner - mashing the pedals just isn't for me. You'd think a fixie would lead to mashing ... and it can if you start with too high a gear. Mashing is really just bashing away at the bottom part of the pedal stroke but with a fixie, as described in that article, you can develop and use a much longer power stroke and yes, the power does flow in one continuous movement, not a series of hard shoves which is what typifies mashing. I'm learning the skills on a lower geared fixie, learning how and when to come out of the saddle to work up a hill - it's a very different matter to doing the same on a free wheel bike.
One obvious difference between riding the fixie and riding the geared bike is the way you attack a route.
On a geared bike, I use the gears a lot to keep my cadence within a reasonable zone (80-100, depending on what I'm doing) - I've got the things there to make my riding efficient so by cripes I'm going to use them. I regard that as one of the skills of geared riding.
A fixie doesn't have that facility, so you have to provide that same efficiency by when and how you apply the power to your pedals - it's a completely different skill set. That doesn't mean I go blasting down hills so I can roll up the other side. My regular fixie ride along the Linear Park includes a number of underpasses (under main roads). Typically, these dive off to one side and down under the road, have a very narrow track under the road (one bike only) and a steep climb back at an angle on the other side - you enter blind, have to be ready for someone coming towards you and have to climb hard out the other side on a blind corner - you can't go bombing in there fast to allow momentum to carry you out the other side. On a geared bike, your brakes and gears make this a relatively easy task. On the fixie, I'm using the pedals to slow me down intially, then to control the speed down the slope, maintain a good speed under the road then I have to power up the other hill. It's all about leg strength (both in back pressure and forwards pressure), speed control using those legs, then body weight distribution as you stand to power up the other hill.
It's very satisfying. Just as with a geared bike, the satisfaction comes with a clean, smooth flow of effort as you soundlessly flick through the gears, on the fixie the satisfaction comes from a smooth and seemingly effortless
progression from one state to another. Done properly, you do NOT feel any great exertion from powering up a sudden, sharp rise. It's just a completely differently way of distributing and using the power in your legs.
How has this helped on my geared bike? Rather than relying on the gears, I can and do use raw power to beat a small rise. Okay, maybe you are dong that now anyway, and maybe this is a straight fitness thing, but it wasn't that long ago that such an effort would spike my heart rate - standing to climb does take more effort than sitting and spinning. Now, standing to power up a small rise on the geared bike produces a hump in my hr.
Riding fixie forces you to clean up your pedal stroke - try riding at revs of 110+ for any length of time and you'll understand why you need to clean that stroke up. Normally, my power band for climbing hills is a cadence of a bit over 90 - I just surge up big hills at that (yes, on my wee granny gear - we're talking Flagstaff Hill and the Expressway here). I noticed on wednesday, when I was on the geared bike and had to face both those hills, that I ran up those hills with a cadence of over 100. That was speed my legs chose and I was surprised to see the numbers. The lad got left behind - for once, he couldn't stay with me. Sudden improvement in climbing. Was it due to the fixie? Well, it's interesting to note that it came immediately after a week that included two long rides on the fixie - the 2.3km climb up Flagstaff Hill took me 1m23s LESS than only two weeks before (I've got a lap timer on my computer
) and I came over the top, not changing up from the granny ring, but from the middle ring onto the large ring
Summary (I'm writing as I think - to quote a famous author who's name I can't remember, might have been Hemmingway - Sorry for the long letter, I didn't have time to write a short letter):
Fixed gear riding and geared riding require two different skill sets.
The skill set developed in fixed gear riding can be translated to geared bikes but not completely because you can't use back pressure (braking isn't the same).
Fixed gear riding IS making me a better climber.