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NOOB Question - Flip Flop Hub, how often switched?

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NOOB Question - Flip Flop Hub, how often switched?

Old 05-06-20, 09:42 AM
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Gaarci
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NOOB Question - Flip Flop Hub, how often switched?

Hello - NOOB question here as I wait for my first fixie bike to arrive - it is the Airtrack aluminum bike with a flip flop fixed/coast hub.

How often do riders typically switch the back wheel back and forth to use the two different hubs, if ever?

Is it difficult to take the rear wheel off and switch it around?

Anything I should be aware of, concerned about, or lessons learned to share?

Thank you!!
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Old 05-06-20, 12:02 PM
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TugaDude
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There are a number of reasons why someone might want to flip their back wheel. One would be if they wanted to change from fixed to freewheel or vice-versa. Reasons to do this might include wanting to coast on a leisurely ride or something like that.
Another reason might be to change sprocket size. You can have different sized cogs on the rear wheel and change from one to the other in order to climb steeper hills, etc.

As far as things you need to know, yes, know that the track fork end will limit your ability to position the rear wheel and that impacts the length of chain required. In other words, if your chain is tight on a larger cog and you flip it to a smaller cog, there might not be enough room in the fork end for you to take enough slack out of the chain. It also depends upon the difference in size between the two cogs. A fork end with a long slot is helpful. I don't know about yours. Know also that there are "eccentric" bottom brackets available that can help with the slack issue.

Finally, how often do I do it? I can't remember the last time, so that answers your question.
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Old 05-06-20, 12:07 PM
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I've owned 5 fixed gears with flip flop hubs and never once flipped it. Except for the one that came with one, I generally don't have a freewheel mounted on the other side. Also the majority of them have had only a front brake if any so wouldn't really work too well.
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Old 05-06-20, 02:09 PM
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Gaarci
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Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
There are a number of reasons why someone might want to flip their back wheel. One would be if they wanted to change from fixed to freewheel or vice-versa. Reasons to do this might include wanting to coast on a leisurely ride or something like that.
Another reason might be to change sprocket size. You can have different sized cogs on the rear wheel and change from one to the other in order to climb steeper hills, etc.

As far as things you need to know, yes, know that the track fork end will limit your ability to position the rear wheel and that impacts the length of chain required. In other words, if your chain is tight on a larger cog and you flip it to a smaller cog, there might not be enough room in the fork end for you to take enough slack out of the chain. It also depends upon the difference in size between the two cogs. A fork end with a long slot is helpful. I don't know about yours. Know also that there are "eccentric" bottom brackets available that can help with the slack issue.

Finally, how often do I do it? I can't remember the last time, so that answers your question.
Thanks - that is super helpful and gives me a lot to think about - I'm sure I would never have even considered the possible impacts of the different cog sizes on the chain, so that is something I will definitely examine when the bike arrives.
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Old 05-06-20, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by nightfly View Post
I've owned 5 fixed gears with flip flop hubs and never once flipped it. Except for the one that came with one, I generally don't have a freewheel mounted on the other side. Also the majority of them have had only a front brake if any so wouldn't really work too well.
That is great info, thanks - I am definitely seeing a trend of fixed gear riders not changing over to the freewheel - I'm sure I will have to start riding the fixed gear bike for a while to really understand why.
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Old 05-06-20, 03:09 PM
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Back in the day, before fixed became a trendy fad, club riders often had a freewheel on one side and fixed on the other. They might swap once on a ride, from fixed (on the way out/up) to free (on the way back/down) on a day's ride into the hills, or setting off into the wind.

I have a fixed sprocket on each side of mine. The lower side (larger sprocket) is for general mixed riding. The higher side (smaller) is for riding roads in a mainly flat area. To be honest, it's been on the lower side for as long as I can remember.

Assuming no more than 2 teeth difference (if you have a rear brake) or up to maybe 3 or 4 teeth difference (if no rear brake) it's a matter of seconds to flip the wheel round. Maybe a minute if you put some effort into getting it just right. It's not a big thing.
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Old 05-06-20, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Mikefule View Post
Back in the day, before fixed became a trendy fad, club riders often had a freewheel on one side and fixed on the other. They might swap once on a ride, from fixed (on the way out/up) to free (on the way back/down) on a day's ride into the hills, or setting off into the wind.

I have a fixed sprocket on each side of mine. The lower side (larger sprocket) is for general mixed riding. The higher side (smaller) is for riding roads in a mainly flat area. To be honest, it's been on the lower side for as long as I can remember.

Assuming no more than 2 teeth difference (if you have a rear brake) or up to maybe 3 or 4 teeth difference (if no rear brake) it's a matter of seconds to flip the wheel round. Maybe a minute if you put some effort into getting it just right. It's not a big thing.
Thanks very much - that is really fascinating history - I had no idea that anyone ever swapped hubs like that but it really makes sense to use fixed going up and freewheel going down - I am learning a lot - thanks again!
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Old 05-06-20, 04:15 PM
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I flip mine twice a year. The 16T cog is my spring/summer/fall gear. I switch to the 18T for winter since lower gearing goes better with snow and studded tires.
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Old 05-06-20, 04:51 PM
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I used to flip mine from street gear to track gear when I rode to the velodrome. These days I'll switch to the big gear side sometimes if I want to hammer it on a flat ride. I have never in my life flipped my wheel mid-ride. If I'm doing a ride where I need that kind of gear variation, I ride my road bike.
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Old 05-06-20, 05:03 PM
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I have one because of going from a freewheel single-speed to fixed gear. I've never used it and wish it wasn't there.
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Old 05-06-20, 05:07 PM
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Here is an example of an excessive number of gear ratios on a single speed. I effectively have four potential gear ratios on the bike at one time. NOtice I have a road double crankset and and White Industries Dos freewheel on the right side, and another freewheel in the left side. This gives me the option of 38:19 and 40:17 with the Dos freewheel. The freewheel on the left side (a 16t in the picture, but currently an 18t) works with either front chainring. This is my swiss-army knife bike that I ride in all sorts of conditions ranging from hilly singletrack, gravel and paved roads. I've also done some bikepacking on it. Any kind of long ride with radically varied terrain will make you appreciate having options, even if the differences seem small, they make a big difference in matching your gearing to the conditions. I flip the hub around all the time depending on where I am riding it. With the 17-19 Dos freewheel and the 18T on the flip side, the setup is tight enough that the brake pads do not need adjustment, so its not really a hassle to regear it.


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Old 05-06-20, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mihlbach View Post
Here is an example of an excessive number of gear ratios on a single speed. I effectively have four potential gear ratios on the bike at one time. NOtice I have a road double crankset and and White Industries Dos freewheel on the right side, and another freewheel in the left side. This gives me the option of 38:19 and 40:17 with the Dos freewheel. The freewheel on the left side (a 16t in the picture, but currently an 18t) works with either front chainring. This is my swiss-army knife bike that I ride in all sorts of conditions ranging from hilly singletrack, gravel and paved roads. I've also done some bikepacking on it. Any kind of long ride with radically varied terrain will make you appreciate having options. I flip the hub around all the time depending on where I am riding it. The setup is tight enough that the brake pads do not need adjustment, so its not really a hassle to regear it.

That's awesome. Very Sheldonesque! What type of frame is that? I love the color.
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Old 05-06-20, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by ups View Post
That's awesome. Very Sheldonesque! What type of frame is that? I love the color.
That is an IRO Rob Roy. It was part of a BikeForums group buy long ago....I think back in 2006. The color is British Racing Green. IRO has long since gone extinct. I think the frame and fork cost like $225. I have lots of bikes, but this is my favorite. I will ride it til either it breaks or I die.
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Old 05-06-20, 05:18 PM
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To the OP, if you haven't seen Sheldon Brown's site, it is the most comprehensive on fg/ss.

My usual bike set up is 39 chainring with 16t fixed / 18t freewheel. The freewheel is mainly there as a bailout if I am too tired on the way back. I e only used it once or twice in that manner.
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Old 05-06-20, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mihlbach View Post
That is an IRO Rob Roy. It was part of a BikeForums group by long ago....I think back in 2006. The color is British Racing Green. IRO has long since gone extinct. I think the frame and fork cost like $225. I have lots of bikes, but this is my favorite. I will ride it til either it breaks or I die.
Thats great!
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Old 05-06-20, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by ups View Post
Thats great!
In its natural habitat...
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Old 05-06-20, 05:45 PM
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I commute to work on my FG bikes, and flip to the side with a lower ratio when I know I'll be facing a headwind. It makes a noticeable and appreciated difference.

How often? Hmmmm, maybe only a couple times a month, because if I expect REALLY strong winds I'll ride the geared bike.

One bike is fixed/fixed, the other two are fixed/freewheel. On these two the freewheel is the lower gear, so I don't have to worry about spinning out down a hill.

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Old 05-06-20, 08:25 PM
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I really haven't flipped often. I flipped to single speed on my Single Speed/Fixed Gear RandoCross FunTime Machine because I wasn't so much digging fixed gear off road (granted I have wider tires on the bike so maybe I might switch and lower my gearing) but my Langster is fixed and haven't even moved my other White Industries Freewheel over to it. I probably will at some point but I so rarely want single speed on that bike. When I got my first Langster immediately flipped to fixed and I think rode the bike a few years later as single speed once or twice maybe?
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