Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

Is fixed gear more efficient for pedaling?

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

Is fixed gear more efficient for pedaling?

Old 11-26-21, 01:41 AM
  #26  
cjenrick
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 407
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 173 Post(s)
Liked 127 Times in 94 Posts
of course fixed gear is more efficient, that's the whole point.

ever seen a track bike with a derailleur or a freewheel?

fixed gear has a perfect chain line which chews less power.
plus, there are no tension pulleys on fixed gear so you get better chain wrap and less mechanical waste from pulley operation.

switch to the bigger track chain links and drivetrain and you really feel the difference.

only problem is panic back pedaling can seriously screw your back up.

Last edited by cjenrick; 11-26-21 at 01:46 AM.
cjenrick is offline  
Likes For cjenrick:
Old 11-26-21, 02:14 AM
  #27  
Maelochs
Senior Member
 
Maelochs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 13,577

Bikes: 2015 Workswell 066, 2017 Workswell 093, 2014 Dawes Sheila, 1983 Cannondale 500, 1984 Raleigh Olympian, 2007 Cannondale Rize 4, 2017 Fuji Sportif 1 LE

Mentioned: 143 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6587 Post(s)
Liked 1,745 Times in 948 Posts
Or, maybe a track bike has no gears because they are only ridden at speeds which can be maintained without a need for multiple gears?

Ever seen a Grand Tour rider win on a fixie? Hmmmm .... maybe there is more to many gear ratios versus one gear ratio than the inefficiency of pulleys .......
Maelochs is offline  
Likes For Maelochs:
Old 11-26-21, 03:46 AM
  #28  
Trakhak
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 2,994
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1053 Post(s)
Liked 880 Times in 516 Posts
Originally Posted by cjenrick View Post
of course fixed gear is more efficient, that's the whole point.

ever seen a track bike with a derailleur or a freewheel?

fixed gear has a perfect chain line which chews less power.
plus, there are no tension pulleys on fixed gear so you get better chain wrap and less mechanical waste from pulley operation.

switch to the bigger track chain links and drivetrain and you really feel the difference.

only problem is panic back pedaling can seriously screw your back up.
Single-speed freewheel bikes have all of the advantages of fixed-gear bikes with none of the disadvantages.
Trakhak is offline  
Old 11-26-21, 04:49 AM
  #29  
Branko D
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 569
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 238 Post(s)
Liked 298 Times in 175 Posts
If you are on a track or a pancake flat road then fixed or singlespeed is slightly more efficient.

However if I set out to ride on flat loops around me deliberately, the flattest I can do is 500m of climbing per 100km. Realistic routes which I don't consider hilly but mostly flat average around 1000m of climbing per 100km. Assuming I'm riding at tempo and stay in the big (well, 50t) ring, I'll use almost the entire cassette.

Being able to take on properly hilly routes or mountain climbs all on the same bike with the same gearing is a big boon.

​​​​Even the TT bike benefits from gearing because pancake flat just doesn't really happen even on nominally flat routes, and if I have wind one way and tailwind the other I'll need different gears.
Branko D is offline  
Old 11-26-21, 08:20 AM
  #30  
WhyFi
Senior Member
 
WhyFi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: TC, MN
Posts: 36,813

Bikes: R3 Disc, Haanjo

Mentioned: 349 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18571 Post(s)
Liked 7,163 Times in 3,625 Posts
Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I just tried it on a stationary bike with fixed gear, no resistance and even if I try to completely relax my legs like I'm not trying to pedal at all, it just kept on spinning faster and faster until I'm hitting around 140 rpm more or less and just kept on spinning effortlessly.

While it felt no effort at all, I did feel my body temperature and heart rate rising.

It's strange and also liberating feeling. I feel like I'm chasing the pedals instead of driving them like they're moving on their own. Can't do it on bike with free-wheeling cogs, made it very tempting to go fixed gear, if only conditions were safer.
Congratulations on finding the source of free energy.
WhyFi is offline  
Likes For WhyFi:
Old 11-26-21, 08:30 AM
  #31  
JohnDThompson 
Old fart
 
JohnDThompson's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Appleton WI
Posts: 23,170

Bikes: Several, mostly not name brands.

Mentioned: 134 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2816 Post(s)
Liked 1,659 Times in 1,015 Posts
Originally Posted by cjenrick View Post
of course fixed gear is more efficient, that's the whole point.

ever seen a track bike with a derailleur or a freewheel?

fixed gear has a perfect chain line which chews less power.
plus, there are no tension pulleys on fixed gear so you get better chain wrap and less mechanical waste from pulley operation.
But this ignores the human part of the system: legs muscles are most efficient over a fairly narrow cadence range; that's why variable gear systems were developed in the first place, allowing cadence to remain in or close to that most efficient range.

N.B. I've been riding fixed gear for years, and enjoy it. But I haven't noticed that it makes me dramatically more efficient than riders on multi-gear bikes.
JohnDThompson is offline  
Likes For JohnDThompson:
Old 11-26-21, 08:34 AM
  #32  
JohnDThompson 
Old fart
 
JohnDThompson's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Appleton WI
Posts: 23,170

Bikes: Several, mostly not name brands.

Mentioned: 134 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2816 Post(s)
Liked 1,659 Times in 1,015 Posts
Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Single-speed freewheel bikes have all of the advantages of fixed-gear bikes with none of the disadvantages.
Not all of them: you can't slow the bike with your legs using a single freewheel. This is particularly evident in groups, where legs can slow you more immediately than a brake system to avoid entanglements.
JohnDThompson is offline  
Old 11-26-21, 10:02 AM
  #33  
asgelle
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 4,328
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 887 Post(s)
Liked 322 Times in 199 Posts
Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Or, maybe a track bike has no gears because they are only ridden at speeds which can be maintained without a need for multiple gears?

Ever seen a Grand Tour rider win on a fixie? Hmmmm .... maybe there is more to many gear ratios versus one gear ratio than the inefficiency of pulleys .......
Since a pursuit, match sprint, or kilo sees speeds from 0 to 30+ mph, and Tour speeds might reach 60, it seems you're saying all those gears GT riders carryi are only for speeds between 30 and 60 mph. Hmmmm.
asgelle is offline  
Old 11-26-21, 11:16 AM
  #34  
Maelochs
Senior Member
 
Maelochs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 13,577

Bikes: 2015 Workswell 066, 2017 Workswell 093, 2014 Dawes Sheila, 1983 Cannondale 500, 1984 Raleigh Olympian, 2007 Cannondale Rize 4, 2017 Fuji Sportif 1 LE

Mentioned: 143 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6587 Post(s)
Liked 1,745 Times in 948 Posts
Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Since a pursuit, match sprint, or kilo sees speeds from 0 to 30+ mph, and Tour speeds might reach 60, it seems you're saying all those gears GT riders carryi are only for speeds between 30 and 60 mph. Hmmmm.
Yeah ... ummm .... you are smarter than that, and so am I. Track riders spend the majority of every race---even Madisons---riding somewhere between 75% and flat-out. We all know that. We all know that even after all the track-standing, sprints are somewhere between 75% and flat-out.

One ratio works for track bikes because they operate within a narrow rpm range (mechanical efficiency to suit biological efficiency) on a completely flat track.

You might notice, most bike races have these things called hills.

Anyway ... enough all of this. You can believe the Earth is lfat if you like.

Have a nice whatever.
Maelochs is offline  
Old 11-26-21, 11:30 AM
  #35  
HTupolev
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Seattle
Posts: 3,983
Mentioned: 40 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1824 Post(s)
Liked 1,030 Times in 504 Posts
Track racers would absolutely get an advantage from variable gearing. The ubiquitous use of brakeless fixies is simply down to that being what track racing is, and what's required by the rules.
HTupolev is online now  
Likes For HTupolev:
Old 11-26-21, 01:24 PM
  #36  
Calsun
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 299
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 127 Post(s)
Liked 69 Times in 52 Posts
Your post implies that you are not in the correct gear when using your other bike, either too low or too high. A cadence meter is a good way to know what you are actually doing in terms of cadence and when. On a long steep grade I will be in a lower gear than on a short grade where I can power over the crest and maintain my speed and my momentum.
Calsun is offline  
Old 11-26-21, 02:32 PM
  #37  
cjenrick
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 407
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 173 Post(s)
Liked 127 Times in 94 Posts
it is easier to do a track stand with fixed gear
cjenrick is offline  
Old 11-26-21, 05:21 PM
  #38  
wolfchild
Senior Member
 
wolfchild's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Mississauga/Toronto, Ontario canada
Posts: 7,072

Bikes: I have 3 singlespeed/fixed gear bikes

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2460 Post(s)
Liked 1,352 Times in 661 Posts
Too many people associate fixed gear with track racing...Fixed gear doesn`t mean it has to be a track bike or some tricked out hipster bike...I have a mountain bike and a gravel bike with rear facing drop-outs which I set up as fixed gear which I use for recreational riding.. I really like fixed gear for winter riding because it`s almost maintenance free, I can stop even if my brakes are frozen and I feel like fixed gear gives me better control when it`s very slippery out there... I have multiple wheelsets some of them have a track cog and others have a singlespeed freewheel...Efficiency, proper cadence, proper gear ratio isn`t a priority for me..... I have no logical or scientific explanation why I choose a wrong tool for the job..
wolfchild is offline  
Likes For wolfchild:
Old 11-26-21, 07:56 PM
  #39  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 32,377
Mentioned: 201 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14529 Post(s)
Liked 7,868 Times in 3,925 Posts
My ex rides a fixie around town. No need for multiple gears, and it gets locked outside in bad weather on occasion. Really saved on maintenance. Makes total sense.

She even did a 150 mile+ overnight credit card tour on one. Of course, I had to carry the gear.

Last edited by indyfabz; 11-26-21 at 08:00 PM.
indyfabz is offline  
Likes For indyfabz:
Old 11-26-21, 08:18 PM
  #40  
Rolla
Gyro Captain
 
Rolla's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 1,461

Bikes: 4 Singlespeeds, 2 Gearies

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 616 Post(s)
Liked 1,563 Times in 696 Posts
I ride bikes for the express purpose of ignoring inconsequential minutiae like pedaling efficiency.
Rolla is offline  
Likes For Rolla:
Old 11-26-21, 09:15 PM
  #41  
cubewheels
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Manila, Philippines
Posts: 2,432

Bikes: A really old BMX bike, Jackal Mio Gravel Bike

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1139 Post(s)
Liked 483 Times in 394 Posts
Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Congratulations on finding the source of free energy.
I should go to Oslo and grab a Nobel trophy.

I'd ride a fixie (gravel fixie) if only the roads here are smooth or could find 150mm crank arms.
cubewheels is offline  
Old 11-26-21, 10:12 PM
  #42  
cjenrick
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 407
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 173 Post(s)
Liked 127 Times in 94 Posts
it is easier t fix a flat on a fixed gear bike.

which is frequently necessary as fixed gear bikes should only be allowed to sport tubular tyres.

how are those continental sprint tubulars as far as flats, good as he gator skins?

fixed gear bikes have a certain macho appeal, "look at me everybody i have no brakes, take a picture honey hey where did that car come from i'm dead."

Last edited by cjenrick; 11-26-21 at 10:17 PM.
cjenrick is offline  
Old 11-27-21, 02:28 AM
  #43  
Lazyass
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Minas Ithil
Posts: 9,330
Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2421 Post(s)
Liked 604 Times in 376 Posts
Originally Posted by Branko D View Post
If you are on a track or a pancake flat road then fixed or singlespeed is slightly more efficient.

However if I set out to ride on flat loops around me deliberately, the flattest I can do is 500m of climbing per 100km. Realistic routes which I don't consider hilly but mostly flat average around 1000m of climbing per 100km. Assuming I'm riding at tempo and stay in the big (well, 50t) ring, I'll use almost the entire cassette.

Being able to take on properly hilly routes or mountain climbs all on the same bike with the same gearing is a big boon.

​​​​Even the TT bike benefits from gearing because pancake flat just doesn't really happen even on nominally flat routes, and if I have wind one way and tailwind the other I'll need different gears.
I live in a hilly area in North Carolina. Not the mountains but hills where most people on geared bikes get out of the saddle to climb. My single speed road bike is my main bike and my average speed is the same as my geared bikes, never once have I ever had to stop and take a break or walk up a hill. It's a non issue. The only real difference is I'm out of the saddle more. Of course fitness and strength is what matters and that varies by individual.
Lazyass is offline  
Old 11-27-21, 02:33 AM
  #44  
Lazyass
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Minas Ithil
Posts: 9,330
Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2421 Post(s)
Liked 604 Times in 376 Posts
Originally Posted by cjenrick View Post
it is easier t fix a flat on a fixed gear bike.

which is frequently necessary as fixed gear bikes should only be allowed to sport tubular tyres.
Tubulars for the win. But I get many, many more flats on clinchers.

Lazyass is offline  
Old 11-27-21, 06:45 AM
  #45  
Branko D
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 569
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 238 Post(s)
Liked 298 Times in 175 Posts
Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
My single speed road bike is my main bike and my average speed is the same as my geared bikes
Data?

​​​​​​Because the only way I can see that happening is if you are riding with a group below your physical abilities and matching their speed.

Or relatively flat ground. On a gear adequate for riding on flat ground quickly (let's say 50 x 15), I'd spin out downhill and be overgeared up any serious climb.
Branko D is offline  
Likes For Branko D:
Old 11-27-21, 09:12 AM
  #46  
Lazyass
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Minas Ithil
Posts: 9,330
Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2421 Post(s)
Liked 604 Times in 376 Posts
Originally Posted by Branko D View Post
Data?

​​​​​​Because the only way I can see that happening is if you are riding with a group below your physical abilities and matching their speed.

Or relatively flat ground. On a gear adequate for riding on flat ground quickly (let's say 50 x 15), I'd spin out downhill and be overgeared up any serious climb.
I'm talking about solo rides. I'm not in the mountains descending or climbing for 20 minutes. The short downhills I have are so short they have little effect on average speed but I can still sprint to 30 miles per hour if I want. Climbs obviously take more effort but I'm not climbing slower. My cruising speed on flat ground is usually a little faster because I'm pushing a 48x18 the entire time, you can't get lazy and shift into a lower gear. Overall, average speed is about the same. After getting a single speed and going on a few rides I started asking myself why I even had bikes with multiple gears.

Last edited by Lazyass; 11-27-21 at 09:15 AM. Reason: Poor spelling because I'm old
Lazyass is offline  
Old 11-27-21, 11:08 AM
  #47  
Rolla
Gyro Captain
 
Rolla's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 1,461

Bikes: 4 Singlespeeds, 2 Gearies

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 616 Post(s)
Liked 1,563 Times in 696 Posts
Originally Posted by cjenrick View Post
fixed gear bikes have a certain macho appeal, "look at me everybody i have no brakes, take a picture honey hey where did that car come from i'm dead."
BF needs a facepalm emoji.
Rolla is offline  
Likes For Rolla:
Old 11-27-21, 11:36 AM
  #48  
ofajen
Cheerfully low end
 
ofajen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 1,249
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 383 Post(s)
Liked 586 Times in 391 Posts
Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
But this ignores the human part of the system: legs muscles are most efficient over a fairly narrow cadence range; that's why variable gear systems were developed in the first place, allowing cadence to remain in or close to that most efficient range.
The experimental data Iíve seen (from the work of Formenti et al at Kings College) show that overall efficiency is a decreasing function of pedal cadence for a given external load (bike speed).

This is due to the internal work being a strongly increasing function of cadence. For example, it costs me (at 80 kg) about 10 watts to pedal at 50 rpm, 25 watts at 70 rpm, 50 watts at 90 rpm and 80 watts at 110 rpm.

I wasnít there, but I assume variable gears were implemented to allow riders to climb hills and mountains sustainably at reasonable pedal force and power output.

If you can tolerate it, climbing a mountain at 50 rpm is more efficient than a higher cadence, but the cost could be excessive strain on joints and muscles versus working your heart 25 watts harder at a reasonable pedal force and total workload.

As I said before, efficiency isnít everything! 😊

Otto
ofajen is offline  
Old 11-27-21, 12:33 PM
  #49  
70sSanO
Senior Member
 
70sSanO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Mission Viejo
Posts: 4,309

Bikes: 1986 Cannondale SR400 (Flat bar commuter), 1988 Cannondale Criterium XTR, 1992 Serotta T-Max, 1995 Trek 970

Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1364 Post(s)
Liked 1,259 Times in 793 Posts
After all is said and done, I think it depends on what you are "peddling".

John
70sSanO is offline  
Old 11-27-21, 12:59 PM
  #50  
63rickert
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 1,891
Mentioned: 43 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 968 Post(s)
Liked 273 Times in 205 Posts
So many riders for so many years have had the same perception as the OP that something has to be happening. Is it a perceived effect or is it real efficiency? Who cares? Enjoy the ride.
63rickert is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.