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Is fixed gear more efficient for pedaling?

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Is fixed gear more efficient for pedaling?

Old 11-27-21, 01:41 PM
  #51  
indyfabz
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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."
Poor trolling or pathetically uninformed?

Which is it?
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Old 11-27-21, 09:33 PM
  #52  
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that's me on my 53 Cinelli getting ready for an indoor Madison after a few nips.

Bought from Spence Wolfe ,.Cupertino Bike Shop.
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Old 11-27-21, 09:57 PM
  #53  
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Plenty of fixed gear bikes have brakes. Strange you didnít know that. At least you do now.
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Old 11-27-21, 10:02 PM
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your ok, don't worry about it,
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Old 11-28-21, 07:26 AM
  #55  
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Iím ok. Your ok. Youíre ok. Whatís the difference?
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Old 11-28-21, 08:05 AM
  #56  
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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."

The only "macho" aspect I can think of with a fixie is showing up for a criterium with one. To the rest of the world, the fixie guy is just another annoying cyclist. Some big, some small, but we all look the same to them regardless of whether we choose to shift gears or not
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Old 11-28-21, 08:11 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
. 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... ..

Uggggghhhhhhh! I live in Oklahoma and stay inside when the weather is less than 45 degrees (Fahrenheit). If you're riding in slippery conditions that are nasty enough for ice and road slush to build up enough to freeze your brakes, I'm nominating you for an honorary John Stamstad Iceman award (look up John if you're not familiar, an amazing guy to read up on)
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Old 11-28-21, 11:54 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
No one is going to deny that feeling - you were getting a push. You seem to be under the impression that it was magically appearing out of nowhere, though - it's not. The push on your legs was energy getting sapped from your forward momentum. If you want to call that "efficient," then we have different ideas of the term.
Yes, different ideas! "Efficiency" sometimes is used to refer to a feeling (this feels effortless!) and at other times to a physics property: the amount of power delivered by a system is a larger fraction of the power put into a system, when the system has better efficiency. Physics says that the input power is equal to the output power plus the sum of all losses. It might seem easy to measure, but, well, we might be really surprised if we try it! Also, the numerical value of efficiency is the ratio of the output power to the input power, assuming sufficiently accurate measurement setups.
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Old 11-28-21, 11:57 AM
  #59  
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I wonder if in comparing fixed pedaling to freewheel pedaling, the two bicycles have identical pedaling geometry, riding position, and frame flex? I would think any differences in frictional losses are similar to the difference caused by a bad fitting.
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Old 11-28-21, 12:33 PM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
I wonder if in comparing fixed pedaling to freewheel pedaling, the two bicycles have identical pedaling geometry, riding position, and frame flex? I would think any differences in frictional losses are similar to the difference caused by a bad fitting.
I set my geared bikes and fix gears up close to identically except I rotate my entire position forward around the BB a little to always have a lower back and better streamlining. (There is less escape from wind when you cannot downshift.) Physical efficiency is very close between the two.

My observation has been that the fix gear is around 25-33% harder for the same distance ridden. It is hard to separate out the muscle wear and tear from the lactic acid build-up and glycogen expenditure so I am never sure exactly what is being depleted or trained, but that 25-33% hit is real. (If you don't believe me, try riding the week of Cycle Oregon on your regular bike, then on the fix gear.)

What the fix gear does do is teach your legs to relax all of your pedaling stroke to minimize the work to produce "X" amount of power.
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Old 11-28-21, 01:40 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I'm not talking about frictional losses or lighter weight but simply the action of pedaling.

I found that I'm faster on fixed gear. Just to make it fair, I put some bags on the fixed gear to equalize the weight of my gravel bike and indeed I'm faster and I also found it's easier to pedal on fixed gear.

It seems the moving pedals carry the momentum of you legs more efficiently than you can with freehub or singlespeed. The effect is quite pronounced in the flats at high cadence compared to climbs. Mind opener for me.
i have made similar observations. not sure as to the why besides i go harder as i only have the 1 gear and just focus on riding.
​​​​my steel ss steed is a dog compared to my 2 road bikes
bianchi 928 carbon and bianchi Ti.
bianchj
times for my standard loop is about same..
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Old 11-29-21, 07:35 AM
  #62  
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Neuromuscular efficiency is a function of muscle contraction force and velocity (cadence), each of which have their own optima in every rider and which trade off over their ranges. Yes, you could designate a ratio for a fixed gear bike, which would be optimal for a particular rider at a fixed speed on a particular grade, and which could be more efficient than a free-wheeled or derailleur bike for purely mechanical reasons. However, once external conditions change, which they do in the real world, efficiency falls off. Multi-geared bicycles were invented explicitly to mitigate that problem. Try riding at 10 mph on a 52-12 or 20 mph on a 34-22 for a while and tell me about efficiency.

If you want to stipulate that this is a theoretical discussion of riding in constant conditions at optimum force and cadence, have at it. Just don't confuse "feels" and Strava data with physiology or physics.
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Old 11-29-21, 07:46 AM
  #63  
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This is the post-modern, post-truth era, when facts are imaginary ..... measurements are just attempts to shut out people who cannot afford tools, and constructs like "physics" are the fake-news concepts of the establishment to retain control of what is accepted as "knowledge."

Truth comes from people who have been kicked off of YouTube. And "feels" matter more than numbers .... and let's keep in mind, those numbers are .... Islamic Propaganda!!!!!!
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Old 11-29-21, 11:09 AM
  #64  
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There was a legitimate study on pedaling efficiency a few years back which looked at cyclists of different disciplines to determine who had the most efficient pedalling stroke and it was widely assumed that the trackies would be a lock for the win, -- as old school track sprinting would routinely involve rpm's in the 160 range , but interestingly enough, it was the mountain bikers who were found to have the most efficient pedalling stroke
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Old 11-29-21, 12:01 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
Neuromuscular efficiency is a function of muscle contraction force and velocity (cadence), each of which have their own optima in every rider and which trade off over their ranges. Yes, you could designate a ratio for a fixed gear bike, which would be optimal for a particular rider at a fixed speed on a particular grade, and which could be more efficient than a free-wheeled or derailleur bike for purely mechanical reasons. However, once external conditions change, which they do in the real world, efficiency falls off. Multi-geared bicycles were invented explicitly to mitigate that problem. Try riding at 10 mph on a 52-12 or 20 mph on a 34-22 for a while and tell me about efficiency.

If you want to stipulate that this is a theoretical discussion of riding in constant conditions at optimum force and cadence, have at it. Just don't confuse "feels" and Strava data with physiology or physics.

Also, the fact that this is where there's an interaction between physiology and physics makes it really ambiguous how the word "efficiency" is being used. Obviously, in a varied world, multi gears are going to be more adjustable to be efficient under the conditions for both physiological and physics reasons, but if the question is fixed gear vs. single speed, I'm guessing you could get different plausible answers depending on how you were analyzing it.
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Old 11-29-21, 02:30 PM
  #66  
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If we consider efficient to be defined as performing work with the least amount of effort, then I would have to say FG is not more efficient than a freewheel, SS or geared.

Over any length of distance one can take micro rests with a freewheel and not lose momentum ie. coasting down hills. That is more efficient than trying to spin high rpms on a FG. You always have to work on a FG, even at times unnecessarily. That is not efficient.

On uneven terrain an FG's gearing will often be sub optimal, either too high or too low. Adjustable gearing allows for greater efficiency.

In some situations the simplicity of design which increases reliability might be seen as more efficient but not from an exercise perspective. Bike couriers who get on and off multiple times and ride relatively short distances on flat terrain comes to mind. I was a courier in downtown Calgary and that was the case there.

Even then I might lean more towards the efficiency of a SS over FG, although FG may add a degree of "enjoyment" to the riding that is desired but not efficient.

If you could add energy back into the body by using the legs to brake that would be interesting; similar to braking in EV vehicles. But in FG it still costs energy to brake with the legs so that's not more efficient either.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 11-29-21 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 11-29-21, 06:48 PM
  #67  
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your forgetting the jockey pulleys. again.
and chain wrap.

of course mountain bikers have a more efficient stroke.
they are used to riding with 5 lbs of mud on each heel.
and moving their legs around while pedaling to balance the bike in trials situations.
and they climb more hills.

and they like their beer cold, their women hot and their steaks rare.

Last edited by cjenrick; 11-29-21 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 11-29-21, 07:10 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
If we consider efficient to be defined as performing work with the least amount of effort, then I would have to say FG is not more efficient than a freewheel, SS or geared.
what about a velodrome where you're doing a consistent hour-long effort? let's say SS vs fixed gear. I think the flywheel effect would make it easier to maintain a consistent pace. It would prevent huge fluctuations (drops) in pedal speed so you would keep the power levels high. Maybe not as applicable to a pro, but an amateur could definitely use that help. Not necessarily more "efficient" but you're probably going to go faster.
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Old 11-29-21, 09:43 PM
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back in the toe clip days we used to tighten the heck out of the toe straps on the fixed gear bikes while down at the track, since only about an hour of pain had to be endured. this seemed to lend itself to a more efficient power transfer than a looser strap on a long road ride.

with the advent of SPD pedals, this difference has been totally negated.

and i did notice faster average speeds after switch to SPD on the street due to a better spin being developed, which also seem to feel like different leg muscles were being brought into the equation.
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Old 11-29-21, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
but interestingly enough, it was the mountain bikers who were found to have the most efficient pedalling stroke
I think the flat pedals have to do with it. Straps or clipless can teach you the bad habit of pulling too hard on the upstroke where according to many studies on the matter makes you less efficient.

You can still pull with flat pedals using your hip flexor but you can't over-do it.

https://www.bythlon.com/blog/the-myth-of-the-upstroke

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Old 11-29-21, 11:13 PM
  #71  
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Excellent segue from fixed gear efficiency to flat pedal efficiency.

Few, if any, can make that smooth a transition.

John
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Old 11-30-21, 03:03 AM
  #72  
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Here's an example from a return leg of a tempo ride ten days ago when the weather was nice, on a relatively flat-ish route:


The cadence is pretty consistent despite the speed varying significantly; 8km of the route is a gentle downhill with speeds over 50 km/hr, while 8km was a gentle uphill tackled at an average speed of 25 km/hr.

On a single speed that'd be a difference in cadence of over 100% and you're going to be suboptimal at one end or the other - and that's a coastal route which, by local standards, isn't particularly hilly at all. A geared bike enables you to pedal all the time; the only two times my heart rate dips is waiting for a traffic light at one point due to road reconstruction works, and a sharp downhill bit before that. Pedalling all the time it can reasonably be done is just a better training stimulus, in my opinion, and simply leads to faster times.

Last edited by Branko D; 11-30-21 at 03:19 AM.
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Old 11-30-21, 05:49 AM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
...I might have been feeling a bit good but still can't deny the feeling...
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Old 11-30-21, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I think the flat pedals have to do with it. Straps or clipless can teach you the bad habit of pulling too hard on the upstroke where according to many studies on the matter makes you less efficient.

You can still pull with flat pedals using your hip flexor but you can't over-do it.

https://www.bythlon.com/blog/the-myth-of-the-upstroke

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUEaN9FKGLE
i believe the study was amongst competitive riders though. Nobody is using flats while racing. (Not even in BMX) I can't find the study , but I believe the premise was that a smoother pedal stroke was ingrained to keep power spikes and lapses from occurring while you're trying to maintain traction on things like seated climbs , places where spinning out means you'd have to get off and push

​​h the widespread use of flats by recreational mountain bikers seems like a pretty recent thing (past 10 years or so) and this study IIRC was 20+ years ago
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Old 11-30-21, 09:50 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
what about a velodrome where you're doing a consistent hour-long effort? let's say SS vs fixed gear. I think the flywheel effect would make it easier to maintain a consistent pace. It would prevent huge fluctuations (drops) in pedal speed so you would keep the power levels high. Maybe not as applicable to a pro, but an amateur could definitely use that help. Not necessarily more "efficient" but you're probably going to go faster.
Interesting question. Do we see efficiency as the ability to go faster/further over a set period time or to go the same distance with less effort. The goals in racing and recreational riding being somewhat different.

I suspect a velodrome racer sacrifices energy requirement for potential speed. They can go faster but expend more energy doing so. Coincidentally, that's one reason I ride a FG for exercise. On a set course I think I get a better workout than using a geared/SS bike. In that case I am seeking a higher energy output.

For recreational (non competitive) riding one might say the goal could be to get from Point A to point B while expending less energy. In that case I think a FG is less efficient. If one calculates total calories expended it would probably be less for a freewheel on mixed terrain over distance.

Opinions here on BF might be slightly skewed as enthusiasts tend to want more than strict utility from riding.

To simplify: A car with a fixed drive train is probably less fuel efficient than a car that can coast for everyday driving. But a fixed drive train is probably more "efficient" at racing as it would be more responsive and fuel is not a concern. Depends on how we define efficiency.

A very curious race would be to limit the amount of fuel one can expend so that vehicle design and energy expenditure strategy become the determining factors.
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