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Fixed offroad riding

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Fixed offroad riding

Old 06-09-21, 07:45 PM
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pbass
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Fixed offroad riding

My Cross Check is setup singlespeed w/freewheel and I ride this bike many places where I probably shouldn't, i.e. pretty gnarly singletrack, with rocky, sketchy descents, etc etc. I love it. At 61 years old it makes me feel like a kid.
I've had a ss of some kind in the quiver for years now, but have never tried fixed, ever. Never even sat on one. I'm totally curious, if only because, it's a new challenge. I know people ride fixed in all manner of terrain and conditions. Would it be nuts for me to switch this bike to fixed and have a go at it? Would I be able(with practice) to ride it offroad without biting it? Would it even be fun? Do you have to use foot retention with fixed? I use flats on both this bike and my geared gravel rig. Though I do have some straps in my bin....
So many questions....

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Old 06-09-21, 08:17 PM
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Personally, I wouldn't start out riding fixed off road. Try it first on pavement, and once you feel comfortable, then maybe go off road. Also, foot retention is essential when riding fixed, because you absolutely don't want your feet coming off the pedals at speed. I really don't see any advantage of riding fixed off road, and have never tried it myself. In fact, I really don't see any reason to ride a singlespeed bike off road. But as they say, À Chacun Son Goût.
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Old 06-09-21, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
Personally, I wouldn't start out riding fixed off road. Try it first on pavement, and once you feel comfortable, then maybe go off road. Also, foot retention is essential when riding fixed, because you absolutely don't want your feet coming off the pedals at speed. I really don't see any advantage of riding fixed off road, and have never tried it myself. In fact, I really don't see any reason to ride a singlespeed bike off road. But as they say, À Chacun Son Goût.
Thanks. Yeah, makes sense, the foot retention thing. I have ridden ss rigid 29'r MTBs for some time and love tackling singletrack on one gear--it's totally zen for me. I now ride the bike I mention this way, and to say I'm underbiking would probably be an understatement. But I'm intrigued about fixed....I gotta give it a try one way or another just so I know...
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Old 06-09-21, 08:32 PM
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Go read Sheldon Brown's site re: fixed gear.

1. Yes you can ride fixed off road, but it will only be fun if you already know how to ride fixed.

2. Fixed off road isn't as fun as single speed.

3. Yes, use foot retention (and brakes) with fixed gear on road. Probably doesn't matter as much off road.
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Old 06-09-21, 11:43 PM
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I ride my fixed road bike off road on farm tracks, occasionally on easy MTB trails, and pretty much anywhere I can take it. I'm riding 700c x 25mm tyres, a 42 x 18 drive train, no suspension, drop bars, and rim brakes. I use pinned MTB pedals.

It is a different sort of challenge. You can't do the steep climbs you could manage on lower gears, and you can't do the fast descents that a freewheel would allow. On deeply rutted farm tracks or anywhere where there are rocks, ruts or roots you have to "find your way through the maze" to avoid pedal strikes. It becomes a game of planning, tactics, and determination. You read the trail and "fence it with a foil" rather than "hacking it with a broadsword".

I very much enjoy it, but it may not be for everyone.

Earlier this year, I found myself on a "short cut" through a bridle path/farm track, riding through deep muddy puddles that were up over my feet, losing traction from time to time, and, on one occasion, going over the bars at low speed when the front wheel suddenly dug into a "wheel trap". I loved every minute.

The five problems I face are pedal strike, limited downhill speed, limited climbing ability, loss of traction in the wet, and mud clogging the gap between wheel and frame. Only the first two of these are related to the bike being fixed. The third is because it has a single ratio, and the last two are because it is a road bike.

However, I also own a 2 x 10 gravel bike which of course has a freewheel as well as wider frame clearances, slightly fatter tyres, and disc brakes. This gets ridden considerably less often. Tracks that are a challenge on the fixed are just mildly diverting on the the gravel bike.

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Old 06-10-21, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Mikefule View Post
I ride my fixed road bike off road on farm tracks, occasionally on easy MTB trails, and pretty much anywhere I can take it. I'm riding 700c x 25mm tyres, a 42 x 18 drive train, no suspension, drop bars, and rim brakes. I use pinned MTB pedals.

It is a different sort of challenge. You can't do the steep climbs you could manage on lower gears, and you can't do the fast descents that a freewheel would allow. On deeply rutted farm tracks or anywhere where there are rocks, ruts or roots you have to "find your way through the maze" to avoid pedal strikes. It becomes a game of planning, tactics, and determination. You read the trail and "fence it with a foil" rather than "hacking it with a broadsword".

I very much enjoy it, but it may not be for everyone.

Earlier this year, I found myself on a "short cut" through a bridle path/farm track, riding through deep muddy puddles that were up over my feet, losing traction from time to time, and, on one occasion, going over the bars at low speed when the front wheel suddenly dug into a "wheel trap". I loved every minute.

The five problems I face are pedal strike, limited downhill speed, limited climbing ability, loss of traction in the wet, and mud clogging the gap between wheel and frame. Only the first two of these are related to the bike being fixed. The third is because it has a single ratio, and the last two are because it is a road bike.

However, I also own a 2 x 10 gravel bike which of course has a freewheel as well as wider frame clearances, slightly fatter tyres, and disc brakes. This gets ridden considerably less often. Tracks that are a challenge on the fixed are just mildly diverting on the the gravel bike.
Yeah, pedal strike seems like a big issue. That's probably the deal-breaker right there! Naturally now I navigate through rocky sections and whatnot by adjusting where my pedals are quite a bit, on geared or singlespeed.
I just got curious about the idea because of these folks doing tracklocross. But I think those courses are not very technical at all, even if they are off-pavement.
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Old 06-10-21, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by pbass View Post
I just got curious about the idea because of these folks doing tracklocross. But I think those courses are not very technical at all, even if they are off-pavement.
In tracklocross just as with cyclocross, you carry the bike over difficult sections rather than riding it, so pedal strike is not an issue.
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Old 06-10-21, 10:14 AM
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Pedal strike - ride bulletproof pedals and cranks you don't mind scratching. Those strike usually don't hurt you and if those parts are robust, they survive also.

I haven't done tons of off-road on fix gears. I have ridden Cycle Oregon a bunch of times fixed and in recent years they've had gravel stretches. On decent roads, fix gears work really well. I find I am comfortable on skinnier tires fixed because of the feedback from the rear wheel and our automatic reflex to back off as it starts to go to one side (like skilled drivers with standard transmissions on snow). Now, downhills are a challenge. Brakes help a lot. So does changing to a higher gear/smaller cog. I did the roughly 1700' of descending down the Trask River logging road in western Oregon on a 42-12 on 35/38 tires and really good cantilever brakes. It was an ear-to-ear grin blast!

Get good on the fix gear on pavement before you go off road. Riding fixed, the drive train is in charge, not you. That has to be second nature. (And the caution - you might just find riding fix gear is addictive. I got hooked my first ride 45 years ago.)
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Old 06-10-21, 11:49 AM
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Riding singlespeed offroad is a blast, so tracklocross should be fun, too. I think the challenge would be not being able to time your pedals for obstacles, and dismounting/remounting while the cranks are spinning will take a little practice. Post videos of your first ride!
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Old 06-10-21, 08:26 PM
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OK, good stuff here folks. I wanna try this. Thanks for the insights.
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Old 06-13-21, 12:18 PM
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Did about 18 miles today, of which about 8 miles was off road. Several pedal strikes and I fell off into the undergrowth once. Plenty of fun, though.



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Old 06-15-21, 02:10 PM
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I tried this on my steamroller fixed and got so tangled up in the backwoods ruts and ground cracks that I ride this MONOCOG when I'm going into the woods and onto the cattle guard areas
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Old 06-17-21, 11:02 AM
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Offroad fixed is a lot of fun. I'd say for novices it would be better to stay to relatively straight trails, for general confidance building. Fixed singletrack is great fun, but is really sketchy if you aren't used to jumping from any pedal position, pedal strikes, loss of traction, etc.

Bad pov of my local mtb park on the Bombtrack.




My main fixedgear mtb. SE UvT. 29x2.1 tire

Tracklocross rig. Bombtrack Arise.

other tracklocross.

Scorcher-style. 1960 Fiorelli.
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Old 06-17-21, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Dylansbob View Post
Offroad fixed is a lot of fun. I'd say for novices it would be better to stay to relatively straight trails, for general confidance building. Fixed singletrack is great fun, but is really sketchy if you aren't used to jumping from any pedal position, pedal strikes, loss of traction, etc.

Bad pov of my local mtb park on the Bombtrack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yuAu58Mwc8



My main fixedgear mtb. SE UvT. 29x2.1 tire

Tracklocross rig. Bombtrack Arise.

other tracklocross.

Scorcher-style. 1960 Fiorelli.
Nice!!!
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Old 06-17-21, 09:05 PM
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pbass I have gassed on at length of my love for fixed on gravel but in your case I agree with most of the above that freehub with brakes would probably be more fun.

Fixed gear is all about the drive train and on trails while attached via straps you really want to be confident in what you're cranking if that's all you be doing (i.e. not coasting ever).

OTOH, if you part up nice SS stuff on the Cross Check then it'll be that much cheaper to build a dedicated-fixed bike and then return the Cross to its other format if so desired
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Old 06-18-21, 02:30 AM
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I can picture myself attempting to fly off a jump on the trail. I can't even bunnyhop over a speed bump on my road bike in a fixed cog
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Old 06-21-21, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by PIFFLE View Post
pbass I have gassed on at length of my love for fixed on gravel but in your case I agree with most of the above that freehub with brakes would probably be more fun.

Fixed gear is all about the drive train and on trails while attached via straps you really want to be confident in what you're cranking if that's all you be doing (i.e. not coasting ever).
Yeah, I was out on it this weekend on some narrow singletrack cut along the edge of a steep hill, and if I couldn't stop pedaling at times to keep the hill-side pedal up it woulda been pretty sketchy--like, pedal strike, and down I go! So, maybe this won't make sense for me, as it'll actually restrict the kind of riding I'm used to doing on this rig.
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Old 06-22-21, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by pbass View Post
Yeah, I was out on it this weekend on some narrow singletrack cut along the edge of a steep hill, and if I couldn't stop pedaling at times to keep the hill-side pedal up it woulda been pretty sketchy--like, pedal strike, and down I go! So, maybe this won't make sense for me, as it'll actually restrict the kind of riding I'm used to doing on this rig.
Riding fixed-gear offroad is fun, but technical trails impose limits. It's bad enough trying to time a downstroke for an uphill ledge, but "crabbing" a pedal on a section of trail like the one you're describing can be disastrous. The first thing I learned riding fixed on the road was to choose my routes carefully. This is doubly true on dirt.
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Old 06-23-21, 11:16 AM
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I've been dabbling in off-road fixed gear riding lately. I moved a couple months ago and my options for riding now are basically paved MUP (nice but kinda boring sometimes) or singletrack trails, so I threw some risers on my Big Block and gave it a go. Fun, but I probably need bigger tires and a lower gear, because I'm walking over lots of stuff.
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Old 06-23-21, 05:05 PM
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seau grateau Can confirm 32mm Gravel Kings will fit the Big Block ;]
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Old 06-27-21, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by PIFFLE View Post
seau grateau Can confirm 32mm Gravel Kings will fit the Big Block ;]
Probably what I'm gonna get. I have the 28mm GKs right now, fine tire on the road, but not quite enough for the trails I've been riding.
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Old 06-27-21, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by pbass View Post
My Cross Check is setup singlespeed w/freewheel and I ride this bike many places where I probably shouldn't, i.e. pretty gnarly singletrack, with rocky, sketchy descents, etc etc. I love it. At 61 years old it makes me feel like a kid.
I've had a ss of some kind in the quiver for years now, but have never tried fixed, ever. Never even sat on one. I'm totally curious, if only because, it's a new challenge. I know people ride fixed in all manner of terrain and conditions. Would it be nuts for me to switch this bike to fixed and have a go at it? Would I be able(with practice) to ride it offroad without biting it? Would it even be fun? Do you have to use foot retention with fixed? I use flats on both this bike and my geared gravel rig. Though I do have some straps in my bin....
So many questions....
Classic website on the topic: 63xc.com--The Offroad Fixed Gear Site
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Old 06-29-21, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
I can picture myself attempting to fly off a jump on the trail. I can't even bunnyhop over a speed bump on my road bike in a fixed cog
Man, I don't have the bunnyhop gene. It's pure luck when I pull one off.
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Old 07-06-21, 08:57 PM
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I fixed my SS MTB several years ago and it was a blast to ride the trails on a FG, but anything more than lazy daisy paths had quite the learning curve even as an experienced FG rider and mtber. Choose the wrong path and it can be terrifying
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Old 07-08-21, 07:50 AM
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hairnet comes out of the woodwork!

I ride MTB and fixed (track only), but ya'll are crazy for trying to do that on the trail! Too many rocks on San Diego trails. Scared of pedal strikes!
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