Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner

does riding a fixed gear give a better workout?

25169 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Fixed
rode my fixed gear for the first time on saturday. made it fr an old 10 speed. bought track wheels etc... rides great. rode about 2 hrs, mostly on the flats. didnt seem to get as good a workout as w my multispeed bike. perhaps it was the lack of hills.. maybe i expected to be aching sore, but i wasnt. in general, do you guys feel that a fixed gear gives a tougher workout? actually, i only put it together as a poor weather bike. thanks
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
I get a better workout...I'm more wiped out after a fixed century and than a multi-geared century...
On hilly rides I know I work much harder on the fixed gear than on a free-wheeler, whether geared or single speed.
I regularly do a 40 mile flat ride with a friend who is "older and slower" (no offense Mike) than I am. I use a heart monitor on my geared bike and I noticed I would hardly get off "idle" on that ride going at his pace.

I put the monitor on the fixie and noted that, overall, my heart rate would go up quicker and stay higher. And I would max at 20 bpm higher or more.

Hardly scientific, but it seems to me that the ability to "rest" (i.e., coast and/or gear down) is the difference.

When you say "better workout," I have to ask "for what?" It is different. I've ridden exclusively fixed gear for up to two years at a time, and in some ways I got much stronger, and some weaker.

Fixed gear of course tests your extremes. Just this last Saturday, I rode my Pista with about a 70" gear up a huge hill, 2,800' in 6.5 miles, with sections up to 16% grade. Have to stand nearly the entire way, and anything over 10% starts to require extraordinary measures just to move, like pulling and pushing so hard on the handlebars that my hands, arms, and shoulders hurt for two days. Then, there is a corresponding descent at 25-30 mph spinning my butt off. It really beats you up, but what I've found is that there is actually very little threshold kind of riding -- seems you're either maxed or not riding that hard, as you have to rest up just a bit to make it up the really hard parts. On top of that, if you gear so that you can even get up the big hills, you'll be spinning out much over 20-22 mph on the flats. If you might time trial at 25 mph, you're not working that hard.

Commuting is somewhat similar. If you gear so that you're not destroying yourself on all the starts at intersections, you probably won't be working that hard while cruising.

Bottom line, fixed gear is more like weight lifting on the hills and starts, but less strenuous cruising at speed. You'll likely gain strength and lose a bit of threshold capacity. This has been my experience.

Best would be to do some of both.
See less See more
If by "better workout" you're asking whether riding a fixed gear bike is more work/exercise, then I'd say generally yes. There are certain grades/paces in which riding a fixed gear bike takes about the same effort as a geared bike, but most rides have other grades/paces, too. Overall, it seems that on an average ride I'll do about 15%(?) more work on a fixed gear bike than a geared bike, including needing about that many more calories. (The actual percentage probably ranges from 10% up to almost 20%, but it's hard to really tell.)

On the other hand, a fixed gear bike doesn't let you so readily match your ride and pace to a predefined workout to suit specific athletic performance factors. In that sense, a fixed gear bike probably doesn't give a better technical "workout" because you can't so readily do the specific training exercises that you could otherwise do on a geared bike.
I don't know about all the measurables. I do not ride with a computer anymore. I do know that the fixed bike takes more effort, which I see as a better workout.
If your goal was to just lose weight I think you'll have better luck with the fixed gear, in general, over the long haul....
I agree with comments made by "Fixed". I'm riding a single speed, not fixed, and the main difference between riding SS and my geared bike is that the level of effort on the SS is much more divserse. Hills are ridiculously hard and I pick routes with hills that are shorter and less steep.

But on the flats, I pretty much get a rythym going and just go. If the flat is a slight incline, I get a pretty good aerobic workout. If the flat is a slight decline, it is a good recovery point to coast a bit here and there.

With a geared bike, I can make the ride as easy or as hard as I would like, but 9 out of 10 times I would pick the easiest gear. I don't have the choice on the SS, so in the long run I think I get a better workout on the SS.

roadfix said:
If your goal was to just lose weight I think you'll have better luck with the fixed gear, in general, over the long haul....
Agree. I've done exclusively fixed gear for commuting and weekend long rides, and pounds are dropping off. It ensures there is no dead time and also you maintain muscle mass.
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.