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I've had geared bikes for as long as I can remember, so please forgive my ignorance.

Please explain difference between fixed gear and single speed.

My understanding is that fixed gear is the same tech as the coaster brake bikes of my childhood: stop pedaling and you stop dead in your tracks. While a SS has a freewheel that keeps turning if you stop pedaling.

I thought I understood this correctly but recently heard a different explanation.

Thanks
 

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Bobonli said:
I've had geared bikes for as long as I can remember, so please forgive my ignorance.

Please explain difference between fixed gear and single speed.

My understanding is that fixed gear is the same tech as the coaster brake bikes of my childhood: stop pedaling and you stop dead in your tracks. While a SS has a freewheel that keeps turning if you stop pedaling.

I thought I understood this correctly but recently heard a different explanation.

Thanks

you pretty much nailed it...the cog of a fixed gear turns as the wheel turns...you stop pedaling and you either skid or launch yourself over the handlebars...
 

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You're on the right track, but not quite there.

On a coaster brake bike, you can stop pedaling, and still coast (hence the name). When you apply back pressure on the pedals, it activates a brake inside the hub that slows the wheel. As soon as you stop applying back pressure, the bike begins to coast again.

With a fixed gear bike, there is no coasting mechanism whatsoever. If the wheel is turning, the pedals are turning. Period. Forwards or backwards, one turns, the other turns. So braking (assuming you are not using a handbrake) is done using back pressure, sort of like a coaster brake. But when you use back pressure on a coaster brake, the pedals stay in place. On a fixed gear bike, unless you manage to lock the rear wheel into a skid, the pedals keep turning forward as you apply back pressure, so you resist the pedal motion throughout the pedal circle.

In car terms: applying a brake (hand or coaster) is like shifting a car into neutral (coasting) and applying the normal brake. Using back pressure on a fixed gear is more akin to down shifting a standard car to slow the rpm (and the vehicle).

It's not a perfect analogy, but I think it captures the essence of the issue.
 

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That's likely

Bobonli said:
Thank you both.
Single speed looks more appealing for my applications.
If you want the simplicity of a one-speed bike (and don't need multiple gears), single-speed is the simplest choice for most people and most uses. The fixed-gear experience is an acquired taste, and is quite peculiar in some ways. Starting and stopping the bike is a bit tricky compared to a frewheeling bike, and if you get going fast (e.g., down a hill), the inability to coast means you have to keep turning the pedals (sometimes very fast) until you are able to slow down. It can require a good deal of concentration.

That said, many people do acquire the taste, and find the FG fun in ways that other bikes can't match. It's kind of strange that we deliberately embrace an "obsolete" 100-year-old technology and abandon the freewheel ratchet, one of the early major advances in the development of the bicycle, but there you are.
 
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