A few fixed gear questions.

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Will Fisher, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. Will  Fisher

    Will Fisher Guest

    A few questions:

    1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear? I try to push the
    rear wheel back as hard as I can into the dropout but when I do a
    trackstand, I can still feel the slack in the chain when I switch from
    forward to backward pressure. The chain looks perfectly taut but
    certaintly does not feel so.

    2. I ride in NYC where there are thousands of road obstacles (potholes,
    manhole covers, etc.) and I'm finding the ride to be extremely harsh.
    Any suggestions (e.g. a good fixed gear saddle)?

    --
    Will Fisher
     
    Tags:


  2. Ted

    Ted Guest

    "Will Fisher" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > A few questions:
    >
    > 1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear? I try to push the
    > rear wheel back as hard as I can into the dropout but when I do a
    > trackstand, I can still feel the slack in the chain when I switch from
    > forward to backward pressure. The chain looks perfectly taut but
    > certaintly does not feel so.


    Observation of your drivetrain while turning the pedals by hand will
    make it obvious that the chain is not uniformly tight, due to small
    eccentricity of either sprocket. Find the tightest spot and adjust the
    axle position so that there is just a little (less than 0.5 inch)
    vertical movement of the chain.

    Do not attempt to make the chain as tight as you can. This will mean
    that the chain will be even tighter at some point in the rotation and
    that will lead to premature bearing failure.

    If you like to have no slack in the chain, a tensioner will give the
    closest approximation. But it does take away from the cool minimalism
    of a fixie.

    > 2. I ride in NYC where there are thousands of road obstacles (potholes,
    > manhole covers, etc.) and I'm finding the ride to be extremely harsh.
    > Any suggestions (e.g. a good fixed gear saddle)?


    Fatter tires will make a BIG difference. If you are riding 23mm tires
    now, try a pair of 28s if you have the clearance.

    If your bike is a true track frame, it's gonna be harsh on the road, as
    it is designed for a smooth track.

    Saddles? A highly personal decision. A big ol' sprung saddle might
    help with your ass, but not your hands, and such a saddle would be
    offensive to my sense of taste on a fixie.

    --
    Ted Bennett
    Portland, OR
     
  3. On 6 Jan 2005 18:58:16 -0800, "Will Fisher"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >A few questions:
    >
    >1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear? I try to push the
    >rear wheel back as hard as I can into the dropout but when I do a
    >trackstand, I can still feel the slack in the chain when I switch from
    >forward to backward pressure. The chain looks perfectly taut but
    >certaintly does not feel so.


    [snip]

    Dear Will,

    When you reverse tension, the chain roller taking the load
    rolls back and forth in the bottom between two gear teeth,
    no matter how hard you tension a chain.

    Applying even a little tension causes the roller to ride up
    just a tiny bit onto the face of the tooth.

    To make things worse, this happens on both the front and
    rear sprockets.

    Notice that when you pedal, the top chain run goes taut and
    the bottom run goes slack. When you start to brake and
    reverse the tension, the bottom run goes goes taut and the
    top run goes slack.

    Sheldon Brown commented on fixie chain tensioning about a
    year ago:

    http://groups.google.co.uk/groups?q...en&lr=&[email protected]
    or http://tinyurl.com/6m9tf

    Carl Fogel
     
  4. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    "Will Fisher" <[email protected]> writes:

    > A few questions:
    >
    > 1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear? I try to push the
    > rear wheel back as hard as I can into the dropout but when I do a
    > trackstand, I can still feel the slack in the chain when I switch
    > from forward to backward pressure. The chain looks perfectly taut
    > but certaintly does not feel so.


    Chain doesn't need to be so tight, in fact it often causes binding
    problems in the drivetrain.

    > 2. I ride in NYC where there are thousands of road obstacles
    > (potholes, manhole covers, etc.) and I'm finding the ride to be
    > extremely harsh. Any suggestions (e.g. a good fixed gear saddle)?


    Track bikes ride harsh because of the short wheelbase. Try a
    different type of bike that's actually designed for riding on the
    road, if a track bike is what you're riding.
     
  5. Will  Fisher

    Will Fisher Guest

    I'll take that tire suggestion into consideration. Too bad my rims will
    look a little too small for 28s but if it makes the ride easier,
    anything.

    I agree with you on that saddle aesthetics point. I considered a brooks
    but none of the models would fit the slick look of my fixie. I'm
    thinking Selle Italia Flite but that's because I've heard such good
    reviews of it, not because I've tried it personally. Oh well.
     
  6. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    Will Fisher wrote:

    > A few questions:
    >
    > 1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear? I try to push the
    > rear wheel back as hard as I can into the dropout but when I do a
    > trackstand, I can still feel the slack in the chain when I switch from
    > forward to backward pressure. The chain looks perfectly taut but
    > certaintly does not feel so.
    >
    > 2. I ride in NYC where there are thousands of road obstacles (potholes,
    > manhole covers, etc.) and I'm finding the ride to be extremely harsh.
    > Any suggestions (e.g. a good fixed gear saddle)?
    >

    That sounds too tight.
    You'll feel lash no matter what when you reverse direction.
    http://www.yellowjersey.org/chainchk.html

    You'll learn to lift your butt off the saddle. No saddle
    will cushion a pothole with your full weight on it.

    --
    Andrew Muzi
    www.yellowjersey.org
    Open every day since 1 April, 1971
     
  7. R15757

    R15757 Guest

    Will Fisher asked:

    >1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear?


    Generally speaking, you can allow a little bit
    of slack in the chain which will be visible
    to the eye. Ideally, imo, the chain should
    look pretty straight on top. If you get it
    too tight you will know because the
    drivetrain won't turn freely.

    One way to do it is install the wheel
    with the bike turned upside down, and
    jam a big crescent wrench or other
    suitable object between the frame and
    the tire to crow-bar the wheel back
    as you tighten the nuts.

    >2. I ride in NYC where there are thousands of road obstacles (potholes,
    >manhole covers, etc.) and I'm finding the ride to be extremely harsh.
    >Any suggestions (e.g. a good fixed gear saddle)?


    It's not about the saddle. Remove yourself from
    the saddle at least a little while traversing bad road
    sections and your life will improve. Keep your arms
    and legs bent and stay loose.

    Also, micro-manage your line to avoid obstacles.

    Tires: I wouldn't use any tires smaller than 25
    in the city.

    Robert
     
  8. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    > Will Fisher asked:
    >>1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear?
    >>2. I ride in NYC where there are thousands of road obstacles (potholes,
    >>manhole covers, etc.) and I'm finding the ride to be extremely harsh.
    >>Any suggestions (e.g. a good fixed gear saddle)?


    R15757 wrote:
    > Generally speaking, you can allow a little bit
    > of slack in the chain which will be visible
    > to the eye. Ideally, imo, the chain should
    > look pretty straight on top. If you get it
    > too tight you will know because the
    > drivetrain won't turn freely.
    >
    > One way to do it is install the wheel
    > with the bike turned upside down, and
    > jam a big crescent wrench or other
    > suitable object between the frame and
    > the tire to crow-bar the wheel back
    > as you tighten the nuts.
    >
    >
    > It's not about the saddle. Remove yourself from
    > the saddle at least a little while traversing bad road
    > sections and your life will improve. Keep your arms
    > and legs bent and stay loose.
    > Also, micro-manage your line to avoid obstacles.
    >
    > Tires: I wouldn't use any tires smaller than 25
    > in the city.


    Good saddle and tire advice but your chain is way too tight.
    You're needlessly accelerating drivetrain wear.

    --
    Andrew Muzi
    www.yellowjersey.org
    Open every day since 1 April, 1971
     
  9. Will-<< 1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear? I try to push the
    rear wheel back as hard as I can into the dropout but when I do a
    trackstand, I can still feel the slack in the chain when I switch from
    forward to backward pressure. >><BR><BR>

    I say, chainwheels and rear hubs/cogs are not perfectly round. The chain will
    go tight/loose as you pedal. The tightest part should have about 1/2 inch of
    slack.

    Will-<< 2. I ride in NYC where there are thousands of road obstacles (potholes,
    manhole covers, etc.) and I'm finding the ride to be extremely harsh.
    Any suggestions (e.g. a good fixed gear saddle)? >><BR><BR>

    I say-fatter ties are a better solution, fat enough to fit into your frame.

    Peter Chisholm
    Vecchio's Bicicletteria
    1833 Pearl St.
    Boulder, CO, 80302
    (303)440-3535
    http://www.vecchios.com
    "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
     
  10. Carl assumes-<< When you reverse tension, the chain roller taking the load
    rolls back and forth in the bottom between two gear teeth,
    no matter how hard you tension a chain. >><BR><BR>

    I would hope this gent doesn't have a 'roller' or anything else to help chain
    tension. This is a fixie and with horizontal dropoiuts, no tension device
    needed plus it can be ripped off spectacularly on a fixed gear.

    Peter Chisholm
    Vecchio's Bicicletteria
    1833 Pearl St.
    Boulder, CO, 80302
    (303)440-3535
    http://www.vecchios.com
    "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
     
  11. Will Fisher <[email protected]> wrote:

    > I'll take that tire suggestion into consideration. Too bad my rims will
    > look a little too small for 28s but if it makes the ride easier,
    > anything.


    I don't think there are rims so narrow that using a 28-millimeter tyre
    would be a problem. I know people running 40-millimeter studded tyres on
    narrow road rims on the cyclocross bikes without problems, although
    that might be pushing the limit. Here's a compatibility table:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html#width

    As it says below the table, people commonly exceed these recommendations
    without problems. I think in your case, running 28-millimeter tyres on a
    narrow rim should be just fine unless you use unusually low pressures.

    > I agree with you on that saddle aesthetics point. I considered a brooks
    > but none of the models would fit the slick look of my fixie. I'm
    > thinking Selle Italia Flite but that's because I've heard such good
    > reviews of it, not because I've tried it personally. Oh well.


    The Flite works well for many people, but not for all. It's quite
    expensive, but otherwise I think it's a good starting point if you
    absolutely don't know what might be good for you.

    -as
     
  12. Ted

    Ted Guest

    Ted wrote:

    > If you like to have no slack in the chain, a tensioner will give the
    > closest approximation. But it does take away from the cool minimalism
    > of a fixie.


    I know it's bad form to respond to your own post, but the above is *bad*
    advice for a fixie. A tensioner will fail spectacularly there.

    Sorry about the brain fart.

    --
    Ted Bennett
    Portland, OR
     
  13. Kinky Cowboy

    Kinky Cowboy Guest

    On 6 Jan 2005 18:58:16 -0800, "Will Fisher" <[email protected]>
    wrote:

    >A few questions:
    >
    >1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear? I try to push the
    >rear wheel back as hard as I can into the dropout but when I do a
    >trackstand, I can still feel the slack in the chain when I switch from
    >forward to backward pressure. The chain looks perfectly taut but
    >certaintly does not feel so.


    You can't have the chain backlash free, that would need more residual
    static tension than the maximum top run tension under full power. Some
    backlash is inevitable, so get used to it. I run my chain pretty tight
    compared with some other respondents (i.e. a small amount of residual
    tension with no pedal load at the tightest point in the rotation), but
    even so I can get enough stretch by hand pressure on the pedal to make
    the lower run noticeably slack. Even to get this much tension in the
    chain requires chain tugs on the hub axle, you just can't do it by
    holding the wheel back while you tighten your track nuts.

    >2. I ride in NYC where there are thousands of road obstacles (potholes,
    >manhole covers, etc.) and I'm finding the ride to be extremely harsh.
    >Any suggestions (e.g. a good fixed gear saddle)?


    As everybody else has already said, float your body over them using
    flexed limbs.


    Kinky Cowboy*

    *Batteries not included
    May contain traces of nuts
    Your milage may vary
     
  14. Tom Sherman

    Tom Sherman Guest

    Qui si parla Campagnolo wrote:

    > Carl assumes-<< When you reverse tension, the chain roller taking the load
    > rolls back and forth in the bottom between two gear teeth,
    > no matter how hard you tension a chain. >><BR><BR>
    >
    > I would hope this gent doesn't have a 'roller' or anything else to help chain
    > tension. This is a fixie and with horizontal dropoiuts, no tension device
    > needed plus it can be ripped off spectacularly on a fixed gear.


    "Roller" refers to the doughnut shaped part of the chain the fits around
    the rivet/pin.

    In the past, Carl Fogel has posted links to pictures of motorcycles with
    chain tensioners - a motorcycle is effectively fixed-geared when the
    clutch is engaged.

    --
    Tom Sherman - Near Rock Island
     
  15. R15757

    R15757 Guest

    A. Muzi wrote:

    >Good saddle and tire advice but your chain is way too tight.
    >You're needlessly accelerating drivetrain wear.


    My drivetrain components seem to last
    about as long as anyone else's. The chain
    might be a little tight although I can still
    see a little droop in it. Like the OP I
    prefer a tighter chain for improved
    low speed response.

    Robert
     
  16. Will Fisher wrote:

    > A few questions:
    >
    > 1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear? I try to push the
    > rear wheel back as hard as I can into the dropout but when I do a
    > trackstand, I can still feel the slack in the chain when I switch from
    > forward to backward pressure. The chain looks perfectly taut but
    > certaintly does not feel so.
    >
    > 2. I ride in NYC where there are thousands of road obstacles (potholes,
    > manhole covers, etc.) and I'm finding the ride to be extremely harsh.
    > Any suggestions (e.g. a good fixed gear saddle)?
    >


    1. Tight enough so it cannot ever come off. You shouldn't be able to
    see any slack just by looking at the chain, although there will be play
    if you grab hold if it. How tight you can make it without binding
    depends on the quality of your chainring and sprocket.

    2. You soon learn to unweight the saddle while pedalling.
     
  17. Will Fisher wrote:

    > A few questions:
    >
    > 1. How tight should the chain be on a fixed gear? I try to push the
    > rear wheel back as hard as I can into the dropout but when I do a
    > trackstand, I can still feel the slack in the chain when I switch from
    > forward to backward pressure. The chain looks perfectly taut but
    > certaintly does not feel so.
    >
    > 2. I ride in NYC where there are thousands of road obstacles (potholes,
    > manhole covers, etc.) and I'm finding the ride to be extremely harsh.
    > Any suggestions (e.g. a good fixed gear saddle)?
    >


    1. Tight enough so it cannot ever come off. You shouldn't be able to
    see any slack just by looking at the chain, although there will be play
    if you grab hold if it. How tight you can make it without binding
    depends on the quality of your chainring and sprocket.

    2. You soon learn to unweight the saddle while pedalling.
     
  18. On 07 Jan 2005 14:17:18 GMT, [email protected] (Qui si parla
    Campagnolo ) wrote:

    >Carl assumes-<< When you reverse tension, the chain roller taking the load
    >rolls back and forth in the bottom between two gear teeth,
    >no matter how hard you tension a chain. >><BR><BR>
    >
    >I would hope this gent doesn't have a 'roller' or anything else to help chain
    >tension. This is a fixie and with horizontal dropoiuts, no tension device
    >needed plus it can be ripped off spectacularly on a fixed gear.
    >
    >Peter Chisholm
    >Vecchio's Bicicletteria
    >1833 Pearl St.
    >Boulder, CO, 80302
    >(303)440-3535
    >http://www.vecchios.com
    >"Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"


    Dear Peter,

    By chain roller, I mean each of the 100+ rollers of the
    chain itself.

    You're probably thinking of a chain tensioner.

    While the strangely designed tensioners used on some
    bicycles can be ripped off, a spring-loaded tension arm
    trailing from the chainstay like an ordinary motorcycle
    chain tension cannot be ripped off by the chain unless the
    bicycle's rear wheel begins to move backward.

    Carl Fogel
     
  19. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    > A. Muzi wrote:
    >>Good saddle and tire advice but your chain is way too tight.
    >>You're needlessly accelerating drivetrain wear.


    R15757 wrote:
    > My drivetrain components seem to last
    > about as long as anyone else's. The chain
    > might be a little tight although I can still
    > see a little droop in it. Like the OP I
    > prefer a tighter chain for improved
    > low speed response.


    Sorry. That was my response to your comment about levering
    the wheel into place. I assumed that if you needed a lever
    you were overtightening the chain. If you aren't exerting a
    lot of pressure, why use a lever?

    Try 'walking' the wheel into place by slacking one axle nut
    at a time - no lever needed.


    --
    Andrew Muzi
    www.yellowjersey.org
    Open every day since 1 April, 1971
     
  20. RonSonic

    RonSonic Guest

    On Fri, 07 Jan 2005 12:56:30 -0600, A Muzi <[email protected]> wrote:

    >> A. Muzi wrote:
    >>>Good saddle and tire advice but your chain is way too tight.
    >>>You're needlessly accelerating drivetrain wear.

    >
    >R15757 wrote:
    >> My drivetrain components seem to last
    >> about as long as anyone else's. The chain
    >> might be a little tight although I can still
    >> see a little droop in it. Like the OP I
    >> prefer a tighter chain for improved
    >> low speed response.

    >
    >Sorry. That was my response to your comment about levering
    >the wheel into place. I assumed that if you needed a lever
    >you were overtightening the chain. If you aren't exerting a
    >lot of pressure, why use a lever?


    Because it makes it very easy to hold it just so. I remember doing that in my
    days with a SA 3s hub, just so easy to hold the wheel centered and right where
    you want it.

    >Try 'walking' the wheel into place by slacking one axle nut
    >at a time - no lever needed.


    Sure, but not as easy. Depending on whether you are willing to subject your bike
    to the indignity of inversion.

    There seems to be some controversy on that one.

    Ron
     
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