Does anybody agree that horse racing is a mugs game and that it is poor [people who suffer i saw lots of people at ascot today all looking as though they have money to burn and probably winning where as those who have little helplessly throw money on these hopeful four legged wonders and lose there hopes of winning loads and having a better life are dashed in seconds the only winners as we all know are the bookies and fat cats who own horses posh head gear and frocks are the order of the day for the rich for the poor who lose fish and chips if there lucky any who read this i know ive lost my life to the gee gees and wont ever go near them again please heed this warning its may seem like a way out but it tends to just drive you deeper and deeper so dont go there if you do get help it is a mugs game and should be left to the mugs in the silly hats.
If you only had to choose one bike, then you wouldn't go for a fixed gear one. They are fun to ride a lot of the time, but sometimes they just aren't practical. They are bad if you need to ride up or down steep hills when you either have to get off and walk, or brake to save your legs from whizzing around at 200rpm. They are also bad if you have to ride at the same pace as other cyclists, as you tend to ride up hills faster, and down them more slowly than with a bike with gears. The attraction of them is that they have less to go wrong. If you make a fixed rear wheel, it is likely to be stronger than with wheel with a modern cassette hub as it won't be dished and the spokes on either side of the wheel will be at a similar tension. You can't forget maintenance altogether though. If the chain becomes too loose, there is a risk that it will come off, which is likely to lock up your rear wheel. I built my fixed wheel bike from an old 10 speed bike. I had bought it new when I was 13 years old, and swapped the frame about 10 years later. Bikes which originally came with freewheel sprockets instead of a cassette (ie from before the late 80s) are good for a fixed gear bike as the rear dropouts let you adjust the fore-aft position of the wheel. Newer bikes tend to have vertical dropouts which mean that its more difficult to adjust the length of the chain. With careful selection of sprocket and chainring sizes, you can adjust the tension of a chain without moving the position of the dropouts. Real track bike frames aren't ideal for road use as they don't have much clearance for fitting a mudguard. Fitting brakes is a fiddle and the handling can be a bit twitchy. You can also buy add on sprockets that convert a freehub cassette into a fixed gear. These might be worth thinking of if you have an unloved MTB. They will still have a dished rear wheel. I bought a Sovos hub from http://www.sheldonbrown.com/sovos.html. Th
is lets you fit a fixed sprocket on one side of the hub as well as a single gear freewheel from a BMX bike on the other. This means that if you were out on a long ride and pulled a muscle, you can take the rear wheel out, turn it around and have a single gear bike that lets you freewheel instead. I haven't used this feature much at all, but when I have, it was very worthwhile. If you want to read more about this, see http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed/index.html. Its run by a bloke from a Boston MA bikeshop who has been a longtime poster to the usenet rec.bicycles.* newsgroups. I've always been impressed with his technical knowledge. The bikeshop he works at is also worth visiting if you're nearby.
For those who may not know, a fixed-wheel racing bicycle is a bicycle which has no freewheel which means that whilst the back wheel is going round, the pedals have to go round as well. This also means that the bike cannot have any gears as it would be very difficult to change gear smoothly. "What is the use of that?" you might be thinking, "Surely it is nothing but a potential deathtrap!". Well, to a certain extent that might be the case but once the initial unfamiliarity is out of the way, the benefits are immediately apparent. For starters, the bike is very simple. There are no front or rear mechs, gear levers, gear cables or a built up back wheel and maybe even no back brake to weigh the bike down or need maintaining. As the back wheel is in effect directly connected to the pedals, this helps to push the pedals along which is beneficial in headwinds, on hills (especially short, steep ones) and when starting off. The acceleration on a fixed-wheel bike is greatly enhanced, making it extremely effective in busy traffic conditions. There can be some disadvantage in having no gears or fixed wheel. There are no benefits of downhill on a fixed wheel bike as the rider must carry on pedalling anyway and they can only go as fast as they can pedal. For some riders, there may be a need for a lower gear on the uphill as well. However, both these problems are largely overcome by rider fitness. Whilst it should be understood that the rider requires high stamina to get anywhere on a fixed-wheel bike, the bike itself will prove as an excellent way of improving fitness and will enhance performance on a standard bike. A couple of years ago, I built my own fixed-wheel bike. I started with the rear hub. This is far more simple than a standard hub although it is still a specialised item which may need a bit of searching out. The one I used is a Miche Primato hub which comes with a 15-tooth and a 17-tooth sprocket which
can be swapped around if necessary. The back wheel was then made up around the hub. The other main specialised component is the frame. The main differences between a fixed-wheel frame and a standard frame is that the rear dropouts should be horizontal (pointing backwards), there should be no braze-ons for gear levers and maybe no rear brake arch. In essence, this is the same as a track frame. Frames like this might need to be ordered specially if bought new although I opted for a second-hand 531 track frame (£110 - through a newspaper advert). I chose to have a rear brake arch fitted (for increased road safety) and the frame resprayed (£130). For the chainset, a single-ring chainset is required. I got a Miche Primato track chainset (£70) and removed the 48-tooth ring and fitted a 42-tooth ring. I used the 17-tooth sprocket on the back giving a ratio similar to a an almost top-gear on a mountain or touring bike although near bottom gear on a racing bike. This is fine for getting up most hills (even in my home town of Bristol) although sometimes this does feel a bit low on the downhill which leads to some excessive pedalling! The rest of the components on the bike were pretty much as standard. I fitted STD clipless pedals on the bike. This does increase the risk factor somewhat and I have to be very careful although it helps with the overall lightness and I believe it essential to have some connection with the pedals especially when climbing. I have only had a couple of incidents as a result of being clipped in, both of which were standing topples! All in all, the bike cost about £700 (as referred to in the price section) to build which is a reasonable price considering that pre-built brand-new fixed wheel bikes are almost impossible to come by. Since building the bike, I have taken it out on a few long rides which have proven to be very successful. It does take a little while to warm up and build up the stamina on the bi
ke, so during a long ride the effect can be really appreciated. I have also commuted on it for a few weeks whilst my other bike was being repaired. Although fairly precarious in heavy traffic conditions, it is really great for getting away from traffic lights quickly. I would recommend a fixed-wheel bike to anyone is a keen cyclist and willing to try something different. Admittedly, it is a bit of a luxury item as I wouldn't want to use it everyday but when I do use it, I certainly enjoy it.