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Fixed Gear Mountain Biking

Posted by RL Policar On January - 28 - 2007

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At the 2006 Interbike, I sat down with Andy Corson of Surly Bikes and we talked about fixed gear bikes. I mentioned to him that I have a Redline 925 that I use for my daily errands. Then he mentions to me that he’s got a FIXED GEAR MOUNTAIN BIKE. I repeated what he said and he basically said…”yah, a fixed gear mountain bike.” After I made a few more comments that sounded like, “You’re friggin crazy!” I then started to ask him more about it. Intrigued by his idea, I decided to find out more on this suicidal way of riding dirt.

So I turned to Sheldon Brown’s site and sure enough there was something about fixed gear mountain bikes.

Here’s a Surly Fixed Gear.

Having been a fixed gear rider for quite some time, I don’t think I’m ready to jump on the trails with a fixed mountain bike.

Just in case you didn’t know what fixed gear bikes are…

The oldest and simplest type of bicycle is the “fixed-gear” bicycle. This is a single-speed bike without a freewheel; that is, whenever the bike is in motion, the pedals will go around. You cannot coast on a fixed-gear machine.

What about you, would you do it?


15 Responses to “Fixed Gear Mountain Biking”

  1. Sven says:

    Can you provide any more information for what he said about riding fixed in the dirt? Like crank length, rim size, tire, gear ratio?

  2. dan says:

    I ride exclusively fix gear Mountain bike on a Salsa Juan Solo 26 inches wheel set. My gear ratio is a 34-20 and I use ENO crank set with 175 mm crank. I never had a problem to do any trail that my freewheel friends rider rides on. In fact I can keep up with the most advance rider on technical downhill. My biggest desadvantage is on none technical downhill. When that happen I have a custom fork that was build in which I have a set of clip on that are located on the crown of my fork that I can clip on and let the bike take the speed that it wants.

    No riding Fix in the woods is not for everyone, but I think that everyone should try it at least once.

    The best way to describe fast technnical MTB on a fix is like playing chess on a bike. if you are not focus and your head is not screwed on properly you will kill yourself

    If you want to know more about it or want to try it drop me a line and we will try to make it happen

    Dan Des Rosiers

  3. shredwebster says:

    tell me more about your special fork. i agree that fixing on non technical DH is a bitch. does riding on your fork make for a squirely ride?

  4. scott says:

    on the road i ride exclusively fixed. i dont like the feel of a regular bike now, so last year i got rid of my old mtb and started riding fixed on trails as well. i have a jamis exile (sold as a singlespeed) that i converted to fixed using a cog and a lockring from an old bottom bracket. it takes some getting used to, but for the most part i can ride the same stuff as i did before. i dont do a lot of technical riding, and i dont think i could with a fixed mtb. if i do go somewhere technical, i switch the cog out for a singlespeed freewheel, but it always takes me a while to get used to freewheeling again.

  5. buellersway says:

    Hey, I have an old specialized mountain bike that I’m trying to turn into a fixed gear. The process of converting the freewheel hub to a fixed gear assembly eludes me though. Does anyone have any good links I should use while attempting this hellish process? Also, I want to switch up the headset and bar assembly to be like the surly shown above. Any part suggestions?

  6. RL Policar says:


    You can’t convert a freewheel to a fixed. You’ll need a whole new rear fixed wheel.

  7. Ghost Rider says:

    Blue, not true — depending on what kind of wheel you have, a conversion is TOTALLY possible.

    For a freewheel-based hub, after redishing you simply “rotafix” a cog onto the hub and thread on an old BB lockring on (with some blue LocTite for safety). This is sometimes referred to as a “suicide hub”, but in practice (as long as you rotafix and Loctite) this method is a quick and effective way to go fixed.

    For a freehub-based hub, replace the freehub with a Surly “Fixxer” and go about your business.

  8. Ghost Rider says:

    Oh, I should add that if you have vertical dropouts, you either have to find a “magic gear” or figure out some other way of adjusting chain tension (which often requires a special hub called an “Eno”).

    For information on “magic gear”, go here:

  9. Tyler says:

    Starting fixing about a year ago with an old 1974 Raleigh Grand Prix, bought some 700c track wheels for it and a pair of 35mm studded tires (for the winter commute in Juneau Alaska). My idea for the fixer was a kind of all-around cyclocross-style. The skinny, flexible frame paired with fatty cross-tires and platform pedals makes the perfect semi-trail/winter commuter. I used the inside 40T ring of the original crank setup for an all-around setup with a 16 or 17T rear cog…perfect! I can go up almost every (non-technical) hill I’ve encountered and like the guy above said, you really have to keep your head screwed on tight for any bit of technicality in DH, but it is entirely plausible with a proper set-up. I’m planning on building a fully rigid 29er next with a fixed-free, flip-flop hub, short crank arms, midge bars and the fattest tires possible. What I already know for sure about mtn biking fixed is that you must master the power-skid and the skid-hop techniques, and of course it will help to be able to cat-walk (manual). :-)

    There’s not a better feeling (actually there may be a couple non-bike related ones:-) than flying down a trail, pedals a blazin’, sweat a flyin’ and legs a pumpin’ and then to just lock that rear wheel up and power-skid around a corner!

  10. Tyler says:

    One other thing… the bike pictured above looks fine for semi-trail riding, but surely isn’t set-up for serious trail riding. One thin that I’ve notice is that a lowered seat is essential to proper body positioning. Unlike a freewheel set-up where you can sit and coast, you must always be pedalling and thus in order to move the bike beneath you (cornering, jumping etc) you can’t have that seat hindering your (often bow-legged) fixed stance.
    Just an idea.

  11. Dave says:

    I’ve been riding strictly fixed gear mtb since 2005…I did as a way to change things up, I find myself to be more involved with whats around me while riding my fixie; Redline Monocog 29er. Give it a go, you won’t regret it!

  12. marshall richards says:

    If anyone knows where to find a rear wheel for a fixie mountain bike, please let me know. It seems to be a pretty rare item

  13. blair says:

    this sounds like exactly what you want.
    Paul’s fixed/Disk WORD

  14. Teej says:

    hey, i have a huffy mountain bike frame that id love to turn into a fixed gear. i found some 27” road wheels. and i guess what im wondering is if what i am trying to do is possible…?

  15. Mr.Bee says:

    I’m riding a fixed mountain bike now just got into fixed gear bikes in Nov. got a little board on the streets and after seeing some of the videos on youtube for fixed mtb I had to make a video. Made this a few days ago, more to come-

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