Fixed gear Mounting/Dismounting Technique

Swobo Sanchez
I ride my Swobo Sanchez to work at least once a week, being a bike tester I have to switch bikes often. Riding a fixed gear bike takes a little be of a different mindset and a few ‘habits’ to break. I occasionally try to coast, but not as often as I used to, but I need more improvement on my mounting/dismounting technique. Here’s what Sheldon Brown has to say:

Mounting Technique

Riding a fixed-gear bicycle requires proper mounting technique. Many cyclists have bad mounting habits, such as swinging the leg over on-the-fly, or starting up by shuffling their feet against the pavement. These techniques work even worse on a fixed-gear bicycle than they do on a freewheel machine.

Getting your first pedal into the proper forward-and-up position is a bit trickier with a fixed gear, since you can’t just spin the pedals backward. The trick is to put your foot on the pedal, then lift the rear end of the bicycle up so that you can turn the pedals.

I used to lift the bicycle up by the edge of the saddle, but I damaged a Brooks Pro that way–the rivets that held the leather top to the saddle frame pulled out from being stressed in this un-anticipated direction!

My friend Osman Isvan recently taught me a much better technique: The trick is to straddle the bike, put one foot on a pedal, lock up the front brake and press forward on the handlebars. The forward force on the bars will lift the rear wheel enough to let you revolve the pedal to where you want it.

Dismount Technique

You can dismount in the normal manner from a fixed-gear bicycle, but advanced fixed-gear riders might enjoy learning a special, very cool-looking dismount that can only be done from a fixed gear:

Instead of getting off to the side of the bicycle, the fixed-gear rider can go straight off the back. This technique works best if you ride with clips & straps, but if you are really proficient in disengaging from clipless pedals, try it at your own risk.

As the bicycle slows to near walking speed, disengage your left foot, then wait for the right pedal to get to the bottom of its circle. As the right pedal starts to rise, straighten your right leg and let the motion of the pedal lift you up. Let go of the handlebars, let the saddle move forward between your legs, and put your left foot on the ground. As the bike goes ahead, grab it by the saddle.

It takes a bit of courage to try this, but it is actually very easy to do. It is also extremely impressive to watch. When executed properly, it is very smooth, and you can go from riding to walking in a single fluid motion, without ever coming to a stop.

Interestingly, I found this video of Nick James demonstrating the one of the latter ways of dismounting from a fixie:

Any other tips on how to mount/dismount from a fixed gear bike?

5 Comments

  1. James Park July 5, 2007 8:57 am 

    Have you read this site?

    http://www.63xc.com/gregg/101_1.htm

    It gives a lot of good tips, including how to mount and dismount a fixed-gear bicycle.

  2. Noah July 5, 2007 11:06 am 

    I don’t ride a fixie, but I don’t often coast on my road bike. The main exception is when reaching for my water bottle. Does anyone have a video of executing this feat on a fixie?

  3. RL Policar July 5, 2007 11:18 am 

    Noah,

    There’s nothing different about it on a fixie. Just reach down while you pedal and hydrate!

  4. Nick July 5, 2007 12:53 pm 

    Hey, my dismount! I do that constantly, and it’s actually way, way easier on a bike that coasts, cause you don’t have to wait until the pedals get to the right position. This also makes it easy to do it at high speed, which is dangerous and funny.

    Another dismount technique that I haven’t mastered is to unclip, straighten your leg on the upstroke with your other foot off the pedal, let the rotation push you way up so that your free leg can clear your saddle around to the other side, and then sidestep off the bike.

  5. Bike Commuters » Blog Archive » Fixed Gear Friday! July 5, 2007 6:19 pm 

    […] did a post talking about the various styles of mounting and dismounting a fixie. So I decided to create a little video and show everyone how I do things. I do like how Nick James […]

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