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How to Climb up Hills on A Fixie (9 Riding Technique Tips)

Going up hills on a fixed gear bike is not impossible. In this article, you will learn some tips to help you climb up hills on a fixie.

Image of a road cyclist climbing a hill near the forest. Source: Viktor Bystrov, Unsplash
Image of a road cyclist climbing a hill near the forest. Source: Viktor Bystrov, Unsplash

One of the most challenging aspects of riding a fixed-gear bike is climbing hills. It might be challenging with just one gear, but it is not impossible. But if you are a newbie, you might wonder, how do you climb a hill on a fixie?

To effectively climb a hill on a fixie, practice on a level surfaceattack it at full speed, use your pedal straps for more upstroke power, and try to climb the hill in a zigzag pattern. If that doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to just walk it out. 

But there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in this article, you will learn tips to help you climb a hill on a fixie.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 14, 2022, to include additional information regarding cycling up hills.

Before learning how to climb hills on a fixie, let’s first see if it might be challenging to ride a fixie up a hill.

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Is it hard to ride a fixie uphill?

Yes, it can be hard to ride a fixie uphill. A fixie is a bicycle with no gears, so you must pedal with your feet to move forward. This can be a little bit tricky when you’re trying to ride up a steep climb since your bike will weigh a lot more than when you are riding it downhill.

How to ride up a hill on a fixed-gear bike?

To ride a fixie uphill, you must first ensure that you have the strength, stamina, and mental fortitude to reach the summit. In addition, ensuring your bike is properly maintained and has a reasonable gear ratio will be very beneficial. But as far as riding technique goes, here are nine tips to help you climb a hill on a fixie.

  1. Practice often.

    Get acclimated to the sensation of riding a fixie bike. Climbing a hill on a geared bike is a whole different experience. Improve your confidence and physical strength by riding often. Ride a lot, and you will get better. You won’t even realize that you’re working harder, but your fitness level will rise swiftly.

  2. Visualize the ride

    If you don’t believe you can climb that hill, then you probably can’t, so make sure to visualize your success. Make a mental map of your route before you start your bike. Consider how exhilarating it will be to reach the top of any hill and how strong your legs will feel as you do so.

  3. Go fast up the hill right away.

    Attacking the hill is the most effective approach to climbing up a hill on a fixed gear. Try to reach a sustainable speed on the flat portions of a hill or the flat stretch before the climb. This will improve your cadence and get you in the swing of things as you ascend the slope. 

    Maintain your cadence as much as possible because it is much more challenging to regain your cadence if you slow down. Cadence is essential. If you lose it, you may have to crawl up the slope, so strive for steady power output and hit the hill hard from the start.

    Image of the steep hills of San Francisco.

  4. Prepare for discomfort when climbing the hill

    Fixed gear riders don’t have the luxury of changing into a lower gear to maintain their cadence on fixed gear bikes. This means you’ll have to ride off the saddle* and stand on the pedals for most of the ascent.

    As you get out of this saddle, put as much weight as possible on your front tire. Taking your weight off the back wheel makes it simpler to spin and keeps your cadence consistent.

    Rock your bike from side to side throughout each pedal stroke while out of the saddle. This will enable you to exert greater force with each pedal stroke while maintaining cadence.
    Whether you’re in or out of the saddle, utilize your foot retention to your advantage and pull as much as you can on the upstrokes. There will be much climbing out of the saddle with just one gear.

  5. Use your pedal straps for more power

    If you’re riding a fixed-gear bike, you’d better have pedal straps. They don’t just help you control your fixie; they also help you climb hills. The reason is that they allow you to put pressure on the upstroke and the downstroke. This allows you to take full advantage of your leg power. Without pedal straps, you’ll only be able to apply pressure on the downstroke. Once you get some pedal straps and try to climb hills, you’ll never go back, guaranteed.

    If you’re looking for a sweet pair of pedal straps, check out a few options below.

  6. Use your full strength

    Your whole body will have to work hard to keep up with the demands of single-speed hill climbing. You’ll need to use your core and upper body muscles in addition to your legs to get the most out of your workout. If you are having trouble, try pushing yourself up the slope by pulling the handlebars closer to your body.

    Never stop training your body. For example, on days when your legs are resting, you may try performing leg strength training instead of cycling.

  7. Zigzag up the hill for more control

    A zigzag pattern on your bike can help you climb quicker. Although zigzagging adds to the overall distance up the hill, it reduces the gradience of the slope. This is especially handy during the most challenging stages of the climb. A word of caution: don’t make a fool of yourself while utilizing this strategy. Keep an eye out for traffic.

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  8. Choose the proper gears ratio

    Make sure that your bike is set up in a manner that will help you while you’re climbing a hill in one gear. This is where the gear ratio you choose is critical. The gear ratio affects how hard the bike will be to ride up hills. In general, the more teeth on the rear sprocket you have, the simpler it will be to climb hills. Check out our full article on gear ratio to learn more.

  9. If all else fails, just walk it out

    Don’t try to overexert yourself. There’s no shame in walking up a hill if you don’t yet have it in you to bike all the way. Lots of cyclists don’t. And the hill might just be un-cycle-able. Better safe than sorry. If you can’t make it up the hill, don’t force it. Try it again next time, or don’t. Either way, no shame.

How do you make riding up hills easier?

The best way to make riding up hills easier will vary depending on your riding style and terrain. Try practicing gradually, wearing a helmet, and carrying a water bottle on long rides to stay hydrated.

You can also use gears that are better for climbing hills and try to use your brakes less often. This will help reduce slipping and loss of grip.

If you want to see an example of this in action, watch this video on climbing hills and mountains on a fixed-gear bike from the Zach Gallardo YouTube Channel.

A video called “How to Climb on a Fixed Gear” from Zach Gallardo YouTube Channel.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding how to climb hills on a fixie.

Are fixie bikes hard to ride uphill?

To be able to ride a fixie uphill, you must first ensure that you have the strength, stamina, and mental fortitude to get to the summit. This isn’t going to happen quickly; you’ll have to work hard to get the fitness you’ll need to become a competent hill climber.

How do you ride a fixie uphill?

Generally, you would ride a fixie uphill the same way you ride one down—by pedaling. However, because the slope of the hill is greater, the bike will require more power to stay in control and will slow down more quickly. So, if you are struggling to ride uphill, it may be best to avoid that area or find another way to get to your destination.

What is the best riding position for riding uphill?

Cyclists perform best when they can discover and maintain a rhythm. By remaining seated while riding uphill, you may go a little slower, but you should be able to maintain a consistent cadence for a longer time. Standing up disrupts your rhythm quickly.

Conclusion

Everyone loves going downhill, but as a fixie rider, you need to be physically and mentally prepared for the challenge of climbing a steep hill. You won’t become a competent hill climber overnight; you’ll have to put in the time and effort to get to that fitness level. Climbing up hills and mountains on a fixed-gear bike is difficult. Even on a single-speed bike, it’s no walk in the park. But, with these tips, it can be done, and you might even enjoy it.

This article covered five tips to help you conquer a hill on a fixie. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Practice on a level surface.
  • Go fast up the hill right away.
  • Keep a good pace and pay attention to your pacing.
  • Prepare for discomfort when climbing the hill.
  • Use your pedal straps for more power.
  • Use your full strength.
  • Zigzag up the hill for more control.
  • Choose the proper gear ratio.
  • If all else fails, just walk it out.
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So, are you a hill climber, or is that not your thing? Let us know in the comments below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on everything fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

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Written by Bradly Knight

As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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