Why ride a fixed-gear bike – City Bicycle Co.

Why ride a fixed-gear bike

Posted by Terence Custodia on

 

What if I told you about a bike that doesn't have a freewheel to coast, only works on a single gear and doesn't have brakes? You would probably think buying such a bike is a huge mistake. Well what is a "fixed-gear" bike exactly?


A fixed gear bike otherwise known as a fixie is essentially a bike simplified to it's core mechanisms. The pedals literally move with the wheels, so if you pedal forward you move forward. If you pedal backwards you move back because the wheels move with the pedals no matter what because it's "fixed," hence the term fixed-gear.


Perhaps having such a basic bike is ill-conceived. In fact, that was my immediate thought when I first encountered these fixed-gear bikes. But there was an element of intrigue...why is it so popular. What is the point of a fixed gear bike? There is an entire underground culture loyal to fixed gear biking. It's like seeing an ugly guy with a hot girl - you have take a closer look. You start looking for clues, to unlock the secret as to why something seemingly bad at first glance is capable of achieving something great. 

Discover a new world
So basically my first opinion of singlespeed bikes wasn't exactly positive. But I kept looking. It was like being immersed in a good book, I couldn't stop. And then it happened. I realized that there was an entire world to be explored, a vast untapped perspective to ponder. If you've encountered profound life experiences that go beyond face value, you begin to understand why a seeming downgrade may actually be an upgrade when you give it a closer look.

A good example of that would be jogging outside. Why on earth you ever want to go out and potentially get run over by a car, get eaten by a mountain lion or make an awkward eye contact with a person you've been avoiding. Why do all that if you can just stay in the safety of your own home away from any kind of dangerous vehicles or animals?

The reason
The reason is discovery. We are all built with this inherent need to discover our world, to discover ourselves and discover the meaning as to why we do the things we do. There is more to life than just walls, pretty things that glow in the dark, reports, grades, money and fear.

There is a disconnect
What does this have to do with fixie bicycle you say? Let me compare this to regular bike. I have nothing against regular bikes they are great products, they are easy and they get the job done. But similar to how convenient and easy treadmills are, there is this seeming disconnect. A disconnect to the entire experience that it feels like a chore you simply go through the motions just to get it over with.
Typical is not enough
Perhaps its because its typical. Nothing unexpected will happen, you are just there riding along so you dumb down your senses along with your presence of mind. We want something different. Something of our own. We want to discover the world our own unique way. Like a made up tune we want to hum along the world with our own unique set of melodies wide-awake, aware and unique.

Safety can be dangerous
There is also something to be explored about the complete lack of danger. We get lazy, careless and scared of unexpected adventures. A good amount of danger keeps us aware. Aware in a way that lets us enjoy the discovery of the small aspects of life we otherwise would take for granted. With a regular bike you simply pulled a lever to stop. With a fixie you practiced, you think hard and you took it upon yourself to risk falling and now you have managed to stop without the dependence on brakes. It's a discovery of what you can do.

There is meaning
And with this little added spice in your daily routine, things aren't simply a random occurring event in your series of endless days similar from the one that preceded it but an actual experience with meaning. You discover your world and it has meaning. You discover your city.
Practicality
Of course, what is a world without practicality. Fixie bikes aren't as impractical and dangerous as people tend to assume it to be. They have many practical advantages that any smart individual should highly consider. Here are the reasons why you should ride a fixed gear road bike:

1. LOW MAINTENANCE DUE TO SIMPLICITY 

Due to their durability and relatively maintenance-free nature, there was an influx of bike messengers who turned to single-speed fix geared bikes for dependable hassle-free riding. Here is a very interesting account about this affair with fixies by Graham White, who worked as bike messenger in Dublin. This love for single gear bikes continued to spread not only among messengers but largely leisure riders and bike enthusiasts leading to the current subculture of fixed gear riders today.

This durability is due to the simple design of fixed-gear bicycles. Fewer moving parts means there are less mechanisms that could go haywire and break. And if something does break, it is easier to repair and replace. Fixed gear vs multi gear is usually a matter of personal preference and biking style, but singlespeed biking has a lot of huge advantages, durability and low maintenance is just one of them.

 

 

2. YOU DON'T HAVE TO RIDE FIXED ALL THE TIME

Are fixie bikes hard to ride? The simplicity of a singlespeed bike, without all the extra parts such as derailleurs, made it easier to incorporate features such as a flip flop hub. A flip flop hub enables the bike owner to pick between riding fixed or free wheel by simply flipping the rear wheel over, hence the name. Citybicycleco bikes do have this feature making it even easier for newer riders to slowly assimilate into the fixed-gear riding style. Riding fixed gear vs freewheel is no longer an issue.

3. LIGHT WEIGHT MAKES TRAVEL EASIER

Less parts also mean less weight. Fixies are easier to carry up a flight of stairs, easier to move along tight hallways, easier to store and essentially more convenient to move around. The reduced weight is also why fixed gear bikes are better for bike racks. The reduced weight means the bike doesn't alter the handling of your car as much and puts less stress on equipment making it less likely you'll see your bike go tumbling in the freeway.

 

4. MORE CUSTOMIZABLE

With lesser parts to get in the way, customizing fixed-gear bicycles is easier and certainly more fun. A large customization sub-culture has sprung up around fixed gear customization. It not only gives the rider a durable and convenient way to travel, it has now become a distinguished way to express one's individuality and creativity.

5. FIXIES DO HAVE A FRONT BREAK

Riding brakeless is not for the average rider, which is why our fixies come with front brakes. It's just like teaching a young eaglet how to fly. You don't want him to take a leap of faith right off the bat, you want him to practice his flapping skills and get used to cruising through the air in safety.

If you always want to use brakes that is perfectly fine with us, in fact most riders prefer to use brakes. However, there is a small but vocal subset of fixed-gear riders that swear riding without brakes, so if you ever feel like spreading your might wings and going brakeless (make sure it's not illegal in your area), citybicycleco will be the wind beneath your wings (wipes tears of joy). Ahem. Next.

6. FIXIES ARE FASHION TREND-SETTERS

Less parts cluttering the frame and wheels makes fixed gear bikes easier on the eyes. Due to their aesthetic superiority to other types of bikes, a lot of riders buy fixies for their stylish look. Frames have a lot of color selection and you can even buy wheelsets of varying colors.

7. MORE EFFICIENT TRANSFER OF ENERGY

 According to fixed-gear expert Sheldon Brown, a fixed gear bike on the same gear as a multi speed bike is more efficient. A fixed gear drivetrain is kinetically superior to other bicycle drivetrain because there is more direct transfer of energy from the rider to the wheel. This efficiency is the reason why singlespeed bikes are staple in velodrome racing and track racing.

8. SUPERB FOR FITNESS

If you plan on losing weight riding typical a bicycle, you might as well not bother. Coasting allows you to just sit there 90 percent of the time. Add the capability to change gears and you are absolutely burning no calories.That's similar to signing up to beginner yoga class only doing corpse pose and happy baby pose and expecting to lose weight. In all seriousness, running is the best activity to lose weight. If you want to change it up by riding a bicycle, you have to ride singlespeed. It will revolutionize your fitness lifestyle more than anything you can imagine. Buy a bike rack and make it a group effort and you just opened up a whole new world of healthy living, travel and discovery.

 

9. OPENS A NEW WORLD

One rewarding advantage of a fixed-gear bike is that it can perform many things a freewheel rider can only dream of doing. Backwards pedaling, track stands, bunny hops, skid tops and even wheelies are some of the new things you can add to your biking repertoire if you are using a fixed gear bike.

 

Fixed-gear bikes are not for everyone

Obviously you'd think I'm trying to convince you that fixed gear bikes are the greatest thing since sliced bread. I mean let's be honest, we are in a fixed-gear website, so you'd probably think I would be all for it.

But let me tell you the truth. Fixed gear bikes are not for everyone. It's not for people who are satisfied with a typical bike, you are better off buying a cheap bike off of your nearest retail store. It's not for people who don't like new experiences, you are better off doing the same thing you've been doing. There are just some people who will hate a fixed gear bicycle.

But I will tell you who it is for. It's for you. It's for me. It's for those who want something new. It's for those who seek to break the maddening grind of the mundane, to expand one's horizons towards potentially untold stories waiting to be explored.

People spend their lives and their fortunes seeking experiences that will change their lives. In business economics there is this concept called value proposition. It's a promise of value or experience to be delivered in the future. An exotic car, for example, seeks to project a huge value proposition to justify it's high price. A one-time use item like a cotton bud would be seen as relatively low value.

Now let's explore this concept. A multi-billionaire on his death-bed will most likely spend his entire fortune for a small drop of medicine that can extend his life. Alternatively a starving beggar will not spend a single dime on a Bugatti if he can spend it on a loaf of bread. Different people find different value propositions for different types of products. Life after all is an existential struggle to improve one's experience. People, whether they know it or not, spend money, risk their lives, break bonds and face challenges just so they can discover that one thing they are looking for.

What do you seek

What are you looking for? Do you want the same exact experience? Do you want to ride a bike just to ride a bike, then just buy a typical bike. But if you want something different, if you want a bike that has strides as meaningful and unique as your own distinct daily struggles, with scratches and dents as meaningful as your scars, with upgrades and customization as meaningful as your personal milestones, then a fixed-gear bike is the only bike for you.

 

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