Fixie For You

Are you aware of the difference in single speed bikes? The difference between a one speed bike like the one you grew up with, and the bike they call a fixie?

With the advent of all the multi-speed bikes that have been all the rage since the dérailleur became a mass market fixture, we are all used to riding a bike that allows us to free wheel, to rest our feet on the unmoving pedals, or even spin them backward in a zen move, while the bike coasts down the road. There is no ability to brake with the pedals on a free wheel bike.

Summer_Cycling_Venice_BeachBack in the day your bike would coast down the street and when you wanted to slow down you would just apply some backward pressure on the pedals and everything just kind of took care of itself. Of course you only had back brakes available, and technically the brakes on your road bike were better because you were braking both wheels. But the act of using your hands to run the brakes had some downsides. while your feet are always on the pedals, your hands are not always in a place where activating the brake levers is easy. Add in the fact that it is possible to over brake the front wheel with predictable disastrous results.

So maybe the idea of having a simple old bike just like the one you used to own has become an attractive one for you. And with good reason. You are no longer constrained by societies need to see you as a high achieving go for broke sports person. You can now just enjoy biking the way you want to. Just enjoy the simple pleasure of hopping on an uncomplicated one speed bike, no fussing with finding the right gear for the situation.

But if you make the mistake of buying yourself a fixie road bike, you might have a surprise in your future. The first time you go to rest your feet on the pedals for a relaxing coast down hill you will discover just what the difference is. With a fixie bike, when the wheels are turning, the pedals are turning. It may be the simplest of all mechanisms for propelling a bike. Just like the tricycle you had when you were even younger, you move your feet when you want to go and you move your feet slower if you want to slow down.

Of course this makes for a bike that is definitely not like th bike you had in your youth. Instead of braking with your feet you once again be using hand brakes. The action of trying to bake a bike by slowing down the pedals is an unworkable one. It just can’t be done in most cases. It invites a disaster of its own.

So while there are true aficionados who want the direct simplicity of a fixie bike, unless you have a specific reason for buying one, stay away.

Get a single speed cruiser for running around town and for occasional rides through the country. Relearn how to just enjoy the bike ride for a bike ride and not a chore that will take you a step along the path towards fitness.