The Fixie – Pros and Cons



Bicycle IllustrationGuest post from Lance Rand.

When looking to buy a bike and you ask the opinion of a lot of your friends, chances are you’ll be left with two basic choices: fixed gear or not. If you have a few friends who own a fixie, you’ll find that some of them will have a lot of good things to say about it and a lot of nasty things to say about the geared bikes and vice-versa. Most times, though, the fixed-gear get a lot more hate than their geared counterparts, but this shouldn’t affect the decision of someone who is looking to get into biking.

The primary reasons why fixies are hated is because most of those who own them are hipsters. It’s a paradox: everybody hates hipsters because not hating them is too mainstream. On the other side of the spectrum, fixies are used in track racing. This is due to the fact that the rider kicking speed directly translates into the bike’s speed.

Those who understand how bikes are built know that the fixie is disadvantageous in a lot more ways. For instance, fixed gear bikes are not ideal for areas where there’s at least a 20-degree in all roads. An uphill climb is virtually impossible with a fixie unless every gym day of yours is leg day. Another thing about fixies is that some of them have no breaks, which is just plain dangerous.

The term fixie is a tricky term, too. Fixies are pretty much single-speed bikes, with the pedal needing to be constantly moving if the wheels are moving. There are single-speed bikes, however, that come with a flip-flop hub. This allows the user to switch to freewheel mode and coast – something that a traditional fixie can’t do.

With its disadvantages, the fixie also has a lot of advantages. For one, there are no complex mechanisms attached to the bike. This results to the bike being a little lighter and easier to maneuver for beginners. Stripped to its basic parts, the fixed-gear bike is also a lot easier to clean, repair, and maintain. Since its speed is directly up to its user, the fixie also makes for a harder exercise. Finally, fixies come quite cheaper than their geared cousins.

All in all, though, the choice will be up to you. Why would you choose a fixie over the other? Why not? For that, I’ll leave a childhood story of mine.

When I was a kid, I had no knowledge of bikes at all. My friends had them, and I borrowed theirs from time to time. I would just hop on one of their bikes and stroll around town. I didn’t care whether it was fixed-gear or not.

Now, not caring what bike I was using is an attitude I carry to this day. As long as I could ride a bike, I was happy. Why not try this for yourself as well? Instead of hearing people argue about which bikes are good, try to determine which one is good for you. Try out different types of bikes and see which ones you’re most comfortable with.

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Author’s Bio:
Lance Rand is an amateur biker with an eye on fixed gear and Italian-made bikes that can sometimes be seen on the streets of Sydney. His passion got him into a freelancing gig writing blogs for Chappelli – Australia’s premier online retailer of the fixie.


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6 thoughts on “The Fixie – Pros and Cons

  • Luis Bernhardt

    Dumb article, Lance Rand is totally clueless. I’m not a hipster, just a former track racer (40+ years racing). I ride just my fixie now. I’ve finished Paris-Brest-Paris & London-Edinburgh-London on it, as well as a number of climbs, including Haleakala on Maui, all on the fixie. Mr. Rand knows nothing about fixies.

    • Peter Reynolds Post author

      Hi Luis,

      Thanks for your post.

      I don’t think Lance is saying everybody who rides fixie is a hipster. As he mentions, fixed gear is used in racing – so it makes perfect sense for you to continue to use what you know and like.

      I think the point he’s trying to make is, that there is certainly a hipster-fixie correlation – particularly amongst younger/newer riders, which in turn creates a stigma surrounding fixies, regardless of whether it is justified or not.

      As with most things in life, there are pros and cons – something he’s attempted to cover in this post.

      Thanks,
      Pete

  • Fixie Convert

    I rode my trusty 10 speed vintage road bike for many a year until a recent mishap resulted in a sheered head tube and a search for new wheels. The search ended up being a long one, and in the meantime a generous friend gifted me the use of their “backup” bike – an SF-made fixed gear track bike. I’ll admit, at first I was resistant to the idea of fixed gear riding. I live in a moderately hilly metropolis so my immediate response to the offer of the gift was “but what about the hills??” *cue expression of consternation* “Just try it…” he said.
    My next argument “but what about coasting??” was met with a gentle insistent request that I try it out, and if I didn’t like it, I could simply return it. Well, the search stretched out from one month to two, then two to six, and now, three years later I am still riding the same fixed gear track bike and I LOVE IT.
    Don’t count something out before you try it- regardless of fixed gear cycling’s negative public perception, or any preconceived notions you might have – it is an incredibly versatile, easy and liberating way to experience riding and city life. I wouldn’t trade back for gears for anything!

  • Ray Dobson

    Well, I definitely have to agree with many aspects of the article and the comments. I myself have been riding for two years, both fixed and freewheel (road, to be specific). Although the road bike is so much easier to use, I have to say that there is something appealing about the fixed gear that draws me in every time. I have an old beat up purefix bicycle and have swapped in components here and there. In fact, I have to agree with many people that the bike truly is just a means of transport, it doesn’t have to be a social status.
    Many of the kids at my school purchase these super expensive bikes from Cinelli and Bianchi and upgrade it to the max with SRAM and Omnium cranks and Fi’zi:k saddles. Furthermore, I hate how these “hipsters” have transformed the true meaning of cycling and how its become a social status. If it’s comfortable and it gets you around, then go for it.

    • Peter Reynolds Post author

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks for your comment. I personally prefer freewheel, but I too can understand the appeal of fixed gear.

      I don’t think Hipsters are necessarily changing the meaning of cycling. It’s simply a fashion accessory for them.

      The hipster movement will change/dilute/end in a couple of years, but bikes will remain and hopefully more people will see it as a genuinely great mode of transport – particularly in urban areas. The more people that cycle, the better – regardless of who they are.

      Pete