There is a new world opening up for cycling enthusiasts everywhere as the fixed-gear bike, or “fixie” as they are affectionately known, is becoming more and more a popular. Incredibly basic, the fixed-gear bike is stripped back to its core making cycling simple again. But is it right for you?
Fixed gear bikes are stripped back to basic mechanisms – if you pedal to go forward the bike will go forward, and if you pedal to go backwards then the bike will go backwards – it really is that basic. So what makes them great and why are they becoming such a hot new trend?
A fixie brings a whole new experience to the world of biking – an added thrill of excitement. For example, with a normal cycle, if you want to stop you pull the brake lever. With a fixie you have to work it out and discover the best way to stop without brakes. Here are some of the key reasons why a fixie might be the bike for you:
Very low maintenance
The simple design means there are fewer moving parts and fewer mechanisms to go wrong which makes fixies far more durable and easy to maintain than regular bikes. You don’t have to worry so much about everything because there is so little that could go wrong.
Fixies are more portable
Fixed-gear bikes are far more lightweight than regular bikes making them much easier to travel with or to carry, or store in a small place. They are easier to have on bike racks with less impact on your car and easier to store in hallways or carry on trains.
You can install a change hub
Because fixie bikes are so simple it’s easy to add in a change hub which converts your fixie into a free-wheeling bike so you have a choice of riding options now.
You can buy a fixie with brakes
The idea of riding without brakes at all can be incredibly scary but there are fixies out there which do have brakes at the front, for those who prefer to have an ounce of safety installed.
They are very customisable
It’s easy to customise a fixie bike and a culture around making your fixie bike an expression of you has started among owners of these cycles.
You burn more calories
If you are riding a regular bike you can coast so often that you don’t actually burn any energy and the addition of gears means you work even less. Riding a fixie makes you work much harder so if you want to lose weight and get fit, this is the bike choice for you.
More ways to ride
Riding a fixed-gear bicycle is a totally different experience as you can do so many things that you can’t do with a regular bike including riding backwards and a whole variety of tricks and turns which are impossible on a normal cycle.
Cheaper to look after
Due to the lack of parts and mechanisms to break down or need replacing, managing and looking after a fixie is going to be a lot cheaper than the regular maintenance of an ordinary cycle so you will end up saving money.
If you are happy riding a normal bike then a fixie isn’t for you, and it really is aimed at people who want to try new things and be a little adventurous. If you want to get to new places and ride in a totally different way then a fixed-gear bike is a great choice.
However, if you are used to a regular cycle riding routine and are quite happy with that then don’t try a fixie as it will not be a good experience and might end up being more scary than anything else and actually put you off cycling.
If you are thinking about buying a fixed-gear bike for the cost savings but you are not really the adventurous kind, then you are probably better off just buying a second-hand regular bicycle instead.
However, if you are now fixated on trying a fixed-gear bicycle then why not try hiring one to see how you get along – and if you don’t always want to ride fixed, remember you can get the hub which changes to free-wheel.
Or why not enjoy the best of both worlds and simply add a fixie to your bike collection so that you only take it out to the places where you really feel comfortable and are happy to take a few more risks than you would with your regular road bike. Then you can keep the road bike for the rest of the time or for journeys where you prefer the safety and comfort of regular brakes and gears.