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Umm...fixies...why?

FeynmanCFeynmanC Posts: 649
edited September 2009 in Commuting chat
No, seriously, I'm not sure I get the reason behind fixies.

I tried a spin class ages ago, which was on a bike where the pedals kept going if I stopped spinning. I found as I flagged my legs would slow and i'd end up almost chucked over the bars onto the floor :oops:

So, I really don't get it. Fixie lovers, sell your passion to an interested person.
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  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    They look lovely.

    They provide a training effect because you can't just select a comfy gear, which is a boon to complacency. You have to attack hills, push hard away from the lights, and there is a clear strengthening effect.

    There's less to have to maintain on the bike, and their cheaper for the same reason.

    How's that to start with?
  • All good points, which I kinda get.

    Am I right thinking that a fixed gear is just that - you roll the wheel and the pedals rotate too, as opposed to a single gear, which has a freewheel still?

    It's the non-freewheel bit that I don't really get, do you just have to keep up with the speed of the wheel and maintain it building your endurance or do you take your feet off and go Wheeeee!!! down hills?
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  • Yeah freewheels for sensible folk,
    fixed for nutters/hipsters/luddites etc. :D
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  • _Brun__Brun_ Posts: 1,740
    But Blondie, that applies equally to all single-speed bikes.

    I rode mine on a freewheel for a few months but switched it to fixed to see what all the fuss was about, despite being pretty sceptical.

    I'm happy to admit that I find practical advantages difficult to list, but it's equally hard to describe the buzz you get from having such subtle control of your bike purely through the pedals.

    Also, skidding is cool. Especially so in response to a request to do so from a complete stranger.
  • MrChuckMrChuck Posts: 1,663
    biondino wrote:
    They look lovely.

    They provide a training effect because you can't just select a comfy gear, which is a boon to complacency. You have to attack hills, push hard away from the lights, and there is a clear strengthening effect.

    There's less to have to maintain on the bike, and their cheaper for the same reason.

    How's that to start with?

    I'm with the OP a bit here. All the above are fine (and are more or less why I converted my commuter to SS), but don't they apply equally well to singlespeeds? What's the fixed bit giving you?

    Not having a go, genuine question.
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    I guess the way I see it is that if you have a freewheel you may as well just ride your geared bike and not change gear. The *silence* of a well-maintained fixie is an absolute joy, as well.

    Downhill - I'd strongly advise not taking your feet off the pedals as it wobbles like a censored , as I discovered at 30mph in the Hyde Park Corner underpass :shock:
  • But on a fixie, you can do no-hand track stands. And that's cool for cats. 8)
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    You can do tricks on a fixed! And trackstand more easily. Not that I can do either of course. And then there's the flywheel effect, which is pretty small really as the wheel probably only weighs a kilo.
  • biondino wrote:
    I guess the way I see it is that if you have a freewheel you may as well just ride your geared bike and not change gear. The *silence* of a well-maintained fixie is an absolute joy, as well.

    Eh? But that removes the whole point of less maintenance etc. Also my SS is totally silent, unless I'm freewheeling, which I don't do an awful lot... unless I'm keeping pace wit any of the SCR fixed crew :wink:
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    On the Strand
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  • _Brun__Brun_ Posts: 1,740
    Ah, I've thought of a proper advantage! It improves your pedalling technique at high cadences.

    Did I mention you can do skids?
  • DO A SKID
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  • _Brun__Brun_ Posts: 1,740
    I can't watch that video again. It makes me sick with envy.
  • The best skids were with my little bro's back-pedal brake BXM when we were kids.

    You could go 360 degrees and leave a circle of rubber burned into the road :twisted:
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  • My commute recently doubled from 6 to 12 miles, I mothballed my fixie and resurrected a winter hack with gears as I thought it would be too far for the fixie. After 3 weeks on the geared bike I really miss the fixie and may spend this weekend fettling it up so it can be reinstated.
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  • mooniomoonio Posts: 802
    Wow that vid was amazing, I was just waiting for him to ride up a vertical wall, then I'd be totally sold!
  • _Brun_ wrote:
    I can't watch that video again. It makes me sick with envy.

    He's a fcukin genius.
    2015 Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Inflite SL 7
    On the Strand
    Crown Stables
  • FeynmanC wrote:
    So, I really don't get it. Fixie lovers, sell your passion to an interested person.

    Have a look at:

    http://www.angelfire.com/ca6/solovelo/WhyRideFixedGear.html

    ...basically: it's fun... but the minimalist, lightweight, low-maintenance aspect certainly adds to the appeal.

    Cheers,
    W. [fixies off the road at the moment (knackered rear hubs), riding broken bike instead :-( ]
  • Harry182 wrote:

    Whilst it's a cool vid (and a very good rider) for sure, none if this is "fixie only". All of that can be done of a freewheel. Also, what's the deal with skids!? On On a freewheel wouldn't you have a.....BRAKE!
  • I Have to say I can't do any of the tricks, but I know the riding fixed has made me much stronger and I think it has improved my pedalling technique.

    My main reason for having a go was the maintenance issue. All it takes now is the odd wipe down with a cloth and a bit of oil. Commuting on my good road bike meant I was forever maintaining it, and that was not popular with the family.

    I wouldn't commute any other way now, there is a certain sense of freedom about riding fixed, it makes you feel more connected to the bike in some way.
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  • Harry182 wrote:

    Whilst it's a cool vid (and a very good rider) for sure, none if this is "fixie only". All of that can be done of a freewheel. Also, what's the deal with skids!? On On a freewheel wouldn't you have a.....BRAKE!

    Surely that's the point, it's far harder to do what he was doing with a Fixed...
    2015 Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX
    2020 Canyon Inflite SL 7
    On the Strand
    Crown Stables
  • Harry182 wrote:

    Whilst it's a cool vid (and a very good rider) for sure, none if this is "fixie only". All of that can be done of a freewheel. Also, what's the deal with skids!? On On a freewheel wouldn't you have a.....BRAKE!

    Surely that's the point, it's far harder to do what he was doing with a Fixed...

    Well in that case, why is it an advertisement for the merits of a fixed wheel bike? Or was it simply a cool vid!?
  • Greg TGreg T Posts: 3,266
    bigease wrote:
    Commuting on my good road bike meant I was forever maintaining it, .

    I was forever having to clean the mech on my road bike, almost every week in winter when the crud is flying.

    I can go six weeks withoyut anything other than a manday tyre check and oiling.

    Also - I can trackstand a fixed and don't have to put my foot down (cough - often)
    Fixed gear for wet weather / hairy roadie for posing in the sun.

    What would Thora Hurd do?
  • It was a cool vid...
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  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    Oh - another thing. Riding fixed brings added issues to commuting, which may at first seem negative - as well as the potential problems with hills, you have to keep in mind a longer stopping distance, an inability to freewheel over obstacles, and the danger of the pedal striking a kerb - as it's fixed it will keep revolving, likely throwing the rider off the bike.

    However, all these things mean you have to pay closer attention to how and where you're riding, and to the obstacles and vehicles around you. Inevitably you become a more aware rider, and you gain an appreciation of situational riding and the fact there's very seldom any massive hurry. It's good for the soul as well as your safety :)
  • IrvinetIrvinet Posts: 117
    FeynmanC wrote:
    No, seriously, I'm not sure I get the reason behind fixies.

    Here is the page that persuaded me to give one a try:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed.html

    But if the words of a legend like Sheldon are not enough... after riding a bit over 12,000miles on a fixed gear over the last few years, here are the main reasons I love mine:

    Good exercise
    I am busy, so often my 20km of commuting is the only proper exercise I get in a day. Why make it easy? You can't freewheel on fixed so you may as well pedal faster. Downhills are about speed, not recovery. Uphills are about pain. I am a fat censored always at risk of getting fatter so this is a big plus for me.

    Nice bikes for not very much money
    I got my converted Raleigh for £200 on ebay. I spent that again replacing/upgrading a few parts. For £400 I got a very pretty, light and fast bike with everything except the frame being modern. It is harder to do that with a geared road bike.

    It just feels nice
    This is the bullshite zen, connected to bike, bit. There is some truth to this. You get to know your bike and gear ratio very well. Fast always equals a high leg speed so it really feels fast. You have very precise control of low speed manoeuvres. You can of course trackstand / weave on a bike with a freewheel, but in my experience it is much easier on a fixed. In the snow/wet you always know when the rear wheel has started to skid and can usually do something about it.

    For balance, there are a couple of downsides. Steep descents are scary as hell. Maintenance is probably easier but chainline, chain tension and component compatibility are bigger deals than on normal modern road bikes. There is no mercy if you are tired and there is a headwind or hill. Some people with gears take it very personally when you overtake them.... this can also be an advantage.
    Roberts Audax - Raleigh Fixie - Thorn Tandem
  • Plus fixies make your knees explode - FACT :wink:
  • rich_erich_e Posts: 389
    biondino wrote:
    However, all these things mean you have to pay closer attention to how and where you're riding, and to the obstacles and vehicles around you. Inevitably you become a more aware rider, and you gain an appreciation of situational riding and the fact there's very seldom any massive hurry. It's good for the soul as well as your safety :)

    You sound like a very rare breed of sensible Fixed rider.

    Most I see on my commute are either Messangers, who brake every rule in the book and have a certain deathwish RLJing.

    Or, they are the fakenger type who has just bought one to try and look cool, and messes around doing silly track stands, yet can't really ride very well.
  • Rich_E wrote:
    biondino wrote:
    However, all these things mean you have to pay closer attention to how and where you're riding, and to the obstacles and vehicles around you. Inevitably you become a more aware rider, and you gain an appreciation of situational riding and the fact there's very seldom any massive hurry. It's good for the soul as well as your safety :)

    You sound like a very rare breed of sensible Fixed rider.

    Most I see on my commute are either Messangers, who brake every rule in the book and have a certain deathwish RLJing.

    Or, they are the fakenger type who has just bought one to try and look cool, and messes around doing silly track stands, yet can't really ride very well.

    most i see around here on the edge of the world (london) are hipster types and tend to be quite easy prey, central is where the faster ones lurk.
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 20,049
    Yeah freewheels for sensible folk,
    fixed for nutters/hipsters/luddites etc. :D

    and the slow don't forget slow :P
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