Enter the Velodrome
April 30, 2007 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Two wheels, no brakes, no gears... Unstoppable. They're fixed-gear bicycles, and they're an environmentally friendly mode of transportation for those with a sense of style (or a death wish).
posted by buriednexttoyou (171 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
My first few bikes were fixed gears. I think this is because little kids have trouble coordinating feet and hands and pedaling and breaking all at once. It's much simpler if you just stop pedaling, and then pedal backwards.

I can't imagine buying one now, though.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 2:57 PM on April 30, 2007


Well, at least the ensuing debate won't be about fat people.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:58 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I had a fixed-gear bike as todler as well. I think it was just a question of cheapness.
posted by delmoi at 3:00 PM on April 30, 2007


My first tricycle was definitely a fixie.
posted by found missing at 3:02 PM on April 30, 2007


Citrusfreak, do you mean fixed gear, or coaster brake? Fixed gear for kids sounds like a recipe for first aid. Unless it's a Bigwheel tricycle.
posted by anthill at 3:02 PM on April 30, 2007


posted by buriednexttoyou They're fixed-gear bicycles, and they're an environmentally friendly mode of transportation for those with a sense of style (or a death wish).

As opposed to freewheel bicycles, which are greenhouse-gas-spewing environmental nightmares!
posted by fandango_matt at 3:04 PM on April 30, 2007 [8 favorites]


As opposed to freewheel bicycles, which are greenhouse-gas-spewing environmental nightmares!

Being uncool has been found to increase global warming.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 PM on April 30, 2007 [7 favorites]


They're not environmentally friendly! Fixies cause one to pedal all the time, expending more energy, requiring a higher caloric intake, promoting big Agra, displacing poor rural Indian farmers who have to move to the city and drive those horrible motorized rickshaws that burn unrefined kerosene. Also, constant pedaling causes increased methane emissions with also cause greenhouse warming!

Save the planet! Ride a bike with a freewheel!
posted by bonehead at 3:07 PM on April 30, 2007 [7 favorites]


People's fondness for these things tends to verge on the religious - they say fixed gear makes you feel like there's less between you and the road. "One with the ride" and all that. It's not my thing (I like to be able to coast), but it is a qualitatively different experience, and I can understand the appeal.

(Also: Visceral aesthetics)
posted by poweredbybeard at 3:07 PM on April 30, 2007


Even if it was not a double, we have talked about fixies so much in every bike related thread, that it feels like a quintuple at least.

But, hey. Whattya know. Fixed gear bike. What a stupid idea. Or a great idea. Or something.

I want my Big Wheel. The ultimate fixed gear.
posted by The Deej at 3:07 PM on April 30, 2007


Being uncool has been found to increase global warming.

Uh Oh.
How many square miles of forest am I going to have to plant to cover for that?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:09 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


My mistake, anthill, it was a coaster break.

I really can't imagine buying a fixed-gear, though.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:10 PM on April 30, 2007


My co-worker swears he's seen trixies on fixies. He might be delusional, but I think we can expect this to be co-opted by fraternity boys any day now.
posted by hydrophonic at 3:10 PM on April 30, 2007


posted by thatwhichfalls How many square miles of forest am I going to have to plant to cover for that?

You can buy Hipster Offsets to reduce your Uncoolness Footprint.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:11 PM on April 30, 2007 [8 favorites]


Give me a beachcruiser (with a bell, a basket and handlebar streamers) and I'll kick any fixer-gear biker's ass any day of the week.
posted by psmealey at 3:11 PM on April 30, 2007


Fixed-wheel bikes are basically unicycles with a training wheel.
posted by phooky at 3:12 PM on April 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I dismiss riding on roads without brakes as an unnecessary affectation; it is based on image rather than what is practical when riding a bicycle.
posted by Flashman at 3:17 PM on April 30, 2007


My co-worker swears he's seen trixies on fixies. He might be delusional, but I think we can expect this to be co-opted by fraternity boys any day now.

It's a shame that this is apparently a bad thing, because "trixies on fixies" has a nice ring to it.
posted by chrominance at 3:17 PM on April 30, 2007


Flashman writes "I dismiss riding on roads without brakes as an unnecessary affectation; it is based on image rather than what is practical when riding a bicycle."

How common is it to ride without any brakes? Just about every fixed-gear bike I've seen has a front brake.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:21 PM on April 30, 2007


I ride a fixed gear bike here in Key West. (Very minimal incline/decline transitions.) It's what people call "rad."

I had it custom made - top to bottom, front to back - with pegs (for riders) with its core being created from an "electric bike" frame the mechanic and I recycled for its unusual design.

And it gets me everywhere I want to go.
And it gets attention everywhere I go.

The only grief I have with it is guys shouting at me all the time,
"Dude!, cool bike!"

As if that's what I ride it for.
posted by humannaire at 3:24 PM on April 30, 2007


Previously. Related.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:25 PM on April 30, 2007


I see fixies in Chicago all the time - it's simply insane. Every once in a while I see a guy pedaling his fixie down Clark with no hands and no helmet while talking on a cell phone.

Every time, I go from impressed to horrified in the span of a few seconds. They guy is definitely going to die - it's just a matter of time.

I'm really of the mind that fixies should be outlawed on city streets and that helmet, safety and traffic laws ought to be enforced. But as I've gone on about this before, I'll spare everyone the rant.
posted by aladfar at 3:25 PM on April 30, 2007


Don't forget about the singlespeed! The slickness of a fixie with all the smooth coasting of someone who doesn't give a damn how fast your package gets there.
posted by cubby at 3:27 PM on April 30, 2007


The first (and last time) I rode one of those I came-to in hospital and spent a week there after face-planting onto tarmac.
posted by marvin at 3:29 PM on April 30, 2007


An acquaintance of mine with a death wish has a fixed gear bike with no brakes at all. He's managed to blow out both of his knees pretty well on it (I haven't seen him without his knee braces for over a year). Combine that with his tendency to be hit by cars on a semi-annual basis (probably because he has no brakes, and no longer has knees), I fear his wish may come true soon.

(on preview) aladfar - My fixed freak wears a helmet, so it seems there's at least 2 soon-to-be dead bicyclists in Chicago.
posted by jonzino at 3:30 PM on April 30, 2007


Are you saying there bikes with more than one speed?
posted by poweredbybeard at 3:30 PM on April 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


mr_roboto: It's suprisingly common to see people ride their fixed-gears without brakes. Everyone who rides a fixed-gear bike in a velodrome rides brakeless. On the street there are some who really believe that brakeless is the only way, and some that think it's insane.

On my fixed-gear, I ride with a brake. I really like the clean lines of brakeless track bikes, but I need those brakes to deal with the hills here in Worcester, MA.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 3:30 PM on April 30, 2007


I thought about getting one of these when I lived in San Francisco, until I found out that I couldn't buy one for less than twice the price of my quite serviceable (and cheap enough to park outside for a few hours) slick-tired mountain bike. The "practicality" aspect kind of flew out the window at that point.
posted by bjrubble at 3:32 PM on April 30, 2007


Stop the hype already.

I can't wait for the yuppy-grunge scene to get over itself.

Can we call them "yunge?"
posted by zekinskia at 3:34 PM on April 30, 2007


“I see fixies in Chicago all the time - it's simply insane”

Big bike racing community in Chicago and of course Indiana.
I’ve been out to the velodrome in the Chicago Burbs....yeah, those people are nuts. But in a good way too.
I talked to some guy who was on the U.S. mail racing team a bit back who raced at the velodrome and I said “what if you blow out your knee?”
He said “yeah, that’s a concern”
It’s fantastic stuff to watch though. Sprints are insane.

Don’t know if I’d be for that on the street...of course I’ve ridden my motorcycle at what might be called excessive speeds (Motorhead...just makes you open the throttle up man), and I get the rush of hauling ass (literally perhaps - ass muscle powered) on a bike but I have, y’know, brakes and gears and such.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:37 PM on April 30, 2007


they say fixed gear makes you feel like there's less between you and the road.

I found a better way to achieve this. I forgot to tighten the bolts on my front wheel after fixing a flat. This eventually gives you a degree of intimacy with the road that you can't get by simply being brakeless. It was like we were one!
posted by srboisvert at 3:39 PM on April 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I have seen a number of fixie riders with no brakes here in Austin. Hell, I saw some messengers in San Franfuckingcisco riding fixies without brakes.

I've also noticed a fair number of fixie riders using what I think of as a "stealth" brake—the lever is a tiny little thing that mounts next to the stem, so it almost has the look of a no-brake bike.
posted by adamrice at 3:40 PM on April 30, 2007


I think we can expect this to be co-opted by fraternity boys any day now

Fraternity boys just aren't dumb enough to ride a bike without brakes. This will remain a hipster fad.

I see fixed gear bikes just about every day in San Francisco. Saw one today, in fact, sans any type of brakes. Why someone would live in one of the hilliest cities in the world riding a bike without a brake--I just can't imagine.

Darwin at work, it seems.

Not long ago, I was nearly run over by an idiot SUV driver while riding my road bike, with two 100% functional brakes. I still came within about a foot of being seriously crunched.
posted by vaportrail at 3:43 PM on April 30, 2007


Fixed-gear bikes are stunt bikes. They are used almost exclusively by circus clowns because they can, among other things, be riddeon on the rear wheel like unicycles. Anyone who takes one on the street is probably, well, a clown.
posted by localroger at 3:46 PM on April 30, 2007


gears are my friend, brakes are my savior. here in portland all the cool kids ride fixies. once i passed this poor girl riding a fixed gear up a small hill going so slow she nearly fell over. it did not look very cool.
posted by crawfishpopsicle at 3:47 PM on April 30, 2007


Here's the part where I reveal that I am not cool by asking the question:

Why would someone ride a fixed-gear bike, aside from racing? Are there any advantages at all?
posted by The World Famous at 3:52 PM on April 30, 2007


All of my bikes (until I achieved 10-speed coolness at 12) were fixed gear bikes. The worst thing about them was going down a hill so fast that your feet couldn't stay on the pedals - that was sooo painful. The best thing - skidding stops in the dirt.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:52 PM on April 30, 2007


Fixies are so last year. This year, the cool kids are riding bikes without saddles.
posted by luriete at 3:53 PM on April 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


i have 2 pretty high end road bikes and a fixie. i ride the fixie as my commuter for a few reasons:

1. it's a great workout. climbing the hills around here at 48x16 isn't always easy -- but it feels great when you do it.

2. there's nothing that can go wrong on it short of getting a flat. it's the perfect bike to use here in portland, where the rain chews up most gears if you don't stay on a maintenance schedule.

3. it feels safer to ride this bike in traffic and on slick surfaces, as i have a direct 1:1 connection with the rear wheel. i can stop cold when needed, or check my speed on the fly.

that all said, i'm in my mid thirties, so i opted for a front brake. however, when i race around with the messenger folks, i find that they can actually stop quicker than i can by just popping up their rear wheel and skidding.

(i want to see how their knees hold up after hitting 30, though).
posted by mrballistic at 3:54 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Having seen a bike messanger stopped on 2 wheels, rocking back and forth unicycle style at a traffic light, I have a lot of respect for anyone with enough leg muscle to ride one like that. I don't think I'm insane enough to actually ride one, but I would like to try it at least once. Can you (easily) convert a fixie to freewheel bike?
posted by Skorgu at 3:55 PM on April 30, 2007


speaking of san fransisco, check outted shred, riding minus brakes on a fucking freewheel. Oh yeah, he's one of them dj's too.

as far as fixies go, I've been riding various fixed wheel bikes for about 6 years now, sometimes with brakes, sometimes without. Chicago winters require that geared bikes get a lot of attention. I suppose any bike needs that in the winter, but I can neglect the fixie for longer without massive failure.
posted by chibikeandy at 3:57 PM on April 30, 2007


From the article most conspicuously the kind of younger people to whom the term “hipster” applies and who emanate from certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

Damn you Jocko Weyland! Damn you and your wry wit to hell!
posted by bardic at 3:57 PM on April 30, 2007


Do they make recumbent bikesmobile adult cribs without brakes?
posted by Falconetti at 3:57 PM on April 30, 2007


The World Famous writes "Why would someone ride a fixed-gear bike, aside from racing? Are there any advantages at all?"

Lighter, more efficient (no loss in the derailleur gears), easier maintenance, don't have to take your feet off the pedals at a stop.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:58 PM on April 30, 2007


don't have to take your feet off the pedals at a stop

...because they make you impervious to gravity?
posted by poweredbybeard at 4:01 PM on April 30, 2007


Did y'all see the picture of what happens when you catch your finger in between the chain and gear on a fixed gear?scroll down to 'Catching Fingers'
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:01 PM on April 30, 2007


sorry. just got it.
posted by poweredbybeard at 4:02 PM on April 30, 2007


Lighter, more efficient (no loss in the derailleur gears), easier maintenance, don't have to take your feet off the pedals at a stop.

Um, I don't have to take my feet off the pedals at a stop on my bike, either, and it's not a fixie. Is it really that hard for most people to stand still on a non-fixie without taking their feet off the pedals?

And I've never found the maintenance to be a problem, in spite of all the gears, brakes, and whatnot.

As far as being more efficient, that's just plain silly -- a bike with only one gear ratio is enormously inefficient. Now, if you could get a bike with a CVT like a snowmobile or a Prius, that might be more efficient.
posted by The World Famous at 4:05 PM on April 30, 2007


Impervious to gravity? Yes, it could be argued that if you ride a fixed-gear, ordinary laws of physics no longer apply. See track stand.
posted by phliar at 4:07 PM on April 30, 2007


I really enjoy riding a fixed-gear/track bike (with a brake) and it makes a lot of sense as a commuter/city bike. They are very low maintenance, you have a lot of control compared to a freewheel bike, it is great exercise (you can pack a lot more of a workout into a short ride), and they are just plain fun to ride. I think the simplicity of a bicycle without all the gears, dérailleur, cables, and shifters is also very pleasing aesthetically. Yes, it is true it is harder to get up hills, but if you enjoy challenging yourself physically and getting a good workout, that isn't a bad thing.
Anyway, I realize that they are a hipster thing and so it's easy to make fun...but I don't think it's fair to knock it until you've tried it. I have a friend who liked to give me a hard time about it, and even had a "One Less Fixie" sticker on his road bike--until he tried riding a fixed-gear bike, and now it's his main ride.
posted by modernist1 at 4:14 PM on April 30, 2007



yawn
posted by French Fry at 4:21 PM on April 30, 2007


Um, I don't have to take my feet off the pedals at a stop on my bike, either, and it's not a fixie. Is it really that hard for most people to stand still on a non-fixie without taking their feet off the pedals?


Is that a serious question? Congratulations to you that you can do a track stand on a road bike with such ease, but how many other people do you see doing that?
posted by modernist1 at 4:22 PM on April 30, 2007


This sounds like a thread for fixedgear!
posted by Opposite George at 4:29 PM on April 30, 2007


Is that a serious question? Congratulations to you that you can do a track stand on a road bike with such ease, but how many other people do you see doing that?

Lots, actually. Yes, it's a serious question. I'm not even much of a cyclist, and my bike sucks, but I and most of my not-really-cyclist friends have been able to do a track stand on a non-fixie since we were kids riding cheap BMX bikes. It's certainly easier to do a track stand on a road bike than it is to stop a brakeless fixie on a dime when you're going fast.

But really, is the point that a fixie is superior because it's simultaneously both more challenging to ride and easier to ride?

I'm still reeling from the whole "efficiency" thing -- do the same people who think a fixie is more efficient than a multi-gear bike think that a car would be more efficient if it had a single fixed-gear transmission?
posted by The World Famous at 4:33 PM on April 30, 2007


...no brakes, no gears... Unstoppable.
I've been thinking of trying this with my Accord.
posted by anticlock at 4:37 PM on April 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


Don't know much about fixies. See hipsters on them all the time. Never really understood them. I've commuted on my bike for years. It's got a lot of gears and some serious breaks. I also wear a motorcycle helmet when I ride. Does that mean I'm square? Please don't say I'm square.
posted by MarshallPoe at 4:46 PM on April 30, 2007



But really, is the point that a fixie is superior because it's simultaneously both more challenging to ride and easier to ride?


I don't think a fixed-gear bike is superior, it's different. I enjoy riding a road bike too. Personally, I like a fixed-gear bike as a commuter/city bike for the reasons I already stated. I ride a road bike for longer rides. It's not an either/or situation.

I guess the person who mentioned efficiency was saying that a road bike in any individual gear is less efficient than a single speed in its one gear, because of the addition of a derailleur...but I don't think that is a common argument in favor of riding a fixed gear bike.
posted by modernist1 at 4:59 PM on April 30, 2007


Having built, raced, and bicycle commuted for most of my adult life, I just don't see riding a fixie as worth the tradeoff in loss of brakes and gears. I hear hipsters say things like 'it's the same amount of work' and 'I can lock up the back tire'. Dude... my legs cannot both at once generate the torque to get up a hill steep hill in high gear and the high rpms required to hit 50k in a lower gear. Gears work. Maybe not 24 of them, but a few is just fine. Brakes... if you're locking up the rear tire, you're not stopping.

Having said that, I love the minimalist styling of some of the really pared-down dumpster-fixies around here. I'm seeing lots of bikes without any handlebar tape too. It wouldn't surprise me to see seats/posts go next.

Stuff like that just convinces me that there's no legitimate practical reason to ride a fixed gear on the street. There's only the reason of style/fashion/politics.
But, the one thing that bugs me the most about these hipster bikes is the lack of any reflective/lighting at night, even in the rain -- they're completely invisible even to a driver who's looking out for cyclists. For crissakes, MEC sells super-minimalist front and rear LEDs that cost less than the batteries inside them. Reflectors (esp vintage) are always free. And, if you don't want to bolt on conspicuous reflectors, you can get reflective tape in black that shines silver in headlights.
posted by Extopalopaketle at 5:06 PM on April 30, 2007


I'm still reeling from the whole "efficiency" thing -- do the same people who think a fixie is more efficient than a multi-gear bike think that a car would be more efficient if it had a single fixed-gear transmission?

Efficiency ≠ minimalism. But that's a common mistake.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:07 PM on April 30, 2007


As a kid I had a Schwinn banana seat bike (similar, but not the same as this, and without hand brakes). When I was a kid we just differentiated bike as those with "hand brakes" and those with "foot brakes". My Schwinn had foot brakes, so in other words, fixed gear. BUT, I seem to remember that if I stopped pedaling and kept my feet still, I could coast, but if I reversed the pedals, it would brake. Not sure about that, though.

BTW, in Seattle they have a bike messenger race every year, and years ago, through a friend of a friend, I met a group of them as they were waiting to make their runs.

Me (totally ignorant of fixed-gear bikes): I'm totally ignorant of fixed-gear bikes. How do they work?

Them: *blank stares, cricket sounds*

Grudgingly, one guy took pity on my oh-so-unhip self and proceeded to give the most convoluted explanation of fixies possible, leaving me even more confused. Bike messengers can be cliqueish snobs, btw.
posted by zardoz at 5:10 PM on April 30, 2007


I really hate how lifestyle pieces like this one portray brakeless fixed-gear bikes as "insane." Braking is a secondary function of a direct drive bicycle drive train. With a moderate level of skill and experience, mechanical hand brakes on fixed gear bikes are simply not necessary.
posted by boots at 5:13 PM on April 30, 2007


I'm really of the mind that fixies should be outlawed on city streets and that helmet, safety and traffic laws ought to be enforced.

I ride fixed with no brakes, no helmet, in the road, and often on the phone. I'm not going to ruin your pretty gas-guzzler, it's going to ruin me. And I'm not going to sue you when it does, or make you feel bad, or curse you out when I make the mistakes of not protecting myself. I'm taking risks and I'm prepared to face the consequences.

Why all the hate? I don't have a death wish, but I'm a strong enough rider that I can keep up with the cars on the road, obey traffic laws, trackstand at traffic lights, and keep myself out of serious trouble. That's not to say I won't fuck myself up one day, but what does that matter to you? Don't ruin my good time! (Thank god for bicycle advocacy groups)
posted by jstef at 5:15 PM on April 30, 2007


I can't wait for the yuppy-grunge scene to get over itself.

posted by zekinskia Can we call them "yunge?"


I prefer "Gruppie."
posted by fandango_matt at 5:30 PM on April 30, 2007


BrotherCaine sez: when you catch your finger in between the chain and gear...

Ouch.
I did that freshman year in highschool while on my paper route. I didn't have the benefit of a fixed-gear bike as my excuse - just stupidity. The top two pictures in blue were almost exactly like my finger looked. The doctor was able to sew the tip back on but ever since then it has felt like there's a heavy callus covering the end of my right index finger. That and a funky scar are what I have left to remind me of my chain & sprocket adventure.

Be careful out there kids, that hurts.
posted by djeo at 5:31 PM on April 30, 2007


The World Famous writes "As far as being more efficient, that's just plain silly -- a bike with only one gear ratio is enormously inefficient. "

Unless you're on a relatively flat route that doesn't require any shifting. In that case, multiple gears and the extra weight and drag on the chain are a waste.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:33 PM on April 30, 2007


zardoz: that Schwinn you describe had what's generally called a "coaster brake." This is not the same as a fixed-gear bike. On a fixie, if the bike is moving, then you are pedalling, and vice-versa. There is no coasting.
posted by adamrice at 5:34 PM on April 30, 2007


Not fixed-gear related, but... I bet I'm not the only one who'd never heard of a "track stand" before this thread, or seen a match sprint event. But holy crap, this is the most compelling 6.5 minutes of YouTube-ness I've seen in a good long time.
posted by sappidus at 5:38 PM on April 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Vastly cooler than fixed. IMO. Shame about the price.
posted by well_balanced at 5:44 PM on April 30, 2007


I love my fixie. It has brakes front and back - I'm so unhip it's a wonder my bum doesn't fall off.
/zaphod

Reasons to ride a fixie: Light weight. Minimal maintenance. You can't stop pedaling. The groovy "oneness with the bike" thing that people don't get and think is silly if they've not spent the time learning it and tuning their technique to it.

Reasons not to ride a fixie: Big hills. You can't stop pedaling. You'll start saying things like "groovy oneness with the bike". Some people will suggest you don't need brakes which, if not dangerous (people will argue all sorts of ways), is really bad news for your knees after a while. If anything ever gets caught in your chain, Bad Things will happen.
posted by normy at 5:49 PM on April 30, 2007


There is a scrawny little fucker riding a fixie (wearing jeans!), who passes me and my fat ass on my mountain bike a couple of times a week. I am huffing and puffing and this little "I am a Mac" hipster blows by me on his bike without breaking a sweat.

AND he never even says "Good Morning…"

So yeah, these bikes are a BAD idea and need to be dealt with accordingly.
posted by Rawhide at 5:59 PM on April 30, 2007


sappidus: thanks, that was indeed awesome.
posted by patricio at 6:00 PM on April 30, 2007


I am huffing and puffing and this little "I am a Mac" hipster blows by me on his bike without breaking a sweat.

AND he never even says "Good Morning…"


Sorry I'm always in so much of a hurry. You'd wear jeans too if you couldn't ever find cycling or track pants long enough to reach your ankles. With a 37" inseam, jeans are it for cycling in the city.
posted by litfit at 6:08 PM on April 30, 2007


When I was a kid, none of my bikes had gears (although we did have brakes). I never quite got the hang of the gear system. Which is why I guess I never biked again.
posted by adipocere at 6:09 PM on April 30, 2007


What else is cool?

styrofoam doors?

elevators with hand cranks?

pumping your own gas by hand?

having to boil water to drink it?

why is something with less function better?
is a 71 Beatle better than a 05 Bentley?
posted by Megafly at 6:15 PM on April 30, 2007


Sorry I'm always in so much of a hurry. You'd wear jeans too if you couldn't ever find cycling or track pants long enough to reach your ankles. With a 37" inseam, jeans are it for cycling in the city.
Can't we (all) just get along, litfit?

Because, if not, I swear to god the next time you do not return my wheezing morning salutation I am going to run your tall, scrawny ass off the road and I'm gonna gnaw on that goddamn tattoo on your leg (which I can see because you roll one leg of your jeans up [how convenient]) until you say "mornin'" or "uncle".
posted by Rawhide at 6:16 PM on April 30, 2007


Define "sense of style." Because I'm thinking riding a fixie as a style choice is terribly off-the-rack.

I ride a mountain bike on road or off, because I only want the one bike, I'm in no hurry and it's a workout too. Brakes make sense to me.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:19 PM on April 30, 2007


Although I must admit, cruisers are at the very bottom of my list. Form follows function, right?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:21 PM on April 30, 2007


Megafly writes "is a 71 Beatle better than a 05 Bentley?"

It is if you're your own mechanic. A '71 Beetle is a cinch to maintain. And lets face it: if the Bentley's transmission were open to the elements, it would be spending a lot of time at the mechanic.

Maintenance problems are all solved by in-hub gears. Fixies still weigh less, though.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:21 PM on April 30, 2007


I really hate how lifestyle pieces like this one portray brakeless fixed-gear bikes as "insane." Braking is a secondary function of a direct drive bicycle drive train. With a moderate level of skill and experience, mechanical hand brakes on fixed gear bikes are simply not necessary.

Spoken like someone who doesn't know the difference between the front brake and the rear brake (i.e. twice as much braking power).
posted by randomstriker at 6:32 PM on April 30, 2007


Unless you're on a relatively flat route that doesn't require any shifting. In that case, multiple gears and the extra weight and drag on the chain are a waste.
That must be why dragsters have only one gear.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:32 PM on April 30, 2007


That must be why dragsters have only one gear.

And why fixie riders drive their cars around in 2nd gear all the time, no matter how fast they're going. It's just more efficient, and you feel this great oneness with the car when the engine's about to explode.
posted by The World Famous at 6:40 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fixed gears are particularly nice for theft (less things to remove from the bike) and maintenance (less stuff to break) purposes. I've had people try to steal both the stem/bars and seat/post off my bike, parked outside in broad daylight in midtown Manhattan.. multiple times. Buncha savages in this town.

Brakes aren't really necessary in NYC, but if I were to move to SF I'd use em -- my last trip out there made my knees a bit grumpy.
posted by fet at 6:43 PM on April 30, 2007


well_balanced,

Vastly cooler than fixed. IMO. Shame about the price.


You do realize you linked to the site of "Sheldon Brown, the fixed-gear Nazi," right? :)

Just to note my side in this holy war as an agnostic. I ride a fixed-gear junker, as well as other, more conventional bikes, and I can't wait for all the hipsters to finish breaking their necks on theirs so there's less roadkill to hop.

It's a lot of fun to ride, though I understand it isn't for everyone. Getting into cycling at an older age, I think it helped my riding out a lot by enforcing cadence discipline, getting me out of the seat on climbs and discouraging an overreliance on shifting when I ride the other bikes. I feel like I have a lot more control in tight traffic at slow speeds, and it's a little better in slippery conditions. And there's something else I just can't put my finger on...*

No brakes? That's crazy talk. Anybody riding without at least a front brake is asking for trouble, even if they do have locking up the back wheel down cold (I don't, and I'm not going to push the Knees of GlassTM regardless.) Why? Hint: what do you do when the chain breaks (and you value your toes?) Anyway, I can still stop my bike with its prehistoric Weinmann sidepulls faster, and without worrying about killing myself. So mine has brakes. Does that make me uncool? Hey, it's a $20 Salvation Army Schwinn conversion with a Finding Nemo bell so I guess you could say I'm not the final arbiter of cool.

*Wait, I got it: Groovy oneness with the bike. Groovy oneness with the bike. Groovy oneness with the bike.
posted by Opposite George at 6:44 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


MrMoonPie writes "That must be why dragsters have only one gear."

Actually, it's why velodrome racers ride 27-speeds.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:47 PM on April 30, 2007


I used to live in South Beach back in the '90s. The silliest bike trend I've ever seen were these skinny little model girls riding around on their 'beach cruisers.' I guess they were stylish, but it was always funny to see these tiny women riding giant, clunky 80 pound bikes. Especially in crowded traffic.

But yeah, fixed gear bikes are all over here in Chicago, and I don't understand it. Then again, I've never had a goatee or dreadlocks.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:47 PM on April 30, 2007


I've got a one-of-a-kind fixed gear with a front brake, but I don't ride it much right now, sticking with my tricked out commuter bike. A mix of asthma, weight gain, and ineffectual insurance have all made me think it's not a good idea until I can get a second brake put on.
posted by drezdn at 6:55 PM on April 30, 2007


I ride a fixie with a front brake around town. There are many, many advantages.

It's more efficient: I have to perform far less maintenance on my fixie than I do on a derailleur bike. And it's lighter!

It makes me a stronger rider: when people say that they feel like they're one with the road, what they really mean is that their fixie requires them to pay more attention to cadence and form. On a freewheel bike, one's tendency is to pedal, pedal, pedal, and then coast. On a fixie, your legs are always moving. It's much less efficient to accellerate, slow back down, and then accelerate again than it is to pick a pace and stay with it. Fixed gear bikes aren't nearly as forgiving of bad technique as freewheel bikes. Many serious cyclists have a fixie in their stable for just this reason.

Fixies don't have to ruin your knees. Knee problems occur when you ride with too big a gear. Whether that big gear comes up because you've built a fixie with an overlarge gear or you're too macho to downshift, the result is the same. My fixie is easy to pedal and has a front brake for big downhills.

And finally, they're FUN. Trackstands (where you stand still on your bike and balance on the pedals) are easier and flashier on a fixed-gear. With a little practice, you can become absolutely balletic. Just ask Quicksilver-era Kevin Bacon!
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 7:02 PM on April 30, 2007


Metafilter doesn't do religion or fixies very well.
posted by The Deej at 7:04 PM on April 30, 2007


"is a 71 Beatle better than a 05 Bentley?"

These days, a 71 Beatle drives an 05 Bentley...

*ba dump bump!*

Seriously though, fixies? Kinda dumb. I'll take my badass low-geared novara buzz with disc brakes, continental slicks, granny saddle, ape hanger bars, and waterproof ortleib panniers. So I can, you know, actually do stuff with my bike.
posted by stenseng at 7:06 PM on April 30, 2007


I ride a converted seventies frame fixed gear because it's simple, light, and elegant, I can't believe nobody's used that word yet. Elegance is what these bikes exude.

I bought and scrounged every part on this bike, except for the seat, which was a gift from friends. Putting this together was pretty easy, I didn't have to buy a cassette, shifters, derailluers, and then worry about how to put them on, and tune everything to work together.

It seems like there's a lot of animosity towards this trend, but it also seems like the majority of negative comments are being made from a position of ignorance. If you know someone with a fixed-gear bicycle, who can give you some good tips (DON'T TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE HANDLEBARS AT FIRST!), you should give it a try, and THEN pass judgement. Honestly, I'm getting a "Damn kids and your rock and roll" vibe.

disclaimer: I'm much closer to thirty than twenty, or even twenty five, I have a career , and no tattoos.
posted by splatta at 7:10 PM on April 30, 2007


If I read the NYT article correctly, fixies are like kid's bikes in that you can push back on the pedal to get it to brake. Did I read that incorrectly? So fixies DO have brakes, just not hand-brakes.

The NYT article did very little to illuminate what the appeal of fixies is. It kept referring to their cult appeal --- but the writer seems to have stayed in the dark as to what, exactly, is the source of that appeal.
posted by jayder at 7:23 PM on April 30, 2007


As a daily cycle commuter for some years now, this entire concept strikes me as just one great big hipster wank.

To be fair, I've never ridden one of these lifestyle accessories. Would I need to grow back my dreadies & goatee, though? I found their extra weight and wind-drag were a waste.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:23 PM on April 30, 2007


Jayder, you're thinking about coaster brakes. Coaster brakes are activated by pushing backwards on the pedal. Many manufacturers offer "beach cruiser" style bikes with coaster brakes.

Fixed-gear bikes can be slowed or stopped by resisting the forward motion of the pedals. Most people still choose to install a front handbrake on their fixed-gear bikes as a "safety."
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 7:34 PM on April 30, 2007


It seems like there's a lot of animosity towards this trend, but it also seems like the majority of negative comments are being made from a position of ignorance. If you know someone with a fixed-gear bicycle, who can give you some good tips (DON'T TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE HANDLEBARS AT FIRST!), you should give it a try, and THEN pass judgement. Honestly, I'm getting a "Damn kids and your rock and roll" vibe.

No, it's more like "damn kids and your totally impractical commuter rollerskates!" - it doesn't seem to require experience, only logic.

What the fuck in the world is in any way beneficial about having to trundle your legs around all the fucking time, even when (not) coasting downhill?

I could appreciate the simplicity of a single-speed bike in a not-too-hilly town, as long as you are not particularly concerned about how slowly you might get to your destination. A cheapo pub cruiser, if you like.

But combine single-gear with an inability to coast, and top that off with often-absent handbrakes, and you end up with something that just sounds like a total piece of shit to ride, and dangerous as all fuck to boot, that you could only ever endure because for some misguided reason you are under the impression that it makes you seem cool.

I just assume that in a few years time, people will wake up & think "why the fuck did I ever fall for that total crock of shit?", like they do with every other fad.

/more vitriolic than intended
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:37 PM on April 30, 2007


And no, fixed gear bikes are no heavier (actually, they're significantly lighter) or less aerodynamic (?!?!?!) than any other bike.

Fixed gear bikes have been around forever. They haven't magically become bad bikes because people you don't like are riding them. They aren't going to magically become more dangerous because people you don't like are riding them. Sorry, folks.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 7:48 PM on April 30, 2007


Ted Shred (youtube) - riding no brakes on a normal bike in San Francisco.
posted by zippy at 7:56 PM on April 30, 2007


Fixed gear bikes have been around forever.

Possibly, but maybe nobody other than track cyclists & a tiny number of weirdos ever rode them, because they simply do just sound like bad bikes, regardless of who rides them - completely impractical & dangerous.

For what it's worth, I don't think I've ever seen any of these things in Sydney. Maybe some of the couriers ride them, I dunno. The trick BMXs where you ride with your knees around your ears seem to be the default hipster thing here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:57 PM on April 30, 2007


Gah, I swear I read the thread yet I missed this earlier Ted Shred reference.
posted by zippy at 7:58 PM on April 30, 2007


Not all of these guys are riding fixies but it does show just how crazy some of these people can be
http://youtube.com/watch?v=nR2ygFn-yR8
I love it.
posted by hangingbyathread at 8:06 PM on April 30, 2007


A final comment on this thread, and one of my all-time favorite bike stories:

Time was when 99% of fixed-gear bikes were ridden by couriers or racers. If you didn't live and breathe bikes, you didn't know what one was. Most petty bike thieves had never even heard of them.

Many years ago, I was working as a courier in Boston. My co-worker and I were two of a handful of women couriers back then. We stood out, and everyone knew us and our bikes.

One day, she came into the office in tears. Someone had stolen her bike! I lent her one of my spares, but she was distraught.

Three or four days later, another courier got sent into a residential neighborhood in Cambridge to serve a summons. On his way back in town, he saw a group of punks clustered around another dork who kept getting on a bike, going over the handlebars and falling down. As hard as he tried, he couldn't make the bike go.

With a few well-placed smacks to the face, he got the bike back and ghost-rode it all the way back to Post Office Square.

Bike thieves and fixies don't mix.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:07 PM on April 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Just ask Quicksilver-era Kevin Bacon!

I'm still working on the trick of getting the bike to switch between fixie and derailleur configurations on the fly.

Well, that and shifting to a bigger sprocket while accelerating. Damn, he was good. :)
posted by Opposite George at 8:13 PM on April 30, 2007


UbuRoivas, I invite you try one out if you get the chance. Give it a go, THEN let loose with the vitriol.
posted by splatta at 8:17 PM on April 30, 2007


OK OK I WILL TRY IT FIRST!!!! Sheesh, I so do want to be fair.
posted by The Deej at 8:40 PM on April 30, 2007


Man that SUCKED, what a horrible way to get around, and anyone who rides a fixie is a loser poser idiot.
posted by The Deej at 8:40 PM on April 30, 2007


Thanks, Deej - u saved me splattaing mself all over the road :)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:47 PM on April 30, 2007


If people would just leave it at "it's fun", I don't think anyone would care very much..

The problem is people claiming that fixies give a better workout (ridiculous), or that it is more efficient (asinine), and etc. The only thing they are better for, in real world conditions, is track stands at stop lights.
posted by Chuckles at 8:48 PM on April 30, 2007


technically better, that is. As in physics, rather than subjective experiential factors..
posted by Chuckles at 8:51 PM on April 30, 2007


Yes, because we all choose to do leisure activities based on physics, rather than subjective experiential factors..
posted by splatta at 9:09 PM on April 30, 2007


Oh my God, this is what I rode when I was a kid! I dreaded switching to a multiple-gear bike with handbrakes because my coordination and balance were awful, but figured I had to because only babies rode a "back-stop bike".

I found it much easier to use than a "normal" bike. It probably still is. Huh, maybe someday I'll get another.
posted by schroedinger at 9:16 PM on April 30, 2007


And seriously, as a kid it wasn't dangerous for me at all and I took that thing up and down some big hills. I crashed a lot more when I made the switch to the multiple gears and tried to figure out how to keep my balance while fiddling with the gear shifter placed on the top tube.
posted by schroedinger at 9:19 PM on April 30, 2007


I don't think you can argue that fixed gear bikes don't give you a better workout. You can't stop pedaling. Going down hill is almost more of workout than going up a hill sometimes.

Also many professional road racers use fixed gear bikes in off season training. Granted this is more much for cadence and stroke training, but the workout is undeniable.

Basically you're right though. The only real, tangible advantage to fixies is their superior track stand ability.

I'm not reading the whole discussion over again to find and paste the comment about trackstanding with a free wheel, but that is just silly. Yes technically you can kind of trackstand on an incline while using your brake. This is nothing like the control you have over a fixed gear bike.

Ultimately fixed gear bicycles are a fad. I've got no doubt that all those expensive Italian and Japanese track frames will be flooding ebay in a few years. I think there are worse things than bikes becoming fashion accessories though. At least people are riding bikes, that's the important thing. Once you get back into cycling as an adult it's hard to stop.

I've got three bikes. A touring bike, a hard tail mountain bike and my fixed gear beater cobbled from an old 80s road bike frame. Nine times out of ten I will grab my fixed gear for running errands or meeting friends around town. It's fun to ride, light, and never needs a tune up. That's all I ask for.
posted by Telf at 9:33 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I also wear a motorcycle helmet when I ride. Does that mean I'm square?

You are square. One must wear a skateboard helmet.

Although I'm curious to try one, I must say my Hampshire-college-cum-Williamsburg chum's inability to describe anything coherent about his desire to get a track bike was rather telling.

One of many head-scratching moments during my brief foray into Brooklyn cool. (Roommate, why must I be subjected to your ass-crack every day? Were you aware that "saggin'" is originally a reference to prison clothing (no belts). . . ?)

I prefer my ultra-cool Dahon. "Man, your bike is ugly." I wish I had an elegant bike. And a fur sink.
posted by flotson at 9:36 PM on April 30, 2007


I choose to do my commuting based on physics, rather than subjective experiential factors.

(actually, that's not quite true, otherwise I'd ride a real road bike, not a hybrid).

Frame this fixed-gear thing as Fun, and I'll definitely give one a whirl on a weekend. Actually, better yet, I think I'll throw one together. With brakes.

(heh - and nice to know that I'm not such a retard after all...was always wondering why I found it so hard to do trackstands on my geared bike at the lights like other riders...I guess there are more of these fixies around than I thought...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:39 PM on April 30, 2007


Your favorite bike sucks.
posted by fidgets at 9:39 PM on April 30, 2007


"Oh my God, this is what I rode when I was a kid! I dreaded switching to a multiple-gear bike with handbrakes because my coordination and balance were awful, but figured I had to because only babies rode a "back-stop bike". "


No, I really doubt that you rode a fixie. They're pretty rare. You were probably just riding some bike with pedal brakes, like most of us. If the bike you rode as a kid stopped by reversing the direction of the pedals, you weren't riding a fixie.
posted by stenseng at 9:42 PM on April 30, 2007


schroedinger, you are person number 7 trillion in this thread to conflate fixed gear bikes and "push back to brake" bikes. They are very different.
posted by flaterik at 9:49 PM on April 30, 2007


Someone in the NYT piece is riding a Iro Jamie Roy. That's a damn sexy bike.
posted by dobbs at 10:00 PM on April 30, 2007


. . . Oh. Well. And here I thought my lame inability to use handbrakes was finally going to have some cool upside. Serves me right for not reading comments before posting.
posted by schroedinger at 10:29 PM on April 30, 2007


Seriously, hasn't this article been written a billion times already? I thought the fixed gear phenomenon was over three years ago and that I was already on the verge of obsolescence for still getting on my fixed gear at all. (oh noes!)

Weirdly, I have bought, ridden, and then sold 2 geared bikes over the course of my fixed gear love affair and absolutely couldn't get used to riding either of them, even while living in San Francisco. I hated switching gears and the relative bulkiness of the geared bikes to the minimalism of the fixed.
posted by nerdcore at 10:41 PM on April 30, 2007


I'll bite. Anyone in Montreal or New York want to lend me a fixie for a few hours?
posted by 235w103 at 10:47 PM on April 30, 2007


I ride a motorscooter. No pedals. Pwned.
posted by saysthis at 10:56 PM on April 30, 2007


Better workout/more exercise on a fixie? Phaw! Ride that 18 speed Stumpjumper in a 52X13 combination with 25 psi in the tires over San Marcos summit, from Reno to Tahoe or up and down the SF hills and you'll get your workout.
posted by X4ster at 11:39 PM on April 30, 2007


Lightweight.

I guess that's what you West Coast wusses call a workout but really anybody in halfway decent shape should be able to do that with one leg, mouth duct-taped shut and one nostril plugged and pulling a trailer full of eels if they want to break a sweat.

Typical daily ride for me? A quick hop on the 1954 Columbia Clipper 3 Star Deluxe 62x11 fixie conversion, 5 psi in the tires, from Lake Placid, NY up the Whiteface Memorial Highway and back. No clips. Breathing from a tank of pure nitrogen.

Oh, and downhill I'm blindfolded.

But I'm not in as good shape as I used to be. When I was a kid I'd take my bro along on the handlebars.
posted by Opposite George at 12:08 AM on May 1, 2007


Oh, what I wouldn't give for bikes like yours! Mine is actually a homemade job, constructed out of house bricks & leftover lead plumbing supplies, with no pedals, chain or gears, a couple of deflated truck inner tubes for tyres, and the only luxury being a real man saddle.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:19 AM on May 1, 2007


The World Famous, there is a CVT in-hub system. I think it'd be awesome to combine CVT with a bike version of the tweel, but the closest I could come to that is urethane filled tires.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:15 AM on May 1, 2007


Sweet.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:33 AM on May 1, 2007


Fixed gear for kids sounds like a recipe for first aid.

As somebody whose first bike was a fixed gear without brakes (cheapness), I can vouch for that. Especially in a place with really steep hills like Tenerife. I think I still have the scars...
posted by Skeptic at 2:44 AM on May 1, 2007


Skeptic are you sure you had a fixed gear? Are you sure you aren't the seven trillion and first person to confuse fixed gear with a coaster brake? If you had to stop pedaling and push back on the pedal to stop it was a coaster brake. A fixed gear bicycle means you can't stop pedaling.
posted by splatta at 4:32 AM on May 1, 2007


Long ago, I naturally removed all braking mechanisms from my bike as I was often tempted to use them, and while it was true that using the brakes would occasionally allow me to avoid the inconvenience of crippling injuries or death, they always resulted in the loss of the sweet, sweet speed I had pedaled so hard to build up.

So while I was lying in the hospital recovering from major head trauma, I realized where I had gone wrong, and that I had to take it to the next level - fixed gears are fine, but REAL cyclists use fixed-handlebar bikes. Without any way to slow down or turn at low speeds, I have no option but to ride really fast all the time, and my delivery times have never been better, and THAT's what really matters, amirite?
posted by kcds at 4:46 AM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hmm.
(eyes up commuter route)
Nah.
posted by Luddite at 5:14 AM on May 1, 2007


Huh, I had no idea fixed gear bikes were some sort of 'hipster' thing - I was under the impression that, couriers aside, they were the preserve of middle-aged men with a liking for real ale and unkempt beards.

I bought one a couple of weeks ago, mostly because I got bored of having to tinker with my previous bike practically every time I went out on it, but also because the fixed gear is light enough that I can easily carry it up the five flights to my flat, and no scally is going to steal it when it's locked up beside all the pretty new mountain bikes. (Also, maybe its because I'm a beginner, but riding the fixed gear is making me a more cautious and saftey-conscious rider than I was before, not turning me into some hurtling brakeless loon.)
posted by jack_mo at 5:16 AM on May 1, 2007


My paperboy bike was a Schwinn 2 speed with coaster brakes that changed gears every time you applied the brakes. I got used to hitting them twice to stay in the same gear. It was like a tank - being a kid I did no maintenence on it, and it lasted for years anyway - nothing was exposed to the elements.
posted by rfs at 6:12 AM on May 1, 2007


Don't forget, to complete the hipster single speed fake messenger look, one needs a messenger bag and one of those small u-locks, which must be carried in ones back pocket. And throw away that dorky helmet!
posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:23 AM on May 1, 2007


Metafilter: The preserve of middle-aged men with a liking for real ale and unkempt beards.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:35 AM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't forget, to complete the hipster single speed fake messenger look, one needs a messenger bag and one of those small u-locks, which must be carried in ones back pocket. And throw away that dorky helmet!

check, check, and check!
posted by splatta at 6:46 AM on May 1, 2007


Guys,
Have an awesome time on your bikes. Be careful.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:56 AM on May 1, 2007


Ubu roivas: nobody other than track cyclists & a tiny number of weirdos ever rode them

Actually, fixies have been around as long as other bikes and have had a bit of an outlaw reputation for as long. Back in the day, fixie riders were called "scorchers," a name that the maximum-zoot bike maker Ibis resurrected for their own fixed-gear street bike. this review of the Scorcher even includes a bit of century-old doggerel, the poem "I am the scorcher!"
posted by adamrice at 6:58 AM on May 1, 2007


I ride a motorscooter. No pedals. Pwned.

Brando did not ride into town on a Vespa, dude.
posted by jonmc at 7:16 AM on May 1, 2007


I notice a lot of fixies around SF and I've even seen a guy who occasionally commutes on a unicycle, but I'm still waiting for someone to show up on the great grand-daddy of today's ungeared bike, the penny-farthing. Now that's a fad waiting to happen!
posted by Quietgal at 7:27 AM on May 1, 2007


If I remember my cycling history correctly, the first few Tour De Frances were on Fixed Gear bikes.
posted by drezdn at 7:29 AM on May 1, 2007


Knees are delicate enough already; I don't understand why anyone would want to turn a low-impact activity into a high-impact activity by riding a fixie (save for race cadence training). You'll trade a small weight advantage and less maintainence for bonus wear-and-tear on your body's most vulnerable joint? No thanks; I'd like to be able to bike when I'm fifty.
posted by Kwine at 7:39 AM on May 1, 2007


I was under the impression that, couriers aside, they were the preserve of middle-aged men with a liking for real ale and unkempt beards.

You're thinking of recumbents.

**Dodges brick**
posted by Opposite George at 7:52 AM on May 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


drezdn,

If I remember my cycling history correctly, the first few Tour De Frances were on Fixed Gear bikes.

You may find this article interesting.
posted by Opposite George at 8:02 AM on May 1, 2007


You don't have to wreck your knees on a fixie. Just fit a brake or two and use a sensible gear and it's not a problem. Such a setup is arguably even better for your knees because if a fixie does anything well, it teaches you how to spin, nice and flexible. I'm tempted to think commuting on a fixie's been good for my knees as I get a bit older, keeping them more supple, but it's just a hunch.

The right gear is important. I see these young guys pushing a 48x14 at low cadences and have to wonder where their knees will be in twenty years. Amateur time-trialling in the UK has rules against younger racers using too high fixed gears.
posted by normy at 8:11 AM on May 1, 2007


"Hipster" is the new "dweeb."
posted by The Deej at 8:18 AM on May 1, 2007


Oh, and if you think you are riding a fixie, you aren't.
posted by The Deej at 8:35 AM on May 1, 2007


I had a bike like this when I was 5 years old...and I hated it. A bike that doesn't coast simply isn't fun to ride. Who the hell would buy one.
posted by zorro astor at 9:19 AM on May 1, 2007


a friend once commented to me that metafilter is absolutely terrible at discussing things that require getting away from the computer to understand. i see this post is no exception.

i ride my (yes, brakeless) track bike around 200 miles a week, around san francisco and up in to marin. its fun, and i dont see its popularity waning any time soon, at least around here.

someone earlier posted something about "trixies on fixies" so here you go...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0AFpq6jFok

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAfjwK92WNw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaxAEXBBKfY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lePP2BaZhJU
posted by atom128 at 11:24 AM on May 1, 2007


do you no how to do linkies
posted by found missing at 12:23 PM on May 1, 2007


do you no how to do linkies

Psh!!!! atom128 is soooo very busy NOT not getting away from the computer that he can't do linkies! He needs more time not getting away from the computer. Then he can do MetaFilter well, instead of worrying what MeFi does not do well.

Wait... there is an "away"? He... he has been there? Where is this "away"? Help us atom!!!!! Heeeelllllllppppp usssssss!!!!!!
posted by The Deej at 12:30 PM on May 1, 2007


Now I want to see Trannies without Trannies
posted by Megafly at 12:36 PM on May 1, 2007


meh. Alum frame, front Rox, 23 lbs w/ a Bontrager seat and I'll take any "fixie" on. And we don't even have mountains here. Those wacky purists.
posted by winks007 at 2:38 PM on May 1, 2007


splatta Skeptic are you sure you had a fixed gear? Are you sure you aren't the seven trillion and first person to confuse fixed gear with a coaster brake?

Erm, I have a Master's in Mechanical Engineering. Believe me, I know the difference between fixed gear and coaster brake. I didn't meet a coaster brake until much, much later and I remember being distinctly flummoxed by that. On the other hand, the sheer terror of feeling the chain jump when trying to slow down a descent down a steep hill is deeply ingrained in my subconscious since age five, thank you very much...
posted by Skeptic at 3:32 PM on May 1, 2007


Why does a bicycle thread on Metafiler make so many people angry?
posted by monkeymike at 3:34 PM on May 1, 2007


Because bicycle is the new hymen.
posted by found missing at 3:38 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


found...
now THAT's some funny stuff.
posted by The Deej at 3:46 PM on May 1, 2007


Re: the fixed gear for kids thing. Fixie road bikes are/were not uncommon in some countries, especially in the Carribean. Supposedly, the popularity of fixies among messengers started in NY where a lot of the old-timers grew up riding the things in Jamaica.
posted by Opposite George at 4:06 PM on May 1, 2007


a friend once commented to me that metafilter is absolutely terrible at discussing things that require getting away from the computer to understand

how right you are! speaking for myself, i actually have absolutely zero real-life experience or understanding, other than what i have learned via the computer.

obviously, i'd have to ignore my three university degrees (sociology, law & IT), travel to around 60 different countries, formal study of a half dozen musical instruments & eight foreign languages, participation in around a dozen organised sports, um, i'm guessing a few thousand books read & a veritable army of weird & wonderful people who i've met over the years. but yeh, computing is what i do all day, every day, so it's all i understand.

maybe some of the folks over at AskMe know something of this real world of which you speak & could tell me something about it, but i guess they'd probably just be googling or wikipediaing their answers.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:17 PM on May 1, 2007


Plus he's an Aussie, which means he probably drives a rear-wheel drive V8 supercar that's unavailable in the U.S. So there, you dolts!
posted by The World Famous at 5:21 PM on May 1, 2007


you'd better fucken' believe it!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:55 PM on May 1, 2007


The title of this thread says Enter the Velodrome but I didn't see any track matches. You really need to see a world championship match sprint. It's pretty amazing to me that the strategy is basically to do a trackstand for as long as possible to make the guy in back crack and move in front.
posted by hindmost at 6:07 PM on May 1, 2007


I had a fixie when I was 10. It was a huge pain in the ass going up and down hills, having the pedals wildly spinning when going down and having to get off the bike on a really steep hill (I biked a lot in the Poconos). I guess if you care about image and being "raw" you can get one, but I fail to see the point. There was a reason I upgraded to a nice aluminum 12 speed.
posted by vodkadin at 6:30 PM on May 1, 2007


Alas, UbuRovias, I have you beaten, for I drive a Holden VE Commodore SS-V with a direct drive, single gear transmission and no brakes.
posted by The World Famous at 7:04 PM on May 1, 2007


Is that the fixed-steering-wheel model that comes standard with extra-thick roo bars & a bonus Brockie engine polariser for added horsepower?
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:25 PM on May 1, 2007


Of the five bikes chained to poles between the subway and my office, four were rear-brake-less. Now that I know what to look for I'm going to be seeing them everywhere, aren't I?
posted by Skorgu at 8:46 AM on May 2, 2007


I hate to be the one to point out what pussies you fixed-gear people are, but fixed-steering really is the only way to go. My bike has a single shaft from the handlebars to the front wheel, and excludes all the excess weight needed for your fancy “turning” mechanism. It provides the cleanest, sleekest look, and it hones my balancing and hop-turning skills (which is why a lot of pros use this kind of bike for practice).
posted by found missing at 9:33 AM on May 2, 2007


Wow, you're a wuss, found missing. I have a 6-foot-diameter bike wheel, and I just grab handholds on the rim (and clip my feet into some attached cleats) and roll around all freestyle and shit. If you have bars or shafts on your bike, you're a total suckass sellout loser.
posted by COBRA! at 9:37 AM on May 2, 2007


Can't believe what a bunch of posers ALL of you are! I roll myself around on the asphalt to get from place to place! No fancy "bike" needed. Nothing to carry, and it works equally well off road and on. I have the callouses on my face to prove it!

Frickin losers.
posted by The Deej at 10:36 AM on May 2, 2007


You use your body? Geez that’s pitiful. Think of all the excess weight you’re dragging around. I use my fixie-stee for recreational riding, but when I commute to work, I do it ENTIRELY MENTALLY. It is extremely efficient and I can do cool tricks.
posted by found missing at 11:04 AM on May 2, 2007


I meant to say fix-stee.
posted by found missing at 11:05 AM on May 2, 2007


Whoa... I don't think I could go pure mental at this point, but maybe I could have my brain roll down the street, and work my way toward it.

And how the heck did you know I have excess weight?

Ohhhh that mental thing again. Dang. :: putting on something decent ::
posted by The Deej at 3:35 PM on May 2, 2007


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