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February 9, 2009 12:51 PM   Subscribe

I like watching videos of people riding fixed gear bikes in the city: Empire, MashSF, Macaframa, Fast Friday, Bootleg Sessions, Lucas Brunelle's crazy vids (linked on MeFi before). Don't like videos? Try Fixed Gear Magazine (pdf of vol 1 and vol 2) or CogMag (dead tree mag, but excerpts from each issue are on their site).
posted by You Should See the Other Guy (54 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fixies sell a lot higher than they would if hipsters knew how to use very simple tools. Sometimes hipsters can introduce you to interesting things but the ones who ride hipsters are not to the credit of the social group. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is completely lost upon them.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 1:01 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not all who ride fixed gear bikes are hipsters. Also, since people have been riding fixed gears (again) in Philly for at least the past 15 years, and other cities for 20+, and I'm just talking about large numbers here, not the hardcore bike nuts and trackies that have always ridden fixed gears, is it really still a trend? Or is it more like a choice at this point?

Anyway, looks like some interesting links there Guy, if I may call you Guy; I'll check 'em out at home.
posted by Mister_A at 1:08 PM on February 9, 2009


Fixies may be "elegant" and "simple" but my bike is "faster"

Quotes for "emphasis."
posted by orville sash at 1:17 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I watched the first video. I don't get it. Does the fact that they are fixed gear make it much harder than it looks? 'Cause it doesn't look very hard. It just looks like they are riding bikes on busy roads. I guess not being able to brake easily makes it more dangerous or something?

If I'm going to do something hardcore and dangerous, I want it to look dangerous, like base jumping or rock climbing without ropes. Maybe they need signs that say "I don't have any brakes!"
posted by diogenes at 1:18 PM on February 9, 2009


Your favourite bike sucks.
posted by fire&wings at 1:29 PM on February 9, 2009


I had no idea it was time to talk about fixies again. Where does the time go.
posted by found missing at 1:31 PM on February 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


I like riding my fixed gear bike. It's a lot more fun that watching videos of people riding their bikes. Did a 200K on my Quickbeam a couple years ago, no cities involved.
posted by fixedgear at 1:31 PM on February 9, 2009


It's always time to talk about bikes, bro.
posted by Mister_A at 1:32 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, how'd I know you'd show up here fixedgear?
posted by Mister_A at 1:32 PM on February 9, 2009


I commuted via bike in various high-traffic cities 1985-2000 but I hope the clowns threading through peds at speed get utterly creamed some day.

I haven't locked up my rear wheel in like 30 years, either. Rubber is money.
posted by troy at 1:38 PM on February 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


One - Is that guy grinding his chainwheel in the first video, around 2:10? How - what - is that okay? Huh?

Two - that first video really captures what it feels like to ride around Manhattan on a spring day. OH MAN this weather makes me wish it were spring!
posted by suedehead at 1:46 PM on February 9, 2009


I suppose this is a bit like the hipsters who buy Lomo and Diana cameras and hook up Metz or Lumedyne strobes to them - "See? I have good equipment. I know what good equipment looks like, and I'm prepared to pay for it. I'm using this little plastic camera to make a statement."

What the statement is, I'm not terribly certain, but I'm sure it's heartfelt.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:47 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fixies may be "elegant" and "simple" but my bike is "faster"

I've never understood why people say this. I mean, how do you know unless you ride both? Because you're passing fixed riders all the time? You could just be a better cyclist. Or they could not be trying to beat you.

Click the MashSF link and then watch the Garrett video... the rider he smokes on his fixed gear at the end of that video? Lance Armstrong. Sure, doesn't prove anything... but it's silly to think that fixed gear bikes can't be incredibly fast.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:49 PM on February 9, 2009


DC has a lot of fixies rolling around. It also has a lot of policy wonks riding recumbents. I would like to see a hipster policy wonk with a fixed gear recumbent.
posted by exogenous at 1:54 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is my favorite video by Lucas Brunelle.
posted by schyler523 at 1:57 PM on February 9, 2009


That Quicksilver scene's almost a Rickroll by now, isn't it. Ah well.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:06 PM on February 9, 2009




I like watching videos of people walking down the street with tight pants on myself. Anybody have some good links?
posted by thylacine at 2:09 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bikes are just hunks of metal, carbon fiber or bamboo. The people who ride them are fast or slow.
posted by fixedgear at 2:12 PM on February 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also known as, "How many traffic accidents can I cause without being held responsible for any of them?"
posted by not_on_display at 2:25 PM on February 9, 2009


diogenes -- the amount of weaving in the videos that the riders are doing, in urban traffic, shooting gaps between taxis and trucks can look rather dangerous and intimidating to novice riders, who are still coming to terms with the idea of 'taking a lane'.

If you're used to riding in the city, though, and understand how drivers instinctively leave gaps between themselves, and how drivers instinctively do not want to collide with anything, then the riding itself is ok. Weaving through a block of taxis jammed behind a red light? Whatever ... might was well watch horses show-jumping over hurdles.

oh, and diogenes, as an owner of both a fixed-gear and a derailleur bike, I can certainly say that, for a city with light to medium amounts of climbing and heavy traffic congestion, my derailleur bike is definitely faster of the two.
posted by bl1nk at 2:28 PM on February 9, 2009


I ride a plain vanilla Trek MTB and have no experience on a fixed gear bike.

So what's the deal with fixies, you can't stop pedaling ever, to coast, or your rear wheal locks up? That seems odd. When I was a kid I had a sweet red Huffy with only one gear, and when you stopped pedaling you just coasted, to apply the brakes you pedaled backwards slightly. Why aren't fixed gear bikes set up like my sweet red Huffy?
posted by Science! at 2:29 PM on February 9, 2009


oh, last paragraph was directed at You Should See the Other Guy , not diogenes.
posted by bl1nk at 2:30 PM on February 9, 2009


obligatory link to Sheldon Brown's tribute to the fixed gear bicycle.

Basically, it's a more efficient transmission system, that requires some training to adjust to cadence, but prevents you from being able to coast. So, your Huffy is sweet, but it's not as fast nor does it accelerate as well as it could if it didn't allow you to coast.

This is important for some people.
posted by bl1nk at 2:36 PM on February 9, 2009


I got 30 seconds into the first video before my blood started to boil. I'm a sometime bike commuter, all the time bike safety advocate and the bottom line here is that asshats like these make it less safe for me when drivers start to lose what little respect they already have for cyclists who share the road with them. Zipping down the left side of a street on the sidewalk, popping into the crosswalk and then into traffic...is that supposed to be cool? Riding without a helmet, is that supposed to be EXTREME? Wow, these guys are badass. Don't expect me at the inevitable memorial ride.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:44 PM on February 9, 2009 [7 favorites]


it's not as fast nor does it accelerate as well as it could if it didn't allow you to coast

Please explain why this is so. Don't most freewheel mechanisms have a positive lock when driven by the pedals?
posted by rocket88 at 2:48 PM on February 9, 2009


Why aren't fixed gear bikes set up like my sweet red Huffy?

Sometimes they are. In which case they're not fixed gears but single speed bikes.

as an owner of both a fixed-gear and a derailleur bike, I can certainly say that, for a city with light to medium amounts of climbing and heavy traffic congestion, my derailleur bike is definitely faster of the two.

I also own both and feel the opposite. I never ride my geared bike anymore, actually--not once last year and rarely the year before. But what used to be a 35 minute commute to work (13km mostly uphill in rush hour traffic) is now a 25 minute ride. Coming home is about 17mins. If I change the gear ratio by just a two teeth either way I add about 3 minutes to those times.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:04 PM on February 9, 2009


Why aren't fixed gear bikes set up like my sweet red Huffy?

Coaster brakes aren't the best brakes. They fail if the chain breaks, and can overheat in hilly areas. Better to have regular brakes for braking; and if you want to coast, ride a freewheel.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:08 PM on February 9, 2009


All I saw in the first video were bikers riding wherever they damn well pleased, zipping between pedestrians in crosswalks right-of-way be damned and riding the line in oncoming traffic, jamming out to someone's favorite band who most likely sucks.

I like bikes and I hope the roads are made more safe for them but this is dickish behavior.
posted by Tacodog at 3:15 PM on February 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


In addition to what oneirodynia said, coaster brake hubs also tend to be cheaply made, no offense to a beloved Huffy. They are generally stamped instead of forged. The bearing quality is poor. It's usually not possible to adjust them so there is no drag, so the brakes shoes are always rubbing the hub shell just a little bit.
posted by fixedgear at 3:17 PM on February 9, 2009


My freewheel won't lock up when it's under -15C or so; the grease congeals. I guess a fixie would be good for that. A crufty winter fixie so I don't trash my good bike in the salt they use around here. Hmm.... a thought for next season.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:18 PM on February 9, 2009


Speaking as a former NYC bike messenger: freewheel is faster than fixed... because you can skitch :)
posted by nicwolff at 3:25 PM on February 9, 2009


Track bikes are fun but they are not - I REPEAT NOT - bmx bikes. The whole doing tricks thing on a fixed gear is about the dumbest phenomena ever.

Suffering through 10 min's of kids with white belts wearing girl jeans doing bar spins is just stupid.

(For the record - I do about 50 miles or more a week on a track bike but I also ride geared as well.)
posted by photoslob at 3:42 PM on February 9, 2009


If a fixie without brakes strikes me, my wife, my car, my friend, or a random passer-by, they will not only have a mangled bike to deal with, but they will have a problem riding with two broken legs, and bitching about it without any fucking TEETH!
posted by Sukiari at 4:17 PM on February 9, 2009


If a fixie without brakes strikes me, my wife, my car, my friend, or a random passer-by, they will not only have a mangled bike to deal with, but they will have a problem riding with two broken legs, and bitching about it without any fucking TEETH!

Man,your wife is a lucky woman!
posted by OmieWise at 4:26 PM on February 9, 2009


If a fixie without brakes strikes...my car...

Really? I mean, really? You'd break someone's legs and knock their teeth out because they ride their bike into your car? Really?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:41 PM on February 9, 2009


Some people are just REALLY cool like that.
posted by snsranch at 4:46 PM on February 9, 2009


As a bicycle-only commuter for over a decade, all over the wonderful to ride in city of chicago, I have great respect for the culture. But biking through peds is as bad if not worse than cars weaving at bicyclists. I knew a guy who got struck by a bicyclist and broke his femur. Impact is always in favor of the one with higher velocity.

most annoying anecdote: I'm walking on sidewalk and almost get struck by a cyclist. I tell him, "don't be racing on the sidewalk, get on the road (as I always do when riding)." He responds: "I don't want to get hit by a car, road's not safe." My response: "and pedestrians don't want to get hit by a bicyclist. That's a technically a vehicle. That's why the laws require you be on the road."

His response: "Don't be a pussy!" No sense of irony. So yeah.. everyone sucks.
posted by sarcasman at 5:01 PM on February 9, 2009


Thanks for the info.
posted by Science! at 5:06 PM on February 9, 2009


MY FRIENDS KID DIED WHILE RIDING A FIXIE IN THE CITY. I have nothing against risk taking behavior, but the risk reward ratio of doing this is not worth it imho. I think his family would concur. If you lived in the Netherlands where they have dedicated bicycle roads, it is a different story, but cars, trucks and bicycles are a perilous mixture at best. I consider cyclists Bodhisattva like in their dedication to riding at their own peril for all of our goods as it is, a fixie is just to risky in the city, please get your thrills in safer ways. Life is so precious, loss so sad. May you be happy, well and at peace whatever you choose to do.
posted by sensi63 at 5:08 PM on February 9, 2009


So what's the logic behind not having brakes? Is it just a 'hardcore' thing?
posted by rocket88 at 6:27 PM on February 9, 2009


Lots of fixed gear bikes have brakes, that much I know. Track bikes don't have brakes because you only use them in velodromes where everyone is going in the same direction and nobody can come to a sudden halt in front of you.
posted by Science! at 6:40 PM on February 9, 2009


Why aren't fixed gear bikes set up like my sweet red Huffy?

Coaster brakes are associated with kid's bikes and cheap beach cruisers. However, they're perfectly functional, mature technology, commonplace on many European commuter bikes for their ease of use and reliability. They brake as well as any rear wheel brake, are not significantly draggy in actual use, and are only as cheap as they need to be, and no more. They cannot be adjusted for no drag, but that's because no hub can be adjusted for no drag. They are usually made from stamped steel. This is not a bad thing. Bearings may be sub par, but I've never noticed any actual problems with them.

There is a "nicer" machined steel coaster brake hub modeled after the old F&S hub. Made in the Czech Republic, and a fine piece of machinery to behold, it unfortunately weighs more and performs no better than the cheap Shimano/KT hubs found on kid's bikes and beach cruisers. And they're kinda hard to find in the US. They should theoretically be less draggy, having retracting brake shoes and a roller clutch. But once laced up, they're largely indistinguishable from a cheapo, or a freewheel for that matter.

They do heat up when braking heavily. My 225 pound self cannot get them to fail (no smoke/turning blue/no fading) going down a long West L.A. grade (Mandeville Canyon Rd.), however.

It is true that they can fail if the chain falls off. Which should be an obvious trait they may share with fixies. Once again, an argument for having a front brake. To their credit, chains don't fall off nearly as often as they do on derailers. I can't recall it ever happening to any of my single speeds, fixed or otherwise. I cannot attest to their sub 0ยบ performance.

I'm a big advocate of coaster brake hubs. It's a pity they are not taken more seriously by bicyclists, even if they are often preferred by practical bike users. I ride one hard about half the time. The other half, a fixie.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:42 PM on February 9, 2009


"I commuted via bike in various high-traffic cities 1985-2000 but I hope the clowns threading through peds at speed get utterly creamed some day."




I had always hoped that the quality of discourse on metafilter would be superior than some asshole wishing death on people.
posted by entropone at 5:04 AM on February 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I drive a fixed gear car. Also called a "wheelbarrow".
posted by DU at 5:53 AM on February 10, 2009


Monkeymike's Law: any post on Metafilter involving bicycles will contain at least one comment threatening to kill cyclists, regardless of topic.
posted by monkeymike at 8:30 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The videos of guys weaving in and out of traffic at dangerous speeds only hurts cyclists' image further. But the clean lines of a nice fixed gear - offft!!
posted by tomw at 8:32 AM on February 10, 2009


I got your track bike right here.
posted by fixedgear at 8:38 AM on February 10, 2009


"Man,your wife is a lucky woman!"

Wouldn't you view it as assault? Some asshole is too cool for brakes, and if they crash into a person it's just peachy with you?

So if I take out a firearm and just start randomly firing it into a crowd, is that any worse than weaving through crowds of pedestrians on a fixie? Either way it's likely that people will be injured or killed.

Dumbass.
posted by Sukiari at 9:37 AM on February 10, 2009


"Monkeymike's Law: any post on Metafilter involving bicycles will contain at least one comment threatening to kill cyclists, regardless of topic."

Notice I threatened nobody with death. I just offered to help these people with their cycling choices in the future. Hand powered recumbents anybody?
posted by Sukiari at 9:40 AM on February 10, 2009


You know who else compared riding a bike without civility to firing randomly into a crowd?
posted by OmieWise at 10:54 AM on February 10, 2009


OmieWise: You know who else compared riding a bike without civility to firing randomly into a crowd?

This man.
posted by not_on_display at 12:54 PM on February 10, 2009



You know who else compared riding a bike without civility to firing randomly into a crowd?
posted by OmieWise


wait wait wait...let me guess. Hitler?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:32 PM on February 10, 2009


Really? I mean, really? You'd break someone's legs and knock their teeth out because they ride their bike into your car? Really?

I don't know about the OP, but I would break the fucktard's legs for being mechanically inept, immature arrogant hipster assclown.

They are just bikes, people. Grow the fuck up!
posted by c13 at 5:30 PM on February 10, 2009


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