Fixed Gear Friday: Would you buy one?

I’ve recently sold both of my Fixed Geared bikes, I just wasn’t riding them as much due to knee issues.

But, we are curious to know how many of you already own a fixed geared bike, how many of you are considering buying one and how many of you won’t get one. You can find our poll on the right sidebar, so go ahead and vote!

30 Comments

  1. cafn8 April 25, 2008 7:08 am 

    I’ll say that the whole concept intrigues me. Simplicity is always an advantage from both a cost and reliability standpoint. I’ve considered doing a conversion to single speed or fixed. The problem for me is that in my area there are many hills. Not necessarily long ones, but steep enough that I’d need to accommodate them with a lower gear. A lower gear would also be nice for the frequent stops, as my area is somewhat congested. I doubt that I would be satisfied with the top speed that such a setup would give me. As much as I’ve ridden around in a single gear on my derailleur- equipped bikes to see which ratio suited me best I always wanted a higher or lower gear at some point, whether jumping across a hole in traffic to make a left turn from a standstill or sprinting to merge with motorized traffic before a left turn. I’m leaning toward a nice internally geared 3-speed at some point in the future, though.

    In short, I might like riding fixed, but I don’t think that any one gear ratio would meet my needs.

  2. fixedgear April 25, 2008 7:22 am 

    Two road fixies. 7ooc wheels, one fendered and bagged, one carbon forked and Look pedaled. One 26″ wheel MTB flat bar fixie commuter. One 27″ wheel Santan tandem fixie. Yeah, I’d buy one. Oh yeah, NOS Sturmey Archer 2 speed fixed hub waiting to be built into a wheel and then on to a custom frame. I was doing it circa 1995, and I’ll be doing it long after the hipsters are done with theirs.

  3. Ghost Rider April 25, 2008 7:47 am 

    I’ve got a fixed gear, and I’d probably buy/build another if something unique came along…but mostly, I side with Cafn8: sometimes that one gear just isn’t the RIGHT gear. Weird for me to say that as I have a few one-geared bikes!

  4. Q April 25, 2008 7:54 am 

    I don’t own one, but have considered it many times, now that I have moved to the flat part of town thing about it more.

    strangely I have thought about getting one b/c of my knee issues.

  5. Jamis_Bater April 25, 2008 8:46 am 

    I can appreciate it, especially the skill set in negotiating traffic and stopping quickly, but I won’t get one. Single speeders are a little more possible, but then if I want a single speeder I can just not shift. Yeah I know they are simply and less likely to need a mechanic, I was just joking. I wonder when folks will make a bike that is sort of like a TdF race bike just before Campagnolo was inspired to create the derailleur. Essentially a two speeder, one gear for the flats and one for the hills. It’d need to be an “on the fly” sort of thing, maybe a compact front derailleur on a single speed. Is that possible?

  6. Siouxgeonz April 25, 2008 8:55 am 

    Just another survey without a “none of the above” option. Blecch.

    They’re not for me.

  7. Tony April 25, 2008 9:03 am 

    Yep, I had one build out of on old frame I pulled out of the trash.

    Had a local shop build up a new wheelset, replaced the aged bottom bracket and have ridden the heck out of it for the last couple of years.

    I have brakes .. and use them, so I’m not “hard core.” But, I really like the simplicity of the bike, the low maintance and the feel of it.

    One revelation: while you only have one gear and hills and headwinds pull you down into a low cadence, it’s actually easier to ride a low cadence on a fixed. It feels like the back wheel acts as a flywheel, helping you through the pedal “dead spots” and making a low cadence substantially easier to maintain.

  8. Printenv April 25, 2008 9:05 am 

    I prefer my singlespeed setup to a fixie. I like being able to coast down hills instead of trying to pedal. A fixie just doens’t seem as fun to me.

  9. cafn8 April 25, 2008 9:22 am 

    Jamis_Bater: you could put a Schlumpf mountain drive or speed drive on a single speed.

  10. SF Bike Commuter April 25, 2008 10:32 am 

    I ride a fixed gear bike to work two days a week. The other days I ride my road bike. The Fixed is a Bike Friday which I also use as my bike when I travel. I have a Surley Dingle Cog on the back to give me two gear ratios; one for cruising and one for hills. This makes it a great travel bike and also makes it a useful bike for commuting in the Bay area.

  11. Zak April 25, 2008 10:34 am 

    I have 3 at home.
    One vintage 1953 Paramount Track Bike
    One Raleigh conversion i did in 2004 before it was cool to ride to school. FGG#3649
    One new IRO markv commuter.

    They are far superior in heavy traffic and for short trips around town.

    I train on the IRO in the off season.

    Its fun and good for you. It improves your pedaling. Use brakes be safe.

  12. Jamis_Bater April 25, 2008 10:54 am 

    cafn8, now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Thanks.

  13. Gord April 25, 2008 12:43 pm 

    I just bought one yesterday! A Steelwool Sweet City, and it is really sweet! It’s now my main commuter ride. It’s got a flip-flop hub so if the novelty of a fixie wears off I’ll put a freewheel on the other side.

  14. Ghost Rider April 25, 2008 1:44 pm 

    Mmm…Steelwool! That is one swank-looking frame.

    I wonder, though, why they went with an EBB rather than horizontal dropouts or track forkends — maybe it’s so folks can hear you coming! Creak, creak, creak…

  15. maryini April 25, 2008 2:15 pm 

    There is a very important distinction that needs to be made: “fixed-gear bikes” and “track bikes”.

    Some of you reading this already know the difference, but based on the comments above, may folks do not. A “fixed-gear bike”, by very definition, is any type of bicycle set up as a single-speed with a fixed cog on the rear wheel. On the other hand, a track bike is a bike which, in addition to being set up as single-speed with a fixed cog in the rear, also has certain frame geometry traits, is built intended for indoor racing on a track (hence the name) and, in general, at least technically speaking, excludes the use of a brake of any kind.

    IMHO, everyone who enjoys riding bikes should give fixed (read: not track bike) riding a try – it’s a lot of fun, though it is not for everyone. Concerns about stopping, riding technique, and your knees can all easily be addressed by the specific aspects of the fixed gear bike you choose to set up. Furthermore, single-speed bikes, whether set up with a freewheel or a fixed cog, are wonderful, simple machines for many applications and one should not get too hung up on the whole “fixed” thing when considering the benefits of having a single-speed bike in their collection.

    I’ll refrain from too much commentary on riding track bikes on the street. Fixed gears aren’t for everyone, riding track on the street is better suited for even fewer – but can still be fun – after all, it’s a bike!

    The bike shown in the photo above is a track bike.

  16. Moe April 25, 2008 2:29 pm 

    maryni: You are right, that used to be my Pinarello Amatore Pista which is now on its way to Japan.

  17. 2whls3spds April 25, 2008 5:07 pm 

    We used to train on fixed gear track bikes back in the 70’s. We did manage to fit front brakes on them. I currently own a Redline 9.2.5 I like fixed for riding in bad weather, gives me better control and less things to get frozen up. My “normal” riding bikes are IGH for the most part. Only exception being my long haul tour bikes…can’t afford the Rolhoff.

  18. Mike Myers April 26, 2008 4:11 am 

    I would consider a singlespeed(especially the Raleigh One Way) but a fixed gear doesn’t interest me. I like being able to coast.

  19. Roman Holiday April 26, 2008 12:10 pm 

    Train on a single speed – race on gears.

  20. Tim April 26, 2008 1:35 pm 

    I’m with Mike. I understand the simplicity of single speed, and I’m definitely on-board with no derailleurs, but I can’t understand the fixie fascination. The free wheel hub just cannot possibly add enough complexity to justify the loss of convenience in corners and at stops. Im not into doing stunts and tricks (plenty to see on YouTube), so I’d never buy a fixie. Makes no sense for a commuter bike.

  21. shishi April 27, 2008 4:36 pm 

    I have one and it is great for commuting in NYC.

  22. cafn8 April 28, 2008 6:33 am 

    I’ve heard a couple of comments which have my interest, such as:

    “far superior in heavy traffic and for short trips around town.”

    “great for commuting in NYC”

    I’m not trying to refute these claims, but it seems to me that in heavy traffic it would be best to be able to be able to gear down for a quick start from a dead stop, or gear up for a quick sprint. That’s saying nothing about hills, because not all people have to deal with that. I’m also wondering how easy it is to deal with crank positions at a dead stop.

    Would anyone elaborate on why fixed gear bikes are good in heavy traffic compared to a 3-speed internally geared bike or a freewheeled single speed, for example?

  23. Ghost Rider April 28, 2008 7:33 am 

    You know, I’ve often wondered about those claims as well…hopefully, someone will enlighten us!

    As for crank position, if the bike has a front brake you just squeeze the brake lever, unweight the back wheel and spin the crank around to a suitable start position. It’s a piece of cake.

  24. Mike C April 28, 2008 10:16 am 

    Better in traffic/Boston/NYC/whatever? More control and finesse-ability with the ability to adjust speed down via pedal stroke especially at low speeds, and if you go with a track bike, quicker steering for reacting to city stuff faster.

    Also better if the rider would not be on a bike otherwise…

    I had two fixies while I lived in Boston. One conversion that I rode sporadically for a year before it was stolen; one Windsor The Hour that I had for two weeks before finances dictated that we part ways. The first was my utility and only bike, and it was way fun learning to get around the city on it. The second was a second bike and it was fun, fun, fun to be back on a fixie again, but when push came to shove, it was the first to go as an extravagance when cash was short–I still commuted on my geared bike.

    Now, I live in hilly country where places to get to are few and far between. If I ever end up with a decent steel garage sale frame, I’d consider another conversion, but not a new bike.

    I did, however, just build up an IRO Rob Roy with an 8sp Nexus hub… if I ever get tired of the bike set up as a commuter, I could always get a cheap wheelset and be back in fixie business in no time.

  25. Mike C April 28, 2008 10:19 am 

    “Jamis_Bater: you could put a Schlumpf mountain drive or speed drive on a single speed.”

    I think Schlumpf specifically advises against using their drive on a fixie.

  26. james O. April 28, 2008 1:59 pm 

    It all depends on what kind of riding you do.

    I find the comment in reference to fixed-gear bicycles “Makes no sense for a commuter bike,” to be innacurate unless the author is saying that it just makes no sense to him. It actually makes a lot of sense.

    I get way more bang for my excercise buck on a fixed-gear, my pedal stroke has improved, my awareness of what’s going on around me improved dramatically because it has to, my bike is lighter and easier to maintain which is great because I ride the hell out of it every day, and I must concur with others that it really is fun to ride fixed. I don’t do tricks and all that hullabaloo. It’s just a different feel that once you get used to, is hard drop.

    I have a fixed gear IRO that I use for my every day commute, and I have a geared road bike that use for longer rides / touring / big hill climbing etc.

    Any bike fanatic should know that it pays to have more than weapon in their arsenal. Different bikes for different jobs is the way to go.

  27. james O. April 28, 2008 2:03 pm 

    Sorry,

    It’s just a different feel that once you get used to, is hard TO drop.

    Any bike fanatic should know that it pays to have more than ONE weapon in their arsenal. Different bikes for different jobs is the way to go.

    Any bike fanatic should also know to proofread before posting.

  28. Gunnar April 30, 2008 1:05 pm 

    I love my fixedwheels. Both are road conversions with a brake. One is set up with mustache bars and hybrid tires for going to work. The other has drops and skinny racing tires for training and going fast. Though it’s geared a tooth higher in the back than the commuter.

    For commuting it’s great. Lack of derailers and freewheels to get frozen. Direct feedback at the pedals about traction.

    As for not having enough gears, on most of my routes, I can average pretty much the same speed weather fixed or geared. I’m geared down enough to get up almost any hill in the area. Coming down the other side is an exercise in spinning, speed control with the brake, and keeping attention to what’s going on way ahead of me. I really beleive I am a better rider because of the miles I do fixed.

    Sure riding fixed is not for everyone. But I reccomend everyone trying it for a week before saying it’s not for them.

  29. monkeyone December 10, 2012 8:11 pm 

    I have been commuting on a track bike no brakes about 30 miles a day on flat ground in sacramento for three months now. love it. I like the challenge. and the simplicity of fixed gear. and to be honest i havnt rode anything serioulsly in years. To answer the question about pedal position when stopped at a light. I stand off the seat with one foot in my toe clip lift the back end of the bike with my hand and position my foot.

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