Fixed or Not Fixed? What do you ride?

For many of us Bike Commuters that are out there, we may be riding a fixed gear bike as our main commuter bike. Personally my commuter bike is the Redline 925 in which I have set it up as a fixed gear. I have the option to run it as a freewheel, but I simply like the fixed gear better.
Redline 925 Brown

Our very own Jack Sweeney is a Fixed Gear Bike Commuter himself, so that means if he’s doing it, it’s gotta be cool!

So let us know if you’re a fixed gear bike commuter, fill us in on where you ride and what kind of bike you commute with.

On a side note, when I was a young pup growing up in the Philippines, one of my uncles wanted to get into track racing. All he had was an old 10 speed that he converted over into a single speed. Since he couldn’t afford a “real” track bike, my other uncle welded the freewheel so it wouldn’t spin backwards. It worked! That was my first exposure to a fixed gear bike, at the age of 4!


26 Comments

  1. Ghost Rider October 12, 2011 4:32 am 

    While my bike is set up for both fixed or free, I almost always ride on the free side of the hub…the bike pictured above is my “sunny day with a light load” bike — it is impractical for a lot of other trips where I need to carry more.

    My first experience with a fixed gear was on an original Cinelli Laser track bike — one of my bike club members way back in the early 80s had one, and it was FUN to ride.

  2. Michael October 12, 2011 4:44 am 

    I don’t think that I get this whole “fixed gear” or even “free wheel single” phenomenon. Its ALL OVER Chicago where I commute. Didn’t god (I’m an atheist, BTW) invent gears and breaks for a reason?

    Both work well for me — and, while I tend to “time” my traffic lights far better than my colleagues who seem to have no regard for conservation of momentum, I would think that the “fixie” crowd would be the kinds of timing traffic lights.

    I just don’t get it. Hel?

  3. Michael October 12, 2011 4:49 am 

    Help?

  4. Kevin October 12, 2011 5:34 am 

    I commute 10 miles one direction to work. I have two 7% grade hills in that trip… soo I have a mountain bike style multi-speed. My MPH range is from 5 MPH to 40 MPH… dunno if I could “get” the spin at either end of the spectrum…;)

  5. Milk October 12, 2011 5:55 am 

    I have a fixed and a cargo. So when I decided to build a third bike, naturally I chose to get some gears, and heck, some brakes! Whoops! At the last minute, I had my bike shop swap out the 3-speed hub for, yes, another fixed gear. I used to poke fun at the “fixie-kids”, but after several years of having my fixed as my main commute bike, I’ve come to appreciate the rider/bike relationship that comes with riding it. A little less daydream coasting, a little more attention to that wonky intersection a block and a half away. I think of my “fixed bike” as my “focused bike”. Also, a lot fewer part to clean, tighten, and repair. Holler!

  6. Brandon October 12, 2011 6:15 am 

    I commuted by fixie for a few years until I bought my Civia Bryant. The Bryant allows for gears and discs and racks which otherwise would be impossible. I still have the fixie for fun, but for a true utility bike, I choose the Bryant.

  7. Fat Guy On a Bik October 12, 2011 7:03 am 

    I have a fixed Redline 925 as well. I have a set of custom fixed/fixed wheels on it with 15t/16t with the stock 42T chainring. It gets me around Seattle M–F and sometimes on the weekends.

  8. Fat Guy On a Bike October 12, 2011 7:15 am 

    I have a fixed Redline 925 as well. I have a set of custom fixed/fixed wheels on it with 15t/16t with the stock 42T chainring. It gets me around Seattle M–F and sometimes on the weekends. I’ve had to pull the fenders off of it because I run 32c tires, but I’ve added an SKS x3 spray guard on the back to keep the shorts dry.

  9. Robert Guico October 12, 2011 7:56 am 

    @Michael – the only possible advantage I could ever think up for a fixie is that is has less parts on it to take care of. No freewheel/cassette, derailleurs or brakes to worry about, so theoretically it costs less.

    I, however, don’t mind paying for the overhead of such components.

  10. Mike Myers October 12, 2011 8:00 am 

    I’ve never owned a fixed gear. I’ve thought about it, but I can’t see a legitimate usage for one in my life. I ride my bike to work in stop and go traffic, surrounded by a mix of elderly, redneck, and elderly redneck drivers. I have to climb several hills(yeah there are hills in Florida), stop and re-start multiple times, and I need to carry stuff. So a fixed commuter is out of the question.

    There are nice trails here, but I hate to have a bike I only ride after driving it 15 miles to a trailhead.

  11. Jeff Perry October 12, 2011 8:20 am 

    I have a Bully Porteur from Acme Bicycle Company. It has a rack on the front fork which will accommodate a milk crate and a low trail fork. I ride it fixed most of the time, 12 miles each way.

  12. RANTWICK October 12, 2011 9:40 am 

    Some fixed gears are (as GR notes) a little impractical for some commuting, but it isn’t a track-bike or nothing proposition. I like knobbies and gears in the snow and ice, but my most of the year commuter is fixed:

    http://rantwick.blogspot.com/2009/04/fixed-gear-bicycles-im-too-square-to-be.html

    I’m not going to go into a “zen” at one with the bike thing, but once you get the hang of it, fixed riding is just plain fun, although it is hard to describe why. For more reasons to go fixed, the mighty Sheldon Browne (RIP) sums up nicely at the beginning of this article:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed.html

  13. RANTWICK October 12, 2011 9:45 am 

    Oh RL, by the way, your setup with fenders and chainguard looks outstanding to me. Any rack thoughts?

  14. Doug Jesseph October 12, 2011 10:55 am 

    I built up a hipstermobile from an old Centurion road frame, using a flip/flop hub that I run almost exclusively fixed. It’s plenty of fun for tooling around the neighborhood, but I don’t commute on it. Commuting requires carrying stuff, and I find a messenger bag or backpack makes my 30+ minute commute very unpleasant, especially in the heat. In principle, I suppose I could put a rack and fenders on the hipstermobile, but I prefer the gearing, stability, and cantilever brakes on my Surly.

  15. Geoff Jennings October 12, 2011 11:47 am 

    I bought a cheap Nashbar Hounder fixed gear (flip-flop hub) for $200 on sale almost 18 months ago. I wanted to see if I like riding “fixie” after 20+ years of riding bikes where more gears = better. I figured I’d try it, ride it a bit, then upgrade when stuff started breaking if I liked riding fixed gear.

    Well, I’m still waiting. I’ve put a rack on it, and I ride 12 miles (round trip) about 3-4 days a week. Plus occasionally riding to the store, errands, etc, or just kicking around town, I’d estimate I’ve ridden it about 4,000 miles, maybe more. It’s my primary commuter, unless I’m going for a long ride after work, and it’s the bike I chose for most rides under 20 miles…it’s just fun. Only thing I’ve replaced so far are the tires and pedals. It just won’t die. And I’m a big dude. I’m just amazed by this bike.

    i’ve got it dorked out, with the logos removed and black reflective tape all over the place, and rack and pannier, and big bright lights. Far from the “cool” fixie hipster, but hell, I’m a middle age dude riding in Tevas and cargo shorts most days.

    =)

    I’ve got a fleet of bikes, and this one makes me smile as much of any of them…hard to explain why.

  16. BluesCat October 12, 2011 2:11 pm 

    My main commuter — on my intense stop-and-go route — is a recumbent, so I don’t see the sense of changing it to fixed.

    Also, I like what Milk said: “A little less daydream coasting, a little more attention to that wonky intersection a block and a half away.” Yeah, I like to wander and daydream a lot on my commute, so I’m afraid that if I did ride a fixie I’d wind up as a bumper sticker on that truck at the bottom of that 8% grade.

  17. tim October 12, 2011 2:57 pm 

    Decidedly non-fixie here. I use a bike with an internal 7 speed hub. Because I sometimes lug a laptop and/or lunch on my commute and because there are hills on my route, gears are necessary. Although I understand the appeal to certain people, the loss utility far outweighs the purity and cool factors, which don’t mean much to me anyway. I’m pure function with my ride.

  18. Mir.I.Am October 12, 2011 7:13 pm 

    no FIXt for me. me gusta gears. but BF has a fixie SE draft, with all kine generic wheels and tires AND front and back brakes. In town in Honolulu, it’s flatsville, and a non-descript, non-flashy bike is more theft-proof that the red fuji roubaix that never left the apartment for commuting. Overall, fixed + front and back brakes = intense stopping power! Also, super low maintenance, like Geoff said, this thing just won’t die! Nice craigslist find…

  19. Ryan October 12, 2011 11:59 pm 

    I have a fixed Bianchi San Jose. I got it about 5 years ago and have a carradice bag on the back, fenders, head and tail light and FRONT AND BACK BRAKES! I love this thing for commuting! I run Schwalbe 35mm tires.

    I also have a Surly Big Dummy. When I want to get there quick I take the SJ when I need to carry a bunch of crap…the Dummy wins every time. I do think there is a place for brakes on the fixie, and I use the crap out of them, I want to save my knees….

  20. Deb October 13, 2011 3:58 am 

    I’m with Kevin. 27 miles round trip, hills on either end and a few in the middle for good measure, so my speed ranges from 4-42mph. I am not strong enough to ride without a nice selection of gears on those hills (and I’ve been doing this commute for over 3 years, so I don’t imagine I ever would be strong enough, even if I wanted to ditch the gears). I ride a touring bike (thus mountain bike gearing) and I use almost every single gear on every single commute.

    I have big hills to deal with in any direction I go from my condo, so even for a casual short ride to run errands, I can’t imagine having any desire to be limited to just one gear.

    I mean, I know that some people ride the Tour Divide on singlespeed (and a couple have on fixed) so for them hills don’t matter when it comes to gears, but I’m far far too lazy for that.

  21. Ben October 13, 2011 7:22 am 

    I bought a Mercier Kilo TT about two years ago, with a flip flop hub. I was running it ss then I flipped it and it’s never flopped back. I love the silence of fixed gear and the simplicity when it comes to maintenance. I commute about 16 miles year-round in all conditions and casual road rides up to 90 miles on weekends. I grocery shop with it, pull a trailer, carry my gear to the climbing gym, and even have brought stuff back from the local Home Depot(as long as it fits in my bag). Now that I’ve kicked the gear habit I may never go back.

  22. john n October 13, 2011 7:47 am 

    I commute on a beach cruiser type bike a lot of time. It’s just so much easier and relaxing to ride “one gear” – at least to me. This bike is also my #1 choice for weekend pleasure rides and errands.

    I do own another commuter bike – a Globe Carmel 5 – that I ride on heavy load days (usually monday when I’m taking all my stuff in to work) or very windy days, or rainy days…the gears give me what I need to make those commutes more enjoyable.

    What I don’t understand, however is why it has 3 choices up front? or why 99% of bikes do? If you aren’t a road racer (the big ring) or climbing Mt. Everest (the small front ring), I can’t see why anyone would ever need more than 5, or 7, or 8 gears…whatever the back choices are. I think on every bike I’ve ever ridden, I’ve TRIED the front deraileur…but after I am convinced it works…I’ve never moved it from the middle. Ever. Really, I can’t think of a single time. Even on my mountain bikes in the past when I was riding a lot of trails.

  23. Graham October 13, 2011 8:30 am 

    I have to say that my favorite mountain bike of all time was a single speed beast that unfortunately (for my commuting bicycle) taught me how to thrash up hills by pounding on the pedals.

    I have never ridden a fixed gear and I have no desire to do so only because having my legs driven around while bombing down a bridge or a hill sounds extremely unpleasant.

    Maybe I shouldn’t vote before I’ve tried it, but I love single speed machines.

  24. Abhishek October 13, 2011 12:06 pm 

    My friends rode the MS 150 on fixed gear bikes.

    I rode a fixed gear bike only once for fifteen feet, ten of which were trying to stop. I would like to learn someday. For commuting, I’d rather stick to my (soon to be new) xtracycle and a new (to me) Gary Fisher Aquila set up as a single-speed.

  25. Raiyn October 14, 2011 9:47 pm 

    Anti-fixed.

  26. clever-title October 15, 2011 12:56 pm 

    I’m in the same boat as Geoff above. I got a Nashbar Hounder on sale for $175 when both of my other bikes were out of service. It’s turned out to be a better bike than I expected. I consider it like an old Karmann Ghia – I only ride it in fair weather, since I don’t want to arrive soaked with sweat or road spray, but it’s great fun when the skies are favorable. Riding single speed feels much more like running than riding.
    I haven’t tried riding the fixed side of the hub, though. I like coasting down the longer hills.

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