When talking about biking, you can either have a single-speed bike or a fixed gear bike. A fixie bike, also known as a fixed gear bike, is a single-speed bike used for different purposes. Fixed gear bikes are popular bikes because they are essential and are easy to use.
Fixie bikes do not shift up or down, so all you should do is pedal the bike to ride, and if you need the bike to go faster, you will have to pedal faster. If you are looking forward to having a fixie bike, below is more information about the bicycle, including its benefits and how it works.
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What is a Fixie Bike?
A fixie bike is a bike that is attached to a cog that lacks bearings. A cog is the tiny hear typically connected to the back wheel. Since it does not have bearings, you will have different results when riding frontwards and backward.
It would also be safe to say a fixie is a single-speed bike that lacks a freewheel mechanism. In layman’s language, a single-speed bike is a bike that does not have gears. In a fixie, there are only two rings where the chain moves. The first ring is where the pedals are attached, and the second ring is where the back wheel is attached. All bikes were like this, with two rounds only, until a set of multiple coils, and cassettes were introduced.
Therefore, if you pedal to the front, the bike will move frontwards, and if you pedal to the back, the bike will move backward. The motion of the cog is permanently attached to the movement of the pedal, and all the energy you use is used in the pedal. It has many outstanding features which make it favorable and popular in urban centers.
Fixie bikes were invented in the early 1880s and were among the first bikes ever created. It traces its origin in Europe, where French, German, Scottish, and English engineers came up with genius improvements like the rubber covers for wheels and the metal chain.
How Does a Fixie Bike Work?
To know the difference between fixed gear bikes and freewheel bikes, first, think of the back wheel. Imagine you are looking at it from the drive side where the chain is located, and look at the chain. The tube-shaped center area which holds the wheel together through the tension of the spokes is known as the hub, while the part which connects the back wheel hub to the chain is known as the drive cog.
Imagine you have a jam jar with a lid on it. The bar is like the hub, and the lid is the cog. There are two ways you can connect the cog to the hub. If you bolt it well, you will end up with a fixie. When the wheel turns, the cog with the chain turns too, and you could think of this as the jam jar rolling at all times with the lid closed. If the jam jar were to roll backward then forward in the tank, there would be no difference because the lid is on and it is bolted correctly.
This explains why you can ride your fixie bike backward and forward and why fixie riders should not stop pedaling. The lid pushes the jam jar back or forwards as much as the jar pushes the lid when they are bolted together. Likewise, when the cog is bolted to the hub, the wheel turns the chain, and when the wheels start moving, the pedals move too as long as they are directly bolted.
10 Benefits of Riding a Fixie Bike
Riding a fixie bike is associated with many benefits, as listed below.
The main attraction of riding a fixie is what the uninitiated might deem negative: the extreme energy required to ride it. You can never freewheel when riding a fixie. This is the best feature for fixie fans since the conventional rider is used to freewheeling too much.
Fixies give riders an incredible cardiovascular workout because the bikes are hardcore. As a matter of fact, you are assured of working up a sweat when riding a fixie. If you roll to the lights and you need to restore momentum, you have to make a significant push.
Also, when riding a fixie up the hill, do not expect to slip in the bottom gear so that you can gain attitude. Fixie bikes don’t work that way; you will have to pump your quads, meaning you will be dripping sweat by the time you get to the top.
The experience fixie bikes give its riders cannot be compared to any other experience on two wheels. When riding a fixie, you will feel as if you are running in minimalist sneakers because the bike ensures you are in touch with the road and your body.
Fixed gear enthusiasts like Scott Larkin say that the most enticing thing about riding the bike is the idea of being at one with the bike as if the bike is an extension of your body. You feel the sense of riding the bike since there is no modern tech coming in between.
You feel the riding experience because your pedaling is directly reflected in the wheels, and this experience makes you feel comfortable.
The mechanical simplicity of fixie bikes is another of its benefits. Some fixie bikes lack brakes, and the rider has to lock their knees for the ride to get to a skidding stop. Such simplicity means a sleeker look that ends in fewer technical problems.
When riding a fixie, there is very little that can go wrong because it is only you and the road. You do not have to worry about slipping out of gear when maneuvering with gut-wrenching consequences. Also, fixie bikes are lighter than the standard 9-speed all-terrain bikes. As if that’s not enough, you will end up with one more minor part to oil, which leaves you with more riding time and more minor inconveniences.
Easy to Maneuver
A fixie back does not have gears, and some lack even brakes. This makes the bike lend itself to theatrics. If you are ready for a show-off or test your agility, all you need is a fixie. By pedaling backward, the bike will go backward too. You can also do this if you have no brakes or if your brakes fail and want to stop.
Dismounting a fixie is also an excellent performance. When dismounting a fixie, you do confirm the back and not from the side like other bikes. When your fixie starts slowing to near walking speed, lift your left foot and wait for the right pedal to get to the bottom of its cycle.
When the right pedal rises, make your right leg straight and let the motion of the pedal propel you upward. When the bike rolls on, catch its saddle.
Fixie bikes are edgy and can be customized in daring colors and designs. You cannot even compare its wow factor with an orthodox vehicle. The alternative side, bohemian, is reinforced by the fact that fixies are deployed in the art circus.
They have a stripped-down design which makes them more suitable for acrobatics like standing on the handlebars.
A fixie bike weighs less than other conventional bikes because it is made of fewer components. Other bikers possess gears that increase their weight. The cranksets, derailleurs, and sprockets are lighter than those in regular bikes. Also, since fixie bikes do not have shift levers, they become lighter.
As they are light in weight, fixie bikes are easier to control. If you find it hard to ride a fixie bike, you could attach a training tool like cycling power meters, and you will not have to deal with excessive weight.
Pedaling in a reverse manner moves your fixie bike backward. This feature is very beneficial since it helps you avoid collisions easily, and you can reduce the momentum and speed of the bike by pedaling backward.
As a rider, you might have found yourself in a one-way route which does not give riders a chance to look back. If you find yourself in such a situation when riding a fixie bike, all you have to do is pedal backward. Also, pedaling backward and frontwards interchangeably is fun, right?
Excellent for Racing
Fixed gear bikes were made for track racing. Hence, they are primarily used in racing competitions, hence their lightweight feature, to be the best for racing. Together with how easy they are to control, their lightweight feature makes it easy to avoid collision with other racers on the track.
Fixie bikes have long-lasting chains in ten. The chains are not affected by sideway forces, and even if it is subjected to the forces, they are tiny hence will not wear out quickly. This saves you time and money and makes the bike more convenient since you are always assured the chain will not fail you.
Fixie bikes are more efficient in moving energy from the pedals to the wheel because of the length of the chain, which is very short. Since it is light, the rider has less weight to control, and the absence of derailleur pulleys makes it even easier to control it.
The ability of the bike to be pedaled both backward and forward increases its efficiency.
Fixie vs. Road Bike
Many riders wonder what to choose between a fixie and a road bike when going for a race. Comparing a fixie bike to a road bike is like comparing a single-speed bike and geared bikes. The better bike between the two depends on what you will use the bike for and the type of rider you are. Below are some pros and cons of each of the bikes to help you determine which of the two is better.
Pros and Cons of a Fixie Bike
Fixie bikes are great for both professionals and beginners because they are easy to approach. To ride a fixie bike, all you need to know is to ride a bike and understand the safety concerns associated with bikes. Fixies are primarily used in cities with many people commuting, and individuals that need a bicycle can hop on and ride without having to prepare so much for it.
The most common gear ratios with a fixie bike are 46:16 and 44:16. Gear ratios are used to define whether your fixed gear bicycle will be better at acceleration or if it will have a higher top speed. Fixie bikes only use one gear ratio, so you can never find a bike with both ratios, but you can find one that compromised the two.
Fixie bikes come with front flip flop hubs, and they are among the essential parts of your bike. If you flip the front wheel first, you can switch between the standard and the freewheel, allowing you to modify the way your bike performs when coasting.
- Excellent for riding in the city and commuting
- They are compatible with different types of handlebars
- Easy to customize
- Can be installed brakes
- They have more minor components, hence are lighter even if a higher percentage of the rider’s weight is determined by the composition of the wheels and frame.
- Lower maintenance costs than other bikes when looked after well because fixie bikes are more straightforward.
- Best in flatland rides
- If you have a flip-flop hub, you can switch between a freewheel and a fixed gear.
- To customize, you have to know the different bike parts and how each works
- Most fixie bikes do not have brakes. The peace fixie bikes are among the few that have brakes
- If your gear ratio is in favor of speed over acceleration, you will dread climbing hills
- They do not have the shifter; hence you have to be well accustomed to the ratios of your years, and this makes it time-consuming to adjust to the fixed best style when riding
Pros and Cons of a Road Bike
Road bikes have a more complicated design and are used in a completely different market. Road bikes are mainly used to go for longer distances, and the rider has to look for additional accessories to increase the suitability and comfort of the ride.
Road bikes are excellent alternatives for riders who are looking for a more technological ride. Road bikes are defined in the set they are in. Road bikes come in different sets, each catering to a group of riders. The most common groupset is the Shimano which is considered the gold standard, and 9 out of 10 bikes come equipped with their parts. Shimano’s groupsets include the cables, cranks, shifters, hears pads, brakes, and derailleur.
- It comes with wireless electronic Di2 shifters.
- They are designed with optimal performance in mind hence are incredibly aerodynamic.
- They are equipped with brakes.
- Are the dominant choice when going for long rides
- Most are made of carbon fiber
- They are designed to sprint in the high gears efficiently
- Have the highest and top speed among all bicycles
- They have multiple gears which allow you to shift and adapt the bike to whatever road surface you are riding on
- They are designed with spiraled handlebars, and this does not interest all ridders.
- Your wheels can be easily stolen if not appropriately locked because they use a lightning rod to prevent theft.
- Expensive to maintain
- If you shift too quickly, the chains can slip
- Lack shocks hence do not handle rough pavements well
- If you use SPD pedals, you require special riding shoes
- They have uncomfortable seats, which can make your backache
- If you choose carbon fiber for the wheels, they will be costly
There is no better bike between the fixie bike and the rise bike. The bike that will work for you depends on what you are planning to use the bicycle for. None is lesser or greater than the other since each has its areas where it exceeds.
However, if you need to know what bike is best for you, you should choose a fixie bike if you:
- Will lock your bicycle outside in the city
- Want a solid and affordable bike
- Plan to use your bike for moderate and short rides
- Want a simple and performing bike
- Plan to ride in the city
- Will commute to work
And a road bike if you:
- Will compete in triathlons or biking events
- Are you looking for the lightest ride in the market
- Want a bicycle to help you get in shape
- Want the best performing bike
- Will go for rides on smooth asphalt
Considerations When Selecting a Fixie Bike
Fixie bikes might be among the most simple bikes, but that does not mean buying one will be simple. It would be best if you asked yourself many questions before swiping your debit card, and below is what you should pay attention to before buying your fixie bike.
You might be used to factoring in the skill level when buying other types of bikes, but you should factor in skills twice as much when buying a fixie. If you have never ridden a fixed gear bike before, it is safe to assume you know very little regarding how different it is from a regular bike.
Therefore, you should look for a fixie with a flip-flop rear hub fixed on one side and the other side with a freewheel. It would be best to go for a fixie with brakes since you are not planning to spend time in a hospital bed.
It is effortless to find a pixie bike going for less than $500 but finding one for more than the same amount. When buying a fixie bike, do not be so concerned with the price you can spend. Instead, have an amount in mind which you have allocated for your bike.
When allocating the price you want to spend for your fixie, you should ask yourself questions like whether you will be locking the bike inside or if you will be commuting with it.
There are as many pixie bike designs as there are price ranges. The use of the bike should determine the design you want for your machine. Even if an all-black pixie bike might not be a good reflection of your personality, it might not attract thieves either.
Geometry is different from sizing, and this you should be well informed in. Fixed gears came from track bikes, which were designed in a way that they can be ridden very fast in circles. Therefore, a proper track bike might not be your best option if you ride your bike daily.
Track bikes have an extremely tight geometry; a short toe base. Bikes worthy of being ridden on the streets have relaxed angles, which lessen the chances of dismemberment and accidental death.
After dealing with geometry, you have to deal with size too. When choosing a fixie bike, you should size down from the road bike size you ride. This means if you ride a 57 road bike, get a 55 fixie bike. You could even request a test ride. Do not think of buying your fixed gear bike online without testing it unless you are ready to get cat fished.
Fixed gear bikes are excellent single-speed bikes that have many benefits. Even if they are not as prevalent as earlier models, they are still gaining popularity, and people love them. There are many types of bikes to choose from, but the choice of whether to choose a pixie bike over any other bike remains yours.
Fixie bikes have made cycling easier, and they leave you to concentrate on speed and cadence as you enjoy the real connection with the road. They say there is always a time and place for everything, and if you live in a flat urban area, then the fixie bike is what you need for your cycling needs.