What is a fixed gear bicycle?
A fixed gear bike, commonly known as a fixie, is the most simple, stripped down and minimal bike on the market today. Fixed gear bikes came to popularity a long time ago and were used primarily by city bike messengers who wanted to get around without having to worry about a lot of maintenance. So, what's makes it so simple? Well, for starters a fixed gear bike commonly does not have a freewheel mechanism. A freewheel is the part that allows bikes to coast while riding. Since their is no freewheel, the bike is propelled or stopped by the rider's pedaling. For example, if the rider pedals forward, the bike moves forward and vice versa.
Since the bike works in sync with your pedaling, many riders choose to not equip their bike with a brake. Instead, braking or slowing down is achieved through forcefully pedaling backwards and skidding the back tire to stop.
But wait, what if I don't want to ride without brakes!?
A common misconception is that if you ride a fixed gear bike, you should be riding brakeless. Actually, we recommend everyone has at least a front brake while riding. Although yes, it is possible to ride these bikes without brakes, we advocate safe and responsible riding. Many of the fixed gear bikes that we carry at City Grounds allow you to install either a front or rear brake.
So, what are the advantages of riding a fixed gear bike?
The fixed gear bike style has grown immensely in popularity over the last few years. One of the main reasons is simplicity. Having fewer parts and components on your ride means less maintenance. This is a huge advantage for those who want to commute to work or school and not have to worry about intricate gearing.
Another reason behind the growth of riding fixed is how lightweight these bikes are. Without all of the extra components, a complete fixed gear bike typically weighs in under 25 pounds, and depending on the material, some get into the highly sought after sub 15 pounds range. This is a huge victory for those riders that are looking for an efficient, maneuverable bike that they can ride and transport on the daily.
Lastly, fixed gear bikes just look great. Less cables and gears means a cleaner looking and aesthetically pleasing bike build. The style component behind fixed gear has really taken off in the last few years.
But what about a single-speed bike? What's the difference?
Single-speed bikes are perfect for the rider who wants the look of a fixed gear bike, but the ability to coast. To do that, a freewheel is added, along with a brake of some sort to the bike. This results in the classic fixed gear style, but the added comfort of the ability to casually cruise without always pedaling.
A newer trend is for bikes to come equipped with a 'flip-flop' rear hub, which allows the rider to switch from single-speed to fixed by simply flipping the back wheel of the bike. Many of our bikes at City Grounds are equipped with a flip-flop hub because we want to make it easy on the customer and give you all the choice of how you want to ride!