Bikes are the coolest invention in the universe

How about the old BioCam 50-speed?


Whoa! Never seen that one before!

I… disagree. A bit.
There are, as you point out, some hardcore reasons to ride fixed:

  1. You’re racing on a velodrome.
  2. As a training tool to help develop “spin” (or, in other terms, to teach you to be able to efficiently pedal at a wide variety of rpms)

But there’s also the maintenance bit: I hardly work on my fixie at all- ever. I’ve owned it since forever, and all I do is put air in the tires and throw oil on the chain when I remember. For a commuter, it’s about reducing the bike to a tool and having it require as little thought as possible.

Indeed, that same thing carries over to the riding of the bike. It’s a bit like driving a manual transmission car- I can control the speed of the bike directly through the pedals. With enough thought, it’s almost subconscious, and that means less “work” in the riding of the bike.

Now, that’s me- and I’m (in so many ways, really), an “edge case.” There are loads of people riding fixies for reasons I don’t understand.

But know what really chaffs me? When hipsters ride “fixies” that are actually just single speeds. Fuck that. You want to look hardcore? Fine- but you’re going to ride fixed and never coast and the friction from all that pedaling will probably set those skinny jeans you’re wearing on fire and…

My reality is that I’m just happy to see more people on bikes- regardless of the drivetrain or style they’ve chosen. More people on bikes is more people aware of bikes and advocating for bikes, and that’s a good thing.

Even if they’re fakers riding single speeds.


The maintenance angle seems like a poor excuse to me, the fact I’m a bike mechanic notwithstanding. Half-decent kit stays tuned once it’s properly set up, and it takes fuck-all to keep it good.

And if you insist on regarding derailers as the devil’s work, even a mere 3-speed internal hub craps on SS from such a height it’s not funny. You can even get fixie IGHs. I’m willing to bet SS to IGH conversions are going to be common as mud in years to come…


Oh, look- I’m not crapping on derailleurs. Sure, a properly adjusted one will stay that way for a good long time- but on a bike that I’m going to ride through rain and slush and salt (they salt the streets up here in the winter, the savages)- yeah. That’ll hand a nice shiny derailleur a good beating right quick. That’s why my fixie has a nice set of no-messing-about fenders bolted on. Gotta keep my backside looking pretty, amirite?
As far as fixie IGH- really? I’d seen some work done back-in-the-day about converting some god-forsaken Sturmey-Archer three speed hub into a two speed fixed hub, but I’d not seen anyone actually do it. [Edit: looks like Sturmey-Archer themselves make a multi-speed fixed hub. Abomination, I say]
For pure transportation goodness, we need to look to the Dutch and English, where the bike has evolved into a beautiful machine capable of being ridden in street clothes comfortably. So, yeah- IGH on a nice, slow handling, fender-ed and basket-ed warhorse will (hopefully!) be a thing around here at some point.
Until then, I’ll be on my lovely fixie (with fenders and a basket!) ripping around and having a lovely time.

I guess I just like how my fixed cruises. In the Northeast, the guys I used to ride with had all essentially agreed what the “perfect” gear for general road cruising was (700c wheels, 42t x 17t). It’s literally a Goldilocks gear around here. Though I myself run a 44 x 18 just because. My road bike had a 39/53 crankset when I built it (as was the vogue at the time), and I hated that freaking 39 in the front. When I was just out cruising, I was always cross-geared and it pissed me off, so I eventually swapped it to a 42 and life was much better.
Also: fixed gears are so quiet. No clicking pawls, no derailleurs humming, no nothing. Just the sound of tires and wind. There’s something special about that.


[strong dislike for single speed bikes, rhetorical “what’s the point” question]

To me at least, any particular style of bike or cycling-like-activity needs no more justification than “it’s a different experience, and folks enjoy it”. Where’s the harm? Have your fun on actual half-bikes for all that I care, I might laugh at your goofy different-from-my-interests shit but if you’re out there and happy then I’m happy.

Even assuming you live somewhere with a strong enough cultural delay that the fixie craze is still around 2007-peak levels of annoying trendiness (try Brazil sometime), it still means more people on bikes. Which is positive thing for road safety and overall future-of-mankind purposes if you ask me.

And it’s not like geared bike tech has stagnated for lack of interest. I just paid US$ 380 (plus shipping and an absurd amount of import taxes, but that’s another, tiresome story) for a current generation Shimano 105 group that’s, judging from many reliable accounts, not a million miles away in either performance or reliability from circa 2006 Dura Ace with a corrected-for-inflation MSRP of US$ 2300. Certainly the cheapest I’ve ever seen for that level of kit, which came in handy as I’m in the middle of my first-ever modern road bike build project. Yay!

It’s a good time to be alive as a bike nerd, it’s what I mean. And that goes for fixie kids, crabon fiends, retrogrouches and frankly everyone else who cares about such things.


With my messenger buddies, the reasons for fixed gears were immediate drive modulation in traffic. If you are in the busy areas of a city, weaving through multilane stop/go traffic and around 20-30 MPH, quick actions and responses are crucial. Direct drive to the pavement is one way to make that happen.

Personally, I’d just flip out if I had the same gear ratio all of the time.


I find being able to slow down with your legs very confidence-inspiring in traffic. It might not be a lot more control, but it sure feels like it.

Like @nothingfuture mentioned, it’s not entirely dissimilar to the extra bit of driver engagement of a manual transmission car, but to me kind of for the opposite reason: in an automatic car I miss the choice of downshifting for an instant boost in grunt (compared to the vague and frustrating delays while the car figures out what’s expected of it when I stomp on the gas), while in a freewheeling bike I miss the instinctive leg-speed-scrubbing and only having to use the brakes for, well, actual braking situations.

Easy solution: more bikes. What are you, a monk?


I’m a daredevil in heavy traffic, not intimidated by it in the least, and I’m totally happy with handbrakes on drop bars, even without interrupter levers. And I run about 6" of drop from seat to bars.

Even if you live somewhere dead flat, wind still happens, so a single speed machine always seems handicapped to me.


I meant in the context of bike messengering! I am not doing it now, although I would again if I was in a sufficiently urban area. When every second counts, one hasn’t time to switch bikes, even if they are nearby.


Fair enough. I’m pretty sure you’re experienced/skilled enough to know what works for you and to be able to effortlessly make the best use of it. I’m very much enjoying the novice mindset of trying a variety of stuff for fun and learning what I like.

Isn’t being alternatively over- and under-geared supposed to be a good technique+fitness workout as well? Maybe not worth the constant annoyance for the efficiency-minded though.


Yeah, training yourself to have a broader powerband is certainly a good use for a SS… having never ridden one regularly since my BMX days, my useful RPM range is only about 80-110, and I’m probably only comfortable between 85-95.

I hate not having close gears. BITD, that was an issue… And I’m disappointed triple cranks are going away just because we have 10 or 11 cogs.


6" of drop from saddle to bars? Surely you mean from seat to bottom of the drops, no? Because that’s… a lot.
I have an abnormally long torso and arms, so my bikes tend to be pretty long across the top (my 59.5cm road bike has something like a 60-61cm top tube, and it has a 135mm stem to boot), so for me, some drop from seat to bars isn’t too bad, but it’s pretty easy to get into the land of pelvic rotation, and that’s no fun for anybody.
Indeed, track bikes sometimes have drops like that, but it requires an awful lot of lower back and hamstring flexibility to make it work, and even then, it’s typically for shorter races.
Maybe I’m just old. I’ve got riser bars on a number of bikes at this point, so take from that what you will.
I have three different bar setups for my fixed gear: road drops with dummy brake levers (well, one dummy lever- the front brake is real…), a track bar (with a cheater brake mounted up by the stem, and a riser bar with single brake lever and basket for keeping a bag off my back. The bike itself never really changes- same front brake and whatnot, but I’ll always always run a front brake on a fixie- all the braking power is on the front wheel, so relying on your legs and the rear wheel is foolish. Sure, for slowing down using the drivetrain totally works, but for hard braking? Front wheel, please.
As far as the handicaped-by-the-wind thing: that only matters if your objective is either speed or efficiency, and mine seldom is. It’s the same reason I ride hard tail mountain bikes. I know full suspension is faster and more comfortable and whatever, but that’s not my goal in riding: fun is. And for me, hard tails are more fun and suit my current riding style better. Ditto with a fixed gear- my commuter would be (unarguably) faster and more efficient with gears, but that’s not always the point (or, at least, not always the primary or singular point).


I just saw this coming out of our train as we were getting in:

I’ve seen racing ones before, but this looked like it was for touring and it had a trailer.


so, IKEA makes bikes now. seems fairly legit, really. I’ve often thought that belt drive and hub gears would be the future of utility cycling.


Saw that go by- I’m weirdly excited by it (given that I have no earthly reason to own one).
My only real concern would be how much they conform (or don’t, I suppose) to existing bicycle standards- I’d want this thing to be able to be serviced and maintained, and while some IKEA stuff is lovely, longevity is sometimes clearly not at the top of the design brief.

Belt drives are pretty rad- but they mean single speed or internally geared hub. And single speed is problematic for a good number of people (especially when dragging a trailer…) and IGH tend to be heavy- and I HATE heavy wheels.

Still: file under “I’m glad this exists”


Amazing! Did you get to quiz the owner?rider?driver?pilot?

I’ve pulled a trailer from Salisbury to just past Fordingbridge, near the New Forest, on a single speed. I think I was on 46/16 at the time so about 76 gear inches. We took a bridleway some of the distances but a farmer clearly didn’t want people riding down the section on his land and had obstructed the path with logs on alternate sides, long since rotted and turned into thickets. Even so it was still pretty do-able.

That was a great holiday.

[edit] Also ought to add that I was running 700/25 which is not generally considered a tyre for anything other than roads. My wife was running 32s. Both were fine.

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[googles] Ohhh, made by Flevobike. The Rohloff internal hub alone is probably getting on for £800.

I looked in vain to see if I’d ever taken any photos of my trike; nothing but a couple of blurry photos taken from on board. (And, my Lord, they’re planning a version with magnesium castings. I may have to rob a bank.)


Just look at it!

Edit: I have a 5-speed steel-framed Schwinn Collegiate, but frankly I ride horses more than bikes, motorcyles more than horses, and sail boats more than I ride motorcyles… and I almost never sail. Riding a bike on my street is an invitation to the hospital, or more likely the morgue.