May 4th, 2012
Single speed and fixed gear bikes: what are they like to ride?
As the name suggests, ‘fixies’ only have one gear and they tend to be preferred by purists for their similarity to competitive time trial bikes. They’re lightweight, and often cheaper to buy because of their simpler structure. With no gear change system there’s less to go wrong and less maintenance required, hence their popularity among cycle couriers who value reliability over versatility. (Of course, couriers also tend to be fit enough to get up steep hills in a fairly high gear ratio, and can pedal fast to generate speed when it’s needed.)
Choose between running with a free-wheel for carefree blasts around town, or hit the hills with a fixed hub for the ultimate training ride. No changing into an easier gear: just get out of the saddle and attack.
Some fixies can take rear wheels with a cog on either side – combined with quick release levers, you can swap between a high speed and a low speed gear, or fixed wheel and freewheel, in a few seconds.
- Single speed bikes are the aficionado’s choice, stripped down and basic, and you’ll make up for their lack of gears or freewheel by pedalling – a lot.
- Single speed bikes have no derailleur, gear hub or gear cables – nice and simple, with little maintenance required
- Their single gear ratio means they’re tough to ride uphill
- They’re also difficult to pedal fast
Experienced urban cyclists.
- Cycle couriers
- Commuting over a set route
- You’re a cycling novice (see hybrid bikes, road bikes or mountain bikes)
- You want to ride off-road or tackle a lot of hills (see mountain bikes or hybrid bikes)
- You need to travel long distances (see touring bikes)
- You have a need for speed (see road bikes)
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