I was riding the Veloway recently, when I ran into (not literally) a friend of mine. I didn’t recognize him right away, because he usually rides a blue bike, and this time he was on a black one.
I stopped and we chatted, catching up on riding experiences. But while we talked, he continued pedaling in slow circles around me. I asked him about the different bike. “It’s purely a training bike,” he said. “I use it out here, but don’t take it out on the road much.”
I looked at his crankset. A single sprocket ring. “Is that a single-speed?” I asked. “Kind of. It’s a fixed gear,” he said. “I have to keep pedaling.”
I’ve noticed over the past few months lots of articles and references to fixed-gear bikes. They’re single speed, but have no freewheel, so the pedals continually turn. Most seem to have one front-mounted brake, like my friend’s. If he has to use it, he has to quickly get his feet out of the toe clips on his pedals.
I can see where a fixie could be a good training bike. Whenever the rider hits a slight variation in the terrain, it means a change in pedaling tempo. Uphills can be especially challenging. But I guess downhills can, too, if the bike builds up a lot of speed and the rider is spinning the pedals for dear life.
Call me chicken, but that strikes me as dangerous. Besides worrying about cars and trucks along your route, you have to worry about whether you’ll manage to stay upright on your bike. I see lots of forum posts from riders who ride 50, 62, even 100 miles on their fixies. I can’t imagine doing that, and have a hard time imagining why they’d want to.
Are fixies a passing fad, a hot trend, or are they going to be a “fixture” on the biking scene from here on out?