Fixed Gear Reviews
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Fixed Gear Bike History
A fixed gear bike, or “fixie,” is a bicycle in which the sprocket is directly attached to the hub with no freewheel mechanism. This means that the fixie cannot coast, as when the bike is in motion, the pedals are always in motion. This unique feature allows a cyclist to stop the bike without the use of brakes, as the pedals always turn in the same direction as the rear wheel. The fixed gear also allows a rider to ride in reverse. Most fixed gear bikes have only one gear ratio.
A fixed gear bike is defined as any bicycle without a freewheel. Therefore, a fixed gear bike can be any type of bicycle. One of the most common is the track bicycle, a bicycle used for racing inside of a velodrome or an outdoor racing track. Fixed gears were also used by road cyclists for training during the winter using a low gear ratio, which is believed to help develop a better style of pedaling. Fixies were also commonly used in the 1950′s in the UK for time trials. The fixed gear bike has gained immense popularity in urban North America in the 2000′s, which has been credited to bike messengers. Fixed gear bikes are also used in cycle ball, bike polo, and artistic cycling. A fixie is also very suitable for doing track stands, which is a maneuver in which the bicycle is held stationary and balanced upright with the rider’s feet holding the pedals in place.
Most fixed gear bikes are single-speed, but not always. Multi-speed hub gears have been produced in the past by Sturmey Archer, the model ASC, which enabled the rider to switch gears while driving. Sturmey Archer’s successor company, SunRace Sturmey-Archer, is planning on producing a modern version of the ASC, called the S3X. Another alternative is sprockets on both sides of the wheel, allowing the rider to change gears by flipping the wheel. Both sides may have a fixed gear on each side, called double-fixed, or one side may have a fixed hub and the other a freewheel hub, called a flip-flop hub. Yet another alternative is to use two chain rings and two sprockets, which lets the rider choose between two different gear ratios simply by loosening the wheel and tightening it again.
Cyclists use fixed gear bikes for many reasons, some of which include its light weight, low maintenance, and down-right simplicity. Some people just find it more enjoyable to ride a fixed gear bike than the freewheel counterpart. Some cyclists prefer a fixie in slippery riding conditions because the transmission provides feedback on the grip of the back tire. Descending using a fixed gear bike is more difficult, as the rider must pedal at very fast speeds, up to 170 rpm. This enforced spin in the cranks is said to increase “souplesse,” which is a French word meaning suppleness or flexibility. Riding a fixed gear bike is considered to help encourage a more efficient pedaling style, which would help out a great deal when the rider goes back to riding a freewheel bicycle. The challenge when getting used to riding a fixie is the novice rider’s tendency to coast when riding, which can lead to loss of control on a fixie. Also, taking corners with speed can be dangerous, as the pedals cannot be aligned to allow space for the turn as can be done when riding freewheel.
Most fixed gear bikes do not feature brakes, as some riders find that they are not necessary. In fact, riding without brakes has developed an almost cult status in certain places. This is due to the perception by some riders that brakes are not needed when riding with intense concentration. Riding without brakes, however, is against the law in most places. Just because a fixie doesn’t have brakes doesn’t mean it can’t still stop. The fixed gear bike can be slowed down by resisting the cranks while turning. Braking in this manner, however, can be very hard on the knees and can even lead to injury. Another stopping method is to lock the rear wheel and skid, which is done by the rider putting his weight slightly forward, taking the weight off of the rear wheel, and pulling up on the pedals.