Riding fixed will force you to work harder at times than you would on a geared bike and you’ll get stronger and fitter as a result.
You could get a similar experience from a singlespeed bike with a freewheel, but…
2. Fixed feels like nothing else
Sometimes, simplicity is incredibly appealing
There is something uniquely amusing in being bound to every turn of your wheels. You may not find spiritual enlightenment on a fixie, but it is a very pure form of riding.
It’s sometimes claimed that riding fixed actually makes your pedal stroke smoother. We’re very sceptical about that — if anything we’ve found the opposite — but the way you’re forced to keep your legs turning does give you a pleasant feeling of momentum.
It can feel like there’s no dead spot in your pedalling because the motion of the bike pulls your feet over the top of the stroke.
3. Fixed teaches you new things
Dignity may not be one of them
Want to ride down a big hill? You’re going to have to keep up because coasting is not an option. Riding fixed forces you to adapt to riding at a huge range of cadences. At the top end it’s not impossible to hit 200rpm and a steep ascent can have you grinding down in the twenties.
We don’t endorse riding brakeless because it’s dumb and illegal, but you can certainly brake less on a fixie, modulating your speed with a bit of leg control.
You have to adapt your cornering style too, because leaning over too hard carries the risk of pedal strikes.
4. Fixies are pretty, tough and super low maintenance
A fixed drivetrain makes for a very clean and elegant bike
Fixies are perfect for riders who hate looking after their bikes. You still need to lube your chain occasionally, but there are no gear cables and derailleurs to get gunked up or go out of adjustment, and there’s no vulnerable hanger to get bent at the bike racks.
The simplicity of a fixed gear drivetrain can make for truly beautiful bicycles and they can be cheap to run too. There aren’t many parts to wear out so they’re perfect for commuting and winter riding.
5. Fixies are fun!
Fixies are more versatile than you might imagine
Ignore all the nonsense about achieving bicycle zen and becoming one with your machine. It was rubbish back in 2008 and it’s rubbish now.
That doesn’t change the fact that riding fixed is a hell of a lot of fun. Some days gears are a godsend and freewheeling is where it’s at, but we love variety and the novelty of riding fixies has never worn off.
You probably don’t want one as your only bike, but if your marriage to cycling is in trouble and you need to spice things up, climb aboard a fixie and glory in the absurdity of pedalling everywhere, all the time. Do a skid, get a knuckle tattoo, and party like it’s 2008.
There’s a lot of nonsense about fixies out there, but we still love them
Matthew is an expert on bike tech and a lover of practical, beautifully-engineered things. Originally a roadie, he dabbles in all disciplines and has tested a huge variety of bikes and gear over the years.