5 reasons you need a fixie in your life (it's not the ones you think)

Better pedalling isn't one of them

There's a lot of nonsense about fixies out there, but we still love them

We probably reached peak fixie in 2008. The cool kids might be bikepacking and riding gravel now, but here at BikeRadar we remain ardent fans of the freewheel-free life.

Here are five reasons your next bike should be a fixie.

1. Riding fixed makes you stronger

There's no hiding when you've only got one gear
There's no hiding when you've only got one gear

There’s no bailout gear on a fixie. If you want to get up a steep hill you’re going to have to grit your teeth and get on with it, or walk.

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
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
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
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
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.

Matthew Allen

Senior Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Likes climbing a lot, but not as good at it as he looks.
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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