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About Fixed Gear Bikes

First of all, you should know how fixed gear bikes are different from regular bikes. Fixies, short for fixed gear bikes, are single speed bikes that do not have a freewheel. Riders of these bikes call themselves the bicycle purists.

So, what is a freewheel bike? Well, freewheels are what allows you to coast when you are not pedalling. That means if you pedal backwards, the bike will move in reverse. This way, you can stop fixies by simply stopping the pedal. For that reason, some fixies do not have brakes on the handlebars like regular cycles. But some people fit brakes as a backup in case the gears fail. But having a basic knowledge of fixed gear bikes will help you buy the right one for you. This guide will tell you about the pros and cons of riding fixie bikes and a few tips you can follow when you shop for them.  

A beginner’s guide to fixed gear bikes 

Often people confuse a fixed gear bike with a single-speed bike. But those who have been into bicycles for some time will know the difference between the two. Being able to ride a fixed gear bike is a matter of pride among passionate cyclists. And it’s interesting that though there are bicycles flaunting fancy features, there is a cult following for barebone bikes like fixies. It even went to a level they became so popular in New York during the 70s to make it impossible to walk in the streets of New York without coming face to face with a fixie head. 

Fixed gear vs single speed bikes 

All fixies are single speed bikes, but the reverse is not always true. A fixed gear bike is not the same as a single gear bike. The difference between the two begins right at the moment when you mount the bike. In a normal bike, you can rotate the pedal backwards to bring them into the normal climbing position. But you can’t do that with a fixie. So, to mount a fixie, you have to put your weak foot on the pedal first and let the bike move forward or reverse and then climb on it. Another difference is that most fixies do not have a brake on either wheel. 

Advantages of a fixie 

The main advantage of a fixie is the lack of coasting wheels. Although this might feel like a disadvantage for many, fixed gears allow for more control over the bike. Stopping using pedals is more reliable and efficient than using traditional brakes. When coasting on regular bikes, you have to use the brakes to keep them under control. This causes a lot of heating and wears out the brake fast. Fixies do not have this problem. While it requires a bit of practice, you can use the pedals to slow down and control the bike with fixed wheels. There is also an aesthetic advantage to fixies. The lack of brake cables gives it a cleaner and more minimalistic look. 

Disadvantages of a fixie 

Most people learn to ride on a single-speed bike. So, transitioning to a fixed gear bike will take some learning. The learning curve is not steep, but you cannot just hop on a fixie and ride it if you are using it for the first time. Because you have to move your legs to keep the cycle moving, your legs don’t get any break in between. This can cause fatigue during long rides. And if you do not feel confident enough to rely on the pedals to brake, you will be better off riding a regular bike. On a regular bike, if the front brake fails, you have the rear brake as a backup. But if the gears fail in fixie, you will have no way to stop the bike. 

Should you get a fixed gear bike? 

Despite all the disadvantages, you should give the fixie a chance. First, it is a different kind of experience. You would feel like switching from an automatic car to a manual one. Some people might find it to be more work, but those who enjoy the fun of riding fixies are great. You can do cool tricks like track stand — balancing on a bicycle while it is stationary — on a fixie if you are into them. But if you want something for long rides, you should consider how physically prepared you are to take fixies on a long trip.

Tips on buying Fixed Gear Bikes

There are more things to think about when you shop for fixie than a standard street bike. Because riding fixie is a bit tricky, getting the right one is important not to make it even more difficult for you. Following these tips will help you get the right kind of bicycle for you.

  • Consider your skill level – You should consider your skill level for any bike that you are buying. But this is especially important for fixed gear bikes. If you are just starting to learn a fixie, then go for flip flop back wheel. These are wheels that have both fixed and freewheel gears on them.
  • The price – You will find fixed gear bikes that are cheaper than a standard bike. But if you are in the mood to splurge, there are really high-end professional fixie bikes. But the best-fixed gear bike for beginners is the cheapest one. Get a better one after you are well accustomed to riding a fixie.
  • Size of the bike – Usually, a smaller bike is better when you are riding a fixie. As a thumb rule, get one size smaller than the road bike that you are using. But it is better to test ride before choosing the right size before you order one.
  • Get specialised tools – Fixies have different types of cogs and wheels. So, you need those specific tools to maintain them. The wheels of fixies are designed to hold more pressure than a regular bike tyre. Therefore, they have a unique type of air valve. So, get a suitable adapter to fill the air in them.

When you’re riding a fixed-gear bike for the first time, you might fall many times. So, don’t forget to wear all your safety gear, including knee and elbow protectors. If you are looking to buy fixed gear bikes online in the UAE, you are in the right place. We have a collection of the best-fixed gear bikes in town. There are more than 500 shops and brands here on our product search engine offering fixie bikes. These brands include Cinelli, Cervelo, Masi, Aventon, and Colnago.

Question & Answer

Are fixed gear bikes with drop bars better than riser bars?

Drop handlebars are the most popular among the fixie community. The advantage of the drop handlebar is that you can hold them in two different ways. If you hold the lower side of the bar, you get better aerodynamics. To ride in a relaxed position, you can hold it like a straight bar. Riser bars, on the other hand, is the second most popular. Riser bars provide great control over the bicycle. It is the favourite among trail riders and mountain bikers. Overall, there is no one handlebar that is better than the others. You should choose one that fits your preferences and riding style.

What is a belt-drive fixed gear bike?

Just as the name suggests, belt drive fixies use a belt in place of a chain. And there are a couple of pros and cons for belt drives. People use belt drive bikes mainly for three reasons. First, because belt drives do not have greasy chains on them, they look better. Second, they are much quieter. Third, they are relatively smoother to ride, even though it is subjective. But you might want to think twice before going for belt drives as they are expensive. Not only that, but the parts of belt drive fixed-gears are also expensive and hard to come by.

Are fixed gear bikes bad for your knees?

If you are using the proper riding techniques, there is no harm in using a fixie. But people do tend to get injuries, especially if they are not experienced riders. The main reason is using a gear that is too large for your ability. Larger gear puts more stress on the knees. You can use smaller gears and higher rpm to make it easier. Another reason is stopping the bike abruptly. Unlike a regular bike, you should use leg muscles to bring the bike to rest when you are riding a fixie. Otherwise, all the pressure suddenly goes to your knees. Smaller jerks for prolonged periods are also bad for the knees.

Are fixed gear bikes faster?

A person riding fixie cannot coast the cycle. Therefore, the constant pedalling makes the cycle goes faster, although it requires more energy to cover the same distance. On the other hand, on a downhill, a single-speed bike can coast the bike and use gravity to its advantage. But not so much for a fixie rider. Another thing to take into consideration is the loss of power due to friction. A fixie has fewer mechanical linkages than a single speed bike. Fewer linkages mean less friction and more speed. But this is only a marginal benefit. So, to answer the question, it depends on the terrain and the fitness level of the person.