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Are Fixed Gear Bikes Good for Commuting? (10 Reasons They Are)

In this article, you will learn what a fixie is, and some of the advantages and drawbacks of commuting on a fixed gear bike and if one is right for you.

Image of a man commuting to the city with a single speed bicycle. Source: Angelo Pantazis, Unsplash
Image of a man commuting to the city with a single speed bicycle. Source: Angelo Pantazis, Unsplash

If you are a city commuter, you need the best bike to get you from home to work and back again. And you might be on the fence about getting a fixed-gear bike. So let’s get down to it and answer the question. Are fixed-gear bikes good for commuting? 

Yes. Fixies are excellent commuter bikes because they are fun, simple, easy to maintain and repair, and lightweight. However, they’re not always the most comfortable for long distances. You might end up sweating more than you wanted since your legs won’t stop pedaling and there are no gears. 

But there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in this article, you will learn what a fixie is and some of the advantages and drawbacks of commuting on a fixed-gear bike, so you can find out if one is right for you.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 15, 2022, to include additional information regarding fixed-gear bikes and commuting.

Before we get into the advantages of fixed gear commuting, let’s first understand what a fixie is and why you’d want to commute in one.

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What is a fixed-gear bike?

Fixies (also known as fixed-gear bikes) are single-speed bicycles. The pedals are directly attached to the rear wheel hub. When the rear wheel turns, the pedals turn as well, either forward or backward. So you can’t coast or freewheel on a fixed-gear bike.

If commuting without the ability to coast scares you, don’t worry; any fixed-gear bike can be converted to a single-speed bicycle quite easily. In fact, many manufacturers include a flip-flop rear hub with their fixies, allowing them to be converted into single-speed bikes if needed. Check out our best fixies roundup post if you are looking for a new fixed gear bike.

Is a fixie a good commuter bike?

Fixed gear bikes are great commuter bikes. They are lightweight and easy to maintain. However, fixies are not the best bikes for long commutes. Due to the lack of gears, and the constant pedaling, you may find yourself sweating more than you’d like. However, there are many benefits to commuting with a fixie, which we will discuss in detail below. 

Ten reasons why fixed gears make great commuter bikes 

Below are ten reasons why fixies are the ideal mode of transportation for city commuters.

1. They are easier to repair and maintain

Fixed-gear bikes are easier to maintain and repair since they contain fewer components. All you need to do is lubricate the chain* and ensure that all other fixtures are tightened and secure. Brake pads are one of the only parts that need to be replaced due to regular wear and tear. Now, compare that to a geared bike. 

Regular usage of a road bike’s derailleurs will cause them to wear and deteriorate quickly. After all, they are moving parts, and replacement or repairs can be costly. A fixed-gear bike does not have this issue. It would take a lot of abuse to break the rear drive sprocket or the front chainring.

Of course, the chain or one of the spokes could break, but these are generally simple and inexpensive to replace.

Image of commuter commuting on an orange fixed gear bike.
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An image of a commuter commuting on an orange fixed-gear bike. Source: Jack Alexander on Unsplash

2. Fixed gear bikes are light-weight

A fixed-gear bike is often lighter than a geared bike. The lack of gear levers, the lightweight frame, and the absence of dérailleurs result in a lighter bike. Okay, it’s only a few pounds lighter, but when you’re fatigued or spending all day on your bike like bike messengers and couriers, every pound counts.

Furthermore, multi-story buildings are common in cities. And not every one of those structures will have elevators. Even if they do, they don’t always work. As a result, having a lightweight bike is critical for commuting in the city.

3. They are typically less expensive

Fixed-gear bikes are generally less expensive than geared bikes because they have fewer components. Furthermore, they are frequently built with less costly materials. So if your bike is stolen, it’s not as big a deal.

4. Fixies are less likely to be stolen.

Every year, about 188,500 bicycles are reported stolen in the United States. Yikes! However, because fixed-gear bikes have fewer parts, they are frequently less expensive. The resale value is simply insufficient for a burglar to jeopardize their freedom. Expensive-looking roads and mountain bikes scream, “steal me!”. That is not the case with a fixie since they are so minimalistic.

Another reason they are less likely to be stolen is because they are harder to ride. Most people have heard the story of the burglar who couldn’t escape in the car he was stealing because he couldn’t drive a manual shift. Riding a fixed-gear bike is similar in several ways.

It takes some getting used to. Most folks are unable to simply hop on and go. Let one of your non-fixie friends climb on and steal your bike. You’ll quickly understand why some bike thieves might want to avoid fixies.

Of course, this is entirely dependent on the make and model. Dosnoventa bikes cost well over $2,000. But then again, that’s not the kind of bike you’d leave locked up overnight.

If you’re worried about your bike being stolen, check out our post on how to keep your bike from being stolen. Also, take a look at some of the best-rated bike locks listed below. These are the greatest available on the market.

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5. They are easy to store in an apartment

Fixed gear bikes are easier to store than geared bikes in small areas. This is due to the ease with which the front and rear wheels, as well as the handlebars, may be removed. This allows you a lot of freedom when storing your bike for an extended period of time. Your bike can be stored in a closet or even under your bed. With a geared bike, this is much more difficult. This is great for commuters in NYC since space is always scarce.

For more information on cycling storage, see our post on storing your bike in an apartment.

6. Fixies provide a workout

On a fixed-gear bike, there is no coasting. More effort is required due to the lack of gears and the connection to the wheels. Your legs are continually moving in sync with the wheels. This exercise keeps your heart rate up and your cardiovascular system going at full throttle, which can keep you in shape. This is one of the reasons why people like riding fixed-gear bikes for exercise. 

This, of course, has its downfalls. You might end up sweating a lot which might be concerning if you are commuting on your way to work. So, you might want to take it easy on your commute. If that’s not your thing, perhaps fixed-gear bikes are not for you, and you might need to opt for a single-speed bike. 

7. Fixies are more pleasurable to ride

It’s easier to ride when you don’t have to shift gears; you can just concentrate on pedaling, braking, and staying aware of oncoming traffic. The keyword is “traffic.” which you will undoubtedly encounter a lot of when commuting.

The city streets require your attention at all times. There are a lot of traffic laws to follow, as well as cars flying by. A simpler bike lets you concentrate on the road rather than the bike’s bells and whistles. When you get on a fixed-gear bicycle, you never have to think about which gear to use or where you want to stop. Instead, you simply ride, making cycling easier, more enjoyable, and suitable for commuters.

Image of a cyclist commuting in the city traffic.
An image of a cyclist commuting in city traffic. Source: Eduardo Enrietti on Unsplash

8. Fixies are simply cool

Let’s face it: fixed gear bikes are beautiful. They’re so damn smooth and streamlined. They are far more efficient than their geared equivalents. Their visual attractiveness stems from the mix of their modern style and mechanical simplicity.

9. Fixies provide pedaling efficiency 

A fixed-gear bike transfers energy from the pedal to the rear wheel more efficiently.

It may be a minor consideration for some riders, but those who spend enough time on their bike each day or commuting large distances will notice a difference after a while.

10. A stronger bond between you and the road

Most riders will agree that riding a fixie is more engaging and enjoyable. Because of the lack of complex gearing mechanisms and, in some instances, brakes, the link between rider and bike is more direct. After that, it’s just you and the bike. Try riding a fixed-gear bike once, and you’ll notice the difference immediately.

Check out this video from Global Cycling Network that contrasts fixed gear vs. geared bikes for city commuting to see this link argument in action.

If you want to hear more pros and cons of riding a fixie to commute, check out this video called The best commuter bike: Road, city or single-speed? from the Shifter YouTube channel.

A video called The best commuter bike: Road, city, or single-speed? from the Shifter YouTube channel.

How long is too long a commute on a fixed-gear bike?

Fixies are not the best bikes for long commutes. But you can ride a long distance with one. You’ll need to work on your fitness and gradually increase your distance over time. Commuting might be hard at first, but you will get used to it.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding commuting on a fixed-gear bike.

Can you commute on a fixie?

As stated in this article, commuting on a fixie is doable. But It’s not always the most comfortable, and If you’re running late, it’s not the safest option either. But it is something I do almost every day, and I love it.  

How long is too long a commute on a fixed-gear bike?

So, how far is too far to ride a bike to work? It’s up to you, but 5 to 10 miles is reasonable. Anything more than that is excessive. However, exceptions to the norm exist, and being prepared can assist.

Are there health benefits of commuting on a bike?

Many health benefits are associated with commuting by bike, including a reduction in weight, lower blood pressure, improved breathing, and a general feeling of improved well-being. Furthermore, fixed gear bikes allow you to cycle more efficiently, consuming less energy overall.

Can commuting on a fixie hurt your knees?

Long distances in high gears with a low cadence are taxing on the knees. And most folks are okay and will never have any difficulties, but not everyone will be that lucky. The continual stress will eventually take its toll, and you might end up with knees that hurt, especially if you commute daily. This will, however, take a long time to develop. 

Conclusion

So, I hope these ten reasons why fixed gear bikes are great for commuting. They may not be ideal for commuting, but they are a ton of fun. 

This article covered some reasons why fixed-gear bikes are great for commuting. Here are some key takeaways:

Key Takeaways

  • They are easier to repair and maintain
  • Fixed gear bikes weigh less
  • They are typically less expensive
  • Fixies are less likely to be stolen.
  • It is easier to get sore in an apartment
  • Fixies are more effective
  • Fixies are more pleasurable to ride
  • Fixies are simply cool
  • Fixies provide a more effective aerobic workout
  • A stronger bond between you and the road
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So, do you commute to work on a fixie? Let us know in the comments below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on everything fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

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Written by Bradly Knight

As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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