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Are Fixies Good for Long Distances? (Answered)

Planning a long bike ride? Read this first.

Image of a man wearing jean shorts holding a white fixed gear bike.
Image of a man wearing jean shorts holding a white fixed gear bike.

There’s nothing quite like riding a fixed gear bike or a single-speed bike, for that matter. But if you’re going to be commuting, you’re probably wondering, are fixed gear bikes good for long distances?

Fixed gear and single-speed bicycles are not ideal for long-distance cycling. The lack of gears hinders the cyclist from achieving an ideal cadence and results in unnecessary energy consumption. Nonetheless, if one has the ambition, single-speed bikes may be utilized for long distances.

But there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in this article, you will learn whether the fixed gear bikes are good for long-distance cycling, the reasons why they may not be good for long rides, and, if you do want to ride long distances on a fixie, how to do so effectively.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on January 21, 2022, to include additional information regarding long-distance cycling.

Are fixed-gear bikes appropriate for long rides?

Answering this question, believe it or not, is not as simple as it seems. It is determined by a number of variables, which are listed below.

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1. How far do you think a “long-distance” is to be?

Some may consider 30 miles on a fixie to be long-distance, whilst others will ride 50 or 70 miles on a fixed gear bike without hesitation.

2. Is your body up to the challenge?

Could you ride the same long-distance with a geared bike and feel at ease? If not, it’s doubtful that you’ll like attempting to travel that distance without the ease of changing gears.

3. Is your fixie up to the task?

Seriously, have you been properly maintaining it? What is the state of the tires? Have you correctly tensioned the chain, or will it come off in the middle of your ride? Regular maintenance is critical, particularly when cycling long distances.

4. How rough will your ride be?

Will you be mostly riding on level terrain, or will you be facing lengthy inclines and sharp descents? Are you looking to set a personal best time, or are you just out for the fresh air and scenery?

Even if you fit the bill for all the questions above, a fixie may still not be ideal for long distances.

The reason fixies aren’t suitable for long rides

Image of three cyclists on a long-distance ride on road bikes.
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Image of three cyclists on a long-distance ride on road bikes.

Marathon runners go at a much slower pace than sprinters because this is the only way long distances can only be covered. Cycling isn’t much different since, at its core, it’s a human-powered activity.

Gears provide the cyclist a mechanical advantage, lowering the energy required to spin the wheels regardless of the terrain. As a consequence, low-intensity pedaling is produced, which is required for extended distances. 

Single-speed bikes do not provide such an option unless you are riding on flat terrain and your gear ratio is tuned for it. Odds are, it’s not. 

Additionally, some people may find the notion of ascending a large hill on a single-speed bike stressful.

And, since long-distance rides would almost certainly include more than one hill, some people are put off by the prospect of covering such distance on a single-speed bike owing to the degree of exercise and joint strain required.

Side note—if you are going to try cycling long distances, make sure you have good pair of pedal straps or tow clips to help you on both the down and upstroke. this will come in handy when going up hills! Check out my favorites below.

How to Ride a Fixed Gear Bike Long Distances

If you truly want to trade long distances with your fixie, here’s how to do it efficiently.

1. Increase speed gradually

To travel large distances on a fixie, you must begin slowly and gradually increase your speed. Begin by biking on a level surface. Concentrate on pedaling at a regular tempo while progressively increasing the distance you traverse. Before attempting to add inclines, become familiar with riding a fixed gear bike.

2. Convert to single speed

If your fixie has a flip-flop hub on the back wheel that can be converted to a single-speed, this might be an excellent way to improve your hill-climbing skills. You might try including some inclines with your bike at a single speed to get you acclimated to cycling up hills with just one gear. When you’re confident in your abilities to climb hills, switch back to a fixie and keep going.

3. Have a good saddle

On a conventional road bike, you may stand up and freewheel, briefly easing the strain on your hindquarters. You can’t do it on a fixie because you have to keep pedaling. This implies that your bottom will be in touch with the saddle for the entirety of your long-distance ride. You can see why having a comfy saddle is so important.

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4. Take it easy

When you’re working toward a huge goal, it’s natural to get overwhelmed. So, make a training plan for yourself that includes a new target every couple of weeks, such as adding another 5 miles to your longest ride. Take joy in crossing each training session off your list, and remember to take frequent pauses to enable your body to recuperate.

If you want to see a somewhat different take on this topic? Take a look at this video on long-distance cycling from Zach Gallardo’s YouTube Channel.

Video called ‘Why You Should Bike Tour…On a Fixed Gear‘ from the Zach Gallardo YouTube Channel.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is considered long distance in cycling?

Anything more than 50 miles is considered long. The gold standard is to complete a century, which is 100 miles in one day. However, it is not difficult to ride more than 100 miles in a single day, and distance cyclists will sometimes accomplish a “Double,” which is a double century or 200 miles.

Is long distance cycling good for you?

Cycling can help to protect you from serious diseases such as stroke, heart attack, some cancers, depression, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. Riding a bike is healthy, fun, and a low-impact form of exercise for all ages. Cycling is easy to fit into your daily routine by riding to the shops, park, school, or work.

What bikes are good for long distance?

Touring bicycles are another form of road bike. They are intended to be ridden on pavement, although they are more durable for self-supported long-distance riding.

Conclusion

In general, riding a fixed gear bike over long distances is not ideal, but it is doable. You’ll need to work on your fitness and gradually expand your distance over time. There will undoubtedly be some mind of matter’ moments, but picture how great you’ll feel when you accomplish your first 100-mile fixie ride.

In this article, we covered whether the fixed gear bikes are good for long-distance cycling, the reasons why they may not be good for long rides, and, if you do want to ride long distances on a fixie, how to do so effectively. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Fixed gear and single speed bikes are not ideal for a long distance.
  • However, If you do want to ride along distance on a fixed gear bike, it is possible.
  • It depends on what you consider a long distance. And whether your bike and your body is up for the challenge.
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So, are you riding your fixie long distance, do you believe they are good for long-distance rides? Or does the idea make you shiver? 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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