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Are Fixies Good for Long Distances Cycling? (Answered)

Do you have a long commute? In this article, you will learn whether the fixed gear and single-speed bikes are good for long distance cycling.

Road cyclist going up a hill and traveling a long distance. Source: Lech Naumovich, Unsplash
Road cyclist going up a hill and traveling a long distance. Source: Lech Naumovich, Unsplash

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-distance cycling?

Due to their lack of gears, fixed-gear and single-speed bicycles are not ideal for long-distance cycling. Nonetheless, single-speed bikes may be used for long distances if you’re looking for a great fund workout.

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

Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 15, 2022, to include additional information regarding long-distance cycling.

Before learning about long-distance cycling, let’s first understand if fixies are appropriate for long rides.

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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 several variables, which are listed below.

How far do you consider “long-distance” to be?

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

Is your body up to the challenge?

Could you ride the same distance with a geared bike and feel at ease? If you don’t, it probably won’t be fun to try to travel that far without being able to change gears.

Is your fixie up to the task?

Seriously, have you been properly maintaining it? What is the state of the tires? And 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.

How rough will your ride be?

Will you primarily ride 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 distance cycling.

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

Why may fixies be unsuitable for long rides?

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

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

Gears give the cyclist a mechanical advantage, lowering the energy required to spin the wheels regardless of the terrain. Consequently, 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 ascending a large hill on a single-speed bike stressful.

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

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. Gradually increase the speed.

    To travel large distances on a fixie, you must begin slowly and gradually increase your speed. Begin by biking on a level surface. Then, concentrate on pedaling at a regular tempo while progressively increasing the distance you traverse. 

  2. Use pedal straps

  3. Have a good saddle

    Get a comfortable saddle! This is very important. You may stand up and freewheel on a conventional road bike, briefly easing the strain on your hindquarters. You can’t do it on a fixie bike because you must pedal. This implies that your bottom will be in touch with the saddle for the entirety of your long-distance ride. So you can see why having a comfy saddle is so important. Check out this leather brooks brothers saddle*. It’s got great reviews.

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  4. Convert your fixie to single speed

    If your fixie has a flip-flop hub on the rear 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 ability to climb hills, switch back to a fixie and keep going.

  5. 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. Then, feel good about crossing each training session off your list, and don’t forget to take breaks often to let your body recover.

If you want to see a somewhat different take on this topic, watch this video on long-distance cycling on 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)

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding long-distance cycling.

Can you ride a fixie long distance?

Yes, riding a fixed-gear bike over long distances is possible. Furthermore, you may gradually increase your distance with the correct equipment and adequate fitness.

What is considered long distance in cycling?

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

Is long-distance cycling good for you?

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

What bikes are suitable for long distances?

Touring and road bikes are great for distance cycling. They are intended to be ridden on the road and are very fast. And yes, they allow you to coast.

Can fixies be fun for long distances?

If you’re up for a challenge or looking for an intense workout during a long ride or commute, A fixie can be a lot of fun. But fixie might not be for you if you’re trying to relax.

Conclusion

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 increase your distance. There will undoubtedly be some mind-over-matter moments, but picture how great you’ll feel when you accomplish your first 100-mile fixie ride.

In this article, we covered whether fixed-gear bikes are suitable for long-distance cycling, why they may not be good for long rides, and, if you 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 long distances.
  • However, it is possible if you want to ride along for the distance on a fixed-gear bike.
  • Use your pedals effectively by using toe cages or straps.
  • It depends on what you consider long-distance and whether your bike and body are up for the challenge.
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So, are you riding your fixie bike 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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