Fixed gear cycling is some of the most fun you can have on two wheels. But if you’re new to riding with only one gear, you may have some reservations. Or you might want to know why people ride fixed in the first place. And, are there advantages to riding a fixed-gear bike?
Riding a fixed-gear bike has several advantages, including:
- Greater pedal efficiency.
- Improved cardio workout.
- Fixed gear bikes are lightweight.
- They are heavily customizable.
- They are less expensive than many other bikes.
- They are low-maintenance.
- They have a passionate community.
- They allow you to do freestyle tricks.
But there’s a lot more than that. So, in this article, you will learn what a fixed-gear bike is, why people love them, and the distinct benefits they offer over conventional bikes.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 20, 2022, to include more information about the advantages of riding a fixie.
Before getting into the benefits of fixed-gear biking, let’s first understand what a fixed-gear bike is.
What is a fixed-geared bike?
A fixed-gear bike is a bike with only one gear. Therefore, fixed-gear bikes are also called fixies, and you will often hear the terms used interchangeably.
Continuous pedaling is required for a fixed-gear bicycle. Unlike a standard bicycle, a fixed-gear bicycle does not allow you to coast. The wheel can move independently of the pedals on most bicycles, thanks to a freewheel cog*. But you must pedal (even while riding downhill) with a fixed gear.
These characteristics make them popular and advantageous in congested metropolitan areas. As a result, the motion of the cog is directly related to that of the pedal. All of the energy you use when pedaling is delivered to the wheel.
Fixed-gear bikes are often revered for their visual simplicity and minimalist design. However, there are an infinite number of customization options out there for fixed-gear bikes. These are some of the most customized bikes in the world, so much so that there’s a subculture of manufacturers who make parts specifically for people who want to fully customize their fixies.
If you want to learn all there is to know about fixed gear bikes, check our complete beginner’s guide to fixed gear bikes here. And if you want to buy a new fixie, check out our post on the best fixed gear and single-speed bikes this year.
What is the difference between a fixed-gear bike and a single-speed bike?
Fixed gear bikes (fixies) are all single-speed bicycles. However, not all single-speed bicycles are fixed-gear bicycles. The main difference is that single-speed bikes are equipped with a freewheel cog, while fixed-gear bikes are not. So, you can not coast on a fixie, but you can on a single-speed bike.
The top 16 benefits of riding a fixie
Below are some notable benefits of riding fixed.
1. Greater pedal efficiency
Cycling on a fixed-gear bike provides greater efficiency in terms of the energy transfer from the pedal to the rear wheel. This is due to the chain length being shorter and straighter and the fact that there is no gear pulley at the rear.
It might be a small factor for some cyclists, but those who spend enough hours on their bike daily or do long-distance commuting will feel the difference after a while.
To take full advantage of pedal efficiency, you must use pedal straps or toe clips. If you don’t have either, check out the options below.
2. Improved cardio workout
There is no coasting on a fixed-gear bike. You are always moving your legs along with the wheels. The lack of gears and the connection to the wheels require more work. This effort keeps your heart pounding and your cardiovascular system running at top speed. So, your legs work harder, and that work keeps you fit. This is one of the reasons why people love fixed-gear bikes for exercise.
3. Fixed gear bikes are lightweight
This is one of the most obvious benefits of a fixie. Due to the absence of a derailleur, levers, a cassette, and brake components, the bike drops a significant amount of weight.
A fixed-gear bike typically weighs less than its geared counterpart. The difference in weight is accounted for by the lack of gear levers, a lighter chainring and rear sprocket setup, and the lack of dérailleurs. It might seem like only a couple of pounds lighter, but less weight makes all the difference if you’re tired or, in the case of bike messengers and couriers, spending all day on your bike.
And of the parts a fixie has, they are much lighter than their other geared counterparts. So on a fixie, you’ll likely find:
- Lighter sprockets.
- Lighter cranksets.
- Lighter wheelsets.
- Lighter frames.
- Lighter fork.
It’s not unusual to find fixed-gear bikes weighing between 15 and 17 pounds, making them faster and more effective. It also helps make it easier to carry the bike around—making them very portable.
Additionally, cities usually have multi-story buildings. Some buildings don’t have elevators. And even if they do, sometimes they don’t work.
You can pick up a fixie easily with one hand. So you don’t have to break your back to go out for a ride. Also, a fixed-gear bike is a good way to go if you live in an apartment without an elevator.
4. Fixies are very fast
Fixed gear bikes are derived from track bikes and are meant to be fast by nature. So it’s only natural that the manufacturing techniques used to craft some of the fastest bikes on the planet would carry over to the fixie.
And of course, the reduced weight helps as well. And with a pair of pedal straps or toe clips, these bikes can accelerate even faster.
5. Fixies are ideal for racing
Fixed-gear bikes were originally developed for track racing. As a result, they are utilized in a majority of racing competitions. As a result, manufacturers have ensured that it is velodrome race-ready. While racing, you’ll become aware of their superiority. Additionally, the easy handling helps it avoid colliding with other riders on the circuit.
So, whether on a circuit or racing in the street with friends, fixies are ideal when you want to have fun racing.
6. They are heavily customizable
Fixed gear bikes are sexy, sleek, and streamlined. Their visual appeal stems from their modern design and mechanical simplicity.
Fixed gear bikes have an identity of their own while also enabling the rider to further personalize the bike to their preference.
Still, regardless of the color scheme and components, a fixie will always have that timeless, minimalistic look.
Check out some of these colorful, customizable parts and accessories.
7. They are less expensive than many other bikes
Fewer components typically lead to a less expensive bike. For example, the lack of a multi-gear transmission significantly reduces the cost of a fixed gear. Road and mountain bikes have many additional components that make them very expensive. Fixies do not.
8. They require little maintenance
Fixed gear bikes eliminate many of the maintenance concerns associated with traditional bikes.
This relates to the reduced components. If you regularly bike, your multi-gear drivetrains, disc brakes, and caliper brakes will eventually need maintenance. You’ll eventually need to replace components as well. Also, chains wear out faster on multi-gear drivetrains because they put more stress on the chain.
Because they have fewer components, fixed-gear bikes are easier to maintain and less expensive to repair. You only need to worry about lubricating the chain drive and ensuring other fixtures are tightened and secure. Also, the brake pads are the only parts that need replacement because of normal wear and tear.
Regular servicing, wheel removal, cleaning, etc., is much simpler because a fixie doesn’t have the complex gear dérailleurs you need to deal with on a geared bike.
The derailleurs on a road bike will suffer wear and tear from regular use. They are moving parts, after all, and replacement or repair can be expensive. A fixed-gear bike doesn’t have any such problems. You’d need to seriously abuse it to break the rear drive sprocket or the front chainring.
Of course, the chain itself could break, or one of the spokes, but these are relatively simple to repair and not very expensive.
9. It’s less intimidating to learn bike mechanics on
Let’s face it. It can be scary if you’ve never worked on a bike before. However, fixing your fixie is so simple that it allows you to easily and quickly learn all the bike parts and components and how they work together. If you decide to do your maintenance on a fixie, you will find it much easier and simpler than on any other bike. You’ll better understand how your bike works and learn some skills in the process.
10. Passionate Community
The fixed gear cycling community is one of the most passionate bicycle communities in the world. There is no shortage of Facebook groups, and Instagram accounts dedicated to connecting cyclists worldwide. In addition, the fixed-gear community often puts on events and races and is filled with a bunch of all-around chill-ass people. Unfortunately, these bikes are sometimes associated with hipsters, but real cyclists are all about cycling, not keeping up with trends.
11. Fixed gear bikes are easier to store
Fixed gear bikes are easier to store in tight spaces than geared bikes. This is because removing the front and back wheels and, even the handlebars is easy. This gives you great flexibility when storing your bike for a long time. For example, you can store your bike in the closet or under your bed. This is much more difficult to do with a geared bike. And due to their lightweight, you can even hang a fixed gear on your wall.
Got a tiny apartment? Check out our post on five creative ways to store your fixie in your apartment. And if you’re looking for a way to mount your bike to the wall, consider the options below.
12. They allow you to focus more on the road
It’s easier to ride when you don’t have to shift gears; you can just concentrate on pedaling, braking, and eyeing for traffic. Of which there is no shortage. The city streets constantly demand your attention. There are many traffic laws you must follow and cars zooming by. A simpler bike allows you to focus more on the road and less on the bells and whistles of the bike.
When you mount up on a fixed-gear bike, you never need to choose which gear to use or stop in. Instead, you just ride, making riding simpler and more fun.
13. Riding a fixed is a fun and unique experience
Most riders will tell you that a fixie is more engaging and fun to ride. The connection between rider and bike is more direct due to the lack of complex gearing mechanisms and, in some cases, brakes. After that, it’s just the bike and you.
Because your feet are always moving, you are always engaged with the bike and can gradually get a better sense of the road.
Try riding a fixed-gear bike once, and you’ll immediately notice the different feel of the road.
14. They offer greater control and maneuverability
There’s a reason why bike messengers in the city prefer fixed-gear bikes. They offer a greater sense of control on the road. This is particularly beneficial if you’re in a tight urban environment.
15. They force you to develop new skills
The design of fixed-gear bikes allows you to learn new skills. For example, you can learn to ride backward or learn to make a track stand. You will also learn how to ride the bike with complete control. The new abilities you’ve mastered will help you become a better, stronger cyclist overall.
16. You can do freestyle tricks
Riding fixed allows you to do freestyle tricks like riding backward, which is super fun. You can even do bar spins if you don’t have a front brake. In addition, there are a ton of fixed gear tricks you can try out with your friends.
If these benefits aren’t enough to convince you, check out this video from JRIFIXED on why some people love riding fixed.
Are you looking for more advice? Then, watch this video called “Why Ride Fixed Gear?” And what is it from the JRIFIXED YouTube Channel?
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Below are some commonly asked questions regarding fixie bikes.
What are the advantages of a fixed-gear bike?
First and foremost, they are extremely efficient and simple to ride. They’re also quite stable and don’t need much pedaling, which is ideal if you’re new to bicycling or have knee problems. Finally, they’re a lot of fun to ride!
Are fixed gear bikes street legal?
Fixed gear bikes are 100% legal. However, riding brakeless is illegal in many cities and towns worldwide. This is why I always recommend attaching at least a front brake.
Are fixed gear bikes lighter than regular bikes?
Fixed gear bikes are some of the lightest bikes in the world. They derive from racing track bikes with a strong emphasis on being as light as possible.
Can fixed gear bikes be used for racing?
Fixed-gear bikes are derived from racing bikes called “track bikes.” Fixies have many of the characteristics of track bikes, which allows them to be excellent for racing.
Can fixed gear bikes ride backward?
On a fixed gear bike, the fixed rear wheel cog is directly attached to the pedals, meaning if you pedal backward, the bike will move backward, allowing fixies to be ridden backward.
What is a fixed-gear bike good for?
A fixed-gear bike is a great option for people who want to keep their cycling experience simple and easy. They are perfect for people who don’t want to fiddle with gears or have to worry about tension on their bike’s chain. Additionally, fixed-gear bikes are very lightweight and efficient.
We hope you enjoyed reading our blog post about the advantages of riding a fixed-gear bike! As you can see, there are several reasons why people adore them and even more reasons why you should consider purchasing one.
There’s no denying that fixed-gear cycling has many benefits, and while it may not be for everyone, I think we can all agree that it provides a unique riding experience.
This article covered what a fixed gear bike is, why they are popular, and a few of the benefits of going fixed. Here are some key takeaways:
Fixed gear cycling has many benefits, including:
- Greater pedal efficiency
- Improved cardio workout
- Fixed gear bikes are lightweight.
- They are heavily customizable.
- It is less expensive than many other bikes.
- They require little maintenance.
- Passionate Community
- It allows you to do freestyle tricks.
So, are there any benefits we didn’t cover? 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.