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Fixed Gear vs Road Bikes: 10 Reasons Fixies Are Better

Sometimes it seems like road bikes are the ideal bikes. Wrong! Here are 10 reasons why fixies are better than road bikes for city living.

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I love my fixie, but I often struggle to keep up with the roadies. No matter how hard I pedal, the roadies pass right by me. A fixed-gear bike, by definition, doesn’t have gears. So, sometimes it seems like road bikes are ideal for commuting.

Not so fast! (Pun intended). Because fixies are better than road bikes for city living and commuting.

Fixies and single-speed bikes are better than road bikes for several reasons: they are lighter, easier to maintain, and more fun to ride.

Man sitting by river with fixed gear bike. Source: unsplash
Man sitting by river with fixed gear bike. Source: Unsplash

But there’s a lot more to it, so in this post, you will learn the difference between fixies and road bikes and which bike is more suitable for city commuting.

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Editor’s note: This article was changed on June 29, 2022, to add more information about fixed gear and road bikes.

Before we go into the debate of fixie versus road bike, let’s first define what fixies and road bikes are.

Fixed gear vs road bikes: 10 reasons fixies are better - giphy - brooklyn fixed gear
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If only it were this easy to beat the roadies.

What is a fixed gear bike?

Fixies (also known as fixed-gear bikes*) are bicycles with no gears. Instead, the pedals are directly attached to the rear wheel hub. This implies that if the wheel turns, so will the pedals. Because of this, you can’t freewheel, but you can use the pedals as brakes to slow the bike down.

A single-speed bike is similar to a fixed-gear in almost every way, but single-speed bikes have freewheel cogs, which fixed-gear bikes do not.

What is a road bike?

Road bikes are multi-geared bicycles designed for long distances. They often emphasize speed. The road bike gets its name from the terrain it is designed for (the paved road). Road bikes have many gears and components and can be extremely expensive.

Ten reasons why fixies are better than road bikes

Below are some reasons why fixed-gear bikes are better than road bikes.

1. Fixed gear bikes are lighter.

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. Okay, it’s only a couple of pounds lighter, but less weight makes all the difference if you spend all day on your bike, as bike messengers do.

Additionally, cities usually have multi-story buildings. And not all of those buildings will have elevators. And even if they do, sometimes they don’t work. So, having a lighter bike is very important for city use.

2. They are less expensive

In general, fixed-gear bikes are less expensive than geared bikes. Why? Because there are fewer components involved. Also, they are often constructed using less expensive materials.

You might be spending way too much on a roadbike.
You might be spending way too much on a road bike.

3. Fixies are not as likely to get stolen

On average, over 188,500 bicycle thefts are reported stolen every year in the United States. Yikes! But consider this: Fixed gear bikes have fewer parts, making them often less expensive. The resale value just isn’t there for a thief to risk their freedom for. In short, road and mountain bikes scream “steal me! to a thief. Not so with a fixie.

Another reason they are less likely to get stolen is that, well, they are harder to ride. Most people have heard the story about the thief who failed to make his getaway in the car he was stealing, simply because he couldn’t drive a stick-shift. Riding a fixed-gear bike is somewhat similar.

It takes some time to get used to it. Most people can’t just hop on and go. So go ahead, as one of your non-fixie friends, hop on and steal your bike. You’ll immediately see why most bike thieves steer clear of fixies.

Fixed gear vs road bikes: 10 reasons fixies are better - giphy - brooklyn fixed gear
An impressive bike thief.

Of course, it entirely depends on the make and model. Dosnoventa bikes are well over $2,000—but that’s not the type of bike you’ll find locked up outside overnight, is it?

If you are concerned about your bike getting stolen, check out some of these top-rated bike locks below. These are the best in the market.

4. Easy to repair and work on

Fixed-gear bikes are easier to maintain and less expensive to repair since they contain fewer components. All that you need to do is to lubricate the chain drive and ensure that all other fixtures are tightened and secure. Furthermore, the brake pads are the only parts that need to be replaced due to natural wear and tear.

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Regular use will cause wear and tear on a road bike’s derailleurs. A fixed-gear bike does not have these issues because a fixie lacks the complex gear dérailleurs seen on geared bikes, so regular repair, wheel removal, cleaning, and so on are much easier.

Of course, the chain or one of the spokes could break, but these are generally simple and inexpensive to replace. Road bike repair is both expensive and complicated.

Costly and complex road bike repair depicting why fixies beat road bikes for city commuting.
A costly and complex road bike repair.

5. Easier to sore in an appartment

In tiny spaces, fixed-gear bikes are easier to store than geared bikes because the front and rear wheels and handlebars may be removed with relative ease. In addition, storing your bike for an extended period gives you a lot of flexibility. For example, you might store your bike in the closet or beneath the bed. This is much more difficult with a geared bike. Take a look at our article on how to store your bike in an apartment for more tips on cycling storage.

6. Fixies are more efficient

Cycling on a fixed-gear bike is more efficient in transferring energy from the pedal to the rear wheel. This is because the chain is shorter and straighter, and there is no gear pulleys at the back.

Again, it might be a minor 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.

7. Fixies are more relaxing to ride

It’s easier to ride when you never have to shift gears; you simply focus on pedaling, braking, and being aware of surrounding traffic. The keyword is traffic. Of which there is no shortage.

The city streets demand your attention at all times. There are several traffic laws to follow and cars speeding by. A simpler bike lets you concentrate on the road rather than the bike’s bells and whistles. When riding a fixed-gear bike, you never have to decide which gear to use or where to stop. Instead, you simply ride, making riding easier and more enjoyable.

Fixed gear vs road bikes: 10 reasons fixies are better - the remarkable simplicity of a fixed gear bike. - brooklyn fixed gear
The remarkable simplicity of a fixed gear bike.

8. Fixies provide a better cardio workout

There is no coasting on a fixed-gear bike. The lack of gears and the connection to the wheels require more work. You are always moving your legs along with the wheels. This effort keeps your heart pounding and your cardiovascular system running at top speed.

Not everybody rides their bike to get fit. But a fixed-gear bike makes your legs work harder, and that work keeps you fit. This is one of the reasons why people love fixed-gear bikes for exercise. But, of course, you must use all of your strength.

9. Stronger connection between you and the road

Most riders will agree that riding a fixie is more engaging and enjoyable. Due to the lack of complex gearing mechanisms and, in certain cases, brakes, the link between rider and bike is more direct.

10. Fixies just look so damn cool

Let’s face it—fixed gear bikes are sexy as hell. They are so damn sleek and streamlined; more streamlined than their geared counterparts. The combination of their modern design and mechanical simplicity makes them visually appealing.

Are you looking for more? Look at this video called “Global Cycling Network: Fixie vs. Geared.”

A video called “Global Cycling Network: Fixie vs. Geared” from the Global Cycling Network YouTube channel.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding fixies and road bikes.

What’s the main difference between fixed gear and a road bike?

There are a few key differences between fixed-gear and road bikes. First, fixies only have one gear. Road bikes have many. Fixies are lighter than road bikes, and they will cost less as well.

Are fixed gear bikes better than road bikes?

There are several reasons why fixed-gear bikes are preferred over road bikes. For starters, they are usually far more stable and easy to ride because they contain fewer moving components and are less prone to failure. Second, they are usually more efficient than road bikes.
Finally, if you’re on a tight budget, fixies are often less expensive than road bikes and frequently have higher performance ratings. They’re also easy to store and carry, which is ideal if you don’t have a lot of room or want to keep bike transportation as simple as possible.

Are fixies faster than road bikes?

A fixed-gear bike can be faster than a geared bike of the same size because there are fewer losses in the drivetrain (no derailleur means no chain bending and a straight chain line), and it’s lighter due to fewer components. 

However, optimal conditions must be present for a fixed-gear bike to be faster than an identical road-geared bike. So, in the real world, the fixed-gear bike will usually be slower. As soon as you have slopes (both downhill and uphill), you cannot pedal as fast.

Additionally, If you want to ride brakeless, you will be even slower because most of the stopping power in a bicycle comes from the front wheel, so you must either brake early or ride at a slower speed that allows you to safely come to a stop using only your back wheel for brakes.

Is a fixie better for commuting than a road bike?

Fixed-gear bikes are ideal for commuting. A fixie is worth considering if your commute does not include many hills. If your commute includes a lot of hills, you should reconsider.

Conclusion

So, I hope these ten reasons why fixed gear bikes are great for city living have convinced you to ditch the road bike and hop on a fixed or single-speed bike.

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

Key takeaways

  • Fixed gear bikes are lighter.
  • They are less expensive.
  • They are not as likely to get stolen.
  • It’s easy to repair and work on.
  • It has fewer moving parts.
  • Are more efficient.
  • More relaxing to ride.
  • To provide a better cardio workout.
  • Provide a stronger connection between you and the road.
  • They look so damn cool.
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So, do you have something you’d add to our list? Do you agree that fixed gear bikes are the best for city use? 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 put.

Helpful resources

Image of a man sitting by river with fixed gear bike. Pinterest
Image of a man sitting by the river with fixed gear bike. Pinterest
Author avatar - Bradley Knight
Written By Bradley 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.

6 thoughts on “Fixed Gear vs Road Bikes: 10 Reasons Fixies Are Better<h2 class='secondary-title'>Sometimes it seems like road bikes are the ideal bikes. Wrong! Here are 10 reasons why fixies are better than road bikes for city living.</h2>”

  1. All these points also apply to single speeds. Which are also far safer in evasive ride situations. And if you ride in such areas you know those happen daily

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