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5 (Surprising) Reasons Fixies are the best bikes for New Yorkers

If you live in New York, you need to read this post, because I am about to give you five reasons why every New Yorker needs a fixed gear bike.

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If you live in New York City, you’ve probably seen a bike messenger flying past you more than a few times. Odds are they are riding a fixed gear bike.

Fixed gear bikes are very popular in New York City, especially in Brooklyn, but what’s so great about riding fixed, and why do we believe every New Yorker needs a fixed gear bike?

A fixed gear bike is an excellent transportation option in any city, but it is especially well-suited for New York City. The maneuverability, and reliability of a fixed gear bike is the perfect way to avoid traffic and get across town quickly. And New York is the mostly flat landscape is optimal for single-geared bikes.

Image of fixed gear cyclist on williamsburg bridge.
Image of fixed gear cyclist on Williamsburg Bridge.

If you live in NYC and are considering a new bike, then strap in because, In just a few minutes, you will learn five reasons why fixed gear bikes are perfect for New York. By the end of this article, you will know what a fixed gear bike is, how it works, and why you need to pick one up today!

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Editor’s note: This article was updated on February 13, 2021, to include additional information regarding cycling in New York City.

What Is a fixed gear bike

Fixed gear bikes or “fixies,” as they are often called, are bicycles with a single direct rear-wheel-drive mechanism. The motion can be forward or reverse, depending on the pedal direction. The fixed gear mechanism does not allow the rear wheel to operate freely, or “coast,” like most other bikes. The bike’s speed is determined by how fast the rider can pedal.

With that out of the way, here are just a few reasons why riding fixed in the city is not only practical but also economical. 

5 (surprising) reasons fixies are the best bikes for new yorkers - source - brooklyn fixed gear
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Animation of a hand grabbing a fixed gear bike.

1. Fixed gear bikes are low maintenance

A fixed-gear bike uses a minimum set of components. There is no derailleur to move the chain to another gear as one would find on a bike with multiple speeds. The single gear is fixed to the rear wheel and controlled by the pedals. 

Because they have fewer components, fixed-gear bikes are easier to maintain and are less expensive when it comes to repairs. You only need to worry about lubricating the chain drive and ensuring other fixtures are tightened and secure. Parts requiring replacement are limited to brake pads due to normal wear and tear.

2. Riding fixed save you money

The most obvious reason why fixed gear bikes are great for New York City is the cost. Fixed gear bikes are very affordable. You can grab a decent one for only $200. At that price It won’t be a great bike, but still.

Road bikes and mountain bikes can be far more expensive because you’re paying for all the bells and whistles those bikes are made for. But are you on the mountain? Are you participating in the Tour de France? Probably not. So why are you wasting your money on features you don’t need? 

And, since there are fewer parts to deal with, there are fewer breakdowns and less maintenance. so will save money on maintenance as well. The mountain bike guys can’t say that. 

You also save money on transportation costs. No more cans and subway fares for you! Take a look at this article on how riding a bike can save you a ton of money.

5 (surprising) reasons fixies are the best bikes for new yorkers - source - brooklyn fixed gear
The money you’re wasting on stuff you don’t need.

3. Crosstown traffic

A fixed gear bike is particularly useful if you live in manhattan. Subways and buses usually run north to south, that’s great and all, but what about going crosstown. Anyone who’s been in manhattan for more than a day will tell you that going crosstown is a nightmare

Other than the seven subway lines at 42st and the L train at 14th, there aren’t any trains that run perpendicular to manhattan, so you will end up taking the bus. Therein lies another problem, traffic is so dense in New York City that you could probably walk to your destination and still arrive faster than the bus.

So, any opportunity to avoid crosstown traffic, skip the expensive parking lots, and overcrowded subways are welcome. 

A bike is a perfect solution. With a bike, you can bypass the heavy traffic and get to your destination ten times faster. And with its light and slim profile, a fixed gear is the perfect bike for the job.

Need more convincing? Check out our recent detailing ten reasons why fixed gear bikes are the best bikes for commuting to the city.

Packed new york city subway station.
A packed crosstown subway platform in New York City.

4. Easily stores in your apartment

The simplicity of a fixie also makes it easy to store. You can even hang a fixed gear on your wall. Or, take off the front wheel for even more storage options. The possibilities are virtually endless. New York City has a lot to offer, but cheap storage space is not on the list.

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Got a tiny apartment? Check out our post where we give you five creative ways you can 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.

5. Great for walk-up apartment buildings

If you live in the city, you already know that not all apartment buildings have elevators. And If you have a big bulky road or mountain bike, walking up and down the stairs could be a real pain.  

Fixed gear bikes are super lightweight. You can pick them up with one hand easily, so you don’t have to break your back just to go out for a ride. If you live in an apartment building without an elevator, a fixed gear bike is definitely the way to go. 

5 (surprising) reasons fixies are the best bikes for new yorkers - giphy - brooklyn fixed gear
The “pivot” scene from Friends shows how annoying walkup apartments can be.

Bonus: Maneuverability

Fixed gear bikes are loved by bike messengers because they are lightweight, simple, and fast. This allows the rider to focus on maneuvering through New York traffic quickly and easily.

Acceleration is fast, and they can maintain their speed at will. An added bonus is that you can balance while waiting for the traffic light to change. 

Need more convincing of a fixie’s lightweight and maneuverability? Check out this video from Terry Barentsen’s YouTube channel. Look at how sharp these turns are. It’s hypnotizing.

City street cycling video from Terry Barentsen’s YouTube Channel.

Conclusion

Hopefully, by now, you see that there is no better bike to own in New York City than a fixed gear bike. No matter what borough you live in. 

If you want to dive deeper into the world of fixed gear cycling, we wrote a full guide on everything you need to know about fixed gear cycling and culture.

In this article, we covered some reasons why every new yorker should get their hands on a fixed gear bike. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Fixies are low maintenance
  • They cost less and can save you money
  • They are perfect for getting across-town
  • You can easily store a fixed gear bike in your apartment
  • Ideal for buildings without elevators
  • They are fast, light and agile
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So, do you have anything you’d add to our list? 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.

Image of fixed gear cyclist on williamsburg bridge. Pinterest
Image of fixed gear cyclist on williamsburg bridge. 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.

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