5 Reasons Why Fixies Are the Great Bikes for New Yorkers

If you live in New York City, you’ve probably seen a bike messenger fly 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?

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!

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

Thumbnail for a blog post 5 reasons why fixies are the great bikes for new yorkers
Thumbnail for A Blog Post 5 Reasons Why Fixies Are the Great Bikes for New Yorkers

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. Instead, the bike’s speed is determined by how fast the rider can pedal.

Five reasons all New Yorkers should ride a fixie.

With that out of the way, here are just a few reasons why riding a bike in the city is practical and economical. 

1. Fixed gear bikes are low maintenance

A fixed-gear bike uses a minimum set of components. For example, there is no derailleur to move the chain to another gear, as one would find on a bike with multiple speeds. Instead, 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 less expensive to repair. You only need to worry about lubricating the chain drive and ensuring other fixtures are tightened and secure. In addition, parts requiring replacement are limited to brake pads due to normal wear and tear.

2. Riding fixed save you money

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

Road 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 it will save money on maintenance as well. But, of course, the mountain bike guys can’t say that. 

5 reasons why fixies are the great 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 to crosstown? Anyone who’s been in Manhattan for more than a day will tell you that going to crosstown is a nightmare

Besides the seven subway lines at 42nd 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 is welcome. 

A bike is a perfect solution. With a bike, you can bypass the heavy traffic and reach 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 of ten reasons why fixed gear bikes are the best 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.

Got a tiny apartment? Check out our post, where we give you 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.

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. A fixed-gear bike is definitely the way to go if you live in an apartment building without an elevator. 

5 reasons why fixies are the great bikes for new yorkers - giphy - brooklyn fixed gear
The “pivot” scene from Friends shows how annoying walk-up 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. A 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.

Is it safe to ride a bike in New York City?

Riding your single-speed bicycle in New York City is considered by many to be safer than taking various other modes of transportation for several reasons. For starters, most drivers are going slower because it is against the law to drive faster than 25mph (40kph) in NYC. This means that everyone in the city moves more slowly, can stop or turn faster, and that you are safer because of it.

You don’t have to worry about getting lost because you can use Google Maps to find the safest bike lanes in the city. And You can ride your bike on a clear road next to a sidewalk where there are bike lanes. This means careless drivers can’t open doors or knock on your car.

Finally, you can ride confidently because you can see everything around you, and there’s nothing in your way. So, you can be safer and more careful as you ride through the streets.

A video from Terry Barentsen’s YouTube channel
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding fixed gear and single-speed bikes.

Is it against the law to ride a fixie bike in New York?

If a fixed-gear bike is ridden on the road without a front brake, this is considered illegal. Otherwise, a fixed gear is perfectly legal in new york city.

Is it wise to ride a bike with only one gear in New York City?

Bikes with a single gear are ideal for New York City due to the city’s relatively even terrain, which eliminates the need for multiple gears on the bicycle. As a bonus, they are simple to ride, perform exceptionally well when subjected to frequent starts and stops, require little maintenance, and are less likely to be stolen.

What type of Is new york city bike friendly?

Yes. New York is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.

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.

This article 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.
  • It is ideal for buildings without elevators.
  • They are fast, light, and agile.

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.

Helpful resources

Image of fixed gear cyclist on williamsburg bridge. Pinterest
Image of fixed gear cyclist on Williamsburg bridge. Pinterest
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Written by Bradley Knight, Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Bradley, and I've been riding fixed for years. I love all the joy and pain that comes with this unique style of cycling and the passionate community that drives it. If you love fixed-gear bikes, this is the place for you.

Jordan
Edited by Jordan May, Staff Editor

Jordan is a seasoned editor with over seven years of experience. His passion for writing and storytelling started when he was a teenager, spending countless hours reading books and creating his own stories.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Brooklyn Fixed Gear is your source for fixie, single-single-speed & track bike content. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions to regarding fixed-gear cycling.

What is a fixed-gear bike, and how is it different from a regular bike?

A fixed-gear bike, also known as a fixie, is a type of bike that has a fixed rear wheel, which means that the pedals are directly connected to the rear wheel. Unlike a regular bike, a fixed-gear bike has no freewheel, so you cannot coast or stop pedaling while riding. This means that you must constantly pedal while riding a fixed-gear bike, and you can slow down or stop the bike by resisting the pedals with your legs.

Why don't fixed-gear bikes have brakes

Fixed-gear bicycles, or "fixies," often do not have brakes due to their simplicity and minimalism, which allows riders to control speed through pedaling resistance. This brakeless design reduces the bike's weight, making it more maneuverable while connecting riders to the tradition and culture of track cycling. However, riding a fixed-gear bicycle without brakes can be dangerous, particularly in urban settings with traffic and unpredictable conditions, so many places require bicycles to have at least one functioning brake by law. It's a good idea to have at least a front brake installed for safety if you're considering riding a fixed-gear bike.

What are the benefits of riding a fixed-gear bike?

Some people prefer fixed-gear bikes because they are simpler and require less maintenance than bikes with multiple gears. Fixed-gear bikes also provide a more direct connection between the rider and the bike, which can make for a more responsive and enjoyable riding experience. Additionally, riding a fixed-gear bike can help improve your leg strength and pedal stroke.

Are fixed-gear bikes legal?

Fixed-gear bikes, also known as "fixies," are generally legal in most countries. However, local laws and regulations may require bicycles to have certain safety features, such as brakes, reflectors, or lights. For fixed-gear bikes, some jurisdictions require at least one functioning brake, typically a front brake, to be considered road-legal. It's essential to check the specific laws and regulations in your area to ensure your fixed-gear bike complies with local requirements. Keep in mind that riding without brakes or necessary safety features can be dangerous, and it's always a good idea to prioritize safety when cycling in any environment.