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Why Do Bike Messengers Use Fixies? (5 Reasons)

The real reason why bike messengers love riding fixed.

Image of a man wearing jean shorts holding a white fixed gear bike.
Image of a man wearing jean shorts holding a white fixed gear bike.

Fixed gear bicycles have become an essential part of the bike messenger culture. They appear in movies and videos illustrating the deadly life of bike couriers.

This preference may look odd to outsiders since bike messengers spend the whole day on the pedals and cover a lot of distance.

Instead of seeking the most comfort possible, they chose to ride a rigid bicycle with thin tires, no gears, and, in some cases, no brakes. But why do bike messengers ride fixed-gear fixies?

Bike messengers ride fixed-gear bicycles for five reasons: They are lightweight, cheap maintenance, dependability, cost-effectiveness, and traditions. They are light, attractive, mechanically simple, and contain fewer potentially broken components. This makes them appealing to bike couriers, who want a machine that needs as little maintenance as possible.

But there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in this article, you will learn five reasons why bike messengers love riding fixed.

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Editor’s note: This article was updated on January 17, 2022, to include additional information regarding bike messengers.

Reasons why bike messengers prefer fixed gear bikes

There are many benefits to writing a fixed gear bike which is why bike messengers tend to prefer them. The following are some of the reasons why many bike messengers choose fixed-gear bikes.

1. Fixies are lightweight

Because they require fewer components than geared bicycles, even low-cost fixies may be quite light. The weight of the bike may be reduced to under 16 pounds. It’s fantastic to have a light bike when you have to sling it about all day and sometimes even climb stairs with it on your shoulder.

If the same weight were to be matched by a geared bicycle, the price of the bike would be very high.

2. Fixies require low maintance

Fixies with no brakes need relatively minimal maintenance. Aside from yearly maintenance or an emergency, riders simply need to oil the chain and pump the tires.

There are no bending derailleurs or brake pads to replace. A fixed-gear bicycle’s hubs are also pretty basic and should last a long time provided they are of excellent quality, and the bike is used on the proper terrain.

As a result, fixed-gear bicycles need less maintenance than road bikes. This characteristic makes them appealing to messengers, who log several hours of riding each day and constantly fling their bicycles about.

3. Fixies are very reliability

Because there are fewer pieces that might fail, it is more reliable. This is significant because mechanical issues slow down the working process and result in financial losses owing to incomplete or delayed deliveries.

4. Fixies have anti-theft characteristics

Many bike messengers ride filthy, unpretentious fixed-gear bicycles with scraped steel frames, ripped bar tape, and decaying paint. The common appearance, as well as the absence of extras and shining features, helps deter would-be thieves.

The learning curve is another reason why some criminals avoid fixies. Fixies do not have a freewheel. Thus most novices will struggle to ride them securely and effectively. And if there are no brakes, the robber’s getaway strategy becomes much more problematic.

Furthermore, fixies have a low resale value since most people prefer to ride a bicycle with brakes and the ability to coast. This reduces the number of possible purchasers.

If you are looking for even more security, check out the locks below.

5. They look amazing

The fixie has a beautiful, clean appearance that many messengers like. The impact is so powerful that occasionally even cyclists who aren’t actually messengers attempt to imitate the look by riding fixes, wearing denim shorts cut above the knee, and carrying a messenger bag over their shoulder.

Legitimate bike couriers sometimes refer to such individuals as “posers” since they lack the ability and recreate just the surface of a deeper urban culture.

6. Fixies are super fun to ride

Some ride fixies for “the fixie experience” rather than for technical reasons. When traveling through the metropolitan jungle in fluid movements, people prefer to feel like they’re a part of the bike. This is a feeling you only get with a fixie.

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7. Strong cycling tradition

For quite some time, the bicycle has been employed for delivery. The messengers hired by the Paris stock exchange in the 1870s are described in David Herlihy’s book Bicycle: the History.

The French newspaper Le Moniteur Universel started using bikes to transport information from the National Assembly in Paris to the paper’s press in Versailles in 1874. Then, at the stock exchange, bank representatives created a gang of 30 couriers tasked with delivering messages to the central telegraph office.

During the 1890s, Western Union in the United States used a huge number of bicycle couriers known as bicycle telegraph boys. The custom was carried on into the twentieth century.

The messenger bicycles were pretty basic at the time. They only had one gear and no other method to brake other than back-pedaling.

Even while current fixed-gear bicycles are more complex and lighter than the machines used at the time, their simplicity recalls the early days of bicycle messengers.

Many bike messengers competed in track cycling in the 1980s. Naturally, many of them started riding their track bikes to work. This influx increased the popularity of fixies as courier bicycles.

If you want to see an example of all of this in action, take a look at this video about Chicago’s most hardcore bike messenger from Owen Schatz’s YouTube channel.

Video called ‘Chicago’s most hardcore bike messenger’ from the Owen Schatz YouTube Channel.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do all bike messengers to use fixies?

There is no regulation that requires a bike messenger to ride a fixie. However, as is frequently the case, the environment establishes unwritten, silent rules that individuals must obey in order to be accepted by the group.

Are there drawbacks to using a fixie?

While writing fixed has many benefits, there are several drawbacks you need to consider, including difficulty and slow to descend from hills, the lack of brakes can be very problematic in high traffic areas and lack of fenders can make your clothes very dirty.

Are fixies street legal?

Yes, and now. It depends on your municipality, but most of the time, you are required to have at least one break on your bike at all times to read on the street legally.

Conclusion

Even if you’re not a bike messenger, a fixed gear bike is a great motive for transportation. If your messenger is without a Flexi, we hope this article encourages you to try one out today.

In this article, we covered seven reasons why bike messengers love fixes. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Fixies are lightweight
  • Fixies require low maintance
  • Fixies are very reliability
  • Fixies have anti-Theft Characteristics
  • They look amazing
  • Fixies are super fun to ride
  • Strong cycling tradition
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So, are you a hardcore bike messenger who wouldn’t dream of writing anything but if it scared bike? Or are you a geared messenger I wouldn’t think of touching one of those godforsaken fixes? 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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