As bike culture in NZ grows rapidly, single speed and fixed gear bikes are becoming a more common sight on our streets. Initially favoured by cycle couriers, the beauty, simplicity and pure fun of the fixie is reaching a wider audience.
Evolved from a track racing pedigree, all fixies are single speeds, meaning they have one gear, but not all single speeds are fixed gear bikes. Single speed bikes can either have a fixed gear or a free-wheel. With a free-wheel you can choose to roll without pedalling. With a fixed gear, you have to continuously pedal.
That might sound like hard work but when you hop on a fixie for the first time you'll immediately understand - riding a fixed gear bike is special. It's been described as like drinking decaf your whole life and then suddenly having the real thing. And putting a smile on your face isn't the only benefit to riding fixed.
With the newfound popularity of these bikes has come more variety and cheaper prices. Many mainstream bicycling companies have introduced at least one fixed gear model into their ranges including cheaper fixies for beginners.
There's no denying the single speed bike is a fine looking machine. With its clean lines and minimalist retro style, it's easy to see why fixie art has turned into a cycling fashion trend.
Feeling a seamless connection with your fixie or single speed is a common cliché - because it's actually true. Riding fixed is quick, powerful and instinctual. You have to be on your game so it hones your riding skills. A ﬁxed gear bike forces you to spin your legs and develop a fast and even, efficient cadence.
Riding single speeds develops your speed and strength. When you get to a hill you have no option to change gear. You have to push yourself and and use every muscle, strengthening not only your legs but also your backside, core and even upper body.
But one of the main reasons we love the fixie is for its simple engineering. The best things in life are the simplest and riding fixed is cycling in its purest, simplest form. One cog, one gear, no dérailleurs to break - it's low maintenance and low weight and it's just fun.
Fixies are cool and they're here to stay so get on the single speed wagon and get ready to ride and smile.