By Chere Di Boscio
For years, bicycles with gears have been in fashion, but quite frankly, not everybody ever used all of those gears or even knew what they were for. Most urban cyclists just wanted a simple way of going from A to B.
Bike designers have picked up on that desire for simplicity, and now the fixed-gear bicycle, known as the Fixie, is back.
These simple but beautiful bikes have a drivetrain with no freewheel mechanism. Most look a bit retro because they are–they were amongst the first prototypes developed in the early history of bicycle design, but the fixed-gear bicycle remained the standard track racing design.
Fixies are different, though, because while most bicycles incorporate a freewheel to allow the pedals to remain stationary while the bicycle is in motion so that the rider can coast, a fixed-gear drivetrain has the drive sprocket fixed directly to the hub of the back wheel, so that the rider can’t stop pedalling–better exercise!
When the rear wheel turns, the pedals turn in the same direction. This allows the cyclist to apply a weak braking force without using brakes, simply by resisting the rotation of the cranks. It also makes it possible to ride backwards, although this is much more difficult (and dangerous, obviously!) than riding forward.
Brands on the Bandwagon
One company that’s obsessed with the Fixie’s design and motion is Solé, which was started by two college friends at the University of Southern California. The pair was disheartened by the fact that these simpler bikes usually cost far more than their geared counterparts, so they set out to create cheap Fixies, and Solé was born.
Incorporating splashes of cheerful colours and sleek design, Solé’s bikes are chic, trendy and cool, making them one of the world’s best-selling Fixie bike companies. They mainly sell on line, and will deliver anywhere in the world.
Another bike brand obsessed with making awesome fixies is Pure Fix. They claim their ‘India’ model has turned heads “from Brooklyn to Bangalore,” but if you missed out on the black and gold Obey x Fuji bike a few years back, this is a reasonable facsimile at a beyond-reasonable price of just $325.
Quite frankly, we think the fixie is a kind of ‘pretty’ bike overall, but there are some more macho manufacturers making wheels for the lads–take SE Bikes, for example. The company names their fixies after beers, and this one, the Lager, seems particularly lad-appropriate.
Ditto the Vilano WAVE Freestyle bike. Its triple-triangle frame design, curvy seat tube and basic black colour make it the perfect bike for bad boys.
It seems that Fixie urban subculture has spread from the USA to Canada, Europe and beyond, for boys and for girls, leaving no doubt that the Fixie is in fashion no matter who you are, or where.