Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"Fixie" is Fun to Say

Since I started cycling in 1992, I've owned a number bikes ranging from modest to extravagant. My current baby is a Seven Cycles Axiom road bike. The Seven lies at the extravagant end of the continuum; it has a custom-fit-to-me titanium-alloy frame and 20 gear ratios, each of which I use. However, over the last few years, I've become fascinated with single-speed bikes. A single-speed drivetrain not only imparts beauty and durability to the bike, but also engenders a sense of oneness between the rider and the machine. Plus, riding a one-speed bike challenges and improves the rider's fitness.

So now I'm considering building up a single-speed mountain bike or, for the ultimate in simplicity and bike-rider unity, a fixed-gear road bike. That may sound---or be---crazy, since a single-speed or fixie would make almost any ride more difficult. But hey, If I wanted getting around to be easy, I'd just drive my car, right?


  1. I think single-speed bikes are the way to go. I think you can build up a bike that is both fixed-gear and free-wheel. (No wait, hear me out.) First get a mountain bike frame with horizontal dropouts. Then get two rear wheels made (or make them if you can do it) one free-wheel and one fixed gear. If you want to be really snazzy, get two front wheels too. Then put slicks on two of the wheels and nobby tires on the other two. The only irritating thing then is having to remove the chain to change between free-wheel and fixed gear. But, presumably, you won't do that very often.

    Also, I know that there are companies that will somehow put a cog on both sides of the rear wheel and you can make one side free and one side fixed. Then all you have to do is (remove the chain) flip the wheel (put the chain back on) to change between the two.

  2. Brian,

    Yep, there are numerous manufacturers of the so-called flip-flop hubs. They have single-speed freewheels on one side (which lets you coast) and simple threads on the other (for fixed-gear fun).

    Is your aluminum commuter mountain bike a single-speed?

    Thanks for commenting.