Single speed commuter bikes, or fixies as they are commonly known, are growing in popularity particularly around cities, as the hassle-free cycling option – but just how practical are these bikes to use on a daily basis?
We have compiled a quick guide to the key pros and cons of commuting on a fixie to help you to make up your own mind about whether these types of bike are right for you or not. There are many considerations to look at before deciding on a fixie for your daily commute.
Pros of Commuting on a Fixie:
1. They are cheap
Fixies have fewer parts to repair and go wrong, making them both cheaper to buy, run and repair when they go wrong when compared with a regular bike. If you are on a budget, you will always be able to get a higher quality fixie for the same price as a lower quality bicycle. These reviews on SportzBits will give you some great options to choose from.
2. They are simple
Riding a fixie is really simple – no gear changes, no chains getting stuck, no brakes to fail –they have far fewer parts to go wrong or look after, making them very simple machines to own and ride. They are also much lighter as a result.
3. They are ideal in cities
They have more comfy seats making riding bumpy roads and potholes that much more comfortable than on a normal bike. They are also far less likely to get stolen in the city than a regular bike because they look so simple and don’t appeal to thieves who are trying to make money selling bikes on.
4. They help you get healthy
With a fixie you need to constantly pedal so your legs will be getting a great workout, keeping you fit and healthy on your daily commute.
The Cons of Commuting on a Fixie
1. They are a nightmare up hills
If your commute includes steep hills, then you will really notice the lack of gears as you struggle to ride up any kind of steep hill as you can’t adjust a fixie bike and just have to ride up however it comes. Going downhill can also be a problem as traditional fixies don’t freewheel and you have to continue pedaling.
2. They don’t typically have brakes
The conventional fixie is unable to freewheel and doesn’t have any brakes, which can cause problems for inexperienced riders, particularly when commuting around a city when you might need to stop suddenly if a car pulls in front of you.
3. They are heavy
Fixie bikes can be heavier than normal bikes due to the frame materials they are made of, which makes them cheaper. Some of the more expensive frame choices will be lighter and stronger, but you will have to pay a bit more money for these.
4. You can’t put your bag on a fixie
If you take a bag or briefcase to work you can’t stow it anywhere on a fixie so unless you can carry a backpack while riding you won’t be able to carry any bags on this type of bike. If you want to pop to the shops at lunchtime, you can’t stow your shopping on the handlebars like you would with a standard bike.
5. They don’t have lights
Most fixies don’t come with headlights, or any light included because they are designed to be the most simple of bikes. Of course, you can always buy lights and reflectors for yourself to make sure motorists can see you at night but it can be a problem and adds to your expense.
6. You have to pedal constantly
With a fixie, you can’t freewheel downhill and have to continually pedal all the time, which can take its toll on your legs, mainly if you are not used to cycling so a fixie can be far more hard work than a general road bike.
There are almost as many pros as there are cons in choosing a fixie for your regular commuting ride, so it’s a case of personal taste and preference. If you are not an experienced city cyclist, then a fixie might not be the best option due to the lack of brakes and intensity of riding with constant pedaling.
However, although traditional fixies come with no brakes, lights, etc. there are now adaptations from this very basic model, so it is possible to spend a bit more and buy a fixie which does come with brakes and lights for added safety measures.
If you are planning to commute on a fixie, then do some research and shop around to make sure you find the model which best suits your needs and provides the safest and most comfortable ride through the traffic.