Fixies re-inventing the bicycle

I never cease to be amazed at the products and services being re-invented for the modern market. I’ve already mentioned the bare-foot running movement and it’s breathtakingly expensive equipment.

Adam rides a Tokyobike Classic © Horst Friedrichs
Image © Horst Friedrichs

However, since my bicycle was recently stolen (UK bike crime figures), I have been on the lookout for a replacement, and intrigued to discover the fixie bike phenomenon. I have to admit I was half-aware of a different and simpler kind of bicycle from my lunch-time wanderings around the Kings Cross area, particularly in the vicinity of the University of the Arts, inhabited by trend-setting students.

My eye was drawn to the almost Nietzschean purity and strong colours. One bike was all-white, even including the drive chain, another was mat black and gold with painted tyres. A recent article in the Evening Standard about Horst Friedrichs‘ new book London’s most stylish cyclists, seemed to only show examples of fixie bikes.

The point is that once you remove the complex Derailleur gears and forget about heavy suspension, bike designers can let the minimalism of the two wheels and frame come to the fore. The fact that these bikes tend to be hundreds of pounds cheaper than their more sophisticated siblings is another attraction.

However, there is just one fly in the ointment, and that is the hilly nature of the geography around my local area. Bicycles developed gears for a reason, and that was to get their riders up hills without having to get off and push every time the slope got steep.

I’ve been assured that in London they work just fine, but I certainly haven’t seen any up on the South Downs on my walks.

Then there is the question of true fixed wheel fixie, or the softy version with a free wheel bearing. I have to say the thought of being thrown over the handlebars because I forgot to keep pedalling when going downhill, does worry me somewhat.

So I have a dilemma, choose a beautiful two wheeled retro bike that harks back to the early days of cycling – and suffer, or go modern for an easy ride.

image from

3 Replies to “Fixies re-inventing the bicycle”

  1. Neil We have bought ourselves folding bikes which have three gears, can be taken on public transport (including trains in the rush hour) and are OK in the hills of Richmond Park. They are a bit more expensive than your retro bike but over three years have paid us back. Colin

    1. Thanks Colin. I have also lusted after a Brompton folding bike, which I see plenty of on the train. But I think I need something a bit sturdier for my pot-hole strewn lanes.

      1. If you are thinking of getting a new bike, have a look at the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative web site. We were up there the other weekend and bought our granddaughter a retro hybrid with 21 gears for a very reasonable price – far less than Specialized which our son has. The company has moved south of the border and is opening shops but you can buy on line and each bike is made to fit you and to your spec.

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