About Fixed Gear Bikes
* This article is about a bicycle with no freewheel mechanism. For a bicycle with only one gear.
A fixed-gear bicycle (or fixed-wheel bicycle, commonly known in some places as a fixie) is a bicycle that has a drivetrain with no freewheel mechanism. The freewheel was developed early in the history of bicycle design but the fixed-gear bicycle remained the standard track racing design. More recently the Fixed gear bikes or “fixie” has become a popular alternative among mainly urban cyclists, offering the advantage of simplicity compared with the standard multi-geared bicycle.
Most bicycle hubs incorporate a freewheel to allow the pedals to remain stationary while the bicycle is in motion, so that the rider can coast, ride without pedaling using forward momentum. A fixed-gear drivetrain has the drive sprocket (or cog) threaded or bolted directly to the hub of the back wheel, so that the pedals are directly coupled to the wheel. During acceleration, the pedal crank drives the wheel, but in other situations, the rear wheel can drive the pedal cranks. This direct coupling allows a cyclist to apply a braking force with the legs and bodyweight, by resisting the rotation of the cranks. It also makes it possible to cycle backwards. Thanks to this mechanism cycle ball and artistic cycling are created give us wonderful images and performances.
Advantages and Disadvantages when you own/ride a Fixed gear bike or Fixie :
One of the perceived main attractions of a fixed gear bicycle is low weight. Without the added parts required for a fully geared drive train—derailleurs, shifters, cables, cable carriers, multiple chain rings, freewheel hub, brazed-on mounting lugs—a fixed gear bicycle weighs less than its geared equivalent. Swapping out the components are more easy and waste less time because there aren’t any gear cables or brake cables or etc. on a Fixed gear bike or Fixie. The chain itself is subject to less sideways force and will not wear out as fast as on a derailleur system.So that you can save money on your bicycle parts or upgrades and it takes less time to assembly, clean, maintain or service a Fixed gear bike or a Fixie .Also, a fixed gear drivetrain is more mechanically efficient than any other bicycle drivetrain, with the most direct power transfer from rider to the wheels. Thus, a fixed gear requires less energy in any given gear to move than a geared bike in the same gear.
Riding fixed is considered by some to encourage a more effective pedaling style, which it is claimed translates into greater efficiency and power when used on a bicycle fitted with a freewheel. It allows for the rider to engage in and practice proper cadence, which is the balanced and rhythmic flow of pedaling, enhancing performance for both cyclist and bicycle.
Because Fixed gear bikes or fixie do not have brakes so the riders must brake entirely through the drivetrain – this requires practicing, skills and physical strength. Ideally this is done by resisting the forward motion of the pedals, shedding speed while the bike is still moving. Alternatively, though far less efficiently, one can brake by stopping the motion of the pedals in mid-rotation, causing the rear wheel to lock in place, allowing the bicycle to skid and slow down from kinetic friction .
Descending any significant gradient is more difficult as the rider must spin the cranks at high speed (sometimes at 170 rpm or more), or use the brakes to slow down. Some consider that the enforced fast spin when descending increases suppleness or flexibility, which is said to improve pedaling performance on any type of bicycle; however the performance boost is negligible compared to the benefits of riding a free wheel.
When first riding a fixed gear, a cyclist used to a freewheel may try to freewheel, or coast, particularly when approaching corners or obstacles. Since coasting is not possible this can lead to a “kick” to the trailing leg, and even to loss of control of the bicycle. Riding at high speed around corners can be difficult on a road bike converted into a fixed-gear bicycle, as the pedals can strike the road, resulting in loss of control. Proper track bikes have a higher bottom bracket to compensate for the constantly spinning cranks and largely mitigate this problem.
Perhaps the most obvious disadvantage is the lack of multiple gears, and the flexibility in pedaling cadence and resistance made available through gear shifting. Hilly or uneven mountainous terrain with steep grades can be particularly challenging, as the rider cannot adjust the gearing to match the terrain.
Many urban fixed-gear riders think brakes are not strictly necessary, and brakeless fixed riding has a cult status in some areas. Brakes and their cables are said to add extra bulk to the simple appearance of a fixed gear bicycle, and they prevent trick manoeuvres that involve spinning the front wheel in a full circle, unless equipped with special 360° freedom “detangler” system already known on trial or BMX bicycles.
Other riders dismiss riding on roads without brakes as an affectation, based on image rather than practicality.Riding brakeless can be dangerous, is prohibited by law in many jurisdictions, and may jeopardize the chances of a claim in the event of an accident.
It is possible to slow down or stop a fixed-gear bike in two ways. The first, most efficient, and least stressful on the rider’s body is by resisting the turning cranks as they come up and around, shedding speed with each pedal rotation. The second way, less efficient but more showy, is to bump or skid the rear wheel along the pavement. Such a move is initiated by shifting the rider’s weight slightly forward and pulling up on the pedals using clipless pedals or toe clips and straps. The rider then stops turning the cranks, thus stopping the drivetrain and rear wheel, while applying body weight in opposition to the rotation of the cranks. This causes the rear wheel to skid, and slow the bike. The skid can be held until the bicycle stops or until the rider desires to continue pedaling again at a slower speed. The technique requires practice and is generally considered dangerous when used during cornering .
On any bike with only rear wheel braking, the maximum deceleration is significantly lower than on a bike equipped with a front brake. As a vehicle brakes, weight can be transferred towards the front wheel and away from the rear, decreasing the amount of grip the rear wheel has. Transferring the rider’s weight back increases rear wheel braking efficiency, but a front wheel fitted with an ordinary brake might provide 70% or more of the braking power when braking hard.