What is a Fixie Bike?

When you think of the words “Fixie Bike”, you might wonder what that is? It’s clearly a bike, but for what? When I first heard it, I pictured a bike for pixies, due to the obvious word similarities.

But boy was I wrong about that. These bikes have nothing to do with pixies, nor are they small enough for that matter, so we won’t be seeing Tinkerbell rolling past on one anytime soon. A fixie bike is actually a fixed gear bicycle. If these words still don’t ring any bells for you, keep reading to learn the ins and outs of these kinds of bikes.

Describing a Fixie Bike

A fixie bike, or fixed gear bicycle, is a single-speed bike with that single gear fixed in place. This means that, as you pedal forward, the bike will move forward, and when you pedal backward, the bike will move backward. There is no “free-wheeling” (or “coasting”) on a fixed gear bike because the pedals move when the wheels do.

So Why Ride One?

There are many reasons to ride a fixie bike. On one hand, the minimal parts mean that your maintenance costs will be lower, and the bike is generally lighter than some other bikes. On the other hand, if you are one for doing tricks on a bike, the forward and backward movement capabilities broaden your range of tricks and allow you to do some pretty fun things. 

fixie track bike blue

Fixies are also highly customisable, allowing you to add accessories and features. You can add brakes if your bike doesn’t come with them, many types of handlebars are compatible with the bikes (so it’s not just a case of lowering or raising the handlebars), and if you are one who really wants to freewheel every now and then, you can get a flip flop hub. This allows you to fit fixed cogs or freewheel ones for whatever you are feeling that day.

Benefits Of Riding A Fixie Bike


Relatively speaking, fixie bikes are cheaper than other bikes because there is less hardware and they are also often made with less expensive materials, such as steel rather than carbon fiber. With this being said, the cost does come down to the components which you want on the bike.

If you do want your fixie to have more advanced components than what it originally comes with, and you want to customise the bike a lot, these added components would, of course, increase the price.

Improved Drivetrain Efficiency

Usually, the chain on a fixie bike is shorter than those on regular bikes, as well as, is completely straight. This, along with the fact that you won’t be switching gears and stretching out the chain, helps the components of the drivetrain to run more smoothly than other bikes and last longer.

fixie bike components


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    Better Efficiency

    The energy which you put into pedalling is essentially transferred to the wheel more effectively thanks to the short chain which we just mentioned. The straightness of the chainline and the absence of other components such as derailleur pulleys (which is the mechanism which shifts the chain when you change gears) also help with efficiency.

    Improved Cadence And Rhythm

    While cadence might not be something that you specifically think of, it plays a big role when you are cycling on any bike, especially for long distances. Riding on a fixie bike helps with your cadence because these bikes require a steady rhythm in order to effectively go faster, slow down or maintain your current speed. Focusing on your cadence while riding will become a lot more apparent.

    Increased Strength

    Fixie bikes help a lot with strength, especially when it comes to hills. Not only can you no longer adjust to a lower gear when going uphill, meaning you might need to put in more effort, but even on downhills, the lack of ability to freewheel means you will constantly be pedalling. Since fixie bikes don’t usually come with brakes, your pedalling changes here as you will need to slow down your pedalling speed to slow the bike down.

    How Hard Is Riding A Fixie Bike?

    While riding a fixie bike might sound like a difficult thing to get the hang of, especially when you are used to riding normal bikes, it really isn’t that hard and you are bound to get the hang of it quite quickly. One thing you may find will particularly take a bit of getting used to, however, is the braking technique.

    two fixie bikes

    If you don’t have brakes on your fixie, the usual way to stop the bike is either by slowing down your pedalling speed gradually or you stop pedalling completely and skid to a halt. While this may sound daunting, you will get the hang of it, and might even find that it is quite a lot of fun. Just start out slow when learning to control the bicycle and you will be able to go faster or try out tricks soon enough.

    Where Do People Usually Ride Fixie Bikes?

    People usually ride fixed gear bicycles on relatively flat terrain, such as on the way to work or on a promenade. The single-speed aspect does limit these bikes to some extent, so people don’t really choose them for high speed riding like a road bike.

    These bikes also don’t usually come with shock absorbers like mountain bikes do, so taking them on rough roads might not be the most comfortable experience. If you’re looking into doing something like a triathlon or cyclocross, these probably aren’t the best type of bike for that. Just try to stick to relatively flat terrain to get the best experience. 

    fabricbike-fixie bike matte black and red

    So, clearly fixie bikes have nothing to do with Tinkerbell and have a lot to do with actual cycling. While you may find them a little unusual at first, especially compared to a road bike or mountain bike, once you get the hang of riding one you can have a lot of fun.

    You can also add customisations like shock absorbers, brakes, etc. which can really add to the amount of things that you can do and the fun you can have on these bikes. On the other hand if you aren’t looking to add anything and you’re just looking for something simple to ride, with only a few components to worry about, a fixie is a great option for that too.

    About the author
    What is a Fixie Bike? Why Ride One? — Bike Hacks