I have a fixed-gear bike—a bike with only one gear and no brakes—and I love it. But some people don’t get it. “Why would you ride a bike with no brakes in and out of traffic everyday?” they ask. “Because it’s a gorgeous bike” is a universally unacceptable explanation, I’ve found. “Because I love it” doesn’t generally work either (since when does that not count as a reasonable answer?).
No, they want cold, hard facts. I have a couple of ideas I always toss out there. First, it’s fun to learn how to ride. And it provides more of a workout than a regular bike, which helps me combat my fear of sitting disease. And of course I can always use it for its intended purpose—racing around a velodrome at warp speeds.
But I also see my fixie as a good investment, for these reasons:
1. It’s a quality bike that’s also (relatively) inexpensive. When I went shopping for grown-up bikes for the first time in my life, I almost peed my pants when I realized a bike would set me back $500, minimum. The one I really wanted was $700. (My childhood bike had cost $100, streamers included). But grown-up bikes are a different beast. A brand new fixie, all parts included, is about $400. Cheap! (“Oh but dude, I’ll just go on Craigslist and get a bike for $100.” Obviously here we are talking about proper road bikes and not beater Craigslist bikes. Two totally different things. And your $100 Craigslist bike almost never turns out to be $100 after you figure out it’s been Frankensteined together.)
2. Fixies are harder to steal by virtue of the hilarious fact that the thief may not be able to ride away on it. Adjusting to the way the pedals rotate takes a bit of practice, and if you haven’t ridden one it would be extremely difficult to make a quick getaway. I’ve had a bike pried off a parking meter, only to find it discarded in the bushes a block away. Best day ever! Awesome karmic ROI!
3. They are cheaper to fix. You only have one chainring, as opposed to several. Without multiple chainrings, you no longer need a front derailleur. Or a back derailluer. The cables and shifters? Don’t need ‘em. The remaining mechanism is so simple, it barely needs to be tuned up, and there is hardly anything left on the bike that can break. Less stuff to break = less stuff to fix = more money for tacos. And that’s really what this is all about.
Eve O’Neill is wheely fun.