General Question

jaketheripper's avatar

Why do bike messengers ride fixies?

Asked by jaketheripper (2773points) September 20th, 2010

I love mine for cruising around campus, but for long distance high speed riding I would definitely take a regular road bike with brakes and gears.

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17 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Oh come on! It’s the coolness factor. You wouldn’t use it around campus if it weren’t cool. You don’t have to have two bicycles (or more).

jaketheripper's avatar

They are cool, but my demands are so small compared to those of a bike messengers (I only own one bike) I just ride to class and that’s it. If my job demanded a lot of my bike riding I would definitely not be on my fixie.

jaytkay's avatar

Better control at low speeds. For example, you may have seen people doing ‘track stands’ at traffic lights, balancing upright so they can pedal forward the instant the light changes. With a fixie you can gently push forward AND back to maintain that stance.

And that applies to all your riding, you use your legs to accelerate AND decelerate.

No distracting shifting when you are dashing around among vehicles which might flatten you at any moment.

Fewer parts to go wrong.

And yeah, the simple coolness and being different.

After riding 10,18,21,24 speed bikes from age ten to forty, switching to a fixie for me was a lot of fun. I live in a very, very flat area and now 24 gears seems kind of silly.

Though I do ride my geared bike, too. I simply like biking in general.

Paxan8's avatar

What is a fixie? I looked it up and says fixed gear. Does that mean a 1 speed?

GladysMensch's avatar

jaykay: What is the point of a track stand? Every person I’ve ever seen do one looks like they’re expending an immense amount of energy just to stay upright. Put the foot down already. You’re not impressing anyone. “Hey Becky, look at that guy jerking arrhythmically on that bike over there. Wait a minute… his feet aren’t on the ground. Amazing!”

jaytkay's avatar

You’re not impressing anyone


They aren’t doing it for you.

zenvelo's avatar

@Paxan8 yes, a fixie is a 1 speed, but it also does not have a free-wheel, so the pedal cranks turn as the rear wheel turns. Braking is done by putting reverse pressure on the pedals.

wenn's avatar

There is also the simplicity factor. I carry a 15mm wrench and a allen key set and that pretty much covers everything on my fixie. Being able to fix things quickly and easily is important for messengers since time is of the essence.

and @GladysMensch maybe you should try it before you tweak out about it. Track stands really don’t require very much energy, just balance. It isn’t about impressing people, it’s about being able to get away from a stop light quickly when the light turns or to cross a busy street. Also, since many fixie riders use clips or straps its more efficient and easier to stay in them while track standing than putting your foot down and having fuck around getting it back in when the light turns and wasting time.

Not every person on a fixie is a hipster douche. There are reasons people ride them, and do certain things while riding them.

You should do a little less judging and a little more keeping your mouth shut about things you’ve never done.

jaytkay's avatar

it’s about being able to get away from a stop light quickly when the light turns or to cross a busy street

It’s also simply fun. If I drive to work it’s kind of a lost 35 minutes. If I bike, it’s 40 minutes of entertainment.

GladysMensch's avatar

You’re right, I’ve never done it. Mainly because I’ve never felt that the quarter-second it takes me to put my foot on a pedal is worth the ridiculous gyrations to keep the foot up. I’ve also never worn skin-tight lycra shorts with butt pads, but I don’t want to upset you, so I won’t judge.

GladysMensch's avatar

I’ll give it up for self entertainment. The impressing angle was perhaps a bit off. People probably aren’t impressed by my singing when I’m sitting at a light.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Response moderated (Personal Attack)
augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Flame off, folks. No need to make this personal.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
MeinTeil's avatar

Trackstanding with a fixed gear is nothing.

Try it with a titanium freewheel body connected to a titanium-steel straight block cluster (11— 21) connected to a vintage SL tubed Eddy Mercx connected to the rest of the Campagnolo Record carbon crank awesomeness like I do.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Damn good question.

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