Three major issues plague the modern bike commuter. First, they need a cost-effective way to get to and from work, the gym, and social commitments without having to swap out one mode of transport for another. Second, their bike must be low maintenance and easy to lock up outside of wherever it’s ridden. Lastly, it would be ideal if that mode of transit were easy to ride without profuse sweating. To solve this triple-tiered issue, bike commuters must think dual-syllabic and single-speed: A fixie is what they need.
Unlike many bike slang terms, “fixie” makes perfect sense. A fixie is a fixed gear bike, meaning a bicycle with a one-gear drivetrain attached to the rear wheel. Fixies are affordable, easy to maintain, and fly under the radar of thieves more than mountain bikes or other high-dollar rides. Fixies also provide a great cardio workout that, in terms of sheer simplicity and calories burned, is akin to hitting the bike at your local gym. Riding a fixie is the cyclist’s version of driving a stripped-down race car that keeps you in tune with every feature of the road.
What are Fixie Bikes Used For?
Due to their light weight, fixies are staples at velodromes, those indoor cycling tracks used for racing and training. But unless you’re gearing up for the Single Speed World Championship, that’s likely not where you’ll get the most use out of yours. Fixie bikes are excellent at getting you from point A to point B in an urban area. They’re easy to pedal, and only electric bikes top fixies in terms of getting you to work with minimal sweat soaking through your shirt. After work, fixies are excellent for evening pub crawls and weekend errands.
Are Fixie Bikes Hard to Ride?
In terms of simplicity, no bike outperforms the fixie. There’s no need to shift gears based on speed and incline, and therefore no need to learn how to perfectly time a gear shift to maintain maximum momentum before pedaling up a small hill. Fixie bikes are super simple to ride and you’ll learn the ins and outs of yours within the first couple of trips.
That said, fixie bikes have two primary disadvantages that you should be aware of. First, because the drivetrain is attached to the rear wheel and there’s only one gear, you can’t coast down long hills as you would on a cruiser or commuter bike. Pedaling is required to continue moving on a fixie. Because of this, fixies aren’t ideal for hilly cities (looking at you, San Francisco). Theoretically, you could pedal up a hill, disengage the drivetrain, coast down, and then switch it back at the bottom, but if the bike doesn’t easily allow you to do so, that’s about as inefficient a manner of commuting as sitting in rush hour traffic. Some fixies, including those listed below, alleviate this by adding the ability to easily ride “freewheel” via the addition of a flip-flob hub – alleviating the issue and making this simple form of transport even more effective.
The Best Fixie Bikes For Men
Retrospec Harper Fixie Bike, Single Speed
Retrospec’s Harper Fixie Bike is at least partially responsible for bringing fixed-gear bikes into the mainstream. It’s ubiquitous in big cities and college towns alike, thanks to its affordability and the fact that it’s nearly always in stock online. Couple that with a high-quality steel frame and “freewheel” riding ability and you have a straightforward solution to your urban commuting needs.
State Bicycle Co. 4130 Steel
Riders looking for performance flexibility should consider a 4130 Steel from State Bicycle Co. Various colors are available, each including a steel frame, horizontal dropouts (a fork end that allows you to easily remove the back wheel), and a flip-flop hub for freewheel riding. Choose between bullhorn shaped or drop handlebars (effectively, higher or lower). Add $100 to the cost to get larger tires that allow you to ride gravel roads (or those urban streets that aren’t exactly smooth as butter).
Priority Bicycles Ace of Clubs
The Ace of Clubs from Priority Bicycles ups the durability of the drivetrain by swapping the traditional chain in favor of a belt drive. Belt drives are far less likely to break than a chain, which makes a bike that’s already simple to maintain even more reliable. Beyond the drivetrain, the Ace is similar to other models mentioned here. There’s also the option to upgrade your choice to the more power-packed (and thus more expensive) Ace of Spades ($899), which offers boosted responsiveness for those mornings when you’re a few minutes late out the door to work.
All-City Big Block
Take the perks of each bike listed above and add a lugged fork crown, a flashy paint job, and enough durability to perform in casual races and you have the All-City Big Block. If looking as good as you feel is your priority, then this is the bike for you. It was originally designed for track riding, and then was converted into a commuter. It’s able to absorb light bumps and conquer small hills with ease. And should you wish to head to the track or enter a local race, there’s no need to buy a separate bike.
Lightweight steel fixed gear bikes are the way of the future. The Wabi Lightning is proof, weighing in at just 18.5 pounds with a customizable build that lets you take your pick of everything from the handlebars to the tires to the saddle you’ll sit your hide on. Flip-flop hubs and 23mm tires come standard, though pedals do not – you’ll choose yours at check-out. The Lightning is the best fixie bike on the market in 2022, and if you’re down to make the commitment to be a full-on bike commuter, you won’t regret the upfront price nor the smooth riding experience that comes as a result.