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Fixed Gear or Single Speed Bicycles?

Updated on February 27, 2015

This is What a Fixed Gear Bicycle Looks Like.

The Similarities: Fixed Gear vs Single Speed Bicycle Comparison

Ok, so whether you end up with a fixed gear or a single speed bicycle, one thing is clear: they both look great! The appeal of these bikes is based in their simple aesthetic. There are no extra parts and doodads hanging off every square inch of the bike. They are pared down to the absolute basics required for motion: a frame, wheels, and a chain. Most riders of either fixie bikes or single speeds with freewheels appreciate this basic look.

Both fixed gear and single speed bicycles have no shifters. There is no front or rear derailleur, just a single gearing and an uninterrupted chain line. You are left with one gearing for all situations.

Both bikes also tend to follow the popular track style: straight or low handlebars, simple straight frame, long horizontal dropouts or track dropouts. They are based on track bicycles found in the velodrome.

Fixed Gear vs Single Speed Bicycles: Fixie and Single Speed Comparisons

Though I've become just as reliant on my car as the 'typical' middle class working woman, I am also a forever fan of alternative means of transportation. Needless to say, there are near endless alternative means of transportation available to oneself, however, all but fixed gear and single speed bicycles will be beyond the scope of this hub article. Admittedly, before my extensive research and experience, I really had no clue that bicycle offerings came in different forms, with different capabilities and limitations, as mentioned in this hub article.

This article is meant to convey what I have learned, over the years, regarding the difference, similarities, capabilities and limitations of both. I encourage you to use this article to determine which type of bicycle will be best for you, in relation to your needs and desires.

Making the choice between riding a fixed gear or a single speed bicycle, I admit, can be difficult. Both bicycles are extremely popular, and both have advantages and disadvantages. In choosing between a fixed gear track bike setup, and a single speed commuter, it's best to analyze how and where you ride. I'll go into this a bit more later in the article.

First, however, I will go over the key differences in the technology and styles between fixed gear bicycles and single speeds, and you can start to understand what sets them apart from each other.

The Differences: Fixie vs Single Speed Discrepancies

In choosing between a single speed bicycle or a fixed gear, there is one key difference, and that is the freewheel cog on the rear wheel. A single speed has a freewheel, which basically means that you can pedal backwards.

On a fixie, the crank will turn in sync with the rear wheel. If you're heading down a big hill, your feet will really be moving! On a single speed, you can coast down a hill or pedal backwards whenever you feel like it.

So why would anyone want to ride a fixie bike then? Fixed gear bicycles provide the rider with a greater degree of feedback. You literally have a better sense of the road, in a way that's hard to articulate. You can manage your speed somewhat by the rate of your pedaling and you can skid, if you want. It's also classic, since the first bikes had no freewheel and were all fixed gears. Riding a fixie is inexplicably fun, definitely worth trying out.

Flip Flop Hub: A Compromise Fixed Gear vs Single Speed Bikes

Fortunately for those who cannot decide, there's a great option that includes the best of both worlds called a flip-flop hub. This hub allows a rider to affix both a fixed and a freewheel cog to a wheel. Don't want to deal with a fixed gear bike setup while heading down that big hill? No problem, just remove your rear wheel and flip it around.

For those who can't find a flip-flop hub or don't want one for whatever reason, check out where you'll be riding. Are there a lot of hills? A fixed gear bike is harder to ride in a hilly area, so a single speed might be better for you. On the other hand, on flat terrain a fixie is great fun.

I hope this article on fixed gear vs single speed has helped narrow down your options.

Good Luck!

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    • profile image

      large lovers 4 years ago

      wow nice posting i hope this posting give more change singles in world find more easy ways use it, thank you very mach really nice possting

    • Onlinestrategies profile image

      Onlinestrategies 4 years ago

      I recently repaired my fixed gear cycle to remove the freewheel. Without necessary tools, it was a difficult attempt, but finally succeeded. But the new wheel had only less number of teeths compared to the previous one. Now that makes it little harder while pedaling. What is your suggestion when choosing the fixed gear freewheel? How many teeths is optimum so that pedaling becomes smoother once again?