Fixed Fixation: The Before

It’s been a steady climb up the ladder for the past 2.5 years Having gone through several types of bicycles: a mountain, cruiser, road, and recently a single-speed, I’ve adapted and gotten most comfortable with the latter during the past year. The sum of these experiences has produced the perfect prep and build-up to one day attempt to ride fixed-gear (again).

I'm sure many are thinking, WTF is the big deal?

Let me know take you back to Paris, France 2012.  Despite the setting, my first time riding a fixed-gear wasn't at all romantic. My rekindled love for riding had been flaring for only a few months at the time, where I was often using a bicycle to get around on the weekends to check out new places. When my friend and host, Clément, told me he had a second bike I could use - the idea to ride in a city like Paris (as I did in Amsterdam and Bruges) was all too exciting.  By now, we all figured what type of bike that was. 

Clément educated me on the whole fixed-gear concept. It was something I was entirely unfamiliar with. While riding around Paris was awesome, there were too many factors that disallowed it from being a more pleasurable experience.

  • The bike was at least two sizes bigger than me. Therefore, mounting and dismounting was not easy.
  • Riding with toe clips. It was also my first experience with this. I spent a lot of the time riding with only one foot in the cage since I had trouble slipping in my other foot while in motion.
  • Not only did I have to get this bike under control, but I also had to navigate through an unfamiliar city while keeping up with Clément and also being cautious of cars, pedestrians, scooters, and other cyclists.
  • The bike was brakeless. Yes, I did fall and crash a few times for failing to slow down enough or come to a complete stop.

Since then, riding fixed became more of a mental obstacle. After two years and many riding miles later, I was ready to give it another chance. Luckily, my Fuji Feather is conveniently equipped with a flip-flop hub, so it was an easy transition from one form to the other. 

I decided not to remove the handbrakes. Although my intention was not to use them (or as little as possible), I left them on in the case of an emergency. 

Regardless of the apparent street-cred and popularity within the fixed-gear community. I wanted to enrich my urban cycling experience so for five days I documented my impressions and thoughts. With many of my peers and interviewees riding fixed, I had to come to a better understanding on the appeal of fixed-gear and possibly shatter some of the myths about it along the way. 

Stay Tuned for the Follow-Up