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What are Fixed Gear Bikes?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated May 17, 2024
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Fixed gear bikes are bicycles that do not have a freewheel. Many different types of bicycles can be considered fixed gear bikes, since the only truly defining characteristic is the lack of a freewheel. Therefore, off road, touring, road racing, and commuting bicycles can all be fixed gear bikes.

Due to the lack of a freewheel, fixed gear bikes are not able to coast when the rider stops pushing the peddles. This is because the rear wheel is connected directly to the pedals by a chain, which means it is necessary to pump the pedals to make the wheel turn. The lack of a freewheel also makes the method used for stopping fixed gear bikes different from traditional bicycles. Rather than using a brake, in most cases the rider simply pushes backward on the pedals. This causes the forward momentum of the rear wheel to stop, which stops the bike entirely.

Another method for stopping fixed gear bikes is to perform a skid stop, which involves skidding the rear wheel while stopping. This is accomplished by the rider shifting his or her weight to lift the rear wheel while no longer pedaling, and then letting the tire make contact with the ground again. As a result, the bike slowly stops, or the rider can resume riding. This method is much slower than stopping with brakes, particularly when performed on a wet surface.

Although most fixed gear bikes have only one gear, some make it possible to use two different gears. These gears are not switched by simply pulling a lever or pushing a button. Rather, the rider must get off the bicycle and switch the rear wheel around. This is because the rear wheel contains special sprockets on both sides of the hub, which causes the gears to change when moved.

Fixed gear bikes are often used by stunt riders or those who perform with bicycles. It is also possible to perform certain maneuvers with two-wheeled fixed gear bikes, such as the track stand, which involves holding the bike in place while the rider balances his or her feet on the pedals.

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