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5 Reasons All New Yorkers Need a Fixed Gear Bike in 2021

Ditch the other bikes and get on a fixie!

Fixed gear cyclist on Williamsburg Bridge.

If you live in New York City, you’ve probably seen a bike messenger flying past you more than a few times. Odds are they are riding a fixed gear bike. Fixed gear bikes are very popular in New York City, especially in Brooklyn, but what’s so great about riding fixed and why does every New Yorkers need a fixed gear bike?

A fixed gear bike is an excellent transportation option in any city, but it is especially well-suited for New York City. The speed, maneuverability, and reliability of a fixed gear bike is the perfect way to avoid traffic and get across town quickly. And the mostly flat landscape is optimal for single-geared bicycles.

If you live in NYC and are considering a new bike, then strap in because, In just a few minutes, you will learn five reasons why fixed gear bikes are perfect for New York. By the end of this article, you will know what a fixed gear bike is, how it works, and why you need to pick one up today!

What Is a Fixed Gear Bike

Fixed gear bikes or “fixies,” as they are often called, are bicycles with a single direct rear-wheel-drive mechanism. The motion can be forward or reverse, depending on the pedal direction. The fixed gear mechanism does not allow the rear wheel to operate freely, or “coast,” like most other bikes. The bike’s speed is determined by how fast the rider can pedal and churn the single gear. With a fixed gear bike, when the pedals are set in motion, so is the rear wheel.

With that out of the way, here are just a few reasons why riding fixed in New York City is not only practical but also economical. 

Grab a fixed gear

1. Low Maintenance

A fixed-gear bike uses a minimum set of components. There is no derailleur to move the chain to another gear as one would find on a bike with multiple speeds. The single gear is fixed to the rear wheel and controlled by the pedals. 

The pedals can drive the rear wheel forward or in reverse. This is why you will often see fixed gear bikes with only one break. An experienced rider can ride with no breaks. I don’t recommend doing this for safety, but it can be done. 

2. Riding Fixed Save You Money.

The first and most obvious reason why fixed gear bikes are great for New York City is the cost. Fixed gear bikes are very affordable. You can grab a decent one for only 200$. 

Why are you wasting your money on features you don’t need?

Road bikes and mountain bikes can be far more expensive because you are paying for all the bells and whistles those bikes are made for. But are you on the mountain? Are you participating in the le Tour de France? Probably not. So why are you wasting your money on features you don’t need? 

Also, since there are fewer parts to deal with, there are fewer breakdowns and less maintenance. You will save money on maintenance as well. The mountain bike guys can’t say that. 

Monty you are wasting on stuff you don’t need.

A bike is an excellent transportation option for the city’s maintenance budget as well. The wear and tear on the city’s streets from truck and auto traffic are taxpayers’ expenses that could be used for other public services. Need more convincing? Take a look at this article on how riding a bike can save you a ton of money.

3. Crosstown Traffic

A fixed gear bike is particularly useful if you live in manhattan. Subways and buses usually run north to south, that’s great and all, but what about going crosstown. Anyone who’s been in manhattan for more than a day will tell you that going crosstown is a nightmare. 

It’s an extremely dense city, so any opportunity to avoid crosstown traffic, skip the expensive parking lots, and overcrowded subways are welcome. 

Other than the seven subway line at 42st and the L train at 14th, there aren’t any trains that run perpendicular to manhattan, so you will end up taking the bus. Therein lies another problem, traffic is so dense in New York City that you could probably walk to your destination and still arrive faster than the bus.

Packed New York City subway station.
A packed crosstown subway platform in NewYork City.

A bike is a perfect solution. With a bike, you can bypass the heavy traffic and get to your destination ten times faster. And with its light and slim profile, a fixed gear is the perfect bike for the job.

4. Easily Stores in Your Apartment

The simplicity of a fixie also makes the bike easier to store. You can even hang a fixed gear on your wall. Or take off the front wheel for even more storage options. The possibilities are virtually endless. New York City has a lot to offer, but cheap storage space is not on the list.

Got a tiny apartment? Check out our post where we give you five creative ways you can store your fixie in your apartment.

5. Great for Walk-Up Apartment Buildings

If you live in the city, you already know that not all apartment buildings have elevators. And If you have a big bulky road or mountain bike, walking up and down the stairs could be a real pain.  

Fixed gear bikes are super light and minimalistic, you can pick them up with one hand easily, so you don’t have to break your back just to ride. If you live in an apartment building without an elevator, a fixed gear bike is definitely the way to go. 

The “pivot” scene from Friends shows how annoying walkup apartments can be.

Bonus: Speed and Maneuverability

Fixed gear bikes were the earliest of bike designs and later used in racing. This has made them the bicycle of choice for Many of New York’s bike messengers. They prefer fixed gear bikes because of their lightweight frames, simple design, and agile maneuverability. 

A conventional bike has several gears and shifting components for hilly terrain. A fixed gear bike does not need the extra weight and gear shifting. This allows the rider to focus on maneuvering through New York traffic. An added bonus is that you can balance while waiting or the traffic light to change. 

Need more convincing? Take a look at this video all about the passion of riding fixed.

A short video on fixed gear bikes.

Conclusion

Hopefully, by now, you see that there is no better bike to own in New York City than a fixed gear bike. No matter what borough you live in. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Fixies are low maintenance
  • They cost less than most other bikes
  • They are perfect for getting across-town
  • You can easily store a fixed gear bike in your apartment
  • Ideal for buildings without elevators
  • They are fast, light and agile

Do you love riding in the city? Let us know in the comments below. Want more fixed gear tips and content? Click here to check out all of our blog posts. Thanks for reading and stay fixed.

Written by Yerain Abreu

Yerain is the owner and operator of this fine website. As a native New Yorker, Yerain is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He was there in 2008 when it was hot, and he's still riding fixed–day in, day out. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including, cycling, video production, and photography.

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