Fixed gear bikes are excellent for those looking for an affordable bike to use for commuting around their city. Their lack of gears and parts is what makes them ideal for someone on a budget. With proper maintenance, a fixed gear bike can have a very long life. However, these bikes do have a few quirks compared to other types of bikes. With other types of bicycles, if you stop pedaling, it isn’t a big deal. With a fixie…well, …things are a bit different. Let’s take a look at what happens when you stop pedaling your fixed gear bike.
How to use the pedals on your fixed gear bike
To get the bike to move, you have to use the pedals. A fixed gear is no different. However, a fixie does lack something that other bikes have. On other bikes, called single speeds, you can do something called “coast.” What this means is you can stop pedaling, and your bike continues to move. This isn’t something you can do right away, obviously. But if you are riding a single speed and need to give your legs a quick break, the bike will keep moving without your energy input. Riders should not get as much leg fatigue when riding a fixie, however. The design of the bike is very energy efficient. So you don’t have to expend as much energy to power it as other styles of bicycles.
Fixies lack the ability to coast, and it is not recommended that you attempt to on this style of bike. The pedal movement could throw you off the bike. If you want to keep your fixed gear bike moving, you must always be pedaling. There are no breaks. This may sound strange at first, but it shouldn’t. This is precisely how a fixie was designed. The very nature of a fixed gear bike is that the rear wheel cog is affixed to the rear wheel. So when the cog moves, the wheel turns—and vice versa. If you are in a situation where you are riding downhill, you also can’t stop pedaling your bike. Your fixie will pick up speed as you head down a hill, but in turn, that means your pedals will start moving faster.
Fixed gear bikes may also lack brakes. Single-speed bikes come with brakes usually attached to the handlebars. Fixies allow for a great deal of customization, so installing brakes on the handlebars is quite easy. If you are riding your bike and find that you need brakes installed, it’s an easy and inexpensive process. Some bikers feel safer having brakes and not having to worry about learning how to stop their fixie. It isn’t too difficult to do. You use your legs to slow your bike down, or you can start moving the pedals backwards to slow your bike. However, some riders just find brakes less stressful and more prudent.
Why would a person want a bike that requires constant pedaling?
This is an excellent question. It means you can’t ever get tired when you are riding this style of bike. For some individuals, that is precisely what they want. Fixed gear bikes are great for urban transportation. They also provide their users with a great workout while they help them with their commutes. For some, the quirk of constant pedaling is a tradeoff they are willing to make for the exercise.
For others, it’s the things you can do on a fixed gear bike that makes it worth not being able to coast. Fixies are great for those who want a commuter bike. However, most fixies are used for indoor track racing. A racing bike doesn’t need the ability to coast. That is actually the opposite of what you need when you are racing. You need the constant momentum to try and win the race you are in. Fixies are top-notch bikes for training as a cyclist.
While not seen as often, there is now a push to bring fixed gear bikes to outside terrain. There are now fixies used as mountain bikes. This seems to go against all the literature about what style of bike one should use outside. But with a set of brakes installed, your fixie is good to go on the trails. Coasting isn’t something that you can do when riding on rugged terrain. You need to continually pedal to get through nature. Since you can’t stop pedaling your fixie, this is perfect for rugged mountain or forest trails. The primary concern had always been lack of brakes, but as mentioned, that is easily changed.
What happens when you stop pedaling your fixie?
The main thing that happens when you stop pedaling your fixie is that the bike stops moving. It won’t stop immediately, but without you providing energy to the pedals, there is nothing to keep the bike moving. If you are trying to stop or brake your fixie, there are ways to do that by using your legs or reversing your pedals. Stopping your pedaling motion isn’t the best way to stop your fixie. If you don’t stop your fixie correctly, it could also seem like you are trying to coast on your bike. This can come with some negative consequences. Trying to coast on your fixie could actually lead to you crashing or getting thrown over the handlebars. Do not attempt coasting on this bike!
Fixies are great bikes for commuting in urban areas or for indoor track racing. Be warned, to keep your fixed gear bike in motion, you must constantly pedal. The bike can’t move without your energy input! Unlike single speeds, there is no ability to coast. This works well for what a fixed gear bike is meant to do. There is danger in trying to coast on a fixed gear that could cause injury to both yourself and the bike. Use your legs and a reverse pedal to slow down your fixie, or have a brake installed for additional safety.