Bike Snobbery?

So having had a Fixed Gear bike for 9 months now, I’ve been getting a little lonely cycling by myself. There was that one epic failure of an attempt that I had to ride with the Exeter Wheelers on a Thursday night – something that I certainly wouldn’t have attempted if I’ve realised that they are one of the most hardcore racing groups in Exeter! I lasted about 20mins. And I’ve been out riding with road cyclists of a more reasonable pace occasionally. But other than that I’ve been mainly training by myself.

Yesterday I ran into some people from the very excellent organisation Sustrans, who’s free iphone map app I use all the time. I asked if they knew of any other FG cyclists or a group in Exeter. Sadly, the answer was no.

“Are you a Fixed Gear snob?” They asked jokingly.

Or maybe not so jokingly. The thing is, riding Fixed Gear has all sorts awful connotations attached to it. It’s harder, but slower and to some people that’s just dumb.

Each to their own, but that’s TOO TIGHT for me!

Some people ride Fixies for fashion, which sounds rather like wearing your trousers too low for the sake of fashion: impractical and potentially dangerous. This analogy is especially pertinent when considering people who ride Fixies without brakes (not even just a little front brake there for emergencies?!?!). I certainly can’t imagine doing what the hipsters do and cycle for miles across the city at high pedal cadence in skin-tight-jeans – ouch! Yet someone said to me recently that if people take it up for fashion and stick with it for fun, then it’s a good fashion to follow since it’s good for your health. Fair point.

I’ve had my two cents in on why I ride FG in my previous post ( No I’m not a Fixed Gear snob. I’m still tempted to get a multispeed roadbike as well when I can afford to (although the jury’s still out on this one and I try and push those sinful thoughts away).

Because let’s be clear about this – it’s not as efficient to ride a FG as it is to ride a multispeed bike. But whilst not being as efficient, it is very enjoyable in such a way as is easier to experience than to explain. If your goals are distance and efficiency, gears are for you. If your goals are fun and fitness…

Well Fixed Gear cycling is very good for increasing fitness. Just look at this quote from cycle coach Chris Carmichael.

An hour and a half to two hours of fixed-gear riding is equivalent to four hours of regular riding”

Apparently cycling at 14mph for one hour (which happens to be the maximum I’ve ever averaged) burns 700 calories. But that’s on a multispeed bike. Go figure!

Yes, there really is a “Bike Snob” book, written by ex New York cycle courier Eben Weiss who blogs under the name “BikeSnobNYC”

But even though I’m not a bike snob, I would like to train with other FG cyclists. Why? Well problem with training with geared cyclists is as follows: It’s even harder. That’s been my experience anyway. They speed up on flat sections whilst I struggle to keep increasing my cadence. They coast on the downhill sections whilst I expend extra energy pushing back on the pedals to stay with them. And climbing hills just doesn’t work out either. Even if we could do the same overall times if we were riding separately, riding together we approach each stretch of road so differently it’s counterproductive for both parties. I’ll still do it though, from time to time – it’s good for me.

So, is anyone up for the Exeter Fixed Gear Club? I’m aware that this may be a minority thing. Is there anyone out there who I can persuade into getting themselves a Fixie? After months of asking around and searching the web with no luck, a friend found this for me by chance – a cycle community. Let’s see what it brings.



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2 responses to “Bike Snobbery?

  1. That’s an interesting quote about fixed vs regular cycling. It doesn’t feel like that much hard work to me but that probably has more to do with the terrible mountain bike I used to ride before I got my fixed gear!

    • Hi Thomas,

      I agree and in some respects am in the same boats. The geared bikes I’ve had for at least the last decades have been MTB or Hybrid and have not really functioned properly. Thus having a nice slick Fixie that actually works properly doesn’t seem that hard to ride in comparison.

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