Hipster’s and fixies go together like Donald Trump and being completely out of sync with the reality of everyday life.
For anyone out there who thinks that Trump somehow has a clue about the real world, or is some sort of entrepreneurial tycoon behemoth, just remember this: When Donald Trump started out on his own in the world of business, his father got him off the ground by giving him $200 million dollars.
If there’s anyone out there who doesn’t think they could be a success with that kind of money behind them, then they probably support him for President.
You see, that right there is the kind of thing hipsters would just know…
But hipsters also know that owning the right type of bike is part of their default belief in their way of life. That’s part of the reason why so many of them ride fixies. The demise of the hipster has been greatly exaggerated.
Hipster revolution over?
There were some all the way back in 2010 that argued when Walmart started selling fixies the hipster revolution was dead and buried. The smarter thinker out there knew however that all that happened was that the hipster subculture had just gone mainstream.
Are hipsters still cool, just because so many people now identify with the life and the philosophy behind the movement? Can a subculture remain a subculture when it’s no longer a sub culture?
Does anyone give a s*it?
I guess that answer just depends entirely on your point of view. I suppose if you really care about the whole ‘I was a hipster before hipster was a thing,’ then you’re not a hipster.
So why the need to own a Fixie?
The real question is why are they so popular? What is it about a fixie that has people being fixated about them? And if you are a wannabe hipster who wants to stand out by fitting in, should you get out there and buy one?
Well, relax, you’re in the right place. Here’s a list of the 20 reasons why Fixies are the ultimate hipster bike:
1 – Fixies are the definitive ‘classic’ bicycle
Fixed gear bikes are the oldest, and also the simplest type of bicycle going. They have no free wheel. It’s impossible to just coast on a fixie.
Whenever the bike is in motion the pedal will spin. There is nothing you can do about it except learn how to always have your legs going around and around and around. Anyone who can get used to that when riding a bike without killing yourself deserves some respect.
2 – Culture
More specifically, we’re talking about sub culture. These days with the sheer number of sub cultures going on in the world, being totally cool with just being mainstream or doing stuff that everyone else likes to do is almost sub culture in itself.
But Hipsters do dominate with their self-assured coolness.
That’s when subcultures become cool, when its main propents are perceived as having reached some sort of happy medium where they are happy where they are at with their lives. That, or people buy into the apparent smugness. I don’t really know.
3 – Power. More power to you
Fixies actually take less effort to get moving than almost any other bike going. Fixed gears allow for straightforward power from pedal to wheel, and therefore use much less energy.
4 – Bike messenger culture
If all those inner city bike messengers use fixies then maybe they’re onto something the rest of the biking world knows nothing about.
Did bike messengers invent Fixies? No, don’t be silly, but they do certainly use them, and use them a lot.
Everybody’s seen New York bike messengers on some medium, watching them hammer through gridlocked traffic, gliding across lanes and being funky and fearless. But these bike couriers didn’t adopt fixies because they thought they were cool, or at least the majority of them didn’t.
It’s much more likely that they became the bike of choice for bike messengers because they are low maintenance, and tended to be relatively safe from thieves. They are also relatively cheap, low maintenance, and light.
5 – Learn to ride at your own pace
Because you have to. Everyone has their own perfect cruising speed that feels just right. This can be really hard to achieve on a ‘proper’ geared bike just due to the sheer wealth of cadence choice.
The more you get up on your Fixie, the more you will be able to work out your ideal speed. Finding this perfect cruising rate will allow you to be faster over distance and also help with stamina.
6 – Fixies get you fit going uphill
Because you have no choice in the matter. Unless you’re one of those riders who only takes their fixie the 500 yards to that cool coffee shop along the road, then they will help you get fit.
The only thing you have to consider is the road and where you’re going. There’s none of that shifting up and down gears all day long because it simply isn’t even an option.
When you take your fixie up a hill, you have no choice but to get up in the saddle and push your pedals. There just isn’t any option to go to the lowest gear and spin your way up.
What do you think your riding, a mountain bike? No.
Get up on the pedals, swing that bike to the side like you’re in the tour de France going up a mountain and get some real definition in those legs. You can also get really good resistance training when the hills become just too much to pedal up by walking and pushing your bike ahead of you. That will help you get some definition in the arms as well. Yay!
7 – Fixies get you fit going downhill
Because you have no choice in the matter. That’s the great thing and also the curse of having no free wheel to coast with. Your legs will go round and round whether you want them too or not.
The unavoidable high cadence levels will help your muscles remain supple and flexible. By not allowing your legs to stop, muscles won’t get a chance to stiffen up when you coast. If you don’t learn to deal with this new rhythm, all that will happen is you will bounce up and down on the saddle in a panicked fashion and increase the chances of falling off.
And in the ER afterwards you can appreciate the high quality skinnies in all their internal detail as the surgeons cut them off your legs.
8 – Weight? What weight?
Fixies come with the bare minimum of bits and bobs. Whatever else people in the know might know, they know that your average Fixie is lighter than it should be by just looking at it.
This does help make them really good commuter bikes for those who also have to carry or push their bikes up and down hills. Fixie bikes don’t need things like shifters, extra cables, freewheel hubs and shocks. That can really help when riding a bike where the frame can sometimes weigh as much as a small Korean import car.
9 – Silence
Because if nothing else, Fixies are quiet. Hipsters like to think: It’s the intellectual in them. They like to come up with new ideas for saving the world that they will never realize and can become bitter about when they reach middle age and become like everyone else, drowning in debt and suffering from all their middle class angst.
But before that they can enjoy the silence of their bike without all clanking and grinding from freewheel ratchets and cogs or misaligned chains on the cogs. All you will hear is the sound of your own breathing, the gridlocked traffic beside you, and the shouts of pedestrians as they scramble to get out of your way.
10 – Much cheapness, many bargains
Road bikes and mountain bikes can be expensive, especially if you want a really good one. Fixies can also be expensive if you go looking for a designer one. But most of them can be bought relatively cheaply, or can be built for next to nothing.
This can be a problem for the just out of college wannabe Hipster. But they don’t have to be. Beat up old bikes with rusty bits and flaking paint can be picked up for next to nothing, or nothing at all if you’re not adverse to a bit of dumpster diving. Then all you may need to do is get some new tires, some oil, and a splash of paint to make it completely brand new.
11 – It’s the simple things in life
There was a time, in the not too distant past when buying a bike meant buying loads of accessories as well as a bike. You had no option, they just came with the bike. In the digital age, where all you want is something simple, and reliable, just like the bike you had when you were a kid that got the job done.
Fixies can help you buy into that simplicity without having to pay for the expense. Pedal faster, you go faster. Pedal slower, you go slower. Simples. In the modern world where everything seem to be about mass market consumerism, getting back to some simple basics can really make a difference in your life.
12 – No need to worry about rear brakes
Because your rear brakes are your legs
13 – Customization for the masses
Yes, you can mod and paint any bike, but in the Hipster world of Fixies, customizing your bike has become quite a thing in itself. For most people this will involve buying colored tires, or adding decals to the upper tube, but your choices are pretty much limitless. See what you can do here.
14 – Adrenaline
Because Hipsters like to get as close as they can to danger on their way to the coffee shop or their new Kickstarter digital company. We’re all animals at the end of the day. Who doesn’t like the anticipation of adrenaline at some point in their daily routine?
Some people like to ride their Fixies without any brakes on them at all. While personally I think that’s a bit stupid and like playing Russian roulette with a bullet in each chamber of the gun, others really get into the whole ‘me and the road’ thing, for extra fun.
This means the only way to stop is by trying to force the pedals back the way. But don’t you do that. Fit a brake.
15 – A true feeling for the road
On a Fixie it’s not unheard of to get a real ‘feeling’ for the road. Hipsters feet are always connected to the vibe of what’s going on around them; in this case, to the pedals and the motion of the bike.
So it is, in a very real sense easier to sense how much traction you are getting. It can all get a bit Zen quite quickly. And that’s totally cool, if that’s what you’re into.
16 – Riding a Fixie can take some real skill
As has already been discussed, you can’t freewheel a Fixie. Well, actually you can, if you get one with a freewheel; and they’re not that uncommon either, but generally they don’t. This can mean that staying in control of the bike can be tricky at times.
This is especially true when the inexperienced rider forgets what their riding and attempts to coast. A sudden urge to freewheel will lead to a sudden kick to the rear leg which can cause a catastrophic loss of control of the bike.
17 – Cornering without brakes can be…brave
Fixies can get really fast really quick, especially if there’s no brakes other than the ones nature gave you. High speed cornering is a skill in itself on a Fixie as it’s all too easy to lean over too far into the corner and have pedals strike the road leading, again, to a catastrophic loss of control of the bike.
18 – Become psychic about road conditions
Bad weather can be a curse when riding a bike, and a rider needs to be much more aware of what’s going on between the rubber of their wheel and the ground beneath them. The fixed back wheel and lack of gears will give you a better feel for whatever traction you have going on.
If conditions are terrible outside, it’s probably a good idea to take the bus instead. But if you get caught out at least you’ll be able to feel for the road conditions.
19 – Bystanders won’t hate your bike, they’ll hate you!
20 – With such few parts, the maintenance of the bike is easy
Check the tires, make sure the chain is tight, and away you go. If you’re lucky your chain could last forever. That’s not said lightly.
There’s actually a lot less stress on a Fixie’s chain than ordinary geared bikes, due to the fact that there is negligible to no sideways stress on the chain. Chains were not originally designed with gears in mind, so it does make sense.
There’s not much else to say. Except this. If you think might fall into the category of ‘Hipster,’ or not, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Fixed gear bikes are not the sole preserve of Hipsterism. I cannot stress the importance of this enough.
Ride whatever you feel you want to ride. If that’s a Fixie then go for it. If it’s not, then don’t.
But whatever you do, fit a front brake at the very least. Being alive is always a lot more satisfying than being cool, and dead.