Yes, it is still possible to find bikes with no gears in our time. These are mainly used in urban areas and are practical because they are easy to maintain. Among these bikes, there are 2 known models: the fixed gear (fixie) and the singlespeed. Both are single speed bikes, but what is the difference between them?
Keep reading to find out the difference between a singlespeed and a fixed gear!
What is a fixed gear bike? What is a fixie?
The fixie is equipped with a fixed gear. A gear what? It’s quite simple really: it means that it’s totally attached to the rear wheel of the bike. In practice, as long as the bike is moving, the chain and the crankset are turning at the same time as the wheel, no other choice than to pedal or… resist. When you stop pedaling, your legs are still turning. So the only way to brake is to resist by backpedaling (pedaling backwards for the novices). I agree, this practice requires a little adaptation but, often, the fixie is still equipped with a classic front brake. After a bit of practice, you’ll be able to master this bike’s signature braking style, a skid !
A minimalist bike that allows you to get back to basics.
What is a singlespeed bike?
Unlike the fixie, the single speed sprocket is called “free”. It will arrive on the bikes a little bit after the fixed sprocket. It is often called “freewheel”.
This is the bike as we know it best: when you stop pedaling, the chain doesn’t move, the gear doesn’t move either, only the wheel keeps turning. This is what 99% of bikes are equipped with.
The braking system here is more classic and is simply done through the brakes.
How to choose between fixie and singlespeed?
My advice is not to choose. There are many hubs called Flip-Flop that allow you to switch between a fixed gear bike and a singlespeed bike. Incredible, isn’t it? But how does it work?
In fact, one side of the hub is dedicated to the freewheel (single speed) and the other to the fixed gear (fixie).
– The SINGLE SPEED side allows to screw the freewheel
– The FIXIE side allows to screw the fixed gear
This hub offers the advantage, not negligible, to switch from a fixie to a single speed and vice versa.
What could be better than adapting your bike to your mood?
What to do next ?
Now that you know that it’s still possible to ride a bike without gears, read our detailed guide on fixie bikes!
There’s still a lot to learn about gearless bikes.