Photo: Placid Casual.
It's no news that fixed-gear bikes (or 'fixies') are trendy in cool-hipster biking. Wallpaper magazine is writing about them, Urban Outfitters is selling them, and some even go far to say that the trend is now over (always a sign that something has gone big).The trend is definitely not over, and many people who are not all the time ahead of fashion, super dedicated bikers or that don't live in New York City are still wondering: Why have fixed gear bikes become so popular? What is it that makes these bikes special? And, most importantly, Should I jump in on the fixie wagon?
If you're one of them (or if you're a super trendy person who already has a fixie but want to check if you have your cultural data about it straight) read on.
1. The subculture factor
Photo: Pierre LaScott.
People love subcultures, especially when its protagonists are perceived as cool. Nobody doubts that the use of skateboards spread rapidly not only because kids loved to ride a table with wheels, but also because they wanted to ressemble a bunch of really cool Californian teenagers who did it.
Fixies come from the bike-messengers culture, and they were most likely adopted by them for convenience (simple bikes that don't attract thieves and that are very low maintenance). Now, however, they've become sort of a cult in the messenger culture and so they come with kind of a savvy element around them.
Will the fixie follow a similar path than the skateboard and become (really) mainstream or will it remain a choice of a smaller group? Time will tell.
2. Their Cheapness
But fixed gear bikes are (or were?) cheap. As Wired put it: "Find an old beat-up road bike, buy a new hub and throw away all extraneous hardware. You now have a fixie." To make it unique, all you have to do is add your touch (see point 4 in this article).
Of course, that is if you're not looking for a super cool designer fixie (see Wallpaper magazine article linked before).
3. Light and Clean Looks
Photo: Listen Missy.
Long, long gone are the times when biking meant bulky bicycles with tons of accessories. As these vehicles get more integrated to everyday lives, people are looking for simple models that just get the job done. Additionally, we live in times when frugal living and simpleness have become desirable values for some segments.
So the simple and clean look of fixies fits right in in these two aspirations. They're as clean as it gets for bikes, with just light frames, no gears and thin tires. Bingo.
4. Endless Customization
You can surely modify and customize almost any bike, but there is a whole culture of customizing fixed gear bikes that has surely added to the growth of the trend.