Thursday, August 04, 2011

Fixie Bike fix Montreal

I don't think that the majority of my readers are into this but I cannot go and not mention the fixie bike in this blog. A recent bike ride organized by the Starley Rover Society here in Montreal provide me with the oppotunity to capture on camera some fine examples of the breed.

The fixie bike is the purest form of the bicycle. The bike is about the same as a track bike. Fixed rear hub, so the pedals always turn if the bike moves, no accessories and no brakes. Braking is done by the rider shifting his/her weight on the front of the bike and locking the legs on the frame. This puts the bike into a skid. You need to be a very good rider to mix with traffic here in Montreal where things that can kill you can pop up at any given time.

An interesting fact is that in a lot of jurisdictions, such has Montreal, it is illegal to ride without at least one working brake mechanism on the rear wheel. The offender faces a $37 fine here!

Fixies are also a fashion accessory for hipsters but I think they are on the way out since they are getting too mainstream. Courrier riders have been riding fixies for a very long time. Although very simple, some of these bikes can cost as much as my car. Check out the orange one made out of carbon fiber. I hear the rider/owner is sponsored. Others are old vintage road frames brought back to life, my favorite kind.

Here's proof that messengers have been riding fixie for a while. Pictures were found at Shorpy's.

I love looking at these bikes and I admire the people that are crazy enough to ride them but I will never ride one myself. I'm more than happy with my single speed coaster hub.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles post
and download my free bike maintenance book if you haven't already.

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)


ZAPPDOG said...

Sweet collection. That orange carbon fiber makes me drool except that its a fixie. I rode one fixie with toe clip cages and I had my feet on the ground a few times trying to get used to stopping the thing. Once was enough. But I have to side with you on the rest of them. Should you have an accident with one of those it would likely survive just fine with minor repairs at most. That carbon fiber bike is good for one minor accident and if it cracks its garbage. In talking with the lead mechanic at my local bike shop I found out they don't take impact very well and can crack quite easily.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Words from the wise. Thanks for that insight Larry.

Gerry :)

Ross Hirsch said...

Nice pictures, and I love the blog.

A point of clarification, though. I disagree that fixed gear bikes do not have brakes. The transmission acts as a brake. So by "no brakes," what you're referring to is that there are to braking components mounted on the bike that stop the bike by applying pressure at the rim, hub, or a disk rotor, etc.

Here in LA, the LAPD has stated that a fixed gear bike (one without rim, hub, or disc brakes but does have a fixed gear transmission) does, in fact, have a Code-compliant breaking mechanism so the rider should not be cited. That seems like a commonsense approach--and frankly I was quite surprised to hear it. It sounds like your municipality might not interpret your law(s) that way though. A single speed bike (i.e., freewheel and no other braking mechanism), on the other hand, would be in violation (and stupid to ride on city streets).

One last point of clarification on fixed gear braking, if I may. I oftentimes commute to my office on a fixed gear bike. I do not, however, slow/stop by the method you cite ("Braking is done by the rider shifting his/her weight on the front of the bike and locking the legs on the frame. This puts the bike into a skid.") I merely pedal more slowly or apply backward pressure to the pedals. I don't skid--bad for tires, bad for knees, both of which I like to keep as long as possible. (I do have a front caliper brake on my fixed gear bike, but I rarely find the need to use it, so I'm omitting it from this discussion.)

Thanks again, and keep up the good work.


Gerry Lauzon said...

First off Ross I'll let you know that intelligent commenting such as yours is always welcomed on HTFB. So a big thank you for sharing with us your insight and knowledge that you know well from a first hand experience.

Kudos for riding fixed in LA dude, it takes guts.

Gerry :)

Scott said...

Thanks for the kind words Gerry, we at the SRS hope you had a good time on the ride - even if you weren't riding fixed! We're all about having fun riding bicycles around the city, so we invite all your readers to join the group on our rides! You don't need a custom carbon frame, just 2 wheels and something to get them moving (braking is optional).

Fixed gear riding isn't for everybody, but everybody should try it... it's the best way to be at one with your bike!

Anyways here's my shameless plug: Join us at http://facebook.com/StarleyRoverSociety for updates on upcoming rides in MTL.

See you on the streets!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hey Scott, thanks for dropping by. I had a great time at the ride and I will return. Although overwhelmed by the shear amount of fixies, I felt welcomed and everybody was cool. The pace of the ride wasn't crazy but very smooth so anybody could follow.I linked up your group straight in the post.

Gerry :)