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Monday, April 27, 2009

Fixed Gear Bicycle Zen


Volunteer Park Seattle | photo by Don Ehlen

April 2009 has been a month of discovery...big time. I traded a Bianchi Veloce racing bike for a Fixed Gear bicycle.

As a highwheel bicycle rider for over a decade, I understand the feeling and motion of fixed gear riding...but I had never had a chance to ride a fixed gear safety bicycle. I am completely blown away. Safety bicycles have been around since the 1880s. The pneumatic tire brought a boom in sales starting around 1890 that brought us to today. Fixed geared bicycles ride like highwheels...you can't coast...(if you don't know about fixed gear bicycles and you have read this far and did not go to the Wikipedia link above, you are missing out here! You may want to read Sheldon Brown's write up on fixed gear bicycles here)

Fixed gear teaches you how to become the bicycle: You are the gear, you are the brake (for road riding, I use a front brake, but it is not as necessary as you might imagine). You learn to use your body and your technique to locomote yourself. Your body becomes strong. You become a purer, more integral part of the transference of energy into forward motion. The bike needs you as much as you need it. You become one beautiful, powerful expression of movement that is both practical and playful, art and science and human-powered speed.

I am going to be doing a lot more fixed gear riding...and turning other people on to the joy of riding a pure bicycle. Come on and join me.

BFT

PS. By the way, my FeelMax Niesas (soon to be available in the US) are excellent bicycle shoes. They work well with my Power Grip High Performance Pedal and Strap Kit.

My new fixie.
video
Not my best track standing, but you get the idea.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ted,
Most cycle couriers where I live (London) ride fixies. I figured it was purely for financial reasons: cheaper to run. I am now realising that there must be a whole host of other reasons too - so I am now very tempted to give it a try.
Enjoy your fixie fixes,
Yanni.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

 
OpenID theorytopractice said...

Welcome to the addiction, my friend; and what a wonderful addiction it is! Nothing beats a fixie; I don't see myself ever reverting back to riding anything but -- on the street, anyway o_O

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

 
Blogger jude said...

Hi Ted,

I don't own a car and have been riding my fuji fixed gear for almost two years now. I like what you have to say about the experience. Like running barefoot, riding a fixed gear is getting to a more refined mode of movement...You also have to pay close attention (being mindful) when riding...pure zen! Enjoy the ride! Jude

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

 
Blogger keith said...

I've been researching these for a while...haven't taken the plunge, as I am not a big 'bike' guy. I may have to give it a shot if I can find some good advice about building one up.

Also those feelmax shoes look awesome. I hope to find some in time to do some longer runs in them...might be a good 100 mile shoe?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

 
Blogger Alastair said...

Fixed gear bikes are OK, but I don't think they are any better or worse, necessarily, than a geared bike or a freewheel.
Each combination has their benefits. Making an emergency stop on a fixed is a lot harder if you don't have two brakes (most just have one).
It's just nice there are so many types of bike to choose from for each purpose, for each person.
That business about being one with the bike - how about a unicycle, that's even more at one isn't it - you just push it round, how more at one can you get? They're no harder to learn than a bike, I just wonder if anyone has experience using one as day-to-day transport?
Have you considered trying a unicycle, barefoot Ted?

Monday, May 04, 2009

 
Blogger Barefoot Ted said...

Yeah, I have tried a unicycle. They are very cool, but there is no comparison to the bicycle for energy being transferred into forward momentum. No, not even close to what I see as perfection in movement.

The highwheel I like a lot, but not a great hilly-city bike.

I have no problem with people trying any and every bike available...and have fun doing it.

However, if you have not tried and mastered the fixed gear, I believe you are missing out on a real important bicycling experience.

BFT

Monday, May 04, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"PS. By the way, my FeelMax Niesas (soon to be available in the US) are excellent bicycle shoes." They will be available soon? How soon?!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a bicycle rider and barefoot runner, I don't understand that the Feelmax Niesas plus those pedals work well. Most riders (including me) prefer a rigid soled shoe, so that the pressure from the pedal is evenly distributed onto the foot. Barefoot, of with thin shoes, you feel the pedal "poking" into the foot which is painful.

What is your take on this- Or do you have ´flat´ pedals=

Thanks!

BTW, I can´t wait to get my hands on the Niesas for running

Sunday, May 10, 2009

 
Blogger Barefoot Ted said...

Well, the FeelMax Niesa's should start being available at the end of June in the USA.

When I say a good bicycle shoe, I mean for short trips and the kind or riding I like to do where you are on and off the bike a lot.

Monday, May 11, 2009

 

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