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  1. #1
    REALLY?
    Reputation: jeffgothro's Avatar
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    Trying to understand the "fixie" culture...

    I just saw that movie Premium Rush and really liked it...but what I just havent been able to grasp or wrap my head around is the lead character said serveral times in the movie "brakes are death". Now, I dont know about you, but I personally have never ridden without brakes unless they were broke, and when they were broke, I had more accidents and crashed more then when they worked properly.

    I guess I'm trying to understand why a person might choose to ride a bike thats potentually less safe then it could be riding without brakes - or be happy with the equivelent of a coaster brake (that bike messenger race in NY doesnt allow you to use brakes as per there requirement - and no gears of course) , I ride a single speed myself, not to be confused with a fixie, I have a freewheel and brakes. And I found that rather odd, that someone can host a race and yet ban a bike from compition because it has brakes and is by popular opinion a safer bike. So, I'm not really looking for a debate, I'm not trying to troll or ruffle anyones feathers, I dig you fixie guys I meet from time to time, you guys are cool, and got your own little bicycle subculture, I think thats cool, I'm just trying to understand the mindset of the whole brakeless fixie thing?

    Thanks, -J
    DJ, "Because I'm sure the world need's more dudes stalking the woods stoned out of their mind carrying a deadly weapon."

  2. #2
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    Funny story; he escapes from police impound on a mountain bike with disc brakes.
    Trek 69er SS (in progress), Trek Superfly, GT Force Carbon Expert, Trek Madone 6.2

  3. #3
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    Reputation: Cygnus's Avatar
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    hard to describe in words if you haven't tried riding fixed w/o brakes.

    engaged.

    committed.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by heyitsmebob View Post
    Funny story; he escapes from police impound on a mountain bike with disc brakes.
    I think it was a trials bike but yes it had brakes.

    The no brakes thing I think comes from the whole idea of keeping the bike as simple as possible no gears ratcheting mechanism or brakes to fail. Some fixie riders run a front brake just in case but use there legs for stopping 99.9% of the time. I think what they where getting at was that trying to stop using a method you are not well practiced in will get you "killed". In reality it's just like in the world of BMX where kids where too lazy to true their wheels and tune their brakes and so they took them off and it became the trend and so now it is justified with things like "it forces you to ride better" and "brakes are death".

    Personally I thought the movie was cheesy.

  5. #5
    REALLY?
    Reputation: jeffgothro's Avatar
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    Cool...I gotcha, thanks...yeah, the movie had some cheese going on, I really enjoyed the chase/riding scence though and the clever editing.
    DJ, "Because I'm sure the world need's more dudes stalking the woods stoned out of their mind carrying a deadly weapon."

  6. #6
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    You are right that riding brakeless fixie can be more dangerous than SS with brakes. But it's not the bike but the rider who makes riding more or less dangerous. Riding brakeless fixie is hard at first and you ride very slow so you can control the situation around you - much slower than you would go with brakes. When you brake power is limited you don't accelerate when there is no opportunity to slow down and you have to think of your way and moves before.

    To sum it up - if you ride carefully and in proper way brakeless fixie is not so dangerous as smbd can think. Though riding such bike is different to riding a bike with brakes.

    Another question is to have brakes on your fixie or not to have them. I didn't use the brakes on my fixedgear so I removed them (did'nt work in winter). Some people always use brakes on their fixies, some use them in emergency situations. I really can't find any reason for not having at least one or both brakes even if you normally don't use them. Different things can happen - chain drop, cog being unscrewed, being unclipped from clipless pedals while backpedal braking (which I have experienced for several times) and in those situations you will be glad that you have brakes because any of those situation (and I'm not kidding) can cause death or severe injury. Of course all these may not happen but I'm going to put the brakes back to my fixie.

    One more question is how safe and efficient you are going to brake if you normally don't use your brakes. Maybe you need to practise using the brakes sometimes - I don't know.

    However I advise you to ride a fixedgear with brakes and try not to use them - so you can feel the fixed thing for yourself. Riding fixed greatly improved all my bicycle skills (power, spin, balance, handling, the vision and timing of the traffic).

  7. #7
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    The argument is that "it takes time to reach for your brakes" - the pedals are connected all the time, if you want to stop, stop. Now look, before you go "this dude is either crazy, stupid, or a little of both" - let me clear that up, I'm crazy, not stupid. But for the record, I'm not crazy enough to ride a fixie. Watch the documentary Fixated (I think? Maybe it's Fixation?) about fixies on the west coast.

  8. #8
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    This is the Hollywood bicycling equivalent of Torreto living his life a quarter mile at a time.
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  9. #9
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    I think it's about the same as geared mountain bikers trying to understand the single speed culture.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cygnus
    hard to describe in words if you haven't tried riding fixed w/o brakes.

    engaged.

    committed.
    Zen.
    Ride more!

  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    pfft, don't bother. fixed gear without brakes is dumb unless you're on a track where everyone is going the same direction and you don't have to take any 90 turns. i won't begrudge anyone a little brakeless experimentation, but using a front brake lets you go sooooo much faster. anyone who says otherwise is lying.

  13. #13
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    Messenger since 1996.

    Fixed gear rider since 2004.

    I hated the movie on so many levels.

    Bad Idea Racing: Going all Siskel and Ebert on ****

    I woulda posted the original link to my thoughts, but MTBR doesn't like the word "s*!t"

    The whole "fixie culture" thing?

    I can't stand it, but it's there like a giant festering pimple on my chin. Can't do anything about it. Just hope it goes away eventually and everybody forgets about it for another decade.

    At least he wasn't wearing his kid sister's jeans.

    WWW.TEAMDICKY.COM

    I get paid 3 every time I post on MTBR.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by p4nh4ndle
    pfft, don't bother. fixed gear without brakes is dumb unless you're on a track where everyone is going the same direction
    Even though I fully agree with the above, I do have to admit that I own 1 brakeless fixed gear bike and yes, I enjoy riding it.
    Ride more!

  15. #15
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    My road SS bike has a flip flop (or at least that is what the cool kids call it). I normally have it set up freewheel side but a few years ago I thought I would be all cool and put it on the fixed side.

    I've got some pretty gnarly hills where I live so I prepared to hate myself going down them because I had some impression that I would have to pedal as fast as the hill demanded. It wasn't the case though I could just relax my legs and slowly make my way down the hill. Emphasis on the "slowly".

    What really pissed me off about riding fixed was trying to turn a corner. I had to take turns like a fat old lady wearing a moo moo because of pedal strike. I flipped back to a freewheel and never looked back. Some people might like fixie because of the "connection" to the bike, but for me it just means riding way too slow everywhere.

    I liked Premium Rush.

  16. #16
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    I rode a fixed gear road bike for a while. Sold it because I'm not a roadie, just wanted to experiment with fixed gear. Now I ride a fixed gear MTB (my current "road" bike is a coaster). I find fixed road bikes to be nearly pointless. Fixed with no brakes is completely pointless in my opinion. I suppose one could make the argument from a purist standpoint, but whatever. My fixed MTB has a front brake, and my feet do the rear braking. Where it really shines is on loose ground. I'm always surprised by the amount of feedback I get from the rear end, which results in control. I have always been big on mechanical simplicity which is why I gravitated towards single speeds, and I guess fixed is just the next level. Also, You have to be skilled, and extremely confident with your skills. It demands 150% focus and concentration. I like the challenge and the simplicity. Again, this is from a MTB stand point. As I said I find fixed road to be kind of silly, and the "fixie culture" to be 10000% retarded. The one big detractor to riding fixed gear, in my opinion, isn't the lack of coasting, but rather being associated with that crap.

    In the end, for serious riders, not these hipster queers, it's yet another variant on what we do and love. I know after umpteen years of riding, it was a nice refresher. It completely changed what had become kind of a stale game for me.

    Oh and I haven't seen the movie. It looked super lame.
    Registered pedalphile.

  17. #17
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    My dad put me on a fixed gear when I was 10. Fast forward 18 years and I still own and regularly ride 3 (track, road, and townie) while thoroughly enjoy the simplicity of it all. Relaxing and engaging at the same time. Nothing better than strolling through town with the wife and kids at their pace on a bike that can keep you interested.

    As for the brake or no brake conversation; I'd say it all depends on your application. I've done multiple centuries with my roadie buddies and I haven't seen much of a use for a brake on the open and relatively quiet routes we take. I don't utilize one on a townie either. And of course track bikes, where most have no mounts to begin with. In my experience with fixed gear, I wouldn't feel comfortable riding congested city streets without a brake. Too much can go wrong with uncontrollable aspects around you. But truthfully, again in my experience, I'd tend to avoid a fixed gear in that type of environment. Props to those who are more skilled than I who do it, though.

    I'm making my first foray into mountain biking right now and likely will eventually attempt SS and fixed. But for now I'm probably going to attempt to cope with all these weird dangly bits on my bike...

  18. #18
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    LOL "weird dangly bits"
    Registered pedalphile.

  19. #19
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    I regularly ride my fixed gear roadie and have been for the last 5 years. I love the bike and since about 2 years ago, road in several centuries with 5-10k in elevation gain. Eek my way up and spaz my way down. Fun times.

    While I love riding fixed, I do not get the culture. Nor do I care. They're riding bikes, so cool with me. You do get the idiots (like on YouTube and movies like "To Live and Ride in L.A." and "Fixation" which are available on Netflix) that really give cyclists a bad name. But same goes for a lot of cyclists in general. (See this thread for instance, which happens to be the OP).

    Riding brakless is idiotic. I laughed so hard when that dude on "Fixation" said something about brakes are dangerous, because it takes more time to reach for that brake lever than backpedal. Unless you're in a velodrome, please ride with a brake. Although if you're out in the middle of nowhere, I guess it's not that big of a deal.

    I find more common ground with more of the distance fixed riders. Hope to do the Furnace 508 one day.

    Furnace Creek 508: Fixed Gear Ultra Cycling at its Finest

    Bickett∙y: 2010 Furnace Creek 508 - Rock Rabbit's Fixed Gear Report

  20. #20
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    Some of those NYC alleycats like Monster Track are all about racing brakeless track bikes on the street. You make the race, you make the rules. There are tons of SS races as well that dont allow gears . . .

    I echo the sentiment that riding fixed just felt like I was riding slow everywhere. Or rather you feel like you're going faster than the timer actually shows.

    It's fun, I kinda want another one. Put a track cog onto my flipflop Eno hub on my SS but havent swapped the chain yet to handle the 1/8th cog. At least fixie culture has moved beyond cartoonish crazy colored bikes, now everything is at least classy looking, if not just completely black. Seems like the hiphop community is picking up fixed gears now, have started seeing a completely different demographic on fixed gears on large rides these days.

    Case in point:

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelscott
    What really pissed me off about riding fixed was trying to turn a corner. I had to take turns like a fat old lady wearing a moo moo because of pedal strike.
    Shorter cranks

    Quote Originally Posted by goldencalf
    As I said I find fixed road to be kind of silly, and the "fixie culture" to be 10000% retarded. The one big detractor to riding fixed gear, in my opinion, isn't the lack of coasting, but rather being associated with that crap.
    When I ride my fixed road bike (not my brakeless 'fixie' but my normal old steel road bike with front and rear brake, SPD-SL pedals and a fixed rear wheel) in the countryside hardly anyone even notices I'm riding fixed.
    Ride more!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by asphaltdude View Post
    Shorter cranks



    When I ride my fixed road bike (not my brakeless 'fixie' but my normal old steel road bike with front and rear brake, SPD-SL pedals and a fixed rear wheel) in the countryside hardly anyone even notices I'm riding fixed.
    yeah, the trick is: just don't make a big deal out of it. and if anybody notices and starts asking you questions, just shrug, mumble something non-comital and don't make a big deal out of it.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTscoob View Post

    Case in point:
    Is this real life?
    Ride Bikes
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  24. #24
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    no, this is:


  25. #25
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    Haha!

    I've never rode fixed. I did just buy a wabi classic fixed. It should be here next week. The plan is to commute with it (40 miles) three or four days a week in order to better analate my competition in the local SS class this fall.
    Ride Bikes
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