For the last five years, this column has avoided covering one of the hottest youth-culture urban crazes in the bike world: the fixie — a minimalist, single-speed bike with a fixed gear and no brakes. Some people like them ugly, others gaudy and others tricked-out with doodads and custom paint jobs. To be honest, I thought these bikes, which have introduced thousands of former non-cyclists to two wheels, were dumb deathtraps (hey, no brakes?) and that the fad would disappear along with the first crash.
Well, fixie-mania keeps growing, and a big
reason for it is that the bikes are getting fixed. Riders and
manufacturers, responding to public safety laws and common sense, have
added brakes, multi-gear hubs, freewheels and fluorescent night-light
paint. This makes for safer, more practical bikes that are faster, can
coast and are more enjoyable to ride — all while keeping the minimalist
and mandatory fixie look.
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