Saturday, November 10, 2012

The basic fixie can get fancy

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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