A fixed-gear bicycle, also known as a fixed-wheel bicycle or a fixie, is a bicycle on which the sprocket is screwed directly onto the hub of the bike. Fixies have no freewheel mechanism, and therefore offer no ability to coast; if the rear weal is turning, the pedals are turning in the same direction. To stop a fixie without the aid of a brake, the rider can resist the rotation of the pedals. The term ¡°skidding¡± is used to describe the use of this technique to the point of stopping the rear tire completely. Because of this type of riding can use extreme force in both directions, a reverse-threaded lock-ring is usually fitted to prevent the sprocket from unscrewing.
While fixed-wheel bicycles usually have one gear ratio, some models, sometimes referred to as ¡°flip-flop hubs¡± offer the rider a choice of two different gear ratios. ¡°Double fixed¡± (two fixed gear ratios) and ¡°fixed-free¡± (which offer a fixed option as well as a free-wheel option) are examples of these. Changing gears on these bikes require minor mechanical work; the rear wheel must be removed, reversed, and refit so that the chain ring may be attached to the alternate desired sprocket. Each gear on a double-fixed bike will typically have a different number of teeth, causing the bike to be geared higher or lower by a set percentage on each side, if using the same chain ring.
Sturmey Archer, now a part of SunRace Sturney-Archer, has, in the past, offered a fixed multi speed hub gear in the model ASC, which allowed the rider to change gears while riding. The company plans to produce an updated version of the ASC, which will be called the S3X.
There are a few difficulties associated with getting used to this type of bicycle. Descending, for example, challenges the rider to either keep up with the rapidly turning cranks (maybe 150 rpm or more!) or to resist the motion of the wheels and ride more slowly down hills. Also, many cyclists are naturally used to coasting on a free-wheel bike when approaching obstacles or turns. This tendency can lead to something as minor as a ¡°kick¡± to the trailing leg or even to loss of control of the bike.
Despite the learning curve, there are many reasons that riders may choose a fixie. In general, these bikes tend be more light weight and simple, requiring less maintenance than other bicycles. The lighter weight and continuous feedback through the transmission can translate to increased performance in some conditions, such as a better sense of control on slippery surface. The advantages for a freewheeler who integrates a fixed-gear bike into his or her routine include a more effective pedaling style, giving the rider more power and efficiency when he or she changes to a freewheel. Also, the enforced fast spin on descent of a hill is said to increase ¡°souplesse¡±, or suppleness of the body, which improves pedaling performance on any type of bicycle.
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