if you're bored, you're not paying attention


When I was a kid, the more gears your bike had, the cooler it was. Yet San Francisco is just crawling with single-speed bikes. On closer inspection, I found that many of these bikes don’t even have coaster brakes–they’ve got direct-drive chains. As long as the wheels are turning, the crank is turning, so you have to keep your legs moving, and you slow down by slowing down your legs. WTF??

It turns out that these fixed-gear bikes, or “fixies,” are something of a trend. Last year they were, anyhow. Here’s how to make a fixed-gear bike out of an old 1970s ten-speed, plus lots more info on why you might want one of these stripped-down, admittedly dangerous urban hipster rides.


  1. antennadoug

    For the truly crazy, Fixies also seem great for traipsing around Black Rock City; no gears or brakes to muck up with evil, alkaline Playa dust. Add lights, fake fur, preferably in some neon color, and presto, midnight mobility for the semi-crazy, mostly-loaded BRC denizens at the end of this month…. Cheers.

  2. Dylan

    Oh, that seems like a smart idea. Actually a tricycle would be even better, since it has no chain or sprockets at all!

    But how do I get a fixie? Surely all the yuppies^H^H^H^H^H^H^H hipsters riding them here in SF haven’t built up their own fixed-gear wheels, now have they?

  3. antennadoug

    I did see a killer trike (hand-made it seemed) with oversize tires and great, artful treatment, last year. That did seem the ultimate in stability and simplicity… except of course, somebody spent a half dozen weekends welding the thing together. If you have the time and the tools, getting there can really be half the fun I guess.

    Getting your very own Fixie here in The City shouldn’t be that hard; like you say, the hipsters didn’t build their own. I’m guessing Craig’s List. Cheers, Dylan. ~ dw

  4. Peter

    Fixies are better for tricks. It means that you can turn the back-wheel slowly (often when the front wheel is off the ground) instead of having it free spin.

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